In a couple months time we will be embarking on our next adventure. But instead of hopping on a plane, this time we will be hopping on a cruise ship. I have never cruised before so it will be an entirely new experience for us all.
I think that, for those travelling with young kids or toddlers, cruising will likely be a great option. We are really looking forward to our first cruise with Jacob.
We asked one of our industry partners, an expert on cruising, to answer some of our cruising with kids questions. Hopefully the answer to your cruising with kids questions can be found below!
Do cruise lines operate kids clubs? What are the age restrictions?
All the big cruise lines offer comprehensive kids clubs, with many providing different groups for different ages from 3-17 years old. Providing age-specific activities, cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Princess Cruises and P&O Australia make it easier for children to meet with their peers. We’d suggest encouraging to kids to attend a kids club on the first night of the cruise – when a lot of new friendships are made.
The kids clubs for the younger age groups tend to be more hands-on, with fully trained and check kids group leaders structuring the day’s play. The groups for older kids tend to be a little more flexible, giving teens a space to enjoy a little privacy and pick the activities to enjoy.
Do cruise lines provide babysitting services and how much do these cost (approximately)?
Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean both provide comprehensive babysitting services with trained babysitters offering private in-cabin care throughout the day and evening. This service is ideal for parents who want to have an elegant, private dinner during the cruise.
Cunard Cruises, P&O Australia and Princess Cruises offer group care and babysitting services (although the latter is reserved for children aged 3 years and up). The evening sessions all offer beds for children looking to settle down and have a little sleep.
Which cruise lines allow babies under the age of 1? Do they offer discounts?
The vast majority of cruise lines accommodate children from the age of six months old whilst Captain Cook Cruises and MSC Cruises do not have a lower limit for baby ages. The exceptions to this are P&O Australia who require passengers be at least 12 months old and Uniworld River Cruises who operate a minimum age policy of four years. Cruise1st have a guide here which shows at what age the major cruise lines accept babies and young children.
MSC Cruises offer heavily discounted and free child places for kids sharing a cabin with two full fare adults –depending upon the package.
Until what age do children receive discounted rates on cruise holidays?
Packages offering discounted rates for children often open these deals for children up to the age of 3 years.
Is it possible to have a crib or bassinet in a cruise cabin? Which cruise lines provide these, and on which would we need to bring our own?
A number of cruise lines will happily supply cribs to a cabin upon request. Azamara Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Cunard Cruises and MSC Cruises all provide this service. Families aboard Royal Caribbean ships can request playpens for their cabin and P&O Australia guests can request bed rails to turn one of the cabin’s beds into a crib.
Is it possible to purchase nappies and baby formula on board, or does a full supply need to be brought on board?
Of the major cruise lines, only Royal Caribbean provides nappies for young children aboard their cruises and these need to be pre-ordered before embarkation. It’s therefore recommended you pack a sufficient supply of nappies for the cruise.
It is worth remembering that many cruise lines offer free or affordable laundry services if you use reusable nappies.
What first aid kit items do you recommend passengers with infants or young children pack with them?
Although medicines and first aid supplies are available in the shops of many cruise lines, it is always sensible to be fully prepared when travelling with young children. We’d recommend packing:
- Prescription medicines
- Infant painkillers
- Antiseptic spray
- Bandages and sticky tape
- Antihistamine cream
- High factor sunscreen
Which cruise lines offer great activities for younger children? And which ones are better for older children and teens?
The ships of the Celebrity Cruises fleet are well-suited to the tastes and needs of younger children – offering age-specific clubs with plenty of fun activities to enjoy, including sports, crafts, treasure hunts and themed parties.
Royal Caribbean is perhaps the best fleet for holidaying with older children and teens. The ships of the fleet are amongst the very biggest on the seas – so provide plenty of space for older children and teens to enjoy a little privacy away from their family and meet up with their peers.
Do some cruise lines have adult-only restaurants on board? Are there cruise lines where kids are allowed in all on-board restaurants?
As a general rule, all the restaurants aboard cruise ships which permit children are open to all ages. However, many of the more specialist restaurants include menus which may not be entirely suitable for children and atmospheres which are not enhanced by restless toddlers.
One of the few exceptions to this rule is the Solarium dining option aboard a number of Royal Caribbean ships. The Solarium is an adults-only section of the ships – designed to offer escape and relaxation for adults, and no children under 16 years are permitted to enter.
Are highchairs generally available in cruise ship restaurants?
The family-oriented restaurants and eateries aboard cruise ships make highchairs readily available for guests. The more specialist and exclusive restaurants may require a pre-request to be made to give them sufficient preparation time.
Do cruise lines provide facilities to sterilize infant equipment on board? And do cruise lines offer boiling water for heating bottled milk?
We would advise bringing your preferred sterilizing facilities on a cruise holiday to help clean and sterilize infant equipment, although a number of cruise lines do offer these amenities. P&O Australia offer a number of different sterilization options for families.
All cruise ships will provide boiling water to help you heat bottle milk during a holiday.
Which cruise lines allow kids in the pool with swim nappies? Or do children mostly have to be potty trained to go in the pool?
All cruise lines operate strict rules stating children must be potty trained before entering the pool. Some kids’ pools aboard family-focussed cruise ships may relax this rule, but it is something most lines are meticulous about.
Which cruise lines provide the best family cabins?
Royal Caribbean have perhaps the most comprehensive selection of family cabins aboard their fleet – helping larger families stay close together in comfort. The newer ships in the fleets offer family suites which contain connecting bedrooms, general living areas and a balcony. This gives kids a little freedom whilst keeping them close. Disney Cruises also offer great family cabins. This useful guide from Cruise Critic shares the most important things to consider when booking a family cabin.
Which cruise lines provide blackout curtains?
Very few cruise ships offer blackout curtains, with the majority providing a thin curtain alongside a thicker curtain – designed to block out light.
Many cruise lines offer more flexible dining options – with Royal Caribbean recently rolling out their Dynamic Dining service, allowing families to dine when and where they want. Large dining rooms and buffet restaurants also tend to operate throughout the day – accommodating even the most irregular of eating patterns.