We are often asked this question: Are children allowed on a luxury cruise? In most cases, the answer is : Yes, they can – but the question these parents need to ask themselves is this: Should children be included on a luxury cruise?
On luxury cruise ships, there are no football matches or arakades to entertain children.
While a luxury cruise is not designed or priced for children, it may be a viable option for some families in some situations.
We look at each age group and see how much luxury sailing is recommended for families with children of that age.
What is a luxury cruise?
Seven Seas Voyager luxury cruise ship (photo courtesy of Regent Seven Seas Cruises).
When we say luxury cruise, we mean a cruise with a luxury cruise line like Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Silversea Cruises, Seabourn or others, which is usually priced at $350 per person per night or more. Although some people and articles refer to cruise lines such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity as luxury cruises, we do not consider them in the context of this topic. These large cruise lines are usually a good choice for families with children.
It is important to note that luxury cruise lines generally do not offer child-friendly prices or discounts. So if you bring your kids, you’ll probably pay the full adult rate. The larger airlines, which often offer promotions like Kids Sail Free or Kids Sail for $99, are much more affordable for a family cruise.
Children under 9 years old
Babies are welcome on MSC Cruises, but bringing them on board a luxury cruise ship is at your own risk (thanks to MSC Cruises).
The first age group we will look at is that of children under the age of 9. This includes infants, young children and children of primary school age. Children of this age are most likely to enjoy the activities organized by the kids’ club during the cruise, and this group is least likely to spend time exploring the ship alone with siblings or friends. Parents who take young children on a luxury cruise should always stay with them; this means no late nights at the bar or casino, no romantic candlelit dinners at the steakhouse, no interruptions.
Luxury cruise ships generally do not offer facilities suitable for this age group. There are no kids’ clubs, kiddie pools or water play areas, nor is there a kids’ buffet with hot dogs, chicken nuggets and pizza. There are no bunk beds or children’s television channels in the cabins.
Older luxury cruise passengers will not appreciate the presence of children in this age group, even if they are well-behaved, and will often voice their displeasure, even if it is minor mischief or noise.
Some cruise lines even prohibit or reserve the right to prohibit young children from booking a cruise. In a nutshell: Children under the age of 9 are not allowed on a luxury cruise.
READ MORE: Top 5 luxury cruise lines for an unparalleled dining experience
It’s rare to see groups of tourists taking selfies on a luxury cruise ship (photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean).
Middle-aged children, i.e. tricky kids ages 9 to 12, are the next group we assess to determine if they can participate in a luxury cruise. Children of this age may enjoy the kids club programs on the bigwigs, but they are just as likely to be wandering around the ships in small groups, talking, looking for fun, and often looking for trouble.
Much of what we wrote above for young children applies here: There are no kids’ clubs, bunk beds, kid’s buffets or kid-friendly excursions ashore, and older passengers on a luxury cruise will be no happier with a 12-year-old making noise in the dining room than with a 6-year-old.
The main difference for this age group is that, depending on the maturity of the child and the convenience of the parents, children can be left to their own devices for a limited time. Suddenly it’s possible to dance in the living room late at night, or enjoy a string trio while the toddler(s) go to bed early, or parents can enjoy a quiet moment by the pool while the little ones swim without having to watch every moment.
However, keep in mind that there is very little outside to entertain the children. It is up to the parents to know their children and how they will behave in such a situation before taking them on a luxury cruise.
Teenage Club in Norwegian Break attracts young people. Such places are not found on luxury cruise ships.
Teenagers or children aged 13-17 are the last age group we consider for a luxury cruise. Although there are teen clubs on most major cruise lines, many kids this age enjoy the confidence and freedom to have fun on a cruise.
Teens are probably the safest option for a luxury cruise, but as with teens, parents should think carefully about their children’s personalities and interests before booking.
Older teens interested in culture and history can enjoy a luxury cruise. These small ship cruises often take you to unique ports that larger ships can’t reach, giving you the chance to discover new places and get a unique view of history that isn’t always possible on a large ship.
Well-behaved teenagers are generally allowed on luxury cruises and, although there are no activities organized especially for them, they may be more inclined to take advantage of the lectures in port and other entertainment and activities not suitable for younger children.
READ MORE: River cruises for families : Which river cruise lines are most suitable for children?
Luxury cruise alternative for families
Dockyard running on the Norwegian island of Bliss
If you’re in the mood for a luxury cruise, but think kids won’t feel comfortable on a luxury ship, consider the ship-to-ship concepts offered by Norwegian Cruise Line and MSC Cruises’ main lines.
These limited enclaves, known as The Haven on Norwegian and The Yacht Club on MSC, provide a private and exclusive area of the ship with all suites, usually with their own pool, restaurant, lounge, concierge service and other amenities. Port and Yacht Club passengers have full access to the entire ship (often with preferred seating for shows, table reservations, etc.), access to children’s programs, and entertainment and activity options that far exceed the choices on a luxury ship.
Children are the rule rather than the exception in these places, and unless your little one is behaving exceptionally badly, he or she is much less likely to get dirty looks or ridicule from other passengers.
A ship within a ship is the best option for parents with young children, and also a viable choice for families with teenagers and teens.
While some teens or young adults may be able to afford a luxury cruise, it is not the best option for most families. Parents with children under the age of 9 should certainly explore other options, but for those with older, mature, well-behaved children, luxury sailing is a possible, if expensive, option.
For most families with children, the classic ship in the ship complexes will be the best option.
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frequently asked questions
Which cruise line is most suitable for children?
Which Celebrity cruise ship is best for families?
The best ships sailing to the Caribbean are the famous Solstice, Silhouette, Equinox, Eclipse and Millennium. The Alaska Inside Passage, also a family favorite, is best visited by cruise ship. The Prince William Sound sailboat offers breathtaking views of the glaciers.
What is the best age to take a child on a cruise?
While the general rule for most cruise lines is that children must be six months old to board, and 12 months old for a transatlantic/long-haul cruise, we’ve listed below the specific age requirements for each major cruise line, as well as the kid-friendly amenities you’ll find on board, to help you choose the right cruise….
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