The ships in Royal Caribbean's fleet are great options for families cruising with children, but the four Oasis-class ships -- Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas -- stand head and shoulders above the rest. These ships are the largest cruise ships in the world, and they're brimming with family-friendly activities, amenities and entertainment options that are sure to keep your kids happy throughout your entire sailing.
What Makes Oasis Class Ships the Best for Kids?
The Adventure Ocean kids clubs on Oasis-class ships are expansive, spanning up to 29,000-square-feet, including designated areas for babies, toddlers, kids, tweens and teens. Amenities include a theater, arts and crafts at the Imagination Studio, the Adventure Science Lab, plus a fun video arcade and DJ academy.
Royal Caribbean is also certified as autism-friendly, which extends to the kids' clubs. Oasis-class ships offer toys that can be loaned to families for in-cabin use; plus movies, games and activities suitable for children with autism.
Adventure Ocean kids clubs are broken out into three groups, plus teens. All kids (apart from teens) have to be signed into and out of the clubs by a parent or guardian and must be toilet trained.
Aquanauts (3 to 5 years): The dedicated Aquanauts space features a colorful plastic slide, while fun programing might include finger painting, building blocks, storytelling, music activities and dressing up activities.
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Explorers (6 to 8 years): Treasure hunts, face painting, arts and crafts, sports competitions and age-appropriate science lab experiments fill the Explorers' action-packed program.
Voyagers (9 to 11 years): This set gets a fun program that includes movie time, science lab experiments such as volcano building, trivia, sports competitions, gaming time, talent shows and discos.
Supervised activities for Aquanauts, Explorers and Voyagers takes place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., though times can occasionally vary depending on port/sea days programing.
Teens: Teens tend to be broken out into two groups, with dedicated programing for 12 to 14 year olds and more relaxed programing for 15 to 17 year olds. Both sets are free to come and go as they please.
Teens get a more grownup space with the feel of a bright and funky club, featuring a gaming lounge, football table, movie area and space to kick back with new friends at The Living Room. There's also an outdoor patio hangout space for teens on the redesigned Oasis of the Seas.
This group can take part in gaming and sporting contests, trivia, movie nights, discos, karaoke and festival-themed parties, among other activities. Teens can even sign up to learn the art of DJ-ing at the DJ Academy and attend theme nights and barbecues.
Royal Babies and Tots Nursery: There are even facilities for babies and young toddlers on Oasis-class ships. Royal Babies (6 to 18 months) and Royal Tots (18 to 36 months) offers interactive parent-and-child classes with a stay-and-play room. Activities include story time and playground sessions, plus age-appropriate toys and games to play with.
The Royal Babies and Tots Nursery offers drop-off group babysitting for an additional fee ($6/hour from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and $8/hour from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m.), so that parents can have a bit of freedom to explore these massive ships, sans children.
Kids aged 3 to 11 can attend the Late Night Party Zone, which costs $7 per hour, per child, and is a group babysitting setting open from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. To use this service kids must be fully toilet trained.
What's On Offer Outside of the Kids Clubs?
The kids clubs are just the start of the fun for younger passengers onboard Oasis-class ships.
Each ship features seven neighborhood zones, including the dedicated Youth Zone with various play areas. There are multiple swimming pools, a 3D movie theater, rock climbing wall, ice skating rink, surf simulator, carousel and zipline.
There's also the Splashaway Bay water park, trio of Perfect Storm water slides and 10-story dry-slide The Ultimate Abyss on Oasis, Symphony and Harmony of the Seas. A fun glow-in-the-dark laser tag also debuted on Symphony of the Seas.
Allure of the Seas is set to be retrofitted with Splashaway Bay, The Ultimate Abyss, Perfect Storm and a redesigned Adventure Ocean space during its next update in line with Royal's 'Amplification' program.
What About When Kids Need Some Downtime?
When some quiet time is needed, Royal Caribbean's libraries offer a family section filled with titles suitable for kids and a comfy reading area to relax in.
Teens might also appreciate the special pampering treatments available at the spa. The YSPA program offers a dedicated menu for 13 to 17 year olds, featuring a selection of massages, facials, hair treatments and, for 16-17-year-olds only, Fitness Frenzy classes in the aerobic studio, which is a fun way to bond with similar aged kids onboard.
To attend the spa, teens must have parental consent, with strict protocols in place, which means for teens under 16, a parent or guardian has to be present during the treatment.
