Cruising provides a great experience for a family vacation. Unpack once, and see several ports of call within a single vacation. For those in the greater New York area, a cruise vacation can be even more convenient, as several ships sail from the Northeast. The Manhattan and Port Liberty Cruise Terminals, located along the Hudson River, welcome families to start their cruise adventures without having to fly. Here are the five best ships and most exciting itineraries for families cruising from New York and New Jersey.
1. Royal Caribbean Anthem of the Seas
Anthem of the Seas is Royal Caribbean’s newest ship in the Northeast. Part of the Quantum Class of ships, her revolutionary design includes an adrenaline-pumping skydiving simulator, a crystal-clear capsule that takes you 300 feet above sea level for incredible views, and a wide range of fantastic entertainment. Royal’s DreamWorks Experience and Adventure Ocean program is perfect for young cruisers, with specialized programs for babies, kids, and teens. The adults-only solarium has inviting pools, Jacuzzis, and a bar for grown-up fun and relaxation.
Anthem’s staterooms are thoughtfully designed for families with a sleek, modern aesthetic. The ship’s Two Story Royal Loft Balcony Suites provide families with luxurious accommodations, including a second-floor bedroom, living area with wet bar, and a den with a sofa bed. Guests in the Royal Suite Class receive VIP service aboard Anthem, with complimentary specialty dining, complimentary alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages for the duration of the cruise, access to Bridge and Back Stage Tours, and all-day access to a suites-only restaurant. Suite guests also receive assistance from the ship’s Royal Genie, who customizes one-of-a-kind experiences for families onboard.
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Anthem sails to Bermuda and the Caribbean, however the ship has two standout itineraries from Cape Liberty. Consider the 9-night Eastern Caribbean cruise. Enjoy a day of sailing and snorkeling in St. John on a private day sail St. Thomas, and delight in a history lesson and breathtaking views at Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park in St. Kitts, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Also, sail Anthem during the fall for a 9-night Canada/New England cruise to see the beautiful autumn foliage along the coast. Visit the Bay of Fundy, walking the ocean floor during low tide and taking in the scenic view at high tide. Walk the Freedom Trail in Boston, and explore Acadia National Park in Maine.
2. Norwegian Breakaway
Voted USA Today’s Best Cruise Ship for Families in 2015, the Norwegian Breakaway’s hallmark is Freestyle Cruising. NCL’s ships offer flexibility in dining and seating options, as well as in the dress code. Families can enjoy the ships on their own terms. The Breakaway offers more than 25 dining experiences, many along The Waterfront, which is the ship’s oceanfront promenade. Broadway shows, such as Rock of Ages and Burn the Floor, await you. Fun for guests of all ages abounds, including an Aqua Park, a multi-level Sports Complex, and a Casino at Sea. Walk the plank, extending 8 feet over the side of the ship.
The Haven by Norwegian is a private enclave available for those seeking the ship’s most luxurious accommodations. Accessible by special key card, this area’s guests enjoy a private courtyard, lounge, and restaurant, 24-hour room service, and butler and concierge service. Haven guests experience an all-inclusive cruise, complete with unlimited beverages and specialty dining, and complimentary Wi-Fi. The Deluxe Owner’s Suite with Large Balcony accommodates up to six guests. The suite offers a luxury bath, separate living room, and dining room. Floor-to-ceiling windows provide incredible views each moment of the cruise.
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Departing from the Port of Manhattan, the Breakaway primarily sails to to Bermuda, and the Bahamas and Florida. However, the ship offers an exciting 12-night Caribbean cruise around Thanksgiving. Charter a yacht for the day and visit the Baths in Virgin Gorda, or take a water taxi to spend your day at Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort situated between the world-famous Pitons in St. Lucia.
3. Celebrity Summit
For those who enjoy luxury without pretense, Celebrity Cruises’ brand of modern luxury is an excellent fit. The Celebrity Summit received a multi-million dollar upgrade in early 2016, including new décor in the Penthouse and Royal Suites, a new Rooftop Terrace, and a new dining venue. Make time for an indulgent massage in the ship’s Canyon Ranch Spa Club. Watch movies under the stars on the Rooftop Terrace. Enjoy the perfect steak at the Tuscan Grille. The Summit has an excellent programs for young cruisers, with thoughtful, age-specific spaces and activities. The highlight for teens is iTake, a video project where they are supplied with GoPro’s and film and edit their own movies in the Celebrity iLounge. The pinnacle of this program is the XClub Film Festival & Award ceremony, where teens present their movies and receive awards for their work.
