5 Family-Friendly Cruise Lines

June 23, 2022  |  Share:

This week, we’re looking at the world’s most family-friendly cruise lines, each offering something for everyone to enjoy.

A common misconception is that cruising is a holiday pursuit only suitable for older generations. Indeed, prior to the 1980s, family-friendly cruises were hard to come by, with many cruise operators struggling to match the suitable-for-all-ages allure of land-based resorts. After all, the leading holiday brands and hotels had the space, the staff, and the facilities to ensure a pleasant experience for all guests.

But with technological advancements in the 1990s and 2000s came onboard swimming pools, miniature golf courses and sports courts. Fast-forward another twenty years, and many ‘mega’ cruise lines are now spoiling children with onboard waterparks, surf simulators and ziplines and taking families to fun-filled destinations across the globe.

For those seeking a family cruise holiday, we’ve narrowed down the five most child-friendly cruise lines based on the kid’s clubs, facilities, accommodation and dining options they offer.

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Edge Kids Club Gril

Children enjoying the facilities at Camp at Sea.

Celebrity has become increasingly popular among families. 

Camp at Sea is the only fully-customisable children’s programme in the industry. The camp is open every day from 9am to 10pm and caters to four age groups: 

  • Shipmates (ages 3-5): Includes arts & crafts and singalongs.
  • Cadets (ages 6-9): Includes a one-of-a-kind nautical programme, campouts and movie nights. 
  • Captains (ages 10-12): Includes scavenger hunts, sports competitions and gaming tournaments.
  • Teens (ages 13-17): Includes culinary classes, silent disco parties and gaming tournaments.  

Cruise highlights:

  • iTake – where up-and-coming Steven Speilbergs can film on a GoPro and edit their footage in the iLounge. 
  • STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) – where forthcoming David Attenboroughs can learn about marine wildlife and ecological conservation.

Accommodation: Celebrity offers 178 connecting staterooms and suites. Combinations include two adjoining Edge Staterooms and Iconic and Royal Suites that comfortably sleep 10. 

Dining: Celebrity offers free dining for children under the age of 5. In Tuscan Grille, children can choose from a separate “Italian Favourites” menu. The line has also implemented children’s pricing in all speciality restaurants.  

Does Celebrity sail from the UK? Yes, Celebrity Silhouette sails from Southampton between April and October.

Celebrity Cruises won Best for Family Programming at the 2021 Travel Weekly Magellan Awards. 

MSC Cruises

MSC Grandiosa F1 Simulator

The F1 Simulator onboard MSC Meraviglia.

MSC is perhaps the most family-friendly cruise line there is. The line’s average passenger age is 43 – more than ten years younger than the industry average! 

MSC annually entertains around 200,000 children from more than 30 countries. The kid’s clubs are open every day from 9am to 11pm and split into five age groups: 

  • Baby Club (ages 0-3): Includes activities centred around music and rhythm.
  • Mini Club (ages 4-6): Includes arts & crafts and LEGO building. 
  • Junior Club (ages 7-11): Includes MasterChef at Sea JUNIORS, a Kelly & Kloe Green Screen Experience, and a Fire & Ice live video game. 
  • Young Club (ages 12-14): Includes sports competitions, dance competitions and gaming tournaments. 
  • Teen Club (ages 15-17): Includes disco parties, karaoke and flash mobs, plus the opportunity to pilot a fast-flying drone at the Drone Academy.

Ship highlights

MSC Meraviglia:

  • Polar Aquapark with three waterslides, including a high-speed champagne flute
  • F1 Simulator
  • Flight Simulator
  • Cirque du Soleil at Sea 

MSC Preziosa:

  • Doremi Castle Aquapark 
  • Vertigo – one of the longest waterslides at sea that also extends over the side of the ship
  • 4D cinema
  • Family discos

MSC Seaside:

  • Forest Adventure Park – a multi-storey waterpark featuring five waterslides
  • Full-sized bowling alley
  • AquaPlay™ – a waterpark for tots 
  • Adventure trail 

MSC Virtuosa:

  • Savannah Aquapark with three twisting waterslides   
  • Himalayan Bridge – a ropes course 
  • Teens Lab – an immersive, tech-filled space
  • Sportplex 

Accommodation: MSC’s Family Cabins accommodate up to 10 people, comprising two or more connecting rooms.

Dining: All main restaurants offer a kid’s menu. Furthermore, with Fun Time Dinners, children can enjoy a buffet-style tea with their new friends. MSC also offers a non-alcoholic drinks package for children. 

Does MSC sail from the UK? Yes, MSC Virtuosa sails from Southampton between April and November and MSC Preziosa sails from Southampton in the winter. 

MSC Cruises won Best Family Cruise Line at the 2018 Wave Awards. 

P&O Cruises

P&O Child with Captian

Captain Wesley Dunlop talking to one of his younger guests.

P&O has also made our list. 

The Reef, run by DBS-checked Reef Rangers, is open every day from 10am to 11pm and comprises four age groups: 

  • Splashers (ages 2-4): Includes slides, toys and books.  
  • Surfers (ages 5-8): Includes a soft play area, puppet theatre and large flat-screen TV. 
  • Scubas (ages 9-12): Includes air hockey, a pool table and computer games. 
  • H2O (ages 13-17): Includes a retro arcade, pool table and computer games. However, guests should note that H2O is exclusive to Britannia.  

