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9 Best cruises with childcare that are free or affordable

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Cruise lines with free or affordable childcare

There are many cruise lines that offer childcare that have exceptional programs that you can trust. I have planned family cruise trips and one of the first things I check is what kids programs and childcare do they have for kids.

Yes, I want to spend time with my family but it’s also nice to have the option of childcare. What if your babysitter cancels at the last minute, or you’re planning your first family cruise and want to explore the cruise with your spouse without kids. 

Now you may be curious as to what cruise lines offer childcare and how much does it cost. Here we list some of our favorite cruises with childcare, babysitting and kids activity programs. 

Carnival Cruise- Camp ocean 

cruises with childcare 
camp ocean 
carnival cruise 
fun frugal adventures

Photo credit: carnival cruise

Carnival cruise was founded in 1972 and now have 26 ships and cruising to over 13 different destinations. One thing that I love about carnival cruise is that they are very family friendly and offer many activities for kids. From Suess at sea ( a fun Dr. Seuss themed story-time and activities) to Video game arcades to fun activities to keep your moody teenagers busy with Club 02 and circle k( fun hang out spots for teenagers).

Did you know that they even offer child care program on board called Camp Ocean?

Visually Camp Ocean looks amazing, your little ones will be mesmerized by the ocean colors. Carnival provides a variety of fun activities for children that parents will love.


  • Children must be registered by parent or guardian before participating in programs 
  • parent/guardian must present sail and sign card during pick up and drop off 
  • If you want someone else to pick up the child, the parent MUST authorize that person during registration online and that person needs to be age 18 and up
  • If a child is not potty trained: Parents must provide diapers and toiletries for children, not potty training
  • Any medications must be administered by the parent/guardian

How much does it cost for childcare on Carnival cruise?

  • Ages 2 and up can participate in camp ocean activities for Free
  • Ages under 2 years $6.75 per hour plus 18% gratuity per child.
  • A parent may stay and use the facility for free 

Times: Day programs: Times vary based on itinerary 

 Night Owls: 10:00P.M.-1:00 A.M.

Age Requirements

  • Camp Ocean infants: Under 2 years 
  • Camp Ocean day activities: 2 years -11 years 
  • Camp Ocean Night Owls:  6 months – 11 years

 Items Provided:

  • Children are provided wristbands that are worn during the entire time in case of emergencies 
  • Cell phones are provided to parents for communication with staff on duty 
  • Pack n plays are available to use for infants 

*Carnival Cruise Line does not provide any in-stateroom child care 

*No water sports for children for little ones in diapers or swim diapers, must be potty trained. 

Disney cruise Childcare: It’s a small world nursery 

Next on the list Disney Cruise, Disney is truly magical in many things that they do and their nursery program is no exception. They have a separate room for naps, an acclimation zone for your little one to adjust to their new environment. Your little one can participate in a variety of activities like watching Disney movies, crafts, playing games, and more. 

Available on Cruises

Disney magic

Disney wonder 

Disney dream 

Disney fantasy 


Do you need a reservation?

Yes, advanced reservations are required online and are first come first serve basis. You can make reservations during your cruise before dropping your child off, However space is limited.

How much does it cost for childcare on Disney cruises and what are the age requirements?

Minimum age to sail is 6 months and for transatlantic and Panama canal cruises 1 year. Up to 3 years old 

Price: $4.50 per hour and $4 per hour for additional children or siblings. 

The minimum time for reservation is an hour.

Items Provided: 

  • Can purchase baby supplies(diapers, formula, etc.) if needed
  • Phones for communication between parents and staff 

*No in-stateroom babysitting services 

Norwegian cruise line: Guppies Nursery 

Norwegian cruise line has been around for over 57 years with more than 450 destinations.

This cruise line is a great choice for families due to the variety of kid friendly entertainment options. From youth program for kids starting at ages 6 months to 17 years of age. There are also family friendly games, water parks, pools, slides, and so much more.


However they do still have kids program (splash academy, entourage for teens, and late night fun zone ) that may require parents to be present available.

What are the requirements from the program?

  • Registration is required 
  • Parent must provide diapers and toiletries for children not potty trained 

How much does it cost for childcare on the Norwegian Cruise?

