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The Best Cruises for Kids: Everything You Need to Know!

Setting sail on the vast ocean is an adventure like no other, especially when you have your family aboard. Choosing the right cruise can turn your voyage into a treasure trove of joyful memories and fun cruise experiences.

This guide is your compass to uncovering the best cruises for kids, ensuring a journey filled with laughter, excitement, and boundless discoveries. From exploring the most family-friendly cruise lines to diving into a sea of fun-filled activities, we’ve got your voyage covered for smooth sailing ahead.

So, let’s hoist the sails and embark on this thrilling exploration together!

kid cruises

Choosing the Right Cruise for Your Family

The vast ocean of cruise options might initially seem overwhelming, especially when you’re looking for the perfect blend of kid-friendly adventures and relaxation for adults.

However, armed with the right information, you’ll be able to navigate through the choices to find the ideal cruise that sails smoothly for every member of your family.

In this section, we’re going to delve into the various factors to consider while selecting a family-friendly cruise.

cruising with toddlers

Age-appropriate Activities

Every child is on a quest for fun, but the definition of ‘fun’ varies greatly from tots to teens. Thus, a broad spectrum of age-appropriate activities is a hallmark of a great family cruise.

Baby and Toddler Programs

  • Childcare Centers: Look for cruises for toddlers with well-equipped childcare centers that provide a safe and stimulating environment for the littlest travelers.
  • Early Years Activities: Investigate the availability of programs that encourage sensory exploration, play, and early learning.

Kids and Pre-teens Programs

  • Kids Clubs: Check for cruises that offer kids clubs with a range of interactive activities, themed parties, and learning experiences.
  • Sports and Adventure Activities: Active play areas, miniature golf, or climbing walls can provide hours of entertainment.

Teen Programs

  • Teen Lounges and Clubs: A designated hangout area for teens with age-appropriate activities can provide the right balance of independence and supervised fun on cruises for teens.
  • Excursions: Explore excursions that cater to older kids’ interests and thrill-seeking tendencies like snorkeling or zip-lining.

toddler and mom in pool

Family-friendly Amenities

The right amenities can greatly enhance the comfort and convenience of your family cruise adventure.

Family Cabins and Suites

  • Space: Look for spacious family cabins or interconnected rooms to accommodate larger families.
  • Amenities: Features like baby-changing facilities, cribs, or bunk beds can make life on the sea much more comfortable.

Childcare and Babysitting Services

  • Qualified Staff: Ensure that the cruise line has experienced and certified staff to take care of your children.
  • Flexible Hours: Look for services that work around your schedule, allowing you some adult-only time.

toddler sleeping on cruise ship

Dining Options

An array of dining options can make mealtime a breeze on the best cruises for kids, even for the pickiest eaters.

Kid-friendly Menus

  • Variety: Seek out cruises that offer kid-friendly menus with a variety of nutritious and fun options.
  • Flexibility: Look for places that allow customizations to cater to dietary restrictions and preferences.

Flexible Dining Times

  • Early Dining Options: Early dining options can be a boon for families with young children.
  • Various Venue Choices: Having a choice between formal dining rooms, buffets, and casual eateries can suit different family needs.

toddler in the beach

Safety Measures

Ensuring a safe environment for your family should be a priority.

Child Safety on Board

  • Child ID Wristbands: These are invaluable for keeping track of your little ones on a large ship.
  • Safety Railings and Netting: Check that the cruise ship has necessary safety measures to prevent accidents.

Medical Facilities

  • Onboard Medical Care: Access to prompt medical care can provide peace of mind during your voyage.
  • Well-stocked Pharmacy: A well-stocked pharmacy is essential for addressing minor ailments and emergencies.

The right blend of age-appropriate activities, comforting amenities, diverse dining options, and stringent safety measures can set the stage for an unforgettable family cruise.

In the next section, we’ll take a closer look at some of the top family-friendly cruise lines, to further guide your voyage towards making cherished family memories on the high seas.

ranking the cruise lines

Top Family-Friendly Cruise Lines

Setting sail with your family on the best cruises for kids promises a voyage of discovery, both of distant shores and of experiences shared together. Yet, the choice of the cruise line can significantly steer the course of your adventure.

