I can remember my first cruise. It took place in the late 1980s and was designed for high school seniors. The cruise was offered by Chandris Fantasy Cruises and I unabashedly admit to still having the baggage tags from the excursion tucked away with the rest of my memorabilia. At the time of my first cruise, onboard services were traditionally geared towards adults. A lot has changed since then. Nowadays, cruises are suitable for all ages. There are even a few cruise lines that offer special programs for families with babies and toddlers. With that said, here’s a quick rundown on five of the best ones:
Disney Cruise Lines
Disney Cruise Lines has been family friendly for years. The company was also affiliated with the first cruise ship that my children ever sailed on. They took their first cruise in the 1990s, with their grandparents, aboard the Big Red Boat and absolutely loved it. They have been happily cruising ever since. Today, the cruise line offers a wide array of programs for children as young as 3 years of age. The programs are offered on such vessels as the Disney Dream, the Disney Wonder, the Disney Magic and the Disney Fantasy.
Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival Cruise Lines is another cruise line that caters to children as young as 2 years of age. Of course there are other programs geared towards tweens and teens. The programs feature an assortment of activities. My children were fans of the sports, food and teen night clubs. Some of the ships that offer such programs are the Carnival Sunshine, the Carnival Dream and the Carnival Magic.
Although most of Cunard Line’s family friendly programs focus on children between the ages of 2 through 17, there is a night nursery program for children as young as 1 year of age. Like the name suggests, the night nursery program takes place between 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. Thus it is a superlative option for parents who want to enjoy a romantic dinner sans children. There are also daytime programs for toddlers, tweens and teens. The programs are available on the cruise line’s Queen Victoria and Queen Mary 2.
Royal Caribbean International
In my opinion, Royal Caribbean International is one of the best cruise lines when it comes to providing added touches. In addition to the activity programs, some of the cruise line’s ships offer in-cabin babysitting services, which is a plus. Parents also have onboard access to diapers, baby food and other such essentials though the cruise line’s Babies 2 Go program. From my perspective, that program can really cut down on packing issues. There is also an onboard nursery for children as young as 6 months of age and a toy lending program. The older kids, on the other hand, will adore the FlowRider surf machine and the rock wall.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Line has programs for children as young as 6 months of age. One of the programs is called Splash Academy and it caters to children ages 6 months to 17 years of age. The ships have several things that the kids will love, including water slides, climbing walls and video games. My children enjoyed the climbing wall and video games. Younger children will undoubtedly appreciate the costumed, Nickelodeon characters. Parents will appreciate the group babysitting services. Some of the ships of note are the Norwegian Epic and the Norwegian Spirit.
Killeen Gonzalez enjoys summer sports and recreation with her family. She has also traveled extensively.
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