How to find child-friendly dining options on a UK cruise?

11 June 2024

Every parent knows how tricky dining out can be when you have children. The challenge becomes more significant when you're at sea and confined to the dining options available on a cruise ship. However, you’ll be relieved to know that many cruise lines operating in the UK have made considerable strides in accommodating the unique dining needs of families with children. The challenge now lies in identifying which options will best suit your family's palate and dietary requirements. In this guide, we will delve into the various child-friendly dining options available on board some of the top UK cruise liners, including Princess Cruises, MSC, P&O Cruises, and of course, Disney Cruise Line.

Princess Cruises: More Than Just A Royal Feast

Known for its elegant and sophisticated ambience, Princess Cruises offers a variety of dining options that cater to all age groups. Children are not only welcomed but are also spoilt for choice with an array of kid-friendly menus and dedicated dining areas.

At the heart of the Princess dining experience for kids is the Camp Discovery program. This program offers a variety of activities geared towards children aged 3 to 12, including a special hands-on cooking class. Furthermore, Princess Cruises provides the option of early family dinner seating, where the family can dine together at a time that suits children's routines.

In terms of food, kids will be treated to a range of options, from comfort food favourites like spaghetti and chicken nuggets to more adventurous dishes like sushi. This ensures that even the fussiest of eaters will find something to their liking.

MSC Cruises: A Taste of Mediterranean Hospitality

MSC Cruises, a cruise line with Mediterranean roots, takes the dining needs of families very seriously. They offer a variety of options designed to keep children entertained, well-fed and happy.

Perhaps the most unique feature of MSC's family-friendly dining is the Fun Time Dinners. These dinners take place at the buffet restaurant, where children eat their meal under the watchful eyes of the MSC Kids Club staff, while you enjoy your meal at leisure in the main dining room. This service is complimentary and is available on all MSC cruises.

Another great feature is the Happy Dinners. Here, kids get their meals served first while parents enjoy their starters. When the kids are done eating, MSC Kids Club staff will pick them up, allowing you an uninterrupted dining experience.

The MSC Kids Menu is another highlight. Inspired by their Mediterranean heritage, the menu is both healthy and exciting, ensuring your children have a balanced yet enjoyable dining experience.

P&O Cruises: Traditional British Fare with a Twist

P&O Cruises, a British cruise line, stands out for its dedication to providing an exemplary onboard dining experience for families. From designated family-friendly dining rooms to a comprehensive children's menu, P&O ensures that dining is a fuss-free and enjoyable experience for everyone.

P&O offers a fantastic kids menu available in the main dining rooms and select specialty restaurants. From classic British favourites like fish and chips and roast chicken to a selection of vegetarian and gluten-free options, P&O covers all bases.

Additionally, P&O has a dedicated buffet section for children, complete with child-friendly cutlery and crockery. Parents can rest easy knowing their children are well-catered for during meal times on board a P&O ship.

Disney Cruise Line: A Magical Dining Experience

Disney Cruise Line, as expected, excels in providing a magical dining experience for children. With their innovative approach to dining, kids will enjoy a unique and exciting dining adventure every time they sit down to eat.

The dining experience for children aboard a Disney ship is themed, interactive and immersive. Children will enjoy dining at Animator's Palate, where Disney animation comes to life on the walls of the restaurant, or at Royal Court, where they'll feel like a prince or princess.

More importantly, the kids' menu features a wide range of options, from Mickey-shaped waffles to healthier options like grilled chicken and vegetables. Disney Cruise Line goes the extra mile to make every meal a magical experience for your children.

By understanding the various child-friendly dining options available, families will find that cruise ships cater to even the pickiest of eaters. With a bit of research and planning, every family member will have a memorable and satisfying dining experience on a UK Cruise.

Royal Caribbean: A Delightful Journey of Flavours

An impressive player in the world of cruising, Royal Caribbean is famous for its family-friendly ships and the broad variety of dining options it provides for young travelers.

The Adventure Ocean program offered by Royal Caribbean is a highlight for kids. It includes a myriad of fun and educational activities, including culinary classes for children. The teen program also offers an option for teens to hang out and enjoy specially designed menus in a teen-only space.

One of the notable features of dining on a Royal Caribbean ship is the availability of a "My Family Time Dining" service, aiming to speed up dining for children aged 3 to 11, and get them to the adventure ocean kids club as quickly as possible. This type of service is available in the main dining room during the first seating.

In terms of food, the options vary from cruise classics like hot dogs and burgers to innovative options like sushi and a selection of vegetarian and gluten-free choices. To ensure a sweet ending to the meal, Royal Caribbean offers a wide range of dessert choices that are bound to impress even the most discerning young palates.

Finally, it's worth noting that while some speciality restaurants may be subject to service charges, many dining options onboard are included in the cost of the cruise. This makes Royal Caribbean an affordable choice for families wishing to explore a variety of dining options without worrying about extra costs.

Beach House: An Unforgettable Culinary Experience at Sea

For families cruising with P&O Cruises, the Beach House specialty restaurant offers an unforgettable dining experience. This family-friendly, casual dining venue serves a mouth-watering selection of dishes from around the globe, making it an excellent choice for those who appreciate international cuisine.

Beach House offers a dedicated children's menu, featuring favourites like burgers, hot dogs, and chicken nuggets. For the more adventurous young eaters, there's a selection of international dishes to try.

One of the unique features of Beach House is the ability for families to grill their own steaks and seafood at the table. This interactive dining experience can be fun for kids and a great way to engage them in the meal.

It's important to note that there is a small cover charge to dine at Beach House. However, the extensive menu and unique dining experience make it well worth the additional cost. Plus, children under the age of five eat for free, and reduced prices are available for kids aged 5 to 17.


With the variety of child-friendly dining options available, choosing a cruise line for a family vacation in the UK can be quite a delightful dilemma. From the royal feasts of Princess Cruises to the Mediterranean flavours of MSC Cruises, the traditional British fare of P&O Cruises, the magical dining experience onboard the Disney Cruise Line and the delightful culinary journey on Royal Caribbean, there is a perfect cruise ship for every family's dining preferences.

Remember to consider factors such as the availability of kids clubs, the variety of kids' menus, the type of service, and whether service charges apply when selecting your cruise. Whether you're looking for speciality restaurants or just a child-friendly ambiance, there's a cruise ship that’s designed to cater to your family's needs. So get ready to embark on a delicious adventure at sea, one that your children will undoubtedly cherish!

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