There’s a new generation of cruise ships about to be unleashed, targeted directly the youngest generation of cruisers. And their parents of course, who foot the bill.

So who is the best cruise line for kids?

Princess Cruises has announced details of the new Sun Princess. In a big departure for the premium line, it boasts three levels of wonderland of rides, slides, high-octane activities, and gravity-defying features.

To add to the excitement, Disney Cruise Lines is also Australia-bound, tapping into the increasingly lucrative family market down under. Fares have just gone on sail with expectations of a Taylor Swift style sell out.

But with Virgin Voyages and Viking setting sail in the opposite direction, with adults-only cruises, it’s sparked a bit of a debate, if not rumors of a mutiny among loyal cruising guests.

The question now is whether the lucky thousands of kids onboard the family-friendly vessels will be left satisfied and jumping out of their skin for days.

So, as a mum, I’m going to ask the question – which cruise line offers the most competitive deal for young sailors?

And what will it deliver in terms of bang for the buck for the parents paying the bill? Let’s explore.

While itineraries and prices are yet to be released for Aussie sailings, the focus for the world’s biggest cruise lines in 2024 seems to be the Mediterranean.

I’ve created a hypothetical situation – let’s set sail from Barcelona and compare the deals on offer across the biggest and best kid-market cruise offerings.

Is Princess Cruises the best cruise line for kids?

On the new Sun Princess, a seven-night voyage from Barcelona to Rome, departing June 1, 2024.

So for the lowest ‘no frills’ fare with all core Princess experiences, you’ll pay $1,557 per person for a twin share interior room, and $1,563 per person for any additional two guests onboard the Sun Princess.

This includes taxes, fees and port expenses valued at $141 per person.

The cruise includes stops at four ports throughout Spain, France and Italy.

You can also get your usual onboard dining options, cruise entertainment, Medallion Class experience and fitness facilities.

Of course, the kids will have access to the youth and teen clubs for ages 3-17.

So what’s not included?

There are a number of things not included in the price. This includes:

  • Specialty dining restaurants
  • Beverage packages
  • Wi-Fi
  • Shore excursions
  • The Spa and Sanctuary
  • Laundry

However, if you want to upgrade to Princess Plus to include all these extras, you will pay a starting rate of $2,142 per person for an interior room, based on a family of four.

Onboard features

The amenities and activities on the Sun Princess are sure to impress even the hardest-to-please little princes and princesses.

Firstly, the standout new feature is the Roll-Glider, which is like a zip line that glides you around the upper and outer reaches of the ship on the ship’s top deck.

Here are some of the other things on the ship:

  • Waterparks
  • Rope climbing fun parks
  • New multi-purpose enclosed dome for entertainment
  • Glass-shaped and sun-filled piazza
  • High-tech immersive entertainment arena for theatre productions
  • Infinity pool
  • Certainly, there are age-appropriate kids clubs are also onboard catering to the littlies in Firefly Park, the Tweens in the Neon Grove and The Underground for the teenagers

Is Disney Cruise Line the best cruise line for kids?

Fares went on sale for the general public on June 26 for 2024 itineraries on Disney’s seven-night cruises from Melbourne to Eden, Sydney, and Hobart.

Prices start from $2,760 per person twin share.

In fact, to compare the price of a Disney cruise in the Mediterranean, here’s how it stacks up.

On a seven-nights from Barcelona, including stops in Spain, Italy, and France, departing May 25, 2024.

Prices start from $2,626 per person based on a family of two adults and two kids for an interior stateroom, not including taxes, fees, and port expenses.

So the price includes all standard dining options onboard, entertainment and productions, movie screenings, fireworks, pools, waterslides and splash zones, 24-hour room service, and kid’s clubs catering for kids aged 3-17 years.

So what’s not included?

Some of the things that aren’t included in the Disney Cruise Line’s offerings are:

  • Specialty kids experiences
  • Virtual sports simulator
  • Adult-exclusive dining and bottled water
  • Alcoholic beverages and specialty drinks
  • Wi-Fi
  • Spa services
  • Tips and gratuities

Onboard features

The Disney Dream is like all Disney ships in the fleet, heavily focused on the Disney character themes and family-based experiences.

  • Live shows
  • Disney movies
  • Character experiences
  • Fireworks
  • Family-friendly dining
  • Youth clubs
  • Freshwater pools
  • Aqua-play areas and waterslides are designed for kids and adults
  • Adult-only dining venues
  • Spa
  • Sports and fitness areas
  • Nightclubs and lounges

Best Cruise Line for Kids with Disney

Is Royal Caribbean the best cruise line for kids?

Promoted as the biggest and boldest cruise line at sea that caters to families.

Here’s how it stacks up with seven-nights from Barcelona including stops in Spain and Italy, departing June 23, 2024.

Prices start from $2,421 per person onboard Oasis of the Seas based on a family of four in a shared interior stateroom.

There is a $100 service fee additional per person.

This includes all standard dining onboard, entertainment and productions, 24-hour room service

So what’s not included?

  • Shore excursions
  • Specialty Dining
  • Wi-Fi
  • Alcoholic and specialty beverages
  • Spa services
  • Tips and gratuities

Onboard features

Following a renovation – now called Amplified Oasis of the Seas, there’s plenty to entertain every age group including:

  • The Perfect Storm Waterslides
  • Ultimate Abyss
  • Playmakers Sports Bar and Arcade
  • Splashaway Bay Aquapark
  • Laser tag
  • Escape rooms and kids clubs for all ages

Royal Caribbean with kids

Is Norwegian Cruise Line the best for kids?

NCL offers 9-day cruises departing Barcelona, including ports in Spain, Italy and France onboard Norwegian Escape, departing 26 May 2024.

So the total starting price for a family of four in an inside stateroom is $1,623 per person – which, if broken down to the equivalent comparison of a seven-night cruise, would be $1,420 per person.

Taxes and fees and port expenses are not included, so add on another $292 per person, bringing the cost to $1,712 per person for the best starting price comparison.

What’s not included

You can purchase plenty of additionals that will make your life a lot easier on your NCL voyage.

Yes, Norwegian is offering “Free at Sea” packages. This can include:

  • Beverage packages (for guests 21 years and over) up to the value of USD$1400
  • Specialty dining for free for the first two guests valued at USD$160
  • Shore excursions credit of USD$50 per shore excursion per stateroom
  • WiFi package valued at USD$130 to be used anywhere on the ship
  • A free USD$200 onboard credit to be used towards shopping sprees, spa treatments, casino credit, and more
  • However, tips and gratuities, are not included

Onboard features

Norwegian Escape had a remodel in 2022 and has been awarded Best Contemporary Cruise Ship by Travvy. This is what they offer:

  • Over 19 different dining options are available onboard
  • Free Fall Aqua Park
  • Multi-level sports complex and Walk The Plank
  • Mini kids Aqua Park and a special teen retreat called Entourage with music, video games and dance parties
  • Mini golf
  • A ropes course
  • Splash Academy is a kids club designed for ages 3-12 years and includes circus training

Norwegian best cruise line for kids

So regardless of whether you’re opting for the more all-inclusive options from the list above.

Indeed, if you’re after the biggest and newest ship, one thing’s for certain.

The main players in the cruise industry are pulling out the big guns when it comes to wooing the family-friendly market.

In summary, for all the parents out there who are looking for the ultimate escape that won’t break the bank, this is very welcome news indeed. Let the games begin!