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Choosing the right cabin is tricky under any circumstance; choosing the perfect room (or set of rooms) for a large family or one with young children is even harder. Can you find a room with a bathtub for your little one without splurging on a suite? Can you fit a crib in your cabin if you're also using the sofa bed? Should your family of five squeeze into one room or book two adjoining cabins? Are any staterooms designed with actual families in mind?
With cruise lines introducing new cabin types with every new ship, it's hard to keep track of what your family's options are. On the plus side, there are now options for every family group -- from connecting room configurations to standard cabins with family-friendly amenities to spacious family suites that can fit five, six, eight or more.
To ensure your whole family can rest easy at sea, we've broken down the family lodging options onboard the most popular cruise lines into two types: designated family cabins (rooms or suites intended for families); and family-friendly staterooms (which anyone can book, but may have space and amenities useful for family groups). Read below to find the perfect cruise cabin for your whole crew. And for more advice on choosing the best cabin, read our tips on booking a cruise room for the whole family.
Known for high-adrenaline activities, including rock climbing, ziplining, surf and skydiving, Royal Caribbean is catering to families with a wider range of activities and cabin categories (as many as 37 on some vessels) aboard its newer Quantum- and Oasis-class ships.
Royal Caribbean has some of the biggest family cabins in the industry, with multiple configurations.
Family Interior Staterooms:
Available on Freedom- and Oasis-class ships, these windowless rooms accommodate up to six people, with two twin beds that convert to a king, a double pull-out sofa and two Pullman-style bunk beds. The Family Interior Stateroom is the least expensive option for up to six passengers.
Family Ocean View Staterooms:
Available on Radiance-, Voyager-, Freedom- and Oasis-class ships, these cabins feature a picture window and accommodate up to six people, in the same bed configurations as the Family Interiors. These cabins are in the front of the ship, which means you'll feel more motion and may not be best for family members prone to seasickness. Oasis-class ships also feature 27-square metre Family Ocean View Staterooms with Balconies, which also sleep up to six.
Family Connected Junior Suite with Balcony:
A new suite configuration that debuted in 2014 aboard Quantum of the Seas, it's made up of three different categories of staterooms -- a junior suite; a superior balcony stateroom; and a studio cabin (which can actually sleep two) -- that connect to accommodate up to 10 passengers. This is a great choice for single relatives who want to travel with the family, yet have their own space.
Royal Family Suite:
If you have more money to spend, these 52- to 54-square-metre two-bedroom suites (available aboard Voyager, Freedom, Oasis and Quantum-class ships) hold eight people -- two bedrooms with two twin beds that can be pushed together for a king bed and a living area with a sofa bed that pulls out to a double bed. Two Pullman-style beds pull out from the wall and serve as upper level bunk beds. There's a veranda and two bathrooms, one with a bathtub and one with a shower.
The newer Royal Caribbean ships feature stunning two-storey Loft Suites that, while not specifically geared to families, can sleep up to six with one or two bedrooms and sofas that convert to double beds. Plus, they have two bathrooms, one on each level. Aboard Oasis of the Seas, for example, the Royal Loft Suite (the largest of all lofts) connects to the adjacent Crown Loft Suite to create an enormous living space that can sleep 10.
Aqua Theater Suites:
Oasis-class ships keep families entertained with suites that overlook the Boardwalk area and AquaTheater water-based performance venue. Inside, the suite can sleep up to eight with two bedrooms, one with additional Pullman beds, and a convertible sofa; it also has two bathrooms (one with tub), and a living and dining area. Outside, a wraparound balcony features lounge and dining areas and uncrowded viewing of the shows and scene below.
This lavish suite fits 14 aboard Quantum of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas, Independence of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas. These suites include four bathrooms (two masters and two bedrooms with twin beds convertible to kings and pull-down bunks), spacious living and dining areas, and huge balconies with al fresco dining tables, hot tubs and wet bars.
Standard cabins hold a maximum of four people, but Royal Caribbean's Quantum-class ships have many connecting cabins (about 25 per deck, of different configurations) and quads that connect to quads or quads to doubles. Royal Caribbean has plenty of different suite configurations that sleep four if you simply want more space. One interesting addition aboard inside cabins on Navigator, Quantum and Anthem of the Seas is the "virtual balcony" -- window-sized TV monitors playing a live feed of what's happening outside.
