Best Cruise Lines and Ships for Families (and Toddlers)

Traveling with kids can be a really stressful experience no matter where you choose to visit. However, cruising provides one of the best family vacations out there. It’s a really easy, low-stress way to travel even with a toddler or baby in tow.

With so many different cruise lines and ships available, it may seem like an overwhelming process to choose the right one. So, what is the best cruise line for families? This post will detail the amenities and features you need to consider when choosing kid friendly cruise line!

Kid Friendly Entertainment

Each Disney ship has three Broadway style production shows that are entertaining for the whole family. These shows include popular characters and Disney songs that keep even small kids entertained. It’s so nice to have evening entertainment options that are fun for both kids and parents!

dancers performing in water
Royal Caribbean Aqua Show

Royal Caribbean also features kid friendly entertainment like their aqua shows and ice skating performances. However, we didn’t really find their other nightly shows as kid friendly as those on Disney Cruise Line. The good news is the Royal Caribbean ships features lots of fun activities like a carousel and mini golf that you can enjoy instead of evening entertainment


Cruise lines do not allow children who aren’t yet potty trained in their pools for obvious sanitary reasons. Therefore, if you are cruising with a baby or a toddler, you have to keep them out of the swimming areas. This can be a difficult task, especially if your toddler has an older sibling who is able to use the pools. I know my toddler does not appreciate being left out of her big sister’s fun!

Nemo’s Reef Splash Area on the Disney Fantasy Cruise Ship
Nemo’s Reef on the Disney Fantasy

Disney Cruise Line has really solved this problem for parents of little ones. Each of their cruise ships offers a designated water play area where babies and toddlers can splash and play.

baby splash pad on Oasis of the Seas
Oasis of the Seas Splash Pad

Some of the Royal Caribbean ships have water play areas for babies and toddlers as well. However, Disney is the only cruise line that provides water fun for babies and toddlers on every single ship.


If you don’t have little kids, not having access to a bathtub on vacation may not be a deal breaker for you. However, if you are traveling with babies or toddlers who normally take baths, this can be a big deal. Disney Cruise Line offers bathtubs in their staterooms (even in the least expensive cabins) so that parents can easily bathe their little ones.

Bathtub on the Disney Magic
Bathtub in one of the split bathrooms on the Disney Magic

Most cruise ships offer only showers in their staterooms unless you pay to upgrade your room to a suite. You can always pack an inflatable tub if you aren’t going to have access to a bathtub. However, this extra item is not needed with Disney Cruise Line.

bathroom in junior suite on Oasis of the Seas
Bathroom in Junior Suite on Oasis of the Seas

Many of the Royal Caribbean ships also feature tubs in their Junior Suites. While these rooms do a cost more than a regular cabin, the junior suites are often reasonably priced, and they offer great amenities.

Dining Rooms

The dining rooms on the Disney cruise ships offer a kid friendly ambience. Some of them even have dinner shows! Each of the Disney ships includes a dining room called Animator’s Palate. This restaurant entertains guests during their dining time with interactive shows like Turtle Talk with Crush.

Rapunzel’s Royal Table on the Disney Magic
Rapunzel’s Royal Table on the Disney Magic

In addition to Animator’s Palate, the Disney Wonder, Disney Magic, and Disney Wish have themed shows based on the movies Princess and the Frog, Tangled, and Frozen respectively. If your kids don’t love sitting through lengthy meals in restaurants, these shows provide a great source of entertainment to make the meal more enjoyable for everyone! (When sailing with Disney, you get to rotate through each of their dining rooms so that you are able to experience all of them.)

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Disney Cruise Planner

While the main dining rooms on other cruise lines offer kid friendly menu items, we have found that this is an area where Disney Cruise Line excels compared to other ships. We even found the Royal Caribbean dining rooms to be lacking in terms of dining activities (like coloring sheets) for kids.

Cruise Rooms for Kids

I already mentioned above that Disney Cruise Line provides bathtubs in their staterooms, which is a huge benefit to families cruising with toddlers and babies. The staterooms on the Disney cruise ships also offer some other great features for families. In your cruise cabin, you will find a curtain to easily separate the living space from the sleeping area.

Towel animal in a Disney Fantasy stateroom.
Towel animal from pirate night. You can see the stateroom’s curtain in the back.

This thick curtain is great at blocking out light and noise if you have kids needing to nap or go to bed early. Additionally, if you book a deluxe stateroom with Disney Cruise Line, your cabin will include two bathrooms. This makes it nice when family members are all trying to get ready at once.

Concierge Family Oceanview Stateroom on the Disney Magic
Concierge Stateroom on Disney Magic

One bathroom contains a toilet and a sink/vanity area. The other bathroom houses a shower/tub and another sink with vanity. I have also found that the Disney Cruise Line staterooms provide lots of storage for clothes, toiletries, baby necessities, toys, and anything else you may be traveling with.

Royal Caribbean features lots of great rooms for families; however, most of them are extravagant suites that come with a hefty price tag. If you can swing a junior suite on Royal Caribbean, you’ll be able to enjoy a curtain divider in the room as well as a huge closet for storing your family’s belongings.

Special Touches

We always find that Disney really caters to kids, which makes the parents’ vacation so much more relaxing. No matter where you are on the ship, you will see special Disney touches. From the pool deck parties to the lobby entertainment, every aspect of the cruise is family friendly. In fact, you get to experience some of these special Disney moments on embarkation day before you even board the ship!

Castaway Cay beach
Castaway Cay- Disney’s Private Island in the Bahamas

Disney Cruise Line provides character meet and greets in some of their cruise terminals for guests waiting to board. Even though the Disney ships do provide adult only areas like specialty dining rooms and pools, all the common areas with entertainment are great for kids.

Additionally, you’ll find special touches on Royal Caribbean ships as well. Our family rode the elevator with a surprise piano player who serenaded us with Disney songs. You’ll also find family movies, crafts, and activities available throughout your trip.


When you compare Disney Cruise Line to other cruise lines, you more than likely notice a price difference. A Disney cruise vacation typically costs more than a trip on another cruise line. It may be tempting to try to save money and book a cheaper option through one of these other cruise lines. However, the quality and service of a Disney cruise vacation make it a far better choice, especially if you have a toddler or a baby.

Disney cruise ship with text overlay Best Cruises for Families with Toddlers

When the trip is said and done, you may be surprised that Disney Cruise Line doesn’t cost that much more than the other cruise lines. Certain items (like soda) cost extra on some other cruise lines, while Disney includes these in the original price you book. In addition, Disney Cruise Line provides some really essential amenities for families with toddlers and babies.

My family and I have found that you can have an equally enjoyable experience on Royal Caribbean, but you really need to have access to suite perks in order to have a similar vacation. Therefore, a regular room on Disney comes with a similar price tag to a suite on Royal in order to have similar vacation experiences.

You can read more about our thoughts on Disney Cruise Line vs Royal Caribbean here. In that article, we go into detail on how the two cruise lines compare to each other. We also rate each cruise line based on pools, activities, rooms, etc.

Final Thoughts on Best Cruise for Families with Toddlers

If you are traveling with little kids, you’re probably wanting to make sure that you choose a ship and cruise line that will cater to your family’s needs. After all, cruising with children is very different from sailing with college friends. You’ll want to make sure the ship you choose offers kid appropriate activities during the day and at night.

While many of the other cruise lines, like Carnival and Norwegian, are incorporating more family friendly options on their ships. Our family still prefers to stick with Disney Cruise Line or Royal Caribbean when cruising with kids. So, what do you think? What is the best cruise line for families? Comment below to share your thoughts!

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