Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas Cruise Ship at Port in Portugal - (10 Best Luxury Cruise Lines for Families)

The luxury cruise industry is booming and this upward trend has no sign of abating. Thousands of cruise lovers take to the seas every year but what is more elevating than going on exciting and adventurous voyages in style and glamour with your loved ones including kids? Here is therefore my top pick best luxury cruise lines for families.

Whether you are cruising with your partner, spouse or family, this post highlights the 10 best luxury cruise lines more suitable for your ultimate cruising needs.

While luxury cruise lines have vessels with similar onboard amenities, cruise preferences, programs, packages and regulations are quite different. Not all luxury cruise lines allow children onboard, some are adult only and others are kid-friendly. If you will be cruising with your family, then you should consider which cruise lines are best for your intended family vacation at sea.

Many luxury cruise lines offer various fun amenities and activities for families – partners, spouses, parents and children. This can also include intimate shore-based family-themed activities.

From the lodging to the sun deck, restaurants and other onboard facilities, a family-friendly luxury cruise always puts the care of children in mind and if you are sailing with only your partner, there are cruises or cruise packages for intimate and romantic times at sea.

Before I discuss my final pick for the 10 best luxury cruise lines for families, let’s see which luxury cruise lines other people think are the best for families in the world.

Royal Caribbean Jewel of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas Cruise Ships - (10 Best Luxury Cruise Lines for Families)
Royal Caribbean Jewel of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas Cruise Ships

What do others think are the best luxury cruise lines for families?

According to Forbes’ Annie Davidson Watson, MSC Cruises with its MSC Seascape cruise ship is the overall best cruise line for families while Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection with its vessel Evrima is the best luxury cruise line for families. Royal Caribbean with Wonder of the Seas ship is the best all-inclusive cruise line for families, and Disney Cruise Line with the Disney Wish cruiser is the best cruise line for families with young children.

Forbes also recognizes Celebrity Cruises with Celebrity Ascent as the best cruise line for families with teenagers, Princess Cruises with its Sapphire Princess cruise ship was highlighted as the best cruise line for large families, and the Norwegian Cruise Line with Norwegian Prima as the best cruise for families with different interests.

Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line and MSC Cruises are 5 of the best cruise lines for families according to US News Travel author Suzanne Mason.

Writing for The Points Guy, Erica Silverstein discussed The 5 best cruise lines for families and her top picks include Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, and Norwegian Cruise Line.

Jenni Fielding of Cruise Mummy listed Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, MSC Cruises, P&O Cruises, A-ROSA River Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Costa Cruises, Princess Cruises and Celebrity Cruises as the best cruise lines for families in the world.

And finally, Travel and Leisure’s Patricia Doherty, highlighted Hurtigruten, Adventures by Disney River Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, Lindblad and National Geographic, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity cruises as the 7 best cruise lines for families.

People Having a Nice Time at the Sun Deck of the Norwegian Dawn Cruise Ship - (10 Best Luxury Cruise Lines for Families)
People Having a Nice Time at the Sun Deck of the Norwegian Dawn Cruise Ship

What are the best luxury cruise lines for families?

In deciding the best luxury cruise line to choose for your family vacation, there are a few important things to consider. This includes the amenities aboard the cruise ship, entertainment programs, available lodgings (accommodation), dining options, onboard health facility and what programs or activities the cruise line has for children, teenagers and young adults.

Family cruise vacation options range from small luxury cruise and expedition ships to larger cruise vessels with expansive lodges, sun deck, pools, game rooms, waterslides and a variety of onboard restaurants.

Considering these factors and more, the following are the 10 best luxury cruise lines for families.

People from the Costa Fortuna and an MSC Cruise Ship - (10 Best Luxury Cruise Lines for Families)
People from the Costa Fortuna and an MSC Cruise Ships

1. Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line offers one of the foremost family-themed cruises in the world. The cruise line is not only about its iconic Mickey Mouse and Disney princesses which children get to meet onboard, it also has cruise packages that include entertainment, various family-friendly dining options, kids and youth clubs, splash zones, and waterslides, as well as adult-only areas like pool decks and restaurants where parents can go to relax and unwind.

Disney also offers sporting arenas, first-run Broadway-style shows, movies and musicals, teen spa treatments, theatrical dining and in-room services.

And if you’re sailing with Disney to destinations like the Caribbean, you may experience Castaway Cay, Disney’s family-themed private island in the Bahamas. On Castaway Cay, you can snorkel in a lagoon, relax on the beach or rent a boat, bike or kayak. Teens and children can also participate in various water and beach sports and activities.

