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Family Cruising: The Ultimate Guide to Enjoy Your Cruise Trip with Toddler

Here's a practical guide to having a great time on a cruise with the kids.

By Cruise Booking Team

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A cruise vacation can be an excellent option for traveling with kids of all ages. This guide will provide you with all the information and strategies you need to plan a cruise vacation with your family.

Cruising is the ideal vacation option for families as it is fully loaded with activities, great kids clubs, family-friendly dining choices, babysitting, and exciting opportunities for all age groups. Such cruises perfectly blend time with some guilt-free alone time onboard and in ports of call. Thus, cruise lines that offer family cruise holidays also offer accommodations that suit your family with family-specific staterooms and suites.

These include complimentary child care, nursery programs, supervised teen activities, easy to budget, and parents can enjoy their whole vacation and relax.

Which Cruise Line Is Best For Families?

Finding a cruise line that serves both adults and kids can be tricky. While adults might search for a peaceful and relaxed atmosphere, the kids will probably be eager to play. So here we have gathered several cruise lines that allow toddlers, kids, tweens, and teens on board to have fun and give adults the option to relax and unwind.

1. Disney Cruise Line

Disney cruise line brings the whole family the magical moments of Disney World wherever you sail. These cruises are centrally known for their deck parties, themed days, splashtacular pools, fun slides, splash zones, greeting from Disney Characters, theater shows, and more. There is something for everyone onboard a Disney Cruise. Some of the best activities one can try on Disney Cruises are fantastic kid’s spaces, splash pools, greet and meet Disney characters, fireworks, Disney Character visits, and Live Disney shows.

2. Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean cruises know how to entertain! They are known for thrilling family activities and are considered one of the best cruise lines for families. Their sails are full of innovative ways to enjoy the family cruising with zip wires, splash zones, and multi-generation family groups. Kids' zones are divided into nurseries, aquanauts, explorers, voyagers, and navigators, along with teen clubs reserved for 15 to 17 years old children. Moreover, there are thrilling and exciting activities for children and adults on board, such as crazy golf, breakout puzzle rooms, FlowRider surf simulator, sports courts, climbing frames, rock climbing, and so on. This cruise line has some of the largest cruise ships in the world, along with its own private island in the Caribbean called Coco Cay.

3. Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival’s discounts and outstanding itineraries are so much budget-friendly that a family can accommodate it and can save a little money by cruising on it. The Carnival cruises are outfitted with waterparks, sports courts, ropes courses, outdoor activities, and indoor zones to keep your kids entertained according to their age groups. There are also timeless stories for whole family to enjoy of Dr. Seuss, including the onboard parade of characters. Moreover, there are numerous activities, including entertainment, exploration, and discovery for families.

4. Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian loves families and has become one of the best family-friendly cruise lines with plenty of onboard amenities and children’s clubs for all age groups. Kids can attend the supervised youth programs while adults can relax at a spa or sip their favorite cocktail at a bar. Even there is a kids’ special menu available in all of the restaurants. Moreover, there are many activities for kids and adults on board, such as laser tag, go-karting, VR machines, and water parks with slides and splash areas.

5. MSC Cruise Line

MSC Cruise line has the best kids-friendly cruise ships, fully-packed with tons of great things to do for all ages. There are dedicated kids clubs, teen programs, and adult-only programs. The kids and teens programs are partnered up with top children brands such as Chicco and LEGO. Moreover, it also offers multiple dining choices and plenty of onboard activities such as zip line, bowling, flight simulator, VR Maze, MSC Formula One Racer, and more.

6. Celebrity Cruise Line

Celebrity is a family-friendly luxury cruise line with culinary experiences influenced by the Michelin-Started Chefs, onboard activities, and a lot more fun. Guests can enjoy excellent activities such as the Edge, Kids club, movies under the stars, silent disco, parties, and even cupcake decoration competitions. Not only that, but it also offers family-friendly excursions, children's menus and is autism-friendly.

Which Cruise is Ships Family-Friendly?

Every family’s travel style is different, so think about your travel style and narrow down your choices for an unforgettable family vacation at sea. Thus, here we’ve chosen the most innovative and entertaining cruise ships that are family-friendly and kids oriented.

  • Carnival Vista, Dream, Magic, Panorama, and Splendor feature the most sophisticated décor and entertaining options for the entire family. Parents can enjoy more carefree days with their kids onboard Vista that’s ideal for all ages.
  • Celebrity Constellation, Equinox, Infinity, Millennium, and Summit are known for their personal service, sumptuous cuisines, and upscale design. It features multiple indoor and outdoor activities, live shows, entertainment options, sports, games, pools, retreats, a spa, and accommodations.
  • Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy, Disney Magic, and Disney Wonder have magic from aft to stern and feature sail away celebrations to deck parties, impressive fireworks, lots of kid’s activities, animated characters, splash pools, and more things to explore on this sea Disney land.
  • Anthem of the Seas can accommodate up to 4905 passengers at a time, has excellent features, entertainment options, indoor and outdoor activities, and much more, including the interior design that gives a resort at sea feel. It is perfect for families with active kids who are looking for the sun.
  • Harmony of the Seas includes a kids-friendly Broadwalk and stands as the world’s largest cruise ship and her sister ships. It is more than three football fields long and can hold up to 6272 passengers at a time and entertain them. It features many entertainment options, gaming arcades, dining spots, sports courts, and accommodations.
  • MSC Seaside is considered one of the best kid’s cruises as its sails year-round from the Caribbean to Miami. It features modular connected rooms, family activities, interactive waterparks, waterslides, adventure zones, and more. Even there are dedicated kids-only zones and clubs.
  • MSC Divina cruises from Miami to the Caribbean but gives the Mediterranean vibes. It features a lively atmosphere, games galleries, an international clientele, and lots and lots of fun. Kids under 11 sail for free on this cruise, and parents can save much money and interact with other parents from different countries and states.
  • Norwegian Getaway’s 14 passengers decks feature 26 dining spots and tons of activities based on the age groups, such as rock climbing, video games, casinos, adult-only retreat, live shows, programs, and bowling. Even it offers family-friendly shore excursions.
  • Regal Princess can carry up to 3560 passengers and is more about cultural appreciation than adrenalin. As part of the cruise, there are multi-level glitter atriums and piazzas, deck parties, and light shows, as well as kiddie pools, kiddie clubs, and play zones.

