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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 Why should I take my kids with me on a cruise?
 Which cruise lines do you recommend for families with kids?
 What sorts of activities are there onboard for kids?
 Are the onboard activities for children age-specific?
 Which cruise regions do you recommend for families with kids?
 What kind of accommodations do they offer onboard for families with kids?
 Do kids cruise for free if they share my cabin?
 Are there any precautions I should take when bringing my kids on board?
 What’s available onboard for my infant?
 What are the miniumum age restrictions for infants?
 Do soft drinks cost extra? What's a "Soft Drink Card?"

 Why should I take my kids with me on a cruise?
      The better question is, why not? Here are 7 Reasons to Take the Kids on your next cruise vacation:
  1. More Fun. They'll have more fun things to do than with any other family vacation option. So will you.
  2. Save Money. Dollar for dollar, cruising's the least expensive way to vacation with your kids!
  3. Quality Time. You'll be able to do your own thing, yet still have lots of quality time with them!
  4. Learning Experience. They'll learn about new cities, new cultures and unusual attractions!
  5. Safe & Secure. Cruising is a safe and secure way to travel and all shipboard Youth Counselors are professionally-trained.
  6. Less Hassle. Compared to other family vacation options, cruising is less hassle and stress!
  7. The Memories! You and your kids will be sharing your cruise memories (and pictures and videos) for a lifetime!
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 Which cruise lines do you recommend for families with kids?
      A lot depends on the ages of your children. But assuming your kids are 12 and under, here's our list (presented alphabetically). Every one of these lines offers an excellent, complimentary onboard Youth Program. And don't forget to check our list of "Best Cruises for Kids."

  • Carnival: This line attracts a lot of young families with kids. Their "fun-focused" atmosphere is contagious!
  • Disney: You and your kids know all about the Disney product. Think of a Disney cruise as you would their theme parks - but on water!
  • Norwegian: Lots of young families with kids are drawn to this line where everybody is encouraged to join in on the fun!
  • Princess: Family-focused fun, including outdoor movies - yet plenty of "kids only" fun like Jacuzzis and splash pools!
  • Royal Caribbean: Innovative, kid-pleasing diversions like onboard ice-skating and wall-climbing make this line a top destination for kids!

There are other mainstream lines, Celebrity and Holland America, specifically, with excellent Youth Programs - particularly aboard their larger ships sailing in the Caribbean. On those ships and in those cruise markets, they come highly recommended for families with kids. But the five lines listed above consistently offer top-notch programs AND - due largely to their passenger demographics and "family-friendly" pricing - virtually guarantee there will be sufficient numbers of kids on board to make those programs work at their best.

Cruise Note: The "Luxury" lines (Crystal, Oceania & Windstar) and the "Ultra-Luxury" lines (Radisson, Seabourn & Silversea), while certainly not neglecting kids, tend to appeal more to adults or families with children above the age of 12.

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 What sorts of activities are there onboard for kids?
      Know this: you'll have fun on your cruise; they’ll have even more fun! Every line offers a unique mix of creative events and activities. Of course, there's always some variation depending on the ship's itinerary and the number of kids in the various age groups onboard. But here's a list of activities that most mainstream cruise lines offer:
  • Age-specific activity rooms with toys, games, puzzles, puppet theaters, "ball pools," arts & crafts, face-painting and movies.
  • Splash pools, kids-only whirlpools, water slides and pool games.
  • Scavenger hunts, computer lessons, pajama parties, talent shows, karaoke parties and learning labs.
  • Shoreside excursions: On selected itineraries, some cruise lines even offer shore excursions designed specifically for kids.

Disney, of course, adds its own brand of magic to the mix. Norwegian offers kids a "circus at sea," Royal Caribbean includes oceanographic "labs," and so it goes. The point is, your kids will NOT be bored!

