Top Family Cruise Lines
The allure of cruises for a family vacation is strong. All-inclusive fares make travel affordable and stress-free. With so many activities and amenities for children included, there are opportunities to spend time together, or to let the kids have their own adventure while you relax by the pool.

However, not all cruises cater to youngsters. In fact, some cruise lines don't allow children at all. Historically, this was the norm. Cruises were meant for adult getaways without the kids, and some ships still follow this notion.
Increasing popularity in cruises as a family affair has changed the game, and many cruise lines now offer experiences designed especially for children. With more and more choices available, choosing a cruise line for your family vacation can be overwhelming. That's why we've created a list of the top cruise lines for families (in no particular order), so you have a place to start. Of course, every family is different and only you can know what activities, excursions, and adventures your kids will love most. Consider this a helpful first step in your research process. So, let's dive in!
You can't talk about family cruises without mentioning Disney, arguably one of the most well known brands in the industry. Walking aboard one of the fleet's four ships (Magic, Wonder, Dream, Fantasy) is like entering a real-life version of Disney. You'll see Disney characters roaming the decks and experience a number of Disney-themed onboard activities, mostly included in your fare.

Different areas of the ship cater to different "suggested" age groups, from the Oceaneer Club for ages 3-12 to the teen club, Vibe, for ages 14-17. There's also an adults-only pool, in addition to the kids pool and family pool. Disney truly offers the ultimate experience for kids—and for adults looking to reconnect with their inner child.
Source: Disney Dream, Nozzleman75 - Own Work
Key Features of Disney Cruises
  • Truly kid-focused (which also means less adults-only activities)
  • Spacious rooms, most of which have 1 ½ baths
  • Three pools, waterslide, a theater, live shows with Disney characters
  • Shore excursions and some onboard activities cost extra
Royal Caribbean
As one of the biggest names in cruising, it's no surprise Royal Caribbean offers fantastic family-friendly ships with first-ever-at-sea activities—like carousels, zip lines, sky diving, and a ferris wheel ride (that goes 300 feet above the ocean) on board. But arguably the best part of Royal Caribbean's kid-focused approach are the supervised activities, which means parents can have some of their own fun, too!

Royal Caribbean dedicates much of the ship's real estate to kid's clubs and facilities, which is why it's one of the best cruise lines for families. There are age-specific areas with bumper cars, roller-skating, video games, karaoke, rock walls, crafts, and more. Plus, exclusive partnerships with the likes of Crayola and DreamWorks Animation means tons of themed activities and hanging out with characters from Shrek and Kung Fu Panda.

While the kids are out having the time of their life, adults can enjoy the many onboard activities, evening entertainment, and tons of dining options.
Source: Oasis of the Seas, Baldwin040 - Own Work
Key Features of Royal Caribbean Cruises
  • Endless onboard fun, from carousels and rock walls to karaoke and arcade games to skydiving and a ferris wheel
  • Supervised kid-friendly activities, allowing parents some relaxation
  • Tons of dining options, from casual joints to upscale restaurants
  • Exclusive partnerships with Crayola and DreamWorks
  • Varied room styles, with some suites fitting up to 8 guests
Carnival Cruise Line
For one of the best water parks at sea, look no further than Carnival. Kids—and thrill-loving adults—will be entertained all trip by the park's 300-foot long spiral slide, water slides, dump buckets, and more. There's even a toddler-sized section for the little ones.

Even if water parks aren't your thing, don't worry. Carnival cruises are jam-packed with some of the best activities in the business. Aside from age-appropriate clubs, there are also different types of theatres (IMAX, 3D, depending on the ship), a ropes course, an 18-hole mini golf course, and "SportsSquare" with basketball and foosball. Families can even participate in an on-stage game show for prizes, and soon you'll be able to visit the first ever Build-A-Bear workshop at sea.

Luckily for parents, Carnival is especially known for its value. Families and groups can choose from packages or discounted rates for larger numbers of guests. While on board, parents may also take advantage of the ship's babysitting service for a fee and/or send their kids to late-night parties for a small cost, so they have time for their own fun. No matter who you are, you'll find something for you with Carnival.
Key Features of Carnival Cruise Line
  • Full water park on board with slides, sprayers, dump buckets, and more
  • SportsSquare area with an 18-hole mini golf course, basketball court, and foosball tables
  • On-board theatres, some of which are IMAX or 3D capable
  • Some kids activities cost extra (such as late-night parties and babysitting)
  • More family-sized cabins available
  • Often offering packages or discounts for groups or families
Norwegian Cruise Line
Kids of all ages can have a blast on any of the ships in the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet. There truly is something for everyone—a kid's club for various age groups from age 3 to 12, a teen club for ages 13 to 17 and even childcare for small children for an extra fee. Plus, there's no shortage of fun on Norwegian. Across their ships, you'll find waterparks with a 300-foot long corkscrew tube and multi-story water slides, some of the largest ropes courses at sea, a rock climbing wall, rappelling wall, bowling alley, outdoor ice skating rink, basketball court, batting cage, bungee trampoline, and more. Add to that an exclusive partnership with Nickelodeon—and therefore Nick-themed shows, characters, and parties—and you've got a kid's heaven at sea!
Source: Norwegian Spirit, Piergiuliano Chesi
Key Features of Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Bowling alley onboard, ropes courses, theater, acrobats and magicians, arcades
  • Splash Academy for different age groups with kid-friendly activities
  • Exclusive partnership with Nickelodeon
  • Relaxed atmosphere and less strict schedules for activities and dining
  • Sometimes offer discounts for 3rd and 4th guests in a cabin
This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the great cruise lines for families, but as some of the biggest brands with the largest fleets, they've certainly perfected the art of affordable family cruising. Friendly staff, kid-focused fun, and family-sized suites and cabins are unarguably the highlights of these cruise lines—and they'll make you AND your kids' experience one to remember.

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