The vacation world is built for families of four -- two parents, two kids. Add a third kid, and families of five find it trickier to accommodate their brood with rental cars, hotel rooms and, yes, cruise cabins. But some cruise lines are attuned to larger families than others, offering accommodations that can sleep five.
Whether you're looking for a deal or enough space at any cost, here are the best cruise lines for a family of five.
Disney Cruise Line
Disney does family travel better than anyone, and it's the first line agents recommend to larger families.
"One of the best solutions is the Deluxe Family Ocean View Stateroom on Disney," says Rey Alton, travel advisor at Almeda Travel. These cabins, found fleetwide, come with or without private verandahs and accommodate a family of five with one queen bed for the parents, one single sleep sofa, a wall pull-down bed and an upper berth pull-down bed. He says the room typically prices out cheaper than two connecting inside cabins, and all the kids get their own beds, rather than having to share.
Disney also offers suites that sleep five or more, as well as Concierge-level cabins for families who want to leave dining and tour reservations to someone else. Another boon for families of five? Most Disney cabins come with two bathrooms -- one with a tub/shower combo and sink, and another with a toilet and sink -- to ease the getting-ready process.
Royal Caribbean's ships are some of the largest afloat, so they're well prepared to accommodate families of five. On the line's popular Oasis and Freedom Classes of ships, a variety of standard cabins in inside, oceanview and balcony categories sleep five or even six. Typically, a five-berth cabin will feature a double sleep sofa and one pull-down bunk; six-berth cabins have two pull-down bunks plus the sofa-bed, so five-person families can put each kid in a separate bed.
Even older ships have a few non-suite cabins that can fit a larger family, but if you've got the budget for a suite, Royal Caribbean delivers with everything from its over-the-top Ultimate Family Suite on Symphony of the Seas (which sleeps eight) to Junior, Loft, Royal, Aquatheater and regular Family Suites across its many ships.
Norwegian Cruise Line
The Breakaway and Breakaway-Plus Classes of Norwegian Cruise Line feature Family Ocean View cabins that each sleep five in a double sofa with pulldown bunk above. These rooms have larger-than-average bathrooms with double vanities and bathtub/shower-combos, and a room-diving curtain. Connecting cabins are also an option, and for those with a budget as large as their family, family suites in The Haven offer extra space and access to a private pool, sun deck, restaurant and concierge.
Most of the line's older ships offer family suites that sleep five or more, but five-person families looking for standard cabins will have to settle for connecting cabins. Norwegian is known for its a la carte pricing, so families should take advantage of the line's various Free at Sea promotions to choose perks like free fares for the third and fourth passengers in a stateroom or complimentary specialty restaurant dining, tours and Wi-Fi.
For travelers looking for cheap cruises for a family of five, Carnival provides a lower-priced vacation option than expensive Disney. Its Dream-class ships offer Deluxe Oceanview cabins that sleep five with two upper bunks and a sofabed; the downside is mom and dad will be forced into twin beds to accommodate. These rooms have two bathrooms -- a standard shower-only bathroom and a smaller half-bath with a sink and small shower-tub combo.
Deluxe Family Harbor Oceanview cabins on Vista-class ships and newer offer a similar layout, plus access to the Family Harbor lounge with snacks, games and TV. Some of Carnival's older and smaller ships allow trundle or rollaway beds to be added to standard inside, outside and balcony cabins that typically sleep four with two upper bunks. If you go this route, prepare for crowding and a lack of free floor space at night. Family Harbor, Grand and Captain's Suites also sleep five.