If you are thinking of cruising with Disney, you can choose between the cruise line’s three (3) family-oriented cruise ships – Disney Wish, Disney Magic and Disney Treasure.

Disney Wish Cruise Ship – Official Introductory YouTube Video

2. Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean is another well-known luxury cruise line offering family-oriented cruises to amazing destinations. The major highlight of Royal Caribbean family cruises is fun activities including rock climbing, ice skating, zip lining, surf simulators, sky diving, laser tag and go-karts. The cruise line also offers Broadway-style shows and cinemas, and various kinds of dining options.

One of the major programs of Royal Caribbean family cruises is its Adventure Ocean youth program where children in various age groups can have fun and get educated onboard at the same time. The program includes supervised activities, games and parties.

Play areas for kids on Royal Caribbean cruise ships are generous and they may include clubs and spaces for teens and tweens where they can enjoy movies, arcade games, and parties. There are also drop-off nurseries for babies onboard Royal Caribbean vessels.

The cruise line’s Symphony of the Seas, Spectrum of the Seas, Wonders of the Seas and Icon of the Seas cruise ships give families (including the larger ones) enormous space, especially with the Ultimate Family Suite of the three cruise ships. This family suite can sleep eight. Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas are also family-friendly cruise vessels to sail with.

You can also experience the amusement park-like private island of Royal Caribbean at Cococay in the Bahamas.

Icon of the Seas Cruise Ship – Royal Caribbean – Official YouTube Video

3. Carnival Cruise Line

Every day with Carnival Cruise Line is like a “carnival”, no wonder the cruise line’s ships are dubbed “Fun Ships”. Carnival cruises are filled with upbeat and elevating activities for the whole family to enjoy throughout your cruise.

Carnival ships are fitted with enough cabins that can sleep up to five people. You can also book the Family Harbour suite and get (inclusive) access to an abundance of living space and a fully stocked family lounge.

Mostly known for its relaxed and fun atmosphere, Carnival cruise ships feature several fun amenities like waterslides, children’s clubs, a water park and mini-golf courses. You also have the choice of experiencing live entertainment, comedy shows and a variety of dining options.

One of the major highlights of Carnival family cruises is its Seuss at Sea program an exclusive partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises in which families can experience Dr. Seuss Bookville, Ham Breakfast, Green Eggs, story time and a Seuss-a-palooza Parade. Kids love this program!

Carnival Panorama is the most popular of Carnival’s fleet known for its kid-friendly features and supervised programs including a huge aqua park, SkyRide aerial attraction, SkyCourse ropes course and SkyZone (the first trampoline park at sea).

Carnival Cruise Line – Official Promotional Video

4. MSC Cruises

Forbes does not designate the overall best cruise line for families for no reason. MSC Cruises is one of the foremost cruise lines in Europe, South America and other parts of the planet. Though MSC might not be a household name among North American cruise lovers yet, it is a cruise line to be reckoned with for family-oriented cruises, especially with its partnership with LEGO.

MSC cruise ships feature award-winning amenities designed to entertain and keep the family happy for the whole cruise.

MSC Meraviglia, MSC Virtuosa and MSC Seascape are three of the Italian cruise giant family-oriented luxury cruise ships.

The MSC Seascape cruise ship is the North American flagship vessel from the cruise line. The ship features 11 dining venues, 20 bars and lounges, 13 pools and water features, and spectacular shore excursions such as the Excursions Explorer Package, MSC Protectours and MSC Bike Adventours. Seascape also features LEGO programs for kids.

While the MSC Virtuosa cruise ship features the Teens Lab (an integrative tech-filled room for older children with a silent disco and a jukebox), the MSC Meraviglia is known for its Polar Aquapark, a water-based fun facility with three different waterslides including a high-speed “champagne flute”.

All MSC family cruises offer outstanding entertainment and recreational amenities for kids as well as relaxation services for parents like the adult-only spaces, spa treatment, bars and speciality restaurants.

You can also experience MSC Cruises’ private Ocean Cay Marine Reserve if you sail on Seascape. Ocean Cay is a family-friendly reserve with two miles of white sand beaches and endless activities to keep your family happy, refreshed and entertained.

Excursions and Activities – MSC Ocean Cay – Official Video

5. Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line is one of the cruise lines that offers a dynamic, and flexible variety of cruise themes, programs and activities to different families having divergent interests all within the same cruise (ship).

