What is it Like to Cruise with Kids?


Contemplating A Cruise With Kids? Worried You Won’t Be Able To Enjoy Your Holiday Cruising With Kids? Donna Tells Us What It’s Really Like To Cruise With Your Children.

I can still remember my first cruise with kids when they were small. We were a little dubious about cruising with kids and had been invited by friends. Obviously I had the usual worries of what is it like to cruise with kids? will we be able to do everything on board? will the children fall over board? or will we get thrown off if the children do something wrong?
Well let me tell you a cruise with children is really not as daunting as it seems and I have to say we were hooked by day one and so were the children!

First Impressions Of A Cruise With Kids!

We love so much about cruising  and the first time is always special. Just stepping on a cruise ship for the first time is an eye opener. They are like a mini floating malls full of glittering lights, people and music.

Check in was a breeze, we have never waited more than a few minutes at a check in desk. We were through security in no time which is simple with no worries about liquids. Before you know it you are on the ship! no waiting around to set sail, as soon as you are onboard your holiday starts.

Tip always pack a small bag with items such as swimming outfits for your first day onboard, you may not get your cabin until later in the day. Obviously the sheer size of the ship and the luxurious surroundings struck us first they really are magnificent.

The children’s facilities are second to none on a cruise ship and the fact that parents actually get a break still  astounds me today. On embarking the ship our jaws generally drop to the floor at the sheer beauty of the surroundings! Then it’s its off to get a daily planner. There are daily planners for the adults but also for the kids too, no one is left out.

promenade deck cruising with kids

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A typical day with kids on a cruise ship

Breakfast time

A typical cruise day for us with children would be breakfast in the buffet where the children could choose whatever they liked.

Harry had a milk intolerance when he was younger, we found it very easy to avoid milk and the staff were always helpful. On this cruise they had almond and soya milk substitutes.

The rest of the morning we spent by the pool. Generally on most ships you have a choice of pools. If your children are younger then the splash parks are a good option, if a little older the main pool or even one of the water parks now seen onboard many ships are fun too.

The children would hop back and forth grab an ice-cream or soda and enjoy the sun before it got too hot.

By the pool kids on a cruise, what is it like to cruise with kids?

Lunch time

Lunch time we would nip back up for food in either the main restaurant ( on a sea day ) or back up to the buffet.

In the afternoon the kids would be raring to go to the kids club and join in activities for a few hours. Sessions in the children’s cruise clubs tend to break for lunch and dinner but there is often the possibility of eating with the kids team.

Your children can go in for one session or all of them. Sometimes they would play in the morning and have a nap in the afternoon. Some days the boys would choose not to do the kids club during the day but they almost always wanted to go in the evening.

After we dropped the children off hubby and I would then have a cheeky glass of wine in the wine bar or a beer in the pub before sneaking off to the solarium for some relaxation. 

Children are not allowed to self sign out of the club until they are around 10 years old and only if you grant them this access. This is good if you are comfortable with your children coming back to you after they have had enough time playing.

Alternatively you can check on them whenever you want or pick them up early. The kids clubs are separated into age groups so you can be rest assured your little angels or grumpy teens will be with other likeminded children.

Evening dinner with kids on a ship

 Dinnertime was different every night. Sometimes hubby would take them to the buffet while I was getting ready and then drop them in kids Club for the evening activities.

But Generally the boys would eat with us before rushing back up to club after dessert leaving us to go and watch a show.

It is not as formal as you think and you really don’t have to worry. The restaurants on ships are huge with lots of people dining. It’s not silent and snooty and has a general bustle about it.

No one is going to look at you if your child drops a chip or cries. You really are all in the same boat! ( excuse the pun) Most cruise ships now offer ‘My time” dining making it easier to adapt to timing and choose when is best for you as family to eat.

Alternatively take the kids to the buffet for a more relaxed approach. We particularly loved formal nights when they were little and the children loved to dress up too. This of course is optional as well.

What is it like to cruise with kids? Child eating on a cruise ship

How safe is it to cruise with the children?

