Family Vacation Tips

Baby Friendly Cruises

[fa icon="calendar"] Aug 21, 2012 4:23:00 PM / by Sally Black

Sally Black

Baby Friendly cruisesBaby Friendly cruises are a great option for young families. Cruising with your baby or toddler offers families lots of convenient choices of destinations and fun activities. Many family friendly cruise lines offer nurseries and baby club programs with age appropriate activities for infants and toddlers under the age of 3 years old. Some cruise ships will even offer infant care and baby sitting while parents enjoy excursions and sightseeing when docked in port. This option allows parents to have some freedom and fun as well as peace of mind. Cruise ships will allow children to stay in the nursery while parents are sightseeing where as most resorts with baby programs will not allow parents to leave the resort property to golf, scuba or go sightseeing.

When planning for your baby friendly cruise, please be aware that there are cruise line policies and rules in place regarding the age they will allow infants to sail. Once you know your infant is old enough to sail with you on a family cruise, parents need to know what activities, baby clubs and babysitting is offered on their ship. Some cruise lines are better for families with babies and there are even specific ships that offer even more infant activities and baby care....

DISNEY -is the winner when it comes to baby cruises. Group babysitting is available for children 12 weeks to 3 years old at Flounder's Reef Nursery on the Disney Magic and the Disney Wonder, and at It's a Small World Nursery aboard the Disney Dream. Guests may book up to 10 hours of babysitting in advance of embarkation or may sign up their children on embarkation day. The facility is open for select hours every day. Rates and times are subject to change and space is limited. There is a charge of $6 per hour for the first child and $5 per hour for additional children. The ratio of care givers is 1:4 for infants and 1:6 for toddlers. Parents are allow to leave the ship during port days. Parents are responsible for supplying bottles, formula, baby food, diapers, wipes etc. Special needs children will be accommodated with the best care possible with advanced approval. Disney Cruise Line does not offer any private in cabin babysitting.

As far as diapers, baby food and baby gear needed for your cruise, Disney Cruise Lines had partnered with the website Babies Travel Lite. Parents can pre order all supplies they will need in advance and Babies Travel Lite will have your baby gear delivered to your stateroom.

Royal Caribbean - Offers Royal Babies & TotsSM Nursery for infants ages 6-36 months. Babies are cared for by trained professionals. Daytime and evening drop-off is offered with an hourly fee of $8  per child.

In addition to supervised infant care, Royal Caribbean offers Royal Tot playgroups. Time and location of these groups will be published on board in the list of daily guest activities. Parents MUST STAY with their children during these activity 45 minute programs. Activities include - 

Fisher-Price® Toy Lending Program  consists of a collection of developmental toys, specifically created for infants and toddlers ages 6-36 months. Borrow and exchange toys for a new activity every day, and help your little one?s growing mind learn through play. 

Crayola Beginnings Workshop Create early childhood memories at four new daytime Crayola Beginnings Workshops. During each 45-minute session, an Adventure Ocean counselor reads a story to parents and children, and uses Crayola Beginnings products to teach toddlers how to create their first works of art.

Fun On The Farm Join Little People® friends to explore connections between farm animals, the sounds they make and the ways they move.

Terrific Trips  Here you are, on a family vacation - what better time to share ideas with your child about places to see, things to do, and different trips to take, both near and far from home.

Out & About In The Neighborhood Discover people and places in your neighborhood, learning about familiar places, community helpers and transportation while role-playing with Little People friends.

Pirates and Princesses Calling all pirates and princesses! We'll take you on imaginative journeys to ancient times and faraway lands, enjoying pretend play with castles, pirates, stories and activities.

Learning FUNdamentals Kids love to sing, dance and learn new things! We'll get them moving and singing as they learn A-B-Cs, 1-2-3s, phonics, shapes, colors, and more, with the help of learning toys, music, games, and lots of other fun activities

Royal Caribbean offers both group babysitting and private babysitting in individual staterooms. Children MUST be at least 1 year old Sitters will be assigned on a first come first served basis . Approximate Rate is $10.00 per hour for one or two children within the same family or $15.00 per hour for three children within the same family. Times and prices are subject to change without notice. Payment must be made in cash.

Royal Caribbean also offers their Babies 2 Go program. Parents can pre order diapers and organic gerber baby food that will be delivered to the stateroom upon arrival. Orders must be placed at least 4 days prior to embarkation and cannot be ordered once on board. High chairs are available upon request but no stroller rentals are offered. There is a fisher price toy lending program for children ages 6 to 36 months.

