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Choosing the right cabin is tricky under any circumstance -- choosing the perfect room (or set of rooms) for a large family or one with young children is even harder. Can you find a room with a bathtub for your little one without splurging on a suite? Can you fit a crib in your cabin if you're also using the sofa bed? Should your family of five squeeze into one room or book two adjoining cabins? Are any cabins designed with actual families in mind?
With cruise lines introducing new cabin types with every new ship, it's hard to keep track of what your family's options even are. On the plus side, there are now options for every family group, from connecting room configurations to standard cabins with family-friendly amenities to spacious family suites that can fit five, six, eight or more.
To ensure your whole family can rest easy at sea, we've broken down the family lodging options aboard the most popular cruise lines into two types: designated family cabins (rooms or suites intended for families) and family-friendly staterooms (which anyone can book, but may have space and amenities useful for family groups). Read below to find the perfect cruise cabin for your whole crew. And for more advice on choosing the best cabin, read our tips on booking a cruise room for the whole family.
Known for high-adrenaline activities, including rock climbing, zip-lining, surf and skydiving, Royal Caribbean is catering to families with a wider range of activities and cabin categories (37 on some vessels) aboard its newer Quantum- and Oasis-class ships.
Royal Caribbean has some of the biggest family cabins in the industry, with multiple configurations.
Family Interior Staterooms:
Available on Freedom- and Oasis-class ships, these windowless rooms accommodate up to six people, with two twin beds that convert to a king, a double pullout sofa and two Pullman-style bunk beds. The Family Interior Stateroom is the least expensive option for up to six passengers.
Family Ocean View Staterooms:
Available on Radiance-, Voyager-, Freedom- and Oasis-class ships, these cabins feature a picture window and accommodate up to six people, in the same bed configurations as the Family Interiors. These cabins are in the front of the ship, which means you'll feel more motion and may not be best for family members prone to seasickness. Oasis-class ships also feature 290-square-foot Family Ocean View Staterooms with Balconies, which also sleep up to six.
Family Connected Junior Suite with Balcony:
A new suite configuration that debuted in 2014 aboard Quantum of the Seas, it's made up of three different categories of staterooms -- a junior suite, a superior balcony stateroom and a studio cabin (which can actually sleep two) -- that connect to accommodate up to 10 passengers. This is a great choice for single relatives who want to travel with the family, yet have their own space.
Royal Family Suite:
If you have more money to spend, these 560- to 580-square-foot two-bedroom suites (available aboard Voyager-, Freedom-, Oasis- and Quantum-class ships) hold eight people -- two bedrooms with two twin beds that can be pushed together for a king bed and a living area with a sofa bed that pulls out to a double bed. Two Pullman-style beds pull out from the wall and serve as upper level bunk beds. There's a veranda and two bathrooms, one with a bathtub and one with a shower.
The newer Royal Caribbean ships feature stunning two-story Loft Suites that, while not specifically geared to families, can sleep up to six with one or two bedrooms and sofas that convert to double beds. Plus, they have two bathrooms, one on each level. Aboard Oasis of the Seas, for example, the Royal Loft Suite (the largest of all lofts) connects to the adjacent Crown Loft Suite to create an enormous living space that can sleep 10.
Aqua Theater Suites:
Oasis-class ships keep families entertained with suites that overlook the Boardwalk area and AquaTheater water-based performance venue. Inside, the suite can sleep up to eight with two bedrooms, one with additional Pullman beds, and a convertible sofa; it is also has two bathrooms (one with tub), and a living and dining area. Outside, a wraparound balcony features lounge and dining areas and uncrowded viewing of the shows and scene below.
Presidential Family Suite:
This lavish suite fits 14 aboard Quantum of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas, Independence of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas. These suites include four bathrooms (two masters and two bedrooms with twin beds convertible to kings and pull-down bunks), spacious living and dining areas, and huge balconies with alfresco dining tables, hot tubs and wet bars.
