Can Babies Even Go On Cruises? Everything You Need To Know About Age Limits, Facilities & More

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A few short decades ago, cruises were very much seen as being an adults-only holiday. But now, there are plenty of family ships offering services for younger guests too. But what about the youngest guests – can babies go on cruises, or is that still a step too far?

Taking a baby on a cruise is a great idea, as long as you do your research before you travel. To save you trawling the internet looking for answers, I’ve collated all the most important tips and information about cruising with a baby.

cruise with a baby

This article will help you to:

  • Choose the best cruise ship for your baby or toddler
  • Take your baby on a cruise for free
  • Know what baby gear to pack and what to leave at home
  • Make the most of your family cruise

You can take a baby on most cruise ships

You can take your baby on a cruise. Most family cruise ships welcome babies from six months old. The exception to this rule is MSC Cruises, which has no minimum age for babies to sail. On certain itineraries that have a lot of consecutive days at sea, babies must be at least 12 months old to cruise.

Suggested read: How Old Do You Have to Be to Go on a Cruise?

Cruise with a baby and toddler
Our cruise with a baby and a toddler

A surprising number of ships are actually baby friendly!

Every cruise ship is different and some are much more baby-friendly than others. You’ll want to look for ships with baby-friendly facilities like travel cots, high chairs and splash areas.

A cruise is often a good option for families with babies because embarkation is easy and there are no luggage limits. However, if you have to fly to the port to join your ship, this won’t apply.

I’d recommend cruising from your local port if possible. If you have to fly, take a look at these tips for flying with a baby.

The best cruises if you want to travel with a baby

The good news is that there are lots of baby-friendly cruises to choose from!

I particularly love MSC Cruises because not only do they let babies cruise for free, but they also provide baby play areas with activities, free one-hour babysitting slots for those aged 6 months and up and fantastic baby food menus.

That 6-month age limit is relatively new – it was introduced for summer 2024. Prior to that, it was for 12 months + only.

I also love P&O Cruises because they are the only cruise line to allow babies in the swimming pools and free babysitting is available from 6 pm until 2 am.

The best cruise lines for babies are:

  • MSC Cruises
  • P&O Cruises
  • Royal Caribbean
  • Disney Cruise Line
  • Princess Cruises
  • Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Carnival
  • Cunard
  • Costa Cruises
  • Celebrity Cruises

This list is in approximate order from most to least baby-friendly out of all the cruise lines that allow children to cruise.

Don’t choose these cruises with a baby!

  • Adult-only ships – Some cruise lines and ship are for adults only, so you can rule those out straight away
  • Luxury cruises – You won’t find many families on the ultra-luxury cruise ships, more retired couples who may not relish the company of a baby on-board
  • Party cruises – There are also some sailing such as ‘festivals at sea‘ and college spring break cruises in the US that wouldn’t be a great place to take a baby

How young is too young?

Most cruise lines require that babies must be at least 6 months old on the first day of the cruise. For selected itineraries that visit exotic destinations or have several consecutive days at sea, babies must be 12 months or older to sail.

MSC has no rules (sort of)

MSC Cruises has no minimum age for babies to sail and on Celestyal Cruises, the minimum age is three months. If you want to take a cruise with a baby under six months then these are the two cruise lines to consider.

Suggested read: 15 things to love about Celestyal Cruises

We cruised on MSC Preziosa when our son was six months old. We saw several babies who were much younger than him, including a teeny-tiny set of twins.

Six-month-old baby on a cruise
Our six-month-old baby on a cruise

It’s perfectly possible to cruise with a newborn baby. If you’re planning a cruise with your first baby, you may wish to wait until your baby is born before you book anything. Your baby could have health issues, or you may take a while to recover from the birth yourself, which might mean that you need to wait a little bit longer before taking your first family cruise.

Your baby still needs to empty that piggy bank

On most cruises, babies are not free but they do sometimes cruise at a reduced rate. Taking a baby on a cruise can cost anywhere between $50 and the full adult cruise fare.

How much you pay to bring your baby along can make a huge difference to the overall cost of your cruise.


Don’t miss these hot cruise offers…

Cruise lines where babies are free – MSC Cruises & Cunard

If you want your baby to cruise for free, choose a cruise with MSC Cruises or Cunard. These are the only two cruise lines that offer baby friendly cruises and never charge for children under two years of age, although on Cunard you will still have to pay the daily gratuities.

If you book a fly-cruise, you may be charged a small fee for a baby to sit on your lap on the plane, depending on the airline.

Cruise lines where babies aren’t free…

All other cruise lines charge for babies. The exact price for babies on cruises ranges from a few dollars to the full adult fare.

