Best cruise lines for families

Relax at sea with your main squeezes.

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Man throwing son up and catching him while family relaxes on a boat in the harbor

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Multigenerational vacations are the new family reunions. They’re an ideal way to catch up, unwind and explore with loved ones without having to worry about every detail of food, accommodations and transportation.

Whether you’re a family of three or a party of 20, these lines specialize in organizing family activities that tick the boxes for young and old. All you need to do is choose the destination.

Disney

Disney is known as a magical brand the whole family can enjoy, and its cruises are no different.
  • Activities for the whole family:Broadway-style live shows, Walt Disney theater, karaoke, trivia, music and dance deck parties, family-friendly port activities and kids' pools.
  • Family discounts: Kids ages 12 and under always sail at discounted rates.
Price ($-$$$):
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There's a little bit of magic in store for every member of your crew when you board a Disney cruise ship. Adults have freedom to escape to kid-free oases while little ones can play in supervised youth groups, and teens can hang around in their very own lounge.

Norwegian

Norwegian has a reputation for providing some of the best entertainment at sea for young and old.
  • Activities for the whole family:Musicals, mini-golf, bowling, circus and magician shows, water parks, rope courses and rock climbing walls.
  • Family discounts: Norwegian frequently has kids-sail-free promotions and regularly offers discounts for larger families.
Price ($-$$$):
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Featuring Broadway-style musicals, areas for various sports and pools complete with water slides and deck chairs, Norwegian aims to bring families together with activities geared toward bonding. When it comes to planning maximum quality time aboard the waves, Norwegian is leagues ahead of the pack.

Carnival

Not all families are made the same, so Carnival gives you and your brood plenty of options to play it your way.
  • Activities for the whole family:Family Feud competitions, live music, cooking classes, arts and craft classes sponsored by Michaels, Build-a-Bear Workshop, candy store, Bingo, games, water slides, mini-golf, swimming pools, basketball and dive-in movies.
  • Family discounts: Discounts frequently available for rooms with three or more guests on select sailings.
Price ($-$$$):
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With basketball courts, SkyRide (bikes suspended in the sky), a myriad of water slides, arcades, Sky Zone trampolines and more, Carnival puts fun first. The dining is flexible and easy, with specialty options available for when the grownups need a night away.

MSC

This family-owned cruise line emphasizes high times for kids, with private time for parents and support from the specially-trained staff.
  • Activities for the whole family: Lego activities, team-based talent shows, family discos, pool parades, kids costume parade, family excursions with the entertainment staff, aqua park, swimming pool, virtual world, F1 simulator, water slide, sports and tournaments, video games, mini bowling, dance classes.
  • Family discounts: Kids under 11 sail for free on select cruises to 150+ destinations.
Price ($-$$$):
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Fun Time Dinners let children dine in the company of beloved onboard entertainers. With Happy Dinners, you'll enjoy an appetizer while your kids eat, before they're whisked away to a play area so the grownups can have some quiet time. There's supervised late-night play and babysitting services available after hours, too.

Royal Caribbean

This family-owned cruise line emphasizes high times for kids, with private time for parents and support from the specially-trained staff.
  • Activities for the whole family:Lego activities, team-based talent shows, family discos, pool parades, kids costume parade, family excursions with the entertainment staff, aqua park, swimming pool, virtual world, F1 simulator, water slide, sports and tournaments, video games, mini bowling, dance classes.
  • Family discounts: Kids under 11 sail for free on select cruises to 150+ destinations.
Price ($-$$$):
Book now
Fun Time Dinners let children dine in the company of beloved onboard entertainers. With Happy Dinners, you'll enjoy an appetizer while your kids eat, before they're whisked away to a play area so the grownups can have some quiet time. There's supervised late-night play and babysitting services available after hours, too.

Celebrity


  • Activities for the whole family:Movies under the stars, silent discos, themed parties, cooking classes, cupcake decorating, laser mazes, family excursions and more.
  • Family discounts: Frequent deals for the third and fourth passengers, designed specifically to help families save.
Price ($-$$$):
Book now
If you're less interested in amusement-park-style entertainment and more excited by the idea of enriching excursions, five-star service and in-depth adventures at sea and shore, opt for Celebrity Cruises. Its Camp at Sea program for kids and teens boasts partnerships with Lonely Planet, Fat Brain Toys and Xbox, with 500+ activities — including a STEM program on the Celebrity Equinox.

Family cruise cabins compared

Here’s a cheat sheet listing the best type of cabins for families of five or more, as well as the best type of cabins for extended families.

Cruise LineCapacity of most basic stateroomBest type of cabin for families of 5Best type of cabin for extended families
Disney Cruise Line4Deluxe family stateroom: holds up to 5 peopleConcierge-level suite: holds up to 7 people
Norwegian Cruise Line4Interconnected stateroomsSuite: holds up to 8 people
Carnival Cruise Line5Suite: holds up to 5 people, but you get more space than a regular stateroomInterconnected staterooms
MSC Cruises4Suite: holds up to 5 peopleFamily stateroom: holds up to 10 people
Royal Caribbean International4Family stateroom: holds up to 6 peopleTwo-bedroom grand suite: holds up to 8 people
Celebrity Cruises4Suite: some have multiple bedroomsConnecting veranda staterooms

Interconnecting rooms are available on ships from all of the cruise lines we’ve listed on this page, so if you’d rather not splurge for a suite, you could book multiple staterooms with connecting doors. Keep in mind that most cruise lines will require you to call and book over the phone if you’re purchasing fare for more than four cruisers.


How we chose these cruises

When choosing cruises for this list, we looked at the range and quality of family-friendly activities available off- and onboard, prioritizing cruise lines that cater to every age group, with areas for the whole family to hang together as well as spaces exclusive to adults, kids and teens.

We also weighed stateroom amenities and dining options against the price, favoring companies known for delivering the best value. Additionally, we sought out customer reviews on travel websites and personal travel blogs, considering first-person experiences and each company’s overall reputation.

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Bottom line

Cruises inspire carefree play in adults and children alike, providing the perfect place to disconnect from the hustle of daily life and recharge together. Before booking, check to see if there’s a discount available for your fare.

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