The Best Cruises For Family Vacations

Instead of spending the last few weeks of summer dreading back-to-school preparation, why not pack up the family for a vacation? Forget a stressful road trip this year though. Head to Alaska, the Caribbean or Mexico with your family on one of these kid-friendly cruises.

Disney Wonder Cruise ship

Not only are these cruises great for kids, with tons of activities, private kid's pools, playgrounds and crafts, they are great for the parents, too. There's day care, couple's massages and delicious food and drink! Plus, each of these unique cruises offers great kid- and family-friendly excursions for when you reach your port, like scuba diving, dog sledding and jet skiing. Bon voyage!

Mexican cruise on the Disney Wonder

You can't have a true kid-friendly vacation without Disney. Unlike the theme parks, which can be very overwhelming and stressful, the Disney Wonder cruise to Mexico is relaxing and invigorating. This 1,700 plus passenger cruise was named one of the best cruises for familes by Travel & Leisure, and it's because they go above and beyond to satisfy your kids.

Each Disney ship has an entire deck dedicated to kid's activities, like a Goofy Detective School and a private clubhouse on top of the ship. This specific cruise also offers a Mexican cooking class for children at one of the ports, broken up by age group. In addition, there is a separate nursery for infants and newborns, so tired parents can have some time to themselves.

Once the kids are tucked into bed and you have a babysitter, check out Route 66, which features nightclubs, bars and other adults-only entertainment so you can enjoy a drink and some fancier food. Plus, there are kids-only and adults-only activities at each port, Riviera Maya and Cabo San Lucas, that include snorkeling, hiking through waterfalls and shopping. Cruises start at $1,600 and depart from Los Angeles.

Western Caribbean cruise on Allure of the Seas

This Caribbean cruise is on one of Royal Caribbean's newest and largest ships that is filled to the brim with fun and relaxing activities. Rated one of the best cruises for kids by MSNBC, the seven-night Caribbean cruise is a winner for kids and adults alike. This particular cruise stops at three unique ports, Haiti, Jamaica and Mexico, so you see a few of the Caribbean's finest spots.

While cruising, there is plenty for kids to do, like visit one of the sprawling waterparks, rock climbing walls, miniature golf course, surfing simulators, ice-skating rink, basketball court and wooden carousel. That's not all. There are also 10 distinct play areas with little gyms, TVs, arts and crafts materials and even science experiments. There's also kid-friendly dining, like donut shops and pizza. If your kids are all tuckered out and you and your husband would like some time alone, call one of the ship's in-room babysitters. Spend some alone time in the adults-only solarium, beauty salon and spa or gamble a bit in the casino.

Off the ship at one of the beautiful ports, there are great family-friendly excursions as well, like waterpark visits, walking tours, jet ski tours, kayak adventures and shopping tours. Cruises start at $999 and depart from Ft. Lauderdale.

Alaskan cruise on the Norwegian Pearl

If you've already done Mexico and the Caribbean and want to explore a whole new, chillier territory, check out Norwegian's seven-day Alaskan cruises on board the Pearl. You can choose from a Glacier Bay cruise or Sawyer Glacier Cruise, both of which take you around some of Alaska's most beautiful sanctuaries and glaciers. The Pearl, which is a 2,300 passenger vessel, has a full bowling alley, indoor and outdoor play areas, video arcade, counselor-led activities and excursions, ultra-cool teen club, waterslides, a climbing wall and multiple pools. All of Norwegian Cruise Lines' ships offer a freestyle dining method, which means you can eat anytime at any one of the dozen locations.

For some adults-only entertainment, the Pearl has comedy and Broadway shows, bars and upscale dining, like Japanese and a Brazilian steakhouse, as well as a casino and spa. What sets Norwegian apart though are the amazing excursions they offer once you arrive at your destination. This Alaska cruise offers plenty of family-friendly excursions, like Alaskan city tours, whale watching adventures, wildlife quests, dog sledding and helicopter tours, glacier seaplane adventures and zip-lining. Cruises start at about $700 and depart from Seattle and Vancouver.

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Tags: cruise ships

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