The Newest Kid-Friendly Cruise Ships

The Newest Kid-Friendly Cruise Ships

There are more family friendly cruise ships on oceans and rivers than ever before By: Marilyn Green
<p>Most new ships have special family accommodations. // © 2017 iStock</p><p>Feature image (above): The family and multigenerational cruising market...

Most new ships have special family accommodations. // © 2017 iStock

Feature image (above): The family and multigenerational cruising market is stronger than ever. // © 2017 iStock


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The right choices for family accommodations on a cruise ship are as varied as the families themselves. The perfect setup depends on the ages of the family members and their maturity; the personalities of the children; and how much togetherness — or independence — a family wants. Then there are extended families and multigenerational groups. It’s easy to see that family travel doesn’t have one model, but many.

So, with family and multigenerational cruising stronger than ever, the newest ships are debuting with flexible ways to keep these clients happy while being sensitive to the financial realities of taking a family cruise.

It’s vital for agents to stress that the right choice for a family’s “home on the water” does not come down to just the cruise line, but to the ship as well. Designs have changed — in some cases drastically — and, although there are cases where older ships have creative options for families, the ones recently launched and those debuting soon have some truly outstanding new features. One feature that seems completely obvious in retrospect (why didn’t they do this before?) is a full residential area for families, similar to those created for singles and other ship-within-a-ship concepts.

Carnival Vista
Last year, Carnival Cruise Line launched Family Harbor on the 3,936-passenger Carnival Vista. An industry first, the area features a dedicated family space that includes a lounge where families can have breakfast and snacks and enjoy a large-screen television and games.

There’s also a family concierge to help guests set up their reservations for restaurants and shore excursions.

The Family Harbor accommodations sleep up to five. Suites and some of the outside cabins are designed with one full bathroom with a shower and one with a shower/bathtub arrangement. A divider separates the bedroom with two twin beds and two upper bunks from the seating area, which has a sofa bed.

In addition, Carnival ships have a generous variety of connecting cabins of varying configurations, including inside, oceanview and balcony quad staterooms.

www.carnival.com

MSC: Seaside and Meraviglia
This year, MSC Cruises is launching two ships that will sail in North America. For the first time, the ships’ design groups together kids’ and teens’ facilities with a dedicated family area especially designed for their interests. This includes the Doremi Studio Lounge, a lounge for all family activities; Doremi Tech Lab, a site that connects kids with technology; and facilities designed in partnership with companies such as the Lego Group and Chicco.

Both the 4,140-guest MSC Seaside, scheduled to launch from Miami in December, and the 4,500-passenger MSC Meraviglia, arriving in the Mediterranean in June and coming year-round to Miami in 2019, will have modular connected staterooms that can accommodate up to 10 passengers.

The arrangement is available in multiple stateroom categories, and there is a huge range of possibilities, including Family and Super Family Stateroom configurations on Seaside that group two or three staterooms in outside, balcony and inside categories. These rooms accommodate up to six people with combinations of twin/European king beds and single or double sofa beds.

Meraviglia has eight Duplex Suites, each two decks high, with a living/dining room sofa that converts into a double bed. On the second level, the master bedroom can be set up with two singles or a double bed, and there are two bathrooms — one with a tub, and one with a shower — two walk-in wardrobes and a large balcony with a whirlpool tub. The ship also has 85 Super Family Staterooms, with some options in the Yacht Club area.

www.msccruisesusa.com

Photos & Videos
Today's new ships are built with family accommodations in mind. // © 2017 Norwegian Cruise Line

Today's new ships are built with family accommodations in mind. // © 2017 Norwegian Cruise Line

Carnival Vista Family Harbor Lounge // © 2017 Royal Caribbean International

Carnival Vista Family Harbor Lounge // © 2017 Royal Caribbean International

A family cabin on Carnival Vista // © 2017 Amawaterways

A family cabin on Carnival Vista // © 2017 Amawaterways

A Haven Suite bathroom on Norwegian Bliss // © 2017 Norwegian Cruise Line

A Haven Suite bathroom on Norwegian Bliss // © 2017 Norwegian Cruise Line

Harmony of the Seas’ Royal Loft Suite // © 2017 Celebrity Cruises

Harmony of the Seas’ Royal Loft Suite // © 2017 Celebrity Cruises

A family stateroom on an AmaWaterways’ ship used by Adventures by Disney // © 2017 Amawaterways

A family stateroom on an AmaWaterways’ ship used by Adventures by Disney // © 2017 Amawaterways

Celebrity Cruises’ Edge Villa // © 2017 Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises’ Edge Villa // © 2017 Celebrity Cruises

A family room on MSC Meraviglia // © 2017 MSC Cruises

A family room on MSC Meraviglia // © 2017 MSC Cruises

A Family Oceanview room on Harmony of the Seas // © 2017 Celebrity Cruises

A Family Oceanview room on Harmony of the Seas // © 2017 Celebrity Cruises

 

Norwegian Bliss
Norwegian Cruise Line pioneered the ship-within-a-ship concept, so it’s no surprise that the 4,000-passenger Norwegian Bliss, which sails from Miami starting in 2018, has grouped a range of family accommodations near the kids’ club. These include new connecting stateroom options across the categories.

