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Sunday, April 03, 2005

Top 6 Family Cruise Lines

Top 6 Family Cruise Lines

Here are our picks for the best at sea in order based on the available children's programs activities, and facilities.

1. Disney - Disney has the most imaginative play space afloat, with plenty of activities for kids from 6 weeks to 17. Parents stay connected to their child with a standard issue Motorola Text Pager for messages and reminders about their child's schedule including pick-up times. An entire deck is dedicated to two large playrooms, where kids can dress up in Disney costumes and climb on playground equipment. The Flounder's Reef Nursery is the largest baby center at sea geared for ages 6 weeks to 3 years. Loaded with toys, cribs, baby swings and all baby needs for a fun time at sea. A limited number of infants are accepted each cruise, so get there early to reserve a space; there's an additional charge. Teens have their own coffee house and disco, and even parents get some time alone in adult-only venues where parents can dance, sing and laugh in a variety of Beat Street lounges and showrooms and have a romantic Italian dinner for two in alternative dining restaurant, Palos.

2. Royal Caribbean - Active cruisers of all ages - from children to seniors -- families will love the Voyager-class ships, making them a favorite for multigenerational reunions. Adventure Ocean offers supervised programs for ages 3 to 17 divided into four groups, and young sailors have lots of space including a playroom and outside play area. Teens have their own disco, DJ booth and soda bar. Plus there's miniature golf, a full basketball court, ice-skating rink, rock-climbing wall and more.

3. Princess - These options-rich ships offer lots of activities for kids from ages 3 to 16. Younger children keep busy in the Fun Zone, a two-deck cheerful play area with games, arts & crafts and splash pool, while teens enjoy a mini-golf course, a private disco and separate area for sunbathing, plus a pizzeria and Hagen Daazs ice cream shop. Princess' "Adventures Ashore" tour program offers a wide range of excursions appealing to families, with special rates for children 12 and under.

4. Carnival -- Carnival's Destiny-class ships attract the most families, with a large variety of entertainment and dining options, spacious and comfortable cabins, friendly and professional service and an exceptional value for the dollar. The Camp Carnival program includes an outdoor area with a kiddy pool and playhouse for younger children, plus Children's World featuring arts and crafts, an activity wall and a bank of educational computer games. Teens enjoy 214-foot water slides, 24-hour pizzerias and video arcades.

5. Holland America - Based in the Caribbean year round, Maasdam was recently renovated to include a bigger and better Club HAL for ages 5 and up. Features include a stand-alone teen center, complete with a dance floor and fog system, plus a larger facility for younger folk, with a big-screen television, VCR, DVD and audio sound system not to mention the now-obligatory computer stations. And Holland America has developed just-for-kids shore excursions.

6. Norwegian Cruise Line - The line's newest ships incorporate "Freestyle Cruising," offering families an unregimented voyage with a good price tag. There's plenty of activities for kids ages 3 to 17; for younger kids, including a playroom, movie theater, jungle gym, computer area, painting area, and Water World, featuring two rocket-shaped slides, a small slide and a wading pool. The Teen Club has a disco strictly for teenagers, a cinema and Video Zone with 25 video games.

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