By Sherri Eisenberg | Published on April 25, 2022
Choosing a vacation destination both you and your kids will love may sound like a daunting task, but it doesn't have to be. The best family vacation ideas are the ones that are a joy for everyone individually and as a group. After all, most families share some similar interests like beaches and sunshine, the great outdoors and adventure, or museums and culture, so there's sure to be a perfect destination for you.
As far as family vacation ideas go, give us a day of fun in the sun and keep the frothy beverages coming — and everyone in my family is thrilled. The good news is that cruise ships deliver these things in spades, all day long.
Case in point: My family of five may have somewhat diverse interests when it comes to movies or how to spend a weekend at home, but we can all rally around a trip that includes plenty of pool splashing and wave-jumping, sandcastle building, and endless frozen drinks — virgin beverages for the "little ones," naturally.
I say "little ones" with tongue firmly in cheek because my teenage stepsons are easily a foot taller than I am. They love the comforts of home while traveling, especially when it comes to food — from pancakes to pizza, chicken fingers, French fries, and soft-serve — these teenagers love their American delights. These guys also marvel at the idea of watching superhero movies on deck under the stars, playing arcade games at sea, and all the amusement park-style rides. For my toddler on the other hand, who hasn't gotten to travel much yet, he loves live music and splash parks, so a warm-weather cruise ticks all the boxes for my family.
As for my husband? Well, the good Dad that he is, he's just happy when we're all together and all three kids are content. And me? This frazzled working mom is as thrilled as the pigs that swim off the coast of the Bahamas when I can leave the cooking, cleaning, and straightening up to someone else. And luckily, the best family cruises have kids' clubs, so there's always the chance for my husband and me to slip away for an evening "out" or at least a post-dinner toast on the balcony while the rest of the family is safely and happily entertained.
For passport-filling families, a Mediterranean adventure may just be the trip you all talk about for years to come. Set sail from Barcelona or Venice, and you can rack up most of the countries in one thrilling week with calls in Italy, France, Spain, and even Greece, Slovenia, or Croatia.
Every day on a Mediterranean cruise is filled with experiences that are the stuff of history-loving families' dreams: Bend your head back as far as it goes to ogle the ceilings of Barcelona's Gaudi-designed cathedral before setting off for a feast of tapas. And to keep the young kids engaged, race up the steps to the Acropolis of Athens and take turns posing as the missing statue of a Greek goddess — it's currently in The British Museum in London, but you can fill in for her and pose for pictures while she's abroad.
Share an unforgettably good pizza in the city that celebrates this culinary art form the most — Naples. Then, set off on a multi-mile trek around the Sicilian port of Palermo while you learn about the history and culture and map out some of the world's best bakeries to sample crisp, creamy cannoli from along the way. From famous art to fascinating historical sites to delicious regional dishes, a cruise here will expand the minds — and palettes — of everyone in your family.
If your family is anything like mine, you'll agree that the best family vacation ideas are the ones that give you a taste of summer when it's frigid back home. Mexican Riviera cruises offer their own magic. With underground cenotes that are perfect for a swim to exploring the clifftop Mayan ruins followed by mind-blowingly good fried fish tacos served up at roadside stands and chips with salsas that will redefine the condiment for you, there's truly something for everyone here.
And, after a week of toasting with margaritas and aquas fresca, you'll probably end up coming home with maracas and piñatas for your little ones and tequila and hot sauce for the grown-ups to remember the adventure by. Sure, everyone will bemoan the fact for years to come that the tacos are just not as good in your hometown, but that means you'll just have to plan another trip back.
One port you won't want to miss when cruising with your kids is the "private island" — a land-based water park filled with all the sun-drenched fun you've been dreaming of since the snow started falling back home. On Royal Caribbean's Perfect Day at CocoCay, for example, you'll hop a tram from the ship that takes you around the Bahamian island. There, the family can relax in the lagoon or at the pool — which is actually the largest freshwater pool in the Caribbean. Or, if you're feeling brave, you and the older kids can sail down the largest waterslide in North America — it's two times taller than the Golden Gate Bridge! If not, the good news is there are 12 other water slides to choose from.
You'll also find a splash park more suited for the little ones, with zip lines, a floating bar, cabanas, a wing bar with live music, snorkeling tours, and even a helium balloon ride. For families like mine, who like their toes in the sand and the breeze in the palm trees, a pool and water park day like this one really is our idea of perfect.
Intrigued by the idea of a Perfect Day at CocoCay with your crew? Book your next family adventure.