With complimentary summer-camp-like kids’ program led by youth counselors, alongside a host of attractions, it’s no surprise the best family cruises deliver an environment where every family member can have fun on vacation. In addition to family time, kids get to hang out with other kids while parents and grandparents are free to be adults.
Youngsters are a major part of cruise ship design, from play rooms and teen clubs to crew members who know how to keep young people happy. Choose your ship wisely, because newer and recently renovated ships tend to have the most exciting attractions (check out our list of best cruise ships in the world if you want to know more). Accommodations at sea can be tight, so splurge on the largest cabin or suite you can afford; there is such a thing as too much togetherness on any trip. Beyond that, read our picks for the best cruise lines for families—and get going with booking. (Fares shown are per adult, with reduced fares for kids sharing a cabin.)
All listings featured on Condé Nast Traveler are independently selected by our editors. If you book something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
For families, a cruise on Royal Caribbean’s massive ships—some can carry up to 6,000 passengers—is as exciting as going to an amusement park. Collectively, the ships offer ice skating rinks, simulated surfing machines, zip-lines, bumper cars, laser tag, carousels, and thrill slides. The Adventure Ocean program (for ages 3-12) includes fun science experiments, while teens get to party in their own disco. Royal is one of the few lines sailing close-to-home this summer: The 3,800-passenger Adventure of the Seas, topped with twin racing waterslides, sails from Nassau, Bahamas, to Cozumel. The cruises include two days at Royal’s private island, Perfect Day at CocoCay, where the Thrill Waterpark is home to North America’s tallest waterslide (at 135 feet). 7-night sailings in July from $769; adults are required to be vaccinated, kids under age 18 are not.
Book now: royalcaribbean.com
Disney Cruise Line
On Disney’s four classy ships, princesses and other characters pose for photos and star in full-scale musical productions highlighting Disney hits, like “Frozen,” eliciting squeals of delight. The family-centric vibe includes waitstaff who are experts in dealing with fussy eaters, and cabins with one-and-a-half bathrooms. The Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab (for ages 3-12) are themed with such attractions as a Marvel Avenger’s Academy. Teens will especially enjoy the thrilling waterslides. The hot ticket for fans in 2022 is the 2,500-passenger Disney Wish, the line’s first new ship in a decade. New 4-night summertime Bahamas sailings from Miami in summer 2022, from $1,208
Book now: disneycruise.disney.go.com
Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival will get a lot of attention this year when it introduces the 5,200-passenger Mardi Gras, with the “wow” feature of the first rollercoaster at sea. The line caters to families in a big way with waterparks and twisting slides, outdoor ropes courses, and video arcades. A “Seuss at Sea” program encourages kids to read Dr. Seuss classics, with The Cat in the Hat appearing at a Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast (complete with creepy food). Family Harbor cabins and suites come with access to a private family lounge for breakfast, snacks, and video-game play. Camp Ocean entertains kids ages 2-11 with everything from crafts to dancing, with separate clubs for ‘tweens (ages 12-14) and teens (13-17). 7-night Eastern Caribbean on Mardi Gras in February, from $669
Book now: carnival.com
Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian’s latest ships are topped with two-deck racetracks where older kids and adults can drive go-karts high above the ocean (younger kids can ride as passengers). Aqua Parks serve up wet thrills, and video arcades and open-air laser tag also appeal to the family crowd. A highlight of the Splash Academy (for ages 3-12) is a Circus School where youngsters learn plate-spinning, juggling, and tumbling, which culminates in a performance. Teens get their own club space. The 3,900-passenger Norwegian Joy (with racetrack) will be cruising from Montego Bay, Jamaica, beginning this August. 7-night western Caribbean sailings from $699
Book now: ncl.com
Princess Cruises’ affiliation with Discovery TV makes it an excellent choice for multigenerational families—especially in Alaska. Kids in Camp Discovery (ages 3-12) may participate in science challenges tied to shows such as “Mythbusters” and “Shark Hunters.” Wearable OceanMedallion technology lets you track the whereabouts of teens when they are not in their own beach club, and you can all gather for a virtual scavenger hunt or to check out the cool digital Escape Room (on the newest ships). 7-night Discovery Princess sailing in Alaska in summer 2022, from $1,249
Book now: princess.com
For multigenerational families who prefer a nature-focused, soft-adventure experience, Lindblad partners with National Geographic for a program that has kids collecting plankton, driving inflatable Zodiacs, and otherwise earning points to become a National Geographic Global Explorer. The program is available on cruises in the Galapagos and in Alaska—both places you can spot wild creatures and the kids are encouraged to record sightings in a field book. 6-night spring break in the Galapagos from $5,900
Book now: expeditions.com
The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection
On the luxury side, Ritz-Carlton’s first yacht, the all-suite Evrima, will launch this fall complete with year-round signature Ritz Kids programming. Kids ages 4-12 get a dedicated space staffed by a full-time youth counselor. The creative program features an environmental element—kids may participate an upcycle art challenge or a water-sampling science experiment. Unlike the complimentary programs on mainstream lines, this one comes with an additional charge: $45 each for three-hour morning and afternoon sessions, and $65 for early-evening programming. 7-night Caribbean from San Juan from $4,900
Book now: ritzcarltonyachtcollection.com
Source: Read Full Article