  • P&O Cruises, Costa Cruises and Disney Cruise Line: Charge a reduced fare for babies
  • Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line: Sometimes have ‘Kids Sail Free’ promotions, where you can bring your baby along for free. (If you book your cruise when this promotion is not on, you’ll be charged the full adult fare for your baby)
  • Carnival, Princess Cruises and Celebrity Cruises: Always charge the full adult fare for babies

Read more: Do you have to pay for babies on cruises?

Splash happy – the rules on babies and pools

Most cruise ships do not allow babies or toddlers who are not toilet trained to use the swimming pools or Jacuzzis on-board. However, P&O Cruises’ family-friendly ships do allow kids in swimming nappies to swim in designated pools. Also, some other cruise ships have splash parks where swimming nappies/diapers are permitted.

Swim diaper in cruise ship pool
Adam wore a swimming nappy in the pool on P&O Britannia

Here is a list of cruise ships that allow babies and toddlers in swimming nappies:

1. P&O Cruises

P&O Cruises allows children in swimming nappies to use the following swimming pools:

  • Azura – Children’s pools (Aft) and the Coral Pool
  • Britannia – The Reef Adventure Zone and the Lido Pool
  • Iona & Arvia – Baby pool in the Splash Zone
  • Ventura – Children’s pool (Aft) and the Beachcomber Pool
The Lido Pool on Britannia

2. Royal Caribbean:

Royal Caribbean does not allow swim diapers in any of the onboard swimming pools, whirlpools or H2O Zones. However, swim diapers and nappies are allowed in Baby Splash areas which are available on the following ships:

  • Allure of the Seas
  • Anthem of the Seas
  • Freedom of the Seas
  • Harmony of the Seas
  • Independence of the Seas
  • Liberty of the Seas
  • Oasis of the Seas
  • Symphony of the Seas
  • Wonder of the Seas
  • Icon of the Seas

3. Disney Cruise Line:

Disney Cruise Line does not allow swim diapers in any of its swimming pools or spas. However, kids in swim diapers are allowed in the water play areas on each ship:

  • Disney Dream – Nemo’s Reef
  • Disney Fantasy – Nemo’s Reef
  • Disney Magic – Nephew’s Splash Zone
  • Disney Wish – Toy Story Splash Zone
  • Disney Wonder – Dory’s Reef
Nephew's Splash Zone on the Disney Magic
Nephew’s Splash Zone on the Disney Magic

All other cruise lines including Carnival, Celebrity Cruises, Costa Cruises, Cunard, Marella and MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and Princess Cruises do not allow babies in the water with swimming nappies.

There may be water areas, such as the water play areas on-board MSC Virtuosa or Caribbean Princess, where this rule is not policed. You may see very young children playing in the water on your cruise. However, the official line is that swimming nappies are not permitted by these cruise lines.

The best type of cabin for a family

Personally, I almost always choose an inside cabin when we cruise as a family. We’ve cruised with a baby in a toddler in an inside cabin and it was just fine.

The main reason to choose an inside cabin is cost, but they also have advantages in that they are lovely and dark at night, more private and it can be safer not to have a balcony if you’re scared that your toddler might attempt to climb it.

However, there are several reasons why you might choose to upgrade to a larger cabin, a balcony stateroom or a suite when cruising with a baby…

  1. Inside space – Your baby will sleep in a travel cot in your cabin, which will take up valuable floor space and you might not be able to open drawers or the fridge
  2. Outside space – If you plan to spend time in your cabin while your baby is asleep then a balcony will be incredibly valuable
  3. A bathtub – Suites often come with bathtubs as well as a shower, which can be handy

My kids loved to sleep in pushchairs so when naptime or bedtime came around we’d do a few laps of the deck and then park the pram in a shady spot. However, I recognise that not all children are the same! Some babies will only sleep in a bed. If you can relate to this then a balcony would certainly be a great investment so that you can spend naptime sitting in the sunshine rather than whispering in the dark.

Taking a baby on a cruise in an inside cabin

Essential baby packing info

Babies come with so much stuff, don’t they? A cruise with baby luggage could easily get out of hand… Luckily, if you’re able to join your cruise ship without flying, then there’ll be no limits on how much you can bring.

However, just because you can bring all the baby equipment and paraphernalia you own, doesn’t mean that you should. Cruise ship cabins are generally on the small side. And they’ll feel even bigger if you bring too much stuff, so try to stick to the essentials.

To make it easier to know what you need to bring, what you can get on board your ship and what you can do without altogether, I’ve created a free printable baby cruise packing list.

Just enter your email and it will be sent straight to your inbox.

Other things that are good to know

Babies are treated exactly the same as adults when it comes to passport requirements. It’s recommended that everyone taking a cruise has a passport. Passports are always needed for a cruise, with the exception of US citizens when taking certain cruises that begin and end at the same US port.

Be aware that baby monitors don’t work very well on cruise ships because almost all of the walls on a ship are made of metal which stops the signal from passing through.

