Some of the fondest memories I have of vacationing with my family are trips when my children were very young. There is something about watching a small child come to know new experiences and surroundings- it’s an idea that’s very dear to my heart. Now that my own children are grown and world travelers themselves, I like to think that the travels of their youth sparked their interest and love of different environments and cultures. A family vacation, regardless of locale, opens so many doors for your children, and cruising is among the best.
If you plan on cruising with a small child in the near future, be sure to read on for information on the cruise lines child policies and programs:
FAMILY VACATION ON THE HORIZON?
UPDATED Cruise Line Policies FOR TRAVELING with CHILDREN FROM 6 MONTHS TO 8 YEARS OLD
A cruise vacation is a wonderful experience for travelers of all ages. If you will be traveling with infants or young children, take care to understand the children’s policies before sailing. Some lines cater to children and families; others do not. And while a large number of cruise lines offer outstanding children’s programs, many cruisers are unaware that most cruise lines have a minimum age for children to sail. Ages range from 3 months to 8 years, depending on the cruise line.
The experts at CruiseCompete offer the following information on the cruise lines children’s policies and programs; be sure to verify this information with the cruise line before booking a cruise.
(For those of you still eagerly anticipating the arrival of your bundle of joy, check out the cruise line policies for mothers-to-be At AllThingsCruise.com: http://allthingscruise.com/cruise-research/niche-cruises/family-cruising/pregnancy-policies-by-cruise-line/.)
AmaWaterways : AmaWaterways cruises are primarily designed for the adult traveler. Children are allowed however there are no child- specific programs or child minding facilities.
Minimum age to sail on Ama is 4 years, but children 4-7 years old are not recommended. The minimum age for Africa cruises is 12.
Azamara Club Cruises: Azamara Club Cruises is primarily designed for the mature guest; so while the cruise line does welcome guests of all ages, no formal children’s programs or facilities are onboard their ships.
Minimum age requirement to sail on Azamara is 6 months old, with the exception of transatlantic, transpacific, Hawaii, select South American, other selected cruises and/or CruiseTours, and all cruise with 3 or more consecutive days at sea the infant must be at least 12 months old as of the first day of the cruise/CruiseTour.
Carnival– Carnival Cruise Lines- Carnival’s Youth Program, Camp Carnival, is designed for 2-11 year olds, but children younger than 2 can play with the toys during designated family play times (parents must be present!). There are babysitting services during limited hours for children younger than two at Camp Carnival.
Minimum age for sailing is 6 months, with the exceptions of Transatlantic, Hawaii and South American cruises, which are 12 months.
Celebrity Cruises -Celebrity offers private, in-cabin babysitters. A child must be 12 months old to qualify for this service and no more than two children are allowed per babysitter. Parents should expect to make requests for services at least 24 hours in advance.
Infants sailing with Celebrity Cruises must be at least 6 months old as of the first day of the cruise. However, for Transatlantic, Transpacific, select South American cruises and other select cruises the infant (as of the first day of the cruise/Cruisetour) must be at least 12 months old. For the purposes of this policy, any cruise that has three or more consecutive days at sea will require infants to be 12 months old on the first day of the cruise/Cruisetour.
Costa Cruise Line– There are no organized activities for children under the age of three, but during the low season/off-peak times families can access the children’s areas. Costa also provides a group baby-sitting service in their “Miniclub” (between 11:30pm-1:30am) so that parents may take part in cruise entertainment. Costa also provides, on request, cribs, high chairs, baby bath, bottle warmers and liquidized food.
Minimum age to sail on Costa is 6 months, 12 months for trans-ocean crossings, world cruises, and cruises of 15 days or longer in duration..
Crystal Cruises- Crystal does not have a formal program for children under the age of three, but babysitting services are available. Arrangements can be made through the concierge; parents should expect to provide 24 hours’ notice and pay a nominal charge for babysitting services.
The minimum age to sail on Crystal Cruises is 6 months.
Cunard Line- On Cunard’s ships, the Queen Mary 2 and the Queen Elizabeth 2, parents will find well-equipped nurseries and children’s centers, featuring toys, games and activities. These children’s areas are supervised by nannies and youth staff, but children must be one year old to participate without parents; children under one are welcome with parental supervision. Both ships offer a family pool area, and there is complimentary group child-sitting available in the evenings.
