Surveying the Kid-Friendly Cruises
Rainer Jenss surveys the field of cruise ships offering packages for families.
I probably caught the wanderlust bug the moment I stepped on the S.S. Michelangelo, a classic Italian Line ocean liner that relocated my family and me to the United States in 1970. I was only six years old back then, but I remember the experience fondly, especially since I was one of only a handful of passengers who didn’t suffer the ill-effects of the incredibly rough seas during that particular trans-Atlantic crossing. In the years to come, my parents would take us on a few more cruises as a family, mainly over the winter holidays to the Caribbean and South/Central America on ships like the Stella Solaris, the (original) Veendam, and the Kungsholm. Fast forward a generation, and now my mom and dad have invited their 13-year old grandson, Tyler, on a trans-Atlantic cruise aboard the Queen Mary 2 (QM2) this summer, and he couldn’t be more excited.
When it comes to being kid-friendly, Disney Cruises is no longer the only game in town. Cunard, for example, does not promote itself directly to families, but the QM2 offers supervised entertainment and activities specifically for children 8-12 and has a full-scale planetarium, which I’m sure Tyler will love. However, if you want something more tailored to children’s needs, there are some interesting options out there to consider. For example:
➢ Activities: Some of Royal Caribbean‘s other ships have climbing walls, bowling alleys, miniature golf courses and basketball courts.
➢ Destinations: Carnival Cruises now offers European itineraries which allows for cultural exploration by day and shipboard activities and entertainment at night.
➢ Kids Programs: Crystal Cruises, a more upscale line, does not offer a typical standardized kids programs. Their counselors often create personalized activities and tailored programs depending on how many children are onboard and what their ages are.
➢ Ship Design: Disney Cruises offers some of the best family-friendly staterooms in the business, but they don’t have casinos or libraries, so caveat emptor if gambling is your thing. The nightly stage shows are designed to entertain both children and parents alike.
➢ Dining: If a 90-minute sit-down meal is too much for the young ones to handle, Norwegian Cruise Line’s “Freestyle Cruising” philosophy offers nine different dining options, including pool-side dining and endless buffets.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
During our yearlong trip around the world, we learned that our boys did not need kid-centric activities or the company of other children their age to have a good time. So you don’t necessarily have to go with one of the bigger cruise lines to find something the kids will enjoy. Next week, I’ll look at some cruising options for families seeking alternatives for their sea-based vacations.
Have feedback? Let Rainer know via his Twitter feed, @JenssTravel.
Photo: The Queen Mary 2, via Cunard Cruise lines.