Cruising has become a popular choice for families, especially since the ships are now packed with facilities and amenities for families and children both young and young-at-heart. Plus, you can enjoy a great family cruise on as many ships and cruise lines to destinations as far as you can fathom!
You’ll find kids clubs, activities, entertainment, waterslides, connecting rooms, pools, tennis courts, arcades, workshops – the list is almost endless!
Like with any kind of a holiday, you’d always be better off with a plan. And to start off that plan, we’ve listed down five of the very best cruise lines that cater to families and kids of all ages. There are always more cruise lines and cruises to suit every type of family, so whichever one you choose, know that our Travel Specialists are ready with advice, anytime!
P&O is arguably one of Australia’s leading cruise companies, as it offers various destinations alongside some exciting and unique onboard experiences that’s tailor-fit for modern Australians, especially during the summer season!
Onboard they have four, age-specific clubs with different activities that kids aged 2-17 can enjoy. From Turtle Cove for 2-5 years, Shark Shack for 6-9 years through to HQ for 10-13 years, and HQ+ for 14 to 17-year-old teens.
The clubs are fully supervised, while your kids enjoy toys, educational games, movies, music, and simply a place to meet new friends. There are floor cushions, low tables for family activities, the latest games consoles, Lego stations, pool & hockey tables, and so on. At night, the area for smaller kids becomes a Night Nursery, where small beds and cots are made available. That way Mum and Dad can have a relaxing night out for fun too.
P&O’s cabin configurations easily accommodate families of all sizes that are travelling to different exotic locations. They have interconnecting quad-quad, twin-quad, and twin-twin cabins, as well as larger suites for a little more luxury and even bigger families.
Carnival Cruise Line
With Carnival Splendor now joining Carnival Spirit and Carnival Legend, there are even more kid-friendly features for the Carnival line in Australia. Many Aussie families will skip the hassle and celebrate their Christmas onboard – so it’s always a good idea to book early!
Carnival is very popular for Camp Carnival that covers cruising kids of all ages. Groups range in ages from 2-5, 6-8, 9-11, and 12-14. There are also programs for older teens 15-17 where they can hang out, play sports, or listen to music.
There are baby-sitting services onboard, and kids also have the option to attend Camp Carnival Night Owls offering late night activities to keep the young-ins having fun, while it’s “date-night” for Mum and Dad.
For younger children, there’s a dedicated area “SplashZone” that has mini racing slides and a tipping bucket! Make sure to bring your swimsuit! For the older kids… and you… climb up to take on the thrilling “Green Thunder” waterslide – it’s high, it’s fast and it’s not for the faint-hearted… your kids are going to love it!
When you’re done splashing around, join in the family-friendly magic shows, comedy, and participate in Hasbro, The Game Show, featuring life-sized versions of kids’ popular games and toys. Australian ships also have the all-time favorite Dr. Seuss themed activities and facilities, including the ‘Seuss at Sea’ program.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Line
Adventure Ocean. Just reading those two words brings back memories of our own family holidays onboard ship, cruising to the islands, swimming and exploring both on land and onboard. As the largest ships at sea, you can expect a huge range of entertainment and fun-filled kids programs, and that’s just perfect for a family cruise!
Royal Caribbean’s Adventure Ocean program covers kids up to 17. You have Aquanauts for 3 to 5-year-olds, Explorers (6 to 8), Voyagers (9 to 11), Teens for kids 12 and above.
Whatever kids’ group they’re in, they’ll surely have a hoot with the programmed educational activities. Popular features include science labs where young cruisers can experiment and learn something new, finger-painting, dive-in pool parties, and enjoy waterparks and waterslides onboard.
Accommodation for families? Heck yes! You’ll find that Royal Caribbean have family-friendly cabins, plus some of the biggest cabins available on any cruise ship. Onboard Oasis-class and Quantum-class ships, you’ll find spacious Loft Suites (aka Duplex Suites) and on Harmony of the Seas you’ll find the Royal Loft, the biggest cabin in the world!
Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian offers a relaxed, resort-style experience that gives great flexibility to better experience their high-standard of service – its called Freestyle Cruising.
For families traveling with kids, Norwegian Cruise Lines have youth programmes with activities to keep all your little ones (and big ones) busy as you take time out to enjoy the spa or a romantic night out.
NCL is a great choice for families as its ships are filled to the brim with activities for those kids who seemingly don’t tire at all (isn’t that ALL KIDS??). There are age specific clubs that offer a wide array of things to do, such as treasure hunts, dodgeball contests, scavenger hunts, and circus schools. Kid’s can discover exciting waterslides, aqua-park, pools, and games to enjoy with new friends. The whole family can also build in some quality time to enjoy activities together like pizza making classes, tennis and basketball, as well as fun family game shows to participate in.
If you’re cruising with the whole family, Norwegian Cruise Line’s offers staterooms that can fit up to five, or opt to stay in a connecting cabin and/or suite. Your choice!
We can’t have a family-centerd cruise blog without talking about Disney Cruises, a cruiseline specifically for the wonderment of kids and families at sea. Whether you’re onboard the Disney Magic, the Wonder, the Dream, or the Disney Fantasy, it’s going to be like boarding a theme park at sea… with hidden Mickeys scattered all around.
Activities include Broadway-style productions such as “Toy Story – The Musical”, ““Twice Charmed — An Original Twist on the Cinderella Story”, and “Mickey’s Pirates (actually) IN the Caribbean”, where kids can dress up, dance, and play pirate games.
Kids are going to be mesmerised with Disney character meet and greets as an essential part of your Disney cruise experience. Plus there are the regular pools, waterslides, jumbo movie screens and more. Each ship boasts kids clubs for children of all ages, where they can enter Andy’s Room from Toy Story with life-sized Woody and Buzz toys, “laugh-o-metres” at the Laugh Floor, and most interestingly, “The Lab”, where kids can harness their filmmaking and animating potentials with the animator’s studio and mini-sound studios.
Dad and mum will be pleased to know that they might just have the cruise to themselves… and of course Mickey!
Preparing for your Family Cruise
Before you finally set sail with your family, here’s a few things that you might want to consider:
- Pack all the essential things you need in one carry-on bag. Include your passports, tickets, and documentation, change of clothes, swimsuit for a fast action bolt to the pool, and anything you need to make your arrival comfortable (wetwipes, pre-buffet snacks etc).
- A cruise is a great way to take your kids away from their gadgets and screens, to take advantage of some quality family time. And while we would never advocate leaving them at home, maybe a set time/rule for when the gadgets are to be left in the cabin??
- Book your shore excursions BEFORE you get onboard through your cruise personaliser – that way you won’t miss out on the more popular excursions.
- Talk to your Cruise Solutions Specialist to customise and maximise your cruise for your family.
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