5 European Cruises for the Entire Family

Although vacation cruises have been happening for decades, most of our experience in North America is with cruises that traverse a few Caribbean islands or parts of Mexico, then come home again. The massive ships that are used for Caribbean cruises can only dock in certain ports, which are often created specifically for cruise ships. These ports are full of enjoyable activities, but they don’t allow passengers much of a chance to interact with locals or take part in authentic local experiences. In the last several years, European cruises have caught the attention of North American travelers and have become much more popular.

European cruises generally use much smaller ships than their ocean counterparts, which allows them to dock at much smaller cities that have ports along rivers and smaller waterways, even in the winter. Europe is much more compact than other continents, and cruising allows you to easily navigate between cities. If you have children, going on a European cruise allows you to introduce your children to exciting cities, while ensuring that they’re safe, secure, and having fun on the journey. Although the ships are smaller relative to Caribbean cruise vessels, they still have every amenity you could ever want, including activities specifically designed for younger passengers.

Here are some of the best cruise options for the entire family.

7 Day Western Mediterranean Cruise – Norwegian

Mediterranean cruises are popular because they’re available year-round, not just during the summer high season. Norwegian Cruise Line is one of many who operate Mediterranean cruises, and their seven-day option, which leaves from Barcelona, cruises through Naples, Rome, Florence, Cannes, and Palma de Mallorca before heading back to Spain. These cities are perfect for young children, especially those whose palates are a bit more adventurous. The Italian cities that the cruise line visits are known for their food, and delicious gelato.

On board the Norwegian Epic, you’ll find a newly renovated interior that includes a massive water park with SplashGolf, a fun mini-golf variation that uses water as an obstacle. There are 20 different restaurants, so you can dine at whatever time suits you, even if you have fussy eaters. Norwegian has complimentary programs designed to entertain youngsters from six months to 17 years old, which makes the Norwegian Epic a wonderful place for meeting other cruising families.

7 Day Greece and Croatia Cruise – Royal Caribbean International

This cruise, which passes from Venice to Katakolon through the Adriatic Sea, is an excellent opportunity for travelers of all ages to get to know cities in Europe that aren’t as popular with tourists. Run by Royal Caribbean International, Rhapsody of the Seas calls in at Dubrovnik, Kotor, Santorini, and Katakolon before returning to scenic Venice. This seven-day trip has two full days of cruising, so you can recover from your busy days of sightseeing.

Although Royal Caribbean is known for their mega-ships, the ship used for this cruise is much smaller, which makes it ideal for families with young children. If you want to stay active, they have a rock wall, pools, and a jogging track. They have three specialty restaurants, and there are nightly performances that are designed with families in mind.

11 Night Scandinavia and Russia Cruise – Princess Cruises

If you’re looking for some more moderate temperatures on your holidays this summer, a cruise through the Baltic Sea on Princess Cruises’ Regal Princess is a great option for you.

The 11 Night Scandinavia and Russia Cruise run by Princess Cruises departs from Copenhagen, and docks in Oslo, Berlin, Tallinn, St. Petersburg, Helsinki, and Stockholm. These cities are full of beautiful architecture, interesting food, and are easily walkable. Many people go back to Princess Cruises again and again because they’ve managed to bridge the gap between family fun and refined elegance. The food is a highlight for many people as the buffet is excellent, and offers plenty of different options, and the for-fee restaurants are very reasonably priced. The gorgeous pool, and SeaWalk (a glass walkway that juts out over the water) are great for passengers of all ages.

7 Night Mediterranean Cruise – MSC

Mediterranean cruises are extremely popular with European cruisers because they’re available all year round.

One of MSC Cruises top offerings is their 7 Night Mediterranean cruise, which departs from Rome every weekend during the summer high season. From there, they set a fast pace, and dock in Palermo, Sardinia, Palma de Mallorca, Valencia, Marseilles, and Genoa.

Aboard the MSC Divina, whose design was inspired by Sophia Loren, glamorous accents including nightly dances and a glittering atrium sit side-by-side with family-friendly pools, water parks, and themed parties. MSC allows children under 11 traveling with two adults to travel for free, which has brought many new passengers onboard. Their staff is known to be enthusiastic and friendly, and they offer lots of entertainment options that can be enjoyed by the whole family, like movie nights on deck, twice-nightly revues with singing, dancing, and acrobatics, and all-ages trivia nights.

9 Night Greek Isles Cruise – Royal Caribbean International

This 10 day, nine night cruise allows families the opportunity to explore the cities and countryside of Greece, calling in at Taormina, Malta, Mykonos, Santorini, Athens, and Naples before heading back to the departure port of Rome. Since the cruise covers so much distance, there are two full days of cruising at sea.

Royal Caribbean International is known for their excellent service and family-friendly amenities. This cruise uses the Jewel of the Seas, which was renovated in 2016 to outfit it with more modern amenities, including an outdoor movie screen, and three new dining options. Many people choose Royal Caribbean because of the classic, laid-back atmosphere. Plus, it’s great for families without having too many cutesy touches. During the day, families can relax by the pool, or participate in line dancing and games of trivia, and spend their evenings strolling the decks, singing karaoke, or watching one of the shows or cabarets.

Pavel L Photo and Video / Shutterstock

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