It’s unlikely that you’ll actually need a baby monitor on a cruise ship anyway. Chances are, you’ll all be sleeping in one cabin. If you have two cabins with an adjoining door or a mini suite, you can just leave the door open, or at least ajar, and you’ll be able to hear your baby should they wake up.

In terms of food, you are allowed to bring any pre-packaged food that you wish on to your cruise. However, fresh food like fruit, vegetables and homemade baby food may be confiscated.

Baby food is often provided on cruise ships. If you wish to also bring your own, you should stick to ready-made jars and pouches.

Suggested read: How to feed your baby on a cruise

And here’s an interesting fact – according to a medical study on motion sickness susceptibility, it is uncommon for children under two years old to suffer from seasickness.

If your child does suffer from seasickness, remedies include acupressure bands which you can get on Amazon and eating green apples. Children’s seasickness medication is usually only suitable for those ages two and over.

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Cruise Mummy

Jenni Fielding is the founder of Cruise Mummy. She has worked in the cruise industry since 2015 and has taken over 30 cruises. Now, she helps over 1 million people per month to plan their perfect cruise holidays.

Read more about me

16 thoughts on “Can Babies Even Go On Cruises? Everything You Need To Know About Age Limits, Facilities & More”

  1. Hi! Are there paid nannies? In MSC Eurobia? for 12 months baby

  2. Hi, thanks for the info! I was wondering about travelling with a baby at the countries we visit. We wouldn’t be taking a car seat on board with us, how would we manage if we need to travel from the ports abroad by cab?

    • Check the laws of the countries you visit. You may be able to hold your bany on your lap. But if a car seat is required for cabs, you’ll need to bring one. One that clips on to the top of a stroller would be best. Otherwise, take public transport instead.

  3. Hi Jenni

    Thanks so much for this info, just came across your website whilst snooping the internet about baby’s and cruises! We have just booked our first cruise for Jan 2024 on MSC Euribia, baby will be 15 months by then, very sad to hear that they’re not aloud in any of the pools! Do you know I would be aloud to take a little baby paddling pool?

    Kind regards, Jade

    • Hi Jade. I took a paddling pool on an MSC cruise and nobody said anything about it. I’m not sure if it’s allowed or not but the crew on MSC are known for not pushing the rules too hard so you’ll probably be fine! Jenni

  4. My daughter just had her first my first grandbaby 😁 we are going on cruise in August he will be 3 months by then will he be able to go with us on the Carnival horizon?

    • Hi Priscilla. Carnival requires that babies must be 6 months or older so sail, so no he can’t go on this one, sorry! Jenni

  5. Hi thanks for this information. We are due to travel in the MSc virtuosa with my toddler who is 2 years and 10 Months. I have been told that they provide a crib for children under 3. Will this be the same as a travel cot? Do you know if they provide a bed rail if my toddler didn’t settle in the travel cot? Also do they provide strollers on board or do you suggest taking your own? Thanks

    • Yes, it’s a travel cot. My two-year-old went in the top bunk on MSC Preziosa and it had a rail. They did also provide a stroller for us, not sure if they still do that, but they’re not the best so worth taking your own if you have one.Jenni

  6. Super helpful info, thank you for this. Our baby will be 4 months, so we’re planning to book with MSC cruise. Confirming MSC doesn’t allow babies in diapers in any of the pools? Also do you know if they would stow something like a car seat that we would be arriving with but don’t need during the trip

    • That’s correct, unfortunately, babies in nappies/diapers aren’t allowed in the pools. They won’t be able to store the car seat for you, you would have to store it in your room. It may fit under the bed or you may be allowed to leave it in the corridor outside your room. When I cruised with MSC we were allowed to leave the pushchair in the corridor. I hope that helps. Jenni.

  7. Thank you, we are going on a princess cruise to Scandinavia with my 3.5yr old next week. Do you have any tips for us? We are in a suite and he is completely toilet trained so should be fine for the pools! Just hoping the weather is ok

  8. This is super helpful! My husband and I are considering doing a Royal Caribbean cruise at the end of next year. We are from Australia, so at the moment cruising has not come back due to our COVID situation. We hope we will be able to go in Dec 2022!

    I am pregnant with my first at the moment. All going well we may be travelling with a 10 month old. We’re looking at either Ovation or Radiance Of The Seas as they are the ships that have cruises that come to Australia. Do you know if Ovation and Radiance have the baby splash zones where the swimming diapers are permitted?

  9. My daughter’s baby was born 2 weeks late, so that her birth date is now 10 days past the minimum 6 mos required on Royal Caribbean. This is our family of 14 annual vacation over Thanksgiving week, so if baby can’t go, hard for all. Any tips?

    • Hi Kay. Sorry to hear that. Cruise lines are very strict on these things so it’s unlikely that they will let the baby travel. I suggest looking to see if you can change your cruise to MSC Cruises as they have no minimum age requirement for babies. Jennin

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