When planning a family vacation, there are several factors to consider. Some destinations are more kid-friendly than others, and some cruises cater to families better than others. Each cruise line has its own unique amenities, onboard activities and specialty programs for kids. It can be overwhelming when trying to decide which cruise line is the best fit for a family vacation. Any avid cruisers will tell you that the cruise lines are divided into two categories: mainstream and luxury. There’s nothing “in-between”. When choosing which cruise line to book your next family vacation, there are pros and cons between each of them. Depending on your personal preferences and what you expect from a cruise experience, one may be better suited than another for your specific needs. Let’s dive deeper into the details of each option below.
Celebrity Cruises has a long-standing reputation for creating luxury cruise vacations. Celebrity has been in the cruise industry for over 40 years, and they have created a cruise line known for its consistently high quality. Celebrity has a fleet of 10 ships, all of which have been completely renovated within the last three years and are expected to remain in service for the next 10 years. Celebrity Cruises is one of the best cruise lines for families, particularly for parents with younger kids (ages 2-12). The brand is known for its excellent children’s and teens program, which is often the best in the cruise industry. The kid's program is called “Kids Camp”, and it is free for kids ages 2-11. Teens ages 13-17 can join the “Celeb Teens” program, which offers a complimentary cruise for teens who are interested in the cruise industry. In addition to the excellent onboard programs, Celebrity also has a wide range of family-friendly shore excursions at destinations around the world. Celebrity’s smaller fleet of ships means that there is more availability in the Caribbean during the hurricane season (August-October). The majority of Celebrity cruises depart from PortMiami, which is also a great cruise port for families who live in or around Miami.
Disney Cruise Line
For parents who want their cruise vacation experience to feel like an extension of the Disney theme parks in Orlando, Disney Cruise Line is the only cruise line worth considering. The Disney Cruise Line is a part of the Disney theme parks family, and you can expect everything about this cruise experience to be extremely kid-friendly. Like other Disney products, this cruise line is extremely well-executed when it comes to creating a magical family experience. There are several Disney cruise ships, and the Disney Fantasy is the newest and largest. Disney cruises are seven-night Eastern or Western Caribbean itineraries from Port Canaveral, Florida. Disney Cruise Line is one of the best cruise lines for families with young children (ages 2-11). The brand is well-known for having excellent children’s and teens programs, which are included in the price of your cruise. Younger children are welcome on Disney cruises, but they don’t have a dedicated kids program. When deciding on which Disney cruise to take, keep in mind that the Western Caribbean cruises feature a visit to Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay. This private island is a great family beach day experience. Eastern Caribbean cruises visit Disney’s private island, Disney’s own private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Line is one of the most well-known and largest cruise lines in the world. It is best known for its “Freestyle Cruising” model, which allows passengers to choose their own dining times, rooms and shore excursions. Norwegian Cruise Line has a ton of family-friendly cruises year-round. There are many different itineraries available, both in the Caribbean and other worldwide destinations. The brand is known for having a large family demographic, so the kid's program is very good. The kid's program is called “Norwegian Kids” and is complimentary for children under 12 years old. If you are bringing a child ages 12-17, they can join the “Norwegian Teens” program for a fee. Shore excursions are also a great option for families, as there is a wide variety of family-friendly itineraries. The only downside to Norwegian Cruise Line is that it is very common to experience extremely large crowds, particularly on the Caribbean cruises.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines is one of the oldest and largest cruise lines in the world, operating nearly 50 ships. Royal Caribbean is best known for having a wide range of itineraries on a variety of cruise ships. There is a cruise line for every budget and every family size. Royal Caribbean is one of the best cruise lines for families with young children. The kid's program is called “Explorers” and is complimentary for children under 12 years old. Teens ages 13-17 can join the “Seas Program” for a fee. The Caribbean is a popular destination for families of all ages. Royal Caribbean has tons of Caribbean cruise options that feature a wide range of family-friendly shore excursions. Royal Caribbean is also one of the best cruise lines for family vacations with teens. Teens ages 13-17 can join the “Seas Program” for a fee, which includes some great on-ship activities and benefits.