Starting a family is a precious time, a time where every moment is special and brand new. Family holidays are no exception – just because you’ve had a baby doesn’t mean you aren’t able to travel or enjoy a much needed getaway with the family. In fact, a cruise can be great for a family holiday with your new addition, as many ships come with qualified staff, fully-equipped nurseries and even onboard nappy supplies.
Many cruise lines are also more than helpful if you’re planning to take your baby to see the sea for the first time. To help you prepare we’ve created a brief guide that highlights the top cruises for newborns, so you can know all the facts before bringing your brand new bundle of joy onboard.
Marella Cruises prides itself in being a family-friendly cruise line and provides several facilities to support and supervise babies throughout their ships. The minimum age to travel on Marella is six months for most itineraries, and 12 months for all transatlantic, transpacific, Hawaiian and South American cruises. If you need a little ‘me time’ Marella ships offer a fully-staffed Kids’ Club, complete with age-appropriate toys, books, music and even cots for napping.
During days at sea there are plenty of family fun activities you can all join in with, including the under 3’s new Babytainment classes. Here you can meet other parents and your baby can enjoy learning about shapes and colours, or play with musical instruments. They can even follow in the footsteps of Mr Tumble on CBeebies by learning Makaton sign language.
One thing to note is that Marella Cruises doesn’t allow children in their pools who are still wearing nappies. For older kids, Marella has their own children’s splash area that’s only five-and-a-half feet deep and reserved for families.
P&O Cruises also has a minimum age of six months on most of their ship itineraries, apart from transatlantic voyages and exotic fly-cruises which are 12 months. Before you book make sure it’s a family friendly ship as P&O does have some ships that are fall into the Adult Only category, including Arcadia, Adonia and Oriana.
If you’d like an evening away from the kids, P&O Cruises have their own night nurseries where children over the age of six months will be cared for between the hours of 6pm and 2pm, giving you time to have a romantic meal for two or take an evening dip in one of the hot tubs. You’ll also be given a pager in case you need to be contacted for any reason.
P&O’s large, family-friendly ship Ventura has a play area exclusively for children under two years old, and the regular Reef kid’s club involves things like painting and singing, as well as treasure hunts for older brothers or sisters.
P&O likes to make cruising as easy as possible for families, and that’s why their baby friendly ships provide all the newborn necessities including bottle warmers, sterilisers, baby bathtubs and shops that sell nappies, wipes and baby lotion.
Like most cruise lines Cunard has a minimum age of six months, apart from transatlantic, transpacific and Hawaiian and South American cruises where the minimum age is 12 months.
Cunard offers activities for toddlers up to teenagers, but for their toddler guests the events programme is more about arts and crafts, outdoor play, and sing-alongs, with a few themed days thrown in. The nursery takes kids as young as two, and they don’t even need to be potty trained, as staff will change them as needed.
Again, if you and your partner need a little alone time, children six months and over can be watched at the children’s nursery – open from 6pm to 11pm. Travel cots are available for sleeping babies and parents must bring kids who are already asleep or are ready to go to sleep on arrival.
Cunard also does not allow children who aren’t toilet-trained in their pools. But there will still be plenty of activities they can enjoy, and meal options like the Children’s Tea serving favourites like baked beans, vegetables, salad, pizza and baby food on request.
Newborn cruising tips
- Check beforehand if travel cots are provided, as most liners do offer them but you’ll need to book one ahead of time.
- Strollers are not provided on most ships, so make sure to bring your own as you’ll need it for any on shore excursions. It will also be handy during nap time.
- Bring lots of supplies. There’s no such thing as too many nappies or enough formula and buying these items onboard is limited. You may also have difficulty finding the brands you prefer wherever you port.
- Bring backup. A partner, grandparents, friends, anyone that can help you now and then and give you a welcomed break from watching the baby.
- All cruise ships have a minimum sailing age starting at six months old, so you won’t be able to bring very little newborns onboard. But with the sleepless nights and endless middle-of-the-night feeds, you might be happier to be in your own home until your little one hits the six month mark.
Today’s cruise companies do all they can to ensure your first family holiday is as stress-free and enjoyable as possible. There are several other cruise lines for babies and family-oriented cruises to choose from, so have a look through our family guide and see if there’s an option that best suits you.
Do you have any experience taking a newborn on a cruise? Feel free to share the joys and the challenges with us below!
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