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Sailing with Kids? Here’s the Top Carnival Ships for Family Fun

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Are you going on a family cruise but unsure which Carnival ship will turn your holiday into an unforgettable experience for your little ones? From the endless fun tailored for the under-18 crowd to the mouth-watering dining options that cater to young palates and insatiable teen appetites, choosing the right ship is a big factor in having a great holiday.

However, some ships among Carnival’s vast fleet stand out for their kid-friendly features. For example, the Carnival Vista, Carnival Horizon, and Carnival Panorama are packed with onboard activities to entertain your kids throughout the journey. From the first roller coaster at sea to fun-filled water parks, these ships offer a world of adventure for your kids.

The Carnival Vista cruise ship sails on a serene blue ocean, its multiple decks and distinctive red funnel standing out against a backdrop of scattered clouds in a bright sky.

In this article, I’ll take you through seven of the best Carnival Cruise ships for children and what they can offer your kids to make their vacation unforgettable.

Related reading: The Best Carnival Cruise Ship (For Every Kind of Cruiser!)

Amenities for Kids on Carnival Cruises

Before we get into the details of each ship, here is a snapshot of the different amenities available on the ships listed below:

A Round-Up of Top Carnival Ships Perfect for Kids

1. carnival vista.

The majestic Carnival Vista cruise ship embarks on a voyage, captured with its signature red funnel against a backdrop of dramatic clouds and a glistening ocean, with distant islands on the horizon.

The Carnival Vista is a standout amongst the Carnival fleet, especially regarding kid-friendly offerings. The ship has taken family-friendly to a whole new level with its vast array of activities for kids. From biking through the sky on SkyRide (must be at least 52 inches tall) to bowling and ping pong at SportSquare, the Carnival Vista ensures that there’s never a dull moment for your kids on board.

Passengers enjoy the SkyRide attraction aboard the Carnival Vista, pedaling in suspended colorful bike cars against the endless blue of the ocean and sky.

One of the key attractions on this ship is the onboard WaterWorks, a water park, featuring some of the fastest water slides at sea, your kids will surely have a blast. Additionally, the Cherry On Top candy store and ice cream counter will satisfy their sweet tooth.

Vibrant WaterWorks waterpark on Carnival Vista, featuring bright, spiraling waterslides and a playful splash zone with a sunny sky overhead, inviting fun and adventure.

But the fun doesn’t stop there. If you book a Family Harbor stateroom, they are located near the Family Harbor Lounge, which is a place featuring breakfast in the morning, snacks throughout the day, plus activities like board games, family movies, video games and more. These amenities keep kids entertained in their downtime and provide an opportunity for some quality family time.

2. Carnival Horizon

The Carnival Horizon cruise ship glides through turquoise waters, its blue hull complementing the sunny sky dotted with fluffy white clouds above.

If you’re searching for a ship that’s the perfect blend of sophistication and kid-friendly fun, look no further than the Carnival Horizon. One of Carnival’s newest additions, the Horizon sports a modern look and feel that parents will appreciate. It also offers a plethora of activities designed specifically for young cruisers.

From the Twister Waterslide and basketball courts to a challenging ropes course, children will have a blast exploring all the Horizon offers. For those who prefer indoor activities, there’s also a heated game of mini-golf to keep them entertained. The ship also features a Build-A-Bear Workshop at Sea, allowing kids to create their own cuddly companions to commemorate their cruise adventure.

A bright and spacious basketball court on Carnival Horizon, surrounded by a protective net, featuring playful silhouettes of athletes on the walls and the ship's funnel towering above.

But the fun doesn’t stop there. The Carnival Horizon is also home to the Thrill Theater and the Seuss-a-palooza Parade, guaranteed to fill your child’s day with laughter and excitement. Not to mention, the Seuss-a-palooza Parade offers an unforgettable experience where kids can interact with their favourite Dr Seuss characters.

Related reading: The Best Cabins on Carnival Horizon.

3. Carnival Celebration

Carnival Celebration cruise ship captured in an aerial shot as it navigates the waters near Miami, displaying the ship's extensive decks and leisure amenities.

Let me introduce you to the exciting Carnival Celebration, one of the newest additions to the Carnival fleet. With a modern and sophisticated feel, this ship is designed with parents and young cruisers in mind. Its sleek look is accompanied by upgraded amenities and activities that kids will love.

Among the highlights of the Carnival Celebration is the “Ultimate Playground” which features a plethora of activities. Kids can get their adrenaline pumping with the Twister Waterslide, challenge their skills on a ropes course, or engage in a heated game of mini-golf. The Celebration’s focus on youth-friendly entertainment onboard ensures that younger guests are never short of things to do.

The Ultimate Playground mini-golf course on Carnival Celebration, with a whimsical design, artificial green turf, and an overhead roller coaster track, set against a calm sea backdrop at sunset.

The ship also hosts a range of unique experiences, such as the Build-A-Bear Workshop at Sea and the Thrill Theater, a 3D Movie theatre. And for those who love all things Dr. Seuss, the Seuss-a-palooza Parade is a can’t-miss event.

The Carnival Celebration also offers a range of Caribbean itineraries, allowing young cruisers to explore beautiful Caribbean cruises while enjoying the myriad of activities and entertainment onboard. With the Carnival Celebration, your family is in for a memorable cruising experience.

4. Carnival Sunrise

The Carnival Sunrise cruise ship sails on a calm ocean, its red funnel iconic against the vast blue sky scattered with white clouds, embodying a sense of adventure on the high seas.

Setting sail on the Carnival Sunrise is like embarking on a floating adventure park. This ship is jam-packed with family-friendly activities that promise to keep children and parents alike entertained throughout the journey. The Sunrise is all about creating an environment where families can make lasting memories together.

One of the standout features of the Carnival Sunrise is the Alchemy Bar. While it’s an adults-only area, it offers a unique experience for parents to unwind and enjoy expertly crafted cocktails while the kids enjoy the numerous activities at the ship’s kids’ clubs.

The sophisticated Alchemy Bar on Carnival Sunrise, showcasing a relaxed lounge atmosphere with plush seating, an elegant bar setup, and modern art, perfect for sipping crafted cocktails.

Carnival Sunrise’s Kids Club is a haven for young cruisers. Children can engage in various fun and educational experiences with activities designed specifically for different age groups. Additionally, these clubs offer a safe and supervised environment, giving parents peace of mind while they enjoy some grown-up time.

Carnival Sunrise is not just about fun and games. It also offers short, affordable voyages from Miami, making it an ideal option for families looking for a quick getaway. Sail to the Bahamas or the Caribbean and experience a gregarious, upbeat atmosphere that will create unforgettable memories. Overall, the Carnival Sunrise embodies the essence of a family-friendly cruise experience.

5. Carnival Dream

The Carnival Dream cruise ship glides across the ocean at sunset, its blue hull and red-and-white funnel illuminated by the golden light, showcasing the grandeur of cruise vacations.

Moving on to another fantastic choice for families, let’s explore the engaging Carnival Dream. Just like the Carnival Celebration, the Carnival Dream boasts a modern feel that parents will appreciate. But don’t let its sophisticated appearance fool you – this ship is packed with kid-friendly activities and entertainment.

The Carnival Dream is designed to keep young cruisers entertained throughout their journey. It offers a variety of activities, ranging from the exhilarating Twister Waterslide to a challenging ropes course. A game of mini-golf adds a fun, competitive element to the mix, keeping the kids engaged and entertained.

Passengers on the Carnival Dream enjoy a round of mini-golf on a creatively designed course with lush green turf, nautical-themed obstacles, and the ship's iconic red funnel in the background.

Unique experiences such as the Build-A-Bear Workshop at Sea and the Thrill Theater are also part of the Carnival Dream experience. And let’s not forget the Seuss-a-palooza Parade, a delightful event that brings the magical world of Dr. Seuss to life. This fantastic parade is a must-see for all young cruisers aboard the Carnival Dream.

With its Caribbean itineraries, the Carnival Dream offers young cruisers the opportunity to embark on awe-inspiring Caribbean cruises. So, not only do they get to experience the fun and entertainment onboard, but they also get to explore the stunning beauty of Caribbean destinations. The Carnival Dream truly offers an engaging and exciting cruise experience for kids.

6. Carnival Panorama

Aerial view of the Carnival Panorama cruise ship at dusk, its decks glowing with lights as it navigates the ocean, reflecting the last rays of the sunset on its journey.

There’s something exceptional about the Carnival Panorama, especially when it comes to catering to the young ones. This ship, one of Carnival’s newest, features a contemporary design that parents will appreciate while packing in plenty of fun for young children.

One of the most exciting features onboard is the Twister Waterslide. It’s a hit with kids who can’t resist the temptation of a thrilling, water-filled adventure. The ship also hosts a challenging ropes course and a heated mini-golf game, both perfect for some family competition.

The expansive Ropes Course on Carnival Panorama, featuring an adventurous high-elements course with views of the sea, alongside a colorful mini-golf course and relaxation area under the ship's iconic red funnel.

And the fun doesn’t stop there! Carnival Panorama also offers unique activities like the Build-A-Bear Workshop at Sea and the Seuss-a-palooza Parade. These engaging experiences allow children to explore their creativity and imagination in a lively seafaring setting.

With a combination of modern aesthetics and a wide array of fun-filled activities, it’s no wonder that the Carnival Panorama is considered one of the best Carnival ships for young children.

7. Carnival Mardi Gras

The Carnival Mardi Gras cruise ship cuts through the deep blue sea, its towering red and white funnel standing out against a backdrop of scattered clouds in a vibrant blue sky.

Stepping onboard the Carnival Mardi Gras is like entering a world of endless fun and exploration for kids. This ship is equipped with pools and a waterpark and features the Bolt Rollercoaster, the first and fastest roller coaster at sea. The thrill of riding this roller coaster, with the ocean as a backdrop, is an experience your kids will never forget.

The BOLT Rollercoaster on Carnival Mardi Gras, a thrilling ride that twists above the deck, next to a colorful water park with slides and pools, offering fun and excitement against the backdrop of the open ocean.

But the excitement doesn’t stop there. The ship also hosts a unique SkyRide elevated cycling attraction with spectacular sea views. The ropes course is another exciting feature that adds to the adventure, making the Carnival Mardi Gras a floating playground for kids and teens.

However, it’s not just about the thrill-seeking activities. The Carnival Mardi Gras also hosts entertaining onboard activities designed to engage and inspire. Kids can immerse themselves in these interactive experiences and make lasting memories.

From the Bolt Rollercoaster to the SkyRide and the ropes course, the Carnival Mardi Gras sets a high bar for family-friendly fun. It’s clear why it’s considered one of the best ships in the Carnival fleet for young children.

Carnival’s Best Cruise Programmes for Kids

When it comes to fun onboard a cruise ship, Carnival exceeds expectations, especially for older children. Not only do they offer an array of activities for all ages, but they also have dedicated lounges for preteens and teenagers. Circle C and Club O2 are just some fantastic spaces available.

These areas have televisions, video games, and board games for endless entertainment. In addition, Carnival organizes activities such as sports competitions and dance parties to keep the fun rolling. Family cruising has never been this exciting!

Camp Ocean on Carnival Horizon, a children's play area with an under-the-sea theme, adorned with colorful fish and shark silhouettes on the walls and ceiling, complete with toys and a whimsical slide.

One of the top kids programs offered by Carnival is Camp Ocean. This program is renowned for its high-quality childcare, allowing parents to indulge in Carnival’s activities for adults without stressing about their little ones. The program is available fleetwide, meaning no matter what ship you’re on, your kids can enjoy the fun-filled activities at Camp Ocean.

Night Owls Program

A joyful young boy at Camp Carnival's Night Owls, proudly holding up a white T-shirt with colorful hand-drawn designs, with other children engaged in activities in the background.

When the sun sets, the fun doesn’t stop on a Carnival cruise, especially for the kids. The Night Owls program is a lifesaver if your kid is a late-night adventurer. This unique program allows parents to drop kids off, ensuring they’re entertained and cared for while the adults enjoy some quality time. From thrilling games to engaging activities, these programs provide an inclusive and fun-filled family cruising experience.

The Night Owls program is specifically designed for children ages six months to 11. This program lets kids stay entertained until 1 a.m., allowing parents to enjoy their evening worry-free.

The Night Owls program is a testament to Carnival’s commitment to providing high-quality kids programs. It ensures that all family members, regardless of age, can thoroughly enjoy their experience onboard. With activities that keep kids engaged and entertained well into the night, Carnival ensures a stress-free and fun-filled vacation for the entire family.

Parks and Games

The Sky Zone indoor trampoline park and challenge zone on Carnival Panorama, featuring a vibrant climbing wall, basketball hoops, and activity courts, all under dynamic lighting for an energetic atmosphere.

From splash park and Sky Zone trampoline park for the younger ones to movie nights for older kids, there’s something for everyone. Kids can test their skills on the Twister Waterslide, engage in a friendly game of basketball, navigate a challenging ropes course, or compete in a heated game of mini-golf. If you choose a newer ship, like Mardi Gras or Celebration, your older kids can also ride the BOLT rollercoaster.

Other Events and Programs

Dr. Seuss Bookville on Carnival Horizon, a colorful and whimsical reading space inspired by the beloved children's author, with polka-dotted walls, bright furniture, and shelves full of books inviting young readers to explore.

