Family Cruises

Thinking about taking a family cruise? If so, it’s important to note that not all cruise ships are created equal when it comes to providing fun for the whole family. Some cruise ships may cater to the young, single crowd, while others may cater to the well-to-do mature set. Even certain cruise itineraries are more kid-friendly than others. For example: Alaska and Caribbean are excellent destinations that tend to be kid-friendly.

So, if you want to get the most from your family vacation, check out the following list of some of the best cruise ships for families with kids of all ages.

So far, the ships offering the most for family fun are Royal Caribbean’s Voyager-class ships including: Voyager, Adventure, Explorer, Navigator and Mariner of the Seas. These ships offer the ultimate in kid-friendly activities such as roller-blading, ice skating rinks, rock climbing walls and miniature golf as well as indoor promenades that feature exciting events such as parades and other special events.

Royal Caribbean’s kid facilities are among the largest in the industry with arts and crafts workshops, toddlers only splash pool, computer stations and a video arcade. The ships also feature Johnny Rockets (kids love it) and free activities for kids under 3.

Carnival Cruise Lines has long been an attractive choice for families with kids of all ages, especially teens. Teens aboard Carnival’s Conquest-class ships, including Carnival Conquest, Glory, Liberty and Valor, are permitted visit Carnival’s spas and have regular access to disco evenings as well as special teens-only shore excursions. Teens can also enjoy PlayStation 2 and Xbox consoles.

For younger kids, activities include arts and crafts, talent shows and scavenger hunts, drawing contests, sing-alongs, wading pools, computer labs, soft play areas and a video wall. Carnival’s program accepts children as young as 2. Many lines start at age 3.

For younger kids, aged 4 to tween, hands down, Disney Magic and Disney Wonder have the best facilities and programs for this age group. Kids are divided into age groups with a separate schedule of events for each.

The Oceaneer Club, the Oceaneer Lab and the Flounders Nursery offer the perfect events for each age group. The Oceaneer Club caters to the following age groups with separate events: 3-4 and 5-7. The Oceaneer Lab handles kids ages 8-12 with separate events for 8-9 year olds and 10-12 year olds. The Flounders Nursery caters to the up-to-3 group.

Other pluses for tots, tweens and teens include: Walt Disney Theater, Mickey’s Pool for young kids and a club for teens called ALoft. The Walt Disney Theater features shows and movies as well as “Studio at Sea� which offers interactive activities for kids and parents.

We mentioned cruise ships that offer the most for family fun, but what about kids that love kiddy cuisine? Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Jewel has dining for families down to a science. While most cruise ships have set times and tables for dining, Norwegian Jewel does not. This is great for families who enjoy freestyle dining without the fuss. Families can eat when they want and with whom they please so activities don’t have to be planned around a set dining schedule.

The ship features 10 restaurants with several that are perfect for kids. The buffet area features a separate station just for kids with the ultimate in kiddy cuisine such as fries, pizza and chicken nuggets. The kid-friendly accommodations also feature child-sized tables and chairs.

The fun, freedom and convenience don’t stop at dining on the Jewel. The Facilities include the “Splashdown Kids Clubâ€? featuring an arts and crafts area, a computer center, a movie theater and a play gym. For teens, the Underground club and juice bar is the place to hang and also the video arcade. There’s also a splash pool for kids and a private “kids-onlyâ€? hot tub. Another bonus—interconnected cabins so parents and kids can have their “space” but parents can easliy check in on the little ones.

If you’re ready to book your family-friendly cruise, visit any of the following websites to get started:

Royal Caribbean International: www.royalcaribbean.com
Carnival Cruise Line: www.carnival.com
Disney Cruise Line: www.disneycruise.disney.go.com
Norwegian Cruise Line: www.ncl.com

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