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The Best Cruise Lines for Families

The Best Cruise Lines for Families

Cruising isn’t just for couples. Today’s cruise lines have recognised the opportunity in catering for families, too, and have created child-friendly cruises. As with most things cruise-related, there are many options when choosing the best cruise lines or ships for a family holiday, so we’ve put together a lowdown of the ones we think tick the most boxes. 

However, a good rule of thumb is that the newer, larger ships tend to offer better options for cruising with children. If families form part of their target market, their ships will have been designed from the outset with this audience in mind – think more creative and exciting facilities and more spacious cabin designs.  

Most family-friendly ships across cruise lines offer a range of larger cabins with features such as pull-down beds, interconnecting rooms and suites with second bedrooms, so take time to explore their different accommodation options when booking.

1. Disney Cruise Line

Disney Wonder cruise ship Mickey Mouse

Perhaps an obvious choice to start, but you cannot beat Disney when looking to delight young children and add a touch of magic to your holiday. Its latest ship – Disney Wish – uses innovative digital technology alongside well-loved Disney characters to bring fantastical worlds to life.

Children’s activities: Disney-themed pools and waterslides, live Disney shows and movies, themed dining and interactive experiences

Best for: Magical entertainment

Kids’ club age range: 3-12 years, with a nursery for the under 3s.

2. Royal Caribbean

With the biggest cruise ships in the world, there is plenty of room onboard for imaginative, fun features to keep children of all ages amused while their more spacious cabins cater excellently to a family’s needs.

Children’s activities: Exact features dependent on the ship class, varying between rock climbing walls, ziplines, ice skating, surf simulators and bumper cars, and Broadway-style shows

Best for: Impressive facilities and space

Kids’ club age range: Different groups for ages between 3 and 17 years

Family-friendly ships: Anthem, Symphony, Harmony, Allure and Oasis of the Seas

3. Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Lines are known for their more relaxed approach to cruising, with no dress code or set dining times. This flexibility can be great for young families. And with colourful ships and excellent kids’ features, they can be a popular choice.

Children’s activities: Varies between ships but includes rock-climbing, bowling lanes, water parks with thrilling slides and features, light-up dance floors and jungle gyms

Best for: Relaxed family fun 

Kids’ club age range: Different groups for ages 6 months to 17 years

Family-friendly ships: Escape, Breakaway, Getaway, Epic and Jade

4. MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises are considered to have led the way with family-friendly cruises. Winning the Best Cruise Line for Families in 2019, they offer family dining and activities, a dedicated baby area, as well as some exciting ship features and an attractive ‘Children Cruise Free’ promotion.

Children’s activities: Dependent on the ship but includes games arcade, bowling, 4D flight simulator, and, with a partnership with Lego, plenty of Lego-themed fun! 

Best for: Action-packed kids’ club programme

Kids’ club age range: 5 dedicated club for ages ranging 0 to 17 years

Family-friendly ships: Bellissima, Splendida, Preziosa, Grandiosa, Seaview, Seaside, Meraviglia,  and Magnifica

5. P&O Cruises

Of P&O Cruises six ships, four are family-friendly with a great programme of kids’ activities for different ages. A special feature is their children’s Cookery Club, which runs hands-on family classes, where kids cook for free.

Children’s activities: Soft play area, games room with air hockey, pool and video games and open-air cinema

Best for: Young children’s kids’ club facilities and programmes

Kids’ club age range: Different groups for ages 2 to 17 years

Family-friendly ships: Britannia, Ventura, Azura and Iona

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