Finding a holiday that caters for all ages can be tricky, particularly for large families. Cruising is so popular because entertainment can be found to suit all interests all on one ship. With more and more families choosing a cruise every year, cruise lines have gone above and beyond to create programmes that are perfect for kids.

One thing to keep in mind is that these programmes often vary between ships within cruise lines. Newer, larger ships usually to offer bigger, more exciting venues and attractions such as go-kart racing tracks, waterparks, and even rollercoasters! With this in mind, we’ve narrowed down the best cruise lines and their ships to help you find the perfect cruise holiday for you and your family.

The best cruise lines for kids at a glance

Cruise line Best ship Why
Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas Witness dazzling shows at the AquaTheatre, go ice skating, play laser tag and rip the zip line, all on this fantastic ship.
Carnival Cruise Line Carnival Mardi Gras With Family Feud Live, the world’s first rollercoaster at sea and Seuss at Sea, there’s endless fun to be had on Carnival Mardi Gras.
Norwegian Cruise Line Norwegian Encore With countless opportunities for thrills and excitement, Norwegian Encore has used cutting-edge technology to make cruising better than ever.
Disney Cruise Line Disney Fantasy Sailing to exotic destinations, Disney Fantasy features magical live shows, Meet & Greets with your favourite characters, and waterpark adventures at AquaDuck.
P&O Cruises Iona With a four-screen cinema complex, a family-friendly Club House, numerous pools and glitzy shows, Iona will wow cruisers of all ages.
MSC Cruises MSC Bellissima As well as creative kids clubs, MSC Bellissima also offers the Doremi Lab, the Arizona Aquapark, a Himalayan Bridge and more.
Celebrity Cruises Celebrity Edge With a dazzling music show Hype, enchanting acrobatic performances and the interactive dining experience Le Petit Chef, kids will love this vibrant ship.
Marella Cruises Marella Discovery 2 Featuring a climbing wall, a mini golf course and a Gamer Zone, Marella Discovery 2 is a hit for kid-friendly activities.

1. Royal Caribbean

One of the most best cruise lines for family cruise holidays, Royal Caribbean have earned a fantastic reputation for creating outstanding activity programmes for kids. As well as this, the wide range of dining options means even the fussiest of eaters will be satisfied!

Top cruise lines for kids Royal Caribbean

Programmes

Royal Caribbean have created an action-packed kids club for all ages onboard, Adventure Ocean.
  • Royal Babies (6-8 months) and Royal Tots -(18-36 months) Parent-and-baby playgroup sessions featuring toys, games and music.
  • Aquanauts (3-5 years) – Interactive games themed around dinosaurs and pirates, such as Pirate Party Parades and Bubbling Potion games.
  • Explorers (6-8 years) – Activities themed around space adventure and fossils.
  • Voyagers (9-11 years) – Games also themed around space adventure, as well as backstage tours and fun sports.
  • Younger Teens (12-14 years) – Hands on activities including rock climbing, dance and dodge-ball as well as exclusive BBQs and movie nights.
  • Older Teens (15-17 years) – Laidback experiences such as pool parties, cool dinners and themed disco nights.

Activities

As well as these fun programmes, Royal Caribbean offers even more wacky entertainment for kids to enjoy. The adventurous will love the rock-climbing walls, FlowRider surf simulators and the indoor sky-diving attraction, while the 3D theatre and numerous swimming pools are sure to satisfy the whole gang on more laidback afternoon.

Dining

From casual restaurants to formal dining, Royal Caribbean provides a multitude of options to choose from with kid’s menus available upon request.

Our favourite restaurants include:

  • Jamie's Italian
  • Izumi
  • Johnny Rocket's
  • Cupcake Cupboard

Best Royal Caribbean ships for kids

Symphony of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas.


2. Carnival Cruise Line

Perfect for families on a budget, Carnival Cruise Line has 25 vibrant ships to choose from with, undoubtedly, something for every member of the family. There’s a lively party vibe onboard making it a great choice especially for teenagers, while the little ones won’t be left out either thanks to soft play, indoor games and mini parties.