Here, we spotlight some of the top family-friendly cruise lines known for their commitment to creating a delightful sea-faring experience for all ages.

Disney Cruise Line

There’s a certain magic in the name itself that spells endless fun and fantasy for children.

Overview and Unique Selling Propositions

  • Themed Cruises: Embark on a journey where favorite Disney characters come to life, sprinkling magic at every deck and corner.
  • Broadway-style Shows: High-quality, mesmerizing shows that transport families to a world of imagination and music.

Entertainment and Activities

  • Kids Clubs: A plethora of activities awaits young explorers, from art and crafts to storytelling and character meet-and-greets.
  • Family Activities: Dive-in movies, deck parties, and themed nights promise fun for the whole family.

Dining and Accommodation

  • Character Dining: Meals turn into a delightful adventure with character dining experiences.
  • Family-friendly Cabins: Spacious cabins with split bathrooms for added convenience.

Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean is synonymous with innovative on-board experiences and non-stop entertainment.

Overview and Unique Selling Propositions

  • Adventure Ocean Program: Age-segmented clubs with a range of stimulating and educational activities.
  • Onboard Innovations: Features like rock climbing walls, surf simulators, and ice-skating rinks set a new standard for on-sea adventures.

Entertainment and Activities

  • Shore Excursions: Family-friendly excursions that cater to the adventurous spirits.
  • Water Parks: Splashaway Bay and other water features offer endless aquatic fun.

Dining and Accommodation

  • My Family Time Dining: Tailored dining experiences to accommodate the needs of families.
  • Variety of Accommodations: From interconnected staterooms to suites with ample space for families.

Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Cruise Line prides itself on being ‘The Fun Ship’, with a lively atmosphere and a plethora of activities.

Overview and Unique Selling Propositions

  • Camp Ocean: A treasure trove of fun and learning for young sailors.
  • Seuss at Sea: Dr. Seuss’s whimsical world comes alive, enchanting young readers and the young at heart.

Entertainment and Activities

  • WaterWorks: Onboard water park with thrilling slides and a splash zone.
  • Outdoor Play Areas: Mini golf, basketball courts, and more to keep the energetic little ones engaged.

Dining and Accommodation

  • Kids Menus: Menus that will tickle the taste buds of the little ones.
  • Family Harbor Staterooms and Suites: Specially designed to provide a cozy, family-centric living space.

is norwegian cruise line good

Norwegian Cruise Line

Known for its laid-back atmosphere, Norwegian Cruise Line offers the freedom and flexibility families crave.

Overview and Unique Selling Propositions

  • Freestyle Dining: Dine whenever, wherever with a wide variety of restaurants to choose from.
  • Guppies Nursery: A dedicated space for the youngest travelers to play and learn.

Entertainment and Activities

  • Splash Academy: Age-segmented programs filled with creative play, sports, and themed activities.
  • Entourage Teen Club: A cool retreat for teenagers to socialize and enjoy planned activities.

Dining and Accommodation

  • Kid-friendly Dining Options: From buffets to specialty restaurants, finding something for every palate is easy.
  • Family Suites and Mini-Suites: Comfortable living spaces that cater to family needs.

Coral Princess cabins to avoid

Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises, renowned for its refined elegance, also holds a treasure trove of family-friendly offerings.

Overview and Unique Selling Propositions

  • Discovery at SEA Programs: A partnership with Discovery™ to provide enriching on-board experiences like stargazing, trivia, and interactive encounters.
  • Movies Under the Stars: Family movie nights under a canopy of twinkling stars create unforgettable memories.

Entertainment and Activities

  • Youth Centers and Teen Lounges: Age-specific zones with a variety of engaging activities, from arts and crafts to video game competitions.
  • Family-friendly Excursions: Shore excursions catering to families, ensuring adventures continue even off-board.

Dining and Accommodation

  • Kid-friendly Menus: A variety of dining options including kid-friendly menus to satisfy tiny taste buds.
  • Connecting Staterooms: Ideal for families needing extra space and accessibility.

MSC ship in port

MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises is an European-based cruise line offering a unique blend of maritime tradition and family-friendly experiences.

Overview and Unique Selling Propositions

  • LEGO Experience Day: An entire day dedicated to fun LEGO activities, a delight for young builders.
  • Doremi Family: An array of family-focused activities and entertainment options including cooking classes, game shows, and sports tournaments.

