by Rose Jacobs
Many cruise lines now proudly boast a ‘No Kids’ policy, catering to the growing adults-only cruise market. Viking Cruise Lines, for example, stands firm that there’s a rising demand for peace and quiet onboard its vessels.
The upcoming ‘rebellious luxe’ Virgin Voyages fleet by British magnate Richard Branson is also banning anyone under 18. Perhaps that’s because the line has installed table-top dancing, private cabin plunge pools and is encouraging his rock star mates to hop aboard.
So just where do you go if you want to take the whole family on a luxury cruise?
The good news is there are still plenty of lines welcoming the burgeoning market for multi-generational holidays. And many don’t mind the patter of tiny feet – providing they are not too tiny!
We’ve compiled a list of the lines who love families. Feel free to send us your comments and reviews!
Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity, while branded as high-end, also boast dedicated mess areas that cater to kids and teens. … On sailings with 10 or more kids, Junior Activities Directors run the show, and it looks like quite a show.
Onboard features for kids include:
Late–night dance parties and movie nights
Art supplies, board games, building blocks, dedicated spaces with plush seating for reading or watching movies, as well as flat-screen TVs for interactive play on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Wii, Xbox One, individual gaming stations and Kinect kiosks (depending on the ship).
Scavenger hunts that focus on the highlights of the itinerary, such as “artifacts” in Rome, “wildlife” in Alaska, or “royalty” in the British Isles.
Cookie baking, pizza making, and other culinary creativity in the galley.
Arts & crafts of all kinds, for all ages, also often focused on the destinations visited on each cruise.
Theatrics, including backstage tours and dress-up costume sessions with the onboard entertainers, a special Magic Castle at Sea performance just for junior cruisers and karaoke parties
Sports: Paddle tennis courts and 360-degree promenade deck, relay races, swimming, volleyball, shuffleboard, dodge ball, golf lessons and a mini Olympics-style championship.
Education: Crystal’s libraries offer hundreds of titles for young readers of all ages, as well as DVDs available for check-out to enjoy at their leisure.
Kids of all ages can enjoy the special Junior Cruiser’s menu, with the culinary staff able to prepare custom dishes. The Trident Grill also serves complimentary hot dogs, burgers and pizza.
On all sailings an in-room baby-sitting service for children aged 1 year and older can be offered. This is on a first-come, first-serve basis with fees starting at $10 per hour for one child, $15 per hour for two children and $20 per hour for three children. The maximum number which can be supervised by one baby-sitter is three.
Children aged 11 or younger also only pay 50% of the minimum fare when accompanied by two full-fare paying adults. Crystal Symphony offers ten connecting staterooms and 89 staterooms with a third berth available. Crystal Serenity offers 50 connecting staterooms and 154 staterooms with a third berth available.
SeaDream Yacht Club
The ships are smaller, more like a superyacht than a Cruise Ship, but the SeaDream Yacht Club certainly makes up for it with an abundance of onboard service with a smile and watersports that will cater for everyone.
They don’t market themselves as a predominantly family-friendly cruising option or (sailing as they say), but for those few passengers who do book with SeaDream Yacht Club for their family vacations, they are rarely disappointed.
There are no formal children’s programs or baby-sitting services available on the yacht. In some cases one would see the children’s nanny or au pair traveling with the family, which if it’s in your budget, would be ideal.
24 hour room service from the room service menu
Water “toys” from the yacht’s marina including wave runners, kayaks, personal sailboats, snorkel gear, SUP, waterskiing, wake boards, swim platform, banana boat and floating island.
Mountain bikes for shore side exploration
Golf Simulator with 30 signature golf courses
Activities with the crew (shore-side casuals) – bike, hike, kayak, and snorkel with one of the crew or go shopping with the Chef
Full library with over 1,200 books
CD and DVD library
Laptop computers for use while onboard
High powered binoculars on deck for your viewing pleasure
Pool and Jacuzzi
Seabourn does not currently have a formal youth program. However, teens and children are welcome onboard. All shore excursions are free for kids.
