An Introduction To Family Cruising
Here is some helpful information that will be useful as you make plans to cruise with the children. It contains a general overview of Cruise Line Children’s Programs and Services offered, as well as some specific information as to the various cruise line providers and their policies, which can have an impact on Family Cruise Planning. While this article contains some of the information in our complete guide to family cruise planning, you may wish to use the link where you can obtain the complete FREE E-Book at the article’s end.
While this information was current as of the date of the publishing of this article. It is also possible that changes may have occurred to particular policies and practices; It is possible that changes may have occured, as the cruise lines frequently change, and update their stated (written) policies.
Information from Luxury Cruise and River Cruise providers is somewhat limited. This is primarily due to the fact that for the most part such providers do not offer any organized children’s activities or specialized venues for their exclusive enjoyment. While many of these types of lines do in fact allow children, most (if not all) strictly reserve the right to limit the number of children under the age of three years on their sailings. In addition, during our research for this article, we found that many of the River Cruise providers strongly discourage children under the ages of 8 years of age, as the river cruise experience and daily exploring activities are generally felt to neither attract nor hold a young child’s shortened attention and patience capabilities.
However, when planning a Family Cruise Vacation (as you will see in this article) there are many different cruise lines that do cater to the Family, and do offer complete children’s programs and services. I hope you and your Family will enjoy a wonderful Cruise Adventure!
Cruise Line Industry Standards in General
The following is a brief description of the generally acceptable cruise line industry standards with respect to family cruise planning. We use this terminology since most of the cruise line providers generally will follow similar policies and guidelines with respect to how they handle such various situations.
Pregnancy Restrictions – Most of the cruise line providers require that in order to cruise those female passengers who are pregnant, must not have entered into their 24th week of pregnancy at some period of the duration of their cruise sailing.
Minimum Infant Age Restrictions – Most cruise lines require the minimum age in order to cruise be at least 6 months of age. While there are some that may stipulate their age requirements based on length of cruise, or region of the world a cruise may involve.
Unaccompanied Minors and Minimum Age (in-stateroom) Occupancy Requirement – The vast majority of cruise line providers specify the Minimum Age for Unaccompanied Minors, as well as the Minimum Age for Occupancy alone within any stateroom is 21 years of age. While many have exceptions to these requirements for cases of Traveling with Families, or if chaperoned.
Nursery Facilities on Board – This situation varies and is dependent on the specific ship, and cruise line you are traveling on. While we would generally say the answer to this question is yes, we refer you to this planning guide matrix table and Special Comments Sections for further and more specific information.
Baby/Child Sitting Services on Board – While this service varies much more widely by the cruise lines, but is generally found on many of today’s ships. However, may vary as to whether they offer such services in group settings (with age restrictions) or whether (as some lines provide), only in-room sitting services are available. Be sure to make note, if your cruise line requires advance reservations for such service(s) as well.
Organized Child Activities – These services and facilities are generally found on most cruise lines (except for Luxury and River Cruise Providers). The generally accepted range of ages serviced are from age 3, up to age 17. While most cruise ships have children’s venues, activities, and specialized menu services available, you may find that certain cruise lines actually go “above and beyond” in catering to this specialized niche cruising market known as children.
Specific Cruise Line Policies Regarding Children
AZAMARA – While Children must be a minimum of 6mos. of age to cruise, that is increased to 12 months if sailing has (3) three or more consecutive sea days. No Children’s Activities are provided for.
CARNIVAL Cruises – Children Must be at least 12mos. of age for Transatlantic, Hawaii, and South American Sailings. They do have a Nursery for ages 2 and under, is considered Baby Sitting (fee related). Children who are sailing with Parents, Grand Parents, or Legal Guardians can be in a room by themselves if they are at least 18 years old. All others must be at least 21 years of age, or in the accompaniment of a supervising adult passenger. (May be other restrictions for balcony accommodations).
CELEBRITY Cruises – While Celebrity follows much the standard industry policy requirements, they do have a nice children’s feature called VIP Pass (for Kids) which while there is a service fee associated with this item, it allows for certain discounts for kids related services such as Babysitting, etc. Be sure to check it out. Also as for their minimum age in a stateroom, they will relax that somewhat if there are parents, grandparents, or legal guardians over 21 years of age in adjoining staterooms
COSTA Cruises– Ok there are some definite differences with this Cruise Line, primarily due to their being Foreign owned. First expectant mothers have an additional week than with most other cruise lines. While they do offer group babysitting service (fee service), they require a minimum one day advance reservation for same. While the typical age to be allowed in cabin alone is 21, they do say that for certain (seasonal) sailings they may require at least one person responsible to be at least the age of 25 years. Sounds like they have dealt with Spring Break College passengers at least once before!