Entertainment and Activities

  • Kids Clubs: Age-segmented clubs providing a range of fun and educational activities.
  • Aqua Parks and Water Activities: Splish-splash fun for the entire family with a variety of water slides and pools.

Dining and Accommodation

  • Baby and Kids Menus: Thoughtfully created menus to cater to young palates.
  • Family Cabins: Spacious family cabins with all necessary amenities for a comfortable stay.

Celebrity Constellation

Celebrity Cruises

Offering a sophisticated cruising experience, Celebrity Cruises hasn’t overlooked the younger cruisers.

Overview and Unique Selling Propositions

  • XClub Teen Entertainment: A dedicated space for teenagers to chill out and make new friends.
  • Fun Factory Kids Club: A fun-filled zone for the younger kids to explore and engage in a variety of activities.

Entertainment and Activities

  • Camp at Sea: Ever-changing daily program of activities suited for every age group.
  • Interactive Family Events: Bond over cooking classes, talent shows, and other group activities.

Dining and Accommodation

  • Variety of Dining Options: From casual eateries to upscale restaurants, offering a wide range of kid-friendly options.
  • Connecting Staterooms: Ideal for larger families, providing ample space and privacy.

Each of these cruise lines offers a unique approach to cruises with kids.

With a myriad of options available, the ideal family cruise adventure is within your horizon, ready to set sail towards unforgettable memories.

fun cruises on deck

What to Expect on Cruises with Kids

Embarking on a cruise with your family is akin to stepping into a realm of endless possibilities, where each day unfurls a tapestry of cherished memories. Here’s a glimpse of what to expect on this nautical adventure:

Arrival and Boarding

The first brush with your floating haven is bound to be a whirl of excitement mixed with a sprinkle of chaos.

Check-in Procedures

  • Online Check-in: The convenience of online check-ins to streamline the boarding process.
  • Health and Safety Protocols: Updated health screenings and safety measures to ensure a safe voyage.

Boarding the Ship

  • Family Boarding: Priority boarding for families with young children to ease the process.
  • Welcoming Crew: A warm, friendly crew ready to assist you with any initial queries or concerns.

fun cruise


Your home on the high seas should blend comfort with a dash of the extraordinary.

Staterooms and Suites

  • Comfort Features: Family-friendly amenities including baby-changing facilities, cribs, or bunk beds.
  • Room Services: On-call assistance and room services to cater to your family’s needs.

Views and Balconies

  • Ocean Views: The charm of waking up to serene ocean views.
  • Safety Precautions: Adequate safety measures for families with young children.

fun cruise quotes


The dining experience on a cruise is a voyage of flavors waiting to be explored.

Variety of Dining Venues

  • Casual to Formal: A range of dining venues from casual eateries to formal dining rooms.
  • Theme Nights: Engaging theme nights offering a fun and interactive dining experience.

Kid-friendly Menus

  • Nutrition and Taste: Balanced, nutritious meals that cater to the taste buds of young ones.
  • Special Dietary Requests: Accommodations for special dietary needs or allergies.

sitting on cruise balcony chairs

Entertainment and Activities

The heart of a family cruise lies in the kaleidoscope of activities it offers.

Kids and Teens Clubs

  • Age-appropriate Activities: A range of activities tailored to different age groups.
  • Supervised Fun: Experienced staff ensuring a safe and enjoyable environment.

Family-friendly Shows and Events

  • Live Performances: Captivating shows and live performances for the whole family to enjoy.
  • Interactive Events: Game nights, scavenger hunts, and other interactive family events.

zip lining shore excursion fun!

Shore Excursions

Every port holds the promise of new adventures and cultural experiences.

Family-friendly Excursions

  • Guided Tours: Guided tours offering an insightful exploration of the destination.
  • Adventure Activities: Thrilling outdoor activities for the adventurous families.

Safety and Comfort

  • Safety Briefings: Detailed safety briefings before embarking on shore excursions.
  • Comfortable Transportation: Comfortable and safe transportation to and from excursion sites.

cruise ship at sea


The end of your voyage should leave you with a treasure chest of memories, not hassles.

