Cruising with Kids – Tyler’s Must Know Tips


Intro to Cruising with Kids

It’s Tyler here from  Are you planning a cruise vacation with your family?  If you have toddlers, then read on for Tyler’s Must Know Tips for Cruising with Kids.

Certain cruise lines are more kid friendly than others

These generally include Carnival, Disney, Norwegian, and other mass market cruise lines.  These cruise lines will typically have day camps, child friendly menus, and other kid oriented activities that make cruising with toddlers a breeze.

Other (usually more expensive, higher end) cruise lines may not be as welcoming to toddlers.  I really like Carnival because they’re super kid friendly.

Carnival Triumph sailing out of New Orleans
Carnival Triumph sailing out of New Orleans


Other variables will also make a big difference in whether your cruise with toddlers is enjoyable or not

These include the time of year (cruises during vacation times have more kids which can be good or bad depending on your toddler),

the itinerary (cruises with many sea days like trans oceanic may not be a good choice with toddlers),

and the room selection (variables like ship motion and access to fresh air are important considerations).

The minimum age to cruise and the minimum age to use the day camp are different

The minimum ages to cruise (6-12 months) and participate in day camp (2-3 years) are very different.

Many parents have confused the two and ended up stuck with their kids 24/7 for the whole cruise.  I don’t know about you, but being stuck with my parents the whole cruise would not be very enjoyable.

Balcony room on the Carnival Triumph
Balcony room on the Carnival Triumph


All passengers on a cruise will be charged for a full price ticket, no matter the age

We’re used to lap children flying for free or children staying free in a hotel room, but on a cruise, no one sails for free.

Toddlers will probably be eligible for a discounted rate if they are the 3rd or 4th cruiser in the cabin.  In addition, cruise lines may sometimes run promotions where kids cruise for free, but they are not common.

Medical Travel Insurance is Strongly Recommended

If you go on any trip outside the United States, you should consider getting medical travel insurance.  Most domestic health insurance plans do not cover medical care outside of the United States or medical evacuation from a foreign country or cruise ship.

Given that medical emergencies in a foreign country can routinely top $100,000 medical travel insurance is a good idea.

When cruising with toddlers, you will need to bring all essentials with you

The cruise lines do not generally carry any child care items, so things like formula, diapers, breast pumps, strollers, and wipes will need to be brought with you.  Don’t count on being able to purchase them in ports, especially foreign ports.

Camp Ocean, the toddler daycamp on Carnival Cruise Lines
Camp Ocean, the toddler daycamp on Carnival Cruise Lines


Don’t plan on doing adventure excursions with your toddler

You can still do the more exotic excursions (like scuba diving, snorkling, or strenuous hikes), but just without your toddler (he/she will have to be checked into the day camp).

Those excursions often have age minimums, so if you want to do an excursion with your toddler, it will likely be along the lines of a low intensity city tour or beach day.  Honestly, I’m perfectly happy playing in the sand and water at the beach all day anyway.

Your child will need to be potty trained to swim in the cruise ship pools

Almost none of the major cruise lines allow swim diapers.  Although I’v never seen this rule enforced, it is clearly posted as such.


Well there it is.  My best tips for cruising with kids.  Hope that it helps you when planning your next cruise with toddlers.

Related Content

I also have other articles about Carnival Cruise Lines, including a review of Camp Ocean and Carnival’s Dining options.  I hope you’ll read them.  If you’re looking for even more cruise tips, click here.

Thanks for reading.

Tyler@The Traveling Toddler

Have you ever taken a cruise with toddlers?  What additional tips do you have?  Leave your comments below

13 thoughts on “Cruising with Kids – Tyler’s Must Know Tips”

  1. The Camp Ocean program with Carnival lets kids as young as 2 participate. A lot of the other cruise lines have 3 as the minimum age. Also the staff in Camp Ocean will also change dirty diapers which is a pretty unique feature.

    1. I really enjoyed Camp Ocean. Every hour is a different activity and the counselors are all really nice. And my parents appreciated getting some quiet time to themselves.

  2. Anyone have thoughts on Disney cruise lines? Wondering if the experience is worth the extra cost. I’ve heard good things but it’s almost twice as much ?

    1. Sorry we’ve only been on carnival. Other people we know rave about Disney Cruises though

        1. Unfortunately we have never sailed on Disney. Mostly a combination of cost and ports. One of my co-workers swears by disney cruises lines

  3. We’ve only gone on carnival, but I feel it’s a pretty good cruise line for kids. The staff are really patient, and we all like camp ocean. There are usually a lot of families on the cruises we’ve been on

    1. We’ve enjoyed all of our carnival cruises as well. Some things have changed for the better, some for the worse, but overall a solid budget friendly choice for families

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