The ultimate family cruise guide
Family cruises are a brilliant opportunity for everyone to come together and enjoy a getaway - this is our complete guide to family cruise holidays.
Family cruises are the perfect option for those hoping to sail away with family members both young and old.
Not all cruise lines are good for intergenerational groups so it's important to do your research.
We've got everything you need to know about the best family cruises.
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What is a family cruise?
Family cruise holidays bring together all ages, both young and old. They are the perfect opportunity for children, parents and grandparents to enjoy time away all together.
Family cruises offer activities that suit guests of any age, whether it's adults-only evenings or fun kids clubs monitored by crew members - plus plenty of pastimes to take part in together.
- READ MORE: How to pick the best cruise ship cabin -
Cruise lines that offer family cruise holidays offer family-friendly accommodation with family-specific staterooms and suites.
Destinations will also aim to appeal to all passengers so everyone will be able to make special memories as a family.
What to pack for family cruise
Packing for a cruise requires plenty of thought, even if you don't have children in tow. Adults need to consider everything from toiletries to appropriate dress code outfits, but below is what you'll also need if travelling with little ones:
Lanyards - these are great to keep cruise cards in and prevent children from losing these all-important keys
Night lights - these are good if your little one is scared of the dark and also to guide the way to the loo in the night. Battery-powered lights are good if your cabin lacks enough power outlets
Beach toys - if your cruise heads to the beach, a stash of toys will keep the children entertained and save you having to fork out at local shops
Sun protection - pack high SPF sun cream to prevent and prevent sunburn on both adults and children alike. Sun hats and rash guards or similar will also provide good protection.
- READ MORE: What to pack for a cruise holiday -
Kids quiet time activities - these can be useful for when children are enjoying some down time, whether they're books or art supplies. Such activities will keep them occupied and give the adults an opportunity to enjoy some quiet time, too.
Kids medicine - don't forget any important medicine your young ones need - seasickness remedies are always helpful but some cruise lines do hand them out for free. Cruise ship pharmacies generally sell other basics but they can be a bit pricey.
Themed night accessories - if you're sailing with such cruise lines as Disney which offer themed nights it's worth reading up in advance and packing some relevant accessories to help your kids look the part.
Towel clips - these are useful for preventing towels from blowing away from your sunbed.
Jelly shoes - if your cruise is heading to beach destinations which are more likely to be pebble than sand, jelly shoes will help protect children's feet and make sure they get the most enjoyment out of the visit.
Which cruise line is best for families?
There's a wide range of cruise lines offering family-friendly cruises. Some of the best family friendly cruise lines are as follows:
Disney Cruise Line - Disney offers the complete magical experience for young ones and is very family-friendly indeed, with plenty of shows, themed restaurants, Disney character meet-and-greets to entertain. There are kids clubs for all ages and the staterooms are spacious complete with pull-down beds.
Carnival Cruise Line - Carnival offers a variety of kids clubs for children of all ages as well as babysitting services. There are family-friendly restaurants, lots of kids activities from waterslides to mini-golf while staterooms boast pull down beds.
Norwegian Cruise Line - NCL cruise ships feature multiple play zones and water parks while kids clubs cater for all ages. There are activities from dodgeball and cupcake decorating to Circus School. Norwegian also has family suites - most ships have two-bedroom family suites conveniently located near the kids' area.
Royal Caribbean - Royal Caribbean's Adventure Ocean youth programmes serve up both fun and educational activities, with the Royal Babies programme (ages 6-18 months) looking after the tiniest guests. There's all manner of sporting and adventurous activities onboard and family cabins are available for groups of five or more with interconnecting cabins available.
P&O Cruises - P&O has a youth programme as well a nursery offering child-minding from 6pm until 2am, for littlies 6 months and above. The line also has family friendly cabins with pull down beds. Azura, Britannia, Ventura and Iona are all good ships for intergenerational groups.
MSC Cruises: MSC boasts high ropes course, sports courts waterparks and pools. There's also various kids clubs catering for all ages and family dining. MSC also makes sure parents get their portion of adult time with romantic dinners for two and spa visits.
Princess Cruises: Princess offers the California Science Centre where young ones can take part in chemistry experiments while Pete's Pals youth programme teaches children about endangered species. There are kids clubs and babysitting as well as family-friendly cabins - family suites includes two interconnecting staterooms and sleeps up to eight on select ships.
How much does a family cruise cost?
Family cruise holiday costs vary enormously depending on the cruise line, destination, and time of year as well as how big the family is so whether you're after frugal family travel cruises or more blow-out getaways, there are cruises for you.
Some examples of a week-long family cruise are as follows:
Carnival Cruise Line offers seven-day autumn/winter Caribbean cruises on Mardi Gras in interior cabins starting at $479 (£352) per person.
The price of a Royal Caribbean cruise varies based on several different factors including ship, sail date, length of the cruise and the number of guests per stateroom. Currently, a week cruise for a family of four starts from as little as £1,150, which includes ship accommodation, ocean transportation, meals onboard, some beverages onboard and most entertainment onboard.
With Disney, you can enjoy a seven-night Western Caribbean Cruise on Disney Fantasy from £1,070.25 per person departing Port Canaveral on 27 August 2022, based on a family of four.
- FIND OUT MORE: Everything you need to know about family cruises -
On Princess Cruises' seven-night Mediterranean cruises departing in August, prices start from £3,196 for a family of four in a balcony cabin - with all-inclusive at £4,036 (includes unlimited Wi-Fi, premium drinks package and crew incentive).
On a Spring cruise to the Mediterranean with Norwegian Cruise Line, prices start from £906 per person, based on a family of four sharing a Balcony Stateroom.
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