Cruise Ship Kid Programs

Cruise Ship Kids’ Programs

The details about youth programs on cruises

Cruise lines offer supervised youth programs like Club HAL on Holland America Line.

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Overview

Families love to cruise, and it’s easy to understand why. The almost all-inclusive nature means great value, and there’s always something fun to do for all members of the family.

Children as well as parents have plenty of activities to keep them busy. Kids can choose to hang with parents or enjoy some time in the supervised youth programs offered by the major cruise lines.

But before you sail with your family into the sunset, make sure that you understand what each of the cruise lines kids programs offer. And if you’re traveling with infants or toddlers, be aware that there may be limited services available for these younger cruisers.

The Basics

In general, kids programs are complimentary during scheduled hours. Most programming is during sea days with late night group babysitting available on some ships for a fee. Programming is limited on some lines when the ship is in port, and there is usually a break mid-day during lunch hours.

Registration is normally not required prior to your cruise; however, some lines, like Carnival, offer the ability for parents to preregister children over 2 years old.

Most cruise lines will conduct an orientation meeting on the first night of the voyage to go over rules, procedures, and to answer any questions parents may have. This is also a good time for the children to check out the facilities with their families.

There are only a handful of cruise lines that will allow young cruisers in diapers to participate in supervised youth programs: Carnival, Cunard Line, and Disney Cruise Line offer supervised youth programs for children in diapers and will even change the diapers for parents.

NCL has supervised youth programs starting at 2 years of age, but will page parents to change diapers.  Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class ships have programs for children aged 6-36 months for a fee of $8 per hour.

The Programs

Cruise lines that offer youth programs generally accept all children who are potty-trained and meet the minimum age requirements.

Camp Carnival play area features more than 19,000 square feet of space dedicated to children and families aboard Carnival Dream. Photo by Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Lines.

Carnival Cruise Lines

  • Minimum age to sail: 6 months on most cruises (12 months on select longer itineraries, such as transatlantic, Hawaii and South America)
  • Minimum age to join drop-off kids programming: 2 years old. Carnival is one of the few cruise lines on which counselors will change diapers
  • Minimum age for drop-off group babysitting after hours: 6 or 12 months to 8 years old
  • Camp Carnival is a year-round, fleet-wide program for children between the ages of 2 and 11 years old
  • Circle “C” is for those cruisers between the ages of 12-14
  • Older teens between the ages of 15-17 may participate in Club O2

Celebrity Cruises

  • Minimum age to sail: 6 months on most cruises (12 months on select longer itineraries, such as transatlantic, transpacific and South America)
  • Minimum age to join drop-off kids programming and/or after-hours group babysitting: 3 years old (children must be toilet-trained)
  • Minimum age for private in-cabin babysitting: 12 months old
  • The Celebrity X-Club Youth Program provides activities for children and teens 3 to 17. Programs are: Ship Mates (ages 3-5), Celebrity Cadets (ages 6-8), Ensigns (ages 9-11), and  Admiral T’s (ages 12-17 during regular season / with two groups, 12-14 & 15-17 during peak season)

Costa Cruises

  • Minimum age to sail: 6 months on most cruises (12 months on select longer itineraries, such as transatlantic, transpacific and world cruises)
  • Minimum age to join drop-off kids programming and/or after-hours group babysitting: 3 years old (children must be toilet-trained)
  • Youth programs names: Mini from 3 to 6 years, Maxi from 7 to 11, Teen Junior from 12 to 14, Teen from 15 to 17

Crystal Cruises

  • Minimum age to sail: 6 months
  • Minimum age to join drop-off kids programming: 3 years old (children must be toilet-trained)
  • Minimum age for private in-cabin babysitting: 6 months old
  • Crystal’s Junior Activities Program has three age groups: 3-7 year olds, 8-12 year olds and 13-17 year olds

The Zone on Cunard Line's Queen Victoria.

Cunard Line

Staffed by British nannies and youth counselors, Cunard Line opens The Play Zone and The Zone on select sailings.

  • Young guests ages 1-6 years will play at The Play Zone
  • Children ages 7-12 years will enjoy The Zone
  • Teens ages 13-17 will also use The Zone during certain hours as designated

Disney Cruise Line

  • Minimum age to sail is 12 weeks
  • Minimum age to join drop-off kids programming is 12 weeks in Flounder’s Reef Nursery or in It’s A Small World Nursery (on Disney Dream).
  • Disney’s Oceaneer Club is for Ages 3-7
  • Disney’s Oceaneer Lab is geared for Ages 8-10 on Disney Magic and Ages 8-12 on Disney Wonder
  • Teen activities take place in Edge and Vibe. Two purpose-built entertainment hangouts using the latest in technology to keep this age group engaged
  • On Disney Dream there are some changes to the youth programs. Check here to read our extensive coverage

Holland America Line

  • Minimum age to sail: 6 months on most cruises (12 months on select longer itineraries)
  • Minimum age to join drop-off kids programming: 3 years old (children must be toilet-trained)
  • Club HAL is for children ages 3-7 and Club HAL Tween Edition is for ages ages 8-12
  • The Loft and The Oasis are the designated areas on some of the ships that offer youth programming for  teens ages 13-17

Oasis on Holland America Line is a teen-only hangout available on some ships.

MSC Cruises

  • Minimum age to join drop-off kids programming: 3 years old
  • Dedicated youth programs available: Mini Club – 3 to 8 year olds,
    Juniors Club – 9 to 12 year olds, and Teen Club – 13 to 17 year olds

Norwegian Cruise Line

  • Minimum age to sail: 6 months
  • Minimum age to join drop-off kids programming: 2 years old (parents will be paged to change their child’s diaper if necessary)
  • Kids Crew is divided into the following categories: Juniors (Ages 2-5), First Mates (Ages 6-9), Navigators (Ages 10-12), Teens (Age 13-17)

Princess Cruises

  • Minimum age to sail: 6 months on most cruises (12 months on select longer itineraries)
  • Minimum age to join drop-off kids programming: 3 years old (children must be toilet-trained)
  • Youth programs are : Princess Pelicans (ages 3-7), Shockwaves (ages 8-12).
  • Children 13 years old to 17  can hang out in the supervised Teen Center

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

  • Minimum age to sail: No official minimum, though for babies under 6 months, parents must sign a waiver
  • Minimum age to join drop-off kids programming: 5 years old (programming offered on select cruises only)

Royal Caribbean International

  • Minimum age to sail: 6 months on most cruises (12 months on select longer itineraries, such as transatlantic, Hawaii and South America)
  • Minimum age to join drop-off kids programming: 3 years old (on Oasis of the Seas, it’s 3 months, since that ship has a nursery)
  • Royal Babies is a program for children ages 6-18 months. During posted hours (usually very early in the morning) caregivers can bring the little one(s) by the children’s facilities to play with their parent
  • Royal Tots program for cruisers between the ages of  18-36 months are welcome to play in the center with a parent or caregiver, during posted hours
  • Adventure Ocean is the name of the youth program on Royal Caribbean: Aquanauts for ages 3-5 , Explorers ages 6-8, Voyagers ages 9-11
  • The Teen Center is designated for youth between the ages of 12 – 14 to drop by activities they are interested in
  • Older teens btween the ages of  15 – 17 can hang in The Living Room

The Yachts of Seabourn

  • Minimum age to sail: 6 months on most cruises (12 months on select longer itineraries)

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