Another excellent option is Disney Magic, with its Seuss Bookville and Camp at Sea programs, ensuring age-appropriate activities for kids of all ages. This ship also offers the unique feature of Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island. Celebrity Cruises’ Camp at Sea program also gives children various activities, from rock climbing walls to splash zones.

There are also unique experiences like the Build-A-Bear Workshop at Sea, the Thrill Theater, and the Seuss-a-palooza Parade. These activities entertain and promote creativity and camaraderie among the young cruisers. When choosing a Carnival ship for your kids, rest assured that every voyage has unforgettable adventures and experiences.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the best Carnival ship for kids isn’t just about picking one with the most exciting activities. It’s also about considering the needs and preferences of the entire family.

With an impressive fleet that includes some of the largest ships in the industry, such as the Carnival Vista, Carnival Horizon, and Carnival Panorama, there’s a Carnival ship out there to suit every family’s needs.

These ships offer a fantastic range of fun activities, from SkyRide elevated cycling and ropes courses to dive-in movies and activities like scavenger hunts. For the foodies, Guy’s Burger Joint and Bonsai Sushi offer mouthwatering dining options.

While all Carnival ships offer thrilling shore excursions, the best cruise ships for kids offer a balance of onboard activities and off-ship adventures. So, whether you’re setting sail from Port Canaveral, Los Angeles, or Miami, embarking on an Eastern and Western Caribbean voyage, or traversing the Panama Canal, a Carnival cruise promises a world of fun for kids and parents alike.

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How to Plan a Family Caribbean Cruise Vacation

By Carnival Cruise Line

With sun-drenched beaches, balmy tropical weather, and a blend of vibrant cultures, the Caribbean is one of the world’s most popular family vacation spots. It’s a place where life slows down just enough to let you relax and where the entire family can find something to do. When you combine a tropical destination with a family cruise, you get a fun-filled vacation and plenty of quality time.

If you’ve never been on a cruise vacation , get ready to experience the ultimate in vacation ease. Once you get on the ship, you’re on your own schedule and can be in complete vacation mode. Instead of dealing with the usual travel logistics of arranging transportation or searching for a restaurant that pleases everyone’s palate, you get to relax and enjoy the ship’s amenities on your way to the ports of call. It all starts with a little planning.

2 kids laying on an inflatable pineapple and watermelon float during a cruise

Decide on a Destination

For most people, the simplest way to start planning a cruise to the Caribbean is to choose a destination. Carnival sails to the Eastern, Western, and Southern Caribbean, with stops in The Bahamas , Dominican Republic , Mexico , Belize , U.S. Virgin Islands , and more. You’ll find beaches, shopping, and exciting shore excursions at each port of call, so the deciding factor is likely what you want to see and do when you’re on shore. You can tour Mayan ruins near Cozumel , swim with dolphins in Amber Cove , or ride a zip line through the rainforest in St. Lucia , and that’s just the beginning.

parent and child getting ready to zip line over the countryside of st maarten as a worker observes

You can choose from an assortment of shore excursions that appeal to the entire family and enhance the vacation experience, including:

  • Everglades Tour
  • Whitewater Rafting Class
  • River Tubing
  • Stingray Sensation
  • ATV Adventure
  • Turtle Encounter

Imagine the delight in your children’s eyes as they snorkel with sea turtles or ride in a submarine to get a glimpse of marine life and coral reefs near a shipwreck. Grab the family and escape on a catamaran to a private spot for swimming and snorkeling in clear, turquoise water. Indulge your wild side with a tour through the Everglades or buggy ride through sand dunes.

mother holding up her daughter as they swim in the caribbean sea

Select a Sailing Date

One of the best features of a Caribbean cruise vacation is the fact that you can schedule the trip for dates that fit within your schedule. Carnival ships sail to the region year round with convenient itineraries that range from two to more than six days. Shorter cruises that last two to five days take you to up to three ports of call, but longer cruises give you a chance to visit even more destinations.

aerial view of carnival horizon sailing past caribbean islands

Do you need a quick escape from freezing temperatures and snow? A four day winter cruise from Miami to Grand Turk will warm you up enough to make it through the winter. Are the kids out of school for an extended holiday in April? Make the most of the time off with a five day cruise from Tampa to Cozumel and Grand Cayman. Is it time to schedule the next family reunion for next July? Get the whole crew on board for an eight day cruise on Carnival Horizon ® featuring SkyRide ® , Dr. Seuss Bookville ™ , and The Chef’s Table.

Additional Travel Arrangements

As you consider dates, you also have to think about how you’re going to get to the departure port . Unless you live close enough to drive to the cruise terminal, you need to make flight arrangements . Ideally, you should arrive a day before your cruise leaves so that you have plenty of time to get there on time and start your vacation feeling relaxed.

couple holding each other as they get ready to board a carnival ship with their suitcases

If you’re arriving a day or so early, consider choosing an interesting departure port city you’d like to explore with your family as part of your overall vacation. You can spend a few days there before or after the cruise having some fun on dry land before you head out to sea or before you head home. In addition, you may be able to choose a departure port that’s close to where other family members live, allowing your children to visit relatives who don’t live near you.

Check Out the On Board Activities

On Carnival cruises, the fun begins when you step on board, so spend some time perusing the available onboard activities. Your cruise itinerary includes at least two days at sea when you can explore the ship and take part in a variety of entertainment options. Take the whole family to WaterWorks ™ , the onboard waterpark where you can splash and slide and swim or enjoy a friendly game of basketball or mini golf at SportSquare ™ .

Other on board activities include:

  • Camp Ocean ™ for kids, 2-11
  • Circle “C” ® for pre-teens, 12-14
  • Club O2 ® for teens
  • Cloud 9 Spa ™
  • Serenity Adult Retreat ™
  • IMAX Theater
  • Seuss at Sea ™
  • Punchliner Comedy Club

aerial view of a woman riding a blue skyride over the pool of a carnival ship

Choose a Stateroom

Keep all this in mind as you select your stateroom . You can choose between a suite, balcony, oceanview, and interior room. A private balcony is a serene spot to watch the water, but you may not use it much if you’re traveling with small children. Interior rooms are a budget-friendly option, especially when you consider how much time you’ll actually spend there. Note the location of the room as well. Rooms in the back of the ship are usually closer to the dining area, where as the rooms in the front are closer to the spa. If it’s important to be near the center of the action, be sure to book towards the middle of the ship where you can find all the fun activities.

a mother closing the balcony door of her stateroom as her son takes a picture and her daughter colors in a coloring book

Pay for the Cruise

When you know where and when you want to go, it’s time to take care of the final details. Carnival EasyPay makes it easy to pay for your cruise in installments if you opt for an eligible sailing. You just pay a deposit when you book your vacation and then make monthly payments until your sail date so you can focus your attention on getting ready for the big trip.

Plan More Fun with Carnival® Mastercard®

As part of getting ready for your trip, make your family cruise to the Caribbean even more fun with a Carnival Mastercard. For example, when you want to try shore excursions like whitewater rafting or a turtle encounter, you’ll receive a reFUNd or percentage back when you book with your card on carnival.com, prior to your cruise.

This helps every member of your family see and do more within your budget – on your cruise of a lifetime.

Also, when you use your card for the first time, get set to earn bonus FunPoints®. You can redeem the points for a statement credit. Double FunPoints are yours when you make any purchase on Carnival Cruise Line and World’s Leading Cruise Lines brands, plus you’ll earn one FunPoint on all other purchases. You’ll also reap the benefits of no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.

All in all, this means happy spending, and earning with FunPoints, on your family cruise vacation to the Caribbean!  Learn more .

Terms & Conditions

Start Packing

Start thinking about what you’re going to pack for the cruise a few weeks before your departure. You’ll need casual attire—think shorts, khakis, and summer dresses for the day—and a few dressier items for the evening if you plan to eat in the main dining room. Bring a swimsuit, cover-up, and water shoes or non-slip boat shoes with traction to wear at the pool and make sure everyone has a wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen to ward off the sun’s rays. Bring your passports, medication, and necessities for the kids in a carry-on bag.

3 friends talking in their bathing suits next to the pool on a carnival ship

Before you know it, you’ll be ready for your voyage. We’ll take over from there to make sure you and your loved ones enjoy an unforgettable vacation experience in a tropical paradise.

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

Related articles

Plan for fun.

https://www.carnival.com/cruise-from.aspx

Booking With Kids

The Best Carnival Cruises for Families

Carnival cruises has long been synonymous with family-friendly travels, and for good reason. Offering a delightful blend of relaxation and excitement, Carnival’s extensive fleet caters to travelers of all ages, including the littlest ones in your family. In this guide, we’ll explore the best Carnival cruises for families, ensuring your family vacation is filled with unforgettable moments.

Carnival Vista, Horizon, and Panorama For Fun Times

Leading the pack are Carnival’s Vista-class ships – Carnival Vista, Carnival Horizon, and Carnival Panorama. These modern marvels boast some of the largest at-sea water parks and dedicated kids clubs, ensuring that every member of your family, from toddlers to teens, finds their perfect playground.

Activities such as the Twister Waterslide, basketball, ropes courses, and mini-golf promise endless fun for the young cruisers. The Vista-class ships also introduce unique experiences like Build-A-Bear Workshop at Sea, Thrill Theater, and the Seuss-a-palooza Parade, making them the ideal choice for families seeking the best Carnival cruises for kids.

Carnival Panorama, Vista, Horizon, and Mardi Gras For Thrill Seekers

For families with thrill-seeking youngsters, Carnival Panorama, Vista, Horizon, and Mardi Gras are the go-to choices. These ships offer high-energy activities, including the first and fastest roller coaster at sea – the Bolt Roller Coaster on Mardi Gras. With multiple swimming pools, water parks, IMAX theaters, and outdoor activity areas, these ships ensure non-stop excitement for kids and teens.

Mardi Gras, in particular, stands out with 26 dining options, catering to even the pickiest eaters. It’s not just thrilling for the kids; it’s a delight for the entire family.

Carnival Sunrise – Perfect for Short Getaways

If you’re looking for a shorter family holiday, consider the Carnival Sunrise. This mid-size ship, offers two water slides, a splash park, a ropes course, and a pool area with family-friendly activities. With modern kids and teens clubs, good luck convincing your little ones to leave!

Carnival Dream – Fun for the Whole Family

Launched in 2009 and refurbished in 2017, the Carnival Dream features new upgrades, including restaurants and adult-only areas like Serenity. Multiple pool areas, water slides, and family-friendly shows ensure there’s something for everyone onboard.

Carnival Celebration – A Jubilant Family Holiday

Just as its sister ship, the Mardi Gras, the Carnival Celebration introduces six distinctive Zones. Each zone creating a unique blend of extraordinary experiences and delectable flavours. The Carnival Celebration offer the exhilarating BOLT rollercoaster, the culinary artistry of Bonsai Teppanyaki, the tropical vibes of RedFrog Tiki Bar, the interactive excitement of Family Feud Live, and other captivating performances of Playlist Productions.

So, why settle for an ordinary cruise when you can embark on a Carnival family adventure? It’s not just a holiday; it’s a journey where the seas are the backdrop to your family’s joy. Pack your bags, set sail, and let Carnival cruises redefine the meaning of family holidays.

Head to  Booking with Kids  for more tips, support and family friendly travel guides. Check out our most loved  travel gear  from brands we trust.

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Best Cruise Lines for Families

Finding a cruise vacation that meets the needs of every family member can be tough. While you may be in search of some

Finding a cruise vacation that meets the needs of every family member can be tough. While you may be in search of some peace and quiet, the kids will probably be eager to play. To help you find a cruise that fits your family's needs, U.S. News ranked the best cruise lines for families using a methodology that factors in health ratings, reputation among experts and approval among families with both younger and older kids.

Read Best Cruises Methodology

Find Cruises

Call to plan a cruise: 1-833-468-6732

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carnival cruise ships for families

Disney Cruise Line

From its signature Mickey's Sail-A-Wave Party to its pirate-themed dinners, Disney attracts passengers looking for a full roster of entertainment options. Passengers can enjoy kid-friendly dining venues and amenities, plus visits from Disney characters like Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Pluto. The line's cruise ships also offer adults-only dining areas, quiet pool spots and nightlife options.

  • 4.46 Overall Rating
  • 5 Ships in Fleet

carnival cruise ships for families

Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean offers onboard amenities and a variety of sailings that cater to cruisers of all ages. Some of the line's cruise ships feature rock climbing walls and ice rinks, while others boast zip lines, bumper cars and waterslides. Every ship also hosts fun and educational programs for kids and teens, plus a variety of evening shows, bars and lounges for older travelers.

  • 4.17 Overall Rating
  • 25 Ships in Fleet

carnival cruise ships for families

Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival's frequent sales and budget-friendly fares mean you and your cruising crew can save some money on a voyage filled with family-friendly perks. Cruise ships are outfitted with water parks, basketball courts and ropes courses to entertain kids of all ages. Meanwhile, grown-ups can head to the spa, the casino or the Serenity Adult-Only Retreat.

  • 3.90 Overall Rating

carnival cruise ships for families

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian greets families with colorful cruise ships, ample onboard amenities and children's clubs. While adults are relaxing at the spa or gambling at the casino, kids can attend supervised youth programs where they can learn to juggle, enjoy arts and crafts or attend themed parties. Plus, children's menus are available in all of the line's restaurants, including specialty eateries.