Check-out Procedures

  • Streamlined Check-out: Hassle-free check-out procedures ensuring a smooth departure.
  • Customs and Duties: Guidance on customs and duty-free allowances.

Farewell Activities

  • Farewell Parties: An opportunity to reminisce about the voyage and bid farewell to new friends.
  • Feedback: Providing feedback to help cruise lines enhance the family cruising experience.

The best cruises for kids are more than just a journey across the azure waters; it’s a passage to a world where every moment is a cherished memory waiting to be made.

With the right blend of entertainment, comfort, and adventure, a family cruise promises a horizon brimming with joy, laughter, and love.

cruises with kids

Making the Most Out of Your Family Cruise

Sailing away into the horizon with your family is an invitation to create a treasure trove of memories.

However, the essence of the best cruises for kids lies in smart planning and making the most of what’s on offer. Here’s a lighthouse to guide you through the voyage of creating an unforgettable cruising adventure:

Planning Your Cruise

Preparation is your first mate in ensuring a smooth sailing experience.

Researching Cruise Lines and Ships

  • Family-Friendly Features: Look for cruise lines and ships known for their family-friendly amenities and programs.
  • Itinerary Appeal: Choose itineraries that excite every member of the family, offering a mix of relaxation and adventure.

Booking and Budgeting

  • Early Booking: Benefits of booking early including lower prices and better cabin selections.
  • Budget Planning: Planning your budget to include on-board expenses, shore excursions, and unexpected costs.

packing for vacation

Packing Smart

Packing right is crucial to ensure a comfortable voyage.

Essentials and Extras

  • Packing Checklist: Creating a checklist of essentials like medications, sunscreen, swimwear, and comfortable clothing.
  • Extras: Extras like costumes for theme nights, or your child’s favorite snacks.

Travel Documents

  • Passports and Visas: Ensuring all travel documents including passports and necessary visas are in order.
  • Boarding Passes and Booking Confirmations: Keeping a handy folder of all your booking confirmations and boarding passes.

Onboard Life

The ship is a microcosm of experiences waiting to be explored.

Daily Planner

  • Activity Schedules: Using the daily planner provided by the cruise line to plan your day around the activities and shows on offer.
  • Family Coordination: Coordinating with family members to enjoy activities together or have a check-in point for older kids.

Exploring Dining Options

  • Reservation: Making reservations for specialty dining experiences or theme nights.
  • Trying New Cuisines: Encouraging kids to try new cuisines and enjoy the variety of food available on board.

best way to book a cruise

Making the Most of Entertainment

The range of entertainment on a cruise is bound to have something for everyone.

Shows and Performances

  • Booking Seats: Booking seats in advance for popular shows and performances.
  • Family Shows: Enjoying family-friendly shows and interactive performances together.

Kids and Teen Clubs

  • Scheduled Activities: Taking advantage of the scheduled activities at kids and teen clubs.
  • Socialization: Encouraging your children to socialize and make new friends.

Family-Friendly Cruise

Shore Excursions

The ports of call offer a doorway to new experiences and cultures.

Researching Ahead

  • Excursion Options: Researching shore excursion options ahead and booking popular tours in advance.
  • Local Attractions: Exploring local attractions and activities that appeal to the family.

Safety Precautions

  • Safety Briefings: Attending safety briefings provided by the cruise line.
  • Local Emergency Contacts: Keeping a list of local emergency contacts and ensuring every member has a copy.

Costa Cruise

Capturing Memories

The best cruises for kids are a storyline of cherished memories waiting to be captured.


  • Photo Packages: Exploring photo packages offered by the cruise line for professional photography.
  • Personal Photography: Carrying a good camera to capture personal moments.

Journaling and Souvenirs

  • Travel Journal: Keeping a travel journal to jot down memorable experiences.
  • Collecting Souvenirs: Collecting souvenirs from each destination to have tangible memories of your voyage.

The open sea, endless horizons, and the joyous laughter of your family blending with the whispers of the waves – the best cruises for kids are an epitome of joy and togetherness.

By planning well, packing smart, exploring the plethora of activities on board and ashore, and capturing the precious moments, you lay the anchor for a voyage filled with delightful memories.

LA cruise ports

Caveats to Cruises for Kids

Every cloud has a silver lining, and every cruise has its set of caveats, especially when you have children aboard.

