The Best Family Cruise Lines

climbing wall on Royal Caribbean's Jewel of the Seas
ROCK ON: The climbing wall on Royal Caribbean's Jewel of the Seas  (courtesy, RCI)
Top Tips for Keeping Cruise Costs Down
Go to beaches on your own.

Be selective about organized shore tours.

Purchase soda cards for kids and adults.

Check out the Internet cafes in ports as prices there are generally less expensive than those onboard.

Forget about boring sea voyages—cruises these days cater to parents and kids who want nonstop action. Play basketball, try mini-golf, go rock climbing, surf, or even bowl, all without leaving the ship. Once on land, whether with an organized tour or on your own, opt for snorkeling, diving, bicycling, hiking, golfing, swimming, or building sandcastles with your kids.

Cruise lines are also enticing families on board with complimentary, creative kids' programs that operate from morning till night, including breaks for meals as well as babysitting for a fee into the wee hours. Beyond that, why are cruises great for families? You unpack once but visit several ports, plus the price covers lodging, meals, entertainment, and children's programs, making the vacation easy to budget.

However, like resorts and rock bands, each cruise line has its own distinct personality and dedicated followers. To sail on the ship of your dreams, you need to plan ahead and pick the right vessel, as well as the right voyage. Here, we review five of the best for those families looking to sail the high seas on their next vacation.'s resident family expert Candyce Stapen has written the book on family travel, having authored some 1,400 travel articles and 27 books, 26 of them on family travel. She is the winner of the 2004 "Caribbean Travel Writer of the Year for North America" award and a three-time winner of the Society of American Travel Writers' Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism award. Her articles have appeared in publications including Nick Jr , FamilyFun , Parents , Better Homes & Gardens , Conde Nast Traveler , National Geographic Traveler , and the Family Travel Network , among others. Her book, the National Geographic Guide to Caribbean Family Vacations is available from

Published: 27 Sep 2006 | Last Updated: 7 Nov 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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