Ultimate Family Suite:
The Ultimate Family Suite on the new Symphony of the Seas has to be every child’s fantasy. At a massive 1,346 square feet and spanning two decks, the upper and lower levels are connected by a tubular orange slide. But there's more: a Lego wall, a dining table that converts to an air hockey game, an 85-inch HD TV, swinging basket chairs, table tennis, a whirlpool, a big stack of board games and a climbing maze on the balcony. A vintage-style fridge dispenses cans of Coca Cola, and there's a popcorn maker in the kitchenette. The suite, which is done out in bright shades of tangerine, aqua, pink and red, comes complete with a Royal Genie, or butler. Accommodation comprises a double bed, four bunks in a separate room (with individual TV screens) and a sofa bed, and there are two bathrooms. The suite costs from $40,000 for a week and has proven hugely popular -- and headline-grabbing -- since the ship’s launch in March 2018. Another version will follow on Spectrum of the Seas, launching in 2019, and the most popular aspects may be rolled out to other ships in a more affordable version.
Standard cabins hold a maximum of four people, but Royal Caribbean's Quantum-class ships have many connecting cabins, about 25 per deck, of different configurations -- quads that connect to quads or quads to doubles. Royal Caribbean has plenty of different suite configurations that sleep four if you
simply want more space. One interesting addition aboard inside cabins on Navigator, Quantum and Anthem of the Seas is the "virtual balcony" -- window-size TV monitors playing a live feed of what's happening outside.
- Royal Caribbean's partnership with Dreamworks means that Dreamworks movies and TV programming play on in-cabin TVs.
- Complimentary Pack 'n Plays and minifridges can be delivered to the cabin.
- Diaper bags can be ordered for an additional fee, filled with diapers, wipes, diaper cream and a changing pad. They are delivered to your cabin (you can also order baby food and packs of diapers). With increasing fees for carry-ons and luggage, this is a huge perk if you're flying!
- In-room baby-sitting for children older than 1 year old is available for $12/hour during the day and $19/hour at night.
Norwegian Cruise Line
The laid-back line famous for "Freestyle" cruising, meaning relaxed dress codes and dining whenever and wherever you want, has also seen an increase in families onboard. Norwegian Cruise Line's newest ships feature kid-size furniture in the buffet restaurants, and plenty of larger and connecting cabins.
Norwegian's newest ships -- Escape, Breakaway, Getaway and Bliss -- feature more staterooms that fit five, more connecting rooms and more studios for the single relative who wants to join in the family fun.
These windowless cabins sleep up to four with two lower beds converting into a queen and two Pullman bunk beds. The one bathroom is outfitted with a shower. All family staterooms are located on Deck 12, near the Splash Academy kids club, and most of the staterooms can be turned into connecting rooms.
Most Norwegian ships sleep four in this category, but aboard Escape, Getaway and Breakaway, this cabin sleeps five people, with two lower beds that convert to a queen, a double sofa bed and a Pullman-style bed that drops down from the wall. Family Staterooms are located near the kids clubs, teen club and kids pools. (You'll be thankful not to have to walk across the entire ship with your toddler!) The sleeping area is separated from the living area by a small closet. Family Oceanviews generally come with a bathtub.
These cabins sleep up to four with two lower beds converting into a queen and a single sofa bed and one Pullman bed. The bathroom is shower-only. Look for these near the kids club on Deck 12.
Family Mini-Suite with Balcony:
Similar to the Family Balcony but with more space, this Mini-Suite sleeps four and includes a nicer bathroom with a bathtub.
These suites fit up to eight aboard Pride of America and six on the Dawn-class ships. Aboard Pride of America, Family Suites include a living room with two lower beds that convert to a queen and a double sofa bed, a separate bedroom with two lower beds that convert to a queen, and additional bedding for two more passengers. There are two bathrooms with showers and two TVs. Family Suites aboard the Dawn-class ships have only one bathroom, but it has a bathtub and a shower. Some of the family suites come with a balcony, but not all. All suites on Norwegian ships include the added perk of butler and concierge service.