Seabourn refuses children aged 6-months or less at the time of sailing and certain transoceanic sailings also have limitations on children aged 12-months or less. Though families are able to travel on Seabourn, the cruise line does not actively cater to young travellers and there are no specific children’s facilities or programmes in place.
Seabourn are focused on letting you experience nature up-close in a way that is unique and exciting. For children old enough to explore, this offers excursions, to share your voyage with a knowledgeable, experienced expedition team of scientists, scholars, naturalists and more.
With sturdy zodiac inflatable boats or double sea kayaks, these adventures will vary depending on your itinerary, but include thrills such as cruising picturesque fjords and waterways, trekking on scenic islands, viewing birds, seals, whales and other wildlife up-close, and surveying massive, white-blue icebergs, perfect for the adventurous, inquisitive child or teen.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Children must be at least one year old when boarding the cruise. Regent offers the complimentary Club Mariner Youth Program for children aged 5-17, including fun and interactive activities while sailing to a breadth of destinations.
Activities for the Club Mariner Youth Program include:
Arts and crafts, Meet the Captain, Scavenger Hunts, Board games and bingo, Wacky Olympics, Mini-putt tournaments, Dance parties, Movie nights. Each program is designed and supervised by friendly and professional youth counsellors and is designed for age groups 5 – 8, 9 – 12 and 13 – 17.
Silver Cloud, Silver Wind, Silver Shadow, Silver Whisper and Silver Spirit cannot accommodate infants under the age of six-months. Silver Explorer and Silver Discoverer cannot accommodate children under the age of one, and Silver Galapagos cannot accommodate children under the age of six years.
There are no specialised programmes for children on-board Silversea and the cruise line does not provide activities, care or supervision of children while on-board. Silversea also has limitations on their shore excursions for children up to the age of eight.
Children must be at least 6-months old at the day of sailing, with no care, entertainment or supervision of children offered.
However, guests travelling to Alaska can partake in the Alaska Explorer Youth Program. This is designed for children aged 5-12 and is supervised by experienced and enthusiastic youth counsellors. The program includes games, activities and Alaska-inspired special events.
Guests under the age of 18 cannot participate in any Oceania Cruises shore excursions or land tours unless accompanied by an adult.
Disney may be four star for adults, but it’s definately five star for kids. One of the biggest attractions (and oh, there are many!) is the amount of features that are included in the price.
Super-sized kids clubs, creative Disney-themed entertainment and stacks of activities featuring popular Disney characters are just some of the included offerings. Picky eaters will be satisfied at kids’ themed restaurants, buffets, casual fare and 24-hour room service, as well as midday or evening snacks thanks to the “all-you-care-to-enjoy” soft-serve ice cream out on deck.
Watery fun awaits kids of all ages thanks to up to eight different areas of refreshing pools, aqua play areas and thrilling waterslides.
Included: Children can come face-to-face with some of their favourite Disney characters during activities throughout the ship, including autograph sessions, surprise meet-and-greets, deck parties and special themed cruises.
Included: Disney’s Oceaneer Club & Disney’s Oceaneer Lab
Exciting games, engaging activities and encounters with Star Wars, Marvel and Disney·Pixar characters inspire kids ages 3 to 12 at the youth clubs supervised by Disney counsellors.
Onshore Adventures for Kids:
Port Adventures are fun-filled onshore excursions that encourage children of all ages to discover new places, experience new cultures and have fun.
Included: The Disney Private Island
On Disney Castaway Cay, young cruisers are invited to swim in the ocean, play games at the kids clubs and ride 2 twisting watersides.
“It’s a small world” Nursery! (extra cost)
While being looked after by Disney caregivers, little ones under 3 years of age can play games, take naps and more at the childcare centre based on the classic Disney park attraction.