Family Travel Tips When Cruising with Kids

Which type of vacation is guaranteed to offer something for everyone? A family cruise! With dedicated facilities for kids and teens, retreats for parents and exciting shore excursions, all ages are catered to in every way. To help you make the most of your family-friendly cruise, here are our top tips for cruising with kids.

family playing in the beach during their cruise vacation

Packing for Family Travel

One of the best things about a family cruise vacation is that you only have to unpack once. To ensure you take everything you need, first make a list of the essentials you use at home. This is especially important when you’re cruising with babies or toddlers and need diapers, baby food, formula, baby wipes, and medications.

For the first day of your cruise, pack carry-on bags for easy access to essentials, including:

  • Important travel documents such as passports, birth certificates and visas
  • Prescription medication
  • A change of clothes
  • Necessities for babies and toddlers
  • Sunscreen and personal toiletries

For the duration of your cruise, you’ll use a carry-on bag or backpack for shore excursions as well, so make sure it’s adequate for all of your needs. In terms of clothing for children, pack versatile items to suit all weather. For young children, a favorite book, toy or night light contributes to happy downtime in your stateroom.

Choosing the Right Stateroom

Kid-friendly cruises are those with staterooms that allow for cozy family time, while giving everyone enough space. On our cruise ships, family-friendly staterooms can easily accommodate up to five people, with some offering extra bathrooms. You can also book connecting rooms, which are perfect when you’re cruising with older teens or relatives.

For extra convenience, Family Harbor staterooms are situated near the exclusive Family Harbor Lounge, which offers all-day snacks and fun activities like games and family movies. Choosing the right stateroom for you is easy, with plenty of options available to suit the size of your family and individual needs.

kids playing cards in the family stateroom as their parents enjoy the balcony

Enjoying Kid-Friendly Meals

Do you have finicky eaters in your family? When you’re on vacation, it can be hard to satisfy everyone’s taste buds. You’ll be happy to hear that a family cruise offers so much choice that eating is always a highlight of the day. Onboard, kids can even start each day with a very special breakfast.

The Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast™ not only delights with tasty treats like Horton’s Cereal-Crusted French Toast, but kids get to eat in the company of some of their favorite Dr. Seuss characters. For lunch, the whole family will love burgers from Guy’s Burger Joint, or maybe that all-time Italian favorite, Spaghetti and Meatballs, at Cucina Del Capitano®.

As you never can tell when hunger is going to strike, you can also find snacks for everyone 24 hours a day. Order a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at 5 am or give your teens a late-night pizza treat. Did someone say dessert? How about frozen yogurt, soft serve ice cream or a delicious pastry?

For families with diet and food restrictions, you won’t miss out either, as many dishes cater to your needs.

little girl eating chow mein from jiji kitchen on a carnival cruise ship

Picking Supervised Activities

The best cruises for kids offer a wide range of fun, supervised activities so they can make friends and learn, while you relax by the pool. Camp Ocean™ gives your little ones the chance to meet friends in different age-based groups, from 2 to 11 years old.

Under the supervision of experienced counselors, they’ll enjoy arts and crafts, singing, movies and mealtime menus featuring all their favorites, like chicken nuggets.

For teens aged between 12 and 14 years, Circle C® is the cool spot to hang out, chat, play video games, watch outdoor movies and have dance parties, with the help of fun-loving counselors. Your older kids from 15 to 17 years can escape to their own world at Club 02® – to play sports, impress each other with karaoke and listen to music from their own generation.

boy sliding down a slide in camp ocean

Choosing Popular Onboard Activities for Kids

One of the most important cruise tips for families is to ensure there are plenty of fun onboard activities to suit each of you. All you need to do is check out the options on select ships and choose your favorites!

For example, if you’re a family of thrill-seekers, WaterWorks is available on most cruise ships, with the high-speed Twister Waterslide, racing action on the Speedway Splash, and much more.

Other options include:

  • SkyRide® – where you can bike high above the deck
  • Sky ZoneTM – an indoor trampoline park and challenge zone
  • SkyCourse – to navigate a ropes course with incredible ocean views.

Are games more your thing? Take part in Hasbro©, The Game Show with a live audience, try mini golf, foosball or basketball at SportSquareTM or challenge each other to games in the Video Arcade.

girl playing in waterworks with her mom on a carnival cruise ship

Selecting Family-Friendly Shore Excursions

When it’s time to explore a new destination, family-friendly shore excursions are designed to thrill all ages. For example, on a cruise to Cozumel, choose a dolphin swim to kiss and caress the cheeky marine mammals or learn about Mayan history at the ancient city of Tulum.

In Barbados, hop on the Atlantis Submarine to see underwater scenes without getting wet. Cruise to The Bahamas and enjoy a playful and educational stingray adventure together.

With shore excursions, fun onboard attractions and spacious staterooms, a cruise vacation gives you the opportunity to reconnect and bond as a family. From excitable toddlers to intrepid teens, features such as kid-friendly menus and age-based activities keep everyone happy.

That means more time for you as parents to sit back, relax and make the most of your special family cruise.

Note: Onboard activities, shore excursions, and dining options may vary by ship and destination.