Two-Bedroom Family Suite:
These suits are available on Jewel- and Dawn-class ships, as well as Pride of America. Each family suite has a living area, dining area, a separate bedroom with a queen-size bed, as well as a separate children's bedroom, a luxury bathroom with bathtub and a second bathroom with toilet, sink and shower. There's also a roomy balcony.
The Haven is Norwegian's exclusive-access suite area, which features a private pool and sun deck and, on some ships, a dining area and lounge. It's found on all ships except for Dawn-class ships and Pride of America. The Haven's Family Villas are like two-bedroom apartments at sea, accommodating up to six people each. Aboard some ships, including Norwegian Jewel and Norwegian Pearl, there's an additional Three Bedroom Garden Villa within the Haven that sleeps eight. Other Haven suites may not be designated for families, but can sleep four to six, or can be connected with adjacent suites for humongous living areas.
Standard cabins hold a maximum of four people. Certain cabins aboard Norwegian Dawn, Star, Sun and Jewel feature dividing curtains, to give Mum and Dad privacy after the kids have gone to sleep. Breakaway and Getaway have many connecting cabins of different configurations for larger families.
- Nickelodeon channel plays on cabin TVs.
- Complimentary Pack 'n Plays are available on request.
- A week's worth of diapers and wipes can be delivered to your cabin for an additional charge.
- Cabins offer ample storage space, including functional box-shaped seats that double as storage.
- Cabins have minifridges to store your own snacks and drinks.
Five of P&O Cruises' seven ships are family friendly: Aurora (although only until 2019, after which it becomes adults-only), Britannia, Azura, Ventura and Oceana. A new, much bigger ship joins the fleet in 2020, also aimed at families. P&O is the quintessentially British line, carrying mainly British passengers and offering some of the best children’s clubs at sea, The Reef, split into a wide range of age groups from just two to 17.
Although they're not actually designated 'family' cabins, Ventura and Azura each have two suites that work perfectly for bigger families. D105 and D106 are spacious balcony suites forward on D deck with an inside cabin and an extra bathroom incorporated. Each one sleeps six.
Although P&O Cruises does not build its ships with interconnecting doors between cabins, there are numerous possibilities for families sharing accommodation.
Many cabins on Ventura, Azura, Oceana and Britannia are suitable for three or four. A good proportion of standard twins have two extra beds that fold down from the ceiling, creating bunks, while the bigger balcony cabins, mini-suites and suites have sofa beds that convert into a double.
The ships are all different; although the amenities you get in your cabin are the same from ship to ship, the décor varies. Britannia, for example, is much more contemporary than its sisters, as the newest ship; more like a smart boutique hotel, while Ventura uses bolder colours and dark wood tones.
Generally speaking, though, outside cabins across all five ships are 137 to 181 square feet and some have fold-down beds; note that when all four beds are used, the lower berths have to be in twin, not double configuration. Balcony cabins are 178 to 237 square feet and many have two upper berths. The bigger superior deluxe balcony cabins (317 square feet, including 36 square feet of balcony) have a divider between the sleeping area and the sitting area, where the sofa bed is, and a bathtub as well as shower, which tends to be easier if you have small children. There are two TVs, too. Suites are perfect for families, if you can stretch to it, and vary from 449 to 753 square feet, with separate lounge area, balcony and a whirlpool bath.
Variations from ship to ship include:
Britannia: All the outside cabins on the flagship have a balcony. There are different combinations of family-friendly cabins. Some insides have four berths -- cosy, but economical. Outsides could come with two upper berths, a double sofa bed or a single sofa bed and just one upper berth.
Oceana: Oceana's mini suites, at 368 to 384 square feet, can accommodate four. For some reason, this is the only ship in the P&O Cruises' fleet that can provide balcony nets, for extra safety for toddlers.
- Children between two and 12 receive a helium balloon, a bag of jelly beans and special brightly patterned bedding as a gift in the cabin.
- Bottle warmers, sterilisers, bed rails, cots, nappy disposal units and baby baths can all be provided; ask at the time of booking.
