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Top Family Friendly Cruises

08 October 2019

Family at Beach

Updated August 2022

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 to sail every year, cruise lines have gone above and beyond to create family friendly cruises.

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 family-friendly cruise lines 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 best providers of family-friendly cruises, 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
Waterpark

Programmes

Royal Caribbean have created an action-packed kids club for all ages onboard, Adventure Ocean.

Activities

As well as these fun programmes, Royal Caribbean offer 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 a 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 family-friendly restaurants include:

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.

You can even read about a day on Anthem of the Seas to find out more about what makes this ship so great for families.

2. Carnival Cruise Line

Perfect for family-friendly cruises on a budget, Carnival Cruise Line has an array of vibrant ships to choose from, 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
Lip Sync Battle

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.

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 family-restaurants restaurants include:

Best Carnival Cruise Line ships for kids

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

You can also discover Carnival Cruise Line's latest cruise ships - Carnival Luminosa and Carnival Firenze.

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. These family-friendly cruises are guaranteed to cover all the bases, while being well within a budget.

Top cruise lines for kids Norwegian Cruise Line
NCL Bungee Jump

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.

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 family-friendly restaurants include:

Best Norwegian Cruise Line ships for kids

Norwegian Jade, 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 family-friendly cruises. 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
Kids with Disney Characters

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.

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 family-friendly restaurants include:

Best Disney Cruise Line ships for kids

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

5. P&O Cruises

P&O Cruises are known for their family-friendly cruises that offer 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
Kids Club

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.

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:

Best P&O Cruises ship for kids

Azura, Arvia, Britannia, Ventura and Iona.

6. MSC Cruises

With a knack for outstanding family-friendly cruises, 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
Teens Club

Programmes

With five different age groups to choose from, kids are guaranteed to make friends and have fun.

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 favourite family-friendly restaurants include:

Best MSC Cruises ships for kids

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

Discover MSC Cruises latest ships, MSC World America and MSC World Europa.

7. Celebrity Cruises

Known for providing outstanding elegance at sea, Celebrity Cruises’ family-friendly cruise 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
Kids Club

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.

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 a games 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 family-friendly restaurants include:

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-friendly cabins, while children will love the wide range of age-appropriate entertainment on offer.

Top cruise lines for kids Marella Cruises
Marella Kids Club

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 family-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 family-friendly restaurants include:

Best Marella Cruises ships for kids

Marella Discovery, Marella Voyager 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 family-friendly cruise deals that fit perfectly into the school holidays, you’ll find getting away will be a breeze. What's more, if you're travelling with younger children and are looking for some helpful tips, be sure to read our guide to cruising with toddlers.

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