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3 Family-Friendly Cruise Options for Young Kids Beyond Disney

Royal Caribbean, Icon of the Seas, Family Cruising
Icon of the Seas | Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean

Vacations are one of the best ways to make family memories when you have young children, and there is no better family vacation than a cruise. Parents don't have to worry about any of the planning, everyone can embark and go straight into having fun or eating delicious food. Everything you need is onboard, from activities, to kids clubs, tasty dining spots, pool fun, and the incredible production shows. The cruise model truly allows parents to be adults, and kids to be kids, and everyone will be entertained and enthralled during the entire cruise.

Disney has long been synonymous with family vacation- but are there any non-Disney cruise options out there that are fun for the whole family? We are going to take a deep dive into 3 brands that make cruising fun and exciting for not only the parents, but the kiddos too. From ages 1-100 there is plenty to do, see, and eat on these three cruise lines.

Royal Caribbean, Icon of the Seas, Family Cruise
Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean
Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean is one of the most well known brands within the cruise industry, and has long been a top option for families looking for an incredible cruise vacation. Royal knows how to delight kids and parents alike, giving their guests the best-of-the-best entertainment, dining options, onboard activities, water play, and so much more.

KID'S PROGRAMS | Royal's Adventure Ocean program is the onboard kids club. This is where kids can enjoy the fun of being kids through activities, games, and crafts that will keep them entertained for hours. Kids LOVE Adventure Ocean, and it is one of the top kids programs in the entire cruise industry. They will have the chance to learn, express creativity, and make new friends at Adventure Ocean.

WATER PLAY | Outside of the kids club, there are still plenty of family friendly activities onboard a Royal Caribbean ship. Have some fun in Splashaway Bay, the splash pad that is found on many Royal vessels. Every ship has a pool, so you can be sure to get a lot of fun quality time poolside with the whole family. When the kids are at the kid's club, the parents can enjoy the 18+ pool spots onboard such at the Solarium, Cloud 17, and the Hideaway (venues vary by ship).

ENTERTAINMENT | Royal Caribbean boasts the top entertainment in the industry, and regularly have productions with themes specifically for kids. On the ships with ice rinks, the ice shows are a spectacular and enthralling time, and during the off-hours ice skating is a fun activity for all ages. On the Oasis and Icon Class ships the Aqua Theater is home to aw-inspiring water-themed spectacles with acrobats, dancers, and divers using the water to put on an incredible display. The main theater always has a broadway-style musical production during the cruise, something everyone can enjoy.

ACTIVITIES | There are plenty of other onboard activities across the fleet that young kids and parents can take part in, including laser tag, bumper cars, mini golf, and more. On a Royal Caribbean ship, it will be hard for the kiddos to ever get bored, especially on the larger ships in the Quantum, Oasis, and Icon Class fleet. The Icon Class even has a brand new neighborhood, the Surfside Family Neighborhood, created especially for the kids onboard to have an amazing time with many diverse play spaces, dining, and entertainment.

DINING | Royal Caribbean has some of the best complimentary and specialty dining options in the entire cruise industry, and with such a wide-range of options, every member of the family will be able to eat what they want when they want it. From the complimentary Windjammer or Park Cafe, to the retro Johnny Rocket's, or fun Teppanyaki experience, Royal has a variety to choose from that will always satisfy.

It is easy to see why many families choose Royal Caribbean as their family vacation year after year. Between the diverse entertainment, the wonderful children's programs, and the endless onboard fun, Royal Caribbean is the choice for parents with young children to have a memorable and fun time!

Norwegian Cruise Line, Family Cruise
Photo Credit: NCL
Norwegian Cruise Line

Another favorite for families is Norwegian Cruise Line. NCL has continued to build upon it's family-friendly brand more and more with each and every new ship. Throughout the whole fleet NCL has showcased incredible activities and entertainment that can be enjoyed by all, as well as a fabulous kid's program at Splash Academy.

KID'S PROGRAMS | From 3-12 years of age, Splash Academy offers a wonderful array of activities, arts & crafts. Kid's love the onboard kids clubs, and its a great opportunity for the parents to head out and have a more relaxing kid-free time during the day.

