The Best Cruises For Families
Choosing a family holiday? Mickey Mouse, water parks and sweet shops are among the highlights in our pick of the best family cruises around the world. From activities for the kids to culinary experiences, these cruises have something the entire family can enjoy.
Good For All Ages
Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class ships, which include Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas, are excellent options for families of multiple generations. Along with a range of children's activities (such as the H2O zone and enormous Youth Zone), there is no shortage of adult-only dining and entertainment opportunities, facilitated by the various kids' clubs, nursery care and an in-cabin babysitting service.
For families that enjoy spending time together, there are swimming pools, a rock-climbing wall and a zip line to the cinema, ice shows and parades on the promenade.
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Make A Splash
Most cruise ships have a water park of some sort on board but none goes for it quite like Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Epic. The ship's Aqua Park is lavish to say the least, with two pools, five hot tubs, a children’s pool and three multi-storey water slides, one of which incorporates Epic Plunge, the only bowl-shaped slide offered at sea.
For active types, the sports complex features a football pitch, basketball, dodgeball and volleyball courts, while those whose sporting tastes are more vertically inclined can enjoy the bungee trampoline, abseiling wall and seven-metre-tall climbing cage.
Where Dreams Come True
All of Disney’s cruise ships are characteristically child-friendly. But given the overall 'dream factory' feel, characterised by stage musicals of Disney classics and meet-and-greets with Mickey Mouse, the cruises are definitely aimed at younger children.
That’s not to say there isn’t a place for teenagers on board. Vibe, a teen-only club is space where the older children can watch television, play video games, surf the web and generally avoid all the 'little kid stuff'.
Celebrity Cruises offers various shore excursions, including Ben Fogle’s Great Adventures programme, a series of escapades for parents and children developed by the adventurer himself. It offers something for all types of families, with a mixture of leisurely tours and daring exploits.
Snorkelling with salmon in Norway, exploring the Sicilian culinary scene and biking down the Croatian coast are also on offer. While certainly not cheap (prices can be as much as $A825 a person), the immersive adventures are a great way of experiencing the countries you visit.
Something For Everyone
Carnival Cruise Lines caters to very specific age groups: Club O2 for 15 to 17-year-olds, Circle “C” for the 12-14s, and Camp Ocean for two to 11-year-olds. There are two digital play rooms, one for kids and one for teens, and a range of Dr Seuss-themed activities for younger children. With an on-board sweet shop as well, you may not see your children for the entire cruise (for many parents that's a definite plus).
If you do insist on family time, however, Carnival can provide. The Hasbro game show stands out from the rest, with families competing at giant versions of games such as Yahtzee and Connect 4, all on stage in front of a live audience.
River cruise line Tauck runs several European river trips for families. The seven-night Castles on the Rhine cruise features bicycle rides through forests and vineyards, a ride on the world’s steepest cogwheel train to the top of Mt Pilatus in the Swiss Alps and spooky fun and frolics in the many medieval castles lining the route.
And if the Rhine doesn’t float your boat, Tauck offers two other seven-night cruises. The Blue Danube cruise starts in Budapest and passes through Bratislava, Vienna and Salzburg, while the Bon Voyage cruise starts with two nights in Paris, then a high-speed train to Lyon and a trip down the Rhone. Needless to say, these cruises are best suited to families with a cultural bent.
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This article was written by Tom Mulvihill from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.