Best Cruise Ship for Families? Carnival Vista!

Crown Princess, Regal Princess, Carnival Breeze and Carnival Magic in top five

Some 1.6 million kids board cruise ships each year, and since cruises provide excellent vacation value, the family demographic continues to grow. The newest, biggest and best ships plying the world's waters are catering to young passengers in myriad innovative ways, facilitating at-sea experiences that seem impossible – indoor sky diving, bumper cars and 300-foot water slides to name a few.

  • Disney Wonder
    Disney Cruise Line

    The “aye-ayes” have it at the pirate-themed deck party that ramps up when invading bad guys rappel from Disney Wonder's funnel. A swashbuckling battle saves the ship, and fireworks celebrate. Kids spin off to age groups in Disney Oceaneers Club. Live musicals, three themed pools and family dance parties add up to a sweet sail on this 2,700-passenger ship.
    Photo courtesy of Matt Stroshane / Disney Cruise Line

  • Disney Magic
    Disney Cruise Line

    The Disney wand waved in 2013, turning Disney Magic into a modern member of the sailing Mickeys. AquaLab’s splashy play park plus two water slides boost Magic’s fun quotient. Even more cool: kids can train as superheroes at Marvel Avenger Academy. Magic also added the adults-only AfterHours bars and nightclub, making Magic sweeter for everyday heroes – mom and dad.
    Photo courtesy of Matt Stroshane / Disney Cruise Line

  • Disney Dream
    Disney Cruise Line

    Aboard the Disney Dream, Donald gets his due with AquaDuck, a 4-deck-drop water coaster (the first at sea) that zips riders through transparent tube. The host of Disney-themed kids programs get points for their organization; costumed characters – Mickey, Minnie and friends – keep the pre-school set happy. Character greetings and Broadway-style productions (with a Disney twist of course) make this 4,000-passenger vessel a hit with the young and the young at heart.
    Photo courtesy of Diana Zalucky / Disney Cruise Line

  • MSC Divina
    MSC Cruises

    Parents of all nationalities bring their kids aboard MSC Divina, thanks to the line's "kids under 11 sail free" policy. The main kids area includes Smurfs theming. The ship's Happy Dining program allows kids to eat their meals while their parents have appetizers, before heading off to evening programs so mom and dad can enjoy a more intimate meal.
    Photo courtesy of MSC Cruises

  • Royal Princess
    Princess Cruises

    Royal Princess, launched in 2013, is Regal’s twin, with many of the same kid-centric features, like the thrilling SeaWalk, glass-bottomed walkway over ship’s edge. While it might be a tie with its sister ship from a kid's perspective, Royal is a foodie ship, so while the little ones are off having fun, mom and dad could plan a WineMaker’s dinner onboard or sip a crisp white at Vines.
    Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises

  • Carnival Magic
    Carnival Cruise Lines

    The 3,690-passenger Carnival Magic draws fun-lovers of all ages with two water slides to slosh kids silly. Sports-pumped SportsSquare is a home run, along with the popular harnessed SkyCourse, a ropes course at sea. Well-organized Camp Ocean keeps kids entertained, while parents can get some well-deserved R&R at the Serenity Adult Only Retreat.
    Photo courtesy of Carnival Cruise Lines

  • Carnival Breeze
    Carnival Cruise Lines

    Breeze is a breath of fresh air for cruising parents. Kids have a blast at Camp Ocean in hang-outs lively with activities, and tweens and teens love the thrill of plummeting down the 320-foot Twister Waterslide at WaterWorks. While the youngins are enjoying thrills at the SportsSquare ropes course or the 5D Thrill Theater, parents can indulge in some R&R at the Cloud 9 Spa.
    Photo courtesy of Carnival Cruise Lines

  • Regal Princess
    Princess Cruises

    Regal Princess is one pretty ship. A favorite feature among kids is the SeaWalk, a glass-bottomed walkway extending 28 feet over ship’s edge. The ship's youth and teen center has teamed up with the California Science Center for some interactive edutainment at sea. The three kids spaces are excellent, and teens even have their own outdoor hot tub.
    Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises

  • Crown Princess
    Princess Cruises

    Kids aboard the Crown Princess enjoy three small pools and three supervised lounges. Pete's Pals, the onboard kids program, teaches about endangered animals (sometimes with a Junior Rangers program available), and children-only dinners give mom and dad a chance to dine solo. Teens have their own programing, complete with arcade games, dance classes and a special teen-only dinner.
    Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises

  • Carnival Vista
    Carnival Cruise Lines

    Carnival elevated its already very family-friendly offerings with the debut of Carnival Vista, the newest ship in the line. Kids can ride a bike through the sky, go mini bowling or play ping pong at SportSquare, and the onboard water park is the largest in the fleet. Kids love the Cherry On Top candy store and ice cream counter, and parents will appreciate the Family Harbor staterooms equipped with board games, family movies and video games.
    Photo courtesy of frank harvey / Flickr

We asked a panel of cruising experts to nominate their favorite kid-friendly ships, and for the past four weeks, our readers have been voting daily for their favorites.

The top 10 winners in the category Best Cruise Ship for Families are as follows:

  1. Carnival Vista
  2. Crown Princess
  3. Regal Princess
  4. Carnival Breeze
  5. Carnival Magic
  6. Royal Princess
  7. MSC Divina
  8. Disney Dream
  9. Disney Magic
  10. Disney Wonder

A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to picked the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote. Experts Carrie Finley Bajak (CruiseBuzz.net), Fran Golden (USA TODAY), Sherry Laskin Kennedy (CruiseMaven), Jason Leppert (PopularCruising.com), Chris Owen (ChrisCruises.com), Doug Parker (Cruise Radio) and Aaron Saunders (Fromthedeckchair.com) were chosen based on their expertise in the world of cruising.

Congratulations to all this winning, kid-approved ships.

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Carrie Finley Bajak

Carrie Finley Bajak

Fran Golden

Fran Golden

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Sherry Laskin Kennedy

Jason Leppert

Jason Leppert

Chris Owen

Chris Owen

Doug Parker

Doug Parker

Aaron Saunders

Aaron Saunders