If you’re angling for an affordable family cruise, you’ll be happy to know that several major cruise lines let children sail for free (either regularly or during special promotions). Read on to discover which lines cater to families with kids sail free offers.
(Courtesy of Holland America Line)
Deal: Holland America Line is offering a “Kids Cruise Free” promotion on select itineraries in 2024. The offer applies to several itineraries including Hawaii, the Caribbean and the Panama Canal; to qualify, children must be 18 or younger and cruising as third and/or fourth guests in the same cabin as adults. As with similar promotions, taxes and port fees are still required for each child’s sailing.
Family-friendly perks: Amenities onboard Holland America ships include kids clubs and youth programs, as well as shore excursions oriented to families with little ones in tow. Plenty of stateroom options can also accommodate larger bookings. The Nieuw Statendam and Koningsdam ships, in particular, feature oversized staterooms with beds for four, a large sitting area and a spacious veranda.
(Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line)
Deal: Norwegian Cruise Line lets third and fourth guests cruise free on select itineraries throughout the year. Cruises to which this promotion applies are offered all over the world, including bucket-list destinations like Alaska and the Mediterranean.
Some of the itineraries that qualify for free third and fourth guests also come with complimentary amenities like an unlimited open bar, specialty dining, shore excursions and/or complimentary Wi-Fi. Additionally, some of the itineraries include generous discounts on the total cruise cost, as well as free airfare for a second guest (when booked through the cruise line).
Family-friendly perks: With Norwegian’s all-ages kids clubs, family dining, entertainment and activities included in one bundled rate, planning a kid-approved vacation with the cruise line is a breeze. Many Norwegian ships also feature an array of family-friendly staterooms with plenty of extra space. For example, the luxurious Norwegian Prima offers a two-bedroom family villa with a large balcony in “The Haven” – its exclusive area for VIP guests.
Michel Verdure|Courtesy of Royal Caribbean International
Deal: Royal Caribbean offers a “Kids Sail Free” deal several times each year, allowing children 12 or younger to cruise free provided they are the third guests (or beyond) staying in the same cabin as at least two paying adults. The only catch is that blackout dates apply – typically during holiday and school breaks.
Family-friendly perks: There’s a reason so many families choose Royal Caribbean; kid-friendly amenities range from age-specific programming to zip lining at sea. The line’s exclusive island for cruisers, Perfect Day at CocoCay in the Bahamas, is also a big hit with young passengers thanks to its waterslides and splash areas.
(Courtesy of Costa Cruises)
Deal: Costa Cruises may not be as popular as some other cruise lines on our list, but it’s a worthwhile option for cruisers looking to sail through Europe, the Middle East or South America. The cruise line allows kids traveling as third or fourth guests to sail for free with two adults in the same cabin, and this promotion applies to passengers ages 2 to 17. This offer is valid on all sailings offered by the line, many of which feature destinations in desirable ports along the Mediterranean such as Barcelona, Marseille and Rome.
Family-friendly perks: Costa Cruises vessels offer abundant family-friendly amenities, from water parks to arcades to mini golf. Kids clubs are available for children ages 3 to 11, and they provide entertainment like arts and crafts, themed parties, and games galore. A teen zone also hosts cruisers ages 12 to 17 who want to mingle, sing karaoke and play group sports when ships aren’t in port.
(Courtesy of MSC Cruises)
Deal: MSC Cruises lets children younger than 18 cruise for free on select itineraries, depending on the ship’s capacity. (Other exclusions or eligibility requirements may apply.) Kids must be the third or fourth guests traveling in the same cabin as their parents (at least two adults) for the deal to be valid; note that any port fees and taxes still apply to children’s fares.
Family-friendly perks: MSC Cruises offers a variety of leisure activities and amenities designed specifically for kids. On board, youngsters can take advantage of perks from water parks with slides and swimming pools to Broadway-style shows and interactive dinners. The line also hosts fun family excursions and a “Lego Experience On Board” event on every cruise. In addition, there are a myriad of amenities for parents to enjoy while the youngest passengers are occupied by one of five dedicated kids clubs.
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Holly Johnson is a seasoned travel writer who has covered family travel and cruises for more than a decade. Johnson has traveled with her family to more than 50 countries, and her many trips have included cruises all over the world. Johnson lives in Indiana with her two children and her husband, Greg.