There will be more than 400 staterooms that can be combined on Bliss at all levels, including studios, inside staterooms, oceanviews, balconies, mini-suites and Haven Suites. On the other hand, studios, inside staterooms and oceanview rooms only connect with other cabins within the same category (insides to insides, etc.), while some balcony staterooms can be connected to other balconies, mini-suites or Haven Suites.

Without getting too technical, the flexibility for different room configurations on Bliss is substantial, making the ship perfect for catering to the tastes and budgets of many different types of families and groups. The vessel even offers the 1,458-square-foot, two-bedroom Haven Deluxe Owners Suites and the Haven Two-Bedroom Family Villas — each able to accommodate up to six guests. 

www.ncl.com

Harmony of the Seas
Royal Caribbean International’s new 5,479-passenger Harmony of the Seas, which debuted last year, has 271-square-foot Family Oceanview accommodations for up to six people. Sleeping arrangements include a Royal King bed, a sofa bed and bunk beds in their own area separated by a privacy curtain.

At the other end of the spectrum, Harmony offers a 1,142-square-foot Presidential Family Suite, designed for eight to 14 people, with four bedrooms and four baths. There are two master bedrooms with bathrooms that have tub/shower combos, and the other two bathrooms have showers. The 476-square-foot balcony has a Jacuzzi and a dining table that can seat 14.

There are also 29 two-story Crown Loft Suites that are 545 square feet (or 659 square feet with balconies). These suites have dramatic two-story windows and bathrooms on both levels — one with a shower, the other with both a tub and a shower.

The ship’s two-bedroom AquaTheatre Suites sleep eight, and the balconies have great views of the Boardwalk and AquaTheatre. The accommodations range from 673 square feet to 823 square feet and include two full bathrooms and a large living area with a sofa bed.

For the ultimate space, check out the Royal Loft Suite, the largest accommodation option on the ship at 1,524 square feet. It includes an 843-square-foot wraparound balcony and a grand piano. Two bedrooms on different levels each have their own full bathrooms, both with a shower and a bathtub, and the balcony has a hot tub and a dining table in addition to lounge chairs.

www.royalcaribbean.com

Koningsdam
Holland America Line (HAL) has launched its first designated family accommodations onboard the 2,650-passenger Koningsdam, which debuted last year.

Koningsdam’s Family Ocean View Staterooms have two bathrooms (one with a bath, one with a shower), two twin beds that convert to a queen, a Pullman-style bed and a double sofa bed, sleeping a total of five people. Koningsdam also has 150 connecting accommodations for families who prefer to divide up. In addition, many rooms sleep three or four, and HAL frequently offers discounted fares for additional passengers sharing a stateroom. A cool feature: Families can check out complimentary video games and game players (Xbox or Wii) for use in their rooms.

www.hollandamerica.com

Celebrity Edge
Celebrity Cruises’ revolutionary 2,900-passenger Celebrity Edge, due to launch next year, has a number of new residential spaces that will make families happy, including 174 options to connect staterooms and two new suite categories, plus a suites-only Retreat area.

Connecting rooms of the same category can be opened to one another, including inside staterooms and the new Edge Staterooms with Infinite Verandas. In addition, different combinations appear on Edge, including a dazzling Iconic Suite that can be coupled with a Royal Suite to accommodate up to 10 guests.

The two 2,500-square-foot Iconic Suites each have a wide stretch of glass just above the bridge, where families can share the captain’s view. Each sleeps six people and has two king-size beds and a double daybed, along with two bedrooms and two full bathrooms with a shower and whirlpool tub. The 700-square-foot veranda is over the bridge wing and has a private veranda and a Jacuzzi.

The six 950-square-foot Edge Villas accommodate four guests each and have an elevated master bedroom, two bathrooms, a large living area and a balcony with a private plunge pool. Also, each villa opens into The Retreat Sundeck, a first for Celebrity.

www.celebritycruises.com

AmaViola, AmaStella, AmaKristina and AmaLea
Family cruising has become mainstream on European rivers as AmaWaterways and Adventures by Disney continue their partnership with accommodations designed for families. Adventures by Disney has expanded its itineraries to both the Rhine and Danube rivers this year; the 158-guest AmaViola sails on the Danube, and the new AmaKristina sails on the Rhine.

In 2018, Adventures by Disney will continue sailing on the Rhine on AmaKristina, and it will also add cruises on sister ship, AmaStella. On the Danube, it will switch to AmaLea. Apart from the Adventures by Disney departures, the family-friendly accommodations are available on all cruises onboard AmaViola, AmaStella, AmaKristina and AmaLea.

Each ship is designed with 12 staterooms that have triple accommodations at 235 square feet. The ships also have six sets of connecting staterooms with twin balconies, accommodating families of up to five people; and four suites with sofa beds, allowing up to four to sleep comfortably.

Whether families are looking to be on a river or the ocean; want lots of privacy or something more communal; or have a tight budget or are willing to splurge, travel agents have more options to offer than ever. And with so much complexity in the range of accommodations, a travel advisor has never been more valuable. 

www.adventuresbydisney.com

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