- Royal Caribbean's partnership with Dreamworks means that Dreamworks movies and TV programming play on in-cabin TVs.
- Complimentary Pack 'n Plays and minifridges can be delivered to the cabin.
- Nappy bags can be ordered for an additional fee, filled with nappies, wipes, nappy balm and a changing pad. They are delivered to your cabin (you can also order baby food and packs of nappies). With increasing fees for carry-ons and luggage, this is a huge perk if you're flying!
- In-room babysitting for children over the age of one-year old is available for $12/hour during the day and $19/hour at night.
Norwegian Cruise Line
The laidback cruise line famous for "Freestyle" cruising, meaning relaxed dress codes and dining whenever and wherever you want, has also seen an increase in families onboard. Norwegian Cruise Line's newest ships feature kid-sized furniture in the buffet restaurants, and plenty of larger and connecting cabins.
Norwegian's newest ships -- Escape, Breakaway and Getaway -- feature more staterooms that fit five, more connecting rooms and more studios for the single relative who wants to join in the family fun.
These windowless cabins sleep up to four with two lower beds converting into a queen and two Pullman bunk beds. The one bathroom is outfitted with a shower. All family staterooms are located on Deck 12, near the Splash Academy kids club, and most of the staterooms can be turned into connecting rooms.
Most Norwegian ships sleep four in this category, but aboard Escape, Getaway and Breakaway, this cabin sleeps five people, with two lower beds that convert to a queen, a double sofa bed and a Pullman-style bed that drops down from the wall. Family Staterooms are located near the kids clubs, teen club and kids pools. (You'll be thankful not to have to walk across the entire ship with your toddler!) The sleeping area is separated from the living area by a small closet. Family Oceanviews generally come with a bathtub.
These cabins sleep up to four with two lower beds converting into a queen and a single sofa bed and one Pullman bed. The bathroom is shower-only. Look for these near the kids club on Deck 12.
Family Mini-Suite with Balcony:
Similar to the Family Balcony but with more space, this Mini-Suite sleeps four and includes a nicer bathroom with a bathtub.
These suites fit up to eight aboard Pride of America and six on the Dawn-class ships. Aboard Pride of America, Family Suites include a living room with two lower beds that convert to a queen and a double sofa bed, a separate bedroom with two lower beds that convert to a queen, and additional bedding for two more passengers. There are two bathrooms with showers and two TVs. Family Suites aboard the Dawn-class ships have only one bathroom, but it has a bathtub and a shower. Some of the family suites come with a balcony, but not all. All suites on Norwegian ships include the added perk of butler and concierge service.
Two-Bedroom Family Suite:
These suites are available on Jewel- and Dawn-class ships, as well as Pride of America. Each family suite has a living area, dining area, a seperate bedroom with a queen-sized bed, as well as a separate children's bedroom, a luxury bathroom with bathtub and a second bathroom with toilet, sink and shower. There's also a roomy balcony.
The Haven is Norwegian's exclusive-access suite area, which features a private pool and sun deck and, on some ships, a dining area and lounge. It's found on all ships except for Dawn-class ships and Pride of America. The Haven's Family Villas are like two-bedroom apartments at sea, accommodating up to six people each. Aboard some ships, including Norwegian Jewel and Norwegian Pearl, there's an additional Three Bedroom Garden Villa within the Haven that sleeps eight. Other Haven suites may not be designated for families, but can sleep four to six, or can be connected with adjacent suites for humongous living areas.
Standard cabins hold a maximum of four people. Certain cabins aboard Norwegian Dawn, Star, Sun and Jewel feature dividing curtains, to give mum and dad privacy after the kids have gone to sleep. Breakaway and Getaway have many connecting cabins of different configurations for larger families.
- Nickelodeon channel plays on cabin TVs.
- Complimentary Pack 'n Plays are available on request.
- A week's worth of nappies and wipes can be delivered to your cabin for an additional charge.
- Cabins offer ample storage space, including functional box-shaped seats that double as storage.
- Cabins have minifridges to store your own snacks and drinks.
Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival is considered one of the most affordable options for families. Its "Seuss at Sea" programs bring Dr. Seuss characters and decor to the kids clubs and ship activities, including a Green Eggs and Ham character breakfast.
Carnival isn't known for over-the-top luxurious suites, but families on a budget will be glad to find almost 200 Quint cabins aboard the newer Dream, Magic and Breeze.
Family Ocean View Staterooms
An affordable option for families of five, these outside cabins are available on Carnival's Dream-class (Dream, Magic and Breeze) and Conquest-class ships (Glory, Valor, Freedom), as well as Carnival Splendor. These 21.3 sq.m staterooms have a large picture window, but no balcony. Family Ocean View Staterooms have two twin beds, two upper bunk beds and a single sofa bed. Note to parents: the two regular twins cannot convert into one queen-sized bed if both bunk beds are used, as it would block ladder access to one bunk. Also note that Family Ocean View Staterooms aboard the Dream-class ships feature two bathrooms, one with a shower and the other with a junior tub. Family Staterooms aboard the Conquest-class ships have only one bathroom.
Carnival Vista (debuting in 2016), first in the line's Vista class, is also first with a brand-new cruising concept -- the dedicated family zone. It's a space exclusively for families, with its own suites, staterooms and a lounge just for guests staying in the family cabins. The Family Harbor Suite fits five and has a partition divider between the main bedroom and the sitting area with its pullout sofa. Family Harbor Suites have two bathrooms, a full one with a shower, sink and toilet, and the second bathroom with only a sink and shower/tub combo. The lounge is designed as the ultimate family hangout with large-screen TVs, games and complementary breakfast and snacks. A special family concierge will assist family cabin passengers in planning excursions and making reservations both onboard and ashore.
Carnival ships have hundreds of connecting cabins of varying configurations. In addition, the line offers quad configurations on select inside, ocean view and balcony cabins. Standard staterooms are large compared to industry standards; inside cabins offer 17.2 sq. m of space, and balcony cabins offer the same plus a 3.2 sq. m balcony. Those balconies can provide priceless relaxation space, as children are napping or watching TV.
Ocean View Quad Cabins include 20.4 sq. m of space, with a split bathroom layout; one bathroom has a tub, toilet and vanity, while the other has a shower, toilet and vanity. There are no designated Family Staterooms aboard Carnival Liberty and Carnival Conquest. The only "Quint" cabins available are two luxurious Captain's Suites, which come with VIP check-in and priority dining assignment, allowing you the flexibility of changing your dinner time once onboard. These are the largest suites in the fleet (60.3 sq. m aboard Liberty and 28 sq. m aboard Conquest) and feature a bathroom with junior tub and shower and a private veranda.
- Flat-screen cabin TVs have the Cartoon Network, as well as pay-per-view movie options.
- Complimentary Pack 'n Plays are available upon request.
In Australia and New Zealand, P&O is practically a household name. The cruise line has five ships servicing destinations around Australia, New Zealand, Asia and the Pacific Islands. The cruise line continues to cater to families with a wide range of groundbreaking kids activities and entertainment, and four berth (quad) rooms, inter-connecting rooms and suites that provide ideal accommodation for families.
All ships both boast inter-connecting rooms with Pacific Eden and Pacific Aria offering a range of configurations for larger families and groups travelling together. There arequad, triple and twin combinations for people looking for more space than a standard cabin provides.
Pacific Dawn's suites are 51.8sq. m while Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden's come in at 54 sq. m. All sleep up to four people using a rollaway bed and a cot. Suites offer a deeper, longer balcony with outdoor furniture and a roomy living area, separate bedroom and a large bathroom with a tub and separate shower.
On Pacific Dawn, Pacific Pearl and Pacific Jewel, inside cabins are the same size and configuration as standard outsides, which come in at between 17.3 and 17.6 sq. m. Pacific Eden and Pacific Aria's interior cabins come in between 13 and 21 sq. m. All sleep between two and four by way of a queen-sized bed, which can be configured as twins, and one- or two- pull-down upper berths.
