Dedicated child facilities, larger and interconnecting room options and relaxed dress codes, plus the impressively high levels of service that the top lines are known for, make cruising a refined option for parents who don't wish to compromise on the quality of their time away. Here we look at some of the best family cruise lines for those travelling with children of all ages.
Best for younger kids
Crystal Cruises, Explora Journeys and the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection stand out as excellent holiday choices for families with young children, offering unforgettable experiences that cater to both adults and kids alike. On board Crystal the dedicated kids and teen space offers an engaging programme from four years up whilst Explora Journeys is for ages six and older, with younger children welcome if accompanied by an adult.
Ritz Kids welcomes children aged four to 12 with sessions at an additional charge, all open late into the evening. Slightly larger in ship size, Crystal and Explora boast a variety of gourmet dining options ensuring even the pickiest of eaters will find something to savour, whilst larger and connecting suite options provide ample space for everyone.
Best for active kids
If your younger ones are bursting with energy then an expedition cruise is the ultimate escape. Allowing families to explore the world together, they offer an exceptional range of destinations otherwise impossible to reach. Snorkel with sea lions in the Galapagos, jump into the polar waters of Antarctica, trek to towering waterfalls in Australia or kayak along the coast of Greenland.
Hurtigurten and Hapag-Lloyd both have a Young Explorers programme, although with adventure-filled days on offer no matter who you travel with, the additional luxury offered by Silversea and Seabourn is appealing for parents. On the rivers, Tauck offer tailored family departures as part of their Tauck Bridges programme, designed as enriching trips for all ages. Think riverside biking, treasure hunts around historic castles, art history lessons in the Louvre, making local treats with the chef and more, perfect for young culture vultures.
Best for family groups
Holidaying with a large family group? Why not charter a vessel for yourselves? European Waterways are an excellent option, having been operating luxury barge holidays for between six and 20 guests for more than 40 years. No ordinary boating holiday, here all your meals are cooked by the onboard chef and accompanied by regional wines and an open bar at no additional cost, and daily excursions are arranged on your own private minibus.
Plenty of itinerary options include France, Holland, Italy, Germany and more. Alternatively, there are a number of yachts that hop between the beautiful ports of Croatia's Dalmatian Coast, offering groups of up to 40 plenty of time strolling charming, cobbled streets interspersed with swim stops and relaxing in hidden coves.
Best for grown-up kids
The demands of children differ rather than diminish with age, so to cater for grown-up children we recommend the yachting vibe of SeaDream. Operating two tiny vessels usually in the Caribbean and Mediterranean (although they have an interesting Norway programme in 2025), this is laidback luxury at its finest, with outstanding food and an al fresco style even the most contemptuous attitude towards cruising will overturn.
Exceptional service, an open bar and a marina at the back of the ship help cement the super yacht feel. With such a diverse range of styles and destinations offered there's an option for almost everyone.