If you are planning on going on a cruise with a toddler or infant, you might think they will be able to cruise for free, but you would be wrong.
Most cruise lines charge you full price for ANY extra person on board the ship. The reason these cruise lines often charge for young children is that a ship is licensed to carry a specific number of people, and any infant counts as a person. But the infant is not going to be buying drinks, buying souvenirs on the ship, paying for excursions and everything else.
However, there are some cruise lines that do allow infants to cruise for free, as well as some cruise lines that offer special discounts for the little ones during certain times of the year.
And don’t forget to read our article on tips on cruising with a baby.
Norwegian Cruise Lines
Norwegian Cruise Lines is known for being one of the best cruise lines for catering to the littler ones among us. However, infants under 6 months are not eligible to sail on any NCL ships at this time. Children under 2 years old sail for free but you still have to pay any government taxes and port fees. The cruise line often runs promotions for children as well so keep an eye on NCL if you plan on sailing with your children.
Disney Cruise Line
Disney allows for much younger passengers than any other cruise line. As long as your child is older than 12 weeks you can cruise on a Disney ship. Any younger than that would be a little absurd anyway. Disney also offers group babysitting for your children between the ages of 12 weeks and 3 years old. Infants do not sail for free, although there is usually a decent discount when sailing with infants and small children. I have heard of people still having to pay an extra $600 to bring their infant with them.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines
Royal Caribbean admits to not having any kind of discount for children or infants, but if you book a stateroom with 2 paying adults, a third person can occupy the room as well for a discounted rate. Infants must be at least 6 months old to sail with RCCL, but for any transatlantic cruises or cruises that require more than 3 days at sea, children must be 12 months old on the date of departure.
Carnival requires for children to be at least 6 months old to sail with them as well, and 12 months old for transatlantic cruises (same as Royal Caribbean). Carnival charges full price for infants and children, but you do not have to pay for any gratuities for the child. This is actually very nice of them since the staff will have to do more to take care of your baby and not receive any extra tips, unless you choose to chip in.
As for the other cruise lines you will have to check them out for yourself. Like I said, there are always special promotions and deals going on that allow for kids to sail for free, but NCL seems like the best choice if you are really bent on bringing an infant with you and you want to save some money.
You can find some tips on dressing your baby for a cruise here.