  • 3.97 Overall Rating
  • 19 Ships in Fleet

carnival cruise ships for families

MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises' ships feature kids and teen clubs with activities like LEGO games, dance classes and sports tournaments. What's more, the whole family can enjoy onboard swimming pools and waterslides (on select ships). Families can also purchase the MSC Fun Pass to access special amenities like flight simulators, a bowling alley and the XD Interactive Cinema.

  • 3.79 Overall Rating
  • 22 Ships in Fleet

Disclaimers about ship ratings: A ship’s Health Rating is based on vessel inspection scores published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If a ship did not receive a CDC score within 22 months prior to the calculation of its Overall Rating, its Health Rating appears as N/A; in such a case, the ship’s Overall Rating is calculated using the average Health Rating of all CDC-rated ships within the cruise line. All ship Traveler Ratings are based on ratings provided under license by Cruiseline.com.

If you make a purchase from our site, we may earn a commission. This does not affect the quality or independence of our editorial content.

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USA TODAY 10Best

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Best Cruise Ship for Families: Carnival Horizon wins

USA TODAY 10Best Readers' Choice Awards logo

Best Cruise Ship for Families (2021) March 12, 2021

Thanks to their excellent travel value, more and more families are turning to cruising when planning their vacations. These 10 cruise lines cater to young passengers in many ways, including family friendly at-sea experiences (bumper cars, bowling and waterparks to name a few), family cabins and kid-approved dining options.

The top 10 winners in the category Best Cruise Ship for Families are as follows:

Allure of the Seas

No. 10: Allure of the Seas - Royal Caribbean International

One of the world’s largest cruise ships features one of the most robust and diverse kids programs. A highlight for young passengers is the DreamWorks Experience, where kids can interact with their favorite characters from  Shrek ,  Kung Fu Panda  and the penguins of  Madagascar.  Amazing acrobatics at the AquaTheater, surf simulators, an old-fashioned carousel, two rock climbing walls, a zip line, mini golf and classic carnival games at the Boardwalk Arcade mean kids can kiss boredom goodbye.

Disney Fantasy

No. 9: Disney Fantasy - Disney Cruise Line

On the Disney Fantasy, kids programs are Disney-crafted and predictably high-quality; the older set loves bulleting down 4-deck-drop AquaDuck water coaster. Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique delights kids with princess or pirate makeovers. Mom and Dad can refresh at Quiet Cove Pool.

Symphony of the Seas

No. 8: Symphony of the Seas - Royal Caribbean International

Symphony of the Seas, the newest ship in Royal Caribbean’s fleet and the largest ship at sea, has many of the same features of other mega-ships in its class, as well as new additions like Battle for Planet Z glow-in-the-dark laser tag and Sugar Beach ice cream and sweets shop. Kids also love the two surf simulators, tallest waterslide at sea, a zip line above the Boardwalk and rock climbing wall, while parents will appreciate the Ultimate Family Suite.

Disney Magic

No. 7: Disney Magic - Disney Cruise Line

The Disney wand waved in 2013, turning Disney Magic into a modern member of the sailing Mickeys. AquaLab’s splashy play park plus two water slides boost Magic’s fun quotient. Even more cool: kids can train as superheroes at Marvel Avenger Academy. Magic also added the adults-only AfterHours bars and nightclub, making Magic sweeter for everyday heroes — mom and dad.

Disney Dream

No. 6: Disney Dream - Disney Cruise Line

Aboard the Disney Dream, Donald gets his due with AquaDuck, a 4-deck-drop water coaster (the first at sea) that zips riders through transparent tube. The host of Disney-themed kids programs get points for their organization; costumed characters–Mickey, Minnie and friends–keep the pre-school set happy. Character greetings and Broadway-style productions (with a Disney twist of course) make this 4,000-passenger vessel a hit with the young and the young at heart.

Carnival Panorama

No. 5: Carnival Panorama - Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Panorama sails from Long Beach, California with tons of things to do for every member of the family. The first ever Sky Zone at sea comprises an indoor trampoline park for all ages, while the Choose Fun Waterworks features two huge waterslides. Play soccer, basketball, volleyball or ping-pong in SportSquare. Parents can unwind at the Serenity Adult-Only Retreat.

Carnival Vista

No. 4: Carnival Vista - Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival elevated its already very family-friendly offerings with the debut of Carnival Vista. Kids can ride a bike through the sky, go mini bowling or play ping pong at SportSquare, and the onboard water park is the largest in the fleet. Kids love the Cherry On Top candy store and ice cream counter, and parents will appreciate the Family Harbor staterooms equipped with board games, family movies and video games.

Regal Princess

No. 3: Regal Princess - Princess Cruises

A favorite feature among kids aboard the Regal Princess is the SeaWalk, a glass-bottomed walkway extending 28 feet over ship’s edge. The ship's youth and teen center has teamed up with the California Science Center for some interactive edutainment at sea. The three kids spaces are excellent, and teens even have their own outdoor hot tub.

MSC Meraviglia

No. 2: MSC Meraviglia - MSC Cruises

Families aboard MSC Meraviglia enjoy a range of kid-approved amenities, from a full-sized bowling alley at sea to F1 simulators to a decked out Sportplex. The popular Aquapark with its two waterslides has a polar theme.

Carnival Horizon

No. 1: Carnival Horizon - Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival’s latest and greatest ship, Carnival Horizon, sails from Miami to the Caribbean with plenty of family fun onboard. Kid-approved amenities include two movie theaters (including an IMAX screen), Dr. Seuss Waterworks waterpark, nighttime babysitting and reduced prices for kids at some specialty restaurants.

A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to pick the initial nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote.

Congratulations to all these winning cruise ships!

About 10Best Readers' Choice Awards

Nominees are submitted by a panel of experts. 10Best editors narrow the field to select the final set of nominees for the Readers’ Choice Awards. Readers can vote once per category, per day. For any questions or comments, please read the FAQ or email USA TODAY 10Best .

The Experts

Danielle fear.

Danielle Fear

Danielle Fear is one of the UK’s most recognized...   Read More

Danielle Fear is one of the UK’s most recognized and trusted cruise bloggers and is better known to her audience as CruiseMiss. As well as maintaining an award-winning cruise blog, she also works as a freelance writer, content manager and social media professional covering all aspects of sea travel. Having embarked on more than 75 sailings, including 2 world cruises, it’s fair to say that Danielle knows a thing or two about cruising.  

Danielle Fear

Don and Heidi Bucolo

Don and Heidi Bucolo

Don and Heidi Bucolo are the husband and wife team...   Read More

Don and Heidi Bucolo are the husband and wife team behind EatSleepCruise.com . Their love for cruising began after taking their first cruise together back in 2007. Having spent over 180 days at sea on more than 30 cruises with various cruise brands, they have learned a thing or two about planning and executing the perfect cruise vacation. The couple was voted as one of Porthole Cruise 's Top 10 Cruise Influencers and is featured in the new book  Cruising Interrupted . You can find them on the web and social media sharing detailed cruise ship reviews, port guides, packing tips and planning tips to help travelers "sea the world, one port at a time."

Don and Heidi Bucolo

Jason Leppert

Jason Leppert

Jason Leppert is a San Diego-based cruising expert...   Read More

Jason Leppert is a San Diego-based cruising expert with more than 150 sailings under his belt and a fresh, millennial perspective on the industry. He has been cruising since before he was two years old, thanks to his parents’ shared passion for traveling and their desire to experience all journeys together as a family. Now, he regularly sails and writes “he said, she said” cruise columns with his wife Heidi. He is the founding editor of Popular Cruising , producer of the successful Popular Cruising YouTube channel  and Cruise Editor for TravelAge West. He also contributes to Cruise Travel, Porthole and Cruise Business Review magazines; USA Today 10Best; Oyster.com; MiceChat.com and the Cruise Radio podcast.

Jason Leppert

Ming Tappin

Ming Tappin

Residing in New Brunswick, Canada, Ming has been...   Read More

Residing in New Brunswick, Canada, Ming has been in the cruise industry since 1994. Ming spent over 20 years in the retail travel sector, working with travel agencies in marketing initiatives, cruise training, and promoting cruise vacations to their clients. In 2015, Ming created  Your Cruise Coach  and transitioned into travel writing, preaching the merits of cruising via her partnerships with Canadian and American travel trade publications as well as consumer media outlets. An avid cruiser since 1991, Ming has sailed on over 70 cruises and has experienced over 25 ocean, river, and expedition cruise lines combined.

Ming Tappin

Sherry Laskin

Sherry Laskin

Sherry hasn’t set foot on an airplane in more than...   Read More

Sherry hasn’t set foot on an airplane in more than 25 years.  Instead, she relies on cruise ships, river ships, trains and road trips to travel the world.  In that time, she’s been on more cruises than she can count and includes her solo cruise and travel adventures on her website,  CruiseMaven.com .  Her articles have been published in major newspapers and magazines - in print and online.  During a year and a half of living in Alaska, Sherry has cruised and spent time at every port in the Last Frontier except for Nome.  She’s become an avid transatlantic cruiser since 2005, as that is the only way for her to get to Europe without flying. Sherry hopes to inspire and encourage her readers to travel slow and travel solo, experience new cuisines and cultures. 

Sherry Laskin

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Back to readers' choice.

7 Best Cruise Lines for Families (and Their 12 Most Kid-Friendly Ships)

By: Author Elizabeth Ciobanu

Posted on Published: 07/18/2023  - Last updated: 07/20/2023

Traveling to new places is always a thrill, but it can come with some challenges. For example, which side of the road are you supposed to drive on ?

carnival cruise ships for families

Cruises simplify the bulk of your vacation planning and transportation, as everything you need is in one convenient package.

A family cruise line will keep your children entertained day and night. I’ve rounded up seven of my favorites, which I’ll share in the first part of this guide.

Then I’ll recommend the most kid-friendly cruise ships for booking your next vacation.

The 7 Best Family-Friendly Cruise Lines

1. disney cruise line.

Discover how enchanting life at sea can be on a Disney Cruise Line.

Entertainment of all kinds awaits you. If you want to splash and play on your family vacation, you can ride the AquaDunk or AquaDuck water coasters, romp in Donald’s Pool or Goofy’s Pool, or enjoy the sparkling pool at Mickey’s AquaLab.

Pools are also divided for guests of varying ages, such as the Quiet Cove Pool for guests 18 and older, splash pads for kids three and under, and Satellite Falls for adults.

Live performances and musicals give each night a magical feel, while karaoke, trivia, and Disney character meet and greets ensure every minute aboard is exciting.

There are even kids’ clubs to give parents a break to enjoy nightclubs, fitness facilities, or the adults-only pool.

Your cruise will stop at Castaway Cay if visiting a Caribbean or Bahamian island. This island is exclusively for cruise line guests. Your day at Castaway Cay will include food and refreshments, beach access, pools and water slides, trails, and yoga classes.

Oh, and there’s all-you-can-eat ice cream, which will delight children of all ages.

The family-centric staterooms offer television with in-room movies, a fridge, plenty of storage, and split bathrooms so the family can maintain its privacy.

Disney Cruise Lines can take you across the Transatlantic, South Pacific, Panama Canal, Pacific Coast, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Hawaii, Europe, the Caribbean, Canada, Bermuda, Alaska, and the Bahamas.

» MORE: How Long Is Summer Break in Canada?

2. Norwegian Cruise Line

Take the family vacation of a lifetime on the Norwegian Cruise Line.

Its Freestyle Cruising allows you to plan your vacation just the way you like it. Enjoy long-running, Tony Award-nominated musicals or top-notch concerts.

Family fun awaits at every turn, such as arcades, pinball, water slides and pools, rock-climbing walls, mini golf, and plenty of other organized sports like soccer, baseball, basketball, and bowling.

The ThrillPlex offers activities that will make your kids smile from ear to ear. How does a rousing game of family laser tag sound? Or maybe you want to climb a ropes course or race on a track to see who’s the fastest? The ThrillPlex has all that and more.

Eat well no matter the cuisine you and the family crave, from simple burgers to Brazilian steakhouses, Japanese food, seafood, or global cuisine. Some establishments offer buffet-style dining, and others are open 24 hours so you can always fill your belly.

The sizable suites and staterooms are family-friendly and accommodate larger groups of up to eight. Your room includes concierge and butler service, large rooms for privacy, and a balcony you’ll love to look out from.

Norwegian Cruise Lines visit Asia, New England, Florida, Alaska, the Bahamas, Canada, the Caribbean, the Panama Canal, Europe, and Hawaii. You can also take special cruise tours or music-themed cruises.

3. Royal Caribbean International

Experience the world’s wonders on a Royal Caribbean International cruise line.

You won’t want for much, as the various ships under the Royal Caribbean umbrella promise fun and excitement from the moment you step onto the ship until you disembark.

You can take dance classes, check out a virtual concert, strategize to get out of an escape room, and eat to your heart’s (and stomach’s) content.

The youth programs feature an Imagination Studio for kids to explore and express their creative sides. Older kids can become junior scientists at the Adventure Science Lab, while the Teen Lounge keeps similarly-aged kids entertained.

Activities like story time, theater, art, and science will enchant the young’uns, who you will definitely want to bring, as kids sail free.

Cruise the world on a Royal Caribbean ship, including the Bahamas, Alaska, New England, the Caribbean, New Zealand, Asia, Canada, Mexico, Latin America, the Panama Canal, Hawaii, the Transpacific, Transatlantic, South Pacific, or Pacific Northwest.

» MORE: How Long Is Summer Break in Australia?