Cunard's three grand Queens may not seem the obvious choice for families but in fact, they're surprisingly family-friendly, with children's clubs catering to two to 17-year-olds in three age bands and a night nursery for babies of six to 23 months. Each ship has a wide range of accommodation categories, although none of the cabins are specifically labelled for families.
There are three and four-berth cabins across all categories from the cheapest inside to the top Queens Grill suites. Cabins with interconnecting doors are limited to Grills class in order that already lavish suites can be made into entire apartments -- so if you were so inclined, you could, for example, bolt together four enormous Queens Grill suites forward on Queen Mary 2, two of them duplex, to create palatial 3,960 square feet of opulence. It has been done. Limited baby equipment can be provided if you ask at the time of booking.
If you have older children who are happy to sit in a posh restaurant in adult company, go for Britannia Club grade. The 269-square-foot cabins are beautiful, with soothing, contemporary décor and a balcony, and sleep three comfortably on twins and a sofa bed. The advantage of Britannia Club is that you get a dedicated table to yourselves in the Britannia Club restaurants, at which you can turn up any time.
Marella's bright, jolly ships may not be the newest to sail the seven seas but they're completely geared up to families, with everything from baby ballet classes to Captain T, a costumed character who wanders around the ship and poses for photos, and DJ school for teens. There are currently six ships in the fleet. Because they have all been acquired from other cruise lines, they’re all different in terms of configuration, although some features are common to all vessels. Note that it costs £45 to reserve a specific cabin.
Marella Discovery and Marella Discovery II both have two types of designated family suite. The Family Junior Suite on deck 8 sleeps up to six on a combination of twins and a sofa bed. There’s a big balcony and with a total of 419 square feet to play with, plenty of space for a large family.
The two marginally bigger Family Suites, also on Deck 8 and measuring 430 square feet, sleep seven in two separate rooms in a combination of twins, fold-down beds and a sofa bed. These suites have two bathrooms, great for bigger families, and a balcony.
The newest ship to join the fleet, Marella Explorer, has a slightly different configuration. Family Balcony Cabins on decks 9 and 10 are 215 square feet and sleep up to five on a double, a sofa bed and a fold-down bed, and have one bathroom with shower. There are 14 of them, with lovely aft-facing balconies for uninterrupted views over the ship's wake.
There are options for all budgets across the fleet:
Inside and outside cabins have three or four berth configuration and measure 140 to 172 square feet. Some of the bigger deluxe category, at 204 square feet, sleep three and have interconnecting doors. The suites are generously sized – 290 square feet with a sofa that converts to a third bed.
Marella Discovery and Marella Discovery 2
All cabin grades have some accommodation that sleeps three or four, although the smallest insides are tiny, at 129 square feet. A better bet for families are the deluxe and deluxe balcony grades, at 215 square feet, some of which have a double sofa bed. The executive suites are generously sized, at 505 square feet, and sleep four.
Dream is an older ship, with fewer balcony cabins but still has plenty of accommodation that sleeps four. There are 11 suites, all of which are easily big enough for a family of four, from 376 square feet to 430 square feet.
The Balcony Cabins on decks 9, 10 and 12 can sleep three or four and are 172 square feet, whereas the posher Junior Suite Cabin is bigger, at 236 square feet although this one only sleeps three.
The elderly Spirit doesn’t have any cabins dedicated to families but there are possibilities. Several of the deluxe balcony cabins are interconnecting and at 215 square feet each, you'd have plenty of space for a family of four. Several of the spacious deluxe cabins on decks 6, 7 and 8, at 204 square feet are also interconnecting. Fold down beds are available in most other cabin grades.
- Baby cots are provided free of charge if you ask at the time of booking.
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Cruise & Maritime Voyages
Until recently, CMV has aimed its classic, affordable ships firmly at adults but, noticing a trend in multigenerational cruising, has launched a series of family-friendly cruises on two of its ships, Columbus and Magellan. Being older ships, these have a wide range of cabin grades, many of which have third and fourth upper berths. The most basic cabins are, however, a tight fit for two, let alone four.
