by Ashley Pugh -

Planning to Take Your Kids on A Luxury Cruise? Here’s What You Need to Know

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Once upon a time, cruising was a leisure activity primarily for couples or solo travelers. Today, however, families increasingly consider it as a top vacation choice.

Here, Disney Cruise Line stands out as the frontrunner, securing the No. 1 spot for family cruises in the U.S. News and World Report's 2023 ranking. Travelers cite its whimsical amenities and well-equipped staterooms, alongside youth clubs, movie theaters, and themed pools, as part of what makes the cruise the best option for families despite its pricier boarding pass. 

But as families look towards luxury cruises, it's essential to understand the nuances that distinguish them from traditional family cruises. Below, we explore the considerations for planning a luxury cruise experience with kids to help ensure an enjoyable journey for the entire family.

What’s the difference between family cruises and luxury cruises?

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Family cruises are designed to cater to the diverse needs of families. As we’ve explained in our previous article, family cruises offer a range of activities, amenities, and entertainment options suitable for all age groups. From the Royal Caribbean International partnership with Dreamworks to Disney Cruise Line’s character meet-and-greets, family cruises are crafted to provide an inclusive and engaging experience as a cruise traverses the Caribbean, Alaska, Europe, or beyond.

However, luxury cruises take a different approach while exploring the different corners of the world. These cruises focus on providing a refined and sophisticated experience, with an emphasis on exclusive amenities, gourmet dining, and personalized service. This can mean that the extensive array of child-centric activities in family cruises may not always be available. Hence, families considering a luxury cruise need to recognize that the priorities of these cruises may differ and cater more to adult preferences.

Are all luxury cruises appropriate for kids?

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Given luxury cruises’ unique approach to traveling, not all of their cruise offerings are created equal when it comes to accommodating children. For instance, some ships of Regent Seven Seas Cruises offer cooking classes and scavenger hunts, with spacious suites that can accommodate families. The Club Mariner children’s program is also available on select sailings.

However, while not strictly an adults-only cruise line, the overall atmosphere and entertainment options are oriented toward adults. In fact, under-16s are not allowed in the spa or fitness center, which can put a damper on children’s experiences. Understanding the ship's demographics and whether it caters to children's needs will ensure a more enjoyable trip for both parents and their little ones.

What are the child-friendly activities on luxury cruises?

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Some high-end cruise lines will go the extra mile to provide unique and enriching experiences for young travelers. See the Destination Experiences of Explora Journeys, where families can engage in activities like “Sailing, Snorkelling and Boozy BBQ” at Catalina Bay. Here, children can swim with colorful fish in calm waters and enjoy a scrumptious BBQ lunch; all the while, the adults can partake in drinks from the open bar. This can cater to adventurous minds and nature lovers among families alike.

Similarly, activities like the "Honey Bee Mine: An Apiarian Adventure" allow children to explore the world of beekeeping in Saint Lucia while indulging in luscious Black Mangrove honey. These meticulously designed excursions not only entertain children but also allow parents to relax, knowing their kids are engaged in meaningful and educational activities.

Do children need to dress up on luxury cruises?

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The question of dress code is a common concern for families planning a luxury cruise with children. The dress code on luxury cruises tends to be more sophisticated, with evenings often calling for elegant casual attire. Women may choose dresses, skirts, or pantsuits, while men are expected to wear slacks with collared shirts or sweaters.

Children are often required to follow the adult dress code, with Carnival Cruise Line noting that kids should opt for school dance- or party-appropriate attire. Otherwise, there are adult-exclusive dining venues, even on Disney ships, where children are not allowed to enter even in their best attire. Therefore, the overarching message is that while luxury cruises also accommodate families and understand the practicalities of traveling with children, most still maintain and require a certain level of formality for certain events. 

With more cruise lines catering to families, there are infinite opportunities for bonding with our children.  For more fun things to do with kids, check out our other blog posts on Family Days Out.

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Ashley Pugh Written by
Ashley Pugh

Ashley Pugh is one of the Co-Founders of and has been committed to writing family related content since 2008. There isn't much about family attractions that Ashley doesn't know, after visiting hundreds of them worldwide over the last 20 years.

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