It is unquestionably true that going on a family vacation is one of the best ways to create lasting memories with the people you love. While there are many options for your family vacations, cruises can often have the most to do and be the most cost-effective option. That being said, not all cruise lines are equal and it can be hard to choose which one will be best for you and your family.
This article is going to take a closer look at some of the top cruise lines that cater to families with young children, teenagers, and multigenerational groups in order to give you an idea of what they offer and which cruise line will be best for you!
Researching Cruise Line Options – What to Consider
When it comes to cruising, there is no one size fits all when it comes to what cruise line and ship is best to sail on – there are a number of factors to take into account before making a choice. Below is just a short list of important things you may need to consider when choosing what cruise line is best for your family.
The age of your children is an important consideration when traveling with them. Both in terms of what age bracket the cruise line caters to, and as far as the legal requirements and rules that either the country you are entering imposes or the cruise line itself is expected to adhere to.
It is usually a cruise line’s policy to require an infant to be at least 6 months old before sailing on one of its ships for most sailings. It is important to note, however, that most cruise lines require babies to be at least 12 months old before sailing on transatlantic, transpacific, Hawaiian or South American voyages. The reason for this policy is the long stretches of sea days and the lack of infant medical care at some ports.
Some cruise lines have more specific age requirements to be mindful of. For example, infants between the ages of 6-12 months cannot sail on Royal Caribbean or Norwegian if there are more than 3 consecutive sea days.
The route that is being taken is another aspect to consider. This can largely be determined by personal preference, but it is important to research which ports are the safest and most kid-friendly ports for the trip.
Two of the most common routes for families to take are Eastern and Western Caribbean, as these ports are often the most welcoming to families. There are also some great options for families of all ages in Alaska and Mediterranean ports, as they can both offer fun and safe shore excursions as well as just exploring the port itself.
There is a wide range of activities that can be enjoyed on board most cruise ships. Most family-friendly cruise lines have kids clubs and teen clubs that provide a safe environment for your kids to enjoy the activities they have to offer. Additionally, some cruise lines have family activities like lessons, dance parties, and competitions for everyone to join in on! Here’s just some of the offerings you may find on different cruise lines:
- Basketball court
- Ice skating
- Bumper cars
- Golf course
- Zip line
- Laser tag
- Surf simulator
- Sport court
- Ropes course
- Video arcades
- Escape rooms
Another enjoyable part of cruise lines is the entertainment they have to offer, with ships like Disney Cruise Line and Carnival having characters walking around onboard, and Broadway style shows on many different cruise lines.
It can be very challenging to find entertainment that caters to the teenage crowd, however, Norwegian has a number of popular Broadway shows, such as Six: The Musical, Footloose, and Beetlejuice.
With Broadway style shows, performances during meals, and costumed characters roaming around the vessel, Disney Cruise Line provides the highest quality kid-friendly entertainment on a cruise ship.
It is true that cruises are one of the most cost-effective vacations for families since they are typically all-inclusive, but some cruise lines also offer a lot of deals and offers that you can take advantage of when you book your cruise.
Cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, and MSC cruises have kids sail free deals throughout the year that you can take advantage of – many of these cruise lines do have an age cap so it’s important to read the terms of kids sail free.
When these promotional offers are not running, there are still many ways to save on cruises. Norwegian often offers a percentage off your 2nd guest, and free cruising for any additional guests. There are also many loyalty programs that cruise lines offer that will offer you discounts at certain tiers.
Lastly, there are many discounts in place for first responders and military personnel that are worth looking at.
A great tip on deciding which cruise line is right for you is to look at the reviews of the cruise lines you are considering so that you are able to make the most informed decision.
In order to get a better idea of what the cruise experience will be like, it is a good idea to read online reviews, such as those posted by bloggers, Facebook groups, forums, as well as oral recommendations from friends and family who have cruised before.
Top 3 Family Cruise Lines
Although there are dozens of cruise lines that cater to families, the three chosen below do a great job at entertaining all generations, regardless of their age.
Disney Cruise Line
Best for: Families with young children
Disney Cruise Line is one of the best family friendly cruise lines out there. As there are many things to do and entertainment options for children, such as the Oceaneers Club and Lab (3 – 12 years old), as well as attractions like the Aquaduck for more adventurous guests in your party, everyone in your party will have a great time.
Staterooms on Disney cruises are often very spacious, allowing everyone to have the room to stretch out and enjoy the stateroom. Kids will also enjoy the bunk bed with Disney themed constellations on the ceiling! If you have an interior stateroom, one of the special touches that Disney offers is an interactive porthole, with characters from movies popping in and out of view.
