Family Cruise Travel Planner, 2019 Edition

2019 Family Cruise Travel Planner

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Chapter I- Top Ten Family Friendly Cruise Lines

CruiseCompete believes that every family can have a world-class cruise experience, whatever the size of their family and whatever their interests, budget, and needs. We have researched thousands of reviews from travelers on every ship and cruise line. These reviews gave us deep insight into every cruise line, ship, and destination in this book. After tabulating all the reviews, we discovered which family-friendly cruise lines really stood out. This chapter looks in detail at the top ten—the best of the best.

  1. Royal Caribbean International – Upscale Contemporary
  2. Disney Cruise Line – Premium
  3. Norwegian Cruise Line – Upscale Contemporary
  4. Princess Cruises – Premium
  5. MSC Cruises – Upscale Contemporary
  6. Celebrity Cruises – Premium
  7. Holland America Line – Premium
  8. Carnival Cruises – Contemporary
  9. Crystal Cruises – Ultra-Luxury
  10. Cunard Line – Ultra-Premium

#1: Royal Caribbean International

New for 2019

  • As of September 30, 2018, Royal Caribbean has discontinued their in-stateroom babysitting program, Sitters At Sea

Minimum Age: Six months (twelve months for transatlantic, transpacific, Hawaiian, select South American, and other selected cruises.)

Children’s Programs: Extensive

Babysitting: Yes

Tickets: http://www.cruisecompete.com/lines/royal_caribbean_cruises.html

Overview

Royal Caribbean ships are resort cities at sea, offering the most varied and best-quality entertainment for the entire family of any cruise line around. Whether you’re looking for an adrenaline rush or uninterrupted tranquility, these ships have it all. Try rock climbing, ice skating, or surfing 200 feet above the waves. Melt away land-based stress with a massage, build a scrapbook, or simply relax poolside.

Royal Caribbean offers the ultimate in dining experience ambience, and variety, from casual to sophisticated, cupcakes to canapés.

World-class entertainment is available around the clock, from Broadway musicals, to the DreamWorks Experience, to ice skating spectaculars, to casinos and live comedy, as well as music, bars, clubs, and more.

Children will never be bored thanks to the complimentary Adventure Ocean® Youth Program. The programs are packed with totally awesome stuff for babies, teens, and kids in between: everything from pajama nights and science experiments to scavenger hunts and theme parties.

Royal Caribbean International cruises are best for families both with and without children, active couples, and singles of all ages who love the fun of large ships and diverse onboard activities. Even if you never left the ship, you would feel you had an amazing vacation.

Destinations

Alaska

Arabian Gulf

Asia

Australia / New Zealand

Bahamas

Bermuda

Canada / New England

Caribbean

Cuba

Europe

Hawaii

Panama Canal

Repositioning

South Pacific

Transatlantic

Transpacific

Minimum Age

Children must be at least six months old as of the first day of the cruise. However, for transatlantic, transpacific, Hawaii, select South American and other selected cruises and/or CruiseTours, the infant must be at least 12 months old as of the first day of the cruise/CruiseTour. For the purposes of this policy, any cruise that has 3 or more days consecutive at sea will require infants to be 12 months old on the first day of the cruise/cruisetour.

Babysitting

The Babies and Tots Nursery offers parents a drop-off option in the daytime and evening, where their children can be left in the trusting care of trained professionals for an hourly fee.

Kids and teens can enjoy activities late into the evening in the Adventure Ocean and teen-only spaces. An hourly rate applies after 10 pm.

Pregnancy Policy

Royal Caribbean International cannot accept guests who will have entered their twenty-fourth week of pregnancy at any time during the cruise. All guests are required to sign a health questionnaire at check-in to ensure they are aware of our pregnancy policy. A physician’s “Fit to Travel” note is required prior to sailing, stating how far along (in weeks) a guest’s pregnancy will be at the beginning of the cruise and confirming that she is in good health and not experiencing a high-risk pregnancy. The “Fit to Travel” note should be faxed to the Access Department at 1-954-628-9622. Please contact RCL at 1-866-592-7225 or at special_needs@rccl.com if you have already booked a cruise or cruise tour and do not meet this requirement.

Children’s Programs

Infants and Toddlers (0–3 years)

Royal Caribbean International offers Royal Babies® and Royal Tots® interactive playgroup sessions developed by early childhood experts at Fisher-Price®. Each 45-minute session, held on one of the onboard lounges, offers activities that make playtime learning time as well.

Children (3–11 years)

Royal Caribbean offers a complimentary, award-winning Adventure Ocean® Youth Program for children. Divided by age group, it offers everything from pirate parties and a Jurassic Jr. exploration of dinosaurs, to science experiments and dance parties, to scavenger hunts, sports tournaments, talent shows, and video game tournaments. With the DreamWorks Experience, young cruisers will enjoy fun activities such as story time, dance parties, parades, ice shows, and aqua shows with characters from the DreamWorks Animation movies.

Every member of the youth team has extensive education and experience working with children. Children must be100% toilet trained and diaper and pull-up free.

Tweens and Teens (12–17 years)

Royal Caribbean recognizes that teens are also getting a vacation, not just being looked after. They provide both pre-planned events and a teen-only lounge and nightclub where the older kids can just hang out with people their own age.

Pre-planned events include rock climbing, sports competitions, BBQs, movie nights, talent shows, pool parties, karaoke, and even a YSpa with feature services just for teens, including an Acne Attack facial, Beach Babe deep conditioning hair treatment, and the Sole Mate pedicure.


#2: Disney Cruise Line

New for 2019:

  • Disney has added cruises to Hawaii again.
  • Disney has slightly changed the wording on their pregnancy policy to read: Women who have entered their 24th week of pregnancy as of their embarkation date or who will enter their 24th week of pregnancy during the cruise will be refused passage due to safety concerns.
  • Disney has changed their rates for It’s a Small World Nursery to half-hour rates instead of hourly rates-$4.50 per half hour for the first child and $4.00 per half hour for any additional children in your family.
  • Jedi Training: Experiencing the force is a new activity onboard the Disney Dream
  • Doctor Strange: Defy the Dark Dimension is a new activity on the Disney Fantasy
  • Thor Becoming Worthy is a new activity on the Disney Magic
  • Frozen Adventure is a new activity on the Disney Wonder

Minimum Age: Six months for most sailings; 12 months for certain destinations

Children’s Programs: Extensive

Babysitting: Yes

Tickets: http://www.cruisecompete.com/lines/disney_cruises.html

Overview

For a line that’s focused on kids and their families, and which offers comfortably casual cruise experiences, Disney has created elegant, modern ships with features that can be appreciated by young and old alike. The oversize staterooms can accommodate a family of four (some family cabins hold six); all have bathtubs (a must for little kids), TV, hair dryers, and safes; and about 40% have verandas. Some cabins have the luxury of an added half-bath.

As might be expected from Disney, the children’s programs are exceptional at every level, from the nurseries to the teen options. There are hands-on science programs, high-tech interactive programs, treasure hunts, and just about everything to amuse, entertain, and enrich young passengers. Depending on the ship, older kids might get video games, listening stations, smoothie bars, and even outdoor hot tubs. The technology throughout the newer ships—high-speed computers, motion sensors, and LCD screens—is so dazzling that adults, too, are drawn to the interactive “art” and the “magic” floors.

Disney has wisely created adults-only areas (restaurants, lounges, clubs, and spas) on all ships, as well as on the line’s private island, Castaway Cay. The Disney Dream, for example, has a section called The District, which encompasses several lounges and nightclubs and caters to adults in the evening. As the passenger list is composed mostly of families, the adults-only areas are generally pleasantly uncrowded.

Disney cruises are best for anyone who loves the magic of Disney and wants a big-ship cruise experience rich with activities for the whole family. They’re perfect for family reunions and multigenerational families who understand and appreciate the Disney product.

Destinations

Alaska

Bahamas

Bermuda

Canada

Caribbean

Disney’s Castaway Cay

Europe

Hawaii

Mexico

Pacific Coast

Panama Canal

Transatlantic

Minimum Age

Your child needs to be at least 6 months of age on the day of sailing for most itineraries. The minimum age for transatlantic and Panama Canal itineraries is 1 year of age on the day of sailing.

Babysitting

Care for children from six months to three years of age is available at the It’s a Small World Nursery. We highly recommended that you make reservations prior to your cruise for the It’s a Small World Nursey due to limited availability.

