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Your guide to cruising with babies, toddlers and young children

Travelling with babies and kids. It can be a lot. But cruises are something of a godsend for parents. In-built entertainment. Other kids aplenty. Curated fun. What’s not to love? We’ve mapped out some ways that you can prep for your ocean voyage - whether you’re a cruise newbie or a first-timer.

The sea, baby, and me

Before we puff up your sails about ideal cruise ships for tots, it’s important you know that cruising with a baby is not all smooth sailing. There are a few things to consider before you get too excited.
 

The fount of all things cruise-oriented, Cruise Critic, has mapped out 9 Reasons Not to Take a Baby on a Cruise. As you'll see, there are some cruise line exceptions speckled in there, but the wrong cruise can make for very cranky, and cabin-feverish, parents. But it's not all doom and gloom. Let's look at some cruise liners that have the potentital to deliver for you - and your baby.

 

Baby and toddler-friendly cruise liners

We’ve listed some of the cruise line options that go above and beyond in the taking-care-of-baby stakes.

It’s no surprise that Disney is on this list. As well as placing bathtubs in most of their cabins, Deluxe staterooms have a privacy curtain to separate the sleeping zones. That means you can fiddle with the lights to your heart’s content.

And of course, there’s the Disney channel to keep busy little people stationary (for a little while, anyway!). The other plus is that babies can enter the water play areas, as long as they’re wearing a swim diaper (but babies can’t enter the pools, which is usual on most cruise liners). The downside? They don’t travel to Australian waters, so you’ll need to fly to one of Disney’s departure ports.

Carnival is another win for parents of tiny tots. Not only are the standard cabins a tad bigger than other cruises, select ships’ staterooms can sleep up to five people. Cribs are also available for free: just request the crib when you book your room. Carnival has a comprehensive list of what is and what is not supplied for bubs and toddlers.

Royal Caribbean has a babies and tots program for bubs aged between 6 and 36 months. Particular Royal Caribbean ships also have splash pools where little people who aren’t toilet trained can enter in swim diapers. The cruise liner’s website has a great rundown of FAQs regarding cruising with kids.

Best cruises for young and pre-teen kids

Cruises are a wonderland for active kids. With pools aplenty, water slides and a bundle of age-appropriate activities, you can breathe a sigh of relief as you grab a cocktail. Here are some of the best cruises to keep your kids entertained, and you sane.

 

Disney

There's no doubt about it. Disney is king of the kids. With the Oceaneer Club (ages 3 to 12) and Edge youth club (tweens) on select ships, you have your entertainment bases covered. There are also myriad Disney-specific experiences for your kids to indulge in, depending on what ship you cruise with.

Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean has specific areas to keep your little people out of trouble and pleasantly contained. AquaNauts (ages 3 to 5), Explorers (ages 3 to 8) and Voyagers (ages 9 to 11). The fleet also has a range of activities for older kids, with select ships offering ice skating, mini golf and a rock climbing wall.

Carnival

Carnival makes another appearance, thanks to Camp Ocean. Spanning ages 2 to 11, the kids are placed in age-appropriate groups with counsellors who have education or child care experience. For Dr Seuss lovers, there’s Seuss at Sea. And if you have a littl’un who’s not big on sleep, pop them in Night Owls where they can rage on with fellow nocturnal kidlings.

 

p&o Cruises

Kids between 2 and 5 years can pop into Turtle Cove for some arts and craft or LEGO goodness. There’s the Shark Shack for kids aged 6 to 9 where they can make new friends and immerse themselves in special activities like scavenger hunts and jewellery making. For older kids (ages 10 to 13) there’s the HQ, which is Decked out with video games, movies and karaoke sessions.

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises also shines with its Ship Mates (ages 3 to 5), Celebrity Cadets (ages 6 to 8) and Ensigns (ages 9 to 11), which are all based in select ships’ Fun Factory entertainment quarter.

Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises has programs for kids aged 3 to 7 (Camp Discovery) and 8 to 12 (The Lodge). Two dinner nights are also organised for each age group, plus there’s a world of activities for young’uns, including movies, splash pools, as well as experiments and activities in the vein of the Mythbusters TV show.

Tips for Cruising with kids

It doesn't have to be a daunting prospect. If you arm yourself with all the info; it could be your best family holiday yet.
 

Tip #1: Check the minimum age on your cruise liner
Most cruises set the minimum age at 6 months old but the minimum age can change depending on your destination, so check out all the details before you book your tickets.

Tip #2: If you have babies in Arms, do your research.
If travelling with bub, research the cruise line's policy on babies, and what they do and don't offer. Plus, if they don't stock baby food, make sure you have enought to last the trip.

Tip #3: Avoid cabin fever
 
Make sure the room you pick is big enough for your needs. Remember, cruise cabins can be tight, so really consider the dimensions on the cruise ship’s website.

Tip #4: Research the ports you'll be stopping at
You want to be able to absorb as much as you can, which means you need an action-plan (or at least some idea of what you want to see).

Tip #5: Pick the right cruise liner and ships
Really look into the programs and consider which ships cater to kids, and which cater to grown-ups with some kids’ perks.

Tip #6: Get the kids involved
If they’re old enough, let your kids pick a shore excursion. This will get them excited and invested in the success of the trip.

Tip #7: Don't be a pack mule
As we mentioned, cruise cabins can be tight. Think out your packing and ignore the urge to pack for every just-in-case scenario.

Tip #8: Be a space-saver, not invader
On that note, if there is any compact storage solution in your home that can help save space, bring it on board.

Tip #9: Get covered
Cruises present a different set of risks to other holidays, so make sure you choose travel insurance that covers cruises.

Tip #10: Lay down some ground rules.
For older kids, make sure there’s an agreed meeting place, or some kind of protocol in place in case they get lost or need to contact you. Let them know the safety measures onboard (e.g. no running on decks or climbing railings).

Tip #11: Suss out any extra costs
Many activities won’t be included in your upfront cruise costs. See what activities cost extra and set yourself a reasonable budget. In case your little person is really getting into the swing of things, you may want to set a slight buffer.

 

 

 

Common insurance questions for family cruise travellers

  • Are my kids included on our 1Cover travel insurance policy?
  • What kind of incidents on cruises are not covered by travel insurance?
  • Do we need family travel insurance and the cruise pack?
 

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