You don’t get any more pampered in life than when you are traveling on a cruise. You have people cooking for you, cleaning for you and service that will do anything to make you happy. Cruising is definitely a unique type of vacationing that everybody has to experience at least once in their life (hopefully much more). There are many reasons why you may want to take your baby or kids with you on a cruise. There are also many reasons why you may not. At the time of this post, we’ve been on a total of four cruises, two of them with the little poochie mama. I’ll give you the pro’s and con’s from our experience with taking the baby on a cruise.
Big CON number 1… Babies and kids don’t sail FREE. Almost every cruise charge the normal 3rd or 4th person rate for babies staying with you in your cabin regardless of the age. This sounds ridiculous and I’m sure many, many more parents would agree. There are exceptions to this. Some cruise lines offer limited time Kids Sail Free programs and so far there’s only one cruise company that I know of that always offer Kids Sail Free. These are the companies we’ve found so far that are the most kid-friendly.
Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) – Under normal conditions, Norwegian Cruise Lines charge normal 3rd and 4th passenger rates for babies. They do however have limited time Kids Sail Free programs. You have to call your local travel agent or go on their website to see if there is a promotion currently running. It’s usually posted right on the front page if they are offering it. NCL is also great for families and kids because some ships have a Nickelodeon program with games, shows and Dora and Spongebob running around the ship. We also love NCL for their Freestyle Cruising.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines – Royal Caribbean also normally offers 3rd and 4th passenger rates for kids and babies. They also on occasion offer Kids Sail Free programs. You have to check their website to see if they are currently offering this incentive.
Disney Cruise Lines – Disney cruise lines is one of the most family-friendly cruise lines available. It is also one of the most expensive cruise lines as well. Like other cruise lines, Disney charges 3rd and 4th passenger rates with limited time Kids Sail Free programs.
Carnival Cruise Lines – Carnival also has limited Kids Sail Free programs while normally charging 3rd and 4th passenger rates for children and babies. Our first sailing with Little Lana was on the Carnival Dream. We stayed in the 230sf Deluxe Ocean View Stateroom which included one full bath and one-half bath with junior tub. This room is available in all of Carnival’s Dream-class and Conquest-class ships and is an incredible deal for the amount of space and extra bathroom you get. Carnival ships have some of the largest standard cabins in the industry.
MSC Cruise Lines – MSC is the only cruise line we know that offers Kids Sail Free on all cruises, all the time. Age requirements are children under twelve years of age. They currently only have one ship sailing out of the United States going to the Caribbean.
Aside from cost, taking a baby on a cruise may not be as relaxing as you may think. There are always time schedules you will have to keep like getting off and on the ship at every port, dinner times (if your not freestyle cruising) and show times. You also have to beat the crowds at peak hours for breakfast and lunch and to reserve a recliner chair on the pool deck on sea days. If you want a vacation more at your own pace then staying at a resort is probably the better option.
Aside from that we love taking the baby on a cruise. It’s a great way to explore numerous locations on one vacation. We love to find islands that we fall in love with and plan a vacation to spend a longer amount of time there.
I found this very detailed article on cruise cabins which I absolutely love. Space on a ship is a premium but a must have when lugging around all your baby gear. This article was definitely correct about Carnival’s 230sf Deluxe Ocean View Stateroom which we absolutely love so we’ll be using this as our guide for choosing another stateroom on our next cruise.
Hope this helps your decision in planning your next cruise with a baby. Bon Voyage.