What are the best cruises for kids in 2019?

Are you trying to plan a fun family vacation, but worry about finding the right trip that’ll be fun for everyone in the family? You might consider planning a camping trip to the mountains or spending your holiday on some beautiful beaches on a tropical island. These are both great options, but they require a lot of planning and preparations on your part.

If you want an easy vacation that will take you to beautiful destinations, and provide fun for the whole family, then you need to consider taking a cruise.

With kid-friendly activities and accommodations being added to all your favorite cruise lines, now you can take the whole family! Most cruise ships offer kids club areas with age-appropriate activities planned daily, as well as playgrounds and entertainment.

If you are planning a family vacation in the future, here are which cruises are best for families.

1. Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Line - the real highlights.

Norwegian Cruise Line is great for families because it has a very laid back atmosphere with no dress code. There are also no strict dining schedules and all the restaurants have kid-friendly meal options.

There are activities provided for various age groups including arts and crafts, karaoke, jungle gyms, and video games.

Teens between 13 and 17 can hang out in Entourage, which has air hockey and other games during the day and converts to a teens-only nightclub in the evenings.

The real highlights, however, are the multi-story water slides and the 8-foot pirate plank that extends off the side of the ship.

Norwegian Cruise Line - the guide, source: https://youtu.be/pVf77VJay0c

Norwegian Cruise Line is home to the largest water parks at sea and all ships have two large pools and a separate kids-only pool.

In addition, Norwegian offers group discounts like family reunions. For every 10 people and 5 cabins, you get one cruise free.

Pricing: Prices differ based on destination and length, but you can find a 3-day cruise starting as low as $199.

NCL Awards: The cruise line has received dozens of awards, including Travel Weekly Reader’s Choice for Best Family Experience in 2017.

2. Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line
Disney Cruise Line - the happiest place for families.

Disney Cruise Line is the happiest place for families with young children to set sail.

Themed areas that vary on each ship include Star Wars, Avengers, Toy Story and Monsters Inc.

All ships include the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique where kids can dress up as princesses, pirates, and other favorites. There are also fireworks and holiday-themed shows and performances.

Two restaurants on board are adults only so parents can enjoy a date night.

All others provide kid-friendly meal options and character entertainment. And of course, there are theaters featuring both live performances and screenings of favorite movies.

There are designated activity spaces geared toward younger and older children, but they are not age restrictive, so siblings can enjoy time together in both areas.

There is also a tween area, teen club, and free daycare for family members between 6 months and 3 years old.

Pricing: Disney Cruises are much more expensive than other lines. For a 5 night cruise, you will likely be spending over $1100 per person.

Awards: Disney was voted #1 for Families by the Cruise Critic Editors in 2017 and won the Editor’s Pick Award by Parents Magazine in 2018.

3. Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean International
Royal Caribbean International - the largest cruise ships and adventures.

Royal Caribbean is known for having some of the largest cruise ships and for providing adventure.

There are fun activities for all ages, but this cruise line is particularly fun for families with older kids who love to move.

Activities include ziplining, iFly simulated skydiving, rock climbing, bumper cars, ice rinks, and water slides.

There are themed parties, science activities and adventure challenges for various ages as well as family excursions and adults-only areas.

You can also interact with characters like Shrek and Kung Fu Panda in the Dreamworks Experience.

Pricing: You can find very economical cruises with Royal Carribean. There are 5-night cruises as low as $349.

Awards: Royal Carribean has won the Best Cruise Line Overall for 15 years by Travel Weekly readers.

4. MSC Divina

MSC Divina
MSC Divina - free for kids.

If you are looking for what cruise lines are free for kids, then MSC Divina will be one you should look at because they have an ongoing “kids cruise free” promotion for children 11 and younger year-round.

There are also deals for kids 12-17 to cruise free during the offseason.