Being prepared for these potential hiccups can ensure that your family continues to sail smoothly through them. Here’s a rundown of some common caveats and how to navigate around them:

Age and Height Restrictions

Cruise lines and their amenities often have certain age and height restrictions.

Kids Clubs and Activities

  • Age Groups: Understanding the age group divisions for kids clubs and activities.
  • Supervision Requirements: Knowing when adult supervision is required for certain activities.

Pools and Water Slides

  • Height Requirements: Checking the height requirements for water slides and other aquatic attractions.
  • Supervised Swim: Ensuring young children are supervised while in or near water.

best cruise lines for young adults

Food Allergies and Dietary Restrictions

Managing dietary needs in the vast sea can be a bit tricky but is navigable with prior planning.

Informing in Advance

  • Special Requests: Informing the cruise line of any allergies or dietary restrictions well in advance.
  • Meal Pre-orders: Pre-ordering meals to ensure dietary needs are met.

Carrying Necessary Items

  • Snacks: Packing some allergy-friendly snacks for your children.
  • Medications: Bringing necessary medications like antihistamines or EpiPens.

Travel Scarf

Seasickness and Health Concerns

The rocking of the ship can cause seasickness, and being in a contained environment can pose other health concerns.

Prevention and Preparation

  • Seasickness Medication: Consulting with a doctor before your trip about seasickness prevention.
  • Hygiene Practices: Practicing good hygiene to prevent the spread of germs.

Medical Facilities

  • Onboard Medical Facilities: Familiarizing yourself with the location and services of the onboard medical facilities.
  • Health Insurance: Checking your health insurance coverage for international waters or considering travel insurance.

P&O cruise ship

Safety Concerns

Safety should always be your co-captain on a cruise voyage.

Safety Drills and Briefings

  • Attendance: Ensuring your family attends all safety drills and briefings.
  • Understanding Procedures: Making sure every family member understands the safety procedures.

Child Safety

  • Supervision: Keeping a close eye on your children especially near pools, balconies, and open decks.
  • Identification Bands: Utilizing identification bands provided by the cruise line to keep track of your children.

Royal Caribbean Cruise ship

Crowds and Noise

The best cruises for kids can be bustling with activities and people which can be overwhelming for some children.

Quiet Zones

  • Finding Quiet Spaces: Discovering quiet spots on the ship for downtime.
  • Relaxation Times: Scheduling some relaxation times to help your children unwind.

Sensory Sensitivities

  • Noise-Canceling Headphones: Considering noise-canceling headphones for children with sensory sensitivities.
  • Schedule Adjustments: Adjusting your schedule to attend less crowded, quieter events.

A well-prepared sailor is never taken by surprise. By anticipating these caveats and preparing accordingly, you can ensure a pleasant and memorable cruising experience for your entire family.

The whims of the sea are unpredictable, but with a little foresight, your family cruise can sail smoothly towards beautiful horizons.

kid cruises


Embarking on the best cruises for kids is akin to setting sail on a voyage of endless discoveries, where every day unfolds new adventures, laughter, and cherished memories.

The lapping waves against the hull of the ship, the infinite stretch of the horizon, and the starlit skies at night create a magical backdrop for creating stories that will be told across family dinners for years to come.

So, let the sea breeze fill your sails, explore the endless activities on board, venture into the heart of every destination, and let the rhythm of the waves sync with the laughter and joy of your family.

The wide-open sea is an invitation to create beautiful memories, and a family cruise is your vessel towards this enchanting journey. Unfurl the sails, and let the adventure begin!

FAQs on the Best Cruises for Kids

Which Cruise Lines Are Best for Kids?

Top cruise lines for families include Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, and Carnival Cruise Line. They offer extensive kid-friendly amenities, entertainment options, and tailored programs for children of all ages.

What Age is Suitable for Kids to Go on a Cruise?

Most cruise lines welcome children of all ages, but the experience can be more enjoyable for kids aged 3 and up due to the availability of kids’ clubs and organized activities. Some cruise lines have nursery services for infants.

What Activities Are Available for Kids on a Cruise?

Activities range from kids’ clubs, themed parties, water parks, and interactive games, to educational workshops and teen discos. There’s something to keep every age group entertained and engaged.