Pregnancy Policy

Women who have entered their 24th week of pregnancy as of their embarkation date or who will enter their 24th week of pregnancy during the cruise will be refused passage due to safety concerns.

Neither a doctor’s medical statement nor a waiver of liability will be accepted. In addition, Disney Cruise Line cannot be held responsible or liable for any complications relating to pregnancy at any stage.

Children’s Programs

Infants and Toddlers (0–3 years)

It’s A Small World Nursery It’s a Small World Nursery, a delightful nursery for young children located on Deck 5, midship on the Disney Dream, Disney Magic, Disney Wonder, and Disney Fantasy, is a themed space inspired by the classic Disneyland Resort attraction (with original artwork by Mary Blair) that provides care for little ones aged six months to three years. It’s a Small World Nursery is available at an additional charge and must be reserved in advance: $4.50 per half hour for the first child and $4.00 per half hour for any additional children in your family.

Children (3–11 years)

Disney’s Oceaneer Club

A children’s activity center located on Deck 5, Midship, Disney’s Oceaneer Club is the perfect place for kids to dress up as their favorite princess or hero, play computer games, and enjoy a wide variety of supervised themed activities throughout the day.

Disney’s Oceaneer Club includes four distinctly themed play areas, computer banks with child-friendly computers, a reading area, a small stage for games, multiple televisions, play structures, and a giant TV screen.

What makes Disney’s Oceaneer Club even more magical is an endless supply of toys and games, an open seating area for arts and crafts, and ongoing Disney movies. Mats for naps are also available.

Children are invited to partake in a wide range of delightfully themed activities available at Disney’s Oceaneer Club. While some activities are recommended for certain age ranges, participation is based on a child’s interest level and maturity—not age. As a result of this, siblings and friends aged 3–12 can play together without restriction.

Although subject to change, activities at Disney’s Oceaneer Club may include:

Disney’s Once Upon a Time – Bartleby the Bookmaker leads the kids through the art of bookmaking and wows them with his very special talent: When he reads the books, he makes the characters come to life!

Puzzle Playtime with Mickey and Friends – Mickey Mouse and his pals stop by to play some of their favorite games with Disney Cruise Line’s youngest cruisers and their families.

Tinker Bell’s Talent Show – Tinker Bell has come from Pixie Hollow to Disney Cruise Line to help young cruisers discover their Fairy Talents and to give them the opportunity to shine.

You can register your child for Disney’s Oceaneer Club either at the terminal or on board the ship. Upon boarding the ship on embarkation day, both children and parents must check in at the front desk at Disney’s Oceaneer Club. During this confirmation process, parents will fill out final paperwork and children will receive a wristband indicating that they are part of Disney’s Oceaneer Club.

During the registration process, parents are invited to tour the facility, meet the counselors, and learn more about the many activities offered.

Children aged 3–12 with special needs are welcome at Disney’s Oceaneer Club. Simply let the counselors know in advance and they will accommodate you as best they can.

Jedi Training: Experience the Force-Onboard the Disney Dream. Take your first step into the larger world as you learn the ways of the force.

Doctor Strange: Defy the Dark Dimension-Onboard the Disney Fantasy. Join Doctor Strange as he teaches the ways of the Mystic Arts.

Thor Becoming Worthy-Onboard the Disney Magic. Join Thor to become part of the next generations of super heroes.

Frozen Adventure: On the Disney Wonder. Prepare for a royal coronation with Anna and Elsa.

Marvel’s Avengers Academy – Aboard the Disney Magic you can let your young crime fighters help with special missions and operations—Avengers’ style.

Marvel’s Superhero Academy – Aboard the Disney Wonder, Disney Magic, and Disney Fantasy. Master the mystic arts with Doctor Strange! Use immersive gaming and interactive portals to unleash your inner strength, become an Avenger and learn the true meaning of super powers!

Star Wars Command Post – Aboard the Disney Fantasy Battle the Dark Side! Train with Jedi or X-Wing pilots, connect to legendary spacecrafts via an interactive “holotable” and combat First Order Stormtroopers face-to-face!

Star Wars: Millennium Falcon play area is new aboard the Disney Dream. This play area features arts, crafts, broadcasts of Star Wars Rebel, and computer stations with games from the Disney XD show, Star Wars Rebel.

Mickey Mouse Club – A fun space where kids can make crafts, enjoy games, and play with Goofy Gears.

Dining at Disney’s Oceaneer Club – Children are invited to enjoy lunch and dinner at Disney’s Oceaneer Club.

Royal Court Tea Aboard the Disney Fantasy – This special activity is offered during 7-night itineraries aboard the Disney Fantasy. Enjoy a royal teatime that includes visits from Disney Princesses.

Disney’s Oceaneer Lab – Disney’s Oceaneer Lab—a children’s activity center located at Deck 5, Midship aboard the Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy, Disney Magic, and Disney Wonder—is the ideal place for children to play and learn while at sea thanks to the plethora of imaginatively themed activities and games available daily.

Disney’s Oceaneer Lab is a play space designed for children and dedicated to adventure and exploration. It’s an ideal location for children ages 3 to 12 years of age to play, featuring a seemingly endless supply of toys, games, and Disney movies. It is a space for educational experiments with a variety of supervised activities throughout the day. There are individual computer stations, and in addition it is the staging area and starting point for a ship-wide quest game, in which young explorers gather and decipher clues during an exciting adventure around the ship.

Disney’s Oceaneer Lab is designed with delightful amenities, including:

  • A stage in the main hall where kids can hear stories of great expeditions and star in their own swashbuckling plays.
  • A 103-inch plasma screen, which displays Disney movies and interactive animated characters, including Disney’s mischievous animated alien Stitch, whose unrehearsed, real-time antics are sure to bring laughter.
  • A workshop and laboratory where kids concoct crazy experiments, stretch their culinary skills, and participate in other hands-on activities.

Children are invited to partake in a wide range of delightfully themed activities available at Disney’s Oceaneer Lab. While some activities are recommended for certain age ranges, participation is based on a child’s interest level and maturity—not age. As a result of this, siblings and friends ages 3-12 can play together without restriction.

Although subject to change, activities at Disney’s Oceaneer Lab may include:

Monsters, Inc Open “Mike” Night – Mike Wazowski and the other monsters of the Disney•Pixar film Monsters, Inc. have lost their voices and are unable to collect kids’ laughter to power Monstropolis. It’s up to the kids to put on a comedy show for their parents so they can save Monstropolis from certain doom.

Get the Hook! – Captain Hook’s favorite dress hook has been stolen and the kids must help him find it and catch the culprit. Led by Detective Clue and featuring site-specific crime scenes, their three-day search for clues will take them all over the ship as it sails the sea, culminating in a reward from the Captain himself.

Super Sloppy Science with Professor Make-O-Mess – Professor Make-O-Mess is a world-famous scientist who is known for performing the sloppiest science experiments around. Now teens can partake in some educational fun as the professor offers some hands-on training that will surely having them laughing and learning.

Dining – Children are invited to enjoy lunch and dinner at Disney’s Oceaneer Lab.

Parents should note that children have the ability to move back and forth between Disney’s Oceaneer Club and Disney’s Oceaneer Lab during most operating hours to experience activities. Youth activity counselors will be on hand to direct children. The workshop and laboratory connect Disney’s Oceaneer Lab to Disney’s Oceaneer Club.

Themed Spaces – Branching off the Oceaneer Lab’s main room are several themed play spaces:

Media Room – Children can kick back and relax in bean bag chairs and watch movies, play video games, or even read a book.

Animator’s Studio – Designed as a working animation studio, this room allows children to create original, hand-drawn art or learn how to sketch their favorite Disney characters. With the help of a youth counselor, kids can even design and bring to life computer-animated characters.

The Wheelhouse – This space is all about technology, featuring numerous computers and large, high-definition LCD screens. Here, young technophiles can compete in a unique Pirates of the Caribbean game exclusive to DCL.

Sound Studio – This interactive area is dedicated to children who appreciate music and want to create it.

Craft Studio – Children seeking a more tactile artistic experience can escape from technology to this creative studio and create hands-on arts and crafts projects.

Tweens and Teens (11–17 years)

Edge, a tweens-exclusive space located at Deck 13 inside the Forward Funnel aboard the Disney Dream and the Disney Fantasy, as well as on Deck 2, Midship aboard the Disney Magic and the Disney Wonder, is a scenic spot where kids ages 11 through 14 can play videogames, watch television, listen to music, surf the Internet, and partake in various activities with kids their own age.