4. Carnival Cruise Line

It’s time to get away on a Carnival Cruise Line.

This vacation experience can be anything you want, from relaxing and rejuvenating (with adult-only retreats and spas) to exciting with breathtakingly tall water slides, Family Feud Live, and the SkyRide overlooking the ocean.

The kids can hop around and burn off energy at the bungee Sky Zone, make a new friend at the Build-A-Bear Workshop at Sea, play mini golf, spend the day at the arcade, or compete in a friendly game of basketball.

Camp Ocean keeps kids between 2 and 11 years old busy, and Circle “C” is for older kids between 12 and 14.

Of course, with a ropes course, IMAX theaters, and a space program for kids 2 to 11, there’s always something for families to do together.

A stateroom or suite can accommodate your entire brood, whether there are only a few of you or a larger group. The rooms have an extra bathroom, a TV, and climate control.

Some rooms even connect so your kids can feel independent while you keep a watchful eye over them.

A Carnival Cruise Line vacation can take you across Greenland, the Panama Canal, Asia, the South Pacific, the Transatlantic, New Guinea, the South Pacific, New Zealand, the Panama Canal, Hawaii, New England, the Bahamas, Canada, Alaska, Europe, the Transpacific, Bermuda, and the Bahamas.

5. Princess Cruises

Perhaps a vacation on a Princess Cruise Line is what your family needs.

Onboard activities for all tastes are available. Princess and Discovery have an immersive, unique Discovery at SEA Enrichment Program that lets you see this planet and its inhabitants in engaging ways.

The Festivals of the World Program will introduce your family (especially the kiddos) to new cultures as they celebrate Mexican fiestas, Carnaval de Panama, Celtic Festival, and more.

Take a dip in a pool, chill out in a hot tub, play every sport imaginable (from shuffleboard to mini golf), and catch a tan at the Reef Family Splash Zone, a mini water park with games, pools, and water features.

So where would you and the family like to go?

You can take a short excursion that lasts between three and six days or visit such parts of the world as the South Pacific, Panama Canal, Europe, Tahiti, Asia, Hawaii, Mexico, the Caribbean, New England, Antarctica, Japan, South America, Canada, New Zealand, the Pacific Coast, Australia, and California.

World cruises are also available. 

» MORE: How Long Is Summer Break in Japan?

6. MSC Cruises

Immerse yourself in coastal wonder on an MSC Cruise.

You and your family will find it exceptionally easy to plan your itinerary both day and night. How does a family disco sound after dark, or a family game show that includes selfie, music, and dance challenges?

That’s only scratching the surface! The 4D cinema experience makes you feel like you’re racing on a freeway or experiencing other immersive scenes without leaving your seat. The Robotron is a thrilling amusement ride, and the Flight Simulator lets you take to the skies while still safely on the ship.

The kids can also play at the arcade, practice driving in the F1 simulator, or play some sports. Live entertainment abounds, with options for just the adults or the entire family.

The family-friendly staterooms include buffet access and a discounted drink package so you can feed the family for less.

An MSC Cruise will take you across New England, Asia, South Africa, South America, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, Northern Europe, the Mediterranean, Canada, Bermuda, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean.

7. Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises are catered to families, with excursions, programs, and activities for kids and adults. They even offer autism-friendly activities, which are highly inclusive.

Imagine the look on your children’s faces when swimming with dolphins, exploring inactive volcanoes on foot, or seeing an exotic country from thousands of feet up in a plane! Celebrity Cruises makes it possible.

The kids and teen programs include Camp at Sea for kids between 3 and 12. Participants have themed parties, play sports, do arts and crafts, and engage in treasure hunts.

The Teen Club offers culinary classes, parties, and video game competitions.

The Retreat is the most family-friendly lodging option, as it includes more than 2,500 square feet of lounge space, an ample veranda, and a private sundeck.

Celebrity Cruises stop at more than 300 cruise ports, including Africa, New Zealand, Alaska, New England, Galapagos, the Caribbean, Europe, Bermuda, Asia, the Mediterranean, the Panama Canal, the Transatlantic, Mexico, the Pacific Coastal, South America, and the Transpacific.

The 12 Most Kid-Friendly Ships

You have some great ideas for where to book your next family cruise, but now the question is which ship specifically is right for your group?

I’m here to help you make this all-important choice by reviewing 12 of the best cruise ships for kids.

1. Disney Dream

Disney magic comes to life on the Disney Dream, an enchanting cruise experience.

The warm, opulent common areas add extravagance to your vacation, while kid-friendly activities and amenities will keep the young ones entertained.

Treat them to Vanellope’s Sweets, a candy shop with walls of candy as far as the eye can see. Disney entertainment comes to the big stages as only this brand can, with costumed characters singing, dancing, and entertaining guests all day or evening.

The staterooms have portholes that allow the kids to glance out at the ocean whenever they wish, and with family-centric amenities at every turn, you might not want to disembark!

2. Wonder of the Seas

The Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas embarks from Cape Canaveral and island hops the entire cruise, including a stop at Perfect Day at Coco Cay, the Royal Caribbean’s own private island only for cruise guests.

Kids will fall in love with the Wonder Playscape, which offers puzzles, games, climbing walls, and slides. Pool decks throughout will let you take a much-needed load off.

Perhaps you and the family are brave enough to try the 10-story Ultimate Abyss water slide!

Some staterooms overlook the majesty of the sea, and others have a virtual balcony. All rooms include Wi-Fi, spa features, and room service.

3. Disney Magic

You have so many ways to experience the wonder of a Disney Cruise Line vacation, including the Disney Magic.

This inviting ship is the home of D Lounge, the family-friendly hangout zone with dance parties, games, and hours upon hours of fun.

The kids can manage the Avengers during the Avenger’s Academy ride, visit the Mickey Mouse Club, receive a makeover at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (knights for boys and princesses for girls), or ride dizzying, spiraling water slides.

The nautical-themed staterooms are cozy and spacious for families, and split bathrooms, portholes, and private verandas also set the mood.

4. Symphony of the Seas

Calling itself “The Sound of Wonder,” the Symphony of the Seas through the Royal Caribbean is new and improved for families.

Hit up Sugar Beach and buy some candy, ride three water slides in one on The Perfect Storm, or learn to hang ten on the FlowRider. You’ll spend the days in the most fun ways possible.

Wonderland has whimsical food the kids will go gaga over. There are cocktails for the parents that are just as inspired.

Snuggle up to the Ultimate Family Suite, which boasts a private game room, a hot tub, table tennis facilities, and karaoke.

5. Mardi Gras

Carnival’s Mardi Gras is one of its latest and greatest creations, so you should expect the ultimate in entertainment.

Take a ride on the Bolt sea coaster for some exciting thrills. You can also spend a sunny day at the WaterWorks water park with a dumping bucket and countless water slides, then close out the day by seeing a show. It’s all waiting for you.

The Family Harbor Staterooms in the Family Harbor Lounge is where you need to be. Kids eat free at most restaurants in the lounge, and you can take advantage of entertainment like board games and movies. Babysitting is also available. 

6. MSC Meraviglia

Departing from Florida, the Bahamas, and Bermuda, set sail for a world of adventure aboard the MSG Meraviglia. This ship sails to New England and Canada and delights the entire voyage.  

Stroll through the 315-foot Galleria Meraviglia promenade, shopping, grabbing a bite to eat, or simply enjoying the beauty of it all.

Dive into the Horizon pool, which is open day and night (although there are dances and parties at night, so maybe visit sans kids).

Your kids will adore the F1 simulators, full-sized bowling alley, sportsplex, and Polar Aquapark with its sloping, looping enclosed slides.

Mini and Juniors Clubs give the kids a safe and fun place to play if you need to drop them off, as the rooms are bright, colorful, and full of toys.

7. Disney Wish

The Disney Cruise Line collection has recently expanded, adding Disney Wish to the ever-growing fleet. This ship has some claims to fame you’ll only find here, such as theatrical Frozen or Avengers -themed dining experiences.

Be one of the first to experience the Disney Unchartered Adventure, an immersive water experience with more than 700 feet of tubes and music, animations, special effects, and lighting. The experience ends by riding down a lazy river, so dress to get wet!

The Hero Zone is another standout the kids should love. They can compete with one another gameshow-style, play on the game floor or playground, and see who’s victorious on the sports court.

8. Carnival Panorama

Set sail to the Transpacific and Mexico on the Carnival Panorama through a Carnival Cruise Line. The 1,055-foot ship that weighs over 133,000 tons will put the whole family in a festive mood.

Laugh until you cry at The Punchliner Comedy Club, which also offers entertainment for adults.

The Carnival Panorama has plenty of Dr. Suess-themed entertainment the young ones will love, such as Dr. Suess Bookville, the Suess-a-palooza Parade, the Suess-a-palooza Story Time, and the Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast.

Zumbini is a Zumba class for kids two to five that will have their little bodies moving and grooving. There’s also a Night Owls overnight stay for the children, which is like one big sleepover!

9. Allure of the Seas

Royal Caribbean International invites families to sail away on the Allure of the Seas, an award-winning ship for family entertainment.

Included with your stay are kids and teen programs and access to the H2O Zone Water Park. The park boasts waterfalls, water cannons, pools, and sculptures the kids can climb. Geysers send water high into the sky, splashing down and refreshing your children all afternoon.

Dry off and play table tennis, ride a zipline, partake in an interactive game show, or watch an outdoor movie under the stars in the pool. The projector screen is 220 feet so there isn’t a bad seat in the house!

10. Norwegian Joy

The Norwegian Joy starts in the Mexican Riviera and wraps up its journey at the Panama Canal but alternately travels from Miami to the Caribbean. The ship is nearly 1,100 feet long and weighs more than 160,000 tons, so she’s quite heavy.

Fostering family togetherness on a ship like the Norwegian Joy is simple. You can take the twists and turns behind the wheel of the Joy Speedway, play a heart-thumping game of laser tag, or tee off at mini golf.

There’s so much more here. The Galaxy Pavilion offers a thrilling race-themed dark ride. Get your kicks at the Aqua Park, a water park for tweens and teens. The Norwegian Joy even has a Kids’ Aqua Park for the little ones.

11. Celebrity Equinox

Make your next family vacation something truly special on the Celebrity Equinox through the Celebrity Cruise Line. Deck 15 has all the amenities a family needs.

For instance, you and the kids can learn how to blow glass at the Hot Glass Studio, which is not something you see on every cruise ship.

How about some croquet or bocce on the Lawn Club? The kids’ club will watch your children between three and 12, offering lunch, dinner, and overnight stays if needed, and the ship even offers babysitting services in your cabin.

12. Norwegian Encore

Traverse the world on the Norwegian Encore, traveling from Alaska to Seattle or from the Caribbean to Miami. Adventure calls on the Encore, including many of the fun activities for families featured on other Norwegian cruise ships.

Cruise Trail

The 8 best family-friendly cruise ships

The best cruise ships for cruising with your family

The eight best cruise ships for families are luxury hotels, restaurants, sports arenas and entertainment venues all rolled into one. Cruise ships today are no less than our holiday escape on a 5-star floating resort.

So which cruise ship is best for you and your family, and who offers kid-friendly cruises?

There is much to consider when choosing how to spend your vacation budget. Especially as you have most likely taken time to save for your dream vacation . Or if this is one of the few times a year you can get the whole family on a fantastic holiday that everyone – old and young – can enjoy together.

Knowing what questions to ask yourself in the planning stage will guide you in making the right choice when picking the best family cruise for you. And our tips below will help you narrow your choice.

We have put together our top 8 best cruise ships for families – and the reasons we think they are great. All of these are kid-friendly cruise lines. Here’s what to expect onboard and in which region these cruise ships sail in 2023. If you find the cruise ship to suit you but not the itinerary you want, check out the sister ships, which offer similar facilities but have different ports of call. That way, you can build your perfect cruise.

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1. Royal Caribbean Cruise Line – Wonder of the Seas

  • Number of guests: 5400

Let’s start with the biggest and best cruise line among these eight best cruise ships for families. Who doesn’t like to sail the ocean in a mini-city and have the best of everything within walking distance? Here is our first vote in Royal Caribbean Cruise Line’s fleet for the best cruise ship.

The Oasis Class – perfect for kids and active families

Sister ship to Harmony, Allure, Symphony, and Oasis of the Seas, which all belong to Royal’s “Oasis” class, Wonder of the Seas gives you some of the best adventures and entertainment at sea. Recommended for families and adventurous, lively couples, Wonder had its maiden voyage in March of 2022. Expensive? Yes. Value for money? Absolutely.

Start with a ten-story high slide thrill in a tunnel, the Ultimate Abyss, that delivers you safely to the boardwalk deck. Learn to surf on their wave riders on the top deck or meet new friends in a glow-in-the-dark laser tag game. Adventure is the name of the game here.

There are great kids clubs, and if you are traveling with teens. They will have their lounge and a new dedicated outdoor deck area where making new friends will be easy. Your kids can even try out a Mission Control Apollo 18 escape room.

The pool decks are fantastic – so good that they get very crowded. Expect a Caribbean-style pool area with more bars, whirlpools, and a variety of seating, including day beds and cabanas.

Family dining and live music

You will be spoilt for choice when dining, but we like Giovanni’s Italian kitchen and wine bar. You get rustic family-style dining with the traditional Italian dishes that everybody loves. Also on offer will be Poolside BBQ and Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade, both highly popular with families.