Crystal Cruises – Currently their pregnancy policy reads must be less than 6 months at any portion of the sailing, but their wording for 2012 policy gets in step with pretty much all others as it reads “Less than 24 weeks”. Also important to note, that while Crystal allows children under the age of 3 yrs., they do maintain the right to limit the total number of those passengers on any sailing. Crystal offers in room babysitting service only (fee service) with a maximum of three children together. As with many of the Cruise Lines they allow for a relaxation of the minimum age in a room, but in the case of two or more in any room, one of which must be at least 16yrs of age, which means for children under age 16, they will need to be in room with mom and dad, or Grandparents if they to arrange to have them sail too.
Disney Cruise Line – Has some truly different approaches to Children, for expectant Moms they are right in line with Industry Restrictions. However, as for the youngest passengers’ infants only have to be 12 weeks old to actually cruise on Disney. Additionally, Disney includes these passengers in their babysitting services that are rendered on board, and they even have many of their children’s offered activities, that allow the infants the ability to be in attendance. It would be impossible to list here not only the several one-of-a-kind children’s activities that Disney provides (live shows and Disney characters) let alone all of the techy new offerings on their latest ship the Dream. Suffice it to sum up Disney by saying if you have kids, there will be things that they would only be able to experience on a Disney Cruise Vacation.
Holland America – There are a few little differences here with HAL. First let’s talk Nursery, there is none. Baby sitting (which they call kid sitting) and is only for ages 3 and above. With respect to Minors traveling in rooms by themselves the age requirement is 21 years of age. Additionally if there is a large group of passengers sailing together under the age of 25, HAL requires 1 chaperone over the age of 25 for every 5 passengers in the group who are not 25 years of age.
MSC Cruises – Children 11 and under sail FREE!, they are only charged for the Govt. Taxes. Additionally Children 11 and under, receive up to a 30% Discount on Shore Excursions. Special prepaid “My Teen” cards may be purchased for all on-board purchases the teens (ages 12-17) may make. Special Kid Menus are available on board. While there are no babysitting services, should parents be off the ship on an excursion, children may be in the Kids Club areas, and will be escorted to the dining area, for a meal from the kids menu. Additionally, MSC is the only cruise line we found in our research that has no minimum established age in order to cruise.
NCL Cruises – While NCL is a bit more tolerant in that their pregnancy policy states time restriction at the end of the sailing rather than at any time during the sailing as most lines do. Babysitting is in Group Only (fee service), with no in-stateroom sitting service available. Two persons under age21 years are allowed to travel in a stateroom together, provided that the sailing has been purchased under a family planned event, and there is at least one person in the family plan reservation over the age of 21 sailing in the adjoining stateroom.
OCEANIA Cruises – Oceania’s wording per pregnancy says will not permit those who are past their 6th month of pregnancy. While Oceania (as well as most all luxury lines) does not offer babysitting services, they do have a limited amount of cribs available for use on their vessels.
PRINCESS Cruises– Minimum Age for passage is 6 months, except for sailings to Africa, South America, Asia, or the Exotics (Australia and Polynesia) where the minimum age is 12 months of age. While the stated age for unaccompanied minors in a room is 21 years of age, 2 or more persons under the age of 21, may be permitted to occupy a stateroom together, provided one of which is at least 16 years of age, and there is family (with at least one person over the age of 21 years of age) sailing in the adjacent stateroom on that same cruise.
Royal Caribbean – While everything as far as requirements was pretty Industry Standard, I felt I needed to make mention of their comprehensive kids program features which are done in connection with Crayola, Fisher Price, as well as DreamWorks. So it rather sounds like their children’s programs are some pretty neat stuff for the wee passengers among us!
We trust that information has been helpful for you. I am also happy to refer to you our FREE E-BOOK on Family Cruising Policies, which contains complete information on all matters related to Family Cruising and the Various Cruise Lines Policies regarding same. Which you can view by clicking here. Enjoy!
You might also like to view our Article on Safer Cruise Traveling with Children, you can view that entire article just by clicking here! Hopefully this information has been helpful to you in your planning and general information. We certainly appreciate your visiting our site, and welcome you to share this information with friends, and family. We also love to hear from our readers. There is a comments section at the end of this post. Again, Many thanks, and we hope you will come back to visit us often.
For more information on Planning a Family Cruise Adventure, or Cruise Line Policies, you can contact Mike via email firstname.lastname@example.org . You can tweet (or follow) Mike at http://www.twitter.com/cruisewithmike . You can “Join” our Travel Club at http://meetup.com/Sun-Cities-Travelers-Group/ Mikes web site can be found at www.mberryhill.cruiseholidays.com . You can follow this blog (or subscribe to it) at http://www.cruisewithmike.com (or merely click on the subscribe button above to have daily delivery to your email). View all of Mikes uploaded Flickr Photo Galleries at http://www.flickr.com/photos/cruisewithmike/ . Mike also is editor of his own twice daily e-newspaper called “The Compass Headings” you can see (or subscribe to) it free! at http://paper.li/CruisewithMike
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