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Answered: How Old Do Babies Have to Be to Cruise?

Expecting a newborn soon? Already have a little one and ready to hit the water? Not so fast. Before you cruise with your new baby, there are some rules that you need to follow to meet cruise line regulations and be ready to set sail.

First, and most importantly, all the major cruise lines — including Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Disney — require an infant to be at least six months of age at the day of sailing. If you are planning a Transocean cruise (from U.S. to Europe) or to Hawaii, then the child needs to be at least one year old.

Carnival:

For all cruises (except Transatlantic, Hawaii, TransPacific and South America cruises), Infant guests are required to be at least six (6) months of age on embarkation day to be eligible to travel.

For Transatlantic, Hawaii, Transpacific and South America cruises, Infant guests are required to be at least twelve (12) months of age on embarkation day to be eligible to travel. Transatlantic cruises are those from the United States to Europe or Europe to the United States.

Royal Caribbean:

Infants sailing on a cruise must be at least 6 months old as of the first day of the cruise and/or CruiseTour. HOWEVER: For transatlantic, transpacific, Hawaii, select South American and other selected cruises and/or CruiseTours, the infant must be at least 12 months old as of the first day of the cruise/CruiseTour. For the purposes of this policy, any cruise that has 3 or more days consecutive at sea will require infants to be 12 months old on the first day of the cruise/CruiseTour.

Disney:

Your child needs to be at least 6 months of age on the day of sailing for most itineraries. The minimum age for Transatlantic, Hawaii, and Panama Canal itineraries is 1 year of age on the day of sailing.

The cruise lines use strong language to enforce this policy. For instance, Royal Caribbean states that “guests travelling with a young infant that does not meet the infant policy will be denied boarding. No refunds or other compensation shall be due from the cruise line to anyone as a result of the denial of boarding to an underage infant or other accompanying guests.”

The reason that the cruise lines are so adamant about age restrictions are for health purposes. Newborn infants have much weaker immune systems than older children or adults. As a result, the potential for illness is much greater. Since it isn’t in the best interest of a cruise line to have sick passengers, the risk of letting newborns on board is too much.

But even after meeting the age restrictions, there are reasons that you might want to wait until your child is a little older and more independent before taking them on a cruise with you. Yes, the cruise lines can accommodate young passengers. For instance, Disney has “Pack and Play” cribs available to passengers free of charge. Cruise lines also have babysitting services available so that Mom and Dad can enjoy a night out.

Still, the younger and less independent (including potty-trained) your child is, the more special accommodations you’ll have to make to enjoy your cruise. While these aren’t impossible, they can put a damper on your fun. Instead, waiting until your child is a little older can make it much easier (and less work) for you to enjoy yourself on your trip.

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