We often choose a cruise holiday for the ship as much as for the itinerary it is sailing. The dazzling bells and whistles that modern ships come with are now in direct competition with shore excursions at ports-of-call, making it harder than ever to leave the ship.
There are sailings that match the onboard experience to the adventure on land, though. To give you the best of both worlds, that is, a great vessel and a great itinerary, we’ve sifted through our deals to find three of the hottest ship/sailing combinations out there.
Here are our picks for the best family cruises, both for the ship and where it’ll take you.
Alaska – 7 Nights, roundtrip Vancouver
Nieuw Amsterdam by Holland America Line
It’s still possible to enjoy an Alaska cruise this season but you’ll need to act fast. The last of the September sailings are quickly filling up and cruises won’t resume till spring. If you’d like to tick Alaska off your bucket list this year, book now. For those looking for the perfect multi-generation vacation, an Alaskan cruise is it. Bring the kids and their grandparents, too!
The Places You’ll Go
Visit: Inside Passage, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay National Park & Ketchikan
The Inside Passage hugs the British Columbia coast north of Vancouver Island in a stunning collection of coves and islets. This pristine region is teeming with wildlife boasting eagles, bears, sea lions, several whale species, and much, much more.
Alaska is where you’ll definitely want to get off the ship and explore. The state capital, Juneau, offers visitors a frontier town vibe, and shore excursions include glacier hikes, wildlife viewing and whale-watching. Charming Skagway exudes its gold rush past in trading posts and saloons visited on walking tours of the historic city centre. For a taste of Alaska’s rich Indigenous culture, visit Saxman Village and tour Ketchikan’s Totem Heritage Center and its collection of intricate totem poles.
Lastly, Glacier Bay National Park, a World Heritage Site and one of the world’s largest biosphere reserves, is a living, breathing attraction that leaves visitors humbled. Ancient fjords dug a deep bay that’s now surrounded with rainforest and snow-capped peaks that rise to over 15,000 feet.
Holland America Line’s second Signature-class ship, Nieuw Amsterdam, celebrates historic New York City, which once went by the same name. This 11-deck behemoth comes with plenty of deck space for wildlife viewing for everyone.
Staterooms range from spacious Inside cabins, some even with spa amenities and yoga mats, to the decadent Neptune & Pinnacle Suites, decked out in floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a private verandah, full-size whirlpool bath, and more. Onboard, guests enjoy cooking classes at America’s Test Kitchen, Digital Workshops, the pampering Greenhouse Spa & Salon, and exquisite dining at a range of specialty restaurants.
Mexico & Western Caribbean – 7 Nights, roundtrip Port Canaveral
Harmony of the Seas by Royal Caribbean International
Sunseekers and watersport enthusiasts can’t get enough of this sailing to some of the very best snorkel and scuba dive spots in the Northern Hemisphere. And if the underwater world isn’t for you, there is more than enough onboard (and on land) to keep you satisfied. This is another sailing that’s perfect for the whole family.
The Places You’ll Go
Visit: Perfect Day at CocoCay (Bahamas), Costa Maya (Mexico), Roatan (Honduras) & Cozumel (Mexico)
What better way to kick off a cruise holiday than by visiting the ultimate waterpark at sea? Perfect Day at CocoCay is 100 acres of thrills and relaxation on a private island in the Bahamas used exclusively for guests of the cruise line. Take on the tallest waterslide in North America, the wave pool and zip-line, or just chill in a private over-water cabana staring out into the ocean blue.
The Mayan coast of Mexico holds the world’s second largest barrier reef. Along with the islands of Cozumel and Roatan, the reef offers some of the best dive sites and snorkel spots in the Gulf of Mexico. This cruise stops at all of them. For those looking for the ultimate thrill, visit in August for a chance to swim alongside majestic whale sharks that migrate there annually.
Harmony of the Seas is one of the world’s largest passenger ships offering larger than life experiences to match, like the 10-storey waterslide, Ultimate Abyss, the tallest slide at sea. There’s also Perfect Storm, where two can race down near-vertical slides at super high-speeds. Zip lines and rock-climbing walls? Check and check!
Foodies get spoiled, too, with a choice of specialty restaurants, like Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Italian, made-to-order sushi at Izumi, and the whimsical flavours of Wonderland. Toast to your perfect cruise with a cocktail made by a robot at the Bionic Bar, or while you move between Deck 5 and Deck 8 on the mobile Rising Tide Bar.
Italy, Spain & France – 12 Nights, Rome to Southampton
Norwegian Escape by Norwegian Cruise Line
Looking for great value? European cruises offer the most cost-effective way of seeing this dynamic continent. This well-organized itinerary maximizes ports-of-call by operating as a one-way cruise, and finishing in England keeps the trip packed with highlights without backtracking.
This routing also lends itself well to extending your European holiday with a pre-cruise stay in Italy or a post-cruise stay in England (or both!). To price or book tours, hotels and car rentals before or after your sailing, reach out to our Cruise Experts today.
The Places You’ll Go
Visit: Naples / Pompeii (Italy), Livorno (Italy), Cannes (France), Barcelona (Spain), Malaga (Spain), Cadiz / Seville (Spain), Lisbon (Portugal), Portland (England) & Le Havre / Paris (France)
This action-packed itinerary makes all the necessary Mediterranean stops, and then some. Explore Naples, with side-trips to Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast. Taste Tuscany near the port of Livorno, and lounge on the rich beaches of Cannes.
Spain is well represented with nights in Barcelona, beach-perfect Malaga, and Cadiz, your gateway to Seville. After a night in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon, it’s time to head north to Paris, via its gateway Le Havre, before finally disembarking in England.
Voted Ship of the Year in 2017 (Ocean & Cruise News), Norwegian Escape is a dream. With a guest capacity of over 4,000, expect every creature comfort covered and plenty to go around. Sink your teeth into more than 25 different dining experiences. Enjoy libations in over 15 bars and lounges, including The Cellars, NCL’s first wine bar. Connect with the sea on The Waterfront, a gorgeous quarter-mile ocean promenade, perfect for a sunset.
There’s Broadway-style entertainment, the Snow Room, Aqua Park, a multi-level sports complex, the Casino at Sea, Headliner’s Comedy Club and the soothing Mandara Spa. Whatever your heart desires, you’ll find aboard the Norwegian Escape.
And there you have it. If you’re looking to wow the family with an amazing cruise adventure on both land and sea, book one of the above sailings today. Our Cruise Experts are standing by.