The best cruises for families

Frozen cruise to Norway


Calling all Frozen fans. If you still can’t get enough of this Disney phenomenon, join the Frozen-themed voyages with Disney Cruise Line, departing from Dover next summer for the mythical land of Arendelle (Norway to you and I). In addition to the usual cast of Disney characters on board, fans will be able to see Queen Elsa and Princess Anna, along with perky snowman Olaf, at a Frozen-themed deck party, plus magical meet-and-greets around the ship and adventures ashore.
Details: A one-week round-trip sailing from Dover to Norway on Disney Magic costs from £3,549 for a family of four (0844 4883084, virginholidayscruises.co.uk). It departs on May 29, 2016, and calls at Stavanger, Alesund, Geiranger and Bergen
Treasure hunt in Alaska
A high-tech treasure hunt awaits curious kids sailing with Celebrity Cruises (0845 4560523, celebritycruises.co.uk) to Alaska where they can track down clues on a remote island using GPS co-ordinates. This is one of the line’s new Family Tour Challenges — shore excursions aimed at teens and their parents; other options include a Spanish flamenco dance-off and a Venetian gondoliering challenge where, after a little training, you get to punt your own gondola before, no doubt, taking an “unscheduled” dip.
Details: A nine-night cruise from Seward in Alaska to Vancouver, with stops including Juneau and Ketchikan, costs from £9,020 for a family of four, departing from the UK on May 19, 2016. Flights and a pre-cruise one-night hotel stay are included
Skydiving from Southampton
With its dinky bumper cars and skydive experience, Anthem of the Seas is like one big playground for both adults and children, and it will be sailing from Southampton this summer. The newest ship from Royal Caribbean International (0844 4932061, royalcaribbean.co.uk) is full of fun attractions, from its North Star viewing pod that rises 300ftabove sea level, to its rock-climbing wall and surfing simulator. Youngsters from six months to 17 years can be entertained in the kids’ clubs or get physical in roller-skating sessions and circus skills workshops.
Details: A 14-night round-trip from Southampton sailing to the Mediterranean includes calls at Gibraltar, Palma and Cadiz, and costs from £8,496 for a family of four, departing on August 1
Luxury in the Med
Families yearning for the finer things in life can relax on Hapag-Lloyd’s flagship Europa 2, rated by the Berlitz guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships2015 as the world’s most luxurious ship. Young cruisers can dive into kids’ clubs boasting a library, theatre and even a research laboratory, while older children can turn super-sleuths for on-board treasure hunts. Tweens and teens aren’t left out, with special spa treatments and dedicated shore excursions which include snorkelling trips and mountain bike tours.
Details: A nine-day Mediterranean sailing from Venice to Piraeus costs from £5,880pp through Mundy Cruising (020 73997670, mundycruising.co.uk) on September 5. Children up to 11 years are free if sharing a family suite with two full-price adults, while 12 to 15-year-olds pay £43pp. Flights are an extra £350pp
Chefs at sea in Norway
Young cooks can sharpen up their cake decorating skills in Junior Chef@sea classes with Princess Cruises (0843 3742401, princess.com) as part of the line’s educational learning programme aimed at 8 to 12-year-olds, while more cerebral youngsters can opt for its interactive science sessions in chemistry and marine biology. Teens wanting to do their own thing can let off steam with mocktail parties, hip hop dance classes and DJ workshops while tots can enjoy theme nights and movie sessions.
Details: A one-week round-trip sailing from Southampton to the Norwegian fjords, which includes stops at Olden, Hellesylt and Bergen, departs on August 29, and costs from £599 per adult and £99 per child, based on four people sharing a stateroom
Family sailings in the Adriatic
Chic French line Ponant (0800 9804027, en.ponant.com) is welcoming young cruisers aboard its newest mega-yacht Le Lyrial with four family sailings in the Mediterranean this summer. Junior team leaders will organise activities including fishing, pool games and photo workshops, and youngsters will have their own “snug” area to watch DVDs, play video games and read. Older children can take the plunge off the ship’s marina platform to go swimming and snorkelling.
Details: A seven-night Adriatic cruise from Athens to Dubrovnik on August 1 costs from £5,699 per adult, £869 for 3 to 11-year-olds or £3,299 for 12 to 17-year-olds. This is based on accommodation in a “privilege suite”. Flights are included
Dora the Explorer in the Caribbean
Sail off with SpongeBob SquarePants and Dora the Explorer on Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest ship Norwegian Getaway (0845 2018900, ncl.co.uk), which boasts the line’s largest children’s facility. Norwegian’s tie-up with the TV network Nickelodeon guarantees interactive games and messy antics in the signature Slime Time Live!game shows. With a ropes course, rock-climbing wall, waterslides and swimming pools, the ship is perfect for youngsters to get wet and wild before refuelling in 16 dining venues or taking advantage of 24-hour room service and pizza delivery.
Details: A nine-night Caribbean round-trip voyage from Miami, including calls at Tortola in the British Virgin Islands and Nassau in the Bahamas, costs from £1,615 per adult and £1,165 per child aged 2 to 11 years, departing from the UK on May 22. Flights and a one-night pre-cruise hotel stay are included
Aerial cycling in the Med
Frenetic family fun is promised on Carnival Cruise Lines’ new 3,936-passenger ship Carnival Vista (0845 3510556, carnival.co.uk) which boasts the first Imax cinema at sea as well as a high-altitude aerial cycling attraction called SkyRide. Kids can take the plunge in the ship’s expanded water park, the largest in the Carnival fleet, and jump on inflatable rafts to speed through the Kaleid-O-Slide watertube, which is 455ft long. There are family game shows and comedy performances, along with Dr Seuss-themed activities and even a chance to meet the Cat in the Hat over a character breakfast.
Details: An eight-night round-trip Mediterranean cruise from Barcelona, including calls at Naples, Civitavecchia and Marseilles, departs on August 18, 2016. It costs from £4,059 for a family of four, including flights
Kids go free on the Rhine
Plunging underground to explore the catacombs of St Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, and clip-clopping through the city’s cobbled streets in a horse-drawn carriage are two adventures designed to captivate young cruise passengers on sailings along the Danube with German river cruise company A-Rosa (0049 3812026001, arosa-cruises.com). Meanwhile, its offer of free children’s places for under-15s is designed to capture the attention of parents, along with the promise of a host of family-friendly excursions, special family cabins, and a supervised children’s activity programme during the school summer holidays.
Details: A one-week round-trip Danube cruise from Passau, on October 24, includes stops in Budapest, Bratislava and Melk and costs from £1,315 for a family of four or five, cruise-only. Flights are from £115pp
Family suites in Norway
Families will be well catered for on Holland America Line’s new ship Koningsdam (0843 3742300, hollandamerica.com) which launches next year with the line’s first purpose-built family staterooms, each accommodating up to five people and handily equipped with two en suite bathrooms. Ship’s activities include ice-cream parties, pirate treasure hunts, karaoke dance parties and teens-only nightclub events.
Details: A seven-night round-trip voyage from Amsterdam to the Norwegian fjords on August 7, 2016, including port stops at Bergen, Geiranger and Alesund, costs from £1,199 per adult and £399pp for up to three children sharing the same cabin. Flights cost extra

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