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There's plenty of family fun in the sun at Grandeur of the Seas' main swimming pool.

Juan Manuel Garcia / Courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

There's plenty of family fun in the sun at Grandeur of the Seas' main swimming pool.

Family Cruise Guide 2015

Sizing up the cruise lines on how family-friendly they are

Note: Please see our updated Family Cruise Guide 2016.
 

For family vacations or family reunions, or just to get away, cruising is increasingly popular for all generations. Whether you choose the Caribbean, Europe, Alaska or far-flung destinations like the Galapagos Islands and even the Arctic, you’ll find all-inclusive deals and the advantage of packing and unpacking just once.

Welcome to our Taking the Kids Cruise Guide for 2015, researched and updated by our intern Stacy Shepherd and our partners at the Family Travel Forum.

Cruise Lines International Association reports that some 1.5 million kids are now cruising every year — more than 1,000 on some sailings. And cruise lines have never done more for them, from featuring hip teen and tween hangouts with the latest music and video games, to centers for the littlest cruisers (that are better equipped than many preschools) and even nurseries at sea.

What parents, grandparents & kids ♡ most

Disney offers a wide range of programs and services specially geared to young children, tweens and teens.
Courtesy of Disney Cruise LineDisney offers a wide range of programs and services specially geared to young children, tweens and teens.

Parents love cruising because they get a lot of bang for their vacation buck — activities, meals and lodging all for one price, including supervised morning-til-night programming for kids, at considerably less than many resorts charge. Grandparents are fans because cruises can prove an easy way to get the whole gang on vacation, especially in Alaska and Europe. Kids — especially tweens and teens — give ships a thumbs-up because they love the freedom they have on board and the chance to make new friends. Kids and parents alike love the major lines’ private Caribbean islands, too.

Kids with special needs and severe allergies routinely are accommodated in organized programming. Another plus: There have never been more ports, from New York to California, eliminating the need for many families to fly. And you can cruise for just a few days or more than a week, checking out beaches or historic sites. Visit the Cruise Lines International Association website for a list of ports. Find cruise port and travel guides on Cruiseable, as well as the best deals and specials.

And if you don’t want to go on a large ship, charter your own boat (with a crew or without) as we have done several times in Tahiti and the Caribbean.

I’ve cruised with my family around the world, from the Caribbean to Europe to Greece to Alaska. I’ve written The Kid’s Guide: Cruising Alaska. I’ve found along the way that the key is to choose the right cruise for your family and your kids, depending on their ages.

Click on the cruise line or travel provider below to see our evaluation of how well they deliver a family-friendly vacation:

AdventureSmith Explorations

Carnival Cruise Line 

Celebrity Cruises

Costa Cruises

Crystal Cruises 

Cunard Line

Disney Cruise Line

Holland America

MSC Cruises

Norwegian Cruise Line

Paul Gauguin Cruises

Princess Cruises

Regent Seven Seas

Royal Caribbean

Tauck River Cruises 

Un-Cruise Adventures

Uniworld River Cruises

Voyages to Antiquity

Windstar Cruises

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