Best Cruises for Children




By: Nicole Pelletiere

Cruising with your family is a  great way to take a vacation.  However, it can also be a challenging vacation if you do not choose your ship wisely. “When you have a very active child on a cruise, it isn’t always easy”, says Erica Silverstein, Features Editor of CruiseCritic.com. “It’s a case of knowing your child and knowing your ship; find out your needs, and make sure the ship provides them.”

Here Erica shares with us some cruise lines that may be most suitable for you and your loves ones.

1.)  Disney Cruise line

Minimum Age to Sail: The minimum age to sail is 12 weeks old.

The four ships sail out of Port Canaveral and Orlando offer short 3 or 4 night stays.  This is great if you are a parent trying to test the waters with your little one.  There is also a 7-night stay option, for those looking for a longer trip.  Just recently, Disney has announced that they will be adding New York City to their list of departure points, which includes Alaska, and its Caribbean mainstay.

Disney does a fabulous job of what’s needed from both parents and kids, i.e.: activities for various age groups, a shower that can be made into a bathtub, split bathrooms, and a dividing curtain so that you can enjoy some you time while your children sleep.

2.)  Royal Caribbean

Minimum Age to Sail:The minimum age to sail is 6 months old on most itineraries, and 12 months old on all transatlantic, transpacific and Hawaii cruises, as well as select South American and other cruises and cruisetours.

The newer ships from this cruise line have nurseries for up to 30 months old.  You will be able to conveniently drop off your child or take them to open play times.  It is a great, safe place for your little ones to enjoy themselves; the crew is great with kids.

3.)  Cunard

Minimum Age to Sail: For Atlantic crossings and many of the exotic itineraries: 1 year old; for other sailings: 6 months old. Be sure to check ahead of time.

This cruise is more adult-oriented than the first two listed.  However, the Queen Mary 2 does have programs designed from 12 months to teen.  The Night Nursery provides you with a pager in case they need to contact you when you are out and about on the ship.  While Cunard has programs for youngsters, it does not have many activities on the ship’s deck.  There is also no private in-cabin babysitting provided.

4.) Norwegian

Minimum Age to Sail: The minimum age to sail is 6 months old.

This line offers fun playtime at Kid’s Crew, which is home to ball pits, tunnels and jungle gyms.  There are also Pirate Parades, Dora the Explorer sing-alongs and Blue’s Clues scavenger hunts headed by the youth staff.

This cruise would be best for children ages 2 years and older, as there is no in-cabin babysitting.  Also, many of the age-appropriate activities do not allow children who are not toilet trained.  NCL staff is not permitted to change diapers, therefore, you will be paged to come and take care of business.

5.)  Carnival

Minimum Age to Sail: The minimum age to sail is 6 months old on most cruises. On transatlantic, Hawaii and South America cruises, the minimum age to cruise is 12 months.

Evening activities are provided for children ages 2 to 5 until 10 p.m.  If you are interested in nighttime childcare, the only option available is babysitting from 10 p.m. until 3 a.m. at the center; here there are older children watching movies and sleeping.  Once again, diaper-changing if not permitted, so children that wear diapers are not allowed to swim in the ship’s pools, or be dropped off at childcare services.

Erica also offers these additional tips to help you better prepare for taking your children on a cruise:

-Many buffets do not open until 6:30 p.m.  If you have a child that can sit through a formal dinner, than that’s great.  Otherwise, look for 24-hour buffets, or ones that open earlier.

-Ships can become crowded; sometimes, you’ll have to make spaces that may not always be available.  When deciding on a cruise line, make sure it has plenty of empty space for your child to toddle around.

-Check and re-check onboard kids programs.  Many of them start at 2 or 3 years; if you have younger children, be sure to choose a ship that best suits their needs.

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