Cruises with Children
Choosing the best cruise for your family is a lot more complicated than it used to be. Some ships are better for infants than others, and ditto for teens, and not all itineraries are created equal (Alaska and Caribbean are super destinations that tend to be kid-friendly). Add to the mix the fact that ships vary greatly not just from line to line but within fleets.
Onboard programs and facilities have taken a wide leap, particularly in the past few years. The variety of what's available for kids onboard these days is staggering: because kids' developmental stages vary, some cruise lines divide them up into different age groups, with all manner of fun activities. Programs have been created in conjunction with popular companies that market to kids, such as Crayola, Coca-Cola and Fisher-Price.
For teens there's a range of shipwide options; photography classes, escorted shore tours with youth counselors, spa treatments, discos... and more.
Cruise lines are creating new attractions (rock climbing walls, believe it or not, are passe!) ranging from elaborate water parks to movie matinees.
In the accommodations arena, the hottest new concept is family suites -- and many cruise lines building new ships have designed those vessels to incorporate this type of stateroom design.
Here's a few of our favorites to consider:
These ships were designed with families in mind, with expansive programs, facilities and accommodations for parents and children.
Princess' Personal Choice Dining program gives folks the opportunity to choose between traditional cruise dining (same table, same time each night) or flexible, restaurant-style eateries (eat any time); The "Movies Under the Stars" pool-side cinema features kid-friendly matinees.
The activities offered to kid cruisers includes ... (read more-)
Crystal Cruises' commitment to excellence and quality of experience does not end with their grown-up cruisers. Kids have a variety of great activities to choose from on every Crystal cruise!
While Crystal Cruises' clientele is comprised mostly of mature travelers who prefer a refined and luxurious cruise experience, they offer a children's playroom and babysitting services on all cruises. During holiday cruises and selected sailings, additional children's activities are offered under the supervision of experienced Junior Activities Directors.
Crystal offers ... (read more-)
Norwegian Cruises Lines
NCL offers complimentary kids and teens programs, delivering fun day and night. The youth staff is carefully selected from university education and recreational programs. Each staff member is an expert in providing fun, engaging activities for every age group, and all are certified in CPR and first aid.
Except on Europe sailings NCL offers "Kid Crew" -- age-appropriate activities ranging from parties and video arcades to learning sessions -- to Junior Sailors, ages 2-5; First Mates aged 6-8; Navigators, aged 9-12 and Teens aged 13-17.
Group babysitting for ages two to 12 is available from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. each evening and on port days from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for a fee.
There's Just-for-kids splash pools on ... (read more-)
Rock climbing walls, ice skating rinks, miniature golf and roller blading are more innovative ways to tire out your kids than, say, a basketball court or pool games (though these ships do have pretty fantastic pool areas, not to mention the usual basketball courts). And did we mention the ships' indoor promenades, which feature all manner of parades and special events? Plus, Freedom, Liberty and Independence of the Seas offer the FlowRider, the industry's first surf park at sea.
RC is also careful to subdivide kids and teens into smaller age categories.
They're offer the largest ... (read more-)
Disney has the absolute best set-up, facilities, dining schemes and programs for families with kids in the 4 to pre-teen range. There's an entire deck for kids, a large staff of counsellors and age-specific programs with hands-on activities.
It divides kids into categories that spanned just a couple of years. Other features include the Flounder's Reef Nursery for the up-to-3 set (note: there's an hourly fee) and Aloft, a club for teens in the ships' faux funnels.
Facilities include pool areas: Mickey's Pool, for the youngest set, is located on one side and an adults-only pool is located on the other, with Goofy's Pool in the center for families in general. Other great facilities include the Walt Disney Theater, which features shows and movies, and Studio Sea, which presents interactive activities for kids and parents.
Teens have a ... (read more-)