The Premium Twin Ocean View cabins are a reasonable 188 square feet and conveniently located for the pool and the Plantation Bistro, the buffet restaurant. Several of these have fold-down third or fourth berths. The top cabins are enormous. A Junior Balcony Suite Ocean View is a whopping 372 square feet with bright, contemporary décor and a sofa bed that can sleep two kids.
Most of the lower grade cabin categories have third and fourth berths although these are pretty cosy, at 144 to 171 square feet, particularly if you're grandparents sharing with grandchildren and aren’t necessarily used to living on top of one another.
The Junior, Deluxe and Royal Suites all have an additional sofa bed that can sleep two – but the Queen-sized beds in these are fixed, so can’t convert to twins. These suites are 280 square feet for Junior Suites and 295 square feet for the rest.
Disney Cruise Line
Considered by many to be the gold standard among family cruise lines, Disney pioneered the simple addition of the privacy curtain (dividing the sleeping and living room area) and the family-friendly bath-and-a-half concept -- a sink and toilet in one and shower/tub combo and sink in the other. This goes a long way in getting everyone out the door and reducing the number of daily arguments.
Disney "quint" cabins range from 200-square-foot family staterooms that feature Pullman-style pullout bunk beds to the luxurious 1,000-plus-square-foot concierge-level Royal Suite, with private veranda and separate master bedroom.
Every cabin on a Disney ship could be considered a family cabin, but some are specifically flagged as family-focused accommodations.
Deluxe Family Oceanview Cabin with Veranda:
Five fit into this 300-square-foot stateroom with balcony. There's a queen bed, double convertible sofa and upper pull-down bunk bed.
Deluxe Family Oceanview Cabin:
The balcony-less version of the Deluxe Family Ocean View Stateroom (found only on Disney Dream and Fantasy) offers 241 square feet of space and one or two round portholes, deep enough for built-in window seats. There's a queen bed, single convertible sofa, wall pull-down bed and upper pull-down bunk bed in cabins that sleep five; some only sleep three or four without the pull-down beds.
Concierge Family Oceanview Cabin with Verandah:
All Disney ships now offer larger family suites that offer additional perks -- priority boarding and tender service, 24-hour concierge, access to a private sun deck and delivery of entire meals from the restaurants via room service. The Concierge Family Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah measures 306 square feet (including the balcony) and sleeps five with a queen bed, double convertible sofa and upper pull-down bunk bed.
Many cabins that sleep five and up are not actually designated Family Cabins. For example, Concierge Royal Suites, the fleet's largest staterooms, accommodate five aboard Disney Dream and Fantasy, and up to seven passengers aboard Magic and Wonder. One Bedroom Suites with Verandas are 620 square feet with a balcony and two full bathrooms, one with a whirlpool tub. It sleeps five in a master bedroom with a queen bed and a living area with a double pullout sofa and a single bed that pulls out of the wall.
Disney ships feature some 500 connecting cabins. Larger families and groups traveling together will find ample quint and quad cabins that connect to doubles and triples.
And if you're a family of just three or four on a budget, Disney has worked its magic on interior cabins. These 184- to 214-square-foot cabins feature "Magic Portholes" aboard Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy. These are flat-screen TVs made to look like a porthole window, which display views of what's happening outside (as seen by cameras mounted on the exterior of the ship). Kids will particularly love the occasional Disney character that pops up on the screen.
- All cabins feature Disney's bath-and-a-half, with most having a bathtub in one of the bathrooms.
- Complimentary crib or Pack 'n Play, bottle warmers and diaper pails for in-cabin use are available on request.
- Beds are elevated to provide more storage.
- Room service will deliver kids menu items, including macaroni and cheese and Mickey ice cream bars, as well as pureed food for babies.
- "Babies Travel Light" add-on package allows parents to pre-order baby supplies and have them delivered to the cabin.
- Disney Channel and Disney movies are available on stateroom TVs.
- Bathroom amenities feature Disney characters.
Celebrity's 11 ships serve a more upscale crowd and are known for having more sophisticated cuisine, amenities and activities than its sister line, Royal Caribbean. Yet its terrific kids programs still make it a hit with families.
