Cruising with Babies and Small Children

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Cruising with babies is a fun way for active parents to go on adventures with their children. With the right cruise ship and travel arrangements, you and your kids will have an unforgettable time at sea!

Babysitting services, kids’ clubs, and special shore excursions for the little ones are bound to entertain children and help them find new friends during their holiday. Family cruises also offer a variety of activity for small children as well as family-friendly evening entertainment and kid-approved food options.

What’s the minimum age on board?

Most cruise lines have a minimum age requirement of six months on the day of departure. This is true of both ocean and river cruise lines. Disney Cruise Line is the only exception, allowing babies as young as twelve weeks onboard. Be aware, however, that the minimum age might differ depending on the itinerary of your cruise, the cruise line, and the number of days at sea.

Some ocean cruise lines may raise the minimum age to sail to twelve months. The higher number of sea days, as well as travel destinations in tropical countries, explain this increase. Carnival Cruise Line, for example, has an age requirement of six months, except on journeys with more than two consecutive sea days, remote destinations, and transocean cruises – the limit, here, is raised accordingly. If you choose your cruise line and your itinerary wisely, it should be no problem to take a baby or a toddler with you on your cruise!

Boardwalk neighbourhood on Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas

Are the family-friendly cabins on board?

Most cruise lines offer special accommodations for families, such as connecting cabins and family suites. In some cases, children under the age of twelve are required to sleep in a connecting cabin, should the child not sleep with their guardians.

When travelling with toddlers and small kids, we recommend oceanview cabins, which are safer than balcony cabins. When travelling with babies, cabins with a balcony are a better option. Whilst baby naps, you can spend some time with your significant other outside without bothering the little one.

Cruise1st tip: Make sure to book a cabin on a lower level in case you are testing the waters and don’t know if seasickness is an issue for your family. Lower decks are less motion-sensitive than the higher decks – though, in general, you will hardly feel the waves of the ocean.

Family suites are a great option for larger families because they are equipped to meet the demands of parents and kids. They come with a bathtub – perfect for babies who can’t stand in the shower – and offer more space to play with the kids. There is also enough room to store stroller, cots, and toys. Baby beds are provided upon request, but you may also bring your own travel cot on board. In case you don’t want to take your stroller, most cruise liners offer strollers for rent – they may be used on shore excursions as well.

three generations of a family on a beach

Family-friendly fun included

On some family-friendly cruise lines, you can buy baby supplies right on board in the ship’s shop. Some ships sell nappies, dummies, sunscreen, and even children’s clothing, so you don’t have to worry about being stranded without if you forget something. Still, the selection is limited, and the products can be expensive, so it’s best to bring your own supplies or else stock up whilst you’re in port.

As soon as your little one is toilet-trained, they are allowed in the family pool. Enjoy the refreshing water together and get some vitamin D whilst playing with other kids. Some cruise lines offer special water play areas for babies, provided they wear swim diapers!

Big cruise ships from Carnival Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, or Royal Caribbean International offer plenty of activities when cruising with babies or small children. Adventure golf, baby-proofed waterslides, and cinemas for the youngest offer plenty of distractions. Older children will surely enjoy offered activities such as rock-climbing, soccer, or playing games at the arcade.

On Disney Cruise Line cruises, kids can hang out with their favourite Disney characters, and as everything is Disney-themed, feel at ease with the familiar cartoon characters around. But Disney doesn’t have a monopoly on characters at sea – character meet-and-greets are practically standard on family-friendly cruise lines. Costa Cruises’ ships are home to Peppa Pig, the popular British cartoon icon whilst Carnival Cruise Line cruises feature Dr Seuss characters. Kids can also look forward to Nickelodeon characters with Norwegian Cruise Line, Lego friends on MSC Cruises, and Dreamworks characters with Royal Caribbean International.

Most cruise lines also offer shore excursions targeted to families. Such excursions focus on kid-friendly activities with less walking and more entertainment along the way. Make sure to check with your cruise line if the offered shore excursions are suitable for toddlers.

Generally speaking, most shore adventures are suitable for small children, but some might include climbs, steep ascends, or visits to unsuitable locations.

Pacific Sun May 2007 Shoot. P&O Cruises.

Making new friends in the kids’ clubs

Most cruise lines offer some form of children’s club. Usually, the clubs entertain specific to the child’s age: Toddlers, young children, and teens can play with their peers. Royal Caribbean International, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Disney Cruise Line, for example, offer a babies’ programme for children aged six to 36 months, which focusses on educational playtime. Norwegian Cruise Line also offers a programme for three to 12-year-olds.

Carnival Cruise Line offers a special club called Camp Ocean Infants, aimed at children under the age of two. Kids age two to five can join the Penguins for friends and fun-filled afternoons on board. And for parents looking for a romantic evening or a fun night out, Carnival Cruise Line offers the Night Owls Club, specially designed to look after kids until 1am.

Highly convenient are the in-cabin babysitting options on most cruise ships. If parents don’t feel comfortable dropping their child off at a kid’s club, or the child is feeling more like naptime than playtime, parents can arrange for a crew member to come to their cabin to look after their child. But be warned, these services are based on crew availability and are usually organised on a first-come, first-served basis. If you know you’ll be wanting an adults-only evening during your cruise, it’s best to make arrangements as soon as possible.

The best cruise lines for babies

Well known for their family-friendly cruises are, of course, Disney Cruise Line. Everything on board is geared at kids, from toddlers to school children. The itinerary and amenities also meet the guardians’ needs. Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, and Norwegian Cruise Line are also a good choice for a family cruise! Keep in mind that the children’s facilities might differ from ship to ship. Bigger vessels are usually the better choice as they have more space and activities designed for families. Beach-based itineraries are great as well – enjoy a day at the beach with the little ones! We also recommend cruises with a lot of active days at port, which allows for exploring on land. Compare the offers of the cruise lines and check if they have the amenities that are most important to you and your family.

Going on a cruise is the perfect holiday for the whole family, even the little ones. If you’re looking to book a once-in-a-lifetime holiday with your kids, check out our top cruise deals. Should you have any questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to our friendly Australia-based cruise experts on 1300 857 345.

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About Author

Josh K

Josh is a content manager and blogger at Cruise1st. His love of travel has driven him to share his expertise in the cruise industry. When he's not writing, you can catch him playing a game of foosball, sticking his nose in a book, or trying out a new restaurant.

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