Which Royal Caribbean Ships Are a Kid’s Paradise at Sea?

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Cruising is no longer just an adults-only affair; it has evolved into a go-to vacation choice for families of all ages. Among the cruise lines leading this trend is Royal Caribbean, which is renowned for its family-friendly ethos and adventures that are just as exciting for the kids as they are for the adults.

But with a fleet of ships, each more impressive than the last, how do you choose the perfect one for your family?

In this article, I’ll discuss the best Royal Caribbean ships for different age groups, considering the range of activities onboard. So, whether you’re travelling with toddlers or teenagers, you’ll find a Royal Caribbean ship ideal for your family.

A group of children joyfully running through a shallow water play area on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, with colorful water slides and attractions in the background under a clear blue sky.

The Family Cruise Checklist: What to Look For

Before discussing the best ships for kids in each age group, it’s essential to consider what to look for when booking a cruise.

Royal Caribbean boasts a diverse fleet of 27 ships grouped into seven classes. While ships within each class share many similarities, they offer unique amenities that can significantly impact your family’s experience. Here’s a guide to navigating these options effectively:

Understanding Ship Classes

Each class offers a specific set of amenities, so familiarise yourself with what each class offers. Knowing the ship classes will help you narrow your options based on your family’s interests.

For instance, Quantum Class ships might offer skydiving simulators and robotic bartenders, while Oasis Class ships are known for their zip lines and outdoor aqua theatres. 

Related Reading: Explore Royal Caribbean Ships by Age and Class

Age-Specific Amenities

To make your family vacation as enjoyable as possible for everyone, it’s crucial to pick a ship that offers a diverse range of activities suitable for the age groups within your family.

While older kids might be thrilled by thrilling ziplines or escape rooms, these attractions often have age restrictions that could leave younger family members feeling left out. Therefore, before booking, look into the ship’s entertainment options.

Discover more about Royal Caribbean’s diverse fleet.

Family Facilities

Certain amenities are available across all Royal Caribbean ships, including the Adventure Ocean kids’ clubs, swimming pools, whirlpools, arcades, rock-climbing walls and table tennis. Some facilities are only available on certain ships, such as the carousel, which is only available on Oasis class ships.

Age Requirements for Activities

Different amenities often come with age restrictions. Knowing these can help you plan better, ensuring everyone in your family can make the most of their cruise.


When choosing accommodation onboard, pay attention to the importance of suitable accommodation. For larger families, consider booking family suites or interconnected rooms to ensure everyone has enough space. Additionally, consider factors such as whether you want a room with a balcony or would prefer an inside cabin.

Learn more about Royal Caribbean’s ship sizes and ages to choose the best accommodation for your family.

Now that I’ve given you the top things to look for in a family-friendly Royal Caribbean ship, let’s review my top recommendations for kids of all ages.

A young girl playing mini-golf on the top deck of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, featuring whimsical sea-themed obstacles like a giant sandcastle and colorful sea shells, with the ocean and blue sky in the background.

The Best Royal Caribbean Ship for Babies and Toddlers: Anthem of the Seas

If you’re planning a family cruise with little ones, Anthem of the Seas is the ship that has won my vote for many reasons. 

One of the standout features on Anthem of the Seas is the Baby Splash Zone, which is a part of Splashaway Bay or the H2O Zone on the ship. 

Unlike traditional pools and whirlpools that don’t accommodate swim diapers, these zones are tailored specifically for your youngest family members. They feature a shallow water area adorned with playful fountains and spray jets, offering safety and entertainment. 

Although this is available on a range of Royal Caribbean ships, including Adventure, Allure, Freedom, Harmony, Icon, Independence, Liberty, Oasis, Ovation, Quantum, Spectrum, Symphony, and Wonder of the Seas, Anthem remains my go-to choice.

Secondly, the Anthem of the Seas provides childcare options beyond simple babysitting. The ship features the Royal Babies & Tots Nursery, offering nursery drop-off sessions filled with toys and age-appropriate activities. Tailored for children between 6 and 36 months, this program keeps your kids entertained and under the watchful eye of experienced caregivers.

A cheerful young girl with glasses, wearing a red shirt, joyfully playing with a toy in the colorful Kid's Club area aboard the Anthem of the Seas cruise ship.

The nursery service is reasonably priced at $6 per hour from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and $8 per hour from 6 p.m. until midnight. This service is also available on a broad spectrum of Royal Caribbean ships, including Allure, Brilliance, Enchantment, Freedom, Grandeur, Harmony, Icon, Independence, Liberty, Mariner, Navigator, Oasis, Quantum, Ovation, Radiance, Rhapsody, Serenade, Symphony, Vision, and Wonder of the Seas.

