Best Family Cruises And Cruise Line Tips

What are the best family cruises and cruise lines for families with kids and multi-generational cruising vacations? In this episode I talk about the things you need to consider, including the cruise regions to consider and what to exclude. I also discuss the eight lines that are best for families with kids and why they are most suitable.

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Best Family Cruises And Cruise Line Tips

Cruising with families and multi-generational travel is a big popular trend within travel and cruising but choosing the right cruise and the right cruise line is really important. So, I’m going to explain to you the things you need to consider.

New Ships

The first thing to do is focus on the new ships, particularly the big new ships. As cruise lines bring more and more ships into their fleets they’re focusing increasingly on the needs of families, and the needs of multi-generational travel, because they know that this is a big growing trend.

The ships are designed with cabin configurations which deal for families much more than they have before, like connecting cabins, and have more family cabins. They will also have areas with very premium cabins which might suit part of the family which have bigger budget (like the grandparents).

The new ships will also have many more facilities to deal with families and the needs of kids like bigger and better kids’ clubs. They’ll have more facilities whether it’s rock-climbing, go-karting, entertainment facilities and the whole ship will be designed to provide just so much more for kids and for families.

Main Cruising Regions

The second thing you should do is focus on the big popular regions and areas to go cruising. So, for example, the Caribbean, the central Mediterranean area and perhaps to a lesser degree places like Alaska. These are really big popular itineraries and where most of the cruises take place, so there’s lots of choice of cruise lines, lots of choice of ships and also, very importantly, they will have so much more to offer for families in port.

So, if you’re doing multi-generational travel, you’ll find the excursions and the port facilities will deal for part of the group who want to go on more cultural trips, but they will also have more family-based excursions. So, if you go to the Caribbean or you go to the central Mediterranean area, you’re going to find just so much more and more diversity of opportunities.

Increasingly places like Alaska, which is a huge and growing cruising area, will also have more and more attractions and excursions which cater for the needs of families

Expedition Cruises

I would also recommend that you tend to avoid places like the Arctic, the Antarctic or the Galapagos, though these are going to be fascinating. But with kids they are very expensive to take kids and families on, and also many of them have restrictions on the age not only that kids can go but, even if they can go, there are often restrictions on the age that kids can actually get onto the RIB boats to go out on some of the excursions.

I would just wait to they’re a little bit older, perhaps more in their teens.

Traditional Cruise Lines

The next thing I would do is avoid the old traditional cruising lines, so cruise lines like Cunard, Holland America Line and Fred Olsen. Avoid these very traditional cruise lines because they have a much more formal and traditional approach to cruising, which appeals to a slightly older demographic or people like a more formal type of cruising.

They will have much more rigorous dress codes and have much more formal dining approaches. They’ll have much less choice of alternative dining venues. They’re going to have smaller or even, in some cases, no actual kids’ clubs and kids’ facilities. They’re not going to have attractions and features as they’re designed for a very different audience.

So, exclude those. I’ve been on many of those cruises where people have come along with families and I feel in some ways it’s unfair on the kids because the passengers are slightly resentful of having kids running around, and the facilities are not there. I know there are other cruise lines that cater and embrace and just have so much more to offer for families and multi-generational travellers, so exclude the traditional cruise lines and look at those cruise lines that are focusing much more on the family audience. I cover these below.

Ultra-Luxury Lines

I would avoid ultra-luxury lines. I am talking here about lines like Silversea, Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas because again because of the audience and also the cost. They’re going to be extremely expensive to take kids on. Also, the people travelling on these are often people who have had their kids and they have left home and they’re usually looking for a kid-free zone.

The passengers themselves are not as welcoming of families on board because they’re actually looking for a more adult experience. What are you going to find is no to very limited facilities for kids, some of them do in the peak summer seasons put some facilities on board but I would avoid those because your kids aren’t going have a great time. In my view, the passengers are not going to be as welcoming. Some of the luxury cruise lines have an adult only experience, for example Viking Ocean does not allow people under 18 on.

8 Best Family Cruise Lines

What then are the cruise lines that you should focus on? I believe there are quite a lot of them and there are eight that I’m going to talk about.

Royal Caribbean

One of the best cruise lines to consider for families and multi-generational is Royal Caribbean, especially their big new mega ships. They just have a vast array of facilities, entertainment and things to do which will cater for all ages of kids including young kids and teenagers. There’s going to be a huge range of things to do and they also are renowned for their kids’ clubs.

They have very big kids’ clubs and are really focused on making sure that families when they come on board have a great time, and if you ever go on a Royal Caribbean ship, you’ll just find loads of families and loads of multi-generational travellers.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Another phenomenal cruise line for families and multi-generational is Norwegian Cruise Line. The great thing about Norwegian Cruise Line is they do, on their bigger ships, have a wider range of facilities, so they have things like water parks and other entertainment. But the great thing about Norwegian is their Freestyle approach. They have huge amounts of bars, they have huge amounts of restaurants and lots of flexibility.

Freestyle Cruising is their concept. So, if you want to go to cruise and you know there’s lots of people going to want to do lots of different things, Norwegian Cruise Line is a great cruise to look at if you’re traveling with the family and want huge amounts of flexibility. Again, they do have a lot of focus on families, they do have lots of family centric entertainment and they do have great kids’ clubs.


