Lots of happy memories are made on family vacations, but there's no question that family vacations can be stressful. All the researching, planning, booking, and the difficulty of trying to find something that will please every member of the family is exhausting.
Vacations are supposed to be relaxing, and all of this planning sounds like the opposite of relaxation! There is a no researching, no planning, and no stress way to take a vacation as a family, a cruise! We did the research for you to find the best cruises for family vacations. In order to make our list, each cruise had to have lots of activities for kids of all ages, activities families can enjoy together, and safety measures in place to protect kids and prevent accidents.
Everything anyone in the family could need or want is available, and you don't have to navigate a strange new place to find it.
Princess ships are designed for both kids and parents. Camp Discovery is the kids club, and there are camps designed for specific age ranges so toddlers aren't mixing with teens. Activities include things meant to teach and entertain, like scavenger hunts, video game tournaments, art projects, and a behind the scenes magic show. Teens can enjoy activities like sports tournaments, dance classes, and movie nights.
Grand Class ships offer family friendly pools and a dedicated kid's pool. Parents and kids can spend time together at the hands-on cooking class that is held in the ship's kitchen. There are other whole family events including games and activities modeled after Shark Week, a search for bigfoot, and a crab sorting contest, also based on popular Discovery Channel shows.
Norwegian Cruise Lines
Norwegian Cruises will appeal to families that don't like the formality or rigid schedules and dress codes that other cruise lines sometimes feature. Vacation is supposed to be about relaxing, after all!
Again, children are grouped together by age. There are arts and crafts, karaoke, jungle gyms, and movie theaters. There is even a teen-friendly dance club. Babysitting services are available, even late at night, perfect for when mom and dad want some alone time.
There are plenty of physical activities that will wear your kids out during the day so they (and you) get a good night's sleep, including rock climbing, a ropes course, a bowling alley, and a water park.
The ships offer family villas sleeping six, two-bedroom villas, and mini-suites that include bathtubs.
Carnival offers lots of activities for kids and for the whole family, too. There are two family friendly pools, an IMAX theater, and large water parks. Those with very young children will be happy to learn that children as young as two are welcome at the free babysitting service (some services require children to be potty trained).
The line features an activity area with mini-golf, basketball courts, and foosball tables. There are family friendly cabins and staterooms with access to a Family Lounge, free quality dining for kids at select restaurants, and a Build-A-Bear workshop where kids can build their own stuffed toys.
Carnival may be the best cruise line for those with teenagers. They offer dance and pool parties, video game consoles, and teen-only land excursions. Even on vacation, teens don't want to hang out with their parents!
Royal Caribbean caters to not only nuclear family vacations but large group family vacationers, too (all those grandparents, aunts, and uncles to help babysit!).
The ships feature several pools, rock climbing walls, and even an ice skating rink. If your family loves a parade, they're hosted in the indoor promenade. Anthem of the Seas has what can only be described as an on-board amusement park with things like bumper cars, a skydiving simulator, and a Ferris wheel ride that lifts passengers 300 feet above the water in glass gondolas. Definitely, something the whole family can enjoy together.
There are interactive classes for parents and children aged 6 months to 3 years to participate in together and plenty of play areas for children separated by age.
When the adults want to get away there are evening entertainment venues with after-hours babysitting available.
You might be surprised that Disney Cruises don't top the list of the best cruises for family vacations. It's not because Disney Cruises aren't great for a family vacation but because they are best suited to families with children aged 4 to 11. If you have tweens or teens, this is probably not the right choice for you (unless they're Disney fanatics).
This line also doesn't separate kids by age group as many others do in an effort to allow children of different ages traveling together (siblings, cousins, friends) to spend time with each other.
Kids can enjoy things like themed play rooms (Toy Story, Monsters, Inc, and Avengers). There is a theater with live shows including Frozen, the Musical (Let it gooooo!) in case you didn't get enough of the DVD on repeat at home.
If you do have older kids, they aren't completely left out. They can enjoy video games, karaoke, and a water park.
Restaurants are also kid-focused featuring entertainment during dinner and have staff available to create kid-friendly dishes and even cut up their food. A real luxury for parents! There are also adults-only restaurants so mom and dad can eat without talking to characters from Finding Nemo.
It's Really That Easy
Whether it's winter break, spring break, or summer vacation, cruises make for a great family vacation. Everything anyone in the family could need or want is available, and you don't have to navigate a strange new place to find it.
There is no need for everyone to agree on what to do, what to see, or where to eat because there are so many choices and choices that will appeal to family members of any age. If you want a vacation that feels like a vacation for everyone, these family-friendly cruise lines are great options. All you need is a credit card. Bon, voyage!