Standard oceanview rooms on Pacific Aria, Pacific Pearl and Pacific Jewel measure between 17.3 and 17.6 sq. m with either picture windows or portholes. Oceanview cabins on the newer Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden are sized between 16 and 24 sq. m. Each sleeps between two and four by way of a queen-sized bed, which can be configured as twins, and one- or two pull-down upper berths. Some standard rooms connect to other quad-shares outside staterooms, which are ideal for larger families and groups of friends.
On Pacific Dawn, Pacific Pearl and Pacific Jewel these come in at 19.5 square metre, while Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden come in at a much larger 27 sq. m with the addition of acomfortable 6 sq. m balcony. All have three- or four-berth options, and a lower berth can be removed to accommodate a cot.
Pacific Dawn, Pacific Pearl and Pacific Jewel Mini-suites are substantially larger at 34 sq. m and sleep up to three people with a single rollaway bed in the sitting room. Mini Suites also offer a more open balcony and bigger bathrooms with a bathtub and shower.
- Flat-screen TV
- DVD players in room and family movies available on loan.
- Complimentary cot for children aged 12 months to 2 years and 11 months.
- Fridge for storing food -- excluding Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden.
Celebrity's 11 ships serve a more upscale crowd and are known for having more sophisticated cuisine, amenities and activities than its sister line, Royal Caribbean. It's the terrific kids programs, however, that still make it a hit with families.
Celebrity's staterooms are considered some of the most spacious at sea. The cruise line's well-designed family staterooms provide plenty of privacy and space.
Family Veranda Stateroom:
These spacious 53.4 sq. m suites are available on all Solstice-class ships. These are the only staterooms that fit five. They have two bedrooms, a large veranda, one bathroom and a living area with a pullout double sofa. The master bedroom has a queen bed and the second bedroom has a single bed. This is a particularly nice setup for a family with kids of different ages. The smaller child can sleep in the second bedroom, while older kids stay up and watch TV. Family verandas can connect to Double Ocean View Cabins. These cabins have one bathroom with a shower. The Family Veranda Staterooms on the Millennium ships (Celebrity Constellation, Celebrity Millennium, Celebrity Summit, Celebrity Infinity) are smaller -- only 25.1 sq. m -- but they feature a whopping 19.5 sq.m balcony for your own front porch at sea (opposed to the standard 3.5 sq. m balcony). These staterooms include two lower beds that convert to a queen, floor-to-ceiling sliding-glass doors, a sitting area with two sofa beds that convert to full-size beds and a privacy partition between the two sleeping areas. Aboard Millennium, Family Veranda Staterooms fit five and have one bathroom with a shower, however -- unlike the Solstice class ships -- they do not connect with any other cabins.
Most Celebrity ships have, on average, 60 to 80 connecting rooms with a variety of configurations. All room categories on Celebrity ships, from Inside to Ocean View, Veranda and Suite class, can hold four passengers, except for the Aqua Class. Typically, a room for four would have a king and a double pullout sofa. These rooms have one bathroom with a shower. Suite category rooms and higher would also have a full-size bathtub.
- In-room babysitting for up to three children is available for an additional fee.
- Kids menus are available via complimentary room service.
- Complimentary Pack 'n Plays are available on request.
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Holland America, better known for its older clientele, is checking in to the multigenerational travel trend. Its newest ship, Koningsdam, will be its first to offer cabins that sleep five.
Holland America's current fleet does not offer any designated family cabins; Koningsdam will offer the first.
Family Ocean View Stateroom:
Koningsdam's 32 Quint staterooms range from 20.5 to 21.5 sq. m and feature two bathrooms -- one with a bathtub and shower. Two lower beds convert to a queen, and there's a double pullout sofa and one upper Pullman-style bunk bed.
On average, 4 to 5 percent of Holland America cabins connect to other rooms. The newest ship, Koningsdam, will offer 150 connecting cabins. In addition, many rooms sleep three or four, and often you can find discounted cruise fares for additional passengers sharing a cabin.
- Complimentary Pack 'n Plays are available on request.
- Complimentary room service can be delivered 24 hours a day and includes kid-friendly foods such as hot dogs, hamburgers and chicken fingers.
- In-room babysitting is offered for $8 an hour for the first child and $5 an hour for each additional child.
- Complimentary video games and game players (Xbox or Wii) can be checked out for use in room.