  • $20 per time block 
  • $16 each additional child 
  • Time blocks are (2hrs) 1 hr and 50 minutes with 10 minutes for pick up time
  • Late-night (11pm – 1:20 am )  $24 each child and $20 siblings 
  • $1 per minute if late 

Age requirements:

6 months to 3 years 

Items provided:

phone to communicate with staff 

Royal Caribbean: Babies and tots  

Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean has cruised since 1969 and is still a very popular choice for families. They have over 270 different destinations for you to choose from.

If you are looking for a cruise line that will help you bond with your family, but also have a little alone time, this is the cruise for you.

What ships are the Babies and tots program Available on?

  • The allure of the Seas
  • Anthem of the Seas
  • Brilliance of the Seas
  • Enchantment of the Seas
  • Freedom of the Seas

How much does it costs for childcare on the Royal Caribbean cruise?

  • $6 an hour per child 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • $8 an hour per child 6 p.m. -midnight
  • Ages 3-11years from 10 p.m.- 2 a.m. $7 an hour per child 

What are the age requirements for the program ?

  • 6 months – 36 months for day 
  • 3 years -11 years for night 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.

*Can preorder baby items including nappies(diapers), wipes, creams

  • The Jewel, Adventure, and explorer do not offer this program at this time.

More information

Princess cruises Childcare

Princess cruises offer a wide variety of youth programs that include activities, crafts, games, and more. 

Cruising to over 330 destinations around the world and a wide variety of itineraries will on board, you kiddos will always be entertained. If your looking for childcare for a few hours, Princess cruises have you covered. Check out details below.

What is the price of childcare on Princess cruises?

  • complimentary while the ship is in port 
  • $5 an hour per child during Nighttime in youth center from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.(children ages 3 -12)

Camp Discovery kid’s program times:

  • 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM
  • 1:00 PM to 10:00 PM
  • 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM

* Recommended that you bring baby supplies: diapers wipes creams, etc. due to items not always available on cruises.

Celebrity cruises: Camp at Sea 

Celebrity cruises has a cool programs for kids called Camp at Sea for different ages ranging from 3- 17 depending on the program. For the little ones ages 3-5 there is a fun program where your kiddos can pretend they are camping.

Celebrity cruises offers over 500 different activities on their ships, so you will have plenty of options.

How much is childcare at Celebrity cruises Camp at sea?

The program is free from 9:00 am-noon, 2:00 -5:00 pm, and 7:00 – 10:00 pm. Other times the fee is $6 per hour per child.

  • In-suite babysitting for $30 and hour for guest on the retreat 
  • For children, 12months or older 1 parent/guardian needs to be on board while under in programs

More info about Celebrity Cruises

Cunard Cruises  

Cunard is one of the longest sailing cruise line with 200 years of sailing and are still keeping up with the times and launching new ships like the Queen Ann ship that they launched this year.

This cruise line offers childcare for your kiddos and it is complementary to its cruisers.

What is the price of childcare on Cunard cruises?

Cunard cruises offer childcare for free and are on a first come first serve basis.

Age requirements:

Ages 6-23months 

Hours: Open from 6:00 pm to 11:00 pm 

More information about Cunard nursery services  

What other program does Cunard Cruises offer for kids?

Cunard cruises offers programs for kids ages 2-7 at the play zone, ages 8-12 at the kid zone and 13-17 at the teen zone. To participate in these activities you can book your child’s sessions through My Voyage.

Holland American Cruise line 

Holland America offers programs through Club Hal for your little one ages 3-6 which include different activities like sing-alongs, paintings, and theme parties. 

Looking a little mom and dad time to explore the cruise , Holland America has the program for you.

What is the price of childcare on Holland American cruises?

  • $10 an hour per child
  •  $7 an hour for additional child 

What are the age requirements?

  • Ages 5 and under 

*space is often limited 

*Not offered while the ship is in port but there are activities for ages 3-12

*Parent/guardian must be on ship during time child is in program

*in-cabin babysitting service is not available  

MSC Cruise: Baby care

Looking for a little alone time on your cruise?

MSC has baby care service that will allow you to drop your kiddos of for a few hours. They even have a baby laundry service, where someone will come pick up clothes from your cabin and wash them for you.

Along with these services there are also many other activities for you family to choose from water activities to kids club activities with fun games and entertainment.

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Cruises with daycare

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