What About Kids Meals?
When it comes to meal times, the ships offer a large number of dining options, including kid favorites like burgers and dogs from Boardwalk Dog House and Johnny Rockets.
Sorrento's Pizzeria serves pizza by the slice or made to order pies; Cafe Promenade is great for grabbing food on the go (think doughnuts, pastries and sandwiches); Park Cafe serves bagels, sandwiches, soups and salads and Windjammer Marketplace is always a safe bet for families, with a selection of pasta dishes, fries, salads, burgers, plus meat and fish options. The casual poolside Mini Bites is another great option for grab-and-go dining, with sliders, grilled cheese, pizza, taquitos and mini cupcakes on offer.
El Loco Fresh on Oasis and Symphony of the Seas offers a fun lunch and afternoon option, with Mexican favorites such as burritos, quesadillas, nachos, corn on the cob, and tacos on the menu.
For an added fee, Jamie's Italian on Harmony and Symphony of the Seas or Giovanni's Table on Allure and Oasis of the Seas serves freshly made pasta dishes; while kids will want to make a beeline for Sugar Beach on Oasis and Symphony of the Seas, where sweet treats such as candy, cupcakes and ice cream are available for a fee.
Families can also take advantage of My Family Time Dining for the first seating in the main dining room, specifically for children aged three to 11, which ensures kids are served their meal within 40 minutes of seating so they can then join the evening's Adventure Ocean activities.
What Family-Friendly Cabins Are Available?
If your family needs a bit more space, Oasis-class ships offer some of the largest family accommodation at sea. Cabins range from the Family Interior and Family Ocean View rooms up to Royal Family Suites and one-of-a-kind accommodation.
The Spacious Interior cabin measures 260 square feet, while Family Oceanview and Family Balcony cabins are 271 square feet, the latter with the addition of an 82-square-foot balcony. These rooms accommodate up to six passengers with two Pullman beds, a convertible sofa bed and two twin beds or a Queen bed. Some of these cabins also offer bunk beds, suitable for younger kids, separated from the main space by a room-dividing curtain.
Families with a considerable budget might want to splurge on the one-of-a-kind Ultimate Family Suite on Symphony of the Seas or Family Presidential Suite on Harmony of the Seas.
The 1,346-square-foot Ultimate Family Suite sleeps eight and is set over two floors, featuring in-room games, a private 3D cinema, LEGO wall, air hockey table and a hot tub, plus the real party piece: a multi-colored slide that goes from the upper bedroom to lower living room level.
Harmony of the Seas' Family Presidential Suite measures 1,142 square feet and has four bedrooms and four bathrooms, sleeping a minimum of eight passengers. There's a dining area, sofa bed, cocktail table and dry bar, plus a 476-square-foot balcony with a wet bar and hot tub.
If your budget doesn't stretch to the Family Presidential or Ultimate Family suites, there are plenty of other suite types to choose from to accommodate families with kids.
The Royal Family Suites, measuring 575 to 589 square feet, can also accommodate up to eight passengers. The two-bedroom, two-bathroom suites feature 237- to 246-square-feet balconies, two pull-down beds, living area with double convertible sofa, and a master bathroom with a bathtub. Passengers staying in this category also get suite-class perks such as a nightly cocktail hour for adults, priority check in and reserved prime seating in the theatre.
Where Do Oasis-Class Ships Sail?
Oasis-class ships are based in the Caribbean and Mediterranean. Symphony of the Seas sails from Miami on Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises; Harmony of the Seas and Allure of the Seas spend the summer sailing Western Mediterranean itineraries before returning to the Caribbean for the winter season. Oasis of the Seas offers a mix of Caribbean and The Bahamas voyages.
Pick an itinerary that will appeal to the whole family. Many of the Caribbean and Bahamas sailings feature calls to Perfect Day at CocoCay, Royal Caribbean's 125-acre playground in The Bahamas.
Kids will love the island's lagoon-style pool, Splashaway Bay and Captain Jill's Galleon water feature. For an added fee, there's also a zipline, Thrill Waterpark, and even a hot air balloon ride, plus inclusive kid-friendly dining at Snack Shack, Chill Grill and Skipper's Grill.
Mediterranean sailings will offer the chance for kids to experience exciting cities, such as Rome, Florence and Barcelona, and explore many of Europe's top attractions for the first time.