For music fans, you will love the Music Bar, where you will find live music and fantastic dance floors. The Spotlight Karaoke venue is always a cruise highlight where you can sing your heart out in front of other guests. This is one of the most popular venues onboard Royals ships and is great fun. It is safe to say that Wonder of the Seas offers some of the best family fun at sea.

Cruise destinations for Wonder of the Seas

2. royal caribbean cruise line – voyager of the seas.

  • Number of guests: 3602
  • Year: 1999. Updated 2019

Voyager of the Seas is a great cruise ship amongst the fleet of Royal Caribbean for all types of guests. It’s a classy, elegant ship without being stuffy. You get a luxurious cruise on a ship that has recently upgraded. And offers just the right variety of restaurants, entertainment, sports, and relaxation.

Guest areas such as the Promenade deck, the Royal Theatre, and the fitness area have all been refreshed and refined. And the ice rink – the first at-sea ice rink on any cruise ship – still offers mesmerizing evening shows. The Perfect Storm twin waterslides and laser tag areas have been rebuilt, and a fantastic outdoor space is now exclusively for teens.

Great design, great restaurants

The Schooner Bar, a Royal Caribbean classic, is a must. We love the classical nautical design, ample seating areas, friendly bar service, and excellent atmosphere day and night. But if you’re traveling with teens, visit The Tavern instead, as they will enjoy the big-screen TV sports games. Among all the specialty restaurants onboard, Chops Grill is the firm favorite with our teens.

Cruise destinations for Voyager of the Seas

3. norwegian cruise lines – norwegian encore.

  • Number of guests: 3998

Norwegian Encore is our favorite in the Breakaway Plus class of ships and is the sister ship to Joy and Bliss. If you find an itinerary to your dream destination and are lucky enough to be on one of these ships, you will not be disappointed. These cruise ships are spectacular and authentic works of art.

Thrill rides for an adrenalin rush onboard

To start with, let’s talk about activities. The go-kart track on board gives the kids the adrenaline rush they may seek! There are two water slides – including Ocean Loops, for a real thrill ride. You’ll find four hot tubs and plenty of loungers. On deck 16, there are two large pools, a kid’s aqua park, and bars. At night there are great dance parties on deck.

A speedway track that loops over the ship’s side will give a fantastic experience for those who love speed! This feature alone could win this ship among the best cruise ships for families! The galaxy pavilion is a virtual reality theme park, but there is an extra charge – not really for me, but your teenagers will love it!

Nearer to the front of the ship, you can play laser tag. We recommend making a reservation from your cabin via your TV. The laser tag and the speedway track cost extra, and you can book and pay on board.

The new Galaxy Pavilion offers full och virtual reality experiences. It’s incredible. However, everything is at an extra charge.

A multitude of dining options

You have a fantastic choice regarding their main dining restaurants (no reservation needed). Try the American Dining restaurant – a specialty restaurant with great food and decor reminiscent of a 50’s diner with booths and authentic touches everywhere. I love this place.

On deck 17, we recommend Le Bistro, a French diner for those who want elegant dining and perfect service. Cagney’s Steakhouse is excellent if you prefer a casual atmosphere and offers food to rival any great steak restaurant.

Back to deck 8, you find The Waterfront, a quarter-mile extended outdoor promenade deck that comes into its own at sunset. Relax at the bar at sundown, an excellent place to recharge your batteries before you choose evening entertainment.

If you are a music fan, NCL has built a replica of The Beatle’s famous Cavern Club; here, you can hear Beatles music and listen to the tribute bands. If you love beer, visit the District Brew House, where you are spoilt for choice. And if you never tire of a pub atmosphere, visit The Local for pub-style food and drinks, and you can even try your hand at bowling.

At the Q Texas Smokehouse on deck 6, try authentic Texas-style BBQ and listen to country music. Head to The Social comedy club afterward. We recommend you pay at least one visit to Teppanyaki, where you can watch your entertaining chef’s slicing and dicing skills; it’s a fun family experience with a menu to suit all.

Open-air movies on deck

There is a vast open-air movie screen with plenty of seating; it’s excellent in the evening as the sun goes down. Grab a bite from the buffet restaurant and a glass of wine, and nab a sofa before the crowds arrive. If you need something warmer, we appreciate the Starbucks on board for a warm drink and something sweet to finish the evening. Check out the Southern Night Rock evenings with great music and good snacks.

The Guppies and the Splash Academy kids clubs offer fully supervised activities for your youngsters. Entourage is a parent-free zone, so your teens will have a fun, safe environment to enjoy with other teen guests.

Cruise destinations for Norwegian Encore

  • Southern Caribbean
  • Dominican Republic
  • Panama Canal

4. Norwegian Cruise Lines – Norwegian Jewel

Every cruising family I meet loves NCL Jewel , and that’s why Jewel is on our best cruise ships for families list. It’s a popular mid-size with a capacity of under 2400 passengers; the ship is comparatively small compared to the larger, newer ships. And it may be old (built in 2005) but has undergone an extensive refurbishment in 2018, bringing it to its gleaming glory again. With a more modern, fresher, and lighter decor, Jewel feels more personal than the bigger ships and is one of the best cruise ships we have experienced.

The renovation included building the brand new Pit Stop, an all-American bar reminiscent of the beloved 50s era. This replaced the old Sky High bar and is an exciting addition.

Open 24/7, the O’Sheehans Neighborhood Bar & Grill is great. It’s a relaxed place to eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner and a good party venue in the evening. These are just a couple of the 20 restaurants on board to choose from. Six of these are included in your price, and where you will have great food even if you don’t want to pay extra to try the specialty restaurants.

The Bliss Ultra lounge has replaced the old karaoke lounge, as it is the place where you enjoy more classic dance music.

A smaller ship with exciting itineraries

What we love about this ship as one of the best cruise ships for families is that it is elegant without being flashy. The colors are soft and modern without being cold, and the staff seems at ease, experienced, and with an eye for detail. I loved being on board. It’s smaller than many other NCL ships, with exciting itineraries to more unusual ports.

Smaller ships can dock at ports that don’t allow the bigger ships to dock. So you are likely to find your dream itinerary but note that while there are great kids clubs and pools, there are fewer activities on board, Which means fewer venues for you to visit compared to the Bliss, Encore, and Joy.

Cruise destinations for Norwegian Jewel

  • Mexican Riviera

5. MSC Cruises – MSC Grandiosa

  • Number of guests: 6300

MSC Cruises has a reputation for being a less expensive cruise experience with great kids’ prices. Founded in Italy, MSC is very popular amongst European guests. MSC Grandiosa was launched in November of 2019 and is, in our opinion, their best ship to date. And therefore, it’s here in our summary of the ten best cruise ships.

The glamour of Italy on board

MSC Grandiosa has a stunning interior, full of glamour and highlighted by the sparkling digital sky overhead. As you walk the indoor promenade, look up – the digital LED roof changes view often and are remarkable.

MSC Grandiosa is a big ship. There are enough cabins for over 6000 guests. The vast theatre offers free nightly shows, like most other cruise lines. And while the standard may not be up to the same par as the Broadway shows of Royal Caribbean, they are entertaining.

Cirque de Soleil at Sea

As an alternative, there is a smaller theatre that offers the Cirque de Soleil shows at an additional cost. We recommend booking dinner and the Cirque de Soleil show package from home before you sail, as it is popular. But apart from some of the stand-up comics evenings, we must admit that we mostly gave the theatre shows a miss while on board. We preferred instead to spend time in the bars, lounges, and on the dance floor.

Family-friendly prices

MSC Cruises is very family-friendly, with prices to match. You often have a luxurious family cruising experience at a lower price than Royal Caribbean or NCL Cruise Line. As the cruise line was founded in Italy, the theme of the food in the main dining rooms is Italian too. But coupled with specialty restaurants (12 dining rooms on board), you will be spoilt for choice for cuisine from around the world.

There are some different classes to choose from when booking MSC Cruises. Each cabin class offers different experiences: Bella, Fantastica, or Aurea, and you can read all about what is included in each category on their website.

We have cruised with MSC Cruises several times and are a fan of their Aurea class, including the all-inclusive beverage package, free spa treatment, and a private sun deck. We felt this was well worth the extra.

Cruise destinations for MSC Grandiosa

  • Mediterranean

6. Carnival Cruise Line – Carnival Vista

  • Number of guests: 3934

Carnival is one of the largest cruise companies in the world and is soon celebrating its 50th birthday. With a long history of being synonymous with fun, Carnival Vista offers all the family fun you could wish for on vacation.

With playgrounds for all ages, this fun ship boasts a “sky ride,” a suspended pedal bike track early 50 meters above the ocean. There are numerous colorful activities on board – take the Imax theatre, for example – that keep Carnival attracting families with children coming back for more.

Family Harbour is a family zone offering various room configurations where up to 5 can stay in each cabin. Carnival is one of the cruise lines that cater to large families. You can access the family lounge with movies, popcorn, self-serve ice cream machines, and more.

What we love about Carnival Vista is the endless choices of food venues; you will soon see that this is a cruise ship for families and kids who may be fussy eaters. There is something for you all on board, including you adults, with fantastic piano bars, comedy clubs, and even an onboard brewery.

Havana Cabanas on Vista class ships

We recommend looking at the Havanna category of cabins to book a room if you have children 12 or over. Havana cabins are available only on Vista category ships (Carnival Vista, Carnival Panorama, Carnival Horizon).

The Havana Cabana rooms are spacious, with island-inspired decor and ocean-facing patios. In addition, you have access to a private area designated only for Havana guests: pool, hot tubs, bar area, 24-hour ice cream and pizza, and a breakfast buffet area. Beware! If you are a super-private person, then it’s essential to know that other guests can walk by your area. There is a walkway between your patio and the railings looking over the ocean.

Therefore if you like your privacy, opt for the balcony rooms instead. But if you can afford the extra cost and are very social, we love the additional perks that this area on Carnival Vista offers!

Cruise destinations for Carnival Vista

  • Western Caribbean

7. Princess Cruises – Sky Princess

  • Number of guests: 3660

Much like Celebrity Cruises, Princess ships do not have giant water slides and aqua parks for your kids. But they make up for this in many other ways. The newer vessels are beautiful and modern yet still feel traditional, focusing on good cuisine and service, many activities on board, and fun-packed evening shows.

We recommend the newer Princess ships, and our choice is Sky Princess. We can also expect good things from the latest ship Enchanted Princess, and Discovery Princess is launching in Spring 2022.

A mix of private areas for adults and fantastic facilities for the whole family

Sky Princess is stunning. We feel that you get good value for money on this ship. If you are traveling as a couple, we highly recommend The Sanctuary and The Retreat, private outdoor areas for adults. The main pool area for all guests and families has two deep pools and plenty of space for loungers. In the evening, this area becomes an outdoor movie theatre. It’s one of our favorite spaces onboard among the many.

If you are lucky enough to book one of the two sky suites onboard, you can even get a direct view of the movie screen from your private balcony.

One downside we discovered with Princess Cruises is that they allow smoking inside the casino rather than having a separate room for smokers. So if you adults were considering visiting the casino while the children were using the kids’ clubs, beware that there will be smokers there. If you don’t enjoy being around smokers, this will affect your enjoyment of the casino.

The entertainment is great fun onboard Sky Princess with a good mix of magic shows, comedy, and acrobatics. You’ll also find a basketball court, minigolf, a running track, and self-service laundry facilities (for a few dollars per load, and you buy tokens onboard). And a fantastic Seawalk glass platform on either side of the ship hangs out over the ocean.

Children are entertained in kid-friendly areas of The Treehouse, The Beach House, and Camp Discovery, from tots to teens.

What we love about this ship, too, is the fantastic array of itineraries you can experience when cruising. See the list below.

Cruise destinations for Sky Princess

  • Norwegian Fjords from Southampton
  • Scandinavia & Baltic Heritage
  • Morocco Passage
  • Canary Islands
  • Iceland & Norway
  • Canada and New England

8. Disney Cruise Line – Disney Magic

  • Number of guests: 1754
  • Year: 1998. Updated 2018

Disney is hard to beat regarding family entertainment, nostalgia, and fun. From super musical theatre shows to superheroes (Disney Magic is offering Marvel-themed sailings), Disney offers up the heart-warming quality we have come to expect, year after year, cruise after cruise.

We love Disney Magic for its friendliness and intimacy. While the ship is old, the renovations and modernizations are current.

The family pool area may not be huge, but we don’t think your kids will notice with all the other available activities. And for an escape, the adults can enjoy the larger adult-only pool at the front of the ship.

Service is paramount, as you would expect from Disney, and it’s service with a smile at all times. The staff pays attention to details, and everything in your cabin is geared towards making light of traveling with kids. Everything around you will be Disney, from the music you hear playing, the costume characters in the dining rooms to your Mickey-shaped deserts. So if you can’t get enough of Disney, especially if you have young children, this cruise ship is for you, despite the high-end price tag.

Cruise destinations for Disney Magic

  • Scandinavia and The Baltics
  • Greek Islands
  • British Isles
  • Norwegian Fjords

carnival cruise ships for families

Meet the author: Sarah has created and booked hundreds of travel itineraries for thousands of customers during a career in the travel industry that spans 20 years. Having worked hand in hand with cruise lines, hotels, airlines and tour operators worldwide, she offers inspiring & detailed insights in the world of travel and tourism.