If flexible choice of cruise programs and activities is what you want, the Norwegian Cruise Line might be the way to go for your perfect family vacation.

From a kids’ club to an adult-only sun deck, entertainment amenities, and a private beach club, Norwegian has something exciting for passengers of all ages. For example, you will find on Norwegian cruise ships the Splash Academy for children between the ages of 5 and 12, the Entourage for children 13 to 17 years of age, as well as a spa, adult-only pool, theatre, and casino for adults.

Norwegian Encore, Norwegian Prima, and Norwegian Viva are three of the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet that effectively caters to diverse family interests with a variety of onboard amenities and cruise programs.

These cruise ships offer family-oriented facilities that get children engaged throughout a cruise like a race track, escape rooms, dry slides, waterslides, Topgolf simulator, mini golf course, waterpark, and splash ground. Children can participate in activities like sports, creative play, parties, theme nights, video games, movies, and music and arts.

Norwegian cruise programs such as family nights, scavenger hunts, informal dinners, and shore excursions bring families together and intensify family bonds.

Norwegian Prima Cruise Ship – Norwegian Cruise Line – Official Video

6. Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises is a prominent cruise line in the luxury cruise category and it offers a range of family-oriented cruises. Toddlers, teens and young adults are all considered in Celebrity Cruises’ programs and activities.

With Celebrity Cruises, there is a wide range of activities to delight the whole family. From movie nights beneath stars, disco parties, cupcake decorating, laser mazes, archery tournaments and the cruise line’s flagship Camp at Sea program for youngsters, every day on Celebrity Cruises is a family celebration.

The cruise lines’ Camp at Sea program is organized in partnership with global brands such as Anturus, Xbox, Fat Brain Toys and lots more. Celebrity also offers onboard STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) programs, art projects, cooking groups, and competitions supervised and managed by trained professionals. Teens can also relax and enjoy spa services specifically curated for them.

If you desire an authentic luxury family vacation experience at sea with gourmet dining options, expansive lodgings, and a variety of amenities and fun-filled activities, cruising with Celebrity may be the way to go.

Celebrity Equinox and Celebrity Ascent are two of Celebrity’s family-oriented cruise ships.

Official Launch Video of the Celebrity Ascent Cruise Ship – Celebrity Cruises

7. Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises is a luxury cruise line that offers cruises and itineraries to destinations in Europe, the Caribbean, Asia and more. The cruise line is renowned for its Alaskan voyages and tech innovation – the OceanMedallion.

Two primary family-oriented cruise ships of Princess Cruise are the Caribbean Princess and Sapphire Princess vessels.

On the Caribbean Princess ship, children and families can enjoy offerings like Reef Family Splash Zone, HD Movies Under the Stars, and Camp Discovery Youth and Teen Centre. Another thing that makes cruising with your family on the Caribbean Princess is the line’s Discovery at SEA program in partnership with Discovery Inc. The program includes Animal Planet and Discovery Channel-related programs and activities.

And on the Sapphire Princess, families can enjoy a fun-filled and educative cruise to destinations like Alaska. Children between the ages of 3 and 12 can participate in Camp Discovery, a program in partnership with Discovery Channel. Children of different age groups can also meet their designated lounges. Animal Planet-affiliated shore excursions are also available to families.

Princess Cruises – Official Promotional Video

8. Regent Seven Seas

Regent Seven Seas is an ultra-luxury cruise line offering a 6-star cruise experience to guests and passengers.

While there are strict regulations guiding children’s presence aboard Regent Seven Seas cruise ships, family-oriented cruise programs are organized by the cruise line in selected seasons of the year, especially during summer and holidays.

The ultra-luxury cruise line’s most prominent program in its family travel voyages is the flagship Club Mariner Youth Program intended for children between the ages of 5 and 17. They can participate in a selection of specialized activities ranging from mini-putt tournaments to dance parties and movie nights. Each program is designed and supervised by friendly and professional youth counsellors [Source].

Activities in the Club Mariner Youth Program are designed for children in 3 different age groups. Smaller children aged 5 to 8 can get involved in arts and crafts, get-to-know-you games, prize bingo, group scavenger hunts and pajama parties.

Children between the ages of 9 and 12 participate in activities like survivor challenges, mariner idols, dance parties, dodgeball, individual scavenger hunts, and movie nights.