Although Anthem of the Seas is my top pick (as it usually departs from Southampton, UK, which is a convenient location for me to cruise from), however, if you’re located elsewhere in the world, Quantum of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas also offer similar family-friendly facilities.

While all three ships are strong options for families with young children, Anthem of the Seas remains my preferred choice due to its convenient departure location.

The Best Royal Caribbean Ships For Young Kids: Quantum Class Ships

When it comes to cruising with kids aged 3 to 5, Quantum-class ships are at the top of my list for delivering lots of age-appropriate activities. This class of ships includes the Anthem of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas, and Spectrum of the Seas. 

First, the swimming pools on these ships are a good selling point. Once your kids are out of nappies, they can use the pools. Plus, swim vests are freely available in four sizes, located on the pool deck. This applies to all Quantum-class ships and extends to many other ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet.

Next, the RipCord by iFly skydiving simulator is an exhilarating experience exclusive to Royal Caribbean’s Quantum-class ships. Suitable for children as young as three, the simulator offers a realistic skydiving experience without ever leaving the ship.

A young girl in a blue flight suit and helmet is smiling with excitement during a simulated skydiving experience in the RipCord by iFly attraction on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, with an instructor guiding her.

Before taking flight, you’ll given in specialised flight gear, including a jumpsuit, goggles, and helmet. The experience comprises two one-minute flights: an initial practice run followed by a freestyle flight, all under the guidance of a qualified instructor. While the simulator was once complimentary, fees now apply, ranging from $29 to $50 and are subject to change.

Another eye-catching feature on these ships is the North Star observation pod, which grants guests unparalleled 360-degree vistas from about 100 meters above sea level. While the height requirement is 42 inches, most children usually reach this by age 4 or 5.

Next, bumper cars are also available for kids aged five and above, and parents can join in, too. Once kids reach eight years old and meet the height requirements, they can even take the wheel solo.

Guests enjoying a vibrant and dynamic bumper car ride in the indoor activity arena with neon 'Bumper Cars' signage on Royal Caribbean's Quantum Class ship.

Note that the bumper cars are only available on Quantum and Quantum Ultra-class ships, which include Anthem of the Seas, Odyssey of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas and Spectrum of the Seas.

Lastly, there is the Aquanauts Kids Club, tailored for children aged three to five. Activities span from finger painting to musical games, ensuring that your child has many options for having fun. The only requirements are the child be 100% potty trained and children cannot wear pull-ups or diapers.

The Best Royal Caribbean Ships for Kids (6-8): Freedom Class Ships

When it comes to cruising with the family, Royal Caribbean’s Freedom Class Ships stand out as an ideal choice for those with children aged 6-8. Designed with family-friendly features, these ships provide the perfect blend of excitement and relaxation to ensure adults and kids have a good holiday. Below are some reasons why Freedom Class Ships are the best choice for young families.

Colorful climbing frame with a network of ropes and circular platforms set against a clear blue sky on the Independence of the Seas cruise ship.

My daughter loved the climbing frame on Independence of the Seas

First, the Adventure Ocean Kids Club is tailored for young minds, offering age-appropriate fun activities. From arts and crafts to interactive games and competitions, children will find endless ways to be entertained while parents enjoy some well-deserved time to themselves.

Next, Freedom Class Ships offer lots of entertainment options. For fans of theatrical entertainment, the ice-skating shows are a must-see, featuring awe-inspiring performances that captivate audiences of all ages. These shows often feature multiple performances throughout the cruise, giving families flexibility in planning activities. 

For those who prefer a more interactive experience, the DreamWorks character meet-and-greets offer a chance for young fans to get up close and personal with their favourite characters like Shrek or the Penguins from Madagascar. These meet-and-greets are generally included in the cruise package, allowing families to enjoy these moments without additional cost. 

Advanced booking may be required for some activities, so it’s always a good idea to check the daily schedule to ensure your family doesn’t miss out on any fun.

And if these activities are not your child’s kind of thing, Freedom Class Ships also offer numerous sports and physical activities. The sports deck features a rock climbing wall, mini-golf, and a basketball court, perfect for letting your young ones burn off some steam.

Freedom Class Ships also come equipped with various water attractions. These include the H2O Zone water park, where children can enjoy cascading fountains and water cannons, and family-friendly pools that provide a safe and fun environment for everyone.

The H2O Zone water park on Royal Caribbean's Freedom Class ship, showcasing a vibrant array of slides and water features with a sparkling pool in the foreground, inviting family fun under the sun.