Top cruise lines for kids Carnival Cruise Line

Programmes

Carnival Cruise Line offer age-appropriate activities that all kids will love in the form of their very own kids club, Camp Ocean. With different groups offering age-appropriate activities, you can be assured the little ones will be looked after.
  • Penguins (2-5 years) – A range of games and activities including bingo, painting, sing-alongs, Nintendo games and more.
  • Stingrays (6-8 years) – Interactive activities such as puppet shows, beach parties, cookie decorating and sea-salt art.
  • Sharks (9-11 years) – Action-packed days include dance classes, scavenger hunts, jewellery making, photography workshops and talent shows.
  • Circle C (12-14 years) – The place to be for connecting and chilling, Circle C hosts parties, movies and games in the exclusive lounge.
  • Club O2 (15-17 years) – A hang-out space for teenagers to enjoy video games, sports, movies and even prom at sea!

Activities

Outside of the kids clubs, guests will also be thrilled to find many more activities onboard, ensuring a sea day is always action-packed. Carnival Cruise Line offer such facilities as the very first IMAX cinema at sea, air-rope courses, water parks, SkyRide and Hasbro: The Game Show.

Dining

Featuring a wide range of delicious dining included in your fare, Carnival Cruise Line have a host of cuisines to choose from with almost all venues offering a kid’s menu (these include classic favourites such as nuggets, spaghetti and sandwiches). Whether you’re looking for an All-American burger joint or fancy a taste of Asia, the whole family will be spoilt for choice.

Our favourite restaurants include:

  • Jiji Asian Kitchen
  • Guy's Burger Joint
  • Street Eats
  • Big Chicken

Best Carnival Cruise Line ships for kids

Carnival Mardi Gras, Carnival Vista, Carnival Breeze, Carnival Dream and Carnival Magic.


3. Norwegian Cruise Line

Boasting laidback venues and activities, Norwegian Cruise Line is a hit for families looking for casual dining and flexibility while still including the wow-factor kids love. Guests will find epic outdoor activities including adventurous water parks with thrilling slides as well as more chilled-out activities, ensuring everyone is happy. Top cruise lines for kids Norwegian Cruise Line

Programmes

With friendly, expert staff on hand to keep the kids entertained, the kids clubs (Splash Academy and Entourage) will quickly become the family’s favourite thing onboard.
  • Guppies (6 months-3 years) – With fun sensory play involving music and movement, babies, toddlers and parents will love these colourful activities.
  • Turtles (3-5 years) – Educational and fun activities such as art, storytelling and treasure hunts will delight young children.
  • Seals (6-9 years) – Kids love the circus skills workshops, team-building games and video games, and will make firm friends in this group.
  • Dolphins (10-12 years) – Incorporating activities from Entourage as well as circus games, team-building exercises and more, the Dolphins group never run out of things to do.
  • Entourage (Teenagers) – Featuring a dance club for partying, movies, Nintendo consoles and themed events, Entourage is a hit for kids over twelve.

Activities

Aside from daily kids clubs, there are a range of attractions onboard that the whole family can take part in together. For the daring, check out the 33-feet high rock climbing walls, or walk the plank at the ropes-course. Norwegian Cruise Line even have an onboard ice skating rink, adding a touch of festive fun to your cruise holiday, as well as amazing laser tag, escape rooms and go carting tracks on their newer ships!

Dining

One of Norwegian Cruise Line’s biggest highlight is the Freestyle Dining. Strict dining times can be tricky to adhere to, especially when kids are involved. Fortunately, with NCL you dine at your own leisure, dressed up or dressed down, with total freedom. Kids will also be able to choose from a fuss-free kids menu.

Our favourite restaurants include:

  • La Cucina
  • Los Lobos
  • Cagney's Steakhouse
  • Beyond Buffet

Best Norwegian Cruise Line ships for kids

Norwegian Encore, Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Getaway and Norwegian Epic.


4. Disney Cruise Line

Just as you would expect, Disney Cruise Line is one of the best choices for a kids cruise holiday. The magic is felt in every venue and attraction onboard with everyone’s favourite characters and films featured throughout – you’re sure to even bump into some of them so don’t forget your autograph book and camera!

Top cruise lines for kids Disney Cruise Line

Programmes

Disney Cruise Line have a more flexible approach to onboard kids clubs. Disney’s Oceaneer Club and Disney’s Oceaneer Lab have suggestions in place for suitable ages, but kids are free to join the fun at either club regardless of age. This is particularly helpful for siblings who’d prefer to stick together.
  • Small World Nursery (6 months-3 years) – For a small charge, the Small World Nursery will take care of your children and keep them entertained in a soft-surface play area. This nursery also features a quiet room for naps.
  • Disney’s Oceaneer Club (3 years-12years) – Featuring four themed rooms (including MARVEL and Toy Story), this club encourages kids to learn, play and make friends.
  • Disney’s Oceaneer Lab (3 years-12 years) – Here kids are able to enjoy Disney movie screenings, star in their own plays and take part in fun, creative workshops.