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 Are the onboard activities for children age-specific?
      Yes. Choose a mainstream cruise line which attracts a sizable number of kids on most any itinerary (Carnival, Disney, Norwegian, Princess, Royal Caribbean) and you've likely got that "critical mass" needed to successfully operate a full, age-specific program. Here's a general idea how most cruise lines break down the age groups:
  • Age 3 to 5
  • Age 6 to 8
  • Age 9 to 11
  • Age 12 to 14
  • Age 15 to 17
  • Kids under 3 are sometimes included in special activity programs but in most cases, parents or guardians must be present with their kids and children must be potty-trained.
Cruise Note: Keep in mind that there's some flexibility in these groupings and that every cruise - even within the same cruise line - is a unique sailing with unique program needs.
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 Which cruise regions do you recommend for families with kids?
      First, check our list of "Best Cruises for Kids." Aside from that list, know that no matter the ship or cruise line, it takes a certain number of kids onboard to make any youth program work well. So, with that in mind, we recommend regions that tend to attract more young families than other regions. From first choice on, here's our list:
  1. The Caribbean & Bahamas: Hands down, this region is the winner for kids! The weather is great, there's lots to do and - for parents - the price s right! We recommend the Bahamas, Western Caribbean and Eastern Caribbean cruises.
  2. Mexico: Like the Caribbean, this region has weather on its side! Beach activities and water sports are excellent here.
  3. Hawaii: Kids love island-hopping! Volcanoes, beaches, helicopter rides, lu'aus - it's fun!
  4. Alaska: Ten years ago, Alaska wouldn't be on this list. But bigger ships and more fun things to do (on and off the ship) make Alaska a good choice today.
  5. Canada & New England: Here's another new one. New, shorter itineraries on bigger, facility-rich ships; Titanic museums; rivers that flow backwards...this region offers lots of cool things to do!
So there you have it, our top recommendations. Other regions (Europe, Panama Canal, Australia/New Zealand, etc.) offer great attractions for kids, too, but either their lengthier itineraries or distance from N. America tend to detract from their appeal to families cruising with kids.
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 What kind of accommodations do they offer onboard for families with kids?
      The trends are favoring families with kids! Among the large, mainstream cruise lines, new ships offer way more in the way of "family-friendly" accommodations than ever before. From least expensive to most expensive, here are some of your options:
  • Stateroom. Does your walk-in closet at home sleep 3 or 4? When choosing a stateroom, size does matter, especially if your kids are age 5 or above. If you go the "one stateroom" route, select the largest stateroom within your budget. If you can afford it, choose a balcony stateroom for added living space.
  • "Family Stateroom." These staterooms generally offer spacious - though not always separate - sleeping areas and a relatively large sitting area with a convertible sofa. Many also offer an extra bathroom, or at least an extra half-bath (toilet and sink).
  • Multiple Staterooms. Interconnecting staterooms may be less expensive than you think, and you'll love having two, totally separate bathrooms! Some cruise lines (Princess, for example) don't offer many (or any) interconnecting staterooms but most balcony staterooms can be "connected" by unlocking the passage through the balcony partitions. And some lines offer balcony staterooms connecting to non-balcony staterooms, offering some luxury combined with extra savings.
  • "Family Suite." Ah...the luxury of it all! Separate bedrooms, a large living area with convertible sofa, separate bathrooms and spacious balconies make these accommodations an excellent choice. Sometimes suites can actually undercut the price of two staterooms, so do a little shopping!

Cruise Tip: Don't fall for the "Mini-Suite Name Game!" Like hotels, cruise lines sometimes use the term "mini-suite" very loosely so be sure to compare square footage (refer to "Cabins" within each ship under our "Ships & Cruiselines" section). One line's "mini-suite" may be another's standard stateroom.

Travel Trend: Often it's not the stateroom size that's the limiting factor in choosing accommodations; it's the bathroom! Disney offers extra "half baths" (sink & toilet) with all but two interior category types. Some of Norwegian's largest ships offer sliding partitions separating the toilet from the sink and tub area. Expect to see more ships with "family-friendly" bathrooms in the future.

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 Do kids cruise for free if they share my cabin?
      No. On most cruise lines, kids occupying the same stateroom with two adults (i.e. traveling as a third or fourth passenger in that accommodation) pay a fare that varies from 50% to 80% of the regular fare. These are not "child" fares but simply your standard third or fourth person rates. Sometimes there are special "kids travel free" promotions. Some cruise lines, notably Disney, do offer special child rates.

On most cruise lines, kids under the age of 2, occupying a stateroom with two adults, travel at substantial savings.

