7 Best Cruise Ships for Kids
Cruising is often compared to a dinner wine; the wrong one can spoil your whole experience!
With over 50 cruise lines operating, you’re probably wondering what are the best cruise ships for kids, and it’s essential you pick the right one!
You want to pick one of the best family cruises that will keep the kids entertained, but also allow you to have some time to relax. After all, everyone should enjoy the experience, not just the kids.
Oh, wait. I haven’t introduced myself. My name is Lewis Nunn and I’m a luxury cruise and travel blogger, at The Luxury Traveller.
You might be thinking, how is a luxury cruise & travel blogger knowledgeable on cruise lines for families? Well, aside from my passion for luxury cruise and travel, I’m also sixteen years old!
Over the years I have grown up exploring the best cruise ships for kids, with holidays often consisting of all twenty members of my family.
And so, I’ve developed a wide amount of knowledge on the topic of family cruises, based on my own experience.
So what you will read in this article will be straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.
Without further ado, here are my top 7 best cruise lines for kids.
Best Cruise Ships for Kids
1. Royal Caribbean
No other cruise line could sit at the top of my list of the best cruise ship for kids than Royal Caribbean Cruises.
From the Broadway shows (such as Grease and Mamma Mia) to the 3D Cinemas and Parades, this is one of the best cruise lines for families.
Royal Caribbean has gained a reputation for its futuristic experience with:
- RipCord sky-diving simulators
- Surf simulators
- Robot operated cocktail bars
Kids & Teens Club
Excluding all these out-of-this-world facilities, Royal Caribbean also features one of the best kids programs at sea.
Royal Babies (6-18 months) or Royal Tots (18-36 months) can partake in interactive playgroup sessions involving toys and music, where a parent must be present.
Aquanauts, (3-5 years) can enjoy many activities involving from bubbling potions to Jurassic Park dinosaurs. Also getting the chance to participate in the Pirate Party Parade around the ship.
Whereas Space Mud, Meteorology, and Fossils are the types of activities Explorers (6-8 years) will be involved in.
For slightly older children, Voyagers (9-11 years), the science theme is still present. However, kids in this category also get the opportunity to take part in backstage tours at the onboard theatres.
Teenagers (aged 12-14) partake in much more hands-on activities such as rock climbing, dodgeball, and Dance Dance Revolution.
As the sun sets, teens can enjoy private BBQ’s and movie nights. Or alternately, they can join in the open mic nights, talent shows and Scratch DJ Academy.
The eldest teen category (15-17) gives a much more laid back experience with theme nights, pool parties and teen dinners.
Earlier I mentioned about fussy eaters. In order to enjoy gourmet dining (like at Jamie’s Italian), Royal Caribbean has developed the perfect solution without moaning kids.
Expedited dining allows your children to be collected as soon as they finish eating, and then taken for fun and games at the kids club, therefore allowing you to spend as much time as you want to unwind at the restaurant – now that right there deserves a mention on a list of the best cruise lines for kids!
This may, for example, be a multi-course meal in the Main Dining Room; primarily consisting of American or Italian cuisine.
For smaller bites and buffet-style dining, Windjammer Café is open throughout the day.
Sadly, family holidays can sometimes be rather stressful spending all that time together in a closed environment.
However, this does not always have to be the case with your cabin. In fact, Royal Caribbean actually features some of the largest accommodation at sea.
If you’re cruising onboard an Oasis or Quantum Class Ship, money depending, you can stay in one of the Loft Suites which definitely makes them one of the best cruise ships for kids.
Spanning over two stories, they offer the most cabin space at sea which includes facilities such as:
- Indoor and outdoor dining rooms
- Private Wet Bar
- Extended balcony and even a Baby Grand Piano!
2. Carnival Cruises
Boasting 25 ships, Carnival Cruise Line is one of the best cruise ships for kids traveling on a slightly smaller budget. That’s not to say your experience will be any less than 5-star family-fun.
Famed for the party atmosphere onboard, Carnival is especially good for families traveling with teenagers. With modernized onboard facilities such as:
- Gigantic waterparks
- Mile-high (well…ish) air-ropes courses with a suspended peddle bike
- Golf course and even the very first IMAX at sea
Kids & Teens Clubs
Floating away from the endless facilities, children and teenagers can also attend the onboard youth clubs, separated into a wide amount of age categories.
Children aged 2-11 can attend Camp Ocean (or Camp Carnival), then separated into sub-age-categories of 2-5, 6-8 and 9-11.
The younger end of the spectrum (2-5) can take part in many activities such as:
- Soft play
- Slide equipment
- Indoor ball games
- Owl Jams Parties (consisting of Candy, dancing, and games)
Whereas the slightly older 6-8-year-olds can spend time on Playstations, Nintendo Wii’s, spin art and many themed activities.
Children in the oldest kid’s category, 9-11, partake in kid’s discos, pizza pig-out and swimming under the stars.
The first age category in the teen section (12-14) includes older activities such as:
- Video gaming consoles
- Dance parties
- Late night movies
- Carnival twister waterslide races
Whereas the elder teenage group, Club O2, is partnered with Coca-Cola providing a ‘Coke-tail’ lounge where teens can savor the taste of non-alcoholic specialty drinks.
Now – what about fun for parents!
While you attend a bar crawl or boogie till dawn, take full advantage of Carnival’s babysitting service, available daily from 10:00 pm to 3:00 am. This service costs just $6.75 an hour.
Parents, do you see why Carnival is near the top of my list of best cruise lines for families?!
Related Post – read about our 6 night Caribbean Cruise on Carnival Vista
3. Norwegian Cruise Line
Home to freestyle cruising, Norwegian Cruise Line has developed some of the best facilities and amenities for family cruising.
One example being, of course, the freestyle dining, where passengers are not confined to a strict dining time, making your evenings much more flexible and relaxed.
After all, things don’t always go to plan on a family holiday.
Kids & Teens Clubs
The onboard youth programs are really never-seen-before with activities ranging from Cirque du Soleil classes to over twenty sports for older teenagers.
Serving a hint of Disney and Royal Caribbean, some cruises also feature onboard characters such as Dora the Explorer and SpongeBob.
Separating kids into the age categories of 2-9, 10-12 and 13-17 with an entourage for teenagers fitted with air hockey, pinball and a transformation to a nightclub in the evening.
Or as the sun falls, your teenagers may prefer to catch one of the Broadway-style musicals available onboard.
Nonetheless, there is also plenty you can do together as a family with the numerous onboard facilities available such as:
- A high ropes course fitted with its very own walk-the-plank
- Vast water parks with jaw-dropping slides such as The Epic Plunge
- And even 33-foot high rock climbing walls
Even a dedicated sports deck with:
- Outdoor ice-skating rink
- Basketball court
- Bungee trampoline