Skip to main content
Header image
Editor Pick

8 Best Cruise Lines for Kids and Families [2024]

Updated: June 14, 2024

Written by

AAA Travel Editor, SMT

Table of Contents

    Parents know that traveling with kids can be more of a “trip” than a vacation — keeping all the kids entertained and fed is a full-time job. This list of eight cruise lines for kids and families lays out the top options and makes finding an ideal vacation easier for everyone.

    Knowing how to choose a cruise line can be tricky, especially for first-timers looking for a family trip. AAA Travel has been booking with our cruise partners for decades, and we know what to look for in the best cruise lines for families.

    Learn more about these kid-friendly cruise lines and check out our list of tips for cruising with kids to create amazing memories for the whole family.

    1. Adventures by Disney with Amawaterways

    Destinations:

      • Africa
      • Asia Pacific
      • Central and South America
      • Europe
      • North America
    • AAA partnership: Yes
    • AAA member benefit:
      • Discounts:
        • $200 per stateroom savings plus Welcome Amenity on cruises less than seven nights
        • $300 per stateroom savings plus Welcome Amenity on cruises seven to 11 nights
        • $600 per stateroom savings plus Welcome Amenity on cruises of 14+ nights
      • Welcome Amenities:
        • Europe Cruises: Bottle of wine and box of chocolates
        • Asia & Africa Cruises: $50 per stateroom onboard spending credit
        • Egypt Cruises: $50 per stateroom onboard spending credit
    • What makes it great: Adventures by Disney cruises travel to over 40 destinations with adventure guides to help you explore new places and immerse yourself in the culture, all with the magic you expect from Disney.

    It may be surprising to hear that a European river cruise can be a family-friendly vacation, but Adventures by Disney is exactly that. The cruise line has exclusive family river cruises onboard AmaWaterways that make it not only possible, but fun!

    Itineraries offer a variety of experiences for parents, children and teens. Adults will enjoy active excursions, wine tastings and tours of castles and museums. Disney movie nights are perfect for junior adventurers.

    Onboard entertainment includes a nightly piano lounge, baking classes for kids, karaoke nights and more. Adventure guides and local experts tell stories about the people, culture and traditions of each place you visit. Sailings are in the heart of Europe on the Seine, Rhône, Danube and Rhine rivers.

    2. Carnival Cruise Line

    Destinations:

      • Alaska
      • Asia
      • Australia 
      • Bahamas
      • Bermuda
      • Canada & New England
      • Caribbean
      • Europe
      • Great Barrier Reef
      • Greenland & Canada
      • Hawaii
      • Melbourne
      • Mexico
      • New Zealand
      • Panama Canal
      • Papua New Guinea
      • South Pacific
      • Tasmania
      • Transatlantic
      • Transpacific
    • AAA partnership: No
    • AAA member benefit: None available
    • What makes it great: Cheaper fares make family cruising budget-friendly. Plus, your kids will love the 24/7 pizza on most ships.

    Carnival Cruise Line is on our list of kid-friendly cruises for their youth programs, offered for kids ages 2 to 17. The cruise line is one of the best for teens.

    “Suess at Sea” features a character parade, interactive story time and breakfasts with Dr. Suess characters. The “Night Owls” program for kids under 12 lets them stay up as late as 1 a.m. with others their age. “Hasbro, The Game Show” invites families to play giant versions of Connect 4, Yahtzee and other games on stage to win prizes.

    Ships feature onboard pools, water parks and mini golf. Some ships also include a ropes course and Skyride — a two-lane suspended course that lets you pedal a “bike” high above the ship.

    3. Celebrity Cruises

    Destinations:

      • Alaska
      • Africa
      • Asia
      • Australia & New Zealand
      • Bahamas
      • Bermuda
      • Canada & New England
      • Caribbean
      • Europe
      • Galapagos
      • Hawaii
      • Mediterranean
      • Mexico
      • Panama Canal
      • Pacific Coastal
      • South America
      • Transpacific
      • Transatlantic
    • AAA partnership: Yes
    • AAA member benefit: Onboard credit per stateroom ($25 for outside, $50 for balcony, $75 for Concierge Class and above) valid for all departures three nights or longer except Galapagos products
    • What makes it great: Select ships partner with the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science to offer STEM programming for kids and teens so they can learn while they play.

    From family-friendly excursions to the Camp at Sea kids program, there’s plenty of family fun on a Celebrity Cruise.