Vibe, a teens-exclusive space located at Deck 11, Midship aboard the Disney Magic and the Disney Wonder, and Deck 5, Forward aboard the Disney Dream and the Disney Fantasy, is a hip hotspot featuring an indoor lounge and breezy sundeck where teens aged 14 through 17 can listen to music, watch television, and play videogames inside—or catch some rays and splash it up out on deck.


#3: Norwegian Cruise Line

New for 2019

Onboard the Norwegian Epic only–the Guppy’s Nursery offers group sitting for children from 6 months to under three. There is a fee for this service and registration and reservations are required.

Minimum Age: Six months (12 months for voyages of three days or longer)

Children’s Programs: Extensive

Babysitting: Yes

Tickets: http://www.cruisecompete.com/lines/norwegian_cruises.html

Overview

Norwegian Cruise Line revolutionized the industry in 2000 when it introduced “Freestyle Cruising,” which allowed passengers greater freedom to dine when they like (with extended restaurant hours), where they like (with a number of alternative venues), with whom they like (with open seating), with freedom to dress as they please (with a “resort casual” dress code at night), and other relaxations of the usual cruise ship procedures. One of the most appealing freestyle elements is Norwegian’s disembarkation procedure, which is far more relaxed and pleasant than is usual on other large vessels.

Moving to create one of the industry’s youngest and most modern fleets, Norwegian eliminated some of its older ships and added four Jewel-class ships between 2005 and 2008. But the biggest step forward was made with the new F3-class design of the Norwegian Epic and the Norwegian Breakaway, which have more than twenty dining venues (with electronic reservation systems), luxury villas, interconnecting cabins, family-suitable suites, multi-purpose indoor and outdoor spaces, huge waterparks, bowling alleys, champagne bars, ice bars, solo cabins (the first in the industry), and superior live entertainment.

At a time when air travel is becoming increasingly unpleasant, especially for families, Norwegian offers departures from a number of US homeports, including New York, Seattle, New Orleans, Boston, and Tampa. Also appealing: the line often advertises excellent discount deals, such as $99 children’s fares and complimentary onboard credits. NCL is the only cruise line that offers year-round Hawaii cruises.

There is so much to see and do aboard Norwegian’s newer ships: Latin-inspired dance productions by Burn the Floor, world-class magicians, really good comedy shows, fireworks at sea, a “hot” ice bar, and a wealth of dining options to satisfy any foodie.

There’s generally a surcharge for specialty dining and reservations are required (savvy passengers, hit the electronic reservations ASAP to avoid disappointment!). Regardless of the event or dining venue, no one is ever required to put on formal dress; resort casual is fine for restaurant dining and the usual shorts and flip-flops are okay for almost everything else.

Norwegian ships feature full-service Mandara spas, which also offer popular specialties like teeth whitening.

Typical clientele includes a mix of age groups, such as the usual mature travelers, but also young families and couples, both straight and gay. Most travelers are American, but also include other English speakers from the UK, Australia, and New Zealand.

Norwegian cruises are best for adults and families who want a fun and lively cruise experience where there are few rules or fixed schedules. They’re also good for solo travelers who don’t want to pay a single supplement.

Destinations

Alaska

Asia

Australia and New Zealand

Bahamas and Florida

Bermuda

Canada and New England

Caribbean

Cuba

Europe

Hawaii

Mexican Riviera

Pacific Coastal

Panama Canal

South America

Transatlantic

Minimum Age

Infants sailing on board a Norwegian vessel must be at least six months of age at time of sailing. However, for voyages that have three or more consecutive days at sea, infants must be at least twelve months old at time of sailing.

Babysitting

Norwegian doesn’t offer babysitting but instead Group Sitting Services for children aged 3-12 every night from 10:30 pm to 1:30 am, and on port days while the ship is docked.

Parents are encouraged to sign up in advance for both services. If no children are signed up or dropped off by 11:30 pm for the nightly service, the youth center will close for the evening. The fees are charged to your onboard account.

Guppies Nursery is onboard the Norwegian Escape only. This is for children aged 6 months to under 3 years old. This is a fee-based group sitting program. Hours for this service vary per day and registration is required. The cost is $20 per time block session for the first child, $16 per time block session for sibling. Late night sitting is available some nights. Cost is $24 per time block for the first child and $20 per time block session for sibling.

Pregnancy Policy

NCL will not accept guests who will have entered their twenty-fourth week of pregnancy by the time their travel with NCL concludes. A statement from the expectant mother’s doctor (letterhead form required) stating her due date and fitness to travel must be sent to NCL’s Access Desk (accessdesk@ncl.com).

Children’s Programs

Infants, Toddlers, and Children (6 months–12 years)

Splash Academy for Kids

This program is specifically designed to engage active and creative kids aged six months to twelve years old. Whether it’s learning to juggle at circus school with Cirque du Jour (presented by Hilario Productions), working on arts and crafts projects, or getting the high score on WiiU, there’s plenty of fun for everyone throughout the ship.

The Splash Academy operates from 9 to 12pm and 2 pm to 5 pm and 7 pm to 10:30 pm on at Sea Days; and from Port Arrival Time to 10:30 pm on port days; and 8pm to 10:30 pm on embarkation day. The transition from Splash Academy to Late Night Fun Zone begins a t 10:30 PM. Late Night Fun Zone cost is $24.00 USD per session for the 1st child, $20.00 USD per session for the 2nd child. Fees are charged to the guests onboard account.

There is a 15-minute transition time between Splash Academy and Lite Night Fun Zone offered before charges are applied.

Hours of Operations
Port Day: Port Arrival Time – 10:30 p.m.
Sea Days: 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m./2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m./7:00 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.

Late Night Fun Zone: 10:30 p.m. – 1:30 a.m. nightly (Fee applies)

Teens (13–17 years)

Entourage for Teens

Play a pickup game of soccer. Take part in a theater or fashion workshop. Dive into an interactive pool party. There’s so much to do around the ship, and your teens can choose whatever activities they like.

Sporting Activities 

NCL has over twenty interactive sports on ship that encourage teamwork, bonding, and confidence building, including: basketball, ultimate Frisbee, rounders, and triangle ball.

Themed Events

Between watching scary movies for vampire night and singing your favorite pop songs while playing an air guitar at a nighttime pool party, there’s something exciting happening every night.

Teen Center

Chill in the teen lounge with flat-screen televisions, WiiU, air hockey, foosball, and more. Then dance the night away to the beats of the video jukebox.


#4: Princess Cruises

New for 2019

  • Princess has added a minimum age for escorted cruise tours. The minimum age is 5.
  • Princess has totally revamped their children’s programs in partnership with Discovery. The rollout of the new program began in October 2018. This program is scheduled to be ship wide by April 2019. Here is their schedule: They are now available on board Grand Princess, Caribbean Princess, Majestic Princess, Regal Princess, Sea Princess, Island Princess, Star Princess, Crown Princess and Sun Princess. And will debut on Ruby Princess (Oct 2018), Royal Princess (Dec 2018), Coral Princess (Jan 2019), and Emerald Princess (Apr 2019). Please note this schedule is subject to change.

Minimum Age: Six months or twelve months, depending on destination. The minimum age for escorted cruise tours is 5 years.

Children’s Programs: Extensive

Babysitting: In-cabin babysitting is not available on any ship.

Tickets: http://www.cruisecompete.com/lines/princess_cruises.html

Overview

A good slogan for Princess might be: “Have It Your Way,” for the line has a fleet of different ship styles, sails itineraries all over the world, and successfully blends traditional cruise elements with more modern amenities.

For example, the line has set seating, and also offers “Anytime Dining.” The entertainment mix includes traditional Vegas-style revues, talent shows, and comedians, not to mention “Movies Under the Stars.”

The dining mix (which varies by ship) might include a New Orleans–style café or an Italian restaurant. The three-deck Piazza, a relatively new feature that’s being expanded to older ships, includes a 24-hour café, a wine bar, and Alfredo’s pizza, as well as shops and a performance venue.

Princess ships have casinos, nightclubs, discos, and kids’ clubs. All have Lotus spas and fitness centers that offer yoga and other classes. Some spas feature alternative therapies like acupuncture; the newer ones have such medi-spa options as Botox and other fillers. Depending on the ship, activities might include art auctions and all kinds of classes, some of which carry a fee: computer technology, photography, ceramics, or cooking.

