Most new ships have special family accommodations. // © 2017 iStock
Feature image (above): The family and multigenerational cruising market is stronger than ever. // © 2017 iStock
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.