Updated May 10, 2018
The ideal family cruise will provide opportunities for every member of the family to have fun. The kids’ club and related youth programming offered by the cruise ship can be a key part of making that happen. For one thing, those programs provide an array of activities and facilities throughout the cruise that appeal to a wide range of youngsters. And, while the kids enjoy the youth program activities, their grown ups have the chance to pursue their own agenda. Win-win. So, can you find these same types of opportunities when cruising with a baby? Yes, but it may take a little more work. (Find more tips on cruising with a baby here.)
Summary of Childcare Options
One key challenge with cruising with a baby is identifying cruise ships that have childcare and play options for babies and toddlers. While almost all major cruise lines have a kids’ club and youth programs that welcome kids that are at least 3 years old (with a few starting at age 2), options for kids under two are less common. That said, they do exist, and parents can find a variety of options with some advanced planning.
When evaluating options, you should distinguish between options that require a parent or caregiver to stay, and options that allow parents to drop off their kids. Many cruise lines will offer play facilities or play times where parents can come play with their kids along with other families. For instance, Celebrity cruises offers “Toddler Time,” which is a designated play period when parents bring kids under 3 to interact with other kids and families. Celebrity provides the play space and a variety of appropriate toys. Similarly, Norwegian Cruise Line offers a “Guppies Program” for children under 3 that requires parent participation. The Program includes both open play sessions and hosted activities. Read More …