Many of the major cruise lines have gone to great lengths to increase their appeal to all age groups, including the youngest members of the family.
From comprehensive babysitting services to age-specific activity groups – large cruise ships are packed with amenities and fully-trained staff to keep babies and toddlers content and entertained on their ships.
If you’re looking to book a holiday with your baby or toddler, we have produced this guide to help you find the perfect ship and we offer a few tips to make your holiday as enjoyable as possible.
Non Child-Friendly Cruise Lines
There are a number of cruise lines such APT Cruising and ships such as the P&O Arcadia which do not permit children under the age of 16 aboard. Whilst these are not suitable for parents of young children, they are perfect for adults looking for a relaxing holiday away from children.
Baby Care Guide
All the major cruise lines have their own guidelines and policies for babies and toddlers, this simple table makes it simple to understand what to expect when booking a specific line. This information is correct at the time of writing and all the cruise lines retain a right to change their policies at any time. Be sure to check with the cruise line before booking a holiday.
|Minimum Age||Day Care||Night TimeBabysitting||Pushchairs||Cribs||Nappies||Formula Milk|
|Azamara Cruises||*6 Months||NotProvided||NotProvided||NotProvided||UponRequest||NotProvided|| Not|
|Captain Cook||No Limit||NotProvided||NotProvided||NotProvided||NotProvided||NotProvided|| Not|
|Celebrity Cruises||*6 Months||In-Cabin Babysitter||In-Cabin Babysitter||NotProvided||UponRequest||NotProvided||Baby Food|
|Cunard Cruises||*6 Months||Group Childcare||GroupChildcare||Pre-Order Rental||UponRequest||NotProvided||Baby Food|
|MSC Cruises||No Limit||NotProvided||NotProvided||NotProvided||UponRequest||NotProvided|| Not|
|P&O Australia||12 Months||GroupChildcare||GroupChildcare||NotProvided||Bed Rails||NotProvided||In Store|
|Princess Cruises||*6 Months||Age 3+Group Care||Age 3+Group Care||NotProvided||UponRequest||NotProvided|| Upon|
|Royal Caribbean||*6 Months||In-Cabin & Group Care||In-Cabin & Group Care||NotProvided||Playpens||ForPre-Order||For Pre-Order|
|Silversea Cruises||*6 Months||NotProvided||NotProvided||NotProvided||NotProvided||NotProvided|| Not|
|Uniworld River||4 Years||NotProvided||NotProvided||NotProvided||NotProvided||NotProvided|| Not|
*12 months on selected itineraries
Cruise1st Baby-Friendly Picks
To help make the choice simpler, we have selected five cruise ships which provide fantastic facilities for babies and toddlers.
The family-friendly cruise ship from Celebrity Cruises operates a number of age-specific childcare options and a selection of services for babies. In-cabin babysitting is available for children aged 12 months and above, so parents can enjoy a few hours to themselves and go for an elegant meal and luxurious cocktail.
Toddlers aged 3 and above can also attend lunch, dinner and slumber parties with other children of the same age – perfect for fussy eaters and sleepers.
Cunard Queen Elizabeth
Despite the art deco appearance of the ship, Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth is surprisingly child-friendly. Babies aged 12 months and above can enjoy the supervised nursery which is comprehensively stocked with baby toys and cribs. The children’s club on deck 10 is operated by qualified nannies and is open from 9am to midnight.
Cunard go above and beyond to make sure all members of the family are welcomed aboard, and are one of the few lines which allow pets on board.
P&O Pacific Jewel
Perfect for large families, the P&O Pacific Jewel has more than 40 daily activities designed just for kids. Food for babies and young children is available in the ship’s stores and bed rails are available for cabins to make sure the beds are baby and toddler-friendly.
P&O Australia promise to make every effort to accommodate all children with special needs, and simply request 60 days’ notice before embarkation to make the requisite preparations.
Rhapsody of the Seas
At the forefront of family cruising, Royal Caribbean provide considerable amenities for babies and toddlers aboard the Rhapsody of the Seas, including the award-winning Royal Babies and Tots program. This service targeted towards children aged 6-36 months incorporates specialist care and fun activities which can make learning fun.
The Princess Cruises ship provides plenty of activities and care options for children under the age of three. The fully-trained staff can help ensure babies and toddlers are kept content and entertained throughout the holiday.
Cruising with Baby Tips
From years of experience, we have managed to put together a few tips for families cruising with babies and young children.
- Ships with 24 hour buffet services are fantastic for fussy-eating and fidgety children.
- Balcony cabins allow you to sit outside and enjoy the sea breeze whilst keeping an eye on a sleeping child.
- Ships with free laundry services are perfect for messy toddlers.
- Try and pack the smallest pushchair your child fits into, saving valuable cabin space.
- Pack an emergency kit for baby – the ship may not have all the medicines you need.
- Avoid excursions with long bus journeys so kids don’t get cranky on a hot, uncomfortable drive.
- Explore the ship for quiet, empty lounges and toddlers can stretch their legs and have a little explore.
- Check the Cruise1st homepage for the best deals.
Image sourced via Flickr Creative Commons and Princess Cruises Media Center. Credit: Princess Cruises, MAx Z, Nicholas D