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As a helpful assistant, I am thrilled to recommend “The 8 best family-friendly cruise ships” article by Cruise Trail for any family looking for the perfect vacation getaway. The article lists ships that cater to families with amenities like water parks, themed dining, and children’s clubs. The detailed descriptions and highlights of each ship make it easier to select the best fit for your family’s needs. This article is a perfect guide to make your vacation memorable and enjoyable for everyone.

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7 Best Cruise Lines for Families – Complete Guide

Best cruises for families

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Are you considering a family cruise and wondering about the best cruise lines for families? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. As somebody who has cruised with my family since I was 4, I have unique perspective on what are the best cruises for families and kids.

Choosing a cruise for a family vacation isn’t one size fits all. Whether it’s activities, entertainment or food, we all value different things when we’re on vacation.

With that being said, here are the 7 best cruise lines for families.

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7 Best Cruise Lines for Families

Royal caribbean.

Royal Caribbean Cruise ship freedom of the Seas

Royal Caribbean is the ultimate family cruise line! Whether you’re traveling with young children, teens or young adults , Royal Caribbean ships have something for every family member.

Royal Caribbean cruises are known for being the largest ships and sea. These ships are filled with amazing attractions, large hot tubs and delicious places to eat at.

Another great benefit to cruising with Royal Caribbean is that you will be given the chance to visit Perfect Day at Cococay, which is Royal Caribbean’s private island. On this cruise line private island there is a massive water park with slides, a kid’s water park, beautiful beaches and a huge resort style pool, which is loads of fun.

When it comes to the best cruises for families, it’s hard to beat what Royal Caribbean has to offer.

Activities onboard select Royal Caribbean cruise ships:

  • Surf simulators
  • Ultimate Abyss (10 story dry slide)
  • Ice Skating
  • Rock Climbing
  • Bumper cars
  • Water parks
  • Basketball courts

Royal Caribbean Kids Club and Teen Club Information:

One of the great things about Royal Caribbean is that there is a nursery (on select ships) for children between the ages of 6 months to 36 months.

There are also separate kid’s clubs for children between the ages of 3 to 11. The teen clubs on Royal Caribbean are divided up for teenagers ages 12 to 17 year olds.

Tip: If you’re cruising for the first time with your kids, consider Caribbean, Bahamas or Mexico cruise itineraries for great ports and family beach days.

Best Royal Caribbean Cruises for Families:

  • Oasis of the Seas
  • Odyssey of the Seas
  • Wonder of the Seas
  • Harmony of the Seas

Related: What’s Included on Oasis of the Seas (Free Entertainment, Activities, Food & Drink)

Disney Cruise Line

Disney cruise ship

Disney Cruise Line has great cruises for families with younger children. If your kids are big Disney fans, then they will love a Disney themed cruise!

Onboard a Disney cruise ship, there are pools, hot tubs and water slides. Disney Cruise Line has some of the best onboard entertainment, which is enjoyable for every member of the family.

When it comes to dining options, Disney Cruises are totally different from other cruise lines. There are three Disney themed restaurants onboard which makes dinner a fun and exciting experience.

A Disney cruise is designed for families so everyone will have a great time. Disney has good food, entertainment and activities which makes for the ultimate family cruising experience .

For those who love a beach day and private island experience, Disney’s Castaway Cay is highly rated!

Activities onboard Disney cruise ships:

  • Disney character experiences
  • Waterslides
  • Disney Musicals
  • Disney movies
  • Disney themed deck parties

Best Disney Cruises for Families:

  • Disney Magic
  • Disney Wonder
  • Disney Dream
  • Disney Fantasy

Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival cruise ship

A Carnival cruise is a ton of fun for families and kids! Families that want the ultimate family vacation with all the bells and whistles, it’s best to book one of the newer Carnival cruise ships, such as Carnival Mardi Gras or Carnival Celebration.

However, if you’re a family looking for a more budget minded family cruise , Carnival’s slightly older cruise ships are an amazing value and your best bet. There is so much included on a Carnival cruise .

Either way, your kids will have lots of fun in Camp Ocean, as well as on the water slides and other fun cruise ship activities .

Activities Onboard Select Carnival Cruises:

  • Bolt Roller Coaster
  • Ropes Course
  • Water Slides
  • Sports Court
  • Sky Zone (trampoline park)

Whether it’s getting a burger at Guy’s Burger Joint, heading to the buffet or going to the dining room for a sit down meal, there is something for everyone. Carnival Cruises is known for having many different dining options that every member of the family can enjoy.

Best Carnival Cruises for Families:

  • Carnival Celebration
  • Carnival Mardi Gras
  • Carnival Vista
  • Carnival Panorama
  • Carnival Horizon

Related: What’s Included on a Carnival Cruise – Everything You Need to Know

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carnival cruise ships for families

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian cruise ship

Norwegian Cruise line has some of the best cruise ships at sea! The great thing about Norwegian is that there are things to do for the whole family.

Activities Onboard Select Norwegian Cruises:

  • Virtual Reality

Norwegian has activities for young children as well as for older kids. The first time I cruised with Norwegian, I was a young teenager.

The teen’s club was an absolute blast and there were so many activities to do onboard.

Norwegian is great for younger parents because the entertainment and activities are fun for adults as well. The food on Norwegian is really good and there are plenty of different restaurants to eat at when you’re onboard a Norwegian cruise.

Best Norwegian Cruises for Families:

  • Norwegian Breakaway
  • Norwegian Getaway
  • Norwegian Joy

Related: Norwegian Cruise Line Dress Code: What to Wear on a Freestyle Cruise

MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises has really stepped their game up and is quickly becoming one of the best cruise lines for families. MSC’s newest ships (MSC Seascape & MSC Euribia) have a gorgeous design with plenty of activities to do onboard.

If you’re looking for an affordable family vacation, MSC has a kids sail free program, which will save you a lot of money on your cruise !

Onboard an MSC cruise ship, you’ll find water slides, a sports court, a really fun kid’s club and teen club. The kid’s club area is a great place to leave your children so they can meet new people, do fun activities and play video games.

MSC Cruises makes for a very fun and affordable family cruise.

Best MSC Cruises for Families:

  • MSC Meraviglia
  • MSC Euribia
  • MSC Seascape
  • MSC Seashore

Princess Cruises

Regal Princess cruise ship

Princess Cruises has a reputation of catering to an older crowd. However, like most cruise lines, they do have a kids club. Speaking from experience, it’s actually pretty good.

If you’re planning a family or multi-generational cruise for Christmas, New Year’s or during school break, you’ll find a lot of families and kids onboard.

Princess Cruises has fun family activities, including scavenger hunts and games on the Lido deck. While you won’t have water slides on a Princess cruise ship, there will still be many things for your young children and teens to do.

The teen club on Princess Cruises is an absolute blast and a great way for your teenager to make friends onboard the cruise ship. For younger kids, there is Camp Ocean which has arcade games, video games and couches where children can hang out on.

Best Princess Cruises for Families:

  • Caribbean Princess (splash water park)
  • Enchanted Princess
  • Regal Princess
  • Crown Princess

Related: Best Packing Cubes for Cruises & How to Use Them

Best cruises for families & kids

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises Celebrity Edge

Similarly to Princess, Celebrity Cruises tends to cater towards a more mature crowd. However, Celebrity Cruises still has a lot to offer when it comes to an enjoyable family vacation.

As someone who cruised with Celebrity as a kid and teenager, I’ve always found that they had some of the most fun kid’s clubs at sea.

Generally, a Celebrity cruise will have an older demographic, so I recommend cruising with Celebrity during Christmas or winter break, spring break or the summer.

The great thing about Celebrity is that they have amazing food and service. The food in the main dining room is top notch and they have a delicious alternative menu for younger children.

Best Celebrity Cruises for Families:

  • Celebrity Summit
  • Celebrity Edge
  • Celebrity Apex
  • Celebrity Beyond

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  • Are Cruises Worth it? Pros and Cons – Complete Guide
  • 8 Best Cruises for Young Adults – By a Young Adult
  • 6 Best Cruise Lines For College Students
  • 17 Cruise Ship Cabins to Avoid

Final Thoughts on the Best Cruises for Families

Well there it is, the best cruises for families!

When it comes to family vacations, cruising has been the way my family has vacationed throughout my life. As someone who has cruised a lot, I know first hand that cruising is the best family vacation!

Whether you’re an adult, teenager or young kid, there is something to do on a cruise for every member of the family.

Happy Cruising!

Author Bio: Ethan Schattauer writes about fashion, travel and college advice on the website WhatToWearMen.com . As a frequent cruiser, Ethan shares his unique perspective on what cruising is like for teens and young adults.

P.S. If you found this helpful, please don’t keep it to yourself ;-). Please share on Facebook or PIN to your favorite Pinterest board (share buttons at the top). Thanks so much!

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A cruise line for every type of traveler: How to choose the right one for you

carnival cruise ships for families

  • Cruise lines have their own identities and areas of focus, and some lend themselves more to certain vacation types than others.
  • Royal Caribbean International, Norwegian Cruise Line and Disney Cruise Line are solid options for families.
  • Aurora Expeditions, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea Cruises offer trips with a spirit of exploration at their core.

No matter what kind of vacation you're planning , there's likely a cruise for you.

Whether you want to spend your trip kayaking and scuba diving or prefer to lounge on a sun deck sipping a cocktail, cruise lines have a wide range of offerings. But not every line or ship is right for every passenger.

Cruise brands have their own identities and areas of focus, and some lend themselves more to certain vacation types than others (amenities can also vary from ship to ship within the same line). Here's what to know.

Best cruise line for families

▶ Royal Caribbean International ships have an array of onboard offerings for kids and adults. The line's most recent addition, Icon of the Seas , for example, has been billed as the ultimate family vacation .

The vessel – the largest cruise ship in the world – has an entire neighborhood designed for young families, a large water park and activities ranging from a FlowRider surf simulator to Crown's Edge, where guests can walk more than 150 feet above the ocean. The line's Bahamas private island, Perfect Day at CocoCay, offers plenty of thrills and places to chill , too.

▶ Norwegian Cruise Line also offers a range of activities like free-fall dry slides, go-kart tracks, and high-caliber stage shows. Disney Cruise Line draws on a huge catalogue of stories to bring magic to life on the water, with character appearances, themed dining and special events like Marvel Day at Sea .

▶ Carnival Cruise Line and MSC Cruises also cater to families, and Princess Cruises and Holland America Line are solid options for multigenerational travelers. Mainstream cruise lines generally have kids clubs that are included in the fare, as well.

Best cruise line for adventure and expeditions

Adventure seekers may want to consider expedition ships and lines that offer sailings to less common destinations such as Antarctica .

▶ Aurora Expeditions offers a range of activity-centric itineraries, including Zodiac boat outings, kayaking, snowshoeing and more. Celebrity Cruises, meanwhile, has a vessel designed  especially for the Galapagos Islands .

▶ Operators like HX (formerly Hurtigruten Expeditions) , Lindblad Expeditions and Silversea Cruises also offer trips with a spirit of exploration at their core.

Best cruise line for letting loose

▶ Virgin Voyages offers adults-only sailings and a unique onboard atmosphere with its immersive Scarlet Night celebration and innovative performances . There is also no main dining room or buffet, with a focus on a variety of different food and drinks instead.

▶ Guests can also find parties on other lines, such as Carnival . But the length of the sailing and the time of year play a role in a cruise's vibe. Spring break cruises, for instance, may be rowdier than times when school is in session.

▶ Parties can take different forms, too. Cunard Line , for example, hosts formal gala nights .

Best cruise for rest and relaxation

Upscale cruise lines can lend themselves to a more relaxed and pampering experience. Guests are less likely to encounter rock-climbing walls or ice-skating rinks but will find amenities like pools and carefully curated dining. The following operators are all in that category:

  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises
  • Oceania Cruises
  • The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection

However, even on mainstream lines, guests can often get away from the bustle of the ship in onboard spas and adults-only areas. Luxe ship-within-a-ship concepts like Norwegian's The Haven or MSC's Yacht Club can also offer a more intimate, laid-back experience.

What should I pack for a cruise?: Here are 5 essential items to bring

Best lines for river cruising

River cruising tends to be small-scale and destination-focused.

▶ European river itineraries from lines like AmaWaterways, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises and Viking often stop at a mix of marquee and less-visited ports, so guests aren't fighting crowds the whole time.

▶ In the U.S., American Cruise Lines offers a diverse selection of itineraries, from sailings on the Columbia and Snake Rivers to round-trip cruises from Washington, D.C. Viking also has a ship purpose-built for the Mississippi River .

Nathan Diller is a consumer travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Nashville. You can reach him at [email protected].

The Key Points at the top of this article were created with the assistance of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and reviewed by a journalist before publication. No other parts of the article were generated using AI. Learn more .

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  • Cruises for Families

Royal Caribbean vs. Carnival: Which Cruise Line Is Right for Your Family?

lido decks for royal caribbean and carnival cruise ships; Courtesy of Royal Caribbean and Carnival

Jan 22, 2020

See recent posts by Cortney Fries

You know you want to go on a cruise for your next family vacation, but how do you choose between some of the most popular cruise lines for families ? Carnival and Royal Caribbean are two power players in family cruising , with a plethora of unique activities both on and off the ships. Based on our family’s recent experiences on Carnival Panorama, Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas and Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas, as well some industry expertise, we’ve compared Carnival vs. Royal Caribbean to help you choose the right cruise line for your next vacation.

royal caribbean ship in Beautiful CocoCay island; Courtesy of Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean vs. Carnival: Cost

Royal Caribbean:  “Royal Caribbean’s fares— especially on newer ships—tend to be a bit higher, but with a greater selection of options onboard, some at an added cost (such as room service and specialty dining),” says Erica Silverstein, senior editor at Cruise Critic .

