Updated July 2019
A family cruise is a great family vacation choice, especially for young families with babies and toddlers. Parents can look forward to a fun vacation with their little ones while enjoying all the conveniences and amenities today's family friendly cruise ships have to offer. Cruising with your baby or toddler offers families lots of convenient choices of destinations and fun activities.
When planning for your family cruise vacation, please be aware that there are cruise line policies and rules in place regarding what age babies are allowed on board cruise ships. These rules have been established for the comfort and safety of all passengers. These rules are strictly enforced by the cruise lines. We've included age requirement rules below here for you.
In addition to checking age requirements, make sure little cruisers have all the right travel documents. Certain cruises will allow children to sail with an original birth certificate with a valid state seal (no photocopies) but we HIGHLY recommend all children sail with a valid passport. Reservations can be made in advance of obtaining a passport for your baby. Just insure the exact legal names used on your reservations match the legal names on your child's birth certificate and passport application.
Most of the family friendly cruise lines offer activities for every member of the family and this includes little sailors. On board nursery facilities and babysitting options can vary even with ships of the same cruise line. Older ships may not have all the facilities offered on newer ships.
To help you plan your next family cruise with your baby, Vacationkids offers this list of the most family friendly cruise lines and their rules and policies regarding cruising with babies...
DISNEY CRUISE LINE
Disney Cruise Lines will allow infants as young as 6 months of age on the day of embarkation to sail on their ships. Group babysitting is available for children 6 months to 3 years old in "It's A Small World Nursery" on board the Disney Magic, Disney Wonder, Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy. The ratio of care givers is 1:4 for infants and 1:6 for toddlers. Availability is very limited so advance reservations are recommended. The cost is $4.50 per half hour for the first child and $4.00 per half hour for any additional children in your family.
CARNIVAL CRUISE LINE
Carnival sets their minimum sailing age for babies at 6 months with the exception of Transatlantic, Hawaii and South American Cruises which require infants to be at least 1 year of age for these particular sailings.
For infants under age two, group babysitting is only available during select times. On sea days, the under 2 program runs for a limited number of hours (which vary by sailing and demand) at a cost of $6.75 per hour, plus a 15 percent gratuity, per child. On port days, parents can leave their toddlers at the kids club throughout the day (same cost) but youth staff will not feed children
Camp Ocean which is their complimentary children's program will welcome toddlers into their Penguins program (2 to 5 years). Staff will change diapers but parents are require to bring diapers and changing supplies. Carnival's evening group babysitting program called "Night Owls" also starts at age two. It is available every evening from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. in the kids club facility. The costs is$6.75 plus a 15 percent gratuity per hour, per child.
ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISE LINE
Requires infants sailing on a cruise must be at least 6 months old as of the first day of the cruise/cruisetour. However, for Transatlantic, Transpacific, Hawaii, certain South American sailings and other selected cruises, infants must be at least 12 months old at the time of embarkation.
Royal Caribbean does offer a drop off Nursery program for children 6 months to 3 years. There is a nursery charge of $8 per hour. The Royal Tots nursery is available on board these ships: Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas, Radiance of the Seas, Splendour of the Seas, Rhapsody of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Grandeur of the Seas, Serenade of the Seas, Enchantment of the Seas, Legend of the Seas, Independence of the Seas, & Brilliance of the Seas. The cost is $6.00 per hour per child.
Empress, Majesty, Jewel, Adventure, Explorer or Voyager of the Seas do offer interactive classes for parents and infants ages 6-18 months of age led by early childhood experts. These are 45 min playgroup sessions filled with fun age appropriate activities and toys.
All ships offer group babysitting from 6 p.m. to midnight (for $8 per child, per hour). Space is limited so advance reservation are suggested.
NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE
Infants under six months of age are not eligible for travel on NCL ships. NCL offers Guppies nursery for children ages 6 months to 3 years on board their newer ships - the Norwegian Bliss, Escape, Joy and Encore. The costs is $20 per time block session (one hour and 50 minutes, with a 10-minute pick up time) for the first child and $16 per time block session for each additional child. Late-night fees (11 p.m. to 1:20 a.m.) are $24 per time block session for the first child and $20 per time block session for each additional sibling. Reservations for Guppies nursery babysitting is required.
Celebrity Cruise Line
Infants sailing on a cruise must be at least 6 months old as of the first day of the cruise. Select Transatlantic, Transpacific, South American cruises require infants to be 12 months old on the first day of the cruise.
Celebrity does offer private In-cabin babysitting for up to three children from the same family. Infants must be at least 12 months old to participate. It's available on a first come, first served basis, costs $19 per hour and includes two babysitters. Bookings must be made 24 hours in advance and one parent or guardian must be onboard the ship during the entire length of the babysitting session.
MSC Cruise Line
For kids under 3, only day and evening group babysitting is available as part of the line's complimentary MSC Babycare program. The MSC Babycare service is free of charge. It is available while the ship is sailing and while parents disembark for an excursion. Parents must make reservations at least one day in advance. Hours are are 9 to 11 a.m., 4 to 6 p.m. and 8 to 9 p.m. on port days and 8 to 10 a.m. and 8. to 9 p.m. on sea days.
MSC Mini club is a playgroup for parents and children under the age of three that is usually offered between 8-10 am. Parents must remain with their children during this play time.
MSC also offers FREE baby gear for parents to use while onboard including bottle warmers, strollers, backpacks (for baby items), bouncing chairs, small fridge in stateroom to store perishable baby goods, cots, high chairs…and much more!
PRINCESS CRUISE LINE
Princess requires children to be at least 6 months of age to sail. They do offer parent child playgroup time but there are no drop off nursery services for children under the age of 3. Princess does not offer private or in cabin babysitting and children must be over the age of 3 and participate in group babysitting which is offered from 10pm to 1am nightly at a cost of $5 per child, per hour.
Cunard requires children to be one year of age to sail however, certain sailings will allow infants 6 months and older. Certified British nannies on board to care for babies aged one and above in supervised nurseries with baby toys and cribs.
Evening babysitting nursery service is available at no extra cost for babies and toddlers, 6 months to 23 months, between 6 and 11 p.m. on all Cunard cruises. Parents will need to provide their own baby food or preorder, at no extra cost, ahead of their cruise.
There is no in-cabin babysitting available.
Holland America Line welcomes infants older than six months. By advance request through Holland America Line’s Ship Services Department, guests may arrange commercial baby food, diapers and refrigerators for a nominal fee. A limited number of high chairs, booster seat and cribs are available at no charge.
In addition, the line’s Club HAL children’s program schedules Toddler Times for kids under the age of three to play in the children’s
facilities. Parents must stay with youngsters at all times.
For children under the age of three, limited babysitting is available through the Front Office on a staff volunteer basis. The
cost is $8 per hour for the first child and $5 per hour for each other child.
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 Vacationkids.com. 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.