Best cruise ship for families? 10Best readers say Carnival Vista!

Carnival sweeps four of the top five spots

Thanks to their excellent travel value, more and more families are turning to cruising when planning their vacations. These 10 cruise lines, nominated by our panel of cruising experts and voted the best by 10Best readers, cater to young passengers in many ways, including family friendly at-sea experiences (bumper cars, bowling and waterparks to name a few), family cabins and kid-approved dining options. 

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
Allure of the Seas (Royal Caribbean International)
One of the world’s largest cruise ships features one of the most robust and diverse kids programs. A highlight for young passengers is the DreamWorks Experience, where kids can interact with their favorite characters from ShrekKung Fu Panda and the penguins of Madagascar. Amazing acrobatics at the AquaTheater, surf simulators, an old-fashioned carousel, two rock climbing walls, a zip line, mini golf and classic carnival games at the Boardwalk Arcade mean kids can kiss boredom goodbye. Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean International
Disney Fantasy (Disney Cruise Line)
On the Disney Fantasy, kids programs are Disney-crafted and predictably high-quality; the older set loves bulleting down 4-deck-drop AquaDuck water coaster. Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique delights kids with princess or pirate makeovers. Mom and Dad can refresh at Quiet Cove Pool. Photo courtesy of Chloe Rice / 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 Kent Phillips / Disney Cruise Line
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
Regal Princess (Princess Cruises)
A favorite feature among kids aboard the Regal Princess 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
Carnival Dream (Carnival Cruise Line)
Carnival Dream was a pioneer in at-sea fun, and kids have lots of activities to choose from, including Seuss at Sea, Hasbro, the Game Show, Camp Ocean and the WaterWorks waterpark. Cherry on Top, a well-stocked candy store complete with an ice cream counter, caters to young travelers with a sweet tooth. Photo courtesy of AP Photo/Carnival Cruise Lines, Andy Newman
Carnival Magic (Carnival Cruise Line)
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 Line)
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
Carnival Vista (Carnival Cruise Line)
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 Carnival Cruise Line

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

  1. Carnival Vista
  2. Carnival Breeze
  3. Carnival Magic
  4. Carnival Dream
  5. Regal Princess
  6. Royal Princess
  7. Disney Dream
  8. Disney Fantasy
  9. Allure of the Seas
  10. Disney Magic

A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to picked the initial nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote. Experts Don and Heidi Bucolo (EatSleepCruise.com), Anita Dunham-Potter (ExpertCruiser.com), Danielle Fear (Cruise Miss), Carrie Finley Bajak (CruiseBuzz.net), Linda Garrison (TripSavvy), Sherry Laskin Kennedy (CruiseMaven.com), Jason Leppert (Popular Cruising), Chris Owen (ChrisCruises.com), Doug Parker (CruiseRadio.net), Aaron Saunders (From the Deck Chair) and Ming Tappin (Your Cruise Coach Consulting) were chosen based on their knowledge and experience of the cruise industry.

Congratulations to all these wining cruise companies!