RECOMMENDED: The best family vacations from NYC
All aboard! Combining countless activities and entertainment options for youngsters, plus a dizzying array of dining choices, cruises are a great way to vacation with kids. Whether you choose to catch some rays in the Caribbean or tour the scenic Canadian coast, these cruiselines let you and your crew enjoy high–energy outdoor activities, dance parties, land excursions and crowd–pleasing shows, then fuel up for more fun at one of the many family restaurants. Next time you're looking for a family getaway, skip the schlep to JFK and climb aboard one of these cruise lines, departing right from New York Harbor.
Family cruises from the NYC area
Dr. Seuss fans of all ages will get a kick out of Carnival’s latest entertainment offering—a whimsical experience that brings the author’s beloved children’s books to life through character parades, interactive storytimes and fantastical Green Eggs and Ham Breakfasts. The fun continues for kids of all ages aboard Carnival’s Splendor ship, which offers four-, five- and seven–day cruises to Canada and New England and eight–day cruises to the eastern Caribbean and the Bahamas departing from NYC. In the Camp Carnival program, little ones are split into three age groups (2–5, 6–8 and 9–11) for games, crafts, dancing, video games and toy playtime, fueled by kid–friendly cuisine. Tots 11 and younger can party the night away (well, until 1am at least) with Night Owls, a supervised party featuring giveaways and games. Older kids (ages 12–14) can hang out in the Circle “C” lounge, while teens ages 15–17 can enjoy karaoke, pool parties and dancing with their fellow high school passengers. Both ships are outfitted with video water slides, mini golf, pools and sports facilities. When hunger hits, there’s an impressive lineup of dining options to satiate your cravings, including restaurants serving every cuisine imaginable, plus an ice cream parlor you’re likely to frequent. Four–day cruises start at $409 per person (800-764-7419, carnival.com).
Ready to get outta town? Celebrity Cruises offers trips to Bermuda and the Caribbean from New York. While Mom and Dad enjoy time in the sun, there’s a Fun Factory (ages 3–11) daily where little ones can try crafts, sing their hearts out with karaoke, compete in fun sports games, enjoy theme parties and go on treasure hunts. Older kids will like the X Club, which offers Xbox games, sports activities and late-night teen dances supervised by youth counselors. Parents can also bring kids under three to Toddler Time and hang out while they play with age appropriate toys. As a family, there are opportunities for trivia, sports tournaments, spa treatments, lawn games and pool volleyball, and for meals, there are both casual and fine dining options. Seven-night cruise to Bermuda from NYC starts at $579 per person; six-night cruise to the Caribbean from NYC starts at $449 per person. (888-245-4254, celebritycruises.com).
Disney Cruise Line
For a limited time in fall 2016, Disney Cruise Line will offer eight-day excursions from NYC to the Bahamas, with stops at Castaway Cay (Disney's private island), Nassau and Port Canaveral, Florida—just one hour from the family resorts at Walt Disney World. A seven-night cruise stopping at Castaway Cay and Port Canaveral, as well as a five-night cruise to Halifax, Nova Scotia and Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada will also be available. Onboard the Disney Magic, kids can splash around in pools and waterparks, visit cool youth clubs, meet their favorite characters face-to-face, enjoy family dinners and catch amazing musicals and deck parties. Bahamas packages include round-trip transportation and a Park Hopper ticket so you and the gang can hit up the Disney World amusement parks together. Bookings for the new itineraries (departing Oct 2, 7, 15, 22 and 29, 2016) open to the public on May 20, 2015. Pricing not available at press time (800-951-3532, disneycruise.disney.go.com).
Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian’s two ships setting sail from NYC—theBreakaway and the Gem—are fully loaded with family–friendly programs, entertainment and dining, offering six–day sails to Canada and New England, seven–day jaunts to the Bahamas and Florida and 8–day excursions to the eastern Caribbean. Your whole brood can spread out and get comfortable in a two–bedroom family suite, conveniently located near the kids' activity area. Age–appropriate youth programs include Splash Academy (ages 3–12) and Entourage (ages 13–17); parents can drop off their tots (ages 3–12) at Group Sitting for an additional fee and enjoy a solo date night. There are also Broadway shows, magicians, Nickelodeon character events, bowling, mini golf and water slides to keep families busy. There are a variety of cuisines to choose from at the ship’s multiple buffets and dining rooms, plus 24–hour room service and specialty restaurants serving up Italian, French and Asian fusion dishes. Kids under three eat free onboard, while those between the ages of four and 12 can choose from their own menu or eat half–price in specialty restaurants. Freestyle dining (i.e. no set dining times or assigned seats) make family mealtimes stress-free and fun. Seven–day cruises start at $599 per person (866-234-7350, ncl.com).
A five-night Bermuda cruise leaving from Cape Liberty, NJ might be just the thing for a relaxing family vacation. The amenity-packed adventure offers free poolside movie screenings, a zip line, a FlowRider (a 40-foot surf simulator for wakeboarding), ice skating, minigolf and rock climbing, just to name a few activities. Kids can also try out the Seaplex, allegedly the largest indoor activity center at sea. It houses bumper cars, a circus school, roller skating and basketball for your energetic kiddos! As parents, your favorite part will probably be the adults-only solarium, a glass canopied adults-only pool area. Last, there are a variety of fine dining and casual restaurants like Johnny Rockets or Seaplex Dog House). Five-night cruise to Bermuda from Cape Liberty,NJ starts at $479 per person (866-662-7625,royalcaribbean.com).