Wondering how to choose a baby friendly cruise? We have been very fortunate to have been cruising with a baby and cruising with a toddler. We have learnt a lot from these experiences and there are definitely some tricks to choosing a the best cruise with a baby. In this guide we will round up all our top tips from the best cruise lines for babies, best ships in those fleets for kids and of course how to chose a baby friendly cruise itinerary.
What is the best cruise line for babies?
The first thing you want to consider when heading on a cruise with a baby is what cruise line is best for babies. And there are a couple of things that will affect your thinking when it comes to baby friendliness such as
- Are babies free on cruises on the line you are considering?
- Is there a minimum age for the cruise itinerary and line you wish to take
- Do they offer an facilities such as kids clubs or babysitting for infants
- Can babies use pools
Do you have to pay for taking a baby on a cruise ship?
The truth is babies are not usually free on cruise ships with two notable exceptions. These are
- Cunard Cruise Line
These lines will often offer free sailings for children under 2 – though sometimes you can find deals with free sailings for under 11s. However on Cunard you may have to pay the gratuities (Tips) for each day your infant is on board.
Therefore if budget is a key component to your decision making in taking a baby friendly cruise it is worth considering these two lines first.
For more information on costs of taking a baby on a cruise ship check out this post.
Is there a minimum age for a baby to cruise?
On most cruises there is a minimum age of 6 months to go on cruises. The one exception to this is again MSC which does sometimes allow children with no minimum age (Be sure to check before booking).
However there are some itineraries which require a minimum sail age of 12 months. This usually is on itineraries where you have two or more consecutive days at sea.
There are also some adults only cruise lines such as Viking Cruises. These lines will not allow any children of any age to board so do not consider these if you are looking for a baby friendly cruise.
Overall: if you want to cruise with a young baby MSC may be your best bet (though do check with the cruise line before booking). Otherwise be sure not to pick an itinerary with too many sea days so your baby can cruise from age 6 months.
Do cruises offer kids clubs for babies? Is there babysitting on board for babies?
If having childcare on the cruise line is a key component for you when cruising with a baby you will need to choose your cruise line carefully.
Many lines will have minimum ages to use kids club and potty training requirements.
One of the few lines that does offer babysitting for babies is MSC. On some ships they one hour babysitting however they usually have to be aged 12 months to use. Be sure to check with the line and ship before booking if is this important to you.
Other lines will offer stay and play sessions for parents traveling with babies but this is worth checking especially since COVID as this has curtailed some kids activities.
Are babies allowed in pools on cruise
When we cruise we love to use the pools. But are babies allowed in pools on cruises? The answer to that is usually no and was something we were disappointed to find out.
On most cruise lines babies and toddlers are not allowed in pools while wearing swim diapers. However there are exceptions.
P & O – P & O will let babies and toddlers in swim diapers in designated pools on board. So if pools are important to you when cruises P & O shouldn’t be overlooked. The ships in the P & O fleet which used to have areas for unpotty trained children are
While P & O are the only exception to the no swim diapers rule there are some lines and ships that provide a space usually known as a splash pad for unpotty trained children to use.
These can be found on
Disney Cruise Ships with Splash Pads
- Disney Dream
- Disney Fantasy
- Disney Magic
Royal Caribbean Ships with Splash Pads
- Allure of the Seas
- Anthem of the Seas
- Freedom of the Seas
- Harmony of the Seas
- Independence of the Seas
- Liberty of the Seas
- Oasis of the Seas
- Symphony of the Seas
- Wonder of the Seas
Other cruise lines and ships do not tend to offer any provision for babies to go into the water.
Note: Be sure to check with your cruise line and specific ship to make sure this is the most up to date information and rules have not changed.
Now we have discussed the specific lines and ships that make a baby friendly cruise we will turn our attention to ports and itineraries.
What are baby friendly cruise ports?
The think I have learnt since I started cruising is that many of the ports are not actually in the city they declare in their name!
For instance Rome civitavecchia is actually about 40mins to an hour away by bus! Don’t even get me started on London (Southampton).
I’m not saying don’t go to these ports but just to make sure you know. You might be willing to do the journey to Rome but probably not want do the drive to Florence from Livorno the next day.
Some of the easiest ports in my opinion to visit with babies are in the Caribbean as often you can walk or tender off your ship straight into a town and in my opinion beach ports are some of the easiest to visit with babies.
What are infant friendly cruise excursion?
There is no one rule for picking cruise excursions with a baby as it will tend on what you want to see. However I would try and avoid anything too structured.
There is nothing worse that being on a cruise excursion with a grumpy or crying baby when you want to do things on your schedule away from people cross about the noise.
My advice is if you need to do a cruise excursion do something that is on your own when you get there. So basically a shuttle only type excursion.
And don’t feel like you have to do excursions run only by the ship. There is a safety in getting a cruise ship excursion as they won’t leave without you if you are late or are responsible for getting you back to the ship if there are problems.
However often you will find things like aquariums and zoos – children friendly attractions – won’t often be on the cruise excursion list so again you are better doing X on your own excursions and then making it suit your family when you arrive.
How accessible are cruises ports for infants?
The accessibility of cruise ports and terminals varies from port to port. To find out how accessible you are we recommend some good old fashioned googling.
Some of the things to check when looking at these cruise ports are:
- Do you dock or do you tender?
- Is the port in the city or will a transfer be required
Tendering in Santorini
Do cruise excursions take infants
If there is a particular place you want to visit make sure you check that your cruise will take a baby on its excursions. Some will have age limits and others will require babies to sit on laps unless you pay a full price.
If you want your baby in a car seat on a trip you will often need to pay full price or otherwise look into private excursions which may provide car seats so you don’t have to take your own which could use up valuable footprint in your stateroom cabin
What should I pack for a baby on a cruise
If you are cruising with a baby be sure to check out our dedicated baby cruise packing list!
Baby friendly cruises visiting private islands
If you are travelling to the Caribbean consider if your cruise goes to a private island or if you will have to pay to visit beaches and resorts. It might be more cost effective to pick a cruise which stops at its own island.
Other top tips for picking a baby friendly cruise
What is the right cruise cabin for families with infants.
Understanding the different cabin sizes and picking accordingly will help you enjoy your holiday more. You can see our cabin guide here!