Fun for the whole family!
Friendly family cruising
Family cruising has become a very popular and affordable option for exciting family vacations. With tons of ships and cruise lines to choose from families literally have hundreds of choices available to them. You could literally spend hours researching ships, itineraries and cruise lines to find the most suitable option for your family, and while almost all cruise ships, have some form of an activity plan for the youngsters, some lines have ships that are geared specifically towards families with some of the most interactive kid-friendly offerings and amenities.
Choosing a cruise can be daunting and time consuming at best, so a few key points should be considered, when comparing ships, lines, amenities and itineraries. Families traveling with infants or toddlers may want to search for ships that offer on board or in-room babysitting services. Families with children that range in age from little ones on up to teens, search for ships that have ample activities that are sure to stimulate the needs of the different ages of your children.
Since family cruise vacations have heavily increased most new ships offer your best bet for finding the right balance of kid and adult itineraries that will satisfy the whole family.
Another key element to finding the right family friendly cruise is checking into cabin accommodations. A lot of older ships aren't very family friendly with small staterooms that practically have you living on top of each other. Though, with the increase in family friendly cruising needs, some have been refurbished to accommodate families in a more comfortable fashion. But with such a boom in the family cruise vacation industry, newer ships are where it's at for the utmost in family friendly cruises. Most newer ships have specifically targeted family travel needs by making larger rooms that are much more realistic for the traveling family. Some cruise ships also have specific cabins that can inter-connect for large party multi-generational cruise vacations. And growing in popularity are Family Staterooms or Suites which usually accommodate a family of 5 - 6 individuals luxuriously well.
Another feature that attracts travelers searching for family friend cruises is the new trend in "freestyle dining". Freestyle dining options have become very desirable, because they offer diversity and freedom of choice, to eat when, where and with whom you want, and tend to have some menu choices that will delight the kiddies as well as the adults. Traditional old-school ships run more along the "set time" schedule which specific dinner settings with a more adult oriented menu. Standard setting dinners can be time consuming and hardly offer kid-friendly foods...and let's face it, the kid-friendly alternative is the buffet, which is great for the kiddies but can get very stale for the parents, especially if they are looking for dinner pairings that they would not typically get at home, like lobster or creme brulee.
And don't forget about your destination of choice. Some ports of call and land excursion offerings may not work well for your family depending on the age of all the travelers involved. You should look for destinations that offer lots of interactive kid-friendly excursions that will entice the whole family. For the young ones you may consider a Caribbean cruise for lots of fun and sun on beautiful sandy beaches with crystal clear blue waters; or maybe an Alaskan cruise if you are traveling with older children who can appreciate the sheer majesty of the scenery, history and ecological system of the surrounding area.
Below is a list of some of the most family friendly cruise lines and ships that might be worth looking into. But again, it is completely up to the consumer, to choose an itinerary that best suits their budget, timing and needs.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines: The larger ships of this cruise line tend to offer the most family friendly itineraries, activities, entertainment and accommodations. The two ships that stand out are the Allure of the Seas and the Oasis of the Seas. Both ships offer fantastic pools, rock climbing walls, a 3D theater, on board surf simulators, ice skating, zip line -- with an array of family cabins of varying sizes. The kids clubs have friendly counselors with nursery care options. Close seconds are the Voyager and Freedom which are also great family cruise vacation choices.
Norwegian Cruise Lines: This cruise line offers a casual and fun "freestyle" cruising atmosphere for families with kids of all ages and mult-generational travelers. Their newest ships the Breakaway, Getaway and Epic being the stand-out mega-ships that have pulled out all the stops and created an extravagant family friendly environment. With activities and clubs for toddlers to teens offering high-tech games, a small cinema, circus school, Nickelodeon at Sea programs, bowling and amazing waterparks (including the Plank -- an 8-foot walk-way extending over the side of the ship.)
Carnival Cruise Lines: Breeze, the newest in the Dream-class ship line; and Sunshine, being newly refurbished, offer an array of activities, spaces and activities that suit families very well. Both ships offer some of the largest at-sea water parks. The kids clubs are spectacular for all age groups with a full load of interactive, fun and enticing activities that will appeal from kids 2 - 17. With a Sports Square that is home to a mini-golf course, foosball tables and a basketball court and a SplashZone these two ships are a veritable heaven-at-sea for adults and kids alike. Carnivals other Dream-class ships Dream and Magic are hold a lot of value for family friendly cruise vacations.
Disney Cruise Lines: You can't go wrong with a Disney cruise when it comes to the ultimate in family friendly cruises for passengers that have children in the 4 - 11 age range. The Disney fleet that includes Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy and Disney Magic have recently started to try to adjust their activities to be more tween and teen friendly as well. This line has several Disney-themed play areas including Andy's Room (from Toy Story); the Laugh Floor (from Monsters, Inc.); and a S.H.I.E.L.D. command post called marvel's Avengers Academy that offers virtual gaming. You can also opt for fee-based nursery care for the wee ones.