And, older children aged 13 to 17 are given a designated space with lounges where they can meet and socialize with other children in the age group. Lounge Lizard nights, Club Mariner style casino, sports tournaments, ice breakers, survivor challenges, scavenger hunts and dance parties are some of the activities involved with children in this age group in the Regent Seven Seas Club Mariner Youth Program.

Regent Seven Seas Navigator Cruise Ship in Sydney, Australia - (10 Best Luxury Cruise Lines for Families)
Regent Seven Seas Navigator Cruise Ship in Sydney, Australia

9. Hurtigruten

Hurtigruten is a Norway-based cruise company offering cruises along the coast of Norway, ocean cruises and expeditions to the Caribbean, South America, Europe, Antarctica and more.

If family cruise adventure is your desire, Hurtigruten is a cruise line that has mastered this cruise type, they understand adventure and with an onboard photographer who shares trips and tricks for capturing wildlife photography, you’ll bring home delightful memories of your adventurous family voyage.

MS Santa Cruz II is the primary cruise ship of Hurtigruten providing thrilling voyages to families of varying sizes. The ship offers accommodation and lodges with cabins for singles, couples and families, as well as a generally accessible area where passengers can come together and enjoy the ship’s Sky Deck, Science Centre, fitness room, hot tub and library.

On Hurtigruten cruises, experts and trained naturalists lead excursions, hands-on projects, and tours.

A family expedition through South America with stops in Galapagos and Peru’s Machu Picchu is a common cruise adventure offered by the cruise line.

Hurtigruten Polarlys Cruise Ship in Norway - (10 Best Luxury Cruise Lines for Families)
Hurtigruten Polarlys Cruise Ship in Norway

10. The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection

Classified as the best luxury line for families by Forbes, the Ritz-Carlton is one of the renowned luxury cruise lines in the world. The cruise line allows children of at least six months old onboard its cruise ships.

Evrima, the 298-guests flagship cruise ship of the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection attends to the needs of kids through the cruise line’s Ritz-Kids program. The program involved children-oriented fun-filled and educational activities in a dedicated space on the cruise ship and it encourages children to explore the world around them.

What makes the Ritz-Kids program outstanding is mainly because of the cruise line’s partnership with the Ocean Futures Society of Jean-Michel Cousteau where kids are taught and educated about water, land, local culture and environmental responsibility.

Everything about the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection speaks luxury from the luxurious all-terrace suites, decadent furnishings and a wide variety of sumptuous cuisines.

Ritz-Carlton offers only suites on Evrima and if you dream of a family cruise vacation where you will experience white-glove services including concierge customized air, land and hotel arrangements, this is the cruise line to sail with.

Evrima Suite Tour – The Owner’s Suite – Official YouTube Video – Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection


A luxury vacation at sea can be one of the most gratifying and unforgettable experiences you can give your children, partner or family. Cruising is an incredible way to explore, experience and enjoy the world.

With the number of cruise lines in the world today, this post presents the 10 best luxury cruise lines for families. These cruise lines have onboard family-oriented amenities, programs, activities and services.

From Disney Cruise Line to Royal Caribbean, MSC Cruises and the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, no matter the cruise line you choose to sail with, your family is guaranteed a fun-filled, memorable and satisfying time at sea.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the best luxury cruise lines for families?

Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, Carnival Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Celebrity Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas, Hurtigruten and the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection are the best luxury cruise lines for families.

What factors need to be considered before choosing a luxury cruise line for families?

The five (5) primary factors to consider when choosing the best luxury cruise line for families are onboard amenities, entertainment programs, lodgings and accommodations, dining options, onboard health facilities, and children-oriented programs and activities.

What are the primary amenities on the best luxury cruise lines for families?

The amenities offered by the best luxury cruise lines for families include expansive accommodation (rooms and suites), water sports facilities (e.g. Aquapark, waterslides, and splash zones), boutique restaurants and dining options, entertainment facilities for movies, shows and music, game areas (children clubs, game rooms, and mini golf courses), and relaxation features (sun deck, pool, and spa).

What activities can children (kids) participate in on a luxury family cruise?

Activities that children can participate in on a luxury family cruise vary from cruise line to cruise line and cruise ship to cruise ship. But generally, children on a luxury family cruise are expected to enjoy fun activities such as games, water sports, dance parties, theme nights, movies and music, and educational programs like Celebrity Cruises STEM programs, Princess Cruises Discovery at SEA program, and Ritz-Carlton’s Ritz-Kids program.

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