Another great cruise line for families is Carnival, and Carnival is one of the most cost-effective and one of the best in terms of value. Carnival has a concept what they call “fun ships”. The idea is to have loads and loads of fun. Many of their bigger new ships do have more facilities like water parks, but the real heart of it is having fun. So, it’s really upbeat, it’s very energetic and it’s great value.

They have some of the best prices that you’re going to get at sea. If you’re looking for a great value holiday take a look at Carnival. They are the biggest individual cruise line in the world and carry the most amount of passengers and they are very popular. They’re really strong in the Caribbean and if you’re looking for a great sunny summer holiday and you just want to have lots of fun.

Carnival, like many of the other cruise lines, has partnerships with lots of well-known brands so they have things like Dr. Seuss and they have really great kids’ clubs. Certainly, people who have been on Carnival cruises with kids rate the kid’s clubs very high, so be reassured that they focus on families.

MSC Cruises

If you want to take your kids on a much more multicultural experience, then I would really strongly recommend you take a look at MSC Cruises. This is a family-run company and they’re very passionate about catering for families. MSC Cruises is Italian inspired and they have increasingly big large resort style ships.

There are six official languages onboard. On board it’s very multicultural so you can find lots of Spanish, Italians, people from the UK, some USA and so it’s very diverse. It’s a really great experience if you want to go on as a family and make sure that your kids meet and get exposed to a very different mix of cultures.

I think they have great kids’ clubs as well. They have partnerships with brands like Lego and Chicco, so they again have great facilities. At their heart is family and it’s much more Mediterranean / Italian feel so something very different from say the Royal Caribbean or Norwegian which is much more American at its heart.

Disney Cruise Line

One of them, of course, has to be Disney Cruise Line. Disney, of course, are experts at dealing with kids so not surprising they have a Cruise Line and it’s great for family. Disney does tend to be best for kids aged between about four and eleven, that’s really the sweet spot and that’s the ages that they cater for best.

Of course, they know how to deal with kids, they know to deal with families. In many of the cabins they have a great setup where in the bathroom there are two separate areas, so you have a sink and a toilet in one area while you can also then be bathing or showering in another area. So, the great thing is they have bathrooms which enable you to all get ready at the same time.

If you’re going on a multi-generational trip don’t exclude Disney completely because they do have some adult-only areas on the ship. Some of those are all during the day, and some of them at parts of the night, so there are times when as an adult you can be kid free and have an adults-only time on a Disney cruise.

Princess Cruises

One other cruise line, particularly for going on a multi-generational cruise, is Princess Cruises. Many people who go multi-generational cruisers love Princess Cruises, and while Princess Cruises is a little bit more traditional, and they don’t have many of the big resort facilities that some of the other cruise lines do, they do cater very well for multi-generational.

It’s a slightly more traditional experience and although it’s not an obvious one to think about for families, it is very popular for multi-generational as the older parts of the party will really love Princess cruise lines and the kids will be very welcome on board.

P&O Cruises

The seventh line to take a look at is P&O Cruises, particularly if you’re a traveller out of the UK. P&O Cruises are perfect for people looking for a British experience. Some P&O ships are designated adults only and then they have other ships which are open and welcoming to families.

P&O ships tend not to be resort like and are relatively traditional in terms of their style of cruising, but they do cater a lot for family and they have more family cabins, they have good kids’ clubs. It’s a very British experience, so if you want to go on a British family holiday then take a look at P&O Cruises.

P&O Cruises also operates out of Australia and again they have a much more Australian experience.

Hapag Lloyd Cruises

If you do want to travel ultra-luxury and you want to travel with kids, the one cruise line to take a look at is Hapag Lloyd cruises. They are an expensive cruise line, very upmarket and the Europa 2 ship is the one designated as an international ship.

The great thing with them is, although it’s very luxurious, they have a couple of perks. If your kids are under the age of 11 and travelling in the same cabin as you, they actually travel for free. If they’re over 11 you pay a roughly about 100 euros / $100 / about £100 per kid per day. It’s relatively inexpensive to bring kids on board once you’ve paid the higher fares as adults.

They also have a number of these family apartments which are one of their veranda staterooms and they’re interconnected to a room which is specifically designed with kids in mind with bunk beds toys and bathrooms which are designed for kids. If you do want to travel ultra-luxury, then take a look at Hapag Lloyd Europa 2. You will find in the season you’re going to have a lot of kids on board.

Bear in mind that most of them will be German speaking, because it is a German line, but everything that you interact with will be in English.

Final Thoughts

If you want to go cruising with families, kids or multi-generational, there’s a couple of key things to focus on: Do focus on big new modern ships because they’re going to have much more facilities. Avoid the traditional cruise lines and focus on those eight key cruise lines: Disney, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, MSC Cruises P&O Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises and if you want to go ultra-luxury Hapag Lloyd Cruises.

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Gary Bembridge

I grew up in Zimbabwe, but I have been based in London since 1987. My travel life spans more than three decades and that includes more than 95 cruises. In 2005, I launched Tips for Travellers to make it easy and fun for people to discover, plan and enjoy incredible cruise vacations. And the rest, as they say, is history. I have the largest cruise vlogger channel currently on YouTube, with more than 3 million video views per month.

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