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Best cruise ships for family vacations – lines for toddlers, teenagers, elders

Edited by: Rekha Rajan
Fact checked by: Jamshed V Rajan


Family cruise vacations are adventures suitable for all age groups – starting from the toddler in the family to the elderly who is still young-at-heart.

Family cruises have everything for everyone in the right dosage. With the latest trend of wanting to travel with the whole family – with elderly parents, distant cousins etc the cruise companies have also started ensuring that the vacation is of the best value possible so the whole family comes back the next year.

Best cruise ships for family vacations

Before booking your family cruise vacation discuss the pointers we have mentioned below –

Activities for family during cruise

A typical good family cruise involves excellent dining options, spacious and luxurious accommodation, spellbinding entertainment, great pools, and adrenaline-pumping adventures. All of this adds up to form a good all inclusive family cruise package.

If you are lucky the cruise may have the extras such as mini-golf, ice-skating rink, and aquariums as attractions.

Activities for kids during the cruise

A good family cruise also has special attractions to keep the children of all age groups engaged. Some activities are pure kid entertainment while others are aimed at engaging the parents and children together during the cruise.

Cruises also have age-appropriate activities for teenagers so they are also kept occupied.

Some of the cruises also have complimentary kids program – to the extent that kids below a certain age accompany for free. You just must find the right cruise package at the right time.

That’s why the first rule of getting the best family cruise vacation deal is to be patient.

Activities for parents during the cruise

You can enjoy all the activities planned for your kids. However, if you want to indulge in activities designed for grownups, you will find them aplenty aboard cruise ships.

Before you book your all inclusive package deal, do check with the cruise company if they have the following onboard – a full-fledged spa, a casino, a yoga room with a yoga master, fitness center, a dance floor, nice themed bars, at least 3-4 restaurants catering to different cuisines and anything else you may require. These are the things in a cruise which make it exciting for grownups.

Family rooms during cruise

While looking for a family cruise vacation package it is important to know or be aware of how you will be accommodated. Good cruises have suites which can accommodate anywhere from a family of four to a family of 20. Big, small, medium – all kinds of families can be accommodated appropriately.

Do bring this up when you discuss and negotiate your package discussions. You can request for connecting rooms, additional beds, or cribs for toddlers.

Best cruise ships for family vacations

Basis all the information mentioned above, we have shortlisted the best family cruises for long or short vacations.

1. Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas

This is perhaps the World’s largest cruise ship. It also boasts of winning the award for the best onboard kids’ cruise program. No wonder many consider it the best family cruise ship.

The cruise has seven different sections for totally different kinds of entertainment. This cruise ship has the first amphitheater on the ocean called AquaTheatre.

This ship is so big that there is a Central Park where you can go for a stroll. When bored, indulge in a bit of shopping.

If you like the Broadway hits, don’t miss out on CATS when on Oasis of the Seas.

2. Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas

Allure of the Seas Cruise
Solarisys / Shutterstock.com

This is one of the best family cruises. No wonder it has won the Best Overall Cruise Ship award numerous times recently.

If you love entertainment, eating and drinking this is your family cruise. Just go ahead and start hunting for deals.

They have the world’s first Starbucks on sea, they have Sabor, a lovely Mexican restaurant, they have Samba Grill Brazilian Steakhouse and many more such great eating joints.

Your kids will love interacting with characters such as Shrek, Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda etc aboard this popular family cruise ship.

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3. Star Princess and Golden Princess

Best family cruise - Star Princess
Image: Gemsrl.com

These two cruises can provide a memorable vacation for the whole family because of the entertainment options they provide: the Princess Theatre, Vista Show Lounge, Outdoors Theatre, Grand Casino, SkyWalkers Night Club etc.

The amenities are all Deluxe and Five Star rated and the best is the Calypso’s Reef and the Neptune’s Reef Pool with hot tubs.

When it comes to Star Princess and Golden Princess cruises, it is important we mention the two program they run for kids:

1. Junior Ranger Program (along with National Park Service)
2. Science at Sea program (along with California Science Center)

If there is a kid scientist in the family, look no further than these two cruises.

4. Disney Fantasy

Disney Fantasy is owned and operated by Disney Cruise Lines, and is one of their best ships for family cruises.

It entered service in 2012 and thus is modern cruise ship sailing the Caribbean seas.

If you have kids, it is important not to miss the Disney Fantasy purely for the pleasures of AquaDuct – the first water coaster on a cruise ship.

For the adults in the family, the best entertainment onboard Disney Fantasy is the Nightclub called Europa. Besides Europa the other adult hangout joints in the cruise ship are – The Tube, La Piazza, O’Gills Pub and Ooh La La.

This cruise ship also offers high tech shows which are best in the industry.

5. Disney Dream

Disney Dream is exactly like Disney Fantasy and is known as its sister ship. If you want to enjoy a short-term (seven days) eastern or western Caribbean vacation with your family, this cruise is the best for you.

This cruise ship can accommodate 4000 passengers and has 1500+ crew members to cater to them. No wonder every person on Disney Dream feels pampered.

For entertainment, there is live music, movie theatres, digital 3-D movie shows, fun-filled family deck parties etc.

As for pools, there are three of them – one only for kids, one for whole families and one only for adults.

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6. Crystal Serenity

If you have infants, juniors, teenagers, 40+ and 60+ in your family and you want to record some good memories on a family cruise the Crystal Serenity is your best bet. In fact, during summer holidays etc Luxury line Crystal Cruises’ marketing campaign positions it as a family vacation provider.

This ship also has the highest space-to-guest ratio so your personal space on the sea will be intact.

If you can bargain a good all inclusive package deal for your cruise, your under-18 kids may travel for free.

There is a Wimbledon court, a Neptune Pool, Crystal Saloon, Crystal Spa and a sunset bar. For the kids, there is the Fantasia and for the teenagers, there is Waves center.

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7. Queen Mary 2

Queen Mary 2 Cruise
Frank Gaertner / Shutterstock.com

If you have toddlers, we highly recommend this cruise ship for your family vacation because they provide real British nannies.

Older kids in the family get modern toys such as Xbox, play stations or they can visit the ever-popular Planetarium (the first on the sea).

Fancy balls are conducted at night, which help the families come together. True to its name, high tea is also conducted where all kids are expected to dress up. These cruises are almost always transatlantic.


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