Obviously, we all know that Disney is the top cruise line for families with kids, especially younger ones, but what other lines have you tried where you and especially your kids had a fantastic cruise?
Was it on Carnival with the Nickelodeon Characters, or possibly Royal Caribbean with the Dreamworks characters?
My grandchildren were only 7 and 9 when we cruised with them and their parents last year, but were already not particularly interested in cartoon characters. We only had their week of school vacation, so our choice was limited to the Caribbean and we chose the MSC Poesia, which had a noticibly more European atmosphere. The children's program was a surprise in that it didn't start until mid-day (sometimes 11, once or twice not until 2) but went long into the evening and even included an overnight slumber party. And since kids sail free, their parents had more to spend on excursions or shipboard. The kids loved everything about it except that there is no separate pool in the kids' area, just a few-inch-deep puddle for the little ones to sit in.
I think planning a family cruise really needs to be researched well. Most lines do a good job. I think younger kids usually have more fun on ships, then the older, inbetween aged kids who are in the youth program .For older teens, who can't drink or get into the disco, it can also be tough.I also think that most lines have programs well suited for kids, with the exception of HAL,and Celebrity.
I have watched kids on Carnival and RCI absolutley enjoy every minute. On HAL, one cruise, we watch an older group moping around,and I couldn't blame them for wishing for more kids to hang with.
While on the media cruise on the Eclipse, I observed a small youth area, and, they admitted, they don't really want to cater to kids.
Summer is a breeze for families, but sailing other times of the year, can be tricky with having enough kids of your kids ages to really enjoy all the lines have to offer.
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I have been on several cruises on Carnival and the childrens program must be really good as you don't really ever see many kids until supper time. When we sailed the Miracle we were told there was 700 children on board and we was like Really??? Where are they all at! lol
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If you have kids I think you are better off sticking to the mainstream cruise lines of Disney (obviously). Royal Caribbean, Carnival or NCL.
Disney's kids programs are so thorough that you may not see your kids at all until mealtime, and even the meals are planned to be full-time "events"
Royal Caribbean has the DreamWorks characters - so it is similar to Disney in the sense that character "experiences" are really one of the top draws to Disney. I would say the dedicated kids experiences are far more elaborate on Disney beyond kid's characters, however. You have the interactive game floors, dress-up parties, crafts, jungle-gym type things, etc far more than any other lines. The showtime entertainment on Disney is also much more child-oriented, although Disnay is a class act and the entertainment is also good for adults.
The Royal Caribbean kid's experience has Dreamworks, but beyond that cannot compare to Disney. They have computer games, dress-up talent shows, movie-time, etc. They also show DreamWorks films in 3D. But only about 1/3 of all entertainment onboard will appeal to kids as opposed to 100% on Disney (which is arguably better for adults).
NCL has the Nickelodeon characters (SpongeBob Squarepants) - but the rest of their kid's experiences is closer to Royal Caribbean than Disney, but they do not have 3D movies onboard.
Carnival's programs are all proprietary, except for the nighttime Hasbro game shows. But during the day as far as I know you will not get much more than the standard computer games, dress-up, karaoke, talent shows, movie night (on a big screen TV in the children's area).
If anyone can elaborate on what I have written here - I appreciate it a lot.
We only had their week of school vacation, so our choice was limited to the Caribbean and we chose the MSC Poesia, which had a noticibly more European atmosphere. The children's program was a surprise in that it didn't start until mid-day (sometimes 11, once or twice not until 2) but went long into the evening and even included an overnight slumber party. And since kids sail free, their parents had more to spend on excursions or shipboard. The kids loved everything about it except that there is no separate pool in the kids' area, just a few-inch-deep puddle for the little ones to sit in.
I think this is very interesting. MSC is VERY European oriented, and the Europeans often do not eat dinner until 9:00 or 10:00 pm - so it makes sense that everything would start and end later.
One thing I think the kids would like is the main showroom entertainment since the Europeans tend to like things like puppeteers and other acts that are not too oriented towards any one culture. You don't have to be an adult to "get it".