Best Family Cruise Lines

family with blue sky

The best family cruise lines design their ships to attract passengers of all ages. Recently, the giants of the mainstream cruise lines have redesigned their ships to cater to active family vacations with amenities such as kids programs, water parks, in-line skating, teen discos and ocean laboratories. While ships catering to singles or mature passengers are still prevalent, there is an ocean of fun awaiting families aboard the best family cruise lines.

Best Cruises for the Whole Family

The best family cruises take into consideration the age of each child and the expectations of parents and children. Kids' programs are offered on family cruises as a free complimentary service and usually operate from morning until evening. Some ships offer private or group babysitting services as well. Certain ships occasionally offer sleep-overs or late-night teen entertainment free-of-charge on designated evenings, allowing parents free time to explore the ships casinos, dance clubs and more.

The best cruise ships for younger kids and their parents, are operated by Royal Caribbean and Carnival. Royal Caribbean is one of only a few cruise lines offering activities for children under the age of three. Some start at six months old in a specially designated nursery. Group and private babysitting services are available for a fee from 10 p.m. until 1 a.m. on some ships. Carnival also accepts little cruisers not yet potty-trained in its fun kids' program known as Camp Carnival. Additional babysitting services are available for a fee from 10 p.m. until 3 a.m.

Many family cruises offer fun activities for specific age groups. However, if you want to partake in onboard activities with your children, then set sail on Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean. Both offer scheduled activities to help kids and parents bond on the high seas.

Best Family Cruise Lines for Kids

Carnival Waterslide

The best cruises for children tend to be the newer ships designed with plenty of kid-friendly amenities and activities. Some of the mainstream cruise lines that offer complimentary kids' programs are:

Educational Opportunities

Some of the most popular activities for kids include basketball tournaments, private pool parties or teen-only shore excursions. Some cruise lines also offer educational activities designed around local port of calls such as art classes and scientific studies. For example, Royal Caribbean's Ocean Adventure kids' program has over 22,000 square feet of space dedicated to kids cruising. Tots to teens can participate in experiments at sea and get certified as adventure scientists. For the artistically-inclined kids, Adventure Art by Crayola offers art classes in everything from pottery to mask making.

Princess Cruises also offer kids the opportunity to participate in an interactive science program, known as Edutainment. Meanwhile. Celebrity Cruises is particularly good at offering an assortment of educational classes for adults and children. However, kids' programs are only available on select cruises.

Fun Factor

Carnival Cruise Line, with its line of "fun ships," has always catered to a younger crowd. Carnival's signature giant water-slides, teen discos and Camp Carnival kids program appeal to kids and teens alike. Carnival's Splendor Class ships offer teen-only shore excursions designed to appeal to teen interests, leaving parents to get to know their own peers on adult shore excursions.

In addition, Disney Cruise Line's kids' program excels at catering to younger age groups, but may leave the older teens feeling left out. Royal Caribbean sets the bar high in kid's cruises with an array of unbelievable activities and onboard amenities, such as surfing, indoor skating and rock-climbing.

With so many family-friendly cruise lines catering to parents, children and teens these days, one thing is for sure; there is a sea of opportunity for family cruisers of all ages.

Best Family Cruise Lines