How Much Does It Cost?

A family cruise vacation can be a very affordable option as the price includes meals, shipboard activities, certain drinks, nightly entertainment, and transportation to exotic ports of call. It can also be an excellent option for spending quality time with extended family.

Things to consider before planning a family cruise

These tips are going to help you consider which cruise line to choose. Age requirements onboard for kid’s clubs.

  • Babysitting (in-cabin)
  • Bathtubs and cribs
  • Cruising while pregnant
  • Destination
  • Entertainment
  • Kid’s pool and waterpark
  • Kids group activities at night

How to Plan a Family Cruise?

Family cruising is an easy way to spend school holidays with your kids since it provides quality time with your family. So, here is what to look for when planning a family cruise with kids.

1. Choose your week carefully

The first step to planning a family cruise is choosing your week carefully. For example, if your kid is young and does not have any school, then off-season cruising destinations are the best. During that time, sailings are quieter, lower rates, and kid’s areas are less crowded.

2. Select a destination

Whether you want to explore culture and arts or relax on the beach, plan your cruise accordingly. When you select a destination, ensure that it fits almost every taste of your family members. The top family cruise destinations are Alaska, Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada/New England, the Caribbean, Hawaii, Mexico, and the Mediterranean. Even some off-season destinations can make your family trip a perfect vacay time.

3. Look for family deals

Many cruise lines offer complimentary, age-appropriate programming, adventures, entertainment, and amenities especially designed and reserved for toddlers to teens and tweens. There are often special fares for children.

4. Select the right cruise line

Cruisebooking.com makes finding the perfect cruise simple. You can find complete details about cruise lines, ships, and ports of call. There are several kid-friendly cruise lines and cruises in different shapes, sizes, and styles. There are many mainstream cruise lines that offer something for everyone, such as Royal Caribbean and Princess; NCL and Carnival are affordable family cruises; Holland America and Celebrity.

5. Make dinner reservations

If you want to expand your horizons and try some specialty dining, make dinner reservations in advance or once you board the cruise. You can even plan a date night by dropping your kid the kids club or arrange private babysitting when available.

6. Know that diapers may dictate your experience

A few cruise lines don’t allow kids in pools who are still in their diapers. So if your kid is still in diapers, check the basic guidelines of the cruise line and check whether they allow swim diapers or not.

Packing Tips for Kids

The list below will help you pack your parent's and kids' necessities while they travel with you on a cruise. Don’t overfill your kids' suitcase with unusual stuff; consider adding:

  • A small pack of wipes or tissues
  • A small set of travel toys and a convenient soft toy
  • Beach toys
  • Comfortable water shoes and flip-flops
  • Handy refillable water bottle
  • Hat
  • Some digital activity books or portable video games
  • Sunglasses
  • Water wings or armbands
  • Swim diapers

Packing Tips for Parents

That was a kid’s checklist or packing list, but what about parents? What do they need to carry in the bag? Anything you need on the first day, add it to your carry-on bag or shoulder bag, such as

  • Add a folder with important documents like tickets, a pen, and blank paper  
  • Medicines for emergency
  • Passports
  • Printed copies of id proofs
  • Sunglasses
  • Swimwear, flip-flops, and dry bag

Ways to Save Money on Family Cruises

Here are some money-saving tips on family cruises.

  • Be flexible on selecting cabins on a family cruise
  • Book an inside cabin
  • Book early with CruiseBooking.com
  • Book your spa appointments on port days
  • Consider the beverage packages
  • Ask about kids sail free promos
  • Sign your kids up for kids club
  • Skip specialty restaurants

Conclusion

If you’re looking to go on a cruise for a family vacation, we would highly recommend looking at these things mentioned above. Also, don’t forget you’re on vacation to have fun and relax and enjoy the adventure.

Also, Read: what is the best time of year for a transatlantic cruise?

Frequently Asked Questions about Family Cruising

There are six cruise line which are most family friendly such as Carnival, Disney, Royal Caribbean International, Norwegian, MSC and Costa Cruise Line.

Cruise Lines with family rooms are – Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Sea – Ultimate family suite, Carnival Vista-class ships – Family harbor staterooms, Norwegian Encore – Family oceanview with large picture window, princess cruises – family suites, disney fantasy and Dream suite, Oasis of the Sea’s Ultimate Panoramic Suite, Norwegian’s The Haven Family Villa, Celebrity Solstice class ship’s family veranda stateroom, MSC Meraviglia’s super family plus balcony and deluxe suite, and MSC Seaside’s Grand Suite.

Yes, if the cruise ship they have choose has five-berth cabin. Or they can opt for a two cabins with a connecting door between them.
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