The newest (Royal Class) ships have expanded piazzas, SeaWalks (glass-enclosed walkways), and Princess Live! (an interactive TV studio).

Princess cruises include both formal nights (one for 7-to-13-night trips) and smart casual nights. Formal means a tuxedo or dark suit for men and gowns, cocktail dresses, or fancy-pants suits for women. “Smart casual” means pants and open-neck shirts for men and dresses, skirts, or slacks and sweaters or blouses for women. T-shirts, shorts, and halter tops are not allowed in the dining room, and shoes are required.

Back in “the old days” of cruising, friends and family were allowed to come aboard with passengers, perhaps to share some champagne and small treats before sailing. That sweet custom ended, but Princess revived it with the “Bon Voyage” experience, which allows guests to come aboard for a tour and lunch with wine. The package, which runs about four hours, costs $39 and is a nice way to share the cruise experience. (And if any guests decide to take a cruise after sampling the experience, that $39 can be applied to the price.)

Depending on the ship, fellow passengers can include family groups, couples, singles, or mature travelers. On the big or mid-size ships, you’ll find the broadest mix. Princess Cruises’ smaller ship, Pacific Princess—has fewer features that appeal to families and sail longer itineraries to more exotic ports, so it attracts older travelers.

The mid-size and big ships are best for couples, families, multi-generational groups, and singles who enjoy an active environment and want many itinerary choices. For mature travelers who want a small-ship experience with few children, longer itineraries and off-the-beaten-path ports, the Pacific Princess is a good choice.

Destinations

Alaska

Asia

Australia and New Zealand

California Coastal

Canada and New England

Caribbean

Europe

Hawaii

Japan

Mexico

Panama Canal

South America

South Pacific

World Cruise

Minimum Age

Infants must be at least 6 months of age at the time of embarkation in order to sail.

Children must be at least 12 months of age at the time of embarkation to sail on trans-ocean crossings and remote itineraries, where there are more than 2 consecutive sea days. The minimum age for escorted cruise tours is five.

Babysitting

There is no in-cabin sitting available. But Princess does offer Late Night Group Kidsitting for children ages 3 to 12 years. It is offered in the Youth Centers from 10:00 pm to 1:00 am for a charge of $5.00 per hour per child, except on Pacific Princess. Kids can relax and watch movies or play games with their friends while mom and dad have a relaxing night out.

Pregnancy Policy

Pregnant women are not allowed to sail if they are entering the twenty-fourth week of their pregnancy by the last day of the cruise. All pregnant women are required to produce a physician’s letter stating that mother and baby are in good health and fit to travel, and asserting that the pregnancy is not high-risk. The letter must also include the estimated date of delivery calculated from both last menstrual period and ultrasound (if performed), and may be faxed to the Fleet Medical Department’s confidential fax line at 1-661-753-0121.

Children’s Programs

Infants and Toddlers (0–3 years)

Children under the age of three are welcome to visit the Youth Center, if accompanied and supervised by a parent at all times.

Children (3–12 years)

All vessels, with the exception of the Pacific Princess, has dedicated Youth Centers and Teen Lounges. The Pacific Princess offers youth programs when twenty or more children, aged 3–17, are traveling on a given voyage.

Youth Centers

The Youth Centers are staffed by entertaining and experienced counselors, all of whom are dedicated and trained to make sure your kids are having the best vacation ever. Activities are tailored to age group:

The Treehouse (3–7 years)
Little ones will want to stay all day while counselors entertain them with kids-only dance parties, movies and cartoons, ice cream and pizza parties, t-shirt coloring, pajama parties, theme nights, fun fairs, and art projects.

The Lodge (8–12 years)
Older kids will enjoy a boatload of exciting activities including kids-only dinners, dance parties, movies, scavenger hunts, karaoke and talent shows, sports tournaments, and theme nights.

Teens (13–17 years)

Teen Lounges (13–17 years)

The Beach House in Camp Discovery

In the Teens-only exclusive lounges, passengers aged 13–17 can make new friends while enjoying all of the coolest amenities. Themed parties, video game tournaments, dance classes, and movies for teens are just a few of the fun activities teens can enjoy.

Please note that the Pacific does not have a dedicated Youth Center.


#5 MSC Cruises

New for 2019

  • MSC Cruises now sails to Cuba, Asia, and the US and Canada
  • MSC Babycare services are only available on sea days, not on port days. This service now starts at 1:00 PM, not 11:00AM

Minimum Age: Twelve months

Children’s Programs: Extensive

Babysitting: Yes

Tickets: http://www.cruisecompete.com/lines/msc_italian_cruises.html

Overview

The ships of MSC Cruises are modern and sophisticated. The newer ones are glitzy and quite glamorous; all have a distinctly Italian ambience. The ships cruise the Mediterranean in both winter and summer, attracting an international clientele, mostly European.

The newer ships have appealing new facilities: a children’s aqua park, a big shopping mall, the longest single-rider waterslide at sea, and an Eataly restaurant.

Though life on board generally follows traditional cruise ship schedules, with fixed mealtimes and fixed table-mates, the atmosphere is relaxed. For the two formal nights each week, men are encouraged to wear tuxedos or suits and ties, while women are expected to choose either evening wear or cocktail dresses. Informal evenings call for jackets and trousers for men and casual dresses or pants outfits for women. For casual nights, just about anything goes—except shorts, which are never allowed in the dining room at dinnertime. Tank tops, bathing suits, bathrobes, etc. are not allowed in indoor restaurants.

Announcements are generally made in Italian, French, Spanish, German, and English. During cruises in Europe, the onboard currency is the Euro.

Entertainment is fairly traditional, with music ranging from classical to jazz, as well as Vegas-style revues and Cirque du Soleil extravaganzas.

While MSC ticket prices are often at bargain levels, passengers may be disconcerted by the number of “extras” that carry a price tag; for example, shuttles from port into town and room service other than breakfast.

MSC Cruises cater mostly to couples and families; in Europe the ships attract European passengers. Caribbean cruises are geared to North American travelers. The “kids sail free” deals attract lots of families with youngsters during school holidays. The longer cruises that sail more exotic itineraries appeal to more mature travelers.

These cruises are best for budget-conscious couples and families (children under seventeen and sharing a cabin with two adults sail free on all MSC trips), and travelers who desire a traditional cruise experience on a large resort-style ship with an Italian flair.

Destinations

Mediterranean

Northern Europe

Caribbean, Cuba & Antilles

Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sir Bani Yas

South America

South Africa

Asia

United States and Canada

Grand and World Voyages

Minimum Age

Infants must be twelve months old at the time of sailing.

Babysitting

MSC Cruises offers limited babysitting on board. In the Mini Club infants are looked after by qualified and dedicated staff who will let them play. The MSC Babycare service is available while the ship is sailing. Please inform the onboard activity coordinators at least one day in advance to utilize this service. They do not change diapers or feed children. Available at the following times while ship is at sea between 1:00pm and 2:00pm & between 6:00pm and 7:00pm. There is a fee.

Pregnancy Policy

Pregnant women are highly recommended to seek medical advice prior to travel at any stage of their pregnancy. Women who are up to 23 weeks pregnant at the end of the cruise are required to produce a medical certificate of fitness to travel. The Carrier cannot, for health and safety reasons, carry pregnant Passengers of 24 weeks or more at the time of embarkation or any time during the sailing.

Children’s Programs

Infants and Toddlers (0–3 years)

There are no formal programs for children under three. Children three and under can access the kid’s club during “MSC Baby Time.” A parent/legal guardian must be present.

Children (3–11 years)

All cruises offer two clubs for children (Mini Club for kids aged 3–6 and Junior’s Club for ages 7–11) offering age-focused kids’ activities from arts and crafts to swimming, sports tournaments, treasure hunts, parties, live shows, talent contests, and onboard adventures.

Tweens and Teens (12–17 years)

MSC Teen’s Club provides specialized entertainers to organize fun activities for teenagers, including: treasure hunts and kids’ missions, talent shows, the Virtual World Arcade, and trivia and dance contests. Children aged 12–14 are in the Young Club, while children aged 15–17 are in the Teens Club.

Nighttime activities include Radio MSC Generation, with nightly video and music requests, and MSC Generation Live with trivia, Karaoke, games, and more.


#6: Celebrity Cruises

Minimum Age: Six months (twelve months for any cruise with three or more consecutive days at sea)

Children’s Programs: Extensive

Babysitting: Yes

Tickets: http://www.cruisecompete.com/lines/celebrity_cruises.html

Overview

The stylish ships of Celebrity Cruises feature high-end decor, modern technology, excellent enrichment programs, superior dining options, and outstanding spas.

