Cruise ships have plenty to keep your little ones entertained during their time on-board. As well as kids’ clubs, which are open from as early as 8am until 11pm (times vary by cruise line), most cruise lines also offer babysitting services.

The babysitting options vary widely by cruise line, with some ships offering group babysitting after hours in the kids club, and some also offering private babysitting in your cabin. The age range of children accepted also varies by cruise line. If you’d like a little alone time in the evening during your cruise holiday, read on to find out which cruises line has the best babysitting options for your family.

Group Babysitting

The most popular type of babysitting which you’ll find on cruises is group babysitting. This usually takes place in the kids’ club and often has a slumber party type atmosphere with a movie, video games and snacks. There will usually be comfy bean bags or floor mats should children get tired. Group babysitting is usually charged by the hour, at a very reasonable rate compared to what you might pay at home.

Group babysitting is usually available on a first-come-first-served basis, with pre-booking highly recommended. When you board, the team will be able to let you know when booking opens for babysitting each evening.

Celebrity Edge Kids Club

Group babysitting for babies

Babies as young as six months old can be left in the group babysitting facility only with certain cruise lines which include Carnival Cruise Line, Cunard and P&O Cruises. It is usually expected that babies and toddlers arrive at the facility ready to sleep in one of the provided cots and you’ll be given a pager so that you can return should your baby not settle.

Group babysitting for children

For children aged three and older, the group babysitting is usually an extension of the usual kids’ club. Kids’ clubs are often open until around 10 or 11pm free of charge, but after this, there is a charge. Children of this age aren’t expected to sleep, although there will always be the option to. They’ll have a few different activities available such as games, movies and stories.

Cruise line group babysitting comparison

We’ve compared the group babysitting options for each cruise line, including the age of children permitted, as well as the time that the facility is available and the cost.

Cruise Line Age Time Cost
Carnival Cruise Line 6 months to 11 years 10pm – 1am $6.75 per hour
Celebrity Cruises 3 to 11 years 10pm – 1am $6.00 per hour
Cunard 6 months to 23 months 6pm – 11pm Free
Holland America Line 3 to 12 years 10pm – 12pm $5.00 per hour
MSC Cruises 3 years + 11pm – 2am $6.00 for one hour or $10 all night
Norwegian Cruise Line 3 to 12 years 10.30pm – 1.30am $6.00 per hour for first child, $4.00 per hour for siblings
Princess Cruises 3 to 12 years 10pm – 1am $5.00 per hour
P&O Cruises 6 months to 4 years 6pm – 2am Free
Royal Caribbean 3 to 11 years 10.15pm – 2am $7.00 per hour

It’s important to note that babysitting may not be available on every ship or every sailing for each cruise line. Some ships may only offer it in the school holiday periods when there are more children on-board, so if this is important to you, always check before you book.

Late night kids’ parties

In addition to the standard group babysitting, some cruises also offer special late-night events for children. These may include discos with ballons or glowsticks, video game challenge nights or special activities such as mask making and parades.

Babysitting in your stateroom

Babysitting in your stateroom is only currently available with Celebrity Cruises and Holland America Line. Royal Caribbean used to offer this service, but discontinued it in 2018.

In-stateroom babysitting must usually be booked at least 24 hours in advance. It entails two babysitters who will entertain your children with books and toys, or watch over them while they sleep. Two babysitters are always provided for safety reasons. However, the babysitters may not have childcare qualifications as the youth team do, as they are often crewmembers from other areas of the ship who have volunteered to work overtime.

Celebrity Cruises charge $19 per hour for up to two children from the same family. The minimum age is 12 months.

Meanwhile, Holland America Line only offers in-room babysitting for children under three years old at a cost of $10 per hour for the first child and $7 per hour for each additional child.

Frequently asked questions

Family on the Boardwalk - Royal Caribbean

Will I be alerted if my child needs me?

Usually, pagers are handed out to parents. They buzz the pager if the child becomes upset, ill or has an accident. You must then return to collect your child.

Can I get off the ship?

In the evening, when babysitting is available, your ship will usually be at sea. However, some ships do stay in port overnight in ports such as Amsterdam. People also ask about leaving their children in the kids’ club in the daytime whilst they go off on excursions. It is sometimes possible to arrange to leave your children in the kids’ club while you get off the ship, although policies vary by cruise line.  There may be certain requirements such as the age of the children and that you have a mobile phone with you. You should also think carefully about how you would get back to the ship if you were mid-way through an excursion, or in the event that your excursion was late back to the ship.

Are babysitters qualified?

Any staff working in the kids’ clubs are highly-qualified in childcare, often to degree level. However, there is no guarantee that in-stateroom babysitters have the same qualifications, although they will all have undergone strict background checks.

Cruise ship babysitting

Do you have any other questions about cruise ship babysitting? Let us know in the comments below. Of if you’d like any more information about any aspect of family cruising, our Cruise Concierge team will be happy to help. Just give us a call on 0808 1234 118 and one of our dedicated team can help to find the best cruise for your family.

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Emma Smith
Emma has more than seven years' experience as a writer and has been in the travel industry for nearly five years. She loves learning about new places and cruise ships coming to market, as well as discovering fun and exciting activities to do while you sail. She has cruised with Princess Cruises, Cunard, Celebrity Cruises, Virgin Voyages, Avalon Waterways and Royal Caribbean and is looking to get something in her diary for 2024! Her favourite things to see on a ship include excellent entertainment, a delicious cocktail menu and extraordinary dining venues.

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