Cruise Note: Minumum age policies vary by cruise line. Most cruise lines will not accept infants age 12 weeks or younger, as computed at date of cruise embarkation. Some lines maintain 6 month minimums or higher. On some cruise lines, minimum age restrictions may vary by cruise itinerary.

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 Are there any precautions I should take when bringing my kids on board?
      Yes, there are.

  • First, be sure to bring any medications or prescriptions (or favorite, over-the-counter medicines) your kids may require. Little kids can develop a cough overnight and they can make it rough on you if their favorite cough syrup isn’t onboard with them! If your child has a serious medical condition, it's imperative that the cruise line be aware of this condition well before cruise departure date.
  • Be sure your kids attend – and listen to – the ship’s safety drill. Take it seriously yourself and let them learn by your good example. Be sure your cabin has appropriately-sized life jackets and that your children know how to use them.
  • Caution your kids about the ship railings – never let them sit on or climb them. And be sure they are aware of the “staff and crew only” areas.
  • Have your kids memorize the name of their cruise line, ship, and cabin number. When going ashore, it's an excellent idea to put a note in their pocket with this information.
  • Arrange to have your older children help watch the younger ones whenever possible.
  • Never let very young children wander the ship without supervision.
  • Be sure your kids are aware of, and observe, any and all "adults only" onboard restrictions.

Cruise Tip: Whenever possible, enroll your kids in the shipboard youth programs! They'll be safe, entertained, informed, and you'll have a little extra free time of your own!

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 What’s available onboard for my infant?
      Most cruise lines offer the following services for families with infants:

  • Baby Sitting. Most lines offer baby sitting services. Hourly rates vary but compare to shoreside fees. Sitting times may be restricted to daytime hours or offered only on "at sea" days, however. Staffing conflicts or other factors may limit or remove baby sitting services on some sailings.
  • Nurseries. Some cruise lines, notably Cunard and Disney, offer fully-equipped nurseries for parents and their infants. Parental presence may be required.
  • Other services. Two-way baby monitoring devices, cribs, strollers, disposable diapers, baby formula, and other infant needs are often available shipboard and/or through advance notice.

Cruise Tip: Keep in mind that most standard staterooms aboard most cruise lines provide bathrooms with showers - not bathtubs. You may find it easier to bathe your infant in a bathtub so you may wish to upgrade to a stateroom offering this feature.

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 What are the miniumum age restrictions for infants?
      Minumum age policies vary considerably from one cruise line to another. Most cruise lines will not accept infants age 12 weeks or younger, as computed at date of cruise embarkation. Some maintain 6 month minimums or higher. On some cruise lines, minimum age restrictions vary by cruise itinerary.

Because shipboard medical facilities and staffing are understandably limited, cruise lines observe the right to limit the total number of infants aboard a given sailing.

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 Do soft drinks cost extra? What's a "Soft Drink Card?"
Cruise Line
Soft Drink Card Program?
Price for Soft Drink Program
Yes- Fountain Fun Card Check for price once onboard Available for purchase at any bar
Yes- Celebrity's Soft Drink Program $5.00 per day per person plus 15% gratuity Purchase of package must be for entire cruise
Yes- Costa Kid's Card $34.50 for 20 soft drinks or non-alcoholic drinks throughout entire cruise  
No- Soft drinks are free!
Yes- Cunard Soft Drink Package $3.75 per day pus 15% service charge for unlimited soft drin ks, water and juices by the glass Purchase of package must be for entire cruise
No- Complimentary Sodas at beverage stations (but not at bars!)
Holland America
Yes- Fountain Soft Drink Card 7 days=$26.25
10 days=$37.50
Yes- Kid's Crew Program 4-5 days= $10
7ays or more= $39.50
Available for kids ages 3-12
Yes- Soda Package less than 7days=$10
7 days=$20
10 days= $22.50
With a reusable mug add $2.50
No- All soft drinks, hot beverages, mineral waters and juices are complimentary onboard
Royal Caribbean
Yes- Fountain Soda/Juice Package $4.00 per person per day
- a 15% gratuity charge will be added
Good for sodas (no cans) and juices. Includes Coco Cay and Labadee!
No- Soft Drinks are complimentary onboard
No- All Soft drinks are complimentary onboard
Note: All information noted above is subject to change at any time and without notice
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