The newer ships have larger staterooms and eighty percent of them have verandas. Highlights of these ships are: the Lawn Club (with a half-acre of manicured lawn), multiple dining venues, a multimillion-dollar art collection, a large theater, spa-inspired AquaClass suites, and the AquaClass signature restaurant, Blu.

Celebrity is the first cruise line in the world to offer SPE-certified dishes in their main restaurant on the Reflection (but this is likely to follow on other ships). This newest designation means that culinary experts have vetted the dishes and certified that they are not only delicious, but also nutritious.

On the newer ships, passengers can seek a little privacy by booking a fee-based “Alcove,” where they’ll have chilled towels, fresh fruit, and use of a pre-loaded iPad. An Alcove butler can arrange spa treatments, food, and other services.

Celebrity also offers cruise tours: land-based extensions of their cruises to Alaska and Canada

Celebrity cruises are best for families with young children; families with teenagers; family reunions and multi-generational families; young adults looking for soft adventure and sports activities; baby-boomers looking for a cruise with lots of enrichment at sea; spa lovers; and travelers who want a taste of luxury at a premium cruise price.

Destinations

Alaska

Asia

Australia/New Zealand

Bahamas

Bermuda

Canada/New England

Caribbean

Dubai/India

Europe

Galapagos

Hawaii

Pacific Coastal

Panama Canal

South America

Transatlantic

Transpacific

Minimum Age

Infants sailing on a cruise must be at least six months old as of the first day of the cruise/cruise tour. However, for transatlantic, transpacific, select South American cruises/cruise tours, and other select cruises/cruise tours, the infant (as of the first day of the cruise/cruise tour) must be at least twelve months old. For the purposes of this policy, any cruise that has three or more consecutive days at sea will require infants to be twelve months old on the first day of the cruise/cruise tour.

Denial of boarding for infants who do not satisfy these minimum age requirements may also result in the denial of boarding for one or more guests sailing with that infant. No refunds or other compensation shall be due from the cruise line to anyone as a result of the denial of boarding to an underage infant or other accompanying guests.

Babysitting

Celebrity cruises offer babysitting services in both the Fun Factory and individual staterooms. For a fee of $6 per hour per child, children aged 3–11 can participate in the Afternoon Party from noon to 2 pm on port days and/or the evening Slumber Party from 10 pm to 1 am.

For a fee of $19 per hour, for up to three children within the same family, parents can arrange for a private, in-stateroom babysitter, subject to availability. Children must be 12 months or older to be eligible for in-stateroom babysitting, and the service must be arranged twenty-four hours in advance. Availability for this service is limited and operates on a first come, first served basis. Private, in-stateroom babysitting is subject to personnel availability.

The Fun Factory Youth Program offers additional services to accommodate families while the ship is in port and during the evenings. All the services asterisked below are offered on a sign-up basis, at a fee of $6 per hour per child. After your child’s first hour, payment is in ten-minute increments. There are no fees for any child who signs up for the VIP Program. Exceptions: when at sea, or if sailing at or prior to 5 pm, the Dinner Party is complimentary. During low season, parents may be requested to sign up for parties no later than 10 pm the day before.

Lunch Party

Port days only from noon to 2 pm. Children will dine with their Youth Staff on the Lido Deck, and then enjoy various afternoon activities. Pre-registration required before 11:45 am.

Dinner Party

Every evening from 5 pm to 7 pm. Children start out in the Fun Factory from 5 pm to 6 pm, then dine with their Youth Staff at 6 pm on the Lido Deck and enjoy various evening activities. Pre-registration is required before 5:45 pm.

Slumber Party

Available every evening from 10 pm to 1 am. Children aged 3–11 can slumber or party, depending on needs and choices. Slumber Party ends promptly at 1 am. At 1 am, a $20 late fee will be charged. After 2 am, a $25/hr. late fee will apply.

Pregnancy Policy

Celebrity Cruises cannot accept guests who will have entered their twenty-fourth week of pregnancy at any time during the cruise or cruise tour. All guests are required to sign a health questionnaire upon check-in to ensure they are aware of our pregnancy policy.

Children’s Programs

Infants and Toddlers (0–3 years)

Toddler time allows parents and toddlers to interact with other children their age. Fun Factory Staff members provide suitable toys for this age group. In accordance with USPH policies and standards, Celebrity has provided each ship with lavatory-based changing tables and baby wipes. Children participating in organized events must be fully potty trained; however, you can accompany your child to any organized activity if they’re not.

Children (3–11 years)

The Fun Factory

The Fun Factory is designed exclusively for junior cruisers. Activities and programs are available from 9 am to 10 pm every day. The Fun Factory is an entertainment center filled with the latest gaming technology and the hottest titles. Junior cruisers have the opportunity to participate in exciting games, sports, crafts, music, karaoke, treasure hunts, theme parties, movies, and lots more. An assortment of LeapFrog® interactive toys are available for use in the Fun Factory and can also be checked out for private use. Different programs are tailored to the child’s age, including:

ShipmatesSM (Ages 3–5)

Activities are based in the Fun Factory. Shipmates must be a minimum of three years old, completely toilet trained, and diaper/pull up–free in order to sign up for Fun Factory programs. No exceptions will be made. Shipmates must be signed in and out of the program by an adult aged eighteen or over who knows the child’s password.

CadetsSM (Ages 6–8)

Activities are based in the Fun Factory. Check your program for times and locations. CadetsSM must be signed in and out of the program by an adult aged eighteen or over who knows the child’s password.

EnsignsSM (Ages 9–11)

Activities are based in the Fun Factory, but frequently use other venues and go on scavenger hunts throughout the ship. Check your program for times and locations. Ensigns sign themselves in/out of complimentary programs until 10 pm, unless otherwise indicated on their Parental Consent Form. After 10 pm, Ensigns require an adult to sign them out of activities. Due to the liberty afforded to Ensigns, be sure to tell your children never to enter someone else’s stateroom and always to let someone know where they will be.

One of the Largest Xbox Experiences at Sea

Celebrity Cruises has outfitted their ships with dedicated Xbox stations and mobile consoles to feature one of the largest digital game and entertainment experiences at sea. Whether playing solo or participating in an Xbox tournament or gaming theme night, there’s something for everyone in your family—from the youngest gamer to the most savvy teens. Celebrity even has programming for adults (but they won’t let the kids in on that little secret).

Free play with Xbox 360 and Kinect for Xbox 360 will be available during specified hours in the Fun Factory and XClub for registered children and teens. Adults can take part in Zumba parties, sports tournaments, and other activities in a variety of lounges on the ship.

VIP Passes for Kids

Celebrity’s VIP Pass is a unique opportunity for your child to gain unlimited access to all program activities. The one-time VIP Pass fee offers families more than a 40% savings off the cost of individual lunches, dinners, and slumber parties. In addition, VIP Pass holders are the only children who will be given an exclusive Fun Factory goody bag and have access to exclusive Fun Factory experiences like a behind-the-scenes ship tour.

Children’s products and services are not available on Celebrity Xpedition®.

Tweens and Teens (12–17 years)

X-Club Teen Entertainment

For young adults, Celebrity offers the ultimate hangout place for teens, featuring social activities, the newest gaming consoles and titles, sports activities, and even teens-only late-night dances. All activities are hosted and supervised by Youth Counselors—all very cool.

iTake: Video Projects for Teens

For up-and-coming “directors,” Celebrity has the coolest video project afloat: iTake. First these young visionaries brainstorm a storyboard for the short videos they will create. Then, armed with GoPro Hero 3 high-definition, wide-angle video cameras (used to film extreme sports and other cool events), they’ll head out to get the shots they planned—even if they’re underwater!

After the filming is through, they’ll learn how to edit their footage to create amazing vacation videos in the cyber-chic Celebrity iLoungeSM. Cool prizes will be awarded in a variety of film categories at the XClub Film Festival & Awards Ceremony. The best part? They’ll be having so much fun, they won’t even realize they’re learning new skills.

This complimentary program takes about 4 hours to complete and is available on all ships with a Celebrity iLounge: Celebrity Eclipse®, Celebrity Summit®, Celebrity Silhouette®, Celebrity ReflectionSM, Celebrity Infinity®, Celebrity Solstice®, Celebrity Millennium®, and Celebrity Constellation®.