Carnival Cruise Lines -Carnival  staff offer free family play times when parents can come into the playroom area with babies under the age of 2 to use the facilities OR parents can leave infants in the care of the camp carnival staff on sea days from 8am to 10am.

Carnival does allow Children 6 months to 2 years old into their main  playroom each evening from 10pm until 3am and on port days (specific times will be posted on board) for the normal babysitting fee of $6.75 per child(+15% tip). 

 If parents choose they can leave your under 2's with Camp Carnival for the regular babysitting fee along with signed registration and waivers. The cost for this service is just $6.75 per hour for the first child and $4 per hour for each additional sibling in the same immediate family. Payment must be made with your Sail & Sign card and is due upon pick up. Port Day Babysitting is also available for children under 2 year old so that parents may leave the ship for shore excursions. The early morning port service will begin 15 minutes before the ship's arrival in port until 12pm and for late ports this will be offered during 'free play' times (see your Youth Staff when you arrive on the ship for details).

Camp Carnival is the free child care program sponsoring different age appropriate activities for kids ages 2-11. There are no exceptions to this rule. Toddlers two and older must be potty-trained in order to be part of Camp Carnival. Camp Carnival staff members will change diapers  in an emergency but parents must provide the diapers and toiletries for their child. Little ones will enjoy age appropriate activities From finger painting to cartoon time, arts and crafts to puppet shows.

For safety and security of all, Carnival Cruise Lines does not allow any private, in-cabin babysitting services.

Norwegian Cruise Lines -Norwegian does offer their complimentary Kids crew club for kids for children age 2 and older. Once your child has celebrated their second birthday, even if it is during their cruise, they are then allowed to participate in this free program. Kids crew staff have graduated from university education or recreational programs and are certified in CPR and first aid. Kids crew activities include storytelling, arts and crafts, games, treasure hunts and parades. Hours of Operation are...
Embarkation Day: 8:00 pm to 10:30 pm
Port Days: Departure from Port to 10:30 pm (Departure Time varies from ship to ship based on itinerary)
Sea Days: 9:00 am to 10:30 pm
Kids who are is in diapers and at least two years old at the time of sailing are welcome to participate, However, NCL Youth Staff are not able to change diapers or pull-ups. Parents will be given a beeper or handy phone to alert you for diaper changes.

NCL offers Port Play for parents who want to leave the ship for shore excursions on Port days. Port Play is a group-sitting, fee-based service for run by the Youth Staff in the Kid's Crew Facility for children who are at least two years old and completely potty trained. Beepers and handy phones do not work ashore, so if you child is not fully potty trained at least one parent will have to stay on board when their children are in our Youth Program. Hours of Operation are...
Port Day: Arrival into Port to Departure from Port
Overnight In Port: Arrival in Port to 8 pm
The cost for Port Play is $6.00 per child/per hour and $4.00 per sibling/per hour. The Port Play fee is charged to your on-board account. Parents are encouraged to sign up in advance.

NCL offers late night group sitting from Nightly: 10:30 pm to 1:30 am for ages 2-12. The cost is $6.00 per child/per hour and $4.00 per sibling/per hour No private or in-stateroom babysitting is available on any NCL vessel.

Cunard - Certified British nannies on board Cunard ships are there to care for infants who are at least one year of age. Children must be a minimum of one year-old to participate in the Children Programs without parental supervision. On specific sailings, children between the ages of six months and one year are welcome in the Children Centre to play, provided they are accompanied by a parent/guardian at all times. Private babysitting is not available. However, complimentary child sitting on a group basis is available in the evenings.

Please know, cruise lines are very strict about their age restrictions and policies towards babies. This is done for the safety and comfort of all passengers. Misrepresenting the age of your child is not allowed. At embarkation, if cruise officials check your child's passport and determine your baby to be under age, the infant and their guardian will NOT be allowed to board your cruise ship. This is called denied boarding. It is not covered by any travel insurance and you and your will simply be made to forfeit the cost of your cruise. This is why it's important to work with a Family Cruise Expert at Our experts know all the issues involved with taking your baby on a cruise and are here to help make your family cruise vacation smooth sailing for the entire family.

Topics: Family Cruises, Baby Vacations

Sally Black

Written by Sally Black

Sally is the Founder of Travel Agency and author of the book "Fearless Family Vacations". She is also the Director of Travel Agent Initiatives and Training at The Family Travel Association.

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