Which line is best for crusing with kids?

Family Cruises
Cruising with kids? Best Family Cruise Advice
Cruise Critic's Family Cruising Resources
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts
BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
All times are GMT -4.
The time now is 06:47 PM.
100 Posts
Joined Dec 2012
My husband and I just got back from our very first cruise and we had so much fun we want to take our kids on the next cruise. I am wondering what cruise line do experienced cruisers feel is best for kids? We were on the Carnival Liberty and I know they had camp carnival things going on during the day but I didn't pay much attention to it since we didn't have the kids with us.

Our kids are older (10 and 14 right now) so they would be able to do a lot of the shore excursions with us also.

We are thinking of cruising with them in about 2 years (gotta save up some fun money) so they would be 12 and 16 at the time.
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature

First Cruise ~ Eastern Caribbean. Carnival Liberty. 1-5-2013
Nassau, St Thomas, San Juan and Grand Turk.

Future Cruise ~ Eastern Caribbean.
Carnival Conquest February 17th-25th 2018.
St Maarten, St Kitts, San Juan and Grand Turk.
100 Posts
Joined Dec 2012

Expand Signature
Collapse Signature

First Cruise ~ Eastern Caribbean. Carnival Liberty. 1-5-2013
Nassau, St Thomas, San Juan and Grand Turk.

Future Cruise ~ Eastern Caribbean.
Carnival Conquest February 17th-25th 2018.
St Maarten, St Kitts, San Juan and Grand Turk.
5,760 Posts
Joined May 2006
I can't say which is best but can tell you my personal experience.

We sailed on Carnival when our kids were young and they enjoyed it very much. We decided to try Royal Caribbean when my oldest was 14. We have pretty much stayed with Royal since then. My kids prefer the teen activities they provide especially on the larger ships. Of course its been a while since we have been on Carnival so can't say if things have changed.

What type of activities do your kids enjoy? Do they usually stay with you or do they like to hang out with kids their own age more? Active, or prefer shows? Some more info may help others with suggestions.
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Next up -

Previous -

RC Jewel - Southern - 2/17 ** RC Anthem - Bermuda - 8/6 ** RC Jewel - Pacific Coastal - 10/15 ** RC Quantum - Nowhere - 11/14 ** RC Vision - Western - 8/14 ** RC Allure - Western - 6/13 ** RC Allure - Eastern - 6/12 ** RC Navigator - Med - 8/11 ** RC Mariner - Mexican Riviera - 8/09 ** NCL Gem - Cruise to Nowhere - 1/09 ** RC Freedom - Eastern - 11/08 ** RC Explorer - Bermuda - 6/08 ** RC Mariner - Western - 6/07 ** Carnival Glory - Western - 6/06 ** RC Majesty - Bahamas - 11/04 ** Carnival Imagination - Key West/Cozumel - 10/03 ** Carnival Holiday - Western - 5/88
New Joizey
872 Posts
Joined Dec 2008
I agree.

Royal has a lot of amenities to offer that the younger teens would appreciate. The ice skating, rock climbing, surfing/Flowrider, and zip-lining (on Oasis class vessels)

We sailed the Norwegian Epic this year and the RCI Oasis of the Seas the previous year. My eldest was 12 and 13 years respectively between the two cruises. Even though the Epic had the water slides and the rock climbing wall, he seemed to have enjoyed the Oasis more... More places to go, I guess.
Trumbull, Ct
10 Posts
Joined Dec 2012
I can't agree more with the other opinions. We have done 2 crusises with our children and extended family ranging in ages fron 6-14 on RCL's Oasis and just got back from a cruise on the Allure. These ships offer so much and your kids are the perect ages to just let them go and not see them for the rest of the day, if you prefer!! You can't go wrong on either the Oasis or the Allure
NE Ohio
101 Posts
Joined Sep 2010
Hi! Your kids will be a little older and ages more spread apart than mine but I can share my thoughts:

Our experience may bring a different perspective as both our cruises to date were on Holland America.. HA is known for their older clientele and not for being kid centric but our girls (11 and 9 on the Westerdam & 12 and 10 on the Nieuw Amsterdam) LOVED the Club HAL on both trips.