#7: Holland America Line

Minimum Age: Six months (twelve months for transocean cruises)

Children’s Programs: Extensive

Babysitting: Yes (ages three and older)

Tickets: http://www.cruisecompete.com/lines/holland_america_cruises.html

Overview

For more than twenty years, HAL has been named “Best Overall Cruise Value” by the World Ocean & Cruise Line. The award recognizes the line’s ongoing Signature of Excellence upgrades, a program that has so far cost $566 million. Five ships—the MS Maasdam, MS Statendam, MS Ryndam, MS Veendam, and MS Rotterdam—have new staterooms, new dining venues, and upgraded decor.

The atmosphere on a HAL cruise is livelier and somewhat more relaxed than in the past. Though still wedded to fixed meal times, lunch hours have been extended while ships are in port, and alternative dining venues now offer more choices.

This premium line has traditionally been known for having an older clientele, but it has made a shift in recent years to appeal to a younger crowd by adding such features as alternative restaurants, concierge service for the higher-end accommodations, Internet cafes with Wifi, spa cabins, indoor/outdoor pools, and specialty bars and lounges. With its upgraded children’s programs, HAL is attracting multi-generational family groups, especially during its summer itineraries to Alaska and its one-week Caribbean itineraries during school vacations.

The fleet’s Signature Class vessels have cabins on the upper decks, spa staterooms with special amenities, healthy room-service menus, and an adult-only sundeck area called The Retreat, which features tented rental cabanas equipped with fruit trays, bottled water, iPods, and other goodies.

Though some ships—notably the MS Rotterdam and MS Amsterdam—are “fancier” than others, with high-end artwork and ornate decor, all ships now feature the Mariner Dream Bed and high-end linens, flat-screen TVs, and bathroom enhancements. The new bar concept, Mix, encompasses three specialty lounges serving champagne, martinis, spirits, and ales. The new Showroom at Sea features Broadway entertainers and The Retreat has an upscale pizzeria and giant LED screen for evening movies.

An increasingly popular feature on all HAL ships is the Culinary Arts Center, presented by Food & Wine Magazine, which has been described as a “world class show kitchen at sea.” In 2014, the center’s enrichment program included a roster of celebrity chefs, epicures, and authors, including New York Times columnist Mark Bittman and Food Network “Next Iron Chef” competitor Jehangir Mehta.

HAL cruises are best for adults, families, and multigenerational groups who want a classic cruise vacation with modern amenities on mid-size ships. For those who want a deluxe experience, the high-end HAL suites provide concierge service and other luxuries associated with more expensive cruise lines. HAL has a broad appeal and offers programs and activities for all ages, from high-tech computer sessions to conventional Vegas-style entertainment.

Destinations

Alaska

Asia

Australia and the South Pacific

Bermuda

Canada/New England

Caribbean

Cuba

Europe

Hawaii and Tahiti

Mediterranean

Mexico

Northern Europe

Pacific Coast

Panama Canal

South America and Antarctica

Grand Voyages

Minimum Age

Holland America will not accept reservations for infants under six months of age for non-transocean cruises or under twelve months for transocean cruises and remote itineraries, where there are more than 2 consecutive days at sea.

Babysitting

On sea days, babysitting services are available through the Front Office for a small surcharge for children five and younger. This service is provided by staff on a volunteer basis, and may not always be available. Babysitting service is not offered while the ship is in port, although Club Hal does offer activities for children aged 3–12 between 8 am and 4 pm on port days.

Pregnancy Policy

Women cannot have begun their twenty-fourth week of pregnancy at any time before or during the cruise. Pregnant guests must provide a physician’s letter stating their expected due date and medical fitness to travel, and asserting that the pregnancy is not high-risk. You must also include your name, booking number, ship, and sailing date.

Letters may be faxed to the Access & Compliance Department at 1-800-577-1731. Or email them to halw_access@hollandamerica.com.

Children’s Programs

Infants and Toddlers (0–3 years)

There are no programs for children under three years of age.

Children (3–7 years)

On the MS Prinsendam, youth activities are available for ages 5–17. All other ships offer youth activities for ages 3–17.

Club HAL® — Kids: Children ages 3–6 can participate in such activities as pirate treasure hunts, hands-on pizza-making, storytelling, “Little Artists” crafts, ice cream sundae parties, and a farewell pajama party. Children in the Kids age group must be toilet trained. Children in pull-ups or diapers are not allowed in the youth facilities, due to mandates from the US Public Health Service. No exceptions are possible.

Holland America Line is dedicated to making your family’s cruise vacation memorable and happy for each member of your family. They serve a wide variety of kid-pleasing food, including special sandwiches, tacos, hamburgers, hot dogs, and pizza. You can request baby food, high chairs, and booster seats in advance of boarding. Special kid-friendly birthday parties can also be arranged with advance notice.

Tweens and Teens (7–17 years)

Club HAL® — Tweens

Tweens aged 7–12 can take part in Xbox tournaments, Olympic relay races, scavenger hunts, and karaoke disco parties. There’s also a BBC Earth Experiences Amazing and Awesome Fact Show designed just for them!

The Loft

Teens aged 13–17 can enjoy mocktail mixology classes, late-night sporting competitions, teen yoga and hip-hop classes, guys vs. girl’s scavenger hunts, cooking demos, tech classes, and teen-only nightclub events. When there are more than 100 children on board, a HAL Talent Show is offered. (The Loft and Oasis are not available on the MS Prinsendam. The Oasis is located on the MS Statendam, MS Ryndam, MS Veendam, MS Rotterdam, MS Zaandam, MS Volendam, and MS Amsterdam.)


#8: Carnival Cruises

New for 2019:

  • Carnival’s Children’s program is now called Camp Ocean fleet wide.
  • Slight changes to the wording to Carnival’s minimum age policy. Now infants need to be 12 months to sail trans-ocean and remote itineraries where there are more than 2 consecutive days at sea.
  • Carnival has no sailings to Europe scheduled for 2019

Minimum Age: Six months (twelve months for trans-ocean crossing and remote itineraries, where there are more than 2 consecutive days at sea)

Children’s Programs: Extensive

Babysitting: Yes

Tickets: http://www.cruisecompete.com/lines/carnival_cruises.html

Overview

This line’s combination of quality, value, and fun has made Carnival Cruise Lines the world’s most popular cruise line.

Carnival Cruise Lines guests experience a considerable variety of onboard dining, entertainment, and activity options. The line is constantly upgrading its ships and adding new attractions. The ships of Carnival Cruise Lines have become increasingly popular with young families, and they carry more than 700,000 youngsters every year—more than half of all children who travel on a cruise.

Seuss at Sea now available on all Carnival ships.

Carnival Cruise Lines’ vessels are known as “Fun Ships,” with non-stop, fast-paced, active fun. The ships are decorated in bright colors, with relatively spacious cabins, and varied entertainment and options. As most itineraries center on warm-weather destinations, upgraded water parks, slides, pools, etc. are major attractions on its ships.

A Carnival Cruise Lines cruise will feature at least one formal evening (two during a one-week itinerary), with men wearing either tuxedos or jackets and ties and women wearing either gowns or cocktail dresses. The rest of the time, resort casual attire prevails.

Given the large number of children found on a Carnival Cruise Lines ship, especially during school holidays, it’s appropriate that the ships have adults-only outdoor areas, comedy performances for adults in addition to family-friendly shows, and large, full-featured spas.

Carnival Cruise Lines‘ ticket prices and frequent promotions offer solid, sometimes unbeatable, value.

Although the line’s marketing reflects a youthful image, its demographic indicates an average age of 45+. This average includes the growing number of families with young children who travel on Carnival ships. Many passengers will be first-time cruisers, couples, singles, and multi-generational families looking for good value in cruising and a wide range of entertainment and dining options.

Destinations

Alaska

Australia

Bahamas

Bermuda

Canada and New England

Caribbean

Cuba

Hawaii

Mexico

Panama Canal

Minimum Age

Minimum age for sailing ranges from six to twelve months for trans-ocean crossings and remote itineraries where there are more than 2 consecutive sea days.

Babysitting
For a fee, Carnival offers limited services for children under two each evening from 10 pm to 1 am and during port times. This Camp Ocean Night Owls program is available from children aged 6 months to 11. There is a fee of $6.75 per hour plus a 15% gratuity per child. There are times on sea day mornings when the parent can come and play with the child (or drop off for a fee). Check onboard for specific ship details.