Ship highlights


  • SeaScreen – an open-air cinema with a swimming pool
  • Three activity zones – Altitude Minigolf, Altitude Splash Valley and Altitude Skywalk 
  • Mission Control – a multisensory escape room experience with two storylines to suit guests of all ages 
  • Sports Arena


  • SeaScreen
  • Four swimming pools 
  • Playhouse Theatre hosts an array of entertainment, including interactive game shows, talent shows and aerial acrobatics
  • Sports Court 

Accommodation: P&O’s Family Suites accommodate up to 6 people. Family Suites comprising a balcony, two bedrooms and two bathrooms are available on Azura and Ventura. Family Ocean View Suites featuring a sofa/Pullman bed are available on Arvia and Iona.  

Dining: Children can enjoy an early buffet-style tea at the Grab-and-Go restaurant. Or why not treat the whole family to a juicy burger or tasty hot dog at the Poolside Grill?  

Does P&O sail from the UK? Yes, most of the line’s ships sail from Southampton all year round.  

P&O Cruises won Best Family Cruise Line at the 2017 British Travel Awards.  

Princess Cruises 

Princess Cruises Family Cabin

A family enjoying breakfast in their Family Suite.

Princess is a popular choice among multigenerational families. Regarding the little ones, each age group has a designated area: 

  • Camp Discovery (ages 6 months-2 years): Includes Mini-Suites and Full Suites equipped with full-sized bathtubs, high chairs and complimentary baby food.
  • The Treehouse (ages 3-7): Includes a bright, forest-themed play area.
  • The Lodge (ages 8-12): Includes a retro arcade, pool table and large flat-screen TV.
  • The Beach House (ages 13-17): Activities include dance classes, movie nights and parties. 
  • Club 1820 (for ages 18-20). Guests should note that Club 1820 is exclusive to Regal Princess. 

Cruise highlights:

  • Princess has partnered with Discovery™ and Animal Planet™ to bring guests enriching, immersive, once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Shore excursions include getting up close and personal with stingrays in the Caribbean and sloths in Costa Rica. 
  • Princess was also the first cruise line to introduce the Ocean Medallion, a smart wearable device that allows parents to track their children’s whereabouts at the touch of a button.

Accommodation: Princess’ two-bedroom Family Suites accommodate up to 8 guests, offering more living space, a private balcony and two bathrooms with full-sized bathtubs. 

Dining: With OceanNow™, guests can have their favourite meals delivered anywhere on the ship. Additionally, Chocolate Journeys℠ is a sinfully delicious chocolate programme exclusive to Princess Cruises serving homemade gelato, cookies and pastries. Who doesn’t love chocolate?! 

Does Princess Sail from the UK? Yes, Emerald Princess, Enchanted Princess, Island Princess and Sky Princess all sail from Southampton between March and October. 

Princess Cruises won Best Cruise Line for Multi-Generational Family Travel at the 2018 Porthole Cruize Magazine Readers’ Choice Awards. Regal Princess also won Best for Families at the 2020 Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice Awards. 

Royal Caribbean International 

Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas Flowrider

The FlowRider Surf Simulator onboard Mariner of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean is often regarded as one of the world’s best family-friendly cruise lines. 

Adventure Ocean is available to all, including those with special needs. In 2014, Royal Caribbean became the first autism-friendly cruise line. 

The programme is open every day from 9am to 10pm and divided into three age groups:

  • Aquanauts (ages 3-5): Includes face painting, story time and themed parties.
  • Explorers (ages 6-8): Includes science experiments, arts & crafts and themed parties.
  • Voyagers (ages 9-12): Activities include sports competitions, gaming tournaments and talent shows.   

There is also a Royal Babies & Tots nursery and dedicated spaces for teenagers (ages 13-17), including a teens-only nightclub where robotic bartenders serve delicious mocktails.  

Ship highlights 

Anthem of the Seas:

  • RipCord by iFly – a skydiving simulation experience 
  • North Star® holds the Guinness World Record for the tallest viewing deck on a cruise ship 
  • Bumper cars
  • Roller skating rink

Mariner of the Seas:

  • FlowRider surf simulator 
  • Ice skating rink
  • Rock climbing wall 
  • Basketball court 

Oasis of the Seas:

  • Caribbean-inspired pool deck
  • Perfect Storm – a trio of waterslides
  • Splashaway Bay – features waterslides, dump buckets, water cannons, fountains and splash pools (for tots) 
  • Nightly entertainment, including Broadway’s Cats, Aqua80 in the AquaTheatre and the Frozen in Time ice show 

Symphony of the Seas:

  • Ultimate Abyss – the tallest water slide at sea
  • Zipline 
  • Laser tag
  • Perfect Day at CocoCay – a day at Royal Caribbean’s award-winning private island featuring a freshwater pool, an expensive waterpark and a zipline

Accommodation: The Ultimate Family Suite is another highlight of a Royal Caribbean cruise, featuring an in-suite slide, cinema room and ping-pong table. However, guests should note that the Ultimate Family Suite is exclusive to Symphony of the Seas, Spectrum of the Sea and Wonder of the Seas. 

Dining: With My Family Time Dining, parents can enjoy dinner with their children before checking them into Adventure Ocean. The line has also implemented children’s pricing in all speciality restaurants. 

Does Royal Caribbean sail from the UK? Yes, Anthem of the Seas sails from Southampton between May and October. 

Royal Caribbean International won Best Family Cruise Line at the 2017, 2019 and 2021 Wave Awards.

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