Celebrity's cabins are considered some of the most spacious at sea. The line's well-designed family cabins provide plenty of privacy and space.
Family Veranda Cabins:
These spacious 575-square-foot suites are available on all Solstice-class ships. These are the only staterooms that fit five. They have two bedrooms, a large veranda, one bathroom and a living area with a pullout double sofa. The master bedroom has a queen bed and the second bedroom has a single bed. This is a particularly nice setup for a family with kids of different ages. The smaller child can sleep in the second bedroom, while older kids stay up and watch TV. Family Verandas can connect to Double Ocean View Cabins. These cabins have one bathroom with a shower. The Family Veranda Staterooms on the Millennium ships (Celebrity Constellation, Celebrity Millennium, Celebrity Summit, Celebrity Infinity) are smaller, only 271 square feet, but they feature a whopping 210-square-foot veranda for your own front porch at sea (opposed to the standard 38-square-foot veranda). These staterooms include two lower beds that convert to a queen, floor-to-ceiling sliding-glass doors, a sitting area with two sofa beds that convert to full-size beds and a privacy partition between the two sleeping areas. Aboard Millennium, Family Veranda Staterooms fit five, have one bathroom with a shower, but unlike the Solstice class ships, they do not connect with any other cabins.
Most Celebrity ships have, on average, 60 to 80 connecting rooms with a variety of configurations. All room categories on Celebrity ships, from Inside to Ocean View, Veranda and Suite class, can hold four passengers, except for the Aqua Class. Typically, a room for four would have a king and a double pullout sofa. These rooms have one bathroom with a shower. Suite category rooms and higher would also have a full-size bathtub.
- In-room baby-sitting for up to three children is available for an additional fee.
- Kids menus are available via complimentary room service.
- Complimentary Pack 'n Plays are available on request.
MSC CruisesMSC Cruises goes out of its way to be family-friendly on its fleet of 15, soon to be 17 big ships. Look out for imaginative combinations of accommodation (although what's available does vary from ship to ship) as well as kids' clubs for every age group and some extremely competitive pricing for families, including single parents. The array of cabins and the packages associated with them is bewildering, though; packages determine where your cabin will be, and what you'll have included. Decor varies across the fleet, too, although it's generally inoffensive. Also, note that only generic shampoo and liquid soap are provided in dispensers, even in the suites. If your children have sensitive skin or if you require baby shampoo, you'll need to bring your own.
MSC Magnifica, which is sailing from the UK in 2018, has eight family suites measuring 291 square feet and sleeping four, with a partition in the middle to create some privacy, and one bathroom with shower.
The newest ships in the fleet, MSC Seaside and MSC Seaview, have several clusters of interconnecting balcony cabins, so you can join three together to create one big family suite sleeping up to 10.
Super Family Cabin:
MSC Preziosa and sister MSC Divina both have 90 Super Family cabins, comprising two interconnecting triples with two bathrooms and two balconies, creating a big space for a large family, or a multigenerational group. These cabins are sold as one unit, regardless of occupancy.
Executive and Family Suites:
In the Yacht Club, MSC’s very desirable ship-within-a-ship complex of suites, the two-room Executive and Family Suites (on MSC Preziosa, MSC Divina, MSC Splendida and MSC Fantasia) range from 484 to 570 square feet, with a bathroom with tub and fixed panoramic windows – and a Nintendo Wii console. This is what’s so good about MSC; the highest cabin grades in the Yacht Club, with butler service, a dedicated restaurant, bar, deck area and pool, are entirely family-friendly.
Cabins with sofas that convert to beds or pull-down bunks with ladders are available across the fleet, in most categories, from ocean view to the bigger suites; pretty well all the suites in the Yacht Club categories sleep either four or six. On MSC Magnifica, a family of four could occupy a balcony cabin, at up to 161 square feet, with balcony space of up to 84 square feet. All of MSC's newer ships have been designed with several sets of interconnecting cabins if you need more space.
- A new Baby Laundry service washes clothes of children up to age six in a special machine.
- Dedicated children's menu.
- Family-friendly excursions.