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US News and World Report just announced its 2022 Best Cruise Lines rankings in several categories. The methodology used for the rankings includes expert ratings (30%), traveler ratings (50%) and health ratings (20%).
Of course, one has to take these rankings with a grain of salt. Your experience on each cruise line will depend on the ship you sail, the specific crew members you interact with, time of year, etc.
But it’s no surprise that in the category of Best Cruise for Families, the results are:
#1: Disney Cruise Line
#2: Royal Caribbean
Having been on both cruise lines, I agree with this ranking. You can see all of the category rankings here.
Why Disney Cruise Line is Great for Families
Staterooms: Disney ships have many cabins that sleep five people. As a family of five, I really appreciated that when my kids were younger. Other cruise lines only have a handful of those cabins that fit large families. Most DCL staterooms also include bath tubs, which is a great feature for families with young children.
Entertainment: The Disney characters that wander the ships and offer meet and greet sessions are obviously a big hit with kids and adults. Although other cruise lines tried to imitate that with other cartoon characters, most have moved away from those offerings. The Broadway shows on Disney as well as the other entertainment are very family-friendly. Even the main dining rooms on DCL entertain with technology and live character appearances.
Kids Clubs: The Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab on DCL can’t be beat. They incorporate Disney characters and stories into the design. Activities are varied and engaging. The clubs don’t have an additional charge for late-night activities like other cruise lines do.
Why Royal Caribbean Is Great for Families
While Royal Caribbean may not beat DCL in every category for families, it does have a few advantages.
Recreation: Royal Caribbean really outshines DCL with recreation options for families on its larger ships. Older kids and teens love the Flow Rider, iFLY indoor sky diving, rock climbing wall, zip line, dry slides, bumper cars, circus classes, Sky Pad Bungee Trampoline, carousel, escape room, laser tag and ice skating. My boys had an absolute blast doing many of these things on our last cruise on Anthem of the Seas.
Entertainment Variety: While the Broadway shows on Royal Caribbean are not always the most family-friendly, other shows on the larger ships certainly appeal to kids and teens. Many ships offer ice skating performances and diving/acrobatic shows. Kids have their own smaller theatre called Adventure Ocean Theater with shows perfect for kids.
Kids Allowed at Specialty Restaurants: On DCL, kids under 18 are not allowed in the specialty restaurants Palo and Remy. But Royal Caribbean ships have a variety of specialty restaurants, and kids are welcome. On our last Royal Caribbean cruise, I took my 11-year-old son to a special dinner at Wonderland. The invisible menu and the surprises that showed up with each course were a huge hit! On our next cruise, we plan to eat at the hibachi/teppanyaki restaurant. Kids love hibachi, too!
Both DCL and Royal Caribbean are family-friendly. In my experience, Royal Caribbean is a better fit for older kids and teens while DCL is better for younger kids.
However, my family is choosing both. Our next cruise is on Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas. But the following year, we are going back to DCL to try the new Disney Wish.
Which cruise line do you think is best for families?
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.