Additionally, some ships within the class even offer water slides for a little added adrenaline. Family-friendly pools also have shallow areas for younger swimmers and plenty of deck chairs for parents who prefer to keep their feet dry.

The Best Royal Caribbean Ships for Older Kids (Aged 9+): Oasis Class Ships

When cruising with older children, specifically those aged 9 and up, Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class Ships offer a range of amenities and activities. This is my personal favourite class of ships, as there’s just so much to do. The ships in this class include Allure of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas, and Wonder of the Seas, all of which are some of the fleet’s largest and most action-packed ships.

Oasis Class Ships’ youth programmes are segmented by age, ensuring a tailored experience for older kids. Scavenger hunts, themed parties, and sports tournaments are just some of the offerings that keep kids entertained and engaged. And for a more relaxed setting, the outdoor cinema features movie nights where older kids can unwind with the latest blockbusters, complete with popcorn.

Though Adventure Ocean is primarily targeted at younger children, it also features programmes designed for the 9-11 age group. This makes it a versatile entertainment hub where older kids can find activities that pique their interest. 

However, for the thrill-seekers in your family, Oasis Class Ships are the best at sea. Activities like the FlowRider surf simulator and the ship-spanning Zip Line.

A young boy with a big smile enjoys the exhilarating FlowRider surf simulator on Royal Caribbean's Oasis Class ship, expertly balancing on his board amidst the rushing blue waves.

The FlowRider surf simulator is a machine where you can do stand-up surfing or boogie boarding on your knees. I’ve tried this several times, and although I’m not the best, it’s so much fun for kids and adults. Kids must be at least 52 inches (132 cm) to boogie board and 58 inches (147 cm) to stand-up surf. 

The Zip Line is a huge ten decks up and goes over Central Park. It’s great for kids who love to try new things. It requires participants to meet height (52 inches/132 cm) and weight requirements (75 lbs/34 kg), making it suitable for those around ten or older.

An adventurous guest zipping across the Zip Line on Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas, with the ship's name prominently displayed and clear skies in the background.

Also, recognising the need for older kids to have their own space, Oasis Class Ships feature specialised teen lounges and nightclubs. These supervised yet relaxed environments offer a range of age-appropriate social events and activities. From organised sports tournaments to karaoke nights, teens have the autonomy to make new friends and enjoy a sense of independence.

Beyond the usual entertainment options, these ships also offer cutting-edge gaming experiences. Whether your older kids are into console gaming or virtual reality, the onboard video arcades and trampoline VR features offer state-of-the-art digital interaction technology.

The Best Ship for Families

If you’re seeking the ultimate family cruise experience, look no further than the Icon of the Seas, Royal Caribbean’s newest and most expansive cruise ship. 

The ship is replete with groundbreaking features, including Thrill Island, a one-of-a-kind neighbourhood that boasts Category 6, the largest waterpark at sea. You’ll find everything from the first open free-fall slide, Pressure Drop, to Frightening Bolt, the tallest drop slide at sea. 

For an additional adrenaline rush, the Crown’s Edge offers a combination of skywalk, ropes course, and thrill ride, where you can swing above the ocean.

The Surfside neighbourhood is ideal for families with younger children. It houses Splashaway Bay and Baby Bay for little ones and is close to amenities like the Water’s Edge Pool, Adventure Ocean, and Social020. The area also has an arcade and carousel to entertain the kids. 

When it comes to accommodation, you’re spoiled for choice, with 28 different options available. Of particular note are the Ultimate Family Townhouse, a luxurious three-storey suite, and the Surfside Family Suites, strategically located near the waterparks and feature kids-only alcoves for moments of seclusion. Overall, the Icon of the Seas sets the standard for family-friendly cruising.

Children playing joyfully in the splash zone at the vibrant and sunny water park on Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas, with lively surroundings and the 'Lime & Coconut' bar in the background.

Wrapping It Up

Choosing the perfect family cruise can be a daunting task, but hopefully, this guide has made your decision a little easier. With various Royal Caribbean ships designed to cater to different age groups, you’re sure to find the perfect match for your family’s needs. Whether you’re travelling with toddlers or teenagers, Royal Caribbean has a ship equipped with the activities, accommodations, and dining options that are just right for you.

Remember, the best way to make the most of your family cruise is to plan ahead. Consider the best seasons to travel, available promotional packages, and your family’s specific needs to ensure that your cruise is as memorable as it is enjoyable.

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I'm Hannah and I've been cruising for as long as I can remember.

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