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5 Cruises Designed with Kids in Mind

by Susan Finch

Aug 27, 2018

© Ivan Sinayko | Dreamstime.com


Cruises once catered to elite travelers, usually grown-ups, looking for a romantic getaway. Kids were relatively scarce or just tagged along with their parents. Remember when the only kid we ever really saw enjoy cruise culture was Vicki Stubing, daughter of Captain Stubing from the Love Boat? She was a trailblazer!


Whereas cruises once tolerated children and perhaps offered some kid-friendly meals, today’s cruises teem with kid-friendly activities. From kids clubs to on-board water parks, these five cruises were designed with kids in mind.


Disney Cruises

Kids begging to head back to the Magic Kingdom enjoy the best of both worlds with a Disney cruise. Avoid long lines, bustling crowds and hot days by enjoying some Disney fun right on the cruise ship. Kids flock to character meet and greets and large-scale Broadway-style productions in the Walt Disney Theater like Toy Story – The Musical. There are also plenty of pools and kids clubs and spas for Mom and Dad can be found on every ship. Look into Disney cruises that make a stop at the Kingdom, or opt for a cruise to destinations like the Caribbean, Panama Canal and California Coast.


Norwegian Cruise Lines

Voted Best Family Experience by Travel Weekly, Norwegian Cruise Line offers unique family experiences from dodgeball competitions to cupcake decorating. Norwegian also offers youth programs catering to kids as young as 6 months old on up to age 17. Kids enjoy creative plays, movies, arts and supervised activities. Parents can also take advantage of drop-off programs where the kids have a blast with movies, arts, crafts and games. While kids have fun, parents enjoy a kid-free dinner or an afternoon at the spa.


Carnival Cruises

Carnival Cruise Lines offers kids clubs for toddlers to teens with family activities and spaces. Some ships offer an IMAX theater, an at-sea waterpark, dance parties, mini golf courses, basketball courts and more. WaterWorks features all the fun of a water-based theme park without the long lines and sky-high ticket prices. Families shoot down waterslides, sprayers, soakers and a splash area for littles who are also potty-trained.


SkyCourse on Carnival Cruise Ship © Ritu Jethani | Dreamstime.com


Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises take family travelers into Alaska, Australia and New Zealand, Europe, South Pacific and beyond. Colorful kids clubs and spaces include the Treehouse for ages 3 to 7 with a forest-themed center for kids. The Lodge caters to 8- to 12 year olds with sports activities and outdoor spaces. There are also family-friendly activities including Shark Hunters to investigate Caribbean sharks on an interactive scavenger hunt. Arts and crafts, inventor’s games and cake decorating also keep young kids busy and happy. Meanwhile, teens have their own fun with a contemporary beach lounge to hang out, teens-only parties and movies.


UnCruise Adventures

There are plenty of big cruise lines catering to families, but boarding a large ship isn’t everyone’s idea of a family vacation. Instead, try UnCruise Adventures for smaller ship experiences that go deep into unique destinations like Mexico’s Sea of Cortes, Costa Rica and Panama, the Galapagos and Columbia and Snake Rivers. UnCruise Adventures is appropriate for families with kids ages 8 on up to experience magical wildernesses, wildlife, history and cultures together. Whereas big cruises cater to on-board entertainment and resort-style amenities, your family experiences local destinations up close and personal on UnCruise Adventures.


Whatever cruise you pick, make sure it offers the amenities you want the most, from family-friendly shore excursions to kids clubs or live entertainment. Then work backwards to your goal of hitting the open waters together for a vacation they won’t forget.


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