Best Cruises for Kids: Carnival or Royal Caribbean?


Are you planning a family cruise in the near future? If so, you've probably started reading online reviews. And in your reading, you've probably noticed a trend: Tons of complaints about kids on cruise ships. Many adults are complaining that kids running wild are making cruising uncomfortable. But does this mean that you can't sail with the kiddos? Of course not. Several cruise lines are kid-friendly, and Carnival and Royal Caribbean are two of those. Which is the best for your babies? We'll aim to answer that question in this quick comparison that dives into the topic of best cruises for kids: Carnival versus Royal Caribbean. Before we begin, however, remember that each cruise line has various ships, and each differs regarding features. This quick guide is more of a general view of what each brand has to offer overall. With that out of the way, let's jump into the juicy details.

Why Carnival Cruise Line Is Good for Kids

Out of Carnival's fleet of multiple ships, the Dream and Vista are where your kids can have the most fun. You can have them tag along as you entertain one another on the ships' various features, but the Carnival kids club called Camp Ocean is where you can drop off 2-11-year-olds while you have some private time. Camp Ocean is available across the entire Carnival fleet, and it usually occupies the ships' upper decks. Counselors will change diapers, and when they're not doing such "dirty work," they'll let your little ones enjoy ocean-themed activities and more. If you have older kids, they can enjoy the Circle C and Club O2 camps for 12- 17-year-olds.

Carnival Cruise Line's Kid-Friendly Attractions

  • WaterWorks - water park with soakers, sprayers, splash areas, waterslides, pools, and more.
  • SportSquare - mini golf, foosball, basketball
  • SkyRide - cycling on a ride that’s basically a tame roller coaster
  • Scary ropes course
  • Seaside Theatre - movie theater with a massive 22-foot screen
  • Thrill Theater - 3D movie theater with added effects such as wind, spraying water, and moving seats during films
  • Multiplex - movie theaters that include an IMAX experience  Hasbro Game Show - a stage-hosted competition complete with games and prizes
  • Build-A-Bear workshops - for kids who want to show their creative side and walk away with a cuddly souvenir
  • Extras - free meals for kids in certain restaurants, mini bathrobes, one free night of group babysitting, Family Lounge access

Why Royal Caribbean Cruise Line Is Good for Kids

Not to be outdone, Royal Caribbean has its own impressive fleet. Royal Caribbean's Voyager, Freedom, Oasis of the Seas, and Anthem of the Seas are the most kid- friendly. They're not just for kids though, as these ships will also keep the adults accompanying the kids entertained as well. Royal Caribbean constructed many of its ships with kids in mind, so much so that you'll notice a lot of their space is dedicated just for the young'uns. When you're not accompanying your children on the many attractions intended for them, they'll be in good hands thanks to the cruise line's various kids clubs. Royal Tots and Royal Babies programs cater to children from 6-36 months old. There are also kids clubs for age ranges of 3-5, 6-8, and 9-11, plus clubs for the 12- 17-year-old crowd. As a plus, Royal Caribbean counselors tend to have a solid reputation for being friendly, so you can have added peace of mind while venturing out on your own.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line's Kid-Friendly Attractions

  • Dreamworks Experience - parades, character meet-and-greets/breakfasts with Kung Fu Panda, Shrek, and the like
  • SeaPlex - roller skating, bumper cars, video games 
  • North Star - similar to the London Eye, a ride that takes you 300 feet above the ocean in a glass capsule
  • Skydiving simulator- the first of its kind at-sea ice skating rink
  • Multiple pools
  • Scratch DJ Academy - for aspiring music industry moguls
  • Science lab
  • Arts and crafts
  • Rock-climbing walls
  • FlowRider - surfing simulator
  • 3D movie theater
  • Zipline
  • Extras - after-hours nursery care, play spaces that are toddler-friendly, the Ultimate Family Suite on Symphony which features a LEGO wall, slide, and games

Which Cruise Is Better for Kids: Carnival or Royal Caribbean?

What's the final verdict? Which cruise line is more kid-friendly? Is it Carnival or Royal Caribbean? The only real answer to that is you'll need to do more research that includes actual ships, ports of call, extras, and more. As you can see, however, both bring a lot to the table. To make things a bit more confusing, consider Disney Cruise Line. They tend to be more expensive, but reviews on the Net seem to say they're worth every penny. That wraps up this comparison Carnival versus Royal Caribbean as the best cruises for kids, but don't stop reading just yet. We have plenty of other guides on traveling with the kids on our site, so don't be shy. Browse around, get informed, and most important of all, get on the road! There's plenty to discover in South Florida, and will help you find it.