Family of 5 trying cruise again (need help)

We've had a 10 year hiatus from cruising. Life has been busy with small children. Last time we cruised was with Disney Magic and it was dreamy. We loved almost everything about it. Now, the kids went and grew up so Disney (and it's price tag) are not what we want. 

Our family of 5 has 3 children - age 9, 14, 17 at time of trip. We want this to be a fun experience for them. I think one of the bigger mega-ships will get my kids excited and they are most interested in the ports and trying some fun water excursions. I'm currently looking at The Norwegian Epic or the Norwegian Escape or possibly one of the RCI bigger ships like Harmony, Oasis, or other new big ships)... if I could find it at a comparable price to the Epic/Escape. 


I would appreciate any thoughts or insight, keeping the following in mind:

1) My 2 older kids are foodies... like their parents they appreciate good food. They are not the kind of kids that will grab pizza or a burger off the buffet each night. They like ethnic foods and just GOOD and creative prepped food. I wouldn't say they are fussy. I know they will find things they love - but FOOD is a big part of what they will enjoy about our trip.

2) The pools on cruise ships don't appeal to me. I know they need to be small and even on the Disney cruise I only hopped in a few times to cool down because they didn't seem that clean and debris/napkins/etc would fly into the pool each time the wind blew. I'm thinking we want something fun for the kids that is interactive like waterslides, etc and that will make hanging by the pool better. I'm also interested in an adults-only type pool that may be a little less mayhem and where I can just sit and sip a drink and read a book.

3) Surprisingly we did not mind interior rooms on the Disney. It was a considerable savings - especially when we are looking at getting 2 adjoining rooms since only 4 fit per room (3 in one room, 2 in the other room for us).


Appreciate any insight. We are looking at late Feb - anytime in March as our dates 2018. I'm assuming we need to book soon to ensure we get rooms adjoining or close to each other.




14 Answers

I don't do kids - so I'm not much help there. Your teenagers sound mature for their ages so maybe Carnival could be an option (from what I hear - I've never sailed Carnival). I have sailed Norwegian, Princess and Celebrity - and Norwegian and Princess have earned their reputations for an older demographic (at least for longer cruises) - so that would leave Celebrity.

I would go more to the RCI ships for the activities for the kids. MDR food on both lines are not really for foodies. If you go NCL I would suggest the premium dining package as in MHO the MDR food is not to good and bad service. I'd also suggest some premium dining on RCI. I would check with your booking agent, some NCL ships do not have a full bathroom, they have a sink in the cabin, a stall shower off the room and a water closet..... not a lot of privacy for the ones in the shower.

Any line you go on just remember it is not Disney so things will not be the same, slower service, food, details of the ship and entertainment.

I would suggest you read some of the reviews posted on the ships your thinking of taking. The Epic seams to get a lot of negative reviews.

I have been on Carnival a few times and had a blast. I will be on the Carnival Vista the end of April early May so I could tell you more about it then. I have found the MDR on Carnival to be OK, not foodie nirvana but OK food.

Celebrity does have the best Cruise line food I have had, but it tend to be more older guest and not a lot of kids.

We have primarily sailed Carnival. While they don't have the climbing wall, ice skating rink, and wave runner that you will find on the RCI mega ships, they do have activities geared to all ages of "children". It is broken down into age appropriate activities. Since you are a family of foodies, I recommend you check out the "chef's table" no matter which cruise line you choose.

Here is some information about the youth programs on Carnival:


About 100 results (0.34 seconds) Children With Special Needs | Carnival Cruise Line Children with disabilities are welcome in our youth programs. Youth program
rules, including those related to hours, illness, the administration of medication, ... Camp Carnival | Cruise Activities for Kids | Carnival Cruise Line Camp Carnival | Cruise Activities for Kids | Carnival Cruise Line It's everything kids love about summer camp and their favorite babysitter, all in
one! Camp Carnival offers tons of activities designed for children in different age
... Circle C | Onboard Cruise Activities for Young Teens | Carnival Circle C | Onboard Cruise Activities for Young Teens | Carnival Carnival's Circle C is for young teens aboard our cruise ships. Chill, connect,
meet new friends and enjoy some pretty awesome activities like dance parties
and ... Club O2 | Cruise Activities for Teens | Carnival Cruise Lines Club O2 | Cruise Activities for Teens | Carnival Cruise Lines Club O2, the just-for-teens hangout aboard Carnival offers movies, music, sports,
video games, karaoke jam sessions, pool party and much more.

Friends of ours were in a very similar situation last year. They have 3 daughters the ages of your girls, and they had a great time on the Carnival Ecstasy. They booked an OV room for the 5 of them and made it work for them all to get ready for the day and then dinner. The girls met lots of new friends and enjoyed spending time with those new friends and with their parents.

I hope your family enjoys their cruise as much as this family of 5 did.

My only help is stating that since you sailed ten years ago you will be expecting all the frills. Pleas note. All cruise lines for the past few years are doing major minor cutbacks to increase profit. Examples and others can help. No chocolate on the pillow, MDR no table cloths, you might get once a day room steward service, less crew to service passengers ect ect. It's still fun but don't think the perks are the same as ten years ago.

Sadly this is true!

The only perk we really took advantage of on Disney was the cookie platters and cheese/cracker platters we had delivered free for room service each evening :) We are considering heavily the NCL Epic (i've read good and bad reviews about the layout and will keep researching with an open mind) because it has a lot of the bells and whistles that will excite our kids..and we liked the itinerary and they have a great deal on right now where you get free dining upgrade package (or UDP) which i think will appeal to our food enthusiast teens.

Good thing to know going into it. Thanks!


Good thing to know going into it. Thanks!


I did not care for the MDR on NCL but the French, Sushi and Steak House were very good at a surcharge. I also liked the 24 hour snack bar on NCL where on other lines you only get Pizza 24/7.


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