A family cruise, especially with an infant, can be a daunting vacation to plan. Many families are planning multi-generational trips and family reunion cruises. No one wants to be excluded from these large family trips just because they have a little one to take along. We can’t all afford nannies to cruise with us and it’s unfair to ask the grandparents to babysit when they are on vacation, as well. At TravelingMamas.com, we’ve found the rules for cruising with infants varies from cruise line to cruise line.
We put together a list of the best cruise lines for traveling with infants, to help you narrow down the choices to have the best and relaxing cruise experience possible. As always, before booking your cruise, check with the cruise line to verify their particular minimum cruise age requirements.
Carnival Cruise Lines – Carnival offers a youth program for various age groups, including tween and teen cruisers. Camp Carnival is age specific for the 2-11 year old group, but children younger than 2 can play with toys during designated family play times. Minimum sailing age is 6 months, with the exceptions of Transatlantic, Hawaii, and South American cruises, which are 12 months. Carnival’s babysitting services information can be found online. From Carnival’s Official site: Under-2 Infant Care/Babysitting On Port Day mornings, care for infants begins from port arrival until 12:00 noon (or until 5:00pm for ships arriving in port after noon time). Port Days are for drop off only. Babysitting fees apply. On Sea Days, “Family Play Time” is scheduled from 12:00pm to 2:00pm (or 1:00pm to 3:00pm). Parents have the option of leaving their infant in the care of the Youth Counselors (babysitting fees apply) or staying with them to play, in which, if they stay, it is free of charge. Each evening, babysitting is available from 10:00pm to 3:00am. Babysitting fees apply.
Cunard – The Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria, and the Queen Elizabeth offer well-equipped nurseries and children’s activity centers with toys, games, and activities. The children’s areas are supervised with Certified British nannies and youth staff, but children must be at least one year old to participate without parents. Children under one year of age are allowed to participate in activities and playtime with parental supervision. Both ships offer a family pool area and complimentary group sitting is available in the evenings. Minimum sailing age on Cunard is 6 months on Alaska, Canada/New England, Caribbean, Europe, Mexico, Trans-canal and Australia/New Zealand Voyages. All other sailings, including Transatlantic and Transpacific routes require a minimun age of 12 months.
Disney Cruise Line – Disney is such a family-friendly brand, that it only makes sense that Disney Cruise Line would offer the best options among infant and toddler cruise programs. Flounder’s Reef Nursery (Disney Magic and Disney Wonder) and It’s A Small World Nursery (Disney Dream) accepts children ages 3 months to 3 years of age. It offers two rooms: one for play and one for a relaxing atmosphere. The nursery not only has an intimate counselor ratio (1:4 for infants and 1:6 for toddlers) but provides amenities such as swings, walkers, books, toys, and entertainment. Parents are encouraged to spend adult time together and are given special onboard pagers to be contacted if needed (such as a diaper changes, as the attendants to not change diapers) – Charges are $6 per hour for the first child and $5 per hour for each additional child. The minimum age to sail on Disney Cruise Line is 12 weeks old, the youngest age requirement among all cruise lines.
Royal Caribbean – This cruise line has partnered with Fisher-Price and Crayola to offer the “Royal Babies” program for ages 6-18 months and “Royal Tots” for the 18-36 month group. These group activities are scheduled at certain times throughout the cruise and parents must accompany their infant or toddler to these events. Supervised childcare is available onboard the Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas (Deck 14) which offers daytime and evening dropoff times. The charge for the nursery is $8 per hour with a maximum of 6 hours. The minimum age to sail is 6 months for most itineraries, but is 12 months for Transatlantic, Transpacific, and Hawaii cruises. Check age requirements for your specific cruise before booking.
While other cruise lines do allow children and infants, these are the best cruise lines that offer special activities and programs for families with infants. Before booking any infant on a family cruise, be sure to check directly with the cruise line to confirm you are meeting the minimum age requirements and have the proper documentation.
We hope this list helps you research and plan the best family cruise with infants and toddlers so you can enjoy your family vacation with minimal stress.
Note: We do recognize that Norwegian Cruise Line is great choice for a family cruise since they do offer a Nickelodeon Cruise and organized activity programs for children and teens, however they do not have programs in place for children under the age of two and do not offer private babysitting services. The minimum age to sail on NCL is 6 months.