Carnival: Known to be affordable, casual and focused on fun, Carnival was recently named Best Cruise Line for Value by the editors of Cruise Critic. Silverstein says this is due in large part to their budget-friendly fares and wealth of inclusions.

little girl standing in front of cruise ship in port; Courtesy of Cortney Fries

Royal Caribbean vs. Carnival: Kids’ Programs

Royal Caribbean:  Adventure Ocean is Royal Caribbean’s complimentary youth program for ages 3 to 17. Its edu-tainment features programs in art, theater and science. Teens will love socializing in their own spaces, including a teen-only lounge and nightclub. Arcades and 3D theaters bring the action to life and create additional opportunities for tweens and teens to meet new friends.

Cruising with an infant? Order organic baby food , diapers , wipes and other essentials via Babies 2 Go , to be delivered to your stateroom upon arrival.

Late-night group babysitting ensures kids are cared for in the comfort of their staterooms while parents enjoy an evening out. “Royal Caribbean also has a drop-off, extra-fee nursery and free parent-kid play space for under-3s on many ships,” says Silverstein.

Carnival:  Carnival offers Camp Ocean for children aged 2 to 11, where they enjoy games, crafts, music and more in groups divided by age (Penguins: 2 to 5; Stingrays: 6 to 8; and Sharks: 9 to 11). “Carnival is the only line in the industry to allow 2-year-olds to be dropped off at its programs,” says Silverstein. “Counselors will also change diapers.” For tweens and teens, there’s Club O2, with karaoke, sports and even a prom !

Night Owls programming offers nighttime babysitting for an added fee.

Sky zone royal caribbean; Courtesy of Cortney Fries

Royal Caribbean vs. Carnival: Family Activities and Entertainment

Royal Caribbean: Royal Caribbean is an adventure in technology and entertainment. The line offers huge ships with amusement park-like amenities — including many industry firsts — such as the first ice skating rink, rock climbing wall, zip line, aqua theater, surf simulator, and 10-story slide (the Ultimate Abyss) at sea. Glow-in-the-dark laser tag, simulated skydiving, bumper cars, trapeze school and even robotic bartenders are a few of the other unique features you’ll find on Royal Caribbean. Royal Caribbean is also the only cruise line that offers Tony Award-winning shows at sea. You can expect to see Grease , Cats and other Broadway hits.

“Royal Caribbean’s entertainment is second-to-none, recently recognized as the best in the industry by Cruise Critic’s editors,” says Silverstein. (Another) case in point: Royal Caribbean recently launched a new private island experience, Perfect Day at CocoCay , with wild waterslides (including the tallest in North America), blissful beaches, a giant wave pool and a floating helium balloon ride.

Carnival:  Carnival offers traditional cruise ship activities featuring cruise directors that rile up guests in poolside contests and during evening entertainment. Your kids will be able to experience comedy shows and karaoke nights, which include the famous Lip Sync Battle . There’s also Hasbro , The Game Show, plus games and dive-in movies by the pool.

Continuously recognized by Cruise Hive’s Cruise Ship Awards as a fantastic domestic cruise line that delivers fun family experiences, Carnival also won Best Cruise Ship Feature for SkyRide , its suspended cycling experience. Carnival is also known for its Sky Zone trampoline park, available on select ships. For an added fee, kids can jump, climb a wall, dunk a basketball and play dodgeball for an hour. (Our children loved it so much, they went every day, giving us an hour to ourselves!). Silverstein also calls out the popular Carnival partnership with Dr. Suess that includes themed events, such as the Green Eggs and Ham breakfast, a costume parade, and Dr. Suess Bookville, a reading and play area.

Complimentary family fun includes the SportsSquare; with mini-golf, foosball and Ping-Pong; and WaterWorks, with adrenaline-inducing waterslides.

Related: 11 Things You Can’t Forget to Pack in Your Cruise Carry-On

Guys Burger Joint on Carnival Sunshine

Royal Caribbean vs. Carnival: Family Dining

Royal Caribbean: Included dining involves the main dining room, Windjammer buffets and a few other options. For added fees, you can enjoy specialty restaurants such as steakhouses, sushi restaurants and celebrity-chef driven establishments, like Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Italian. My Family Time Dining is a great option for kiddos to eat with their parents for the first 40 minutes, and then get whisked off to the kids club so parents can enjoy the rest of their meal together.

Carnival:  Accolades for best cruise ship dining venue often go to Guy’s Burger Joint, which is free and available on all Carnival ships. The smashed burgers are total kid-pleasers. Carnival offers several other complimentary dining options, which include room service. Don’t miss the signature Carnival chocolate melting cake served in the main dining room!

Stateroom in Carnival Sunshine; TripAdvisor Expert Photo

Royal Caribbean vs. Carnival: Family Cabins and Staterooms

Royal Caribbean: In 2019, Royal Caribbean launched another first at sea: the Ultimate Family Suite on Symphony of the Seas. The luxurious cabin has multiple TVs, video gaming systems, air hockey, a climbing maze, a floor-to-ceiling slide, and two bedrooms to sleep a total of eight guests. It also includes the service of a personal butler.

The price tag is out of most families’ budgets, but don’t worry; there are plenty of family-friendly room options available. “Royal Caribbean has a wealth of cabin selections- many with connecting doors- so families of all sizes and preferences can find a suitable option, at various price points,” says Silverstein. “That’s especially great for multi-generational groups, where you’re traveling with a wide range of family members.”

Royal Caribbean even offers interior rooms with virtual balconies, featuring 80-inch screens with real sights and sounds from outside. This is a great option for those on a budget.

Carnival:  Cabins that connect or sleep up to four or five guests make it easy to cruise with kids on Carnival Cruise Line. (Our family’s cabin, a standard category 8 balcony, included bunk beds for the kids and a king bed for the parents). Bathing and sleeping get even more comfortable when you reserve a family stateroom, featuring five berths (pull-down beds) and two bathrooms, and located in the Family Harbor section of Carnival ships. The Family Harbor Lounge (available on select ships), an area for families to relax with snacks, ice cream and video games .

Symphony of the Seas; Courtesy of Cortney Fries

Royal Caribbean vs. Carnival: The Bottom Line

“Both Carnival and Royal Caribbean are fantastic options for families—with tons to do onboard, and plenty of family-focused features,” says Silverstein. The real difference is in the cost and number of inclusions, so decide which onboard experiences are most important to you and your kids before making your final decision.

Related: 7 Things You’ll Regret Not Packing for Your Family Cruise

Cortney Fries (pronounced “freeze”) is an award-winning Chicago-based writer and mom to two spunky elementary school-age kids. She loves nothing more than traveling with family, having adventures with friends and exploring the outdoors. Cortney believes that you should definitely do things that scare you just a little bit. Follow her on Instagram,  @cortneyfries.

What to Pack for Your Next Trip

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I don't gamble, but I used a casino status match to get a cheap cruise

Katie Genter

As I sat on my balcony looking at the Rock of Gibraltar in the distance, I couldn't believe I'd paid just $72 per night for me and my husband to take a 14-night transatlantic cruise.

Like many other passengers I talked to during the crossing, I'd booked my cheap cruise through a Carnival Players Club offer. My specific offer gave me a "free" balcony room, $50 of casino credit and complimentary drinks while playing in the casino.

For cruise news, reviews and tips, sign up for TPG's cruise newsletter .

But unlike many passengers who booked Carnival Players Club offers, I hadn't gambled my way to a cruise. Instead, I'd used a chain of status matches to get casino status and sign up for a Carnival Fun Match. Then, I obsessively checked the Fun Match cruise offers until I found one I couldn't resist.

Read on to learn how I did it and how you can, too.

carnival cruise ships for families

How I got casino status without gambling

To get a Carnival Fun Match, I needed to submit proof of status in another casino's players club or loyalty program.

I have Caesars Rewards Diamond status, but I don't believe I've ever gambled at a Caesars casino — although I have earned reward credits on hotel stays, shopping and dining in Las Vegas. The truth is my activity with Caesars is far too limited to have earned Diamond status with the program. Instead, I have Caesars Diamond status via a match from Wyndham Rewards Diamond status .

You can earn Wyndham Diamond status through the end of the next calendar year if you stay with Wyndham for at least 40 qualifying nights in a calendar year. However, the Wyndham Rewards Earner® Business Card offers automatic Wyndham Diamond status for as long as you have the card.

I initially held Wyndham Diamond status through a series of status matches that are no longer available, but after using my Wyndham status for the Carnival Fun Match, my status expired. Now, I hold Diamond status as a Wyndham Business cardholder.

The information for the Wyndham Rewards Earner Business Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Caesars now requires you to "have earned Tier Status with your current loyalty program in order for your status to be matched." But Diamond status from holding the Wyndham Business card counts as an earned status to match to Caesars Rewards.

To summarize, I got Wyndham Diamond status via a no-longer-available status match — but you can still get it by holding the Wyndham Business card. Then, I matched this status to Caesars Rewards online. In previous years, it has taken a few weeks for my match to go through, but this year, it took about a month.

Leveraging status matches

With Caesars Diamond status in hand, it was time to request a Carnival Fun Match in the hopes of scoring a free or cheap cruise.

You can register for the Carnival Players Club Fun Match program if you are 21 or older and a legal resident of one of the 50 U.S. states or Washington, D.C. Once you do so, you won't get elite status, but you might get discounted cruise offers. Even if you already are a member of Carnival Cruise Line's VIFP Club loyalty program , you can still register for a Fun Match.

To register, you'll need to input your VIFP Club number and email; if you don't have a VIFP account, you can create one. Either way, check the box for "I would like to receive emails for special offers and/or information from Carnival" to get offers in your inbox.

carnival cruise ships for families

I submitted proof of my Caesars Rewards Diamond status by taking photos of both sides of my physical Caesars Diamond card I'd picked up in Las Vegas. If I had more casino statuses, I could have uploaded more than just one and might have gotten better offers. You'll likely get better offers if you go that route and submit proof of status with other casino loyalty programs.

Related: How to earn free cruises and perks with casino loyalty programs on land and at sea

carnival cruise ships for families

Carnival Fun Match offers

Once you register for a Carnival Players Club Fun Match, you might see offers via email within a week. However, some travelers have reported registering for Fun Match and only receiving discounted cruise offers. You might go through all the effort of status matching and still not get any offers for a "free" cruise.

When I wrote this story, the Carnival Fun Match website said travelers who register will get "drinks included + upgrades + $50 to spend in the casino." You should get at least whichever offer is currently on the Fun Match registration page.

Otherwise, there are no rules or official guidance regarding the types of Fun Match offers you might receive or how long you might receive offers. Each offer you let expire could be the last offer you see. Once you book a Fun Match offer, the flow of offers into your email inbox will likely end ... at least, until you've gone on your cruise and Carnival has assessed your level of play in its onboard casino.

I started getting Fun Match emails in my inbox within a week of registering in January 2022. Until I booked a Fun Match offer in March 2023, I got one to four emails with Fun Match offers per week.

Some Fun Match offers were for cruises starting at $55 per person, per day (plus taxes, fees and gratuities), based on double occupancy. With these offers, I could have gotten complimentary drinks in the casino and bonus cash from Carnival based on how many points I accrued in the casino during my cruise. For reference, you'll earn 1 point for every $2.50 you wager through slot machines.

carnival cruise ships for families

Other offers included a "free" cruise with complimentary drinks in the casino and a $50 FunPlay credit. Some offers even included balcony rooms, although these were more limited than ocean-view rooms, which in turn were more limited than windowless inside rooms.

A "free" cruise, mind you, isn't really free. You'll still need to pay a deposit (which you'll get back in onboard credits), plus taxes, fees and gratuities.

carnival cruise ships for families

After a while, I forgot about the Fun Match offers, as they got hidden in the Promotions tab of my inbox. But once I rediscovered them in late 2022, I checked my cruise offers daily.

You might find hundreds of offers when you click through to see the eligible cruises for a specific offer. Most are usually for cruises to the Caribbean, the Bahamas or Mexico in inside cabins. You can filter by cruise destination, departure port, length of cruise and sail date.

carnival cruise ships for families

You can select an ocean-view room, balcony or suite if they're available for the sailing, but you will often need to pay more to upgrade to these room types.

carnival cruise ships for families

Carnival is not in the business of giving away free cruises if it believes it could sell them for more. The best Fun Match deals will likely be on shoulder-season sailings, last-minute cruises and other itineraries that are unlikely to sell out. Don't expect to find a "free" offer on a popular Christmas cruise or a summer cruise on the line's newest ship.

With this understanding, my husband and I decided that if we were going to accept a Fun Match offer, we wanted a "free" balcony cabin on a transatlantic , transpacific or Panama Canal full transit cruise . We had high hopes and were willing to risk not booking an offer for the chance to book one of these extended cruises with a balcony.