First cruise was in mid January, southern Caribbean and only 50 children total were on the ship. The attention they received from the fun and inventive staff was great. The counselors knew my kids names and made them feel they were there for them. Each day they were excited to have their own time away from Mom and Dad and even got to walk up and back from Club HAL on their own... the ship was the perfect size and easy for them to navigate. This was a great way for them to feel a bit of independence and they LOVED it. Would we have done this on a mega ship, probably not.

Second cruise, sailed over Christmas Eastern Caribbean, bigger ship (same general layout) and now some 300 kids on board. This was a little different experience as they bonded with other kids more so than with the counselors but wow, did they make friends and the independence given grew a bit more. They would check the daily events and let us know when they would be joining us The activities are more group based and they were encouraged to interact. There were no Ziplines, Surf machines or swirly slides but they did not miss something they never had before. They felt like they belonged on the cruise and not that they were just tagging along with mom & dad.

So, my point, even a cruise line that is not known for being awesome for kids, CAN BE awesome for kids. Would mine have liked Club HAL just as much had they been on a ship with all the "bells and whistles" for kids, not sure but they were disappointed that the next cruise will be on Celebrity and not HAL again.

The key is to know what your kids like & they should feel the cruise if for them just as much as the adults. My kids like making friends and they like attention so that combination worked great on a ship where they were a minority. The extra attention from the staff and the focus on group activities really worked for us. Also, the size of the ships paired with them being close in age, they enjoyed the adventure together! My girls fight & bicker constantly at home but when a vacation comes along, they are inseparable!

We were fortunate enough to get cruises that treated the kids just as wonderful as the adults! Couldn't loose! I believe Celebrity will be very much the same!
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
January 2011 Westerdam to HMC, Curacao & Aruba, December 2011 Nieuw Amsterdam Christmas Cruise / Eastern Caribbean !

Next Up: Celebrity Equinox - Ultimate Caribbean / March 2013!
2,043 Posts
Joined Oct 2012
Any of the newer larger ships that offer all the bells and whistles from rock wall climbing to ice skateing would keep them amused at sea. I'm in a totally different demographic and hate the "bigger is better" ships. Having said that rather than have my children bored at sea would bite the bullet and go this route if I had to. Port activities are so varried that you will not have a problem finding something for everyone regardless of ship or cruise line.
New Jersey
2,192 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
I think all the mainstream cruise lines do a very good job with children's programs. I've sailed NCL, RCCL and Celebrity and my kids enjoyed all of them. So as far as children's programs go I think they are all very good.

I think there might be more of a difference once you look outside the children's program. Some lines have character tie-ins, e.g. RCCL has Dreamworks and NCL has Nickelodeon. RCCL's larger ships have a lot of onboard sports activities and that might appeal to older kids and teens more than, say, a Celebrity ship.
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Norwegian Gem Jan '13
Norwegian Dawn Aug '10
Celebrity Solstice Jan '09
Adventure of the Seas Jan '07
Voyager of the Seas Jan '03
Fredericksburg, va. USA
84,648 Posts
Joined May 2001
I don't think kids would be bored on ANY ship...there's plenty of things to do! Yes...RCI has lots of bells and whistles, but most of those things only take up a small amount of time.....so figure out your itinerary and budget and go from there!
Timonium, Maryland
3,943 Posts
Joined Jul 2007
I agree that kids are excited by most ships. My son is a pretty seasoned cruiser and no matter what ship or cruise line I book- he'll be thrilled to go.

