Cruises are a great vacation option for families. There’s plenty of entertainment for everyone, not to mention most have kids’ clubs and childcare services! But how old does your child need to be to cruise? It varies by cruise line.
While the general rule of thumb for most cruise lines is that babies must be six months old to sail, and 12 months old for a transatlantic/remote cruise, we’ve outlined the specific age requirements for each major cruise line below, as well as the baby amenities you’ll find onboard, to help you choose the right cruise line for your vacation.
Note: Keep in mind that the majority of cruise lines do not allow women who are over 24 weeks pregnant to sail.
Disney Cruise Line
Minimum Age: 6 months; 12 months for transatlantic, Panama Canal and Hawaii itineraries.
Baby Amenities: Disney Cruise Line provides complimentary bottle warmers and sterilizers, cribs/playpens, and strollers. You can request fresh pureed vegetables in the dining rooms and via room service. Several baby essentials are available to purchase on the ships, including diapers, formula, baby food, baby toiletries and more.
Babysitting Onboard: “It’s a Small World” Nursery is available for a fee on all four ships: Disney Magic, Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy and Disney Wonder.
Minimum Age: None
Baby Amenities: You’ll feel especially luxurious if you take your baby on an MSC cruise! They have a baby laundry service. Plus, they’ve teamed up with Chicco to offer free baby essentials including strollers, bouncing chairs, cribs, high chairs, and more.
Babysitting Onboard: MSC Cruises offers Mini Club for guests under age 3. Babycare service is also available when the ship is at sea and when parents disembark for an excursion at port.
Minimum Age: 6 months for most cruises; 12 months for transatlantic, transpacific, and cruises of three or more consecutive days at sea.
Babysitting Onboard: $30 per hour for in-room babysitting in the evenings or while the ship is in port, for up to three children.
Carnival Cruise Line
Minimum Age: 6 months for most cruises; 12 months for trans-ocean crossings and remote destinations with more than two consecutive days at sea.
Babysitting Onboard: Carnival has Camp Ocean, which has limited time slots throughout the cruise for “under 2 time.” You may leave your baby with a member of the youth staff for a fee ($6.75 per hour plus 18 percent gratuity per child), or, if you want to stay with your child, there’s no charge. They also have Night Owl services available for a fee if you’re looking for childcare later at night, for kids ages 6 months to 11 years old, from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Royal Caribbean International
Minimum Age: 6 months; 12 months for any cruise that’s at sea for three or more days.
Babysitting on Board: The Royal Baby and Tot Nursery is available on several ships for a fee ($8 per hour, per child). There are five ships this service is not available on: Empress, Majesty, Jewel, Adventure, Explorer and Voyager of the Seas.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Minimum Age: 6 Months; 12 months for cruises of three or more consecutive days at sea.
Babysitting on Board: The Norwegian Escape is the only ship with care (for a fee) for babies 6 months and over with the Guppies Nursery. The rest of the fleet has Splash Academies for children ages 3 and over, which is included in rates.
Minimum Age: 6 Months; 12 months for trans-ocean crossings and remote itineraries, with more than two consecutive sea days. The minimum age for Cruisetours is 5 years old.
Baby Amenities: Complimentary highchairs, booster seats, jarred baby food and cribs are available on Princess Cruises. Fresh, pureed foods (fruits, veggies and rice) are available in dining rooms and marketplaces.
Babysitting on Board: Group babysitting is available for ages 3 and up.