It’s not uncommon to book a family cruise one year or more in advance and given the incredible experiences children can have, like learning to juggle, exploring medieval history and creating ocean murals, you’d be wise to book well in advance in order to snap up the best staterooms. Here are six of my favorite cruise vacations for families:
Royal Caribbean’s Adventure Ocean program for kids has long been a favorite, enabling children ages three to 11 to participate in scavenger hunts, dig for fossils and conduct science experiments on-board the ship. Barbie fans can also enjoy the Barbie Premium Experience (an extra $199 charge applies), which includes dance classes and a fashion designer experience. Plus, be on the lookout for DreamWorks characters, like Shrek and Po (from Kung Fu Panda), which make appearances at special breakfasts and parades.
Carnival’s new Carnival Freedom provides children with various opportunities for on-board learning, including Camp Ocean, a sea-themed camp for kids ages two to 11. Kids will make ocean murals, create art projects from seashells and engage in marine-focused trivia games. Or, check out Seuss at Sea for kids ages two to five for Seuss-a-Palooza Story Time and Dr. Seuss Bookville, an area for family reading. Cruises depart year-round for the Caribbean from Ft. Lauderdale and Galveston.
Not only does Norwegian Cruise Line offer Splash Academy (for kids) and Entourage (for teens), but the at-sea Cirque du Jour circus school couldn’t be more popular as kids learn to juggle, walk on stilts and fly on the trapeze. Plus, Nickelodeon characters, like Dora the Explorer and SpongeBob SquarePants, have dance parties and pajama breakfasts on select ships, including the Norwegian Breakaway, Epic, Gem, Jewel and Getaway.
Disney Cruise Line is offering both seven-night and nine-night cruises along the coast of Norway on the Disney Magic. Cruises start from the new port in Copenhagen (yes, Denmark, not Norway) and make four to six stops giving families the opportunity to explore fjords, cobblestone streets, local flavors and medieval history. This cruise is a must for Frozen fans. Cruises depart in May and June 2015.
For those planning a cruise to Alaska, look into Princess. The on-board Junior Ranger program educates children about the local environment and wildlife as the ship makes its way through Alaska’s Inner Passage. On cruises to most destinations, the Pete’s Pals program teaches children about endangered species, while a partnership with the California Science Center enables kids to participate in interactive activities, like whale watching and science experiments, as part of the “Science at Sea” program.
Paul Gaugin Cruises offers an Ambassadors of the Environment youth program for kids ages nine to 17, which offers children first-hand opportunities to explore coral reefs, volcanic islands and marine life. The program is available on sailings to French Polynesia on 2014 holiday cruises, as well as summer and holiday sailings in 2015. As a bonus, the program is free when booked by July 31, 2014 (otherwise a $299 charge applies).
Have you taken a cruise as a family? Let me know in the comments your favorite cruise line or place to sail as a family.
Photo Credit: Pete Markham (Carnival Freedom), Eadey (Adventure Ocean), Carnival PR (Dr. Seuss Bookville), NCL_PR (SpongeBob), Candi (Disney Magic), Rebecca Low (Park Ranger), Rainy City (Gaugin Cruise)