Children must be at least 6 months of age are welcome on most Cunard voyages; on Icelandic sailings, Transatlantic Crossings, Transpacific voyages (including voyages to Hawaii) and World Voyages (including Segment Voyages), the minimum age is one year.
Disney Cruise Line- Already well-known for being a family-friendly line, this cruise line is also among the best for infant programs. Flounder’s Reef Nursery accepts children from 6 months to 36 months; the counselor ratio is 1:4 for infants and 1:6 for toddlers. Amenities include: baby swings, walkers, books, toys, games, a television and DVD area. There is also a soft play area and separate nursery with cribs. Parents should expect to carry a pager (attendants do not change diapers) and pay $9.00 per hour for the first child, and $8.00 per hour for each additional child.
The minimum age to sail on Disney is 6 months old.
Holland America Line- Holland America Line does not provide children’s programs or babysitting for children under three, but a limited number of high chairs, booster seats and cribs are available to cruisers at no charge. Parents should expect to reserve these items in advance, at the time of booking.
The minimum age to sail on Holland America Line is 6 months or 12 months for trans-ocean sailings.
Norwegian Cruise Line: NCL offers youth programs and group babysitting for children ages 2-12, including a ‘FreeStyle Play” period where all age groups play together. Group babysitting outside of the complimentary Kid’s Crew program runs $6 per child per hour, and $4 per hour for additional siblings. NCL does not have programs in place for children under age two, and no private babysitting is available.
The minimum age to sail on NCL is 6 months; 12 months for voyages with 3 or more consecutive days at sea.
Oceania Cruises- Oceania’s cruises are designed for adults and do not provide care, entertainment, or supervision for children.
Oceania’s minimum sailing age is 6 months.
P&O Cruises: P & O Cruises has 3 adult only ships: Arcadia, Adonia and Oriana which have a minimum age of 18 years. But their remaining ships offer P&O’s children’s program- The Reef- starting at age two. Splashers’, for 2 – 4 year olds is a day program filled with activities and designed for young children. In the evening, parents can take advantage of the cruise line’s supervised night nursery for children from 6 months old to 4 years old. Parents should be aware that this service is operated on a first-come, first-serve basis, and infants must be settled and sleeping before they leave.
Minimum age to sail on P&O Cruises is 6 months, however transatlantic Cruises, World Cruises and remote itineraries have a minimum age of 12 months.
Royal Caribbean- Designed for babies 6-36 months, many Royal Caribbean ships have incorporated a “Royal Babies” program into their cruises. These playgroups are 45-minute sessions (parents must accompany the child) that include activities like baby gymnastics and musical inspiration. On many ships Royal Caribbean also provides a nursery, with child watch options day and night. Parents should expect to carry a phone, and the charge is $8 per hour, per child.
The minimum age to sail is 6 months on most itineraries, but is 12 months on all transatlantic, transpacific, Hawaii, select South American, other selected cruises and/or CruiseTours and any cruise that has 3 or more consecutive days at sea. Be sure to check age requirements for your specific cruise.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises: Regent does not does not provide for the care, entertainment or supervision of children on their cruises.
The minimum age to sail on Regent Seven Seas Cruises is 12 months.
Seabourn: Tailored for the adult cruiser, there are no onboard facilities for kids, nor does Seabourn offer a supervised children’s program.
Minimum age is 6 months however infants must be 12 months or older on transatlantic cruises.
SeaDream Yacht Club: SeaDream Yacht Club does not provide activities/amenities specifically for children.
The minimum age to sail on a SeaDream is 12 months.
Silversea Cruises – This luxury cruise line’s programs are designed for adults and they do not provide care, entertainment, or supervision for children.
Minimum sailing age on Silversea is 6 months, 1 year for sailings aboard the Silver Explorer, Silver Galapagos, and Silver Discoverer.
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection- Uniworld’s position is that most children -specifically those under 8- do not enjoy or appreciate the river cruise experience. There are no special arrangements, activities or accommodations for children on Uniworld river cruises and tour programs.
The minimum age to cruise on Uniworld is 4 years, 8 years for Egypt sailings.
Viking River Cruises- Viking River Cruises does not maintain facilities or services for children due to the nature of their cruises.
Minimum age to cruise on Viking River is 12 years.
Windstar Cruises– Children, especially infants and toddlers, are not encouraged aboard Windstar cruises, and the cruise line does not provide care, supervision, or entertainment of children.
Minimum age to cruise on Windstar is 7 years.