Family Cruises

by Margaret Backenheimer and J.D. Brown

Mar 1, 2019
Cruising

MANY CRUISE LINES are only too happy to keep the whole family entertained these days, as some 42 percent of parties now sail with children under 18. Mid-sized to mega-sized ships offer the widest range of programs and facilities dedicated to kids and teens, although these playgrounds at sea are not the only option. Some all-inclusive luxury liners and smaller expedition ships are also family-friendly.

Among major premium line choices, Disney Cruise Line takes center stage. Not only do Mickey and friends roam the decks, but dashing figures from Star Wars and the superheroes of Marvel Comics also come to life. Especially popular with children ages 4–11, Disney runs programs for every age group, from babies to teens and beyond, capped by its 1820 Society, which sponsors exclusive get-togethers for passengers ages 18–20. Although Disney dedicates nearly a full deck of space exclusively to kids, many onboard activities bring families together, from themed deck parties, Broadway-style musicals and character breakfasts to mother-daughter and father-son spa treatments.

Disney’s top rivals offer plenty of kid-friendly diversions, too. Royal Caribbean International’s big ships feature some spectacular attractions, including bumper cars, zip lines, rock climbing walls and ice rinks. Norwegian Cruise Line’s Splash Academy teaches circus skills, from tumbling to juggling, that children (ages 3–17) then perform in a special show for parents. Holland America Line and Princess Cruises both offer extensive kids’ clubs and slightly lower-key, more “mature” activities. Princess, for example, provides Ping-Pong and bocce as well as family shore excursions with Animal Planet-themed tours focused on whales, sharks and other wild critters.

While high-end, all-inclusive cruise lines lack the full onboard facilities and array of programs for children of the larger mainstream operators, several are quite welcoming to parents with kids, especially on summer and holiday cruises. Celebrity Cruises maintains “fun factories” for children and a GenNXT program for 18- to 20-year-olds. On the final evening of some voyages, Celebrity’s Parents Night Out gives parents a night of dining and entertainment to themselves while children attend a pizza feast and slumber party on their own. Many of Crystal Cruises’ luxury sailings also set aside special spaces with Junior Activities programs for 3- to 17-year-olds that include water polo and teen discos.

A third but rarer option is an expedition cruise designated as a family adventure. Forget water parks and disco parties; instead, these educational cruises focus on parents and children interested in exploring nature, both separately and together. On select Galápagos and Alaska sailings, for example, Lindblad Expeditions’ National Geographic Global Explorers Program enables kids to earn a Zodiac “driver’s license” while recording wildlife sightings and participating in guided field activities on shore.

Introducing

FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Daily
Sep 21, 2019

New Luxury Residence Hotel Opens in Tribeca

AKA, the luxury hotel residence brand, opened its sixth property last month, AKA Tribeca —formerly the Smyth Hotel.

The Island of the Knights

Welcome to Rhodes, a medieval treasure beautifully preserved throughout the centuries. Rhodes is the capital of the Dodecanese, an island ideal not only for those who want to relax, but also for those looking for an action-packed holiday! With its bright green hills, rich green valleys and uninterrupted line of golden beaches, Rhodes is truly a blessed place. “The sun island” has more sunshiny days and milder temperatures throughout the year than any other location in Greece. It is, after all, one of the country’s easternmost places and among the first to welcome summer on its impressive beaches. Add in the excellent facilities for tourism, the island’s special blend of cosmopolitan and traditional, and numerous cultural and archaeological sites, the most important being the Medieval (Old) Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and you’ve got the perfect holiday destination. While on Rhodes, don’t miss a daytrip to nearby Sými. An island of sponge divers and seamen, Sými used to have 30,000 inhabitants before the Second World War and was the richest island in the Dodecanese, despite its small size. Today, Sými attracts many visitors thanks to its beautifully preserved Neo-Classical buildings and the famous Archangel Michael monastery at Panormitis.

Feature
Sep 20, 2019

Coming Soon: America’s First Solar-Powered Airport

As harmful to the environment as air travel is, some airports are taking measures to become more environmentally conscious. One example is Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where an adjacent solar farm powers certain airport operations.

TAP Air Portugal Adds 15 Flights Each Week From U.S., Canada

TAP Air Portugal is adding 15 new weekly flights from the United States and Canada by summer 2020,  a new record for the carrier of 71 weekly flights between North America and Portugal.

Feature
Sep 18, 2019

Joint Venture between American Airlines, Qantas Gets Green Light

Three years after an initial rejection, in mid-July the U.S. Department of Transportation approved a joint venture between American Airlines and Qantas Airways.

To New Heights

United Airlines announces a number of new routes.

eFlyer Deals
Sep 18, 2019

New Delhi Package Offers

This New Delhi property offers visitors four options to pass the time.