WATER PLAY | There is a pool on every Norwegian ship, a great way for the whole family to have a bit of fun in the sun. In addition, some vessels offer the kid's aqua park- an onboard splash pad that is endless fun for the little ones, and there is plenty of surrounding seating for the parents.

ENTERTAINMENT | Norwegian offers amazing broadway performances, as well as music productions that will keep everyone in the family entertained and laughing. In addition, NCL has 5 ships that have partnered with Nickelodeon to create character-themed onboard events such as Dora's Dance Party, a great way for the kids to have fun with their own little party.

ACTIVITIES | There are many diverse activities across the fleet that include water and dry slides, mini golf, arcade games, and much more! Guppies is a great program for babies and toddlers, and while it is not a drop-off service, it's a great sensory space with fun toys for the tots to play with.

DINING | Known for having some of the most elevated complimentary cuisine in the business, NCL offers many different dining options, both included and specialty. The newer ships have the Indulge Food Hall, where guests can order from a wide range of restaurants from Indian to Texas BBQ, all with extensive menus- all included. This food hall concept is great for families because everyone can order from different restaurants, and it will all be delivered right to your table! For specialty, spots like Cagney's Steakhouse and Los Lobos are great options for young families; and at Teppanyaki, dinner is always a fun experience for the whole family, especially the kids.

Norwegian continues to create amazing spaces and activities for kids of all ages to enjoy, solidifying their spot in the list of great family-friendly cruise brands. This ship perfectly marries the high-energy party atmosphere that the adults will love, with the fun and active spaces that kids go wild for- ensuring that kids can be kids, and the parents can be adults, and everyone in the family will have a fabulous time onboard.

Princess Cruises, Family Cruising
Photo Credit: Princess Cruises
Princess Cruises

One of the brands that holds its own in the running for great family cruise lines is Princess Cruises. This brand continues to surprise with the amount of focus and attention they place on the creation of a great kids program, as well as onboard activities the whole family will love. While less flashy than the Royal or Norwegian, Princess offers a well-balanced approach to family vacation with an elevated product that featured fun and educational onboard options.

KID'S PROGRAMS & ACTIVITIES | Princess offers incredible experiences for babies, toddlers, and kids. These programs include Discovery and Animal Planet shore excursions, allowing kids to have science and wildlife themed experiences at port stops. There are also meet-and-greet gatherings in the piazza that includes puppies in Alaska, and parrots on the Caribbean cruises. Discovery at Sea offers Animal Planet themed activities such as making animal puppets, drawings, masks, and other art related activities- all inspired by the wildlife of the region the ship is sailing to. Princess also offers star gazing nights, where parents and kids can head to the top deck and learn more about the stars and planets in the night sky above. Baby sitting is also available, giving parents the chance to head out and enjoy an afternoon child-free.

WATER PLAY | Every member of the family can have a fun time at the pool, a popular feature onboard every Princess ship. Some of the ships also have splash pad areas, a great option for the little ones!

ENTERTAINMENT | Princess offers many delightful musical productions that will captivate the whole family. Silk Weave is a life-size puppetry performance that will completely transport you, and you can never go wrong with a bit of magic at the onboard magic shows.

DINING | Whether you are grabbing a slice of pizza or burger by the pool, sitting down to a delicious main-dining room meal, or enjoying a casual lunch in the buffet- there are many complimentary options onboard that will satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. For specialty options venues such as Sabatini's for pasta, Crown grill for steak, or the crab shack for a little seafood will bring the family together for a delicious meal.

As you can see, Princess is one of the best options for cruising with kids. These ships offer an elevated feeling for the parents, as well as onboard and onshore fun geared specifically for the young kiddos, ensuring everyone will have a wonderful and exciting family cruise vacation!

Booking Your Cruise

Now that you are ready to book your next family vacation on a Royal, Norwegian, or Princess cruise, reach out to the experts at Harr Travel. We know the ships inside and out, and have an amazing relationship with the cruise lines. Our advisors will craft the perfect family cruise vacation of a lifetime for you and your kids at an exceptional rate, and give you the Harr Travel signature service every step of the way!

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