These days, planning a family vacation can be expensive. However, cruising offers families a great value vacation, at an affordable price.
Over the last few years, cruising has become very popular with families and kids. The great food, entertainment and an opportunity to visit beautiful destinations, makes cruising the ultimate family vacation.
Plus, cruise lines have “kids sail free” deals and promotions, that are particularly attractive to family cruisers.
In this post, I share 7 affordable cruise lines for families.
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Affordable Family Cruise Lines – A Comparison
1. Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival is known for their affordable cruise prices and cruise ships that the whole family can enjoy. Often referred to as “America’s Cruise Line”, Carnival is one of the best cruise lines for a families on a budget.
The great thing about cruising with Carnival, is that they have great promotions year round. Whether you’re cruising off-season cruise or during the holidays, you will always be able to find cruise deals on Carnival ships.
Carnival Family Cruise Sample Pricing
For example, we found a 5 day Eastern Caribbean cruise on Carnival Freedom, leaving out of Port Canaveral (Orlando) is priced at $1,325 USD for four family members in interior cabin. It also includes a $50 onboard credit.
Please note that prices vary and depend on many factors, including date of booking and date of sailing.
What to Expect on a Carnival Family Cruise
If you’re looking for a kid-friendly cruise that the whole family can enjoy, then you will love cruising with Carnival. On select Carnival cruise ships, you’ll find water slides, water parks, roller coasters, ropes courses and entertainment, like Family Feud Live as well as other family-friendly shows.
Carnival Cruise Line Kids Club Information
The kid’s club on Carnival cruise line is lots of fun for children aged 2-17. There are supervised activities that vary by age group, including dancing, movie nights, theme parties and much more.
Here’s how the Carnival kid’s club is separated by age:
- Camp Ocean (ages 2-11)
- Circle “C” (ages 12-14)
- Club O2 (ages 15-17)
If you’re cruising with family members that are 17 and under, they will have a blast. Both the kid’s camp and onboard activities will keep kids busy throughout the duration of your cruise.
2. MSC Cruises
MSC Cruises is an Italian cruise line known that has some amazing cruise ships families will love! MSC cruises can be a very good value, especially for families. On select cruises, MSC has a “kids sail free” promotion, where kids 17 and under can sail for free, when booked in the same cabin as their parents.
Depending on the sailing and promotion, you’ll often find free or discounted fares on 3rd and 4th passengers. Other sales may include an an onboard credit, included Wifi and the Kids Sail Free deal.
What to Expect on an MSC Family Cruise
When you cruise with MSC, you can expect beautiful ship designs, fun activities, pools, waterparks and hot tub areas. MSC cruises tend to be reasonably priced and provide an affordable way for the whole family to travel together.
MSC Family Cruise Sample Pricing
For example, at the time of writing this article, a 5 day Bahamas cruise leaving out of Miami that is $350 per adult in an interior cabin before taxes. This cruise is part of the “Kids Sail Free” promotion, so you will only have pay the taxes and port fees for your children.
Overall, MSC is a family-friendly cruise line that is well suited for kids of all ages. Onboard select MSC cruise ships, you will find water slides, splash parks, ropes courses, spas and a casino.
MSC Kids Club Information
The kid’s clubs on the newest MSC cruises are pretty cool! Your kids will be able to hang out, participate in activities and make new friends in a supervised and safe environment. Plus, MSC’s kids camps have some of the latest video games and gaming consoles.
Here’s how the MSC kids club is separated by age:
- Baby Club (ages 0-3)
- Mini Club (ages 3-6)
- Junior Club (ages 7-11)
- Young Club (ages 12-14)
- Teen Club (ages 15-17)
MSC creates a really fun, family-friendly environment that the whole family will enjoy. Whether if it’s spending time at the pool areas, in the kid’s club or the onboard attractions, your family will have a great time on an MSC cruise.
3. Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Line is a family friendly cruise line that will occasionally have the Kids Sail Free promotion, as part of the Free at Sea perks. On Norwegian cruises, there are many attractions, the entertainment is great and there is a wide variety of dining options.
Newer Norwegian cruise ships like the Norwegian Prima is on the pricey side. However, Norwegian Cruise Line offers some amazing deals on some of their other cruises.
Norwegian Family Cruise Sample Pricing
For example, there is a 7 day Southern Caribbean cruise on the Norwegian Epic that is $1,978 for the whole family before taxes. This price includes two specialty dining dinners for the first and second passenger.
What to Expect on a Norwegian Family Cruise
If your family enjoys exciting attractions and fun activities, then they will love cruising with Norwegian. Onboard certain Norwegian cruises, you will find water slides, virtual reality, bowling, mini golf, basketball courts, ropes courses and more.
Norwegian Cruise Line Kids Club Information
Norwegian has one of the best kids clubs at sea. As a kid who grew up cruising, I remember going on Norwegian cruises and my parents having trouble getting me out of the kids club!
Here’s how the Norwegian kids club is separated:
- Splash Academy (ages 3-12)
- Entourage (ages 13-17)
If you’re planning to cruise with children or teenagers 17 and under, they will absolutely love the kids clubs and teens clubs onboard Norwegian cruise line.
