5 Best Cruise Lines for Families
Cruises provide impressive vacation value for families: lodging, food, activities and transportation to faraway places for one set price. Kids are kept happy with a never-ending lineup of activities, and parents have the option to relax if they so choose. Even usually grumbling teenagers are less scowl-y. It’s no wonder that one-third of all cruisers travel with their children, according to the Cruise Lines International Association.
All major cruise lines have children’s programs catering to everyone from toddlers to teens -- and they’re all constantly trying to one-up one another by offering the latest, hippest, coolest activities, from the active (surf lessons and rock climbing) and educational (animation lessons and science experiments) to the entertaining (meals with cartoon characters and sing-along musicals). Check out our top 5 picks for the most exciting family cruise lines.
Even 3-month-old babies are welcome aboard -- in typical Disney style, no detail is left forgotten. Wheel pop off your baby stroller? Forgot to bring a bottle sterilizer? Pick up your phone, and any kiddie accoutrement you need is delivered to your cabin.
And speaking of cabins, Disney offers the roomiest family-friendly staterooms on the seas. Hip bunk beds descend from the ceiling, foldout couches save space and bathrooms are divvied up into 2 spaces (a toilet and sink in one space, and a bathtub -- yes a tub, not just a shower -- and sink in the other).
Even without these add-ons, Royal Caribbean has a fine program for children. One of the top features is expedited dining for kids ages 3 to 11: They can scarf down their food, and then staff members whisk them away to play while Mom and Dad enjoy a leisurely meal. The kid’s club is spacious and divided into multiple zones for various age groups. Rock-climbing walls and surf simulators make the ship attractive to teenagers. Some Royal Caribbean ships offer family suites that can sleep 6.
In addition to a youth program that features Cirque du Soleil-style activities, arts and crafts and video games, the teen program offers 20 team sports and themed nighttime events. Four ships -- the Norwegian Jewel, Epic, Gem and Breakaway -- also incorporate characters from the Nickelodeon network. Check schedules in advance to find out when SpongeBob SquarePants and Dora the Explorer embark.
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