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Family Cruising

Home > Cruise Types > Family Cruising

Taking a cruise is an excellent (and quite popular) vacation option for a family of any size. This is because a cruise is priced quite reasonably compared to a land-based vacation, and is a hassle-free way to travel from one destination to another. What's more? Most cruise lines offer a free, yes free, children's program. The children's programs are usually age-based, and there is often times a separate teen-only program onboard the larger cruise ships.

Best Cruise Lines for Families

Royal Caribbean, by far, offers the cruise industry's widest range of activities onboard their newer ships. This specifically includes their Freedom-Class (Freedom of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas and Independence of the Seas) and Voyager-Class (Voyager of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas and Navigator of the Seas) ships. Their upcoming Oasis-Class ships (Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas) are sure to H20 Zoneknock the socks off of the entire cruise industry once they're launched (in 2009 and 2010, respectively). The Voyager-Class ships feature a sports deck (including a rock-climbing wall, mini-golf course and basketball court), ice-skating rink, Royal Promenade and huge show theatre. The Freedom-Class ships feature all of the features that the Voyager-Class ships do, plus an even larger Royal Promenade, as well as Royal Caribbean's unique FlowRider® surf park, full-size boxing ring and H20 Zone (an outdoor water park). The Oasis-Class ships will feature everything that the Freedom-Class ships have, plus an additional FlowRider®, a BoardwalkSM (featuring eateries, stores and carnival games), AquaTheater (featuring water and light shows) and Central ParkSM (featuring evening concerts and street performances).

Carnival Cruise Lines has always been a popular option for families. Carnival offers a great age-based youth program and a ton of fun onboard features. Carnival WaterWorksCarnival WaterWorks is a large outdoor aqua park onboard many of the Carnival cruise ships, featuring huge water slides. Many of the newer Carnival ships, such as their Conquest-Class ships (which includes Carnival Conquest, Carnival Glory, Carnival Valor, Carnival Liberty and Carnival Freedom), feature the Carnival Seaside Theatre (a huge 12-foot-high by 22-foot-wide LCD screen located poolside, showing movies, sporting events and cartoons). On many Carnival ships you can also find a 9-hole miniature golf course, swimming pools, as well as various indoor and outdoor entertainment. While your kids are in the youth program feel free to check out Carnival's 'Adult-Only' Serenity Retreat.

Disney Cruise Line is a wonderful option for families of all sizes, especially those with children. Not surprisingly, Disney has aDisney Wonder's Pool great kids program onboard their two ships (Disney Magic and Disney Wonder). Disney's Oceaneer Club is for 3-7 year olds, while Disney's Oceaneer Lab is for 8-12 year olds. Aloft is a special teen-only hangout onboard the Disney Wonder, for 13-17 year olds. This special area features big-screen plasma TVs, video games, an internet cafe and more. The Walt Disney Theatre is onboard each of Disney's cruise ships, and features amazing Broadway-style performances throughout each cruise. During each Disney cruise you're sure to see various famous Disney characters make an appearance. For instance, while eating breakfast Snow White or Cinderella may walk by to say hello. The Buena Vista Theatre is a state-of-the-art cinema onboard each ship, showing many Disney movies and some first-run features. For adults, there are also nightclubs and lounges onboard each Disney ship.

Norwegian Cruise Line, also known as NCL, is another popular option for a family cruise. Norwegian's ships are great for families because of their Freestyle Cruising® concept. The main idea behind this concept is that you can make up your NCL Gem Poolschedule as you wish. There are no assigned dining times, or assigned dining tables. There are just ranges of hours when you may eat in certain locations (for example, from 5:30 pm to 10:00 pm in the main dining rooms). The benefit of this is that you are not restricted to be somewhere at a certain time, handicapping your day in some way. This casual way of cruising is very nice for a family, allowing them to be free of the structure that some other cruise lines require. Besides the casual dining time schedule, there is also a very casual dress code onboard each NCL ship. Although they do not Norwegian Epic Aqua Parkallow shorts or tank tops inside the dining rooms during dinner, they do not have the strict formal dress code requirements that many other cruise lines do. NCL's newer ships (such as Norwegian Gem, Norwegian Pearl and Norwegian Jewel) have a wide range of dining options, some having as many as 13 different dining venues to choose from (many of them being specialty restaurants that have a reasonable per person cover charge, usually ranging in price from $10 to $30 per person, depending on the restaurant). Like its competition, NCL has an age-based youth program (called the Kid's Crew),for children ages 2 through 17. Activities for the younger kids include storytelling, painting and games. Teens have a teen disco and video arcade, watch movies, have parties, and can participate in various sports and games.
Norwegian Epic, NCL's upcoming mega-ship (expected to debut during the summer of 2010), is going to take Freestyle Cruising® to the next level. Among the family-friendly features planned to be available on this ship are a giant Aqua Park featuring three water slides, as well as a huge rock-climbing wall and six bowling lanes.

Most Popular Cruise Destinations for Families
Without a doubt, the Caribbean is the premier family destination in the cruise industry. Why? Because the Caribbean offers tropical weather, white-sand beaches, water sports and much more. Plus, Caribbean cruises are available from many US cities (such as Baltimore, Fort Lauderdale, Galveston, Miami, New Orleans, New York City, Norfolk, Port Canaveral and Tampa), making it quite convenient (especially for those traveling with children) as they can often avoid a plane ride by departing from a close-to-home city. Some of the more popular family activities in the Caribbean include swimming with dolphins, snorkeling, swimming at the beach, and duty-free shopping.

Also popular Alaska Cruisesfor family cruises is Alaska...yes, Alaska! For those of you that don't know, Alaska is filled with wildlife (such as bald eagles and bears), amazing views and lots of fun activities to take part in. An Alaska cruise offers families a truly unique experience in one of the world's most interesting locations. Princess Cruises has an excellent children's program onboard their Alaska-bound ships, known as the Junior Ranger and Teen Explorer program. This program offers children a chance to become a Junior Ranger, earning an official badge and certificate. Popular activities for families to take part in while in Alaska include helicopter rides to the top of a glacier, nature tours, whale watching trips, fishing, gold-mining adventures, city tours, shopping and eating the locally caught fresh seafood (such as salmon and crab).

Among other destinations that rank high among families are the Bahamas and Mexican Riviera.

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