Pregnancy Policy

Pregnant women are only allowed to sail if they will not have reached twenty-four weeks at disembarkation. All pregnant women are required to produce a physician’s letter stating that mother and baby are in good health, fit to travel, and not involved in a high-risk pregnancy. The letter must also include the estimated date of delivery (EDD).

Children’s Programs

Infants and Toddlers (0–2 years)

Camp Ocean is unable to accept children under the age of 2 during activity time.

There are specific times onboard each ship that children under 2 years old are welcome at Camp Ocean. It differs per ship and per itinerary.

  • Sea Days: There are limited times throughout the cruise for ‘Under 2′ time. During these times, parents have the option of leaving their child in the care of the Youth Staff (fees apply: $6.75 USD per hour plus a 15% gratuity, per child) – or – they can stay and use the camp facility at no charge. This time is designated for the use of ‘Under 2’s’ and their parents only. Check onboard for specific times offered. Hours may vary due to cruise itineraries.
  • Port Days: While in port, parents have the option of leaving their child in the care of the Youth Staff (fees apply: $6.75 USD per hour plus a 15% gratuity, per child), however, we do not provide meal times for children Under 2.
  • Evenings: Night Owls – for details and fees, see Night Owls (babysitting). From 10:00pm-1:00am each evening in the camp facility, a ‘slumber party’ type atmosphere, including movie time, toys and room service snacks. During this time, there will be children from other age groups (2-11 years) participating in Night Owls. Cribs are available if needed.

Children (2–11 years)

Camp Ocean

This marine-themed children’s program for kids aged 2–11 will immerse children in the wonders of the sea through fun, engaging, and educational experiences.

This program is divided into three age-related categories. Children aged 2–5 will be dubbed “Penguins,” children aged 6–8 “Sting Rays,” and children aged 9–11 “Sharks.” Distinctive areas and activities have been designed for each age group, from miniature play igloos for the Penguins to interactive gaming stations for the Sharks.

The Camp Ocean program will also have a badge challenge that will allow children the opportunity to earn and collect badges. Badge challenges will include a variety of unique activities that provide an original way for kids to learn about the vessel, experience onboard adventures, and gain a sense of accomplishment. Tasks may include trying a new food, making an aquatic towel animal, or riding the water slide.

The Camp Ocean program is now available fleet wide.

Seuss at Sea

Carnival Cruise Lines has partnered with Dr. Seuss Enterprises to offer Seuss at Sea, a fleet-wide program featuring exciting youth, family, dining, and entertainment experiences inspired by the amazing world and words of Dr. Seuss. The program is currently fleet wide and includes Seuss-a-palooza Story Time, an interactive reading event for kids of all ages hosted in a vibrant tent on the stage of the main show lounge.

Tweens and Teens (12–17 years)

Circle “C” is where young teens aged 12–14 go to hang out, meet new friends, and enjoy some pretty awesome activities like dance parties, games, outdoor movies, and more—both in the special Circle “C” area and around the ship. It’s all supervised by friendly and fun-loving counselors who want your young teens to have the best vacation ever.

At Club O2, teens can hang out and do stuff like watch movies, listen to music from this decade, play sports and video games, join karaoke jam sessions, and maybe even have a pool party or two, all with other high schoolers between the ages of fifteen and seventeen. There are even teen-only shore excursions.


#9: Crystal Cruises

New for 2019

  • Crystal Cruises is unable to accommodate women who will enter their 24th week of pregnancy before or during the cruise.
  • Crystal now offers 50% discount of the minimum fare for children 11 and younger when accompanied by two full fare paying adults. Throughout the year, Crystal will occasionally offer a kids sail free promotion.

Minimum Age: Six months

Children’s Programs: Extensive

Babysitting: Yes

Tickets: http://www.cruisecompete.com/lines/crystal_cruises.html

Overview

Crystal Cruises consistently ranks among the top luxury cruise lines in the world, and has won an unprecedented number of major awards. They have been voted World’s Best by the readers of Travel + Leisure and Condé Nast Traveler more often than any other cruise line, hotel, or resort.

There are good reasons for these accolades. While other cruise lines renovate ships every few years or when the ships begin to look tired or shabby, Crystal ships are refreshed and updated often, sometimes every year. In recent years, the company has spent almost $120 million on fleet makeovers and $52 million on the Serenity alone within a two-year period.

Staterooms are elegant, and the Crystal Penthouses are drop-dead gorgeous, with furnishings that wouldn’t be out of place in a Manhattan penthouse and state-of-the-art technology. Many veranda staterooms have medical-grade air purifiers; all have top quality bedding, good-sized closet space, and luxurious marble bathrooms.

Multiple all-inclusive dining options include restaurants featuring celebrity chefs Nobu Matsuhisa and Piero Selvaggio, as well as several casual dining venues.

The award-winning Crystal Spa & Salon, where highly skilled estheticians use Elemis skincare products, equals land-based spas at top resorts. Crystal ships have excellent fitness and sports facilities offering Nordic Walking classes and other instruction.

Entertainment options include something for everyone. Music programs range from classical to popular and contemporary. Celebrity performers enhance these programs to a higher-than-average level. There are multiple bars and lounges, each providing a different vibe. There’s a glittering casino and a very well stocked library. And for solo female travelers who like to dance, there are skilled ballroom dancers called Ambassador Hosts. Equally exciting are the distinguished lecturers and teachers who provide the line’s renowned cultural enrichment.

Crystal Cruises sails mid-size vessels with a relaxed but sophisticated ambience. The ships have generous, well-appointed common areas; cabins at the higher levels are quite spacious. Crystal’s shore excursions are highly rated. Rather than “one size fits all,” guests may choose from the standard type (similar to what is offered by other lines), small group (more personalized), or private (for groups of four or less). The excursions cater to various interests, including culinary, active/adventure, cultural, and scenic.

Resort wear is appropriate for most daytime activities, comfortable clothes for shore excursions, and elegant/casual wear for evenings. During one-week to ten-day cruises, there is one black-tie evening; longer cruises may have as many as three. As formal wear is optional, elegant informal dress is also acceptable.

Onboard enrichment is first-rate and may include classes in wine-tasting, languages, Photoshop, and more.

While the Crystal experience is mainly tailored to adults, there may be a significant number of children on board during school vacations. Crystal’s passengers tend to be older, affluent, well-educated, active, and seasoned travelers who are accustomed to and expect the finer things in life.

Crystal cruises are best for discerning adults who have high expectations and want exceptional service, high-level enrichment programs, and the opportunity to explore interesting destinations.

Though most passengers fall into the 55+ category, the line has made efforts to attract family (and multi-generational) groups by offering 50% discount of the minimum fare for children 11 and younger when accompanied by two full fare paying adults. Throughout the year, Crystal will occasionally offer a kids sail free promotion.

Destinations

Africa

Alaska

Antarctica

Asia

Australia and New Zealand

Caribbean

Hawaii and South Pacific

Indian Ocean

Mediterranean

Mexican Riviera

Middle East

New England and Canada

Northern Europe

Northwest Passage

Pacific Coast

Panama Canal

South America

Trans-Atlantic Crossing

West Indies

World Cruise

Minimum Age

Crystal Cruises is unable to accommodate children less than six months of age and reserves the right to restrict the number of those less than three years of age aboard the ships.

Babysitting

All vessels offer in-stateroom babysitting for children over the age of one. Arrangements can easily be made by contacting the concierge at least twenty-four hours in advance. Fees are $10 per hour for one child, $15 per hour for two children and $20 per hour for three children. To satisfy safety concerns, the maximum number of children/babies watched by one babysitter is three.

Pregnancy Policy

Crystal Cruises is unable to accommodate women who will enter their 24th week of pregnancy before or during the cruise.

Children’s Programs

Children eleven and younger occupying the third berth pay fifty percent of the minimum fare when accompanied by two full-fare paying adults. Throughout the year, the line occasionally sets special promotions in which children can sail free when sharing a room with two adults.
Crystal Symphony offers ten connecting staterooms and eighty-nine staterooms with a third berth available. On Crystal Serenity, there are fifty connecting staterooms and 154 staterooms with a third berth available.

Infants and Toddlers (0–3 years)

There are no formal programs for children under age three.