Activities

Outside of the kid’s clubs, the whole family are able to enjoy numerous activities together. A firm favourite are the character experiences, where little ones can meet the stars of their favourite films and even enjoy a fairytale tea party with the Disney Princesses. The waterpark play areas are also a hit, featuring Nemo and friends, and you may also find themed festivities at certain times of the year.

Dining

With a range of formal dining options, casual eateries and numerous places to find sweet treats, Disney Cruise Line have put a magic touch on all their restaurants. Kid’s will be delighted by the whimsical themes and excited to meet a multitude of cast members during dinner.

Our favourite restaurants include:

  • Rapunzel's Royal Table
  • Animator's Palate
  • Remy
  • Pinocchio’s Pizzeria

Best Disney Cruise Line ships for kids

Disney Dream, Disney Magic, Disney Fantasy and Disney Wonder.


5. P&O Cruises

P&O Cruises are known for their family-friendly fleet that offers facilities and programmes to appeal to all kinds of cruisers. Families and children in particular will be delighted by the range of activities offered in the kid’s clubs, as well as the renowned dining options to satisfy the whole gang.

Top cruise lines for kids P&O Cruises

Programmes

Split into four age groups, P&O Cruises ensures that all children learn, play and make friends through exciting activities in their kids clubs. All staff supervising are DBS-checked and qualified, giving you peace of mind that the little ones are in expert care.
  • Splashers Childrens’ Club (2-4 years) – Exclusively for the littlest guests, Splashers offers toys, slides, books and age-appropriate games.
  • Surfers Childrens’ Club (5-8 years) – Featuring games, movies, a safe soft play area and puppet show creation, Surfers will be sure to delight.
  • Scubas Childrens’ Club (9-12 years) – With an arcade theme, Scubas is a cool hang-out space offering video games, air hockey and pool as well as plenty of space to mingle.
  • H20 (13-17 years) – This laidback space is perfect for teenagers to make friends, hang out and enjoy retro arcade gaming.

Activities

In addition to the popular kid’s clubs, guests will find numerous attractions and facilities onboard that will keep children entertained all day. From exclusive tea parties and discos to swimming pools perfect for splashing around, the little ones will never be bored. Furthermore, toddlers can be looked after at the Night Nursery allowing parents to enjoy a night off.

Dining

P&O Cruises have plenty to choose from with many delicious restaurants included in your cruise fare. There’s even a dedicated Children’s Tea for simpler dishes at an earlier time, perfect for little ones who are a bit more picky, as well as a kids menu available in all main restaurants.

Our favourite restaurants include:

  • Gala Evening
  • Sindhu
  • The Market Café
  • Poolside Grill

Best P&O Cruises ship for kids

Azura, Britannia, Oceana, Ventura and Iona.


6. MSC Cruises

With a knack for creating outstanding family-friendly cruise holidays, MSC Cruises is a great choice for kids of all ages. Partnerships with LEGO, and Italian babywear specialist Chicco, make these kids clubs unique with activities tailored towards small age groups. MSC Cruises have also adopted a laidback approach to cruising, making them perfect for flexible family time. Top cruise lines for kids MSC Cruises

Programmes

With five different age groups to choose from, kids are guaranteed to make friends and have fun.
  • Baby Club (0-2 years) – With two services to choose from, parents can either stay and play with their children or leave them in the expert care of the Youth Staff.
  • Mini Club (3 years-6 years) – Featuring the LEGO Experience On Board event, little ones will love getting creative with LEGO.
  • Junior Club (7 years-11 years) – Older children can get stuck into sports, video games and art and crafts, as well as the LEGO Experience On Board event.
  • Young Club (12 years-14 years) – This cool hang-out space is perfect for younger teens to meet up and take part in sports and games competitions, or just chill out with new friends.
  • Teen Club (15 years-17 years) – From video game tournaments on Wii, Xbox and PS3, to dance and sports competitions, teens love this lively social club.

Activities

When you’re in the mood for something a little more fast paced than lounging by the pool, MSC Cruises offer a range of adrenaline-pumping activities that the kids will love. The waterpark has plenty of slides to choose from that are suitable for all age groups, while the Himalayan Bridge and Zip Line are better suited to older children.

