Cruise lines cater to kids onboard and in port
Mediterranean › Norwegian Epic
If dressing up and getting stuck at a table with strangers isn’t your idea of fun, then NCL’s Freestyle Cruising concept was designed for you; restaurant tables are unassigned and there are plenty of cabin options (family staterooms accommodate four). Onboard, families can bowl, make pizza, or hit the spa together (with “ice cream manicures” for kids). Meanwhile, supervised age-specific activities (treasure hunts, crafts, storytelling) give adults alone time. Offshore excursions, like hiking Mount Vesuvius in Naples or creating your own perfume in Nice, will appeal to older kids. Ports of Call: Rome, Florence, Naples, Barcelona.Passengers: 4,100.
Galápagos › National Geographic Endeavour
Lindblad specializes in active expeditions, and in the Galápagos that means snorkeling, hiking, and kayaking almost daily. The ship features outside-facing cabins and is outfitted for true exploration: Zodiacs, a glass-bottom boat, underwater cameras, and video microscopes with HD screens to view sea turtles, pods of orcas, and marine iguanas. When not learning the art of knot-tying or stargazing, kids can sketch whales in their journals, learn to photograph fur seals, or make beaded necklaces crafted from the islands’ recycled paper waste. Ports of call: North Seymour, Rabida, Fernandina, Isabela, Santiago, Santa Cruz, San Cristobal. Passengers: 96.
Baja, Mexico › Safari Quest
Rope swinging off the yacht’s stern? Check. Burro trail rides along a craggy Baja Peninsula peak? Check. Children of all ages are welcome on select “Kids in Nature” sailings, where expedition leaders tailor activities to their interests. The Sea of Cortez is known as the aquarium of the world, and this eight-day sail allows families to snorkel with sea lions and paddle alongside dolphins. The comfy yacht is furnished with flat-screen TVs and heated bathroom floors, and the chef cooks with local fish and produce. Ports of call: La Paz, Isla Partida, Bahia Agua Verde, Isla Coyote, Isla San Francisco. Passengers: 22.
Alaska › Celebrity Century
The Century is one of the smallest vessels from this plush mid-priced cruise line where well-heeled families take advantage of connecting staterooms, naturalist-led lecture series, and table-side cooking. Onboard, expect the usual activities at the kids’ clubs— karaoke, sports, movie nights. On land, kids get a real taste of local flavor and history with opportunities to meet native totem carvers and learn about the life of sled dogs at a musher’s camp. Ports of call: Icy Strait, Vancouver, Point Juneau, Ketchikan. Passengers: 1,814.