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Bringing your little one on board? The Youth Center aboard your Princess ship offers a venue full of activities, including drawing and face painting.

Courtesy of Princess Cruises

Bringing your little one on board? The Youth Center aboard your Princess ship offers a venue full of activities, including drawing and face painting.

Is cruising good for families with children?

Why cruising has become a great option for families

The almost all-inclusive nature of cruising translates into value for families looking to maximize their vacation dollars. There are lots of activities and supervised programs on the ships available to keep young passengers occupied and on track for vacation bliss.

And for those children not inclined to participate in the kids programs on the ships, there are many family-friendly activities to help everyone have fun.

Some ships are better suited to handle children

Children can visit the Galley and take a turn baking with the Junior Cruisers on a Crystal cruise.
Courtesy of Crystal CruisesChildren can visit the Galley and take a turn baking with the Junior Cruisers on a Crystal cruise.

Crystal Cruises is a great luxury cruise line option for those taking a luxury multi-generational cruise. As an alternative, family reunion groups can find great pricing discounts and incentives for booking on Princess Cruises and Holland America Line.

Keep in mind that If you’re traveling with infants or toddlers, there may be limited services available for these younger cruisers. For those looking for the best ships for younger kids below the age of 3, then Disney Cruise Line, Cunard Line and Carnival Cruise Line are good bets.

Also, not all cruise lines offer staterooms big enough for families larger than four, while many family-friendly lines do. Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line get high praise for cabins that are designed specifically for families: Interconnecting doors between adjacent staterooms are key for large families.

While there are special menus available for children on board the ships, those needing baby food, bottle warmups or special meals should know how to work with the cruise line well in advance of sailing to make sure needs are met.

Children will love to take a ride on the Carousel on the boardwalk of Oasis of the Seas.
Katherine Wessel / Courtesy of Royal Caribbean InternationalChildren will love to take a ride on the Carousel on the boardwalk of Oasis of the Seas.

What families can expect while cruising

On most cruise lines, supervised kids programs are complimentary during scheduled hours. Most programming is during sea days with late night group babysitting available on some ships for a fee. Programming is limited on some lines when the ship is in port, and there is usually a break midday during lunch hours. Read more about what kids can do on the ships.

Family-friendly cruise lines offer a wide array of organized activities and facilities for children. Kids are grouped together by age and it varies by cruise line. 

Sample activities can include face painting, scavenger hunts, tie-dying T-shirts, games, talent shows, cooking demonstrations, sports clinics, movie nights and computer time.

Work with an expert

Don't learn the hard way. If you're planning a family cruise vacation, work with a Cruiseable travel advisor who's a Certified Cruise Counselor. Families have a lot of options when it comes to booking the right cruise line on the right ship, and a cabin that is a great value.  For example, some ships have cabins that can sleep five, others have adjoining cabins. Some cruise lines give discounts if you book a second, smaller cabin for teens, which is a great option for parents who want a little privacy and space.

Your take

Have you been on a cruise with your kids? What advice do you have for other parents?

Updated from an earlier version. Help improve this article! See anything wrong? What did we overlook? Be a co-creator!

Carrie Finley-Bajak
I'm a cruise journalist, blogger, CLIA Accredited Cruise Counselor and a columnist for Travel Weekly. Follow me on Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest and Instagram.

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