How to Manage Kids’ Food Allergies on a Cruise?

Notify the cruise line of any allergies in advance. Most cruises offer a variety of dining options catering to different dietary needs. Always carry necessary medications and consider pre-ordering meals to ensure they meet dietary requirements.

What Safety Precautions Should Be Taken When Cruising with Kids?

Attend safety drills with your kids, supervise them especially near water, and acquaint yourself with the ship’s medical facilities. It’s also wise to have a meeting point in case of separation.

How Can I Keep My Kids Entertained During Sea Days?

Participate in onboard activities, explore the kids’ clubs, enjoy family pool time, and perhaps take in a show or movie. Sea days provide a plethora of activities to keep kids entertained.

How to Prepare Kids for Their First Cruise?

Talk to your kids about what to expect, show them videos or pictures of the cruise ship, and get them excited about the onboard activities and destinations you’ll be visiting.

How to Handle Seasickness for Kids?

Consult with your healthcare provider on suitable seasickness medications or remedies. Also, booking a cabin in the middle of the ship and on a lower deck can help minimize motion.

What Should I Pack for a Cruise with Kids?

Pack comfortable clothing, swimwear, formal wear for dinner nights, medications, sunscreen, and some favorite toys or games. It’s also a good idea to bring snack items for picky eaters.

How to Make the Most of Port Days with Kids?

Research family-friendly excursions, plan your day in advance, and ensure you have a good balance of activities and relaxation time to enjoy the destination without feeling rushed.

Can Kids Cruise for Free or at a Discounted Rate?

Some cruise lines offer “kids sail free” promotions or discounted rates for children. It’s advisable to check with the cruise lines directly or monitor their special offers for such opportunities.

What Type of Cabin Should I Book for My Family?

Family cabins or adjoining cabins are ideal. They offer extra space and are designed to accommodate families. Suites or cabins with balconies also provide extra space, although balconies require extra caution with young children.

Are Baby-Sitting or Child Care Services Available Onboard?

Yes, many cruise lines offer babysitting or group child care services, often for an additional fee. It’s advisable to check with the cruise line in advance regarding availability and rates.

How Do Cruise Lines Accommodate Children with Special Needs?

Cruise lines provide various accommodations such as wheelchair accessibility, dietary options, and sensory-friendly environments. It’s important to communicate any special needs with the cruise line in advance.

Are Vaccinations Required for Kids on Cruises?

Vaccination requirements vary based on itinerary and the cruise line. It’s advisable to check with the cruise line and consult with a healthcare provider to ensure all necessary vaccinations are up-to-date.

What is the Process for Kids’ Embarkation and Disembarkation?

During embarkation and disembarkation, follow the instructions provided by the cruise line. Having a plan, being patient, and keeping kids informed can help make the process smoother.

How to Handle Emergencies with Kids Onboard?

Familiarize yourself with the ship’s emergency procedures, locate the medical facility, and keep a small first aid kit handy. It’s also advisable to have a plan in place for communicating with family members in case of emergencies.

What Educational Opportunities Are Available for Kids on Cruises?

Many cruise lines offer educational workshops, interactive learning sessions, and cultural excursions during port stops. Some cruises also have partnerships with educational organizations to provide enriching experiences.

Can I Bring Baby Gear and Supplies on the Cruise?

Yes, you can bring baby gear like strollers, pack ‘n plays, and baby food. Some items may be available for rent or purchase onboard, so it’s worth checking with the cruise line beforehand to minimize packing.

How to Deal with Sleep Arrangements and Jet Lag with Kids?

Maintain a consistent bedtime routine to help kids adjust, and consider bringing familiar bedtime items like a favorite blanket or stuffed animal. For jet lag, gradually adjust bedtime schedules before the trip and get plenty of sunlight during the day to help reset internal clocks.

Is Travel Insurance Necessary for a Family Cruise?

It’s highly advisable to have travel insurance covering medical emergencies, trip cancellations, or other unforeseen events. It provides peace of mind and financial protection for your family.

These additional FAQs endeavor to cover the breadth of queries parents may have when planning a cruise adventure.

With this knowledge at your helm, you’re better equipped to navigate the planning process, ensuring a memorable and worry-free voyage on the best cruises for kids.