Holiday & Leisure

Cruises for the Whole Family – All Aboard!

Cruise holidays offer family fun by the bucket-load with enough attractions and distractions to keep everyone happy – young and old. Andy Harmer, Cruise Lines International Association UK and Ireland director gives us the lowdown.

Never before has there been such a wide choice of family-friendly ships bursting with exciting activities that promise to wow even the most energetic youngsters.

Children can make a splash in onboard water-parks, whizz down hair-raising waterslides, try their hand at go-karting and even take a ride on the first-ever rollercoaster at sea.

The largest of cruise ships even boast surfing simulators, ice-skating rinks, dodgem cars, laser-tag arenas and escape rooms.

From Babies to Teens

Camp Discovery, Princess Cruises

Tiny tots are catered for admirably on cruise ships in nurseries that take babies from six months old and toddler play areas, while kids’ clubs are aimed at children from two or three years upwards and split into different age groups with a full programme of parties, scavenger hunts and games.

Specific entertainment aimed at younger tastes includes special theatre productions, family-themed competitions and game shows, along with 4D cinemas and giant deck movie screens showing some of the latest releases.

And teens can hang-out in their own chill zones where adults are banned and spend their evenings in nightclubs serving alcohol-free mocktails.

What’s Included?

For families, great though as it is, it’s not all about the onboard entertainment. Flexible dining and buffet restaurants are also a massive appeal, as families are free to choose their own routine without being hampered by set meal times or dress codes.

Kids Fountain, Carnival Cruise Line

Food is included in the price of the cruise and with such a wide choice, from burgers and pizzas to salads and world cuisine buffets, there’s enough to tempt even the fussiest of eaters. Free soft drinks and complimentary ice creams are the icing on the cake – and there are lots of those too!

Family-friendly cabins come with sofa beds or bunks that drop down from the ceiling to cater for groups of up to four or five, while more spacious alternatives are inter-connecting rooms or swanky suites with that may even have their own on-balcony hot tub.


Sailing from a UK port makes holidaying at sea even easier, especially when travelling with young children – and you can guarantee their excitement at going to sea and watching other ships come and go in ports of call.

Being able to visit so many destinations with minimal hassle is another big plus, and parents can choose whether to go ashore as a family or leave their offspring in the kids’ clubs while they go off to explore. Several lines also offer family-orientated shore excursions designed to appeal to a younger audience, with outings to water parks, animal attractions or daredevil activities for budding adventurers.

With so much on offer, it’s not surprising that family groups are turning multi-generational as grandparents increasingly join such gatherings on ships which cater admirably for all ages from babes in arms to octogenarians and everyone in-between.

Cruising, it seems, has grown up to offer the best value family holidays around.

Top tips

If you are new-to-cruise, then it might be a good idea to book through a travel agent rather than direct. With so many options available, their knowledge and expertise could prove invaluable. Plus, they might have some good deals not available direct with the cruise lines.

Check out for great advice on choosing the right cruise for you.

Cruise lines with good family and child friendly facilities include:

Princess Cruises –

Royal Caribbean –

Carnival Cruise Line –

Norwegian Cruise Line –

Royal Caribbean –

Main image at top of page – Splashaway Bay SM, Royal Caribbean International