After a few months of daily checks, we saw a Fun Match "free" cruise offer for an April 2024 transatlantic cruise from Barcelona to Port Canaveral (near Orlando) in a balcony cabin. This offer perfectly fit our criteria — a balcony cabin on a transatlantic cruise — so we booked it with a $200 deposit before it disappeared. After all, months of searching had taught me that offers can go away quickly.

carnival cruise ships for families

As you can see, our "free" cruise wasn't free. But even after the $391 in taxes and fees and $406 in prepaid gratuities, we got a great deal on our transatlantic voyage. It cost just $36 per person, per night — and that included meals in the ship's multiple complimentary restaurants, onboard entertainment and transportation across the Atlantic.

Plus, about six months before our cruise, a Chase Offer appeared for Carnival that let us get some cash back while paying for the remainder of our cruise cost.

Related: I earned a 'free' cruise in a ship casino — here's what it cost, plus tips for getting comped

carnival cruise ships for families

Was it worth it?

The Carnival Fun Match was worth it for me. I enjoyed our extended cruise on Carnival Glory and would certainly book another casino offer. It takes patience and stubbornness to wait for the perfect offer that might never come, but I was happy we waited to use my Fun Match offer for a balcony cabin on a 14-night transatlantic cruise.

Once on board, I felt no pressure to gamble despite cruising on a casino offer. You could theoretically never visit the cruise ship casino while sailing on a Fun Match cruise. But since my husband and I had complimentary drinks when playing in the casino as part of our Fun Match offer, we did spend some time at Carnival Glory's Camel Club Casino. I stuck to 1-cent slots, ended up about even and enjoyed a few hard seltzers most evenings.

My limited casino play was enough. I've now started getting new "free" inside cabin cruise offers from Carnival Players Club and am considering booking another cruise if I find the right offer. Panama Canal, here we come!

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A woman went viral sharing how her family was scammed out of her $15,000 Carnival Cruise . She claims that the cruise line won’t refund her or admit fault but has changed its website and policy.

Tiffany Banks was stunned when she realized that the trip she had been planning for a year was canceled without her knowledge and only a day before her family’s flight to catch the boat, she explained in a series of TikToks.

Tiffany Banks on TikTok

She shared that although the company won’t refund her money or “admit guilt” directly to her, they’ve updated their website and policy to better protect customers from having the same issue — which she insists is “admitting guilt without having to admit guilt.”

“Unfortunately, this guest failed to heed well-documented and very common travel safety and security advice,” a representative from Carnival told The Post.

The Kentucky woman was supposed to board the Carnival Celebration ship with her husband and their four kids to stay in the $12,000 Excel Presidential Suite — the ship’s largest room — and enjoy a whole schedule of excursions.

She claims she discovered that her vacation, which had been paid in full, was a wash after receiving a cancellation confirmation about an off-ship excursion, and she called to investigate.

That was when she learned that her trip had been canceled through the cruise line’s online system, which Banks insisted was not her doing.

Carnival allegedly told her the room they had booked was now reserved by another customer and offered the family two interior rooms — the cheapest on the ship — instead, but the mom denied the change feeling it was an inadequate replacement.

She also said that Carnival refused to offer a full refund; their cancellation policy states that no money will be returned within 15 days of the cruise date.

The family flew to Miami and tried to board the ship anyway, hoping for a last-minute solution, but were forced to watch the ship sail off without them, Banks said in a teary follow-up video.

Carnival cruise ship Celebration

A few days later, Carnival called Banks back to explain that she was the “victim of a form of identity theft” — but that there was no security breach on Carnival’s part, according to a recording of the call she shared on TikTok.

That was when she learned that she and her husband had accidentally shared their cruise booking reference number when posting a screenshot of an email with the countdown to their vacation on Facebook a few weeks out, she continued in a recent clip.

The same day they posted the booking number on Facebook, someone created an online Carnival account and added the number to their profile.

Tiffany Banks in a viral TikTok

Then, 48 hours before the cruise sail date, the person canceled the family’s entire cabin booking, the Carnival rep told Banks in the recording.

Banks said Carnival told her that it believes the IP address of the person who canceled was in British Columbia but it was unable to get the identity of the fraudster.

The company offered her future cruise credit for $10,404 contingent on the mom posting on social media “something to the effect of Carnival has now resolved the issue.”

Carnival Cruise website

But Banks said she wasn’t interested and questioned the ease with which someone was able to take over her booking with no verification process.

“We’re not sailing with Carnival ever again,” she said.

Banks claims that the attorney general of Florida has reached out to her as she’s now begun looking into taking legal action against Carnival claiming that she’s fighting for everyone who’s been “screwed” over by Carnival

“This is no longer just about me,” Banks said in a video. “This is me now wanting to really make a company change their policies and do what is right.”

“I would love for this to be a class action because big corporations should not be allowed to just take people’s money.”

In her most recent update, she claimed that people have messaged her and let her know that Carnival has updated their website and emailed people reminding them not to share their booking number in bold letters.

A move she believes is practically an admission of guilt.

“With a busy summer travel season underway, we are reminding our guests about several things to make their travel go smoothly,” a representative from Carnival told The Post.

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Global Air Sourcing Analytics Manager

Company overview.

As the parent company overseeing our nine distinctive brands worldwide, Carnival Corporation plays a vital role in providing integral support and strategic direction to each brand across various departments. We strive to deliver unforgettable happiness to our guests by providing extraordinary cruise vacations, while honoring the integrity of every ocean we sail, place we visit and life we touch. As a member of our team, you will help lead the way in innovative and sustainable cruising, delivering memorable vacations and building borderless connections.

Our Culture Essentials

Joining the Carnival team means embracing our six Culture Essentials, which are the cornerstone values shaping our identity, principles, and actions. These beliefs and behaviors not only define who we are but also unite us as a team, guiding us in decision-making, fostering relationships, tackling challenges, and reaching milestones. These culture essentials propel us toward a shared vision of success, ensuring a collective effort in shaping our future.

  • Respect & Protect
  • Listen & Learn
  • Communicate

Responsibilities

Job description.

As the Manager – Global Air Sourcing Analytics you’ll play a pivotal role within the Global Air Sourcing group. You will harness the power of data and analytics, turning them into actionable recommendations for strategic sourcing. You will enhance, design, and develop meaningful dashboards and data visualizations, analyse the results, and develop recommendations. As the Manager – Global Air Sourcing Analytics, you will work closely with the Strategic Sourcing Team with developing the strategy and implementing those strategies with airlines and GDS partners. You will lead all Global Air Sourcing efforts and projects related to IT, data and systems, and automation, by collaborating closely with IT and other relevant stakeholders.

Essential Functions:

  • Dives into dashboards, reports, data, and trends to uncover opportunities and identifies trends that can shape negotiation strategies, developing actionable recommendations for the Manager – Global Air Sourcing and the Director – Global Air Sourcing by providing analytics and insights, including financial models.
  • Leads all Global Air Sourcing efforts and projects related to IT, data and systems, and automation, by collaborating closely with IT and other relevant stakeholders.
  • Designs and develops meaningful dashboards and data visualizations by importing data from multiple data sources to support the strategic sourcing efforts of the Global Air Sourcing team. Also, writes ad-hoc queries in SQL to obtain the required data from underlying tables. 
  • Ensures data integrity and functionality of new and existing PowerBI dashboards and serves as the Subject Matter Expert for the Global Air Sourcing team and brands with questions related to PowerBI functionality and error resolution.
  • Partners with IT to identify and implement improved analytic tools and data structures, as well as the management of efforts related to the development, maintenance (including researching and resolving issues), accuracy, and hygiene of air data. 
  • Supports the Global Air Sourcing Team with ad-hoc data analytics, extracting data from the Global Travel Database.
  • Participates in the development of short-term and long-term strategic goals in collaboration with the Vice President – Global Strategic Sourcing, Director – Global Strategic Sourcing, and Manager – Global Air Sourcing.

Qualifications:

  • Minimum Education:  Bachelor’s degree; Master’s degree a plus
  • Discipline/Major:  Master’s degree preferred, with an undergraduate degree Finance, Business Administration, Supply Chain, Mathematics, Statistics, Economics, or related
  • Required Certifications:  None
  • Required Years and Area of Professional Experience:  5 – 8 years of experience working with advanced analytics. Strong commercial acumen and PowerBI knowledge required. Excellent verbal and written communication skills and attention to detail. Highly driven and self-motivated, with an entrepreneurial spirit. Air industry experience is required, strategic sourcing and cruise line experience is a plus.

Critical Professional Related Technical/Computer Skills:

  • Proficiency in all Microsoft Office applications, with strong expertise in Excel and Power BI, is required, Tableau knowledge a plus
  • Expertise in Oracle SQL and Oracle SQL Developer (including SSRS and TSQL) is required, providing this person the ability to browse database objects, run SQL statements, edit and debug PL/SQL statements and run reports
  • Expertise in ETL Tools, Power Query, MDX, and DAX is strongly preferred
  • GDS (Sabre / Amadeus) knowledge and experience is a plus

Decision-Making:

Tactical:  Decisions focus on intermediate-term issues. The purpose of decisions made at this level are to help move CCL closer to reaching strategic goals. Outcomes are predictable. After a decision is made by Top Executive Leadership, the next phase is to take the needed steps to implement it.  Examples are: The amount of money required to implement, which advertising agency to promote a new service or to provide an incentive plan to employees to encourage increased revenue.

Physical Demands :  Must be able to remain in a stationary position at a desk and/or computer for extended periods of time. 

Travel:   Less than 25% with non-shipboard travel likely.

Work Conditions:   Work primarily in a climate-controlled environment with minimal safety/health hazard potential. 

The range for this role’s salary $75,900-$125,000.  Offers to the selected candidates will be made on a fair and equitable basis, taking into account specific job-related skills and experience. 

At Carnival, your total rewards package is much more than your base salary. All non-sales roles participate in an annual cash bonus program, while sales roles have an incentive plan. Director and above roles may also be eligible to participate in Carnival’s discretionary equity incentive plan. Plus, Carnival provides comprehensive and innovative benefits to meet your needs, including:

  • Cost-effective medical, dental and vision plans
  • Employee Assistance Program and other mental health resources
  • Additional programs include company paid term life insurance and disability coverage
  • 401(k) plan that includes a company match
  • Employee Stock Purchase plan
  • Holidays – All full-time and part-time with benefits employees receive days off for 7 company-wide holidays, plus an additional floating holiday to be taken at the employee’s discretion.
  • Vacation Time – All full-time employees at the manager and below level start with 14 days/year; director and above level start with 19 days/year.  Part-time with benefits employees receive time off based on the number of hours they work, with a minimum of 84 hours/year.  All employees gain additional vacation time with further tenure.
  • Sick Time – All full-time employees receive 80 hours of sick time each year.  Part-time with benefits employees receive time off based on the number of hours they work, with a minimum of 60 hours each year. 
  • Complementary stand-by cruises, employee discounts on confirmed cruises, plus special rates for family and friends
  • Personal and professional learning and development resources including tuition reimbursement
  • On-site preschool program, wellness center, and health clinic at our Miami campus
  • A comprehensive benefit program which includes medical, dental and vision plans
  • Additional programs include company paid term life insurance and disability coverage and a 401(k) plan that includes a company match
  • Paid vacation and sick time
  • Cruise benefits
  • An on-site fully accredited preschool educational program located at our Doral campus
  • An on-site Wellness Center and Health clinic at our Doral campus

Employee Benefits

Hybrid work environment.

Empowering work-life integration and flexible opportunities for your personal and career success

Wellness Programs

Comprehensive employer wellness programs featuring mental health support and fitness options, including an on-site gym

Cruise Benefits

An array of qualified complimentary and heavily discounted cruise options for the ultimate dream getaway

Parental Programs

Generous parental leave time and adoption assistance programs

Retirement Plan

Secure your future with our exceptional Traditional and Roth 401(k) options complemented by valuable company contributions

Employee Stock Purchase

Invest in tomorrow with the opportunity to purchase Carnival shares at a discounted rate from their fair market value

In addition to the above, we offer PTO and company holidays as well as a variety of medical, dental, and voluntary plans

We celebrate our diverse team of over 160,000 team members representing 150 countries and are committed to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment where people from different backgrounds, experiences, and walks of life can succeed. We know our team members are at the heart of inspiring unforgettable happiness, so we strive to be the world’s number-one choice for hospitality, travel and leisure careers.

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I think one of the great things about Carnival is that you have a leadership team that is down to earth and truly cares about its employees. Balancing their respect for the company’s workforce (ship and shore) with their steep industry and business operations knowledge, and you’ve got a team that can take the company to new heights.

Victoria Director of Global Financial Planning and Analysis Coffee Connoisseur

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Carnival Corporation invests in its people. I started my career here nearly 20 years ago as a deck cadet. Carnival has supported my professional development and provided many career growth opportunities.

Andrew Vice President of Global Maritime Technology Systems History Buff

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I love working at Carnival because its ethos perfectly aligns with my own. The company’s personable leadership, cultural integrity, and sustainability initiatives creates a vibrant environment where you constantly feel motivated and find opportunities to improve.

Kaleigh HESS and Sustainability Quality Assurance Manager Paddle Board Pro

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I am valued as my whole self and not just as my title.

Sandra Executive Assistant Sand and Surf Enthusiast

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IMAGES

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VIDEO

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  28. Global Air Sourcing Analytics Manager

    Carnival Corporation & plc is a global cruise company and one of the largest vacation companies in the world. Our portfolio of leading cruise brands includes Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and Seabourn in North America; P&O Cruises, and Cunard Line in the United Kingdom; AIDA in Germany; Costa Cruises in Southern Europe; and P&O Cruises in Australia.