Choosing the Right Cruise Line for a Family Vacation

Cruise ships have come a long way in terms of onboard fun and overall value. Over the years they evolved into floating cities with every imaginable amenity, including zip lines and rock climbing walls, but they aren’t all geared to meet the needs of families with young children. Some are ideal for honeymooning couples seeking privacy while others are designed for singles looking for romance and excitement. Finding the right cruise line to cater to little ones while mom and dad can still have some fun is key to planning the perfect cruising vacation for your family.

Disney Cruises has this one in the bag for families with children under the age of 12. Entertaining kids is what they do best and they also managed to combine that with great destinations. With routes to Alaska, Europe, the Caribbean and the Bahamas, parents can enjoy some of the world’s premier destinations while their kids have the time of their lives, Disney-style. Cruises include Disney-themed youth clubs for the kids and pulsing nightclubs for the parents. Deck parties bring Disney characters to life so your little ones can meet their favorite characters and state-of-the-art theaters show your favorite Disney movies. They’ve even got their own personal island, Castaway Cay, a popular stop on Bahamian and Caribbean routes.

Disney Cruise Line

© Michael Gordon | Dreamstime.com

If Disney isn’t your thing, then it is worth investing a little effort into picking the right cruise line — and the right ship — to meet the needs of your family while visiting the destination of your dreams. Make sure the line you are looking at has flexible dining schedules, since rigid meal times may not work for your little ones — especially if you are traveling in a different time zone than your family is accustomed to. Dining extras are also a big help with kids, such as the self-serve ice cream machines available on some Carnival Cruise ships.

Try to pick cruises that have the newest ships available in a particular line’s fleet. The newer the ship is, the more likely it is to have been designed with families in mind. That means bigger staterooms, larger recreation areas and more exciting activities such as surfing simulators, bowling alleys and onboard water parks.

Kids clubs and entertainment options are key to the success of choosing the right cruise. Making sure the ship has youth clubs designed specifically for your child’s age group means the difference between them having the time of their life or being bored and miserable for the whole trip. Cruise lines like Royal Caribbean and Princess Cruises have separate onboard clubs for kids of different age groups so the activities are customized to their needs and abilities rather than grouping all the kids together in activities they don’t all find interesting.

Although the destination is important, the truth is a larger portion of the trip is usually spent onboard rather than exploring on land, so how you spend time on the ship becomes a priority. When a family takes a cruise together, they are memories that last a lifetime. By making the effort to pick the best cruise available for your family’s specific needs, those memories are something your kids will cherish.