Best Cruise Lines for Families

Published 06/23/2016

Family Cruises

(Credit: CC0 Public Domain / skeeze / Pixabay)

Not all cruise lines (or ships) are created equal. With the increase in the number of families taking cruises together, several lines have made great strides to accommodate the needs of children of all ages. Some have gone as far as to create special ships just for families with children. Before booking your next family cruise, take a look at what the top cruise lines have to offer.


It should come as no surprise that the company that specializes in entertainment and amusement parks also has one of the best cruise lines for families with children. The ships are filled with kid-friendly activities for all ages, and kids will see their favorite life-size characters wandering around the ship. With no casino onboard, there is plenty of additional space for family adventures. There is nothing like a firework show at sea. This is something you won't want to miss. However, not everything is geared towards children onboard. Parents can sneak away for adults-only dinner and entertainment while the kids enjoy themselves in supervised kids-only activities.

Royal Caribbean

The ships in Royal Caribbean's Oasis Class are among the best for families with kids. Because of their partnership with DreamWorks, small children can enjoy seeing some of their favorite characters including Shrek and Po roaming the decks. Activities like rock climbing and surfing simulators are cool enough to keep your teenagers entertained too. Add ice skating and parades to your schedule for fun on a rainy day at sea. Additionally, Royal Caribbean offers expedited dining for kids between ages 3 and 11 to help make mealtime less chaotic and stressful.


Like the above cruise lines, Norwegian has four ships that feature popular Nickelodeon characters on board. With the Nickelodeon at Sea" program, kids interact with characters like SpongeBob SquarePants. Several ships also offer pretty sweet water parks, splash pads, and swimming pools that are sure to wear the kids out. With supervised kids activities, parents can sneak away to enjoy some quiet time or try their luck in the casino. Best of all, the free-style cruising model means that families can do what they want whenever it fits into their schedule, including mealtime. Family villa-style cabins offer larger spaces to make cruising more comfortable.


Carnival offers budget-friendly fares without skimping on activities or amenities. Entertainment and clubs are available for every age group, including toddlers, teens, and the over-21 crowd. Water slides, basketball courts, and ropes courses are available on most of the ships in the fleet. The WaterWorks aqua park is also available on certain ships in the fleet and was designed specifically with kids in mind. The Seuss at Sea program will bring Dr. Seuss characters to all ships in the fleet. Catch a movie or join in a family game show for even more fun!

Holland America

Holland America doesn’t have life-size cartoon characters or over-the-top activities that will over stimulate your kids. Instead, they offer good, clean fun for kids of all ages. The simpler design lets kids and families get away from the things they see and do on a regular basis and enjoy new experiences. Holland America's ships feature Club HAL for ages 3-12 featuring swim parties, karaoke, pajama parties, and more. There is also a teens-only area called The Loft, so the older kids in the family can get out of their element as well.