Cruise Basics - Cruising with Kids - Children's Activities Onboard a Cruise Ship
Cruising with kids has become more popular than ever. Many cruise lines offer supervised activities for children of all age groups. Traditionally, kids are grouped by age: 3-6 years old, 7-12 and 13 to 17 (although it can vary by cruise line). For the younger ones, there are games, coloring, story time, face painting and more. For the 7-12 years olds, there are pizza parties, sports battles, games and movies. The 13-17 years olds, can enjoy social events including scavenger hunts, sporting games and dances. These are just some of the many activities available. For a more comprehensive list, please check he individual cruise line's website.
Below are some tips for cruising with kids.
Although most cruise lines have kid's programs, Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) lead the pack with the most activities and usually attract a large amount of children.
Most of the upscale cruise lines do not offer a children's program and if they do it is usually only on select voyages.
Most cruise lines children's program will only accept children 3 years of age or older and the child must be potty trained. There is one exception - NCL - which will accept the children 2+ years - if the child is not potty trained, NCL will provide you with a pager so you can come back and change your child.
On the days at sea, there is usually activities for the children in the morning, afternoon and evening. The evening session ends at 10:00 PM but additional activities are available after hours for an additional charge (usually $5.00 per hour, per child).
While in port, normally, the children's program activities do not occur until the ships are at sea again.
Although my kids love the kids program, I have spoken to numerous parents who stated their kids either did not like the activities or did not want to leave their parents. I recommend bringing additional activities and small games to keep the kids occupied. There is usually a game room onboard the ship, where you can borrow board games to fill the down time. The pool, hot tubs and ping-pong tables also serve as a great distraction.
Food and drink cannot be taken off ship. At breakfast, take an extra bagel or a box of your child's favorite cereal to the cabin for a snack before or after returning from shore.
Most cruise lines have a children's menu at dinner - but do not offer them to you unless you ask. The kid's menu do not change and offers the standards - macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, french fries and pasta for example.
The sun can be very strong. Be sure to bring ample sun screen and the correct SPF rating for you child. Apply the sun screen frequently to prevent sun burn and skin damage.
Remember 3rd and 4th passengers, sharing a cabin with two full paying adults, .travel at a reduced rate.
The items above provide tips on having a successful vacation when traveling with children. The items mentioned above are generalities. We strongly recommend checking the cruise line's websites to confirm the information above and learn more about each specific cruise line's policy and kid's program offerings. The link below takes you to our Cruise Index Page where you can find links to individual cruise line websites.