THE CARIBBEAN, WITH BIG KIDS
Our pick of the ships Royal Caribbean's brand-new Freedom of the Seas, the world's largest cruiser.
Route to happiness The seven-day western Caribbean itinerary includes port calls in Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Jamaica, and RC's private island, Labadee, off the northern coast of Haiti.
Departing From Miami, every Sunday in June, July, and August.
Where the kids are At the two pool complexes: one devoted to interactive spray cannons, ground gushers, and a lazy river, and one with a wave pool—the first ever on a cruise ship—for surfing and Boogie-boarding.
Parental perk A massive gym—and classes in everything from boxing to spinning—lets you burn off calories from the all-you-can-eat buffet.
Come together The Presidential Suite sleeps up to 14 and offers a whopping 1,215 square feet indoors and another 810 outside. Reunion, anyone?
Shipshape 160,000 tons, 1,817 staterooms, seven restaurants, 16 bars, three pools, an ice-skating rink, a rock-climbing wall (the biggest at sea), and a boxing ring. Plus: a kids' club with five age-specific areas (two for teens).
The lowdown From $900 per person, double occupancy. 800/327-6700; www.freedomoftheseas.com.
THE CARIBBEAN, WITH LITTLE KIDS
Our pick of the ships The revamped Disney Magic has an expanded
fitness center and a gigantic LED movie screen that shows animated classics and live-action
flicks—all Disney all the time.
Route to happiness Until the Magic takes its first Mediterranean voyage in summer 2007, the eight-day western Caribbean itinerary is the way to go; it has new stops at Castaway Cay, Disney's private Bahamian island, and along Mexico's Riviera Maya.
Departing From Port Canaveral, Florida, on June 24, July 22, and August 19.
Where the kids are In a real captain's chair in the new Ocean Quest kids' center, where would-be navigators can "steer" the vessel with the help of a live video feed from the bridge.
Parental perk New couple-sized spa-treatment rooms—with private veranda, hot tub, and outdoor shower—are perfect for your own mini getaway.
Shipshape 83,000 tons, 877 cabins, 10 decks, four hot tubs, five restaurants (one of which is adults-only), three pools, 12 bars (including a family nightclub), and five kids' clubs.
The lowdown From $849 per person, double. 888/325-2500; www.disneycruise.com.
Our pick of the ships The new Diamond Princess and Sapphire
Princess, both of which are staffed with specialists on Alaskan wildlife and folklore.
Route to happiness The seven-day Voyage of the Glaciers cruise along the Inside Passage makes stops in Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway, continuing through Glacier Bay National Park and Prince William Sound.
Departing On Saturdays throughout the summer from either Vancouver or Whittier, Alaska.
Where the kids are In the youth center, dissecting a squid as part of a program run by the California Science Center.
Parental perk Balconies in standard rooms—not just suites—give you front-row views of glaciers and killer whales.
Hit the ground running Among the 15 new shore excursions are a zip-line canopy adventure in Ketchikan and dog-sledding on a glacier in Juneau.
Don't let the fun stop now Before or after your cruise, a new Direct-to-the-Wilderness train will take you from the ship to a Princess lodge in Denali National Park, eliminating an overnight in Anchorage—and leaving you with more time for rafting, hiking, and spotting caribou.
Shipshape 116,000 tons, 1,337 cabins, 18 decks, eight hot tubs, 10 restaurants, five pools, four bars, one kids' club, and one teens' club.
The lowdown From $899 per person, double (cruise only); from $1,399 per person for cruise and Denali package. 800/774-6237; www.princess.com.