There are many special touches Disney offers for adults to make their vacation extra special. Guests over the age of 18 can take advantage of a pool area that is specifically designed for adults, nightclubs and lounges, and wonderful dining experiences at Remy and Palo.
Disney Cruise Line offers many different itineraries to choose from, including sailings that stop at Castaway Cay – Disney’s private island that has plenty of things to do like snorkeling, a 5K around the island, water slides, and an ashore kids club and teen hideout for children and teens to enjoy.
If your sailing is from Florida, you can also add a park stay to your package. If you’re staying at one of the many amazing resorts on Disney World property, you will have special transportation to Port Canaveral on a Disney bus.
Typically, Disney offers 35% off on their voyages – these offers are extended to Florida residents for their Caribbean and Bahamas sailings, Canadian residents on certain voyages and staterooms, and special US Military rates.Delight in the Magic of Unique Family Vacations and World-Class Service on Disney Cruise Line! Book Disney Cruise Line Today, Only at CruiseDirect.com!
Royal Caribbean International
Best for: Large families
Royal Caribbean is perfect for large families because they cater to a variety of interests. With rock climbing walls, shopping, plenty of restaurants, and activities hosted on the ship almost everyday, you’ll still be finding new things to do on the last day of your voyage.
There are many different staterooms offered on Royal Caribbean cruises to fit a variety of families. It should be noted that most standard rooms can fit up to 4 guests, so if you have a family of 5 or more, a suite may be a better option for you.
In terms of itineraries, Royal Caribbean Cruises has one of the largest selections, with itineraries in Europe, Asia, South America, North Africa, Australia, and North America to give you a taste of the whole world.
In the kids club (3 – 11 years old), there are both fun and educational activities in which the kids can participate, such as games and experiments in the adventure science lab, as well as action-packed activities that keep them active and entertained.
For teens, the lounge is a perfect place to hang out. In the same way as the kid’s club, it offers loads of pre-planned events as well as giving your teens the freedom to simply relax and have fun with their new friends. Royal Caribbean also offers Broadway shows that will interest any theater lovers.
With Royal Caribbean, the best strategy to get good deals is to pay attention to their flash sales. These can include kids sailing free, a certain percentage off or early bird specials to take advantage of. Royal Caribbean also offers discounts once you book your cruise on shore excursions, drink packages and more!
Norwegian Cruise Line
Best for: Families with older kids and teens
Price Range: Affordable
Norwegian Cruise Line offers so much for families to do at an affordable cost. On many of the cruise ships, there are amenities such as water slides, go-karts, laser tag, and more that make the cruise a blast.
Regardless of the stateroom that you book with Norwegian, you can expect spacious and comfortable accommodations no matter what. But one type of stateroom I would like to highlight is the Haven suites. Although a little more expensive, these staterooms give you an absolutely luxurious experience you and your family won’t forget! With private pools, dining rooms, a butler and concierge services, you’ll feel like a celebrity!
For kids, there’s youth programs like the Guppies program (6 months – under 4 years old) and the Splash Academy (3 – 12 years old) where kids can play and meet new friends. Norwegian also offers a late night program for a small fee where your kids can stay up late while the parents go out and enjoy the nightlife the ship has to offer.
Teens can also take part in the Entourage Club, which offers a place where teens can relax, enjoy activities which counselors have to offer, and meet new friends. Also, some ships offer the teens the opportunity to dress up and enjoy a dinner with their new friends on the last evening of the cruise, which is a great way to bring the trip to a close.
The adults can also enjoy plenty of activities, such as casino games, bars and lounges, spa treatments, or the private sun tanning deck at the Vibe Beach Club as well as plenty of elevated shows that will take their breath away.
Norwegian offers some of the largest deals on their voyages. With free airfare for your second guest and 70% off their sailing, dining and drink packages, excursions and wifi, just to name a few of the amenities they offer, you really are getting great value for what you pay. Norwegian also offers 50% off the deposit on certain staterooms.Norwegian Cruise Lines Featuring Free drinks packages, specialty dining and up to $1,000 shipboard credit, only at CruiseDirect.com
From young to old, there are so many wonderful things to do on cruises for families. You will find that many cruise lines provide amenities that will appeal to a broad range of passengers, whether it be through entertainment, special areas or activities.
Although many cruise lines cater to families in a wonderful way, Royal Caribbean, Disney Cruise Line, and Norwegian Cruise Line stand out as some of the best when it comes to family cruises.
In order to make the most of your vacation, it’s important to research what works for you and your family, and to figure out what you’d like to accomplish out of it, but I hope this gives you the best starting point so that you can make unforgettable memories.