Many of the major cruise lines have gone to great lengths to increase their appeal to all age groups, including the youngest members of the family.
From comprehensive babysitting services to age-specific activity groups – large cruise ships are packed with amenities and fully-trained staff to keep babies and toddlers happy and entertained on their ships.
If you’re looking to book a holiday with your baby or toddler, then check out this guide to help you find the perfect ship, and we offer a few tips to make your holiday as enjoyable as possible.
Non-Child-Friendly Cruise Lines
|Minimum Age||Day Care||Night Time Babysitting|
|Azamara||*6 Months||Not Provided||Not Provided|
|Celebrity Cruises||*6 Months||In-Cabin Babysitter||In-Cabin Babysitter|
|Cunard Cruise Line||*6 Months||Group Childcare||Group Childcare|
|MSC Cruises||No Limit||Not Provided||Not Provided|
|P&O Australia||12 Months||Group Childcare||Group Childcare|
|Princess Cruises||*6 Months||Age 3+Group Care||Age 3+Group Care|
|Royal Caribbean||*6 Months||In-Cabin & Group Care||In-Cabin & Group Care|
|Silversea Cruises||*6 Months||Not Provided||Not Provided|
|Uniworld River||4 Years||Not Provided||Not Provided|
*12 months on selected itineraries
There are a number of cruise lines such as APT Cruising and ships such as P&O Arcadia which do not permit children under the age of 16 aboard. Whilst these are not suitable for parents of young children, they are perfect for adults looking for a relaxing holiday away from kids.
|Azamara||Not Provided||Upon Request||Not Provided||Not
|Celebrity Cruises||Not Provided
|Upon Request||Not Provided||Baby Food|
|Cunard Cruise Line||Pre-Order Rental
|Upon Request||Not Provided||Baby Food|
|MSC Cruises||Not Provided||Upon Request||Not Provided||Not
|P&O Australia||Not Provided
|Bed Rails||Not Provided||In Store|
|Princess Cruises||Not Provided||Upon Request||Not Provided||Upon
|Royal Caribbean||Not Provided
|Playpens||For Pre-Order||For Pre-Order|
|Silversea Cruises||Not Provided||Not Provided||Not Provided||Not
|Uniworld River||Not Provided||Not Provided||Not Provided||Not
Cruise Ship Baby Care Guide
All the major cruise lines have their own guidelines and policies for babies and toddlers, this table makes it simple to understand what to expect when booking a specific line. This information is correct at the time of writing and all the cruise lines retain a right to change their policies at any time. Be sure to check with the cruise line before booking a holiday.
Baby-Friendly Cruise Ships
To help make the choice simpler, here is a selection of cruise ships which provide fantastic facilities for babies and toddlers.
The family-friendly cruise ship from Celebrity Cruises operates a number of age-specific childcare options and a selection of services for babies. In-cabin babysitting is available for children aged 12 months and above, so parents can enjoy a few hours to themselves and go for an elegant meal and luxurious cocktail without having to worry about the little one.
Toddlers aged three and above can also attend lunch, dinner and slumber parties with other children of the same age – perfect for fussy eaters and sleepers.
Cunard Queen Elizabeth
Despite the art deco appearance of the ship, Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth is surprisingly child-friendly. Babies aged 12 months and above can enjoy the supervised nursery which is jam-packed with baby toys and cribs. The children’s club on deck 10 is operated by qualified nannies and is open from 9am to midnight.
Cunard go above and beyond to make sure all members of the family are welcomed aboard- they’re one of the few lines which also allow pets on board (but only on the Queen Mary 2).
P&O Pacific Jewel
Perfect for large families, the P&O Pacific Jewel has more than 40 daily activities designed just for kids. Food for babies and young children is available in the ship’s stores, and bed rails are available for cabins to make sure the beds are baby and toddler-friendly.
P&O Australia promise to make every effort to accommodate all children with special needs, and simply request 60 days’ notice before embarkation to make the requisite preparations.
The Princess Cruises ship provides plenty of activities and care options for children under the age of three. The fully-trained staff can help ensure babies and toddlers are kept content and entertained throughout the holiday.
Carnival Cruise Line
As you’d expect, a line that’s so fun, Carnival has plenty for kids to do. The line’s Kids’ Clubs have drop-offs for young children and babies, where they can have fun making Play-Doh sculptures, getting their faces painted, and listen to amazing stories. Parents of children aged three and younger are given pagers in case they need to be contacted, and the drop off times run from the morning until 10pm.
With plenty of pools and water areas to splash about, Dr. Seuss-themed breakfasts, as well as Cartoon Network and a family movie network available in every room, Carnival make sure everyone on board has fun.
Packed with lots for tots to do, all Disney ships feature the It’s a Small World Nursery for children aged 6 to 36 months old. Furnished with infant swings, toys, and books as well as arts and crafts, the nurseries fill up quickly, so be sure to book ahead. There’s also a babysitting service at your disposal.
Their ships also offer Disney character meet and greets, deck parties, and musical shows to keep them entertained, while Jack Jack’s Incredible Diaper Dash lets crawlers go for gold down a 20-foot padded mat.
If you’re low on supplies, there’s lots of baby gear and food on hand to stock up on, too.
Nurseries for babies and toddlers are on hand to keep them entertained with a variety of age-appropriate toys, books, music and videos, along with cribs for them to snooze in. In-cabin babysitting is also available, between the hours of 8am and 2am.
Why not have some fun with your little one at a playgroup? Royal Babies can play with musical instruments, do a spot of baby gymnastics and learn about shapes and colours, while Royal Tots can dress up as pirates and princesses, sing songs and show off their art skills.
On select ships, they’ll also have the chance to see their favourite DreamWorks characters, such as Shrek and Po from Kung Fu Panda, through meet-n-greets, parades and shows. They’ll even have the chance to share mealtimes with their heroes thanks to the DreamWorks Character Breakfast, too.
Cruising with Baby Tips
From years of experience, we have managed to put together a few tips for families cruising with babies and young children.
- Ships with 24 hour buffet services are fantastic for fussy-eating and fidgety children.
- Balcony cabins allow you to sit outside and enjoy the sea breeze whilst keeping an eye on a sleeping child.
- Ships with free laundry services are perfect for messy toddlers.
- Try and pack the smallest pushchair your child fits into, saving valuable cabin space.
- Pack an emergency kit for baby – the ship may not have all the medicines you need.
- Avoid excursions with long bus journeys so kids don’t get cranky on a hot, uncomfortable drive.
- Explore the ship for quiet, empty lounges and toddlers can stretch their legs and have a little explore.
*This guide was updated on 28 November 2017 to recognise policy changes from numerous cruise lines.
With plenty of cruises that cater to little ones, setting sail with tots and toddlers is easier than ever. Head over to our homepage for the best deals, or speak to one of our friendly customer care team on 1300 231 974.
Image sourced via Flickr Creative Commons and Princess Cruises Media Center. Credit: Princess Cruises, MAx Z, Nicholas D
Note: This post was updated in November 2017 for accuracy and timeliness.