    Camp at Sea provides programming for kids ages 3-17, and the program changes daily, so kids will never experience a repeat program. Older kids can hang in Xbox-themed teen areas and get a spa treatment at the teens-only spa, while kids of all ages can participate in trivia contests and Junior Olympics competitions.

    Celebrity knows that the excitement of a cruise ship can be overwhelming for some kids, so they also offer sensory- and autism-friendly programs and services on their ships. 

    Search Celebrity Cruises

    4. Disney Cruise Line

    Destinations:

      • Alaska
      • British Isles
      • Bahamas
      • Baja
      • Bermuda
      • Canada
      • Western Caribbean
      • Eastern Caribbean
      • Hawaii
      • Mediterranean
      • Mexican Riviera
      • New Zealand & Australia
      • Northern Europe
      • Norwegian Fjords
      • Pacific Coast
      • Panama Canal
      • Southern Caribbean
      • South Pacific
      • Transatlantic
    • AAA partnership: Yes
    • AAA member benefit: None available
    • What makes it great: Experience the magic of Disney without the theme park lines — meet your favorite characters, see a firework shows and enjoy phenomenal dining experiences.

    Highly regarded as offering some of the best cruises for kids and families, everyone in the family is sure to find fun aboard a Disney cruise. You can dance with Disney characters at family parties, take part in family game shows and watch fireworks on themed nights.

    See Disney shows live on stage or watch movies in 3D. Clubs for kids feature characters from Disney, the Marvel Universe and Star Wars. Meet-and-greets give kids the opportunity to get autographs from their favorite Disney characters.

    The cruise line offers fun pools, water slides and “water coasters” onboard, and there are plenty of kid-friendly options on the dinner menu.

    Search Disney Cruises

    5. MSC Cruises

    Destinations:

      • Asia
      • Bahamas
      • Bermuda
      • Canada & New England
      • Caribbean
      • Dubai, Abu Dhabi & Qatar
      • Egypt, Red Sea & Saudi Arabia
      • Mediterranean
      • Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve
      • Northern Europe
      • South Africa
      • South America
      • Transatlantic 
      • World 
    • AAA partnership: No
    • AAA member benefit: None available
    • What makes it great: The prepaid My Smart Card allows kids to buy snacks, drinks and arcade games without bothering you.

    MSC Cruises is a popular family-owned European-based cruise line that knows cruising with kids can be expensive. They offer Family Cabins and Super Family Cabins that charge per room rather than by guest, so you can bring the entire family. Kids under 2 always sail for free, and kids under 18 sail free on select voyages.

    MSC offers four age-based kids clubs: 

    • Baby Club (up to age 2)
    • Mini Club (ages 3 to 6)
    • Juniors Club (ages 7 to 11)
    • Teen Club (ages 12 to 17)

    Kids and teens will love the LEGO and Chicco-themed activities available in the kids and teen clubs. The entire family can also play in one of the ships’ splash zones or pools or participate in the Family Explorer Program with interactive educational shore excursions.

    If you have infants, MSC Cruises offers a special baby laundry service to wash infant clothing separately in a dedicated machine for added peace of mind.

    6. Norwegian Cruise Line

    Destinations:

      • Asia
      • Africa
      • Alaska
      • Australia & New Zealand
      • Bahamas
      • Bermuda
      • Canada & New England
      • Caribbean
      • Antarctica
      • Greek Isles
      • Hawaii
      • Mediterranean
      • Mexico
      • Northern Europe
      • Pacific Coast
      • Panama Canal
      • South America
      • Transatlantic
    • AAA partnership: No
    • AAA member benefit: None available
    • What makes it great: Kids under 12 eat free at onboard specialty restaurants if they order from the kids’ menu.

    Norwegian’s “freestyle” approach to cruising makes cruising with kids as stress-free as possible. With no set dining times, assigned seating or dress codes, eat when the kids are hungry, not when the ship’s schedule tells you to.

    Splash Academy entertains kids ages 3 to 12 with age-appropriate arts and crafts and other activities, while teens ages 13 to 17 can relax in the Entourage club, complete with video games and a teens-only nightclub in the evening. Some ships also have go-kart tracks and VR playgrounds.

    Five of Norwegian’s ships partner with Nickelodeon, so check out character-themed events like Dora’s Dance Party and breakfast.

