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Child-friendly cruises: Which cruise lines are best for holidays with children?

Author: Laura Ellsessar

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Child-friendly cruises offer exciting activities from water slides to kids-themed lounges. Discover what cruise lines are best for your family!

Cruises are an ideal time for adults to escape their day jobs and get some relaxation in.

However, that doesn’t mean many lines don’t have terrific activities, lounges, and accommodations to fit a family’s needs and create a thrilling time for children.

Whether you’re looking for family-friendly cruises from the UK or child-friendly river cruises, there will be an option for your ideal holiday.

Today many cruise lines have come up with innovative and exciting ways to keep kids engaged on board, whether it be with waterparks, teen lounges, or partnerships with children’s companies. Family-friendly cruise lines offer a great way for everyone to stay entertained while travelling together.

Here are four of the best child-friendly cruises for your next family holiday!

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Child-friendly cruises: Disney Cruise Line

Unique to Disney Cruise Line is the incredible range of character experiences available for kids – perfect for a family-friendly cruise. Aboard Disney Magic and Disney Wonder, join a full cast of characters for Mickey’s Sail-A-Wave Party… A Bon Voyage Celebration to dance and have fun as you pull away from the dock.

No one in the family will run out of options for entertainment with access to Broadway-quality shows and several pools and waterslides for people of all ages.

As you transition from day to night, head to a themed restaurant to keep the children entertained while still enjoying quality food. Dining options stick to the child-friendly cruise theme and encompass a range of Disney-themed characters such as Rapunzel’s Royal Table on Disney Magic and Olaf’s Royal Picnic on Disney Wish.

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Children aged three to twelve can become part of the Oceaneer Club and meet their favourite characters, step into life-size sets and get involved in interactive activities. Teens can also find their own space onboard Disney’s child-friendly cruises at Vibe, a lounge exclusive for fourteen to seventeen-year-olds.

You can also check out Adventures by Disney that has multiple options for children four and up to take part in exciting family-friendly river cruises. Disney’s river and ocean cruises sail all over the globe, including great child-friendly Mediterranean and European cruises.

Children can experience life sized Disney sets onboard a Disney Cruise ship. Credit: Disney Cruise Line

Child-friendly cruises: Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival has many cabins and activities specifically for families and children. Families may choose the Family Harbour cabins which feature nautical decor and benefit from proximity to the Family Harbour Lounge.

The Lounge is a great place for snacks and games for the whole family. Staying in a Family Harbour room also means you’ll receive a free night of Night-Owl babysitting service so the adults can have a night out on the ship.

Fans of Dr Seuss will have a particularly good time aboard Carnival ships thanks to the unique Seuss at Sea experience, adding to the child-friendly cruise atmosphere. Through interactive activities, parades, and story times, Seuss’ work is brought alive for the family onboard and is also included in the overall cost of your package.

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What’s more, for no additional charge, kids aged two to eleven can take part in Camp Ocean. Separated into age-based groups, children will have the chance to meet others their age and participate in fun games, songs, and arts and crafts. For additional money, other options are available such as a Build-a-Bear Workshop and a video arcade. No matter what activities your family takes part in, Carnival’s child-friendly cruises will provide an exhilarating time for everyone onboard.

Meanwhile, teenagers can also choose to spend their time in Club O2, specifically for youths aged fifteen to seventeen. With video games, karaoke machines, and music, teens have many fun options while aboard, and parents won’t have to stress with so many options aboard Carnival’s family-friendly cruises.

Both adults and kids can take part of the fun activities aboard a Carnival Cruise ship. Credit: Carnival Cruise Line

Child-friendly cruises: Royal Caribbean

Child-friendly cruises through Royal Caribbean create fun adventures for children while still being educational thanks to the line’s Adventure Ocean kids club. Little ones can head to the Adventure Science Lab to dig up fossils, become junior scientists and make space mud. For a science-related adventure for younger children aged three to five, the Aquanaut group provides a fun-filled day of science experiments.

Kids more interested in expressing their creative side will want to head to the Imagination Studio to take part in crafts, painting and sculpture. They can also join in and play a role in the Adventure Ocean Theatre during their time onboard.

For families looking for a luxurious experience, the new Ultimate Family Suite is available onboard the Symphony of the Seas, Spectrum of the Seas and Wonder of the Seas. These cabins provide the utmost comfort while also providing fun living accommodation for the kids.

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Including a balcony with a jacuzzi, video game system and table tennis, the Ultimate Family Suite includes a Royal Genie who can plan tailored experiences for all your family’s needs. This is in addition to the complimentary drinks, dining and high-speed internet which come with the room as it’s part of the Star tier, the highest grade on Royal Caribbean.

Even without being in the highest tier, all tickets have complimentary access to many dining options, kids’ entertainment and luxurious rooms. With so many activities and accommodation options to make your children’s time a great time, Royal Caribbean is a great option for child-friendly all-inclusive cruises.

Royal Caribbean also offers many child-friendly cruises from Southampton to bring your family across Europe and back home again.

Royal Caribbean's Ultimate Family Suite creates a fun environment for the entire family. Credit: Royal Caribbean

Child-friendly cruises: Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises is also among child-friendly cruise lines and provides unique experiences for the entire family with connections to Discovery and Animal Planet. Families can take part in the shore excursions through the two companies which feature exclusive tours only available through Princess Cruises.

While onboard, the whole family will enjoy heading to the indoor planetarium or an animal meet and greet through Animal Planet. Also exclusive to Caribbean Princess is the Reef Family Splash Zone that provides a great space for the adults to wind down as the kids enjoy a day in the water.

Camp Discovery is Princess Cruises’ youth programme for kids of all ages. The Lodge, for ages eight to twelve, provides sports games and areas to lounge with kids their age. Some days may even be themed for Discovery at Sea and feature activities that highlight Discovery shows such as Shark Week and more.

- READ MORE: Princess Cruises reveals celebrity speakers on Southampton sailings -

Teenagers can stay occupied with dance classes, movie nights, and the Beach House, a lounge exclusively for teens.

Princess Cruises also provides a variety of destinations, including sailings from Southampton which makes it a great choice for families looking for child-friendly European cruises. With so many options for destinations and entertainment for kids of all ages, Princess is a great option for families as one of the best child-friendly cruises.

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