The Summit’s Royal Suite boasts a private bedroom, bathroom with whirlpool tub, as well as a private veranda with whirlpool. Adult suite guests receive unlimited complimentary premium beverages and specialty dining, and young cruisers enjoy complimentary non-alcoholic beverages for the duration of the cruise. Specialty dining and Wi-Fi is complimentary, and a private suite guest dining room is available. Butler service is provided, and canapés are delivered to suites each afternoon.
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Summit primarily sails 7-night cruises from Cape Liberty to Bermuda during the summer. Longer itineraries include a stop in Boston before reaching the pink-sand beaches of this lovely island. Golf is popular in Bermuda. Visit the Royal Golf Course for a nice challenge complete with breathtaking views. Celebrity offers signature sailings around the globe, providing cruisers with unique experiences in a given destination. In June 2017, Summit’s Signature Sailing aligns with the 35th America’s Cup sailing regatta, which will be held in Bermuda that year. Witness incredible racing across Bermuda’s crystal-clear waters, and stroll American’s Cup Village at the Royal Naval Dockyard.
4. Cunard’s Queen Mary 2
The Queen Mary 2 is Cunard’s flagship ocean liner, offering a luxurious cruise experience that honors the golden age of sailing. Just returning from a refit in June, she boasts upgraded furnishings in suites, and a transformation of the interior and exterior features of the ship. Emerge from a lovely afternoon in the ship’s largest library at sea, and stop at the Queen’s Room for white-gloved service during the afternoon tea. Savor meals created with great care and the finest ingredients. Delight in a glass of vintage port, as the ship contains a special collection of the wines in its expansive wine cellar. Bring your pets with you on your family vacation; Queen Mary 2 boasts a kennel for your cat or dog so they can travel in comfort. Cunard offers a children’s program with age-appropriate spaces and activities during the day, as well as a complimentary group program for children in the evening. Children will love the ship’s two-story planetarium, the only one of its kind at sea.
Queens Grill Suite guests revel in recently-refreshed rooms, butler service, an exclusive restaurant, and private lounge. Queens Grill Suite Guests may also enjoy wine and a meal specially prepared and served in-suite.
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For families, who enjoy sea days, Queen Mary 2 sails from Brooklyn to Southampton on 7-night cruises throughout the year. Take advantage of long, leisurely days, perfect for quality family time. Indulge at the Canyon Ranch Spa Club, test your knowledge in tournaments, and take children to the library or planetarium. Reconnect while playing chess, or relaxing on deck to revel in the ever-changing ocean views. When you arrive at Southampton, take a tour to discover Stonehenge, or spend the day in Windsor and see the Windsor Castle. Extend your stay in England a few days for even more time in this lovely country before returning home.
5. Crystal Symphony
For those seeking a glamorous and luxurious family cruise, Crystal Symphony delivers this and more. Their all-inclusive cruises offer complimentary fine wines and premium spirits, specialty dining, enrichment and educational activities, all entertainment, as well as gratuities for ship staff. Public spaces have been designed with careful attention to detail. Wonderful flavors such as lobster with truffle-Yuzu sauce will delight your palette while dining at Silk Road, a specialty restaurant onboard. Keep active by taking a Pilates class, or playing a game of paddle tennis on the ship’s full-size court. The Symphony offers a Junior Activities program for children between ages 3 and 17. The Junior Activities Director provides a special daily newsletter, outlining the available activities that day. Children may enjoy a wide range of activities, including a bridge or galley tour, karaoke, scavenger hunts, or water polo. Age-appropriate lounges also offer PlayStation, Xbox, Kinect, and wide-screen TV’s.
The Symphony’s Penthouse is awash in natural light, with floor-to-ceiling windows. The large suite offers a private bedroom, an ocean-view bathroom with Jacuzzi tub, and separate living and dining areas. Butler service includes arranging cocktail parties, booking dinner and shore excursion reservations, and complimentary pressing.
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Symphony sails an incredible 12-day itinerary from New York City to Reykjavik, Iceland in late spring. Overnight in New York City, giving you time to enjoy a dinner cruise on the Bateaux New York, or take a VIP-style helicopter tour of the city. Take a behind the scenes tour of the New England Aquarium in Boston. Experience the rugged coastline of Bar Harbor, Maine, and go horseback riding or search for puffins on Isafjordur, Iceland. End the cruise with an overnight in Reykjavik, taking advantage of the full day to tour the famous Golden Circle. Stop at the Gulfoss waterfall, the Geysers At Haukadalur, and the Kerid Crater Lake.
About Chrystal Anderson
Chrystal Anderson and her husband are the proud co-owners of Cruise Planners-Virtue Travel. They travel often, and love to share their travel experiences with others. Follow Chrystal's adventures on her blog, and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
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