12 Best Cruises for Families With Young Children—Besides Disney

Cruise lines once might have been known as floating bar-buffets that provided just a few activities for kids as an afterthought. But now almost all cruise lines — not just pricey Disney cruises — offer ships that balance entertainment for adults with activities for kids. From multi-story waterslides and rock-climbing walls to interactive Nickelodeon shows, these ships offer some of the best value for families with young children. The per-person price ranges listed here are based on weeklong Caribbean itineraries.

Typical starting price: $400 to $600
Carnival Dream is an affordable option for families with a few kids in tow. The ship features five-berth, two-bath staterooms, which are cheaper than most suites or adjoining rooms. Other highlights include Carnival Cruise Line’s largest water park and 18-hole miniature golf.

Typical starting price: $400 to $600
Known primarily as a European luxury line, MSC Cruises offers family-friendly Caribbean tours on Divina. The ship features four kids’ clubs, a Smurfs-themed waterpark, and the Virtual World video game arcade. MSC’s best offer, however, is allowing kids 11 and under to sail free on select itineraries.

Typical starting price: $450 to $700
Carnival’s newest ship, Vista, boasts the first IMAX theater at sea, an onboard waterpark, and supervised programs for kids 2 and older. The ship’s Family Harbor cabins provide spacious digs at affordable rates, making this a solid value for families — even if it’s limited to the Caribbean.

Typical starting price: $500 to $700
Refurbished in 2015, Princess Cruise Lines’ Island Princess offers kid-friendly activities like Nintendo Wii tournaments, indoor and outdoor sports, hip-hop dance classes, supervised programs for three age groups, and a live singing competition called “The Voice of the Ocean.”

Typical starting price: $500 to $700
Carnival Breeze maintains the line’s reputation as a leading affordable family cruise option with its WaterWorks aqua park and a Dr. Seuss-themed play area — complete with a “Green Eggs and Ham” breakfast.

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