Explore our guide to the best family cruises leaving from the NYC area! Unlike pricey trips that include airfare, hotel stays and even more dough for fun activities, family cruises tie everything up in a nice neat package that makes it easy (and generally more cost effective) for NYC folk to head on an affordable vacation.
RECOMMENDED: The best family vacations from NYC
All of the picks on our list of the best family cruises come complete with fun outdoor activities, youth programs, performances and lots of family restaurants, and it’s easy to cater to everyone’s tastes. Get ready for more fun than you can handle!
Family cruises from the NYC area
Dr. Seuss fans of all ages will get a kick out of Carnival’s Seuss at Sea, a whimsical experience that brings the author’s beloved children’s books to life through character parades, interactive story times and fantastical Green Eggs and Ham Breakfasts. The fun continues for kids of all ages aboard Carnival’s Sunshine 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 in club O2. The ship is 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. And soon New York cruisers will have more options when Carnival adds a new ship to its NYC fleet in 2018. The Carnival Horizon will offer four- and eight-day cruises from New York to the Bahamas in spring and summer 2018. Kids are sure to go wild over the first-ever Dr. Seuss waterpark. Dr. Seuss WaterWorks will feature a kiddie splash zone, 150-gallon tipping bucket, water spray toys, and two water slides—a 450-foot long raft slide and a 213-foot body slide with special lighting effects. Four–day cruises start at $479 per person (800-764-7419, carnival.com).
Disney Cruise Line
If the family can’t fly down to Disney World then let the Disney come to you. A Disney cruise is exactly what you’d imagine it to be—magic on water—so it’s fitting that the ship setting sail from NYC is the Disney Magic. Aboard, families can dine with beloved characters, see favorite animated films played out on stage, and watch the fireworks light up the night sky. Teens can play video games, listen to music, and watch movies at Edge or dance and sing karaoke at Vibe. In Disney’s Oceaneer Club, kids ages 3–12 will participate in story time, play dress-up, make crafts, rub elbows with special guest characters, explore their favorite characters’ worlds come to life, and get superhero training at the MARVEL’s Avengers Academy. Or they can sit back and watch the ongoing stream of Disney movies on a 103-inch screen. Tots can even stick around for lunch and dinner at the club to give the adults a little downtime during their vacation. Cruises departing from New York in 2017 kick off in the fall with sailings to the Canadian Coast and the Bahamas. In 2018, Disney Cruise Line will be offering more destinations to New Yorkers with five- and six-night cruises to Bermuda. Four-night cruises start at $2,233 for a double stateroom (800-951-3532, disneycruise.disney.go.com).
Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian’s three ships setting sail from NYC—the Breakaway, the Gem and the Jade—are fully loaded with family–friendly programs, entertainment and dining, offering seven- and 10-day sails to Canada and New England, seven- and nine-day jaunts to Bermuda and the Bahamas and Florida and 10-to-14-day excursions to various parts of the 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. Guppies Programs are perfect for parents and the littlest cruisers (6 months–3) to participate in open play. 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 $499 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, RipCord by iFLY (a skydiving simulator), 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. Four-night cruise to Bermuda from Cape Liberty, NJ starts at $387 per person (866-662-7625, royalcaribbean.com).