We offer top tips and expert advice for taking children of all ages on their first holiday at sea, in our total guide to family cruises
Cruise holidays are perfect for families, including multi-generational groups; not only can you take your kids to some of the world’s most exciting destinations, but with all the accommodation, food and entertainment included, they are incredibly good value, too.
“Depending on which cruise line you choose, there’s a dizzying array of onboard activities to satisfy even the hardest-to-please kids, ranging from water parks and adventure playgrounds to ice-skating, tenpin bowling, climbing walls and bumper cars, while all family-friendly ships have free kids’ clubs that give parents an opportunity to spend time alone together,” says Liz Jarvis, Editor of Cruise International.
Modern ships have flexible mealtimes, a choice of restaurants and enough choice to please even the fussiest eaters. On sea days many ships have games for all the family to join in with and there is usually supervised evening entertainment for all ages too, from toddlers to teenagers.
And that’s before you’ve even left the ship. There is a massive choice of itineraries, from beach-based Caribbean adventures to marvelling at Alaska’s awesome glaciers; from the great outdoors of Norway to the Baltic capitals of culture; and from fun in the sun in the Mediterranean and Adriatic to exploring Europe’s greatest cities.
Here’s our total guide to help you have your perfect family cruise holiday.
Suites are seen as the ideal family accommodation, but most cruise lines have more affordable staterooms or cabins with two bunk bed-type berths that pull down from the wall, or sofa beds.
Most cruise lines won’t let children share a room without an adult, even teenagers, but many ships have inter-connecting cabins and Norwegian Cruise Line’s ships have spacious Family Villas in their luxurious Haven section.
MSC Cruises has three and four-berth cabins and offers free cruises for children under two who share a cabin with two adults, although fares may be applicable. Children aged two to 17 will be charged child fares starting from £149 cruise only and £449 for a fly-cruise on a typical seven-night Mediterranean cruise. This is cheaper than prices usually charged for third or fourth berths in cabins.
P&O Cruises also has children’s fares, when sharing with two adults, but flights, transfers and port taxes have to be paid.
Royal Caribbean International’s new Anthem of the Seas has modular rooms that are called Family Connected Junior Suites. These connect via a vestibule to provide both separate bedrooms and bathrooms.