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6 of the best cruises for kids and the ultimate family holiday at sea

Sail the seven seas aboard these family-friendly cruise lines.

Setting sail on a luxury cruise is an adventure you won’t soon forget. Even if it’s not your kids’ first time at sea, the little ones are bound to be excited to board the ship and journey to far distant lands.

When that magic wears off, you’ll want to make sure there are enough kid-friendly activities to keep them happy.

That’s where these cruise lines excel. They’re experts in family-friendly adventures and offer plenty of onboard entertainment to leave them with fond memories of their trip – and hopefully a greater thirst for travel!

1. Disney Cruise Line

Everybody’s dreams can come true when you enter the magical wonderland of a Disney Cruise Line ship.

A paradise for kids and the young at heart, Disney cruises feature everything from Mickey-themed restaurants to pirate-themed rooms, plus characters in costume and live musical productions. Make sure to pack your kid’s favourite Disney character costume –

  • Entertainment: Kids pool, live shows, deck parties, youth clubs, character experiences and themed nights
  • Baby nurseries? Yes, nurseries are available across the whole Disney Cruise Line fleet.
  • Cabin configuration: Family and two-bedroom themed state rooms.

2. Royal Caribbean

This international cruise line has two of the world’s largest ships, and with them, a wealth of interactive activity centres to keep kids busy.

Choose from theme parks, adventure centres, rock climbing walls, ice rinks and FlowRider surf machines. Royal Caribbean also hosts a free Adventure Ocean youth centre with activities appropriate for children and teenagers.

  • Entertainment: DreamWorks character dining experiences, 3D movie screenings, family dining time, merry-go-rounds and zip lines
  • Baby nurseries? Yes, Royal Caribbean has a dedicated nursery for babies of 6-36 months and hosts babies and tots interactive playgroup sessions.
  • Cabin configuration: Family rooms available for up to eight people.

3. Carnival Cruise Lines

Carnival has been in the family friendly cruise line business since 1972, so it’s little wonder that it’s considered one of the best for fun and entertaining cruises.

All Carnival cruises have a youth program to suit under 18s, along with Dr Seuss themed activities (so expect lots of green eggs and ham and Sam I ams on your stay!).

  • Entertainment: IMAX theatre, pools and waterslides, story time activities, Seuss-a-palooza Parade, dive-in movie theatre (movies you can watch from the pool), video arcade, mini golf, sports and the SkyCourse walk
  • Baby nurseries? No, however babysitting services are available for a fee.
  • Cabin configuration: Family friendly state and harbour rooms available.

4. Norwegian Cruise Line

With some of the most unique children’s activities at sea, including cake decorating and circus school, a Norwegian Cruise adventure is destined to be an unforgettable one.

On top of age-specific youth centres, parents have the chance to drop off the tykes at the Late Night Fun Zone or the Port Play centre when the ship is in port. This will give you that much needed time away to explore your destination hand-in-hand.

  • Entertainment: Family dining, mini golf, bowling, circus and magic shows, pools and waterslides
  • Baby nurseries? A Guppies Nursery is available on the Norwegian Escape. Otherwise, guppies playgroup programs are available for babies 6 months to 3 years fleet wide.
  • Cabin configuration: Choose between interconnecting state rooms and family suites.

5. P&O Cruises

Please the entire family by sailing away to the South Pacific on one of P&O’s specially designed family cruises.

Each of P&O’s family cruise ships feature the P&O Edge Adventure Park, which is the largest adventure park at sea. When the day is done, parents can rest up in “adults only” zones throughout the ship.

  • Entertainment: Kids pools, kids clubs for all ages, playgrounds, children’s tea, discos and family excursions
  • Baby nurseries? Yes, there is a night nursery available for babies.
  • Cabin configuration: The majority of twin cabins have an additional two beds that fold out from the ceiling.

6. MSC

As a family-owned company, MSC encourages family travel by offering free accommodation for kids under 18 on select sailings when they stay with their parents in the same cabin.

Onboard, the little ones can sign up for an age-appropriate youth club where they can meet children their own age. If they get along swimmingly, there are kids-only supervised dinners to further fuel those friendships.

  • Entertainment: LEGO activities, arts and crafts, dance classes and performances, teen talent show, teen prom night and sports activities
  • Nurseries for babies? Yes, a baby care service, Mini Club playground, a baby laundry service and a baby-friendly toy centre is available
  • Cabin configuration: Family suites and superfamily suites for up to six guests available.

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