Med Cruises with family

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<p>We are thinking of taking a mediterranean cruise next summer with the whole family going 2 adults, two kids 13 11 - we have never taken a cruise before so want to do some research to make sure we would enjoy this. Any feedback from members with similar age children and any general feedback about med tours - would like to include france, italy and anywhere beyond - also would like to find a package which includes round trip air travel to and from California.</p> <p>Any information would be most useful.</p> <p>Thank you</p> <p>Lee </p>

Cruise Critic is a very informative forum for cruising destinations and cruise lines. Think about what matters the most first: the itinerary or the quality of the ship experience and costs first, then you can sort out a lot of the other options like departure and arrival ports, length of port stays, costs of shore excursions or if you can tour ports on your own. This can be daunting at first and lots and lots of charts and notes about each different line and itinerary because few really offer direct apples to apples comparisons.
We juggled our first cruise choices in the above fashion and finally settled on Holland America Lines for the better itinerary and dates we wanted to travel and just went with them sight unseen. Turned out it was a very good fit for us and we have pretty much stuck with them for our mainline cruises. But we also take some of the independent cruise lines when we want to get more off the beaten track and sail with a smaller number of passengers.

Many cruise lines offer air packages and some include air packages with obviously different prices for each package. We just saved $1000 doing our own airfare on our next trip LXA to Barcelona compared to what the cruise line was offering.
But we are also taking a Voyages to Antiquity cruise later than "includes" airfare but the total price is obviously higher for this cruise, which also includes shore excursions too which is another major add on cost of cruising since it is often not easy these days to do shore visits on your own since the ships today do not dock right in the downtown areas the way the smaller older ships did.
Regent Cruises include airfare and shore excursion and alcohol but are not geared towards younger passengers. Cruise Critic lists best 'family" type cruise lines at: http://www.cruisecritic.com/articles.cfm?ID=2
but if your trip is port intensive with fewer at sea days, you may not need to have a lot of youth activities if you plan on visiting ports together anyway and usually a port day wears everyone out so no need to lavish evening activities either on those days.
There are Mediterranean cruise lines like Costa and MSC that cater more to international travelers which makes a different cruise experience compared to the more mainstream US type lines like Holland America, Princess and Celebrity that carry all the comforts of home and language along with you. Disney is also known as a very good family cruise line. Others to consider are Carnival and maybe Louis Cruise lines for the Mediterranean.
The choices can seem overwhelming and I hope as you poke around this task you keep in touch and we can offer what ever tips we can to help you hone in on your final choices. And do keep in mind some of the all inclusive lines like Regent which at first are far more expensive might actually cost out okay in the final analysis. Wild card is how much you might be spending on shore excursions and that is hard to know ahead of time but do factor this into any cost comparison analysis.
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Moderator note: deleted clarification posts and made the changes to the original post.

Sorry, I meant to say Carnival and not repeat Celebrity as additional cruise lines to consider.

Link to "Best Family Cruise Lines" http://www.cruisecritic.com/articles.cfm?ID=2