4. Royal Caribbean
When it comes to a cruise line for families, it doesn’t get much better than Royal Caribbean. Royal Caribbean is known for making the largest cruise ships in the world and for having cruise ships with amazing attractions.
Although, newer Royal Caribbean ships can be pricey, they do offer some great deals on their older ships. Additionally at certain times of the year, Royal Caribbean will have Kids Sail Free promotions.
Royal Caribbean Family Cruise Sample Pricing
For example, there is a 4 day Bahamas and Perfect Day at CocoCay (private island) itinerary leaving from Florida, which starts at $277 plus taxes for the first two passenger and the kids sail free in an interior cabin.
What to Expect on a Royal Caribbean Family Cruise
If you’re looking to have a fun, action packed vacation, then you have to check out Royal Caribbean cruises. Onboard select Royal Caribbean ships, you’ll find water slides, water parks, zip lines, laser tag, rock climbing, arcade games, ice skating and much more.
Royal Caribbean Kids Club Information
Royal Caribbean has great youth programs where your kids can participate in scavenger hunts, themed parties and sports. The Adventure Ocean Youth Program separates children by age group.
Here’s how the Royal Caribbean kids club is seperated:
- Aquanauts (ages 3-5)
- Explorers (ages 6-8)
- Voyagers (ages 9-12)
For teenagers, there is a teens club which is for 13-17 year olds. This is a great place for you teenagers to hangout, make new friends, play video games and participate in fun activities.
For those with children between 6-36 months, there is a babies and tots program. If you’re cruising with babies and toddlers, you can leave them in a supervised environment throughout the day on select ships.
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5. Princess Cruises
During the year, some of the best cruise deals for families have been kids sailing for $0 or $1 when cruising in the same cabin as their parents on select sailings. Typically, 3rd and 4th passengers are heavily discounted and may cruise for free or at lower rates.
Princess Cruises Family Cruise Sample Pricing
For example, Wave Season has a 5 day Caribbean cruise leaving from Fort Lauderdale starting at $418 for guest 1 and 2 and $148 for 3rd and 4th guests plus taxes.
What to Expect on a Princess Family Cruise
Princess Cruises is known for its beautiful cruise ships, great food options and dining. They also have a fun kids club (Camp Discovery Kid & Teen Centers), which is a great place for your children to make friends and participate in interactive activities.
Princess Cruises is best for families that enjoy traditional cruising and family friendly fun. Such as poolside games, Movies Under the Stars and entertainment including game shows, guest entertainers and production shows.
6. Holland America
Holland America is a classic and traditional cruise line that is popular among an older demographic of cruise passengers. However, this is changing in recent years.
With newer cruise ships, Holland America has modernized their entertainment and live music onboard its ships. They’ve also made their cruise ships more family friendly and are popular among those planning multi-generational cruises.
The best part for families looking for an affordable cruise, is that Holland America offers a “Kids Cruise Free” promotion on select sailings at different times of the year.
Holland America Family Cruise Sample Pricing
For example, a 5 day Caribbean cruise leaving from Fort Lauderdale in an ocean view cabin is $488.99 plus taxes for the 1st and 2nd passenger, and the additional two passengers are free.
What to Expect on a Holland America Family Cruise
A Holland America cruise is best for a family that enjoys spending time together and appreciates quality food and service on a cruise. There is a kids club onboard (Club HAL), however don’t expect water slides and pool games.
7. Celebrity Cruises
While Celebrity Cruises is not typically a low price cruise, it is possible to find a really good deal on a luxury family vacation. In particular, if you are cruising off-season or outside of the holiday’s and spring break, you can cruise with Celebrity for less than you think.
Celebrity Family Cruise Sample Pricing
For example, we were able to find a 7-day Caribbean cruise sailing in October, in a Veranda cabin for four, for $1,988 plus taxes. For those who prefer an all-inclusive rate, including tips, Wifi and beverage package, Celebrity’s all-included rate can add to the value of this family vacation.
What to Expect on a Celebrity Family Cruise
Although, Celebrity Cruises doesn’t have water slides and thrill rides, they do offer a luxury family-friendly experience.
Celebrity has a great kids club (Camp At Sea), which is fun for kids and teenagers 17 and under. The Celebrity kids club has activities, videos games and places for the kids to hang out in a supervised and safe environment.
*All prices used as examples in this article were found in February 2023 and are subject to change. Prices and promotions may vary and you may have access to resident specials. Always check current prices on the cruise line website or with your travel agent.
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Final Thoughts on Affordable Cruise Lines For Families
Well there it is, everything you need to know about affordable cruise lines for families!
A family cruise vacation is a great way to travel, experience different cultures and spend time with your children. The cruise lines mentioned in this article, do a great job at being family friendly and offering promotions to make planning a cruise affordable.
No matter what cruise line you choose to travel with, you’ll have a memorable vacation that the whole family will enjoy.
In his post, I shared the 7 most affordable cruise lines for families.
What cruise line are you planning on cruising with? Please let me know in the comments below.
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Author Bio: Ethan Schattauer writes about fashion, travel and college advice on the website WhatToWearMen.com. As a frequent cruiser, Ethan shares his unique perspective on what cruising is like for teens and young adults.