The Best Family Cruise Lines - Royal Caribbean International

Freedom of the Seas'
ACTION STATIONS: Freedom of the Seas' FlowRider surf simulator (courtesy, RCI)
Sample '07 RCI Cruise
We sampled itineraries over the generally busier spring cruising season to get an idea of what to expect from our favorite family-friendly lines. Fares listed below will typically cover all meals, snacks, room service; entertainment; children's programs; and lodging. Extras will be alcoholic drinks and sodas, spa treatments, Internet services, as well as meals at specialty restaurants, and premium ice cream, and specialty coffees, chocolates, fruit drinks (smoothies) available at on-board cafes, plus special things to do such as Virtual Golf.

Where: Western Caribbean on Freedom of the Seas
When: March 18-24, 2007
Ports of Call: Miami, Florida; Cozumel, Mexico; George Town, Grand Cayman; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Labadee, Haiti (RCI's beach).
What It'll Cost: Inside staterooms start from $1,030 per person for first two guests; $760 per person for third and fourth guests. Outside staterooms start from $1,700 per person for first two guests; $760 per person for third and fourth guests.
Off the Ship: Snorkel the colorful reefs in Chankanaab Park, Cozumel; pet the stingrays in Grand Cayman; go swimming at Montego Bay's Doctors Cave Beach, Jamaica.

"Action" is Royal Caribbean's catchword—you've seen the Iggy Pop-scored ads, right?—and the May 2006 launch of Freedom of the Seas, the largest cruise ship in the world, certainly befit the mantra. Among its firsts are FlowRider, an onboard surf simulator that generates small waves for boogie boarding or, if you've got the skillz, hanging ten—with guaranteed breaks when it's your turn to rip. Another plus for families: the H2O Zone, an inviting waterpark whose whimsical spraying fountains, geysers, and sprinklers mean the kids no longer have to annoy those hardcore sunbathers around the poser pool. Liberty of the Seas, Freedom's sister ship debuting May 2007, will have the same features. Each behemoth weighs 160,000 ocean-displacing tons and carries 3,634 guests at double-occupancy.

Along with rock-climbing walls, standard on all RCI vessels, families find basketball courts and ice-skating rinks on Voyager and Liberty class vessels. Teens can hang out at two separate juice bars/discos, one for ages 12 to 14, the other ages 15 to 17, meaning that shy ninth graders won't feel overwhelmed by sassy high-school seniors.

RCI's Adventure Ocean program provides supervised activities for age-appropriate groups of young passengers, with everything from nautical-themed arts and crafts to science experiments to reggae beach parties and movie nights. At select times, parents and their toddlers take part in organized play. Aqua Babies serves ages six to 18 months and Aqua Tots is for ages 18 months to three years.'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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