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Best Family Cruisies
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Best family cruises leaving from America

Book one of the best family cruises ever and revel in a tropical oasis, New England foliage or Alaskan fjords.

Written by
Tolly Wright
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Although cruise operators white-knuckled their way through the pandemic, sailing the high seas is back in ful force with some of the cheapest rates the industry has seen in years. There's nothing quite like a family vacation that involves state rooms, on-board activities for kids of every age and exotic ports of call. It sure beats back seat bickering in the family sedan to the constant refrain of "are we there yet?" at any rate!

There are so many places you, the grandparents, the kids and your great aunt Sue can go on a family cruise together. And the best of the best leave right from American shores. Travel from Florida or Texas on a tour of the Caribbean or eastern Mexico or leave from southern California to cross the Pacific to Hawaii. There are also cruises to Alaska and British Columbia, to New England and eastern Canada and along the sandy beaches and rocky shores of California and the Pacific Northwest. Just don't wait too long to book your holiday: There's no way these prices will last for long.

If cruising isn't your thing, there are still plenty of excellent family vacations to consider. Plan your own trip or let someone else do it for you with the best US tours to explore all of America. And if even this year's low cruise prices are a little beyond your budget, never fear. We've got a great list of the best cheap family vacations in America, as well.

Best family cruises

Five-night Very Merrytime Bahamian Disney Cruise leaving from Miami, Florida
Photograph: Courtesy Disney Cruises

Five-night Very Merrytime Bahamian Disney Cruise leaving from Miami, Florida

This is fun for the whole family… with a holiday twist. The decks are decorated with lights and ornaments, guests are treated to holiday parties (including a tree-lighting ceremony with Mickey Mouse), families can decorate gingerbread houses together and, of course, expect a visit from the big man in red: Santa Claus. This particular cruise includes stops at Disney’s private island Castaway Cay and Nassau in the Bahamas, but other holiday trips along the Bahamas are also available with slightly different stops. Rooms start at $1,714. November and December only.

Seven-day Mexican Riviera Holland America Cruise leaving from San Diego, California
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/ Rémy DUGOUA

Seven-day Mexican Riviera Holland America Cruise leaving from San Diego, California

This European cruise line lets you travel south of the border in style—and free of worries. Kids and teens are kept busy in their hangout rooms and reveling in Club Hal’s daily youth-related programs. Everyone can come together for particularly stellar live entertainment, cooking classes and to devour the incredibly good food served daily. Some cruises even offer in-cabin babysitting, should you want to stay out late. During the voyage, the ship makes stops in Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlán and Puerto Vallarta—where the weather is beautiful nearly year-round. Rooms start at $499.

Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/ Rémy DUGOUA

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Seven-night Canada and New England Norwegian Escape Tour leaving from New York, NY
Photograph: Courtesy Photograph Courtesy Norwegian Cruises

Seven-night Canada and New England Norwegian Escape Tour leaving from New York, NY

Does your family prefer to spend time on ground? This is the cruise for you. With only two days at sea, you’ll be able to explore Portland and Bar Harbor in Maine, and Saint John, Halifax and Nova Scotia in Canada, where you will see beautiful fall foliage and historic lighthouses while eating scrumptious lobster. During the two days on water, watch Rock of Ages and Cirque Du Soleil shows or opt for bowling and other family-friendly activities. Rooms start at $864.

Seven-night Western Caribbean Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas leaving from Galveston, Texas
Photograph: Courtesy Royal Caribbean

Seven-night Western Caribbean Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas leaving from Galveston, Texas

Of the already very family-oriented Royal Caribbean fleet, the newer Allure of the Seas ship is considered to be one of the best for adults and kids alike. Young cruise goers will be excited by the big water park on deck, the speedy zipline, 43-foot-tall rock climbing walls, visits from beloved Dreamworks characters and the super cool ice skating rink. Expect a nursery for tiny tots and babies, fun youth programs and teen rooms that will keep the kids distracted while grown-ups get in some me-time at the fitness center, drink a daiquiri by the bar or try their luck in the Casino Royale. This particular cruise stops at Roatan, Honduras and at Puerto Costa Maya and Cozumel in Mexico. Rooms start at $531.

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14-day Hawaii Carnival Cruise Splendor leaving from Long Beach, California
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Ricardo Mangual

14-day Hawaii Carnival Cruise Splendor leaving from Long Beach, California

Though this might be a long trip, it certainly isn’t a dull one. The whole family will have fun while partaking in Dr. Seuss-themed fun (think parades and shows), a game show everyone can be part of, water slides and special pool features, and a movie theater. When grown-ups want to enjoy Serenity, the adults-only retreat boasting hammocks and a low-key bar, kids can play games and have fun with arts and crafts in age-appropriate day camps. For an additional fee, parents looking for a date night (there’s a comedy club on board!) can sign up for the “night owl” program, where kids under 11 years old will be taken care of until as late as 1am. During port days, everyone will love the clear waters, blue skies and beach bumming in Honolulu, Maui, Kona, Hilo and Ensanada, Mexico. Rooms start at $2,539. 

Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Ricardo Mangual

Seven-night Eastern Caribbean Disney cruise leaving from Port Canaveral, Florida
Photograph: Courtey CC/Filckr/Joe Turco

Seven-night Eastern Caribbean Disney cruise leaving from Port Canaveral, Florida

Don’t mistake Disney cruises as children-only affairs: the experience on these ocean liners is one the whole family will take great joy in. As the kids are distracted by seemingly endless activities in the youth clubs—where they play interactive games, see shows, play dress-up, meet Disney characters and even partake in educational experiences—parents can unwind with amazing spa services, delicious food or just some relaxing time by the pool. Even older teenage children are kept entertained with hang-out areas featuring video games, dance music and opportunities to make new friends. At night, everyone can come together to enjoy the incredible musicals and other live performances. There are plenty of various Caribbean cruises offering short three-night getaways and full week excursions, but the seven-nights Eastern Caribbean trip includes enough stops to really scratch that travel itch in the British Island, U.S. Virgin Islands and, of course, Disney’s private island Disney Castaway Cay. Rooms start at $3,381, cruises offered throughout the year.

Photograph: Courtey CC/Filckr/Joe Turco

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Seven-night Pacific Coastal Cruise with Celebrity Cruise leaving from Vancouver, Canada
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/eGuide Travel

Seven-night Pacific Coastal Cruise with Celebrity Cruise leaving from Vancouver, Canada

Why spend your trip touring the Pacific Northwest stuffed in a cramped car when you can see the region's highlights all in one week and enjoy a luxurious experience? Everyone aboard a Celebrity Cruise can appreciate the restaurants, lounging on the grassy lawn and watching artists from the Corning Museum of Glass blow glass creations right before your eyes. Parents can relax with spa services or a well-concocted cocktail while travelers under 17 are kept entertained with art-related group activities, team building exercises and culinary workshops. The cruise makes stops in Victoria, BC; Seattle, Washington; Astoria, Oregon; San Francisco, California; and Los Angeles. Starts at $899 per person; discounts for military and seniors available. September.

Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/eGuide Travel

Four-day Grand Turk Getaway on Princess Cruises’ Regal Princess from Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Photograph: Courtesy Princess Cruises

Four-day Grand Turk Getaway on Princess Cruises’ Regal Princess from Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Families who are looking to get away on a warm excursion but don't have the time or the funds for a full week getaway will love Princess Cruises. On your way to and back from a full day in the charming, full-of-history Grand Turk (the capital of the Caicos Islands), take advantage of the sports courts, enjoy a movie under the stars, splash in the pool, see live shows and sing your heart out during karaoke sessions. Counselors keep kids busy with special arts and crafts and science-related projects while teens can hang out together sipping mocktails. Cheers! Rooms start at $339.

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Seven-night Independence Day Celebration on Queen Mary 2 leaving from New York, New York
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Matt Coats

Seven-night Independence Day Celebration on Queen Mary 2 leaving from New York, New York

Though you might be aboard a ship named the Queen Mary 2, you’ll feel plenty American on this 4th of July vacation. While on this luxury vessel, expect a buffet that puts many others to shame, fine dining, masquerade balls and excellent music. Younger visitors will find plenty to do in the Play Zone, where children under 12 can play board games and videogames, while guests ages 12-17 can hang out in The Zone and use Mac computers and do some gaming of their own. Parents of babies can rely on the nursery's useful night programs. The trip itself includes a visit to the beautiful Halifax, Canada landscape and a stop in Boston, where you can see the places frequented by America’s founding fathers and enjoy one of the country’s best firework displays. Starts at $1,299 per person. July 1-July 8.

Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Matt Coats

Four-night Bahamas and Key West Royal Caribbean Cruise leaving from Tampa, Florida
Photograph: Courtesy Royal Caribbean

Four-night Bahamas and Key West Royal Caribbean Cruise leaving from Tampa, Florida

This short, wallet-friendly cruise includes plenty of fun to be had aboard the ship (think rock climbing, swimming, spa days, youth and teen clubs, and kid-friendly dining options). The cruise offers only one full-day at sea, which is great for people who want to check out on-ground fun at two ports of call, Key West and Nassau, Bahamas. Prices start $320 per person.

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Eight-day Alaska Cruise with Carnival leaving from Seattle, Washington
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Rennett Stowe

Eight-day Alaska Cruise with Carnival leaving from Seattle, Washington

During this cruise to the 49th state, you’ll see staggering glaciers along a fjord and visit Skagway, which still boasts plenty of architecture and tourist sites that harken back to its 19th century Klondike Gold Rush. You'll also spend a day in Juneau, where beautiful landscapes, whale watching and dog sledding await and have access to fishing, rock climbing, zip lining and canoeing in Ketchikan. The final stop is Victoria, Canada which is stocked with museums, gardens and other cultural delights. Rooms start at $499. 

Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Rennett Stowe

Five-night Halloween on the High Seas Baja Disney Cruise leaving from San Diego, California
Photograph: Courtesy Disney Cruises

Five-night Halloween on the High Seas Baja Disney Cruise leaving from San Diego, California

There’s more treats than tricks on this spooktacular fall vacation. During Halloween-themed Disney cruises in September and October, guests are invited to carve pumpkins, make masks, show off their costumes at Mickey’s Mouse-querade Party and sing-along to Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas. Choose between three-, four-, five-, and seven-night Halloween voyages. On this particular one, you’ll spend your days in sunny and warm Mexico, hitting cities like San Lucas and Ensenada. Rooms start $2,515. September and October only.

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