Will my children fall off a cruise ship? You would have to be behaving very recklessly to fall off of a cruise ship. Most of the entertainment areas and deck areas have very high barriers.

Around the pool area it is normally filled in with high glass walls and windows. Other parts of the ships have high railings and there would be no need for your child to be on those decks alone.

Most patio doors have a childproof lock they also have a hard to use lever handle and they are generally stiff to open. Balconies normally have seats outside, if you are worried about your little one climbing you can ask your cabin attendant to remove them. Alternatively you can opt for an interior cabin or an outside with a window.

What’s like to cruise with kids and do shore excursions?

Hoping out into port is always exciting and more cruise lines are offering family friendly excursions. You can choose to do your own thing off the ship or not get off at all, the choice is yours.

Some cruise lines also offer the opportunity for children to stay onboard in the children’s club while you hop off. You can pop in to port on your own for a walk around the shops should you wish to do so.

If you choose to take the children you do not have to get off all day. Some port destinations have beaches, Zoos, waterparks and amusement parks choose just one thing to do at a time.

Choosing to cruise with kids can be a very rewarding experience. You can discover parts of the world you may not necessarily visit with small children normally. Our boys have been to many countries and seen many cities which would not have been discovered on a normal beach holiday.

Children in Rome on a cruise shore excursion

Adapting routines

It is a good idea to let the children adapt slowly to the holiday. Let them have plenty of naps during the day if they are out late at night. Holidaying with children is all about new experiences so to trying to stick to rigid routines may not be fun. Some cruise lines offer a babysitting service with checked staff, if you choose to put your small children to bed. We once had a lovely lady babysit onboard Royal Caribbean who played cards with our oldest as he didn’t want to go to sleep at the same time as his little brother.
You really have to find what is comfortable for you as a family. Cruising with kids can be fun with so many exciting things to do both onboard and off the ship. Cruising can be long days, but it is your holiday and you can do whatever you choose. If laying in bed till midday and partying till midnight is your thing? do it! If you want to explore cities and then grab a bite to eat from the buffet and eat whilst watching a movie in the cabin, this is good too.

Kids club on a cruise building Lego

When cruising with kids there is a lot more choice than a regular all inclusive holiday.

You are not stuck to one destination, one evening show in one resort. Every day of your cruise with family can be different and tailor made to you.
Kids clubs can be daunting for little ones who have never been. Get the children to try one session first. Some people have the mindset that it’s a family holiday “I want my child to be with me all the time” That’s great of course, no problem you will have loads to keep you occupied, but we soon learned how much the children enjoyed their own free time cruising too. We found a happy medium which suited us as a family. Sometimes the children didn’t want to go in the kids club room and sometimes we could not get them out!

Is it really worth taking the children cruising?

Knowing what it is like to cruise with kids can only be found out if you do it! But take it from me whatever way you choose to go cruising it’s a great experience for the whole family.

It really is adaptable for all multi generational families giving lots of choice. Family friendly shows to watch together or go separate ways.

Gran and grandpa are in the theatre watching a tribute act. Kids are playing gaga ball in the kids club, dads is in the casino and mummy is shopping! Cruising with kids is really a no brainer!


D x

Pin for later

what is it like to cruise with kids? will we be able to do everything on board? will the children fall over board? or will we get thrown off if the children do something wrong?Well let me tell you a cruise with children is really not as daunting as it seems and I have to say we were hooked by day one and so were the children!
What is it like to cruise with kids? It really is adaptable for all multi generational families giving lots of choice. Family friendly shows to watch together or go separate ways.


  • Donna Vallance

    Donna loves cruising with her husband and two teenage boys. Having cruised with the children from a young age she feels it is the perfect way to experience the world safely. Her boys are social butterfly’s and love meeting other children their own age whilst onboard some of the most extraordinary floating ships. She also writes over at Like Love Do, a travel memoir of her trips, from London to far off beaches. She has an eye for the unusual and like to go off of the beaten track just to find the perfect photo. With a passion for photography and exploring cruising has become the perfect holiday choice.

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