    7. Princess Cruises

    Destinations:

      • Alaska
      • Asia
      • Australia & New Zealand
      • California Coast
      • Canada & New England
      • Caribbean
      • Europe
      • Hawaii
      • Japan
      • Mexico
      • Panama Canal
      • South America & Antarctica
      • Tahiti & South Pacific
      • World
    • AAA partnership: Yes
    • AAA member benefit: Reduced deposit (as low as $50 per person) and a complimentary Princess Medallion clip (first two guests in the stateroom) during quarterly cruise sales
    • What makes it great: Age-specific kids clubs keep kids ages 3-17 busy with age-appropriate activities, and you can track kids’ whereabouts on the ship with the MedallionClass app.

    No matter the age, children will find plenty to do on Princess Cruises. The cruise line has programming for babies, toddlers, preschoolers and even 18- to 20-year-olds. Experience unique Discovery™ and Animal Planet™ shore excursions. Activities include meet-and-greet gatherings such as “Puppies on the Piazza” on Alaska cruises or “Parrots in the Piazza” on Caribbean cruises.

    Discovery at Sea™ theme days feature activities inspired by Shark Week and Animal Planet. Kids can take part in Animal Planet Endangered Species and Glacier Bay Jr. Ranger programs. They can also make Animal Planet puppets, masks and paintings inspired by regional wildlife.

    Princess offers stargazing on the top deck with an expert guide to show you all the stars and planets. Group babysitting is available for children ages 3 to 12 so parents can spend a day in port or savor a relaxing dinner for two. Kids-only dinners are offered on select nights, and teens have their own special dinner in a reserved section of the dining room on formal nights.

    Search Princess Cruises

    8. Royal Caribbean

    Destinations:

      • Alaska
      • Asia
      • Australia
      • Bahamas
      • Bermuda
      • Caribbean
      • China
      • Cozumel & Cancun
      • Croatia
      • East Coast
      • Europe
      • Florida
      • Greece & The Greek Isles
      • Gulf Coast
      • Italy
      • Jamaica
      • Mediterranean
      • Mexico
      • Mexican Riviera
      • New Zealand
      • Thailand
      • Transatlantic
      • Transpacific
      • South America
      • World
    • AAA partnership: Yes
    • AAA member benefit: Receive one complimentary 8x10 onboard print or digital photograph per stateroom on any seven-night or longer sailing when booking a balcony and suite stateroom category.
    • What makes it great: Kids 12 and under sail for free during select sail dates, and many ships offer family-friendly staterooms and floor plans.

    Royal Caribbean’s award-winning Adventure Ocean® Youth Program will keep kids and teens busy. Teens can hang out at Fuel, a club just for them with a soda fountain, computers and a dance floor. The Living Room offers a teen lounge area with movies, games and a live DJ.

    While the kids are having a blast with new friends, Mom and Dad can relax in the Solarium, a tranquil, adults-only covered retreat with whirlpools.

    The whole family will delight in hit Broadway shows including “Grease” and “Mamma Mia!” plus aqua shows, ice-skating shows, parades and parties on the Royal Promenade. Other activities include a surf simulator, a rock climbing wall, mini golf, a skydiving simulator and multilevel waterslides. Select ships have the first-ever carousel at sea.

    After a day of fun adventures, relax with family-friendly dining. Expedited service for kids allows them to be picked up by staff so parents can enjoy a leisurely dinner.

    Search Royal Caribbean Cruises

    Plan Your Family Cruise with AAA

    AAA Travel offers exclusive benefits and amenities for members. From stateroom savings to onboard spending credit, your local AAA Travel Agent can provide you with the best available offer and help you select the perfect family cruise.

    Visit your local AAA Travel Agent or book now with Trip Canvas.

    Written by

    AAA Travel Editor, SMT

    More Articles

    THE VALUE OF TRIP CANVAS

    Travel Like an Expert with AAA and Trip Canvas

    Get Ideas from the Pros

    As one of the largest travel agencies in North America, we have a wealth of recommendations to share! Browse our articles and videos for inspiration, or dive right in with preplanned AAA Road Trips, cruises and vacation tours.

    Build and Research Your Options

    Save and organize every aspect of your trip including cruises, hotels, activities, transportation and more. Book hotels confidently using our AAA Diamond Designations and verified reviews.

    Book Everything in One Place

    From cruises to day tours, buy all parts of your vacation in one transaction, or work with our nationwide network of AAA Travel Agents to secure the trip of your dreams!

    BACK TO TOP