Dining

MSC Cruises are proud to offer dining that is carefully catered to children. In the buffet and main restaurants you’ll find special kids’ menus that are suited to fussy diets, as well as allergies and other dietary requirements. Children also love the Fun Time Dinners, a themed party supervised by expert, friendly staff, allowing you to enjoy a quieter dinner in private.

Our favourites include:

  • Teppanyaki
  • Surf & Turf
  • Venchi Gelati
  • Take-away Station

Best MSC Cruises ships for kids

MSC Bellissima, MSC Splendida, MSC Seaview, MSC Seaside and MSC Preziosa.


7. Celebrity Cruises

Known for providing outstanding elegance at sea, Celebrity Cruises’ family experience is no exception. Families can cruise in luxury with programmes, activities and dining options to suit all ages. The innovative features of Celebrity Cruises’ ships make these cruise holidays an unforgettable experience for the whole family, with Camp At Sea being a real hit. Top cruise lines for kids Celebrity Cruises

Programmes

Through the carefully designed Camp At Sea programme, kids are sure to make new friends and enjoy a range of age-appropriate activities during their cruise holiday.

  • Toddler Time (under 3 years) – A safe, fun group where the littlest sailors can play, supervised by fully qualified staff members.
  • Fun Factory (3-11 years) – With activities every day from 9am to 10pm, the Fun Factory offers games, sports, karaoke, parties and more. Age groups are Shipmates (3-5 years), Cadets (6-9 years) and Captain’s (10-12 years)
  • X-Club Teen Entertainment – For the teenagers onboard, Youth Counsellors organise social activities that revolve around sport, dance and gaming in a cool teen hang-out space.

Activities

Whether you’re looking for laidback activities or thrilling entertainment experiences, Celebrity Cruises have something for all interests. Kids will enjoy a game of basketball or Ping Pong with the whole family, or can take part in an Xbox tournament with newfound friends. Finally, children between the ages of 3 to 11 will love the Slumber Party where they can slumber or, of course, party!

Dining

With choices for laidback lunches as well as special occasions at dinner, there’s something to suit even the fussiest of guests. The Oceanview Café is the best choice for many families with endless options and combinations (including sweet treats), while the Seaside Grill keeps hungry tummies tided over by the pool. All restaurants also include a simplified kids menu with many classic favourites to choose from.

Our favourite restaurants include:

  • The Lawn Club
  • Le Petit Chef
  • Magic Carpet
  • Rooftop Garden Grill

Best Celebrity Cruises ships for kids

Celebrity Edge, Celebrity Apex, Celebrity Silhouette and Celebrity Equinox.


8. Marella Cruises

Known for budget-friendly cruising that caters to all ages and interests, Marella Cruises have gone above and beyond to ensure that every member of the family loves their cruise holiday. You’ll be delighted to have interconnecting family-sized cabins, while children love the wide range of age-appropriate entertainment on offer. Top cruise lines for kids Marella Cruises

Programmes

Marella Cruises divides the kids club programme into two or three groups, depending on the ages and numbers of those attending. This free club offers exciting activities including arts and crafts, dressing up and movie nights, as well as exclusive trips to the bridge to meet the captain of the ship! Kids can also enjoy breakfast with their new friends while parents enjoy a lie in.

Activities

Outside of these programmes, the friendly staff at Marella Cruises are happy to arrange activities families can enjoy altogether, such as climbing wall sessions, salsa lessons, sports tournaments and shows. Kids will also love splashing in the swimming pools during a seaday while, for days onshore, Marella Cruises have ensured a range of child-friendly excursions are available. <

Dining

Families can relax knowing that dinner with Marella Cruises is a laidback affair. Buffets offer plenty of choice that will satisfy all rumbling tummies, with child-friendly favourites such as pasta, fries and ice creams, while all other restaurants also include a kids menu.

Our favourite restaurants include:

  • Latitude 53
  • Vista
  • The Meridian Restaurant
  • Snack Shack

Best Marella Cruises ships for kids

Marella Discovery, Marella Discovery 2 and Marella Explorer.

As you can see, no matter how fussy the little ones may be, there’s a cruise line to suit every family and child. With many offering fantastic cruise deals that fit perfectly into the school holidays, you’ll find getting away will be a breeze. The team will also be happy to tailor-make a package to suit you and your family. For more advice simply get in touch here.