9 Amazing Things Cruise Lines Do For Families

by Fran Golden

9 Amazing Things Cruise Lines Do For Families

by Fran Golden

A cruise can be a perfect vacation for those traveling with children — you'll find amazing kids clubs, family friendly cabins, activities such as ping-pong and miniature golf, and kids’ menus. But some lines go an extra mile, providing everything from toys and strollers to freshly puréed baby food. Here are nine amazing things that cruise lines do to help families.

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Family cabin on Europa 2 / Hapag Lloyd Cruises
Stateroom bathroom on Europa 2
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1. Provide Special Equipment

You can arrange for cribs on most cruise lines in advance, while Disney and Cunard have strollers available and Carnival has them for rent. At its Bahamas island, Castaway Cay, Disney also has sand strollers, wagons, and joggers. Lines including P&O Cruises, Costa Cruises, Hapag-Lloyd, and Cunard have baby bathtubs that you can borrow that can be used in larger tubs to keep your little one safe. They also come in handy if your stateroom does not have a tub (no trying to shower with a wiggly infant).

You can arrange for cribs on most cruise lines in advance, while Disney and Cunard have strollers available and Carnival has them for rent. At its Bahamas island, Castaway Cay, Disney also has sand strollers, wagons, and joggers. Lines including P&O Cruises, Costa Cruises, Hapag-Lloyd, and Cunard have baby bathtubs that you can borrow that can be used in larger tubs to keep your little one safe. They also come in handy if your stateroom does not have a tub (no trying to shower with a wiggly infant).

Puréed baby food
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2. Purée Fresh Baby Food 

Feeding a baby who has just started eating solids can be an issue on ships (who wants to pack a suitcase full of baby food jars?). Both Disney and Cunard will, on request, purée or mash adult food from the main dining room for no extra charge. Cunard also has complimentary jars of Hipp & Hipp Organic baby food, while Disney stocks baby food in its onboard shops.

Feeding a baby who has just started eating solids can be an issue on ships (who wants to pack a suitcase full of baby food jars?). Both Disney and Cunard will, on request, purée or mash adult food from the main dining room for no extra charge. Cunard also has complimentary jars of Hipp & Hipp Organic baby food, while Disney stocks baby food in its onboard shops.

Pizza party
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3. Take Your Kids to Dinner

Princess Cruises gives parents a night off with its Kids-Only Dinners, offered on select evenings. While you savor your soup-to-nuts meal, the kids dine with youth staff and then enjoy fun and games. There's also a teens-only table in the dining room during one formal night, giving parents a break from the scowls and sighs.

Princess Cruises gives parents a night off with its Kids-Only Dinners, offered on select evenings. While you savor your soup-to-nuts meal, the kids dine with youth staff and then enjoy fun and games. There's also a teens-only table in the dining room during one formal night, giving parents a break from the scowls and sighs.

Imagination Studio on Oasis of the Seas
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4. Whisk Your Kids Away

Kids done with their dinner, but you want to linger over dessert? Both Disney Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean have programs where children are picked up by youth staff from your table in the dining room and brought to the appropriate playroom. It’s the best of both worlds for parents: You can monitor what your kids have for dinner while also enjoying a course or two in peace.

Kids done with their dinner, but you want to linger over dessert? Both Disney Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean have programs where children are picked up by youth staff from your table in the dining room and brought to the appropriate playroom. It’s the best of both worlds for parents: You can monitor what your kids have for dinner while also enjoying a course or two in peace.

Fisher Price toys on Navigator of the Seas
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5. Lend Toys

Kids at that age when every toy seems to be the same size that they are? Don't worry about lugging bulky plastic toys along with you. Royal Caribbean provides a collection of developmental toys from Fisher Price that passengers can borrow each day. The line also has an Autism Friendly Toy Lending program on all its ships.

Kids at that age when every toy seems to be the same size that they are? Don't worry about lugging bulky plastic toys along with you. Royal Caribbean provides a collection of developmental toys from Fisher Price that passengers can borrow each day. The line also has an Autism Friendly Toy Lending program on all its ships.

On Hapag-Lloyd's Europa
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6. Arrange for Yummy Treats

Adults get to start their cruise on a Hapag-Lloyd ship with Champagne on ice — not exactly kid-friendly. For the under-21s, the German line has a kiddie version that includes little bottles of apple cider paired with gummy bears.

Adults get to start their cruise on a Hapag-Lloyd ship with Champagne on ice — not exactly kid-friendly. For the under-21s, the German line has a kiddie version that includes little bottles of apple cider paired with gummy bears.

Family Junior Suite on Grandeur of the Seas
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7. Offer In-Cabin Babysitting

You’d think this would be available on all ships. It’s not. Many lines just offer the option of group babysitting in the youth center at night, for a fee. But on Royal Caribbean and luxury lines such as Crystal Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises you can hire a private sitter that will put your kids to bed in your cabin while you enjoy some of the ship's nightlife.

You’d think this would be available on all ships. It’s not. Many lines just offer the option of group babysitting in the youth center at night, for a fee. But on Royal Caribbean and luxury lines such as Crystal Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises you can hire a private sitter that will put your kids to bed in your cabin while you enjoy some of the ship's nightlife.

Carnival Freedom's Dr. Seuss Bookville
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8. Stock Classic Books

Shipboard libraries might have a shelf or two of kiddie books, but Carnival Cruise Line goes the extra mile to encourage reading. Carnival Freedom and Carnival Vista each have a Dr. Seuss Bookville, where kids and their parents can pull up a colorful beanbag chair and dive into such classics as “Green Eggs and Ham” and “The Cat in the Hat.” There are also organized story times.

Shipboard libraries might have a shelf or two of kiddie books, but Carnival Cruise Line goes the extra mile to encourage reading. Carnival Freedom and Carnival Vista each have a Dr. Seuss Bookville, where kids and their parents can pull up a colorful beanbag chair and dive into such classics as “Green Eggs and Ham” and “The Cat in the Hat.” There are also organized story times.

Royal Court Royal Tea on Disney Fantasy
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9. Have a Children’s Tea

British lines like Cunard and P&O host children’s tea in the late afternoon, which in Brit-speak is more early supper than a classic afternoon high tea. Kids get their own buffet of picky eater favorites like chicken fingers, pasta, and pizza (plus some fruits and vegetables). If you are looking for that classic high tea experience, Disney Fantasy has a Royal Court Royal Tea Party that includes treats and herbal teas, plus princess appearances. The $210 fee per child also includes a goodie bag with a tiara, jewelry box, and doll for girls and stuffed bear and sword and shield for boys.

British lines like Cunard and P&O host children’s tea in the late afternoon, which in Brit-speak is more early supper than a classic afternoon high tea. Kids get their own buffet of picky eater favorites like chicken fingers, pasta, and pizza (plus some fruits and vegetables). If you are looking for that classic high tea experience, Disney Fantasy has a Royal Court Royal Tea Party that includes treats and herbal teas, plus princess appearances. The $210 fee per child also includes a goodie bag with a tiara, jewelry box, and doll for girls and stuffed bear and sword and shield for boys.

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