Children (3–11 years)

Crystal Cruises’ extraordinary commitment to excellence and quality of experience applies to guests of all ages. Space dedicated to children is rare on luxury ships, yet Crystal has designed its ships to accommodate multiple generations. Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity offer spacious staterooms in a range of categories as well as suites, third berths, and connecting staterooms. They also offer child-friendly cuisine, highly acclaimed children’s programs on select departures with activities for children aged 3–17, a Fantasia playroom, and a video arcade for teens. During holiday cruises, summer sailings, and other select itineraries, additional children’s activities are offered under the supervision of experienced Junior Activities Directors.

Facilities 
Many facilities on Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity were designed with young guests in mind. Fantasia has supervised activities, tables and chairs for board games, arts and crafts, giant padded cubes, puzzles, and large-screen televisions with kid-sized stadium seating. Teenagers can enjoy the Waves video arcade, which has Sony PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360 kiosks. The library offers a selection of children’s books and videos for in-room viewing. Children can also see recently released films in The Hollywood Theatre.

Activities

Crystal Cruises offers children a broad choice of organized activities and entertainment options. A daily Surf Runner newsletter provides details on the following day’s activity schedule—tailored by age group—available on cruises that typically have many children (summer cruises, shorter itineraries, and holiday cruises). This schedule typically includes things like:

  • Scavenger hunts
  • Hide and seek
  • Story-time with ice cream
  • Pajama Parties
  • Stretch-ercise
  • Dress-up playtime
  • Bridge/galley tours
  • Cookie baking/pizza making
  • Fashion shows
  • Coke-tails
  • Card games
  • Karaoke
  • Special artists’ performances
  • Mask parade
  • Trivia
  • Movies
  • Dancing
  • Mini-Olympics
  • Relay Races
  • Pool games
  • Paddle tennis
  • Water polo/Swimming
  • Shuffleboard
  • Volleyball
  • Late-night pool parties
  • Teen disco
  • Trivial Pursuit
  • Teen karaoke
  • Twister popcorn parties
  • Pizza parties
  • Computer University@Sea®

Dining

Crystal’s executive chefs and other culinary staff can prepare custom dishes and items comparable to those found on shoreside kids’ menus. Baby food, high chairs, and booster seats are available on request. In addition to meals in the Crystal Dining Room and specialty restaurants, the Trident Grill & Ice Cream Bar serves complimentary hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, and sandwiches as well as ice cream, non-fat yogurt, and cookies, throughout the afternoon.


Tweens and Teens (13–17 years)

Each ship features dedicated play areas for both young kids and teens. Fantasia welcomes children ages 3-12, with tables and chairs for arts and crafts, popular Sony PlayStation® game titles, a large screen television set and board games. A video arcade at Waves keeps teens ages 13-17 entertained as well.


#10: Cunard Line

New for 2019

  • Children at least six months of age are welcome on Europe cruises, except Icelandic sailings where the minimum age is one year. For North America and Canada cruises, the minimum age is six months. For Transatlantic Crossings, Transpacific sailings, World, Exotic and Caribbean voyages, the minimum age is one year.

Minimum Age: Six months (twelve months for Full World Cruise, Exotic Cruises or Transatlantic Crossings)

Children’s Programs: Extensive

Babysitting: No (but nursery for infants between ages twelve and twenty-three months)

Tickets: http://www.cruisecompete.com/lines/cunard_cruises.html

Overview

Only the ships of Cunard Line evoke the nostalgia of the Golden Age of ocean travel. With a tradition of luxury and service that began in 1840, the line maintains that heritage—though a Cunard Line Caribbean cruise today is significantly different in tone and atmosphere from the ocean crossings of yesteryear.

The fleet of three ships is relatively young; the QM2 was launched in 2004, the Queen Victoria in 2007, and her sister, the Queen Elizabeth, in 2010. All three ships have a romantic aura of glamour that is different from the showy glitz of other big ships. Though the transatlantic crossings come closest to replicating historic voyages, the three Queens now travel the world and have a loyal following of repeat guests.

The very formal all-British crews have been replaced by a mix of British and international crew members, though service remains at a high standard, especially for passengers in the higher cabin grades. This reflects the class system of the old ships, in which those traveling in the better accommodations could expect the best food, the best amenities, and the best service. Today, passengers in the less expensive cabins can enjoy the atmosphere of iconic ships, but expect service and food on a par with other (non-luxury) cruise lines.

The three Queens represent a marriage of modern technology and Old World charm and elegance. As it was in “the old days,” passengers are segregated according the level of their accommodations. Passengers booked into Grills suites can expect accommodations that range from luxurious to spectacular: for example, the Grand Duplex, 2,248 square feet of glamour and style.

Passengers booked in suites or above dine in the Princess or Queen’s Grill, where requests for particular dishes can be fulfilled. Others dine in the elegant two-tier Britannia Restaurant, which features a dramatic grand staircase and some sumptuous menus. The Britannia has two seatings, but passengers who book a Britannia Club stateroom enjoy single-seating dining in the cozier Britannia Club restaurant. All three ships have other dining venues; the QM2 and Queen Victoria have Todd English restaurants.

Onboard enrichment on Cunard’s Queens is equal to or better than anything else at sea. Passengers may be treated to performances by actors from London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts; contemporary jazz by faculty and students of the famed Julliard School; and planetarium shows created by the Royal Astronomical Society. There’s more, of course, including the riches of the biggest libraries at sea. The spas on the Queens (especially the one on QM2) are simply beautiful.

During the day, shorts and beachwear are acceptable; however, after 6 pm these as well as sandals, denim, and sleeveless T-shirts (for men) are not appropriate. Casual wear is acceptable in the main restaurants for breakfast and lunch. Dress code for the evenings is announced in the daily programs and generally falls into two categories: informal (jackets for men, cocktail dresses or stylish separates for women) or formal (tuxedos or dark suits or military uniforms for men, evening or cocktail dresses or dressy pants suits for women).

Cunard Line attracts an international clientele (onboard announcements are made in English, German, French, and Spanish) who prefer a traditional ocean liner experience. Passengers tend to be older, but transatlantic crossings, especially during school holidays, attract younger passengers and families.

Cunard Line cruises are best for travelers seeking a traditional ocean liner experience; those who prefer educational pursuits onboard rather than Vegas-style entertainment; those who purchase higher-ticket cabins and are seeking a luxury cruise experience on iconic ships; those who wish to experience British-style travel; families who want alternatives to transatlantic air travel or who wish to travel with pets; and travelers who desire a stylish world cruise.

Destinations

Africa

Atlantic Isles and Canaries

Australasia and Pacific Islands

British Isles and North West Europe

Caribbean

Central America and Panama Canal

Far East

Hawaii

Mediterranean

Middle East

The Baltic, Scandinavia and Iceland

USA and Canada

Minimum Age

Children at least six months of age are welcome on Europe cruises, except Icelandic sailings where the minimum age is one year. For North America and Canada cruises, the minimum age is six months. For Transatlantic Crossings, Transpacific sailings, World, Exotic and Caribbean voyages, the minimum age is one year.

Babysitting

A night nursery is open from 6 pm to 11 pm daily and is available to children aged 6–23 months and operates on a first come, first served basis and is free of charge.

Pregnancy Policy

Cunard will not permit guests who will have entered the twenty-fourth week of pregnancy by the last day of the voyage to travel on their ships.

All pregnant women are required to produce a doctor’s or midwife’s letter stating that mother and baby are in good health and fit to travel, and that the pregnancy is not high-risk. The letter must also include the estimated date of delivery (EDD) calculated from both the last menstrual period (LMP) and ultrasound (if performed).

Children’s Programs

Cunard offers a full children’s program, from nursery to teens, so families can share this special journey together. The minimum age for children to participate in supervised daytime activities without a parent/guardian is two years of age.

Infants and Toddlers (0–2 years)

For families travelling with children under two, Cunard encourages you to come and use the facilities and activities with parental supervision. For the safety and enjoyment of your children, Cunard expects them to use the appropriate age group facility.

Children and Teens (2–17 years)

All of Cunard’s ships offer exciting programs for children and teenagers aged 2–17. The specially designed areas known as The Play Zone, The Zone, and The Teen Zone are complimentary and offer peace of mind, knowing that your children are well looked-after and can socialize with other young people.

Activities—which run throughout the day and into the night—offer your children the very best of ship entertainment. Varying every day, the daily program is filled with a full range of engaging activities and offers something for everyone. All activities are age-appropriate, such as arts and crafts, movies, quizzes, and scavenger hunts. There is also plenty of time to simply relax and meet people of a similar age. Cunard also offers special children’s supper/tea daily, allowing parents to have formal dinner by themselves.

 

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