His favorite (and mine) is Celebrity for all around cruise experience. But each ship has something to offer for kids.
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Norwegian Breakaway Bermuda 5/14/17 Regal Princess, 3/19/17 Holland America Veendam Canada/New England 4/28/16-5/7/16, Regal Princess 3/27/16 Eastern Caribbean, Holland America Maasdam Canada New England 8/15/15, Celebrity Summit Bermuda 7/26/15 Star Princess Alaska 7/13/15 Norwegian Pearl Pacific Coast 5/3/2014 My Birthday! Celebrity Solstice Alaska 5/8/2014Enchantment of the Seas 12/6/13 Bahamas, Grand Princess Alaska 7/19/13, Celebrity Solstice California Coast 5/13, Serenade of the Seas Western Med (1/4/13)Celebrity Summit Bermuda(8/12/12),Celebrity Infinity Alaska 7/6/12
Caribbean Princess New England (8/11), Holland America Maasdam New England (6/11)Celebrity Equinox Norway (7/09), Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas (4/09) Grand Princess British Isles (08) Holland America Zuiderdam Greece/ Turkey (08) Oceania Regatta Caribbean Southern Caribbean (08) QM2 Transatlantic (07) Celebrity Millenium Western Med (7/07), Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas Eastern Caribbean(4/06), Disney Wonder Bahamas (8/05), Celebrity Constellation (4/06), Sapphire Princess Alaska (5/24/05) Celebrity Millenium Transatlantic (5/1/05), NCL Spirit Eastern Caribbean (3/05), Celebrity Galaxy (10/04), Carnival Victory (6/04), Celebrity Zenith Bermuda (10/01), Celebrity Zenith Eastern Caribbean (4/01),NCL Dynasty (12/00) NCL Sky Alaska (7/00), NCL Wind Alaska (5/98), Crown Princess Pacific repo (5/98), Royal Sovereign of the Seas Bahamas (10/97), Costa Victoria Western Caribbean (3/97), Crown Princess Alaska (6/96), Vera Cruz Christmas (1981), Holland America Volendam Christmas (1980), Holland America Veendam Christmas (1975).

Upcoming cruises: Celebrity Summit New England//Canada 6/27/17, QM2 Cunard 7/28/17, Explorer of the Seas Seattle to Sydney 10/06/17
Phoenix, AZ
2,734 Posts
Joined Aug 2006
There is no "one size fits all" for family cruising. I'd start out by thinking about what's most important to you, the ports or the ship? A lot of times, the ship is the destination. I think that's particularly true with the mega-ships like the Allure, Oasis, Epic, etc. It almost doesn't matter where they go because people are booking them because they want to experience the ship first and foremost.

For us, we usually start out thinking about a particular itinerary and then look at what ships are doing that itinerary. Our favorites are Princess and Celebrity. Our DD's are 16 and almost 12. For Christmas we were on the Sapphire Princess and for Spring Break we'll be on the Celebrity Silhouette.

Another thing to keep in mind is that on some cruise lines, 12 year olds are in the teen program but in others they in the kids program. For example, on Princess you can't be in the teen program until you are 13 and they are very strict about it. But Royal Caribbean and Celebrity start the teen program at age 12. I'm not familiar with other lines like Carnival and NCL. But if that makes a difference, it is something to consider.
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Upcoming Cruise: Ruby Princess -CA Coastal - 3/10/18
Past Cruises: Ruby Princess - Alaska - 7/17; Ruby Princess - Cabo Getaway - 12/16; Caribbean Princess - Baltic Heritage - 6/15; Crown Princess - Mexico - 12/14 (the Xmas cruise where I broke my leg); Cunard Queen Mary 2 - Eastbound TA - 6/13; Celebrity Silhouette - W. Caribbean - 3/13; Sapphire Princess - Mexico - 12/12; Celebrity Equinox - E. Mediterranean - 6/11; Sapphire Princess - Mexico - 3/11; Queen Victoria - Mexican Getaway - 2/11; Mariner of the Seas - Mexico - 3/10; Sapphire Princess - Mexico - 10/09; Crown Princess - British Isles - 7/09; Celebrity Summit - E. Mediterranean - 6/08; Dawn Princess - Pacific Coastal - 5/08; Golden Princess - Mexico - 3/08; Diamond Princess - Mexico - 3/07; Celebrity Infinity - Alaska - 8/06; Caribbean Princess - 6/05; HAL Ryndam - Alaska - 8/96