7 of the best cruises for kids for the ultimate family holiday at sea
Sail the seven seas aboard these family friendly cruise lines.
Setting sail on a luxury cruise is an adventure you won’t soon forget. Even if it’s not your kids’ first time at sea, the little ones are bound to be excited to board the ship and journey to far distant lands.
When that magic wears off, you’ll want to make sure there are enough kid-friendly activities to keep them happy.
That’s where these cruise lines excel. They’re experts in family friendly adventures and offer plenty of onboard entertainment to leave them with fond memories of their trip – and hopefully a greater thirst for travel!
A paradise for kids and the young at heart, Disney cruises feature everything from Mickey-themed restaurants to pirate-themed rooms, plus characters in costume and live musical productions. Make sure to pack your kid’s favourite Disney character costume –
Entertainment: Kids pool, live shows, deck parties, youth clubs, character experiences and themed nights
Baby nurseries? Yes, nurseries are available across the whole Disney Cruise Line fleet.
Cabin configuration: Family and two-bedroom themed state rooms.
2. Royal Caribbean via CruiseAway This international cruise line has two of the world’s largest ships, and with them, a wealth of interactive activity centres to keep kids busy.
Choose from theme parks, adventure centres, rock climbing walls, ice rinks and FlowRider surf machines. Royal Caribbean also hosts a free Adventure Ocean youth centre with activities appropriate for children and teenagers.
Entertainment: DreamWorks character dining experiences, 3D movie screenings, family dining time, merry-go-rounds and zip lines
Baby nurseries? Yes, Royal Caribbean has a dedicated nursery for babies of 6-36 months and hosts babies and tots interactive playgroup sessions.
Cabin configuration: Family rooms available for up to eight people.
3. Carnival Cruise Lines via CruiseAway Carnival has been in the family friendly cruise line business since 1972, so it’s little wonder that it’s considered one of the best for fun and entertaining cruises.
All Carnival cruises have a youth program to suit under 18s, along with Dr Seuss themed activities (so expect lots of green eggs and ham and Sam I ams on your stay!).
Entertainment: IMAX theatre, pools and waterslides, story time activities, Seuss-a-palooza Parade, dive-in movie theatre (movies you can watch from the pool), video arcade, mini golf, sports and the SkyCourse walk
Baby nurseries? No, however babysitting services are available for a fee.
Cabin configuration: Family friendly state and harbour rooms available.
4. Norwegian Cruise Line via CruiseAway With some of the most unique children’s activities at sea, including cake decorating and circus school, a Norwegian Cruise adventure is destined to be an unforgettable one.
On top of age-specific youth centres, parents have the chance to drop off the tykes at the Late Night Fun Zone or the Port Play centre when the ship is in port. This will give you that much needed time away to explore your destination hand-in-hand.
Entertainment: Family dining, mini golf, bowling, circus and magic shows, pools and waterslides
Baby nurseries? A Guppies Nursery is available on the Norwegian Escape. Otherwise, guppies playgroup programs are available for babies 6 months to 3 years fleet wide.
Cabin configuration: Choose between interconnecting state rooms and family suites.
6. MSC via CruiseAway As a family-owned company, MSC encourages family travel by offering free accommodation for kids under 18 on select sailings when they stay with their parents in the same cabin.
Onboard, the little ones can sign up for an age-appropriate youth club where they can meet children their own age. If they get along swimmingly, there are kids-only supervised dinners to further fuel those friendships.
Entertainment: LEGO activities, arts and crafts, dance classes and performances, teen talent show, teen prom night and sports activities
Nurseries for babies? Yes, a baby care service, Mini Club playground, a baby laundry service and a baby-friendly toy centre is available
Cabin configuration: Family suites and superfamily suites for up to six guests available.
7. Princess Cruises From toddlers to teenagers, Princess Cruise ships were built to entertain kids of all ages so that you can all unwind in your preferred holiday way.
After you board, check the 3-7-year-olds into the Youth Centre (not available on the Pacific Princess) where they can make new friends their own age. If they like, they can stick around for the “kids only” dinners where pizza and ice cream abound. For old
Entertainment: Children’s play areas, kids clubs, kids discos, arts and craft activities, video game rooms, sports tournaments, whale watching classes, foosball tables, DJ workshops and teen makeovers
Baby nurseries? No.
Cabin configuration: Family suites are available on certain ships.
Stephanie is the travel editor at finder.com.au. On top of being an avid traveller, she's an all-round bargain hunter. If there's a deal on hotels or a sale on flights, she'll know about it. And she'll let you know about it, too. Though probably not before she buys her own ticket.
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