When your annual vacation time rolls around, there are plenty of perks to taking a cruise. Sunbathing on the lido deck, going on shore excursions, trying every type of cuisine known to man (and having it available nearly 24-7!) — the list goes on and on. However, when you have kids, it’s easy to think that perhaps you should scratch this type of vacation off your list.
Happily, cruises have come a long way in recent years. Because cruise lines know that busy working parents need a break from time to time, the industry trend now seems to be swinging toward family-friendly cruises with something for everyone in the family.
Between kids activities and family-friendly shows, you won’t wonder for one second whether you made the right decision for a little R&R with your little ones. The following kid-friendly cruises could very well be the answer to your family-friendly vacay prayers.
1. Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas
The newest ship in Royal Caribbean’s fleet will floor your entire fam. Can we talk for a minute about revolutionary (and kid-friendly) firsts, like glow-in-the-dark laser tag, surf simulators and, oh, you know, the tallest slide at sea?! This ship even boasts the two-story Ultimate Family Suite, which has an in-room slide and entertainment center as well as a hot tub on the balcony.
2. Disney (basically any ship)
We gather you aren’t picking up your jaw in awe at this moment because you probably suspected Disney would make this list. And you were right. There’s a reason Disney has become the standard for kid-friendly cruises, and that’s because they quite literally cater to families. Take the classic-but-refurbished Disney Wonder, for example — the horn of the ship toots “When You Wish Upon a Star,” the Oceaneer Club/Lab allows kids to participate in fun activities like Marvel Super Hero Academy and, naturally, you get to hang with your favorite Disney friends like Elsa and Anna.
3. Carnival Vista
A newer ship in the Carnival fleet, Vista launched in 2016 — meaning the modern amenities and sophisticated style are a sweet bonus. But what your kids will freak out over isn’t the decor. Rather, it’s the fact that Carnival’s Vista boasts the first IMAX at sea, a zip line on the upper deck, the WaterWorks aqua park, a pool “dive-in” movie theater and so much more.
4. Norwegian Getaway
This Miami-based ship will keep the kiddos entertained and, if you want, out of your hair while you’re trying to get some much-needed R&R. They’ll especially love the Aqua Park, which has two pools, five water slides (including the fastest-dropping one at sea!) and a pirate-themed water park area for little ones. You’ll be a fan of the ship’s 26 dining spots and the three-deck sports complex that has a ropes course and rock-climbing area.
5. Regal Princess
Need a night out without the kiddos? After all, there are so many swanky adult-only things to do on a cruise you want to take advantage of them. Well, don’t worry. Your little ones will totally support you going out because it means they get to explore the Regal Princess‘ forest-themed kids lounge known as The Treehouse. Pj parties, movie nights, Lego boat-building contests… they won’t want the night to end. Tweens can hang in The Lodge, where they can play games, build model roller coasters and participate in talent shows. And for teens, only the hip Beach House (with mocktails, no less) will do.
6. MSC Divina
If you like your vacations luxe but still need something family-friendly, look no further than the ultra-elegant MSC Divina. From the Broadway-size Pantheon Theater to the Swarovski crystal staircases, this ship is a study in opulence. And while you may be worried this all sounds a little too grown-up for your kids, rest easy (literally). They have clubs for both little ones and teens along with other appealing activities, like an internet café and F1 racing simulator.
7. Lindblad Expeditions
Love adventure? Have kids who are nerdy about nature? (And, really, who could blame them?!) Lindblad Expeditions partnered with National Geographic to ensure your family has a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience on your cruise. The National Geographic Global Explorers program was created to encourage kids to develop the skills and knowledge of a true explorer. Teens can even earn an expedition landing craft “driver’s license.” Other family-friendly activities you’re going to want to add to your family cruise bucket list are snorkeling with sea lions in the Galápagos, observing a polar bear in the arctic and kayaking in Alaskan coves. Bonus? Lindblad strives to make family adventure travel affordable, offering special deals like 50 percent off and a second child for free when you book an Alaska family voyage.