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Best Cruises for Families

Pick your dreamboat and sail away on one of these cool new megaships.

By Ellen Parlapiano

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Carnival Magic
Courtesy of Carnival
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Carnival Magic

Party central: a hub for friend-meeting, family-style eating, and fest-making 24/7.

Leaves from: Galveston, Texas

Sails to: Western Caribbean (Cozumel, Mexico; Grand Cayman Island; Montego Bay, Jamaica) starting November 2011

Family Features: At WaterWorks aqua park, race each other on side-by-side super slides, spiral down Twister (the longest waterslide at sea), and whoosh through DrainPipe into a giant "toilet bowl." Head to Sports-Square to climb the sky-high ropes course, buff up at the muscle-beach-style weight lifting area, and play mini golf. Later, compete against other families in Superstar Live Karaoke—a real band plays backup.

Teen Time: Kids can mingle in two private hot spots—Circle C and Club 02. Youth counselors organize pool parties, Guitar Hero competitions, and late-night dancing. They also lead teens-only shore excursions.

Parent Portal: On the Lanai promenade, find bliss in sea-view hot tubs that hang over the ship's sides. Or catch up on reading in Serenity, the adults-only retreat. After dinner enjoy live music and a private-label beer at RedFrog Pub or groove to the music on Ocean Plaza's indoor/outdoor dance floor.

Innovative Eateries: The international-themed Gathering buffet has stations for burritos, Mongolian stir-fry, Indian tandoori, and pasta. At dinnertime, the pasta bar transforms into Cucina del Capitano—the Captain's Kitchen— and the menu showcases beloved recipes from Carnival's Italian captains. Look for their pictures on the walls as you dig into your risotto (extra charges apply).

More Info: 7-day cruises start at $699 per person; $299 each for 3rd & 4th passenger in cabin; 800-CARNIVAL; carnivalmagic.com

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