Activities include authentic Formula One racing, virtual arcades, and Lego activities. There are multiple pools and great excursion options for kayaking, ziplining, snorkeling, and more.

Pricing: MSC Divina has competitive rates. A 4-day cruise starts as low as $358.

MSC Divina Awards: The cruise line was awarded #5 Best Cruise Line for Families.

5. Carnival Cruise Lines

Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival Cruise Lines - the most budget-friendly option.

Carnival Cruises are one of the most budget-friendly options, which makes them great for families and large groups.

Free kids care drop-off for toddlers and designated clubs for kids, tweens, and teens are available with a variety of entertainment options like pool and dance parties.

A popular area is WaterWorks, a water park packed with slides, sprayers, and a splash area for little ones.

Another favorite is an outdoor area called SportSquare with foosball, basketball, and mini golf. You can also catch 3D movies in the Thrill Theater with interactive features like moving seats, wind blowing, and water splashing.

Pricing: Carnival has one of the better values with prices on 5-day cruises starting as low as $289.

Carnival Awards: The Carnival Breeze won the Cruise Critic Best Ship for Families award in 2018 and the USA Today Best Cruise Line for Families in 2017.

6. Costa Cruises

Costa Cruise
Costa Cruise - ranks highly for family cruises.

Costa Cruises may be a little less known for travelers in the United States since it is an Italian cruise line.

However, it ranks highly for family cruises. Costa has cruises in many parts of the world such as Europe, Asia, and the Caribbean and it also provides many kid-friendly activities such as treasure hunts, arts and crafts, and pool parties.

Small children can also participate in “princes for a day” and “captain in training” programs to help make the trip even more memorable.

Pricing: For a 7-day cruise in the Caribbean, you can find cruises starting as low as $449

Awards: Costa was awarded the #6 Best Cruise Line for Families.

How Do I Get the Best Deal on a Cruise?

Family vacations can be difficult to plan because they are much more costly than traveling solo or with another adult.

However, since your food and accommodations are included when you book a cruise, you can often save money right from the start.

Also, there are many ways to save money when it comes to planning a cruise.

If you are willing to be a little bit flexible when planning your vacation, you can often find cruises around 90 days before the departure date for a discounted rate. Try going to several cruise websites and looking for “last minute” fairs or other package deals.

Continue to check rates even after you have booked your cruise.

If the price drops, contact the cruise company and ask them to match the price.

They will usually refund the difference by way of onboard credit, which can be used to pay for your food and other fun things on the ship.

Check out discount websites like Groupon and look for cruises that include airfare. Or, you can also look into travel clubs like inCruises which can help reduce the costs for family cruises.

You can also save a lot of money on your trip by planning it in the off-season when most people are in school or working. This might be harder to find a schedule that works for everyone, but you’ll save a lot of money if you can make it work.

If you choose to take a cruise for your next vacation, you will not be disappointed. Cruises are one of the most relaxing and fun vacations for parents and kids, and you’ll make memories that will last a lifetime.

Cruising FAQs

If you are interested in booking a cruise this year, you probably have a few questions. Here are some common questions you might have:

Which cruise is the best for families?

Based on third-party reviews, Disney is a great option for families. However, their cruises are much more expensive. Carnival has also has received awards for family cruises and is much more affordable, so this is an excellent cruise for families.

What cruise lines are free for kids?

From this list of family-friendly cruises, you can find free offers for kids for MSC Divina, Royal Carribean, and Norwegian. (See cruise lines for additional details on offers)

Do You Have to Pay Full Price for a Child on a Cruise?

This depends on the cruise line. As mentioned above, several cruise lines have free cruise options for kids sailing with paid adults. Carnival also does a discounted cruise for additional guests (kids) staying in a stateroom with two other paid travelers.

Do kids need a passport to go on a cruise?

If children are traveling with their parents, they generally don’t need a passport but can use a birth certificate. However, it is probably the best idea to check with your cruise line before making that decision to bring a passport or not.