Our pick – The 6 best family friendly cruise lines

Family. The one thing you value above all else. And what better way to spend time together than on a family cruise? It’s a perfect way to get the whole family together in one place and here we look at the best family friendly cruise lines.

On a family cruise you never need to compromise. You decide exactly how you want to live, where to eat, and how to spend your days. Multi-generation cruising really does offer something for everyone.

Multi-generational cruising is more popular than ever before

Cruising takes on a whole new meaning when travelling with your family group. Multi-generation cruising is a growing trend as you discover what great value for money your family cruise offers. From youngest to oldest, you can be together as much as you please, or take time for yourself on board. You can always meet up at the end of the day for those family dinners or nights at the theatre. 

On a family cruise, kids and adults alike have a multitude of activities to choose from. Adults can feel like kids again and the kids are creatively entertained from dawn until dusk! It’s also a fantastic way for grandparents  to make memories with their grandchildren. And parents get a welcome break when grandparents are able to enjoy activities with the kids in such a fun environment.

Wake up in a new port every day

In addition to having a great time onboard, each day offers an opportunity to see something new together. Stepping off the cruise ship and into a new port each day is just fantastic. You travel to a new city while you sleep and wake to new sights and sounds each day. Multi-generation cruising allows you to create these memories for life with the people who mean the most to you. 

Whether exploring by yourselves, or with a group excursion, the sights and sounds of a new destination ensures variety. The anticipation of meeting the locals, tasting new foods and trying out new activities all adds up to one unforgettable day. Times that by at least 7  and who can deny that a multi-generation cruising holiday is anything but fabulous?

Choosing cabins on best family friendly cruise lines

Cruise lines offer more family cabins and combined cabins than ever before. That means your family can choose cabins located close together that suit your budget. You can combine premium cabins – for example for grandma and grandpa who may have a bigger budget – with standard family cabins. All whilst still living close by one another in the same area of the ship.

Things to consider before you book your multi-generation cruise

Which family members will live together in one cabin? You may decide you need, for example, two cabins that sleep 4 quests in each, and two cabins that sleep 2 guests in each. Tell your cruise consultant that you are flexible though as there may be other configurations to suit you and your pocket. For example, imagine if you are 8 family members travelling together. Do you book a 2-bedroom suite for 4 guests plus a balcony room for 4 guests? Compare this to 4 cabins with 2 guests in each and you could quite possibly get a much better price.

Do you need interconnecting doors on your family cruise? These cabins are great for adults with teenagers. You can be close but do not need to be all squeezed in together in one cabin. My tips is if you are a family of 4 sharing a cabin and the kids are young adults, book a family balcony cabin. You will be glad of the extra 4-6 square metres of space that a balcony gives you.

Multi-generation cruising – cabin choice matters

What kind of cabin do you want? You choose between inside cabins, window cabins, balcony cabins or suites. Price will play a big factor here. But sometimes the price difference between a balcony cabin and a window cabin can be minimal, depending where on board the cabin is located. Look out for any special offers or campaigns the cruise line is running. 

Perhaps the senior members of your family will make more use of a balony if they are relaxing in their cabin during the day, or have a slower start to their mornings. Whereas mums and dads with youngsters may not want a balcony at all, just a window. For teenagers sharing a room they will most likely always be busy onboard. If they are mostly using their cabin just for sleeping, perhaps an inside cabin without a window is enough, enabling you to save money.

Are there any parts of the ship that you do not want to live close to? For example a cabin located close to elevators is great if you don’t want to walk so far. However you may hear loud guests walking past at all hours. Cabins located directly under pool decks or near the theatre can be noisy too. 

You may want to avoid cabins at the very front of the ship where the anchor is located. And the engines are at the very back of the ship and in these areas vibrations will be louder.  But then again, your kids may be even noisier and therefore these sounds will be drowned out anyway! What is important to you is important to the cruise line. They want to keep you happy so make sure you talk to them about the best options to suit your family on your multi-generation cruise.

Our top pick of the 6 best family friendly cruise lines

When looking for family friendly cruise lines and cruises for large multi-generational families, you will find that the Caribbean and Mediterranen offer the big popular itineraires.

You will find the largest cruise ships have more facilities, larger pool areas and more family based excursions. They really are hard to beat when there is something for everyone of all ages.  And these cruise ships offer endless activities and countless ways to have fun on board.  

These cruise lines offer all this and much more:

  • Luxury cruise ships with fantastic amenities
  • Cabins to suit all family members
  • Huge array of activities for all ages
  • Awesome Kids Clubs

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line

Royal Caribbeans big new mega-ships have a huge range of activities on board. The cruise line ensures families have a great time and is ideal for family and multi-generational cruising. It offers everything from surfboarding, ziplining and carousels to top broadway musicals, ice-cream stations and phenomenal water slides. It’s hard to go wrong with Royal and I’ve had many wonderful, faultless holidays on board their ships.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Lines freestyle cruising approach is a hit with families of all ages who love flexibility and no dress code. There are a huge number of restaurants with flexible dining options, great kids clubs and exciting water parks. You do not need to pre-book anything, you do what you like, when you like.

Watch out for their prices though and do compare with other cruise lines – the price jump from inside and window cabins up to balcony options can be extreme. Be sure to try and get a deal with their extra Free at Sea packages at the time of booking (wifi, open bar, excursions, specialty dining and extra guests) otherwise the extras can all add up on board when there are many in your group.

Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival offers very good value for money. The biggest cruise lines in the world are centered purely on having fun and are very popular in the Caribbean. It’s an upbeat cruise line, and very energetic where every night is party night. Carnival Cruise Line has fun partnerships with some of the big brands such as Dr Zeuss.

MSC Cruises

MSC is a family run cruise line based in Italy. On board you will find a fantastic mix of multicultural guests mostly from Europe with 6 standard languages on board. The food in the buffet restaurants is Italian inspired and who doesn’t like a taste of Italy?

MSC Cruises is a well priced cruise line, with great prices for kids under 18. Their summer itineraries in northern Europe to beautiful Norway are fantastic.  Ports of call in the Norwegian Fjords are outstanding and particularly suited to teenage and older kids who love the great outdoors. Choose MSC Cruises for your multi-generational cruising if you kids are teens or older.

Disney Cruise Line

Disney are of course the experts in kids entertainment, which is unrivalled I would say for kids ages 4 to 11 to whom they cater the best. But you’ll always find the adult-only areas on board when you need a break from it all! Disney offer suburb cruises, but prices can be high compare to, for example, Royal Caribbean.

P&O Cruises

P&O Cruises are relatively traditional in their style of cruising. When looking for family friendly cruise lines for multi-generational cruising this one is very popular with British families.  If you are travelling out of the UK this is a good choice. The ships are big, airy and fun but still quite traditional in their style of cruising.

They also operate out of Australia if you are looking for a great quality cruise down under. But if you are looking for a great combination trip to Britain this cruise is one to go for.

Meet the author: With more than 20 years experience from the travel industry, Mattias offers tips, expert advice and a unique perspective anchored in having worked with market leading cruise lines, tour operators, consolidators, airlines and hospitality suppliers. Read more..