If you're planning a cruise with children under 3, it's important to plan ahead. Choosing the right cruise line for your family can make all the difference to your holiday. Will your little ones be allowed in the kids club? Can they go in the pool? And what facilities are available for babies and toddlers in the restaurants?

We've picked out the best cruise lines for families with under 3s, based on the facilities they offer...

P&O Cruises

P&O Night Nursery
Why P&O Cruises are great for little ones…

  • The kids club takes kids as young as two
  • When you leave young children in the kids club you get a pager in case you need to be contacted
  • There are soft play areas where parents can take under 2s
  • Free babysitting is available between 6pm and 2am for kids aged 6 months to 5 years
  • Restaurant staff can provide baby food and puree fruit and veg
  • Bottle warmers and baby bathtubs are provided on request

The negatives…

  • There’s no in-cabin babysitting available
  • Children who are not toilet trained and are wearing swimming nappies are not allowed in any of the pools

Cunard Line

Cunard Kids' Club

Why Cunard is great for little ones…

  • There are nurseries open from 6pm to 11pm, where children aged under 2 are looked after free of charge, with pagers available for parents
  • The kids' club takes children as young as two – for most cruise lines they have to be three and toilet trained
  • The library has some great kids’ books which you can take away to read
  • The restaurants serve baby food and will also blend food on request

Any negatives?

  • There’s no babysitting past 11pm and no in-cabin babysitting
  • The in-cabin TVs don’t have any kids’ channels
  • Children who are not toilet trained and are wearing swimming nappies are not allowed in any of the pools

Carnival Cruise Line

Camp Ocean

Why Carnival is great for little ones...

  • The kids' club takes kids as young as two
  • When you leave young children in the kids' club you get a pager in case you need to be contacted
  • Evening activities are available until 10pm for kids aged 2-5
  • There are designated play times for children under 2 on sea days, accompanied by parents they can explore the toys provided
  • Dining rooms have kids’ menus, milk, activity books and crayons
  • Carnival’s standard cabins are pretty large, with some sleeping up to 5 people.
  • The Cartoon Network is available on in-room televisions
  • Single and double buggies are available to hire

Any negatives?

  • No in-cabin babysitting is available. Children two and older can be babysat in the kids club until 3am, but they will be among older children watching movies.
  • Children who are not toilet trained and are wearing swimming nappies are not allowed in any of the pools
  • Baby food and formula cannot be bought on board, and they won’t puree food for you

Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean babies

Why Royal Caribbean is great for little ones…

  • Royal Babies and Royal Tots nurseries offer daytime and evening childcare for babies as young as 6 months, for an additional fee of $8 per hour
  • Playgroups are available for parents to attend with under-3s
  • Under-3s can borrow Fisher-Price toys to play with in their staterooms and books from the ship’s library
  • Children over 2 can drive Barbie Jeeps on Oasis and Freedom class ships
  • Babysitting is available in your staterooms between 8am and 2am at a cost of $19 per hour for up to three children
  • Oasis and Freedom class ships offer inside cabins that sleep up to six people and suites that sleep up to 14
  • In-room televisions offer three kids’ TV channels including Boomerang and the Cartoon Network
  • Children wearing swimming nappies can play in the specially designed Baby Splash Zone which can be found on Freedom and Oasis class ships

The negatives…

  • The free kids’ club is only available to children aged 3 and over
  • Children who are not toilet trained are not allowed in the ship’s pools, hot tubs or the H2O Zone

MSC Cruises

MSC babies

Why MSC Cruises are great for little ones…

  • MSC is the only cruise line to have no minimum age for babies. For most others it’s 6 months or 1 year depending on the itinerary
  • Children sail for free on selected sailings
  • There’s a playgroup available for under-3s during certain times, when accompanied by parents
  • One and two year olds can be left in the kids club between 1pm and 2pm and 6pm and 7pm each day

Any negatives?

  • The kids’ club is only available to children aged 3 and over
  • Babysitting isn’t available
  • Children who are not toilet trained are not allowed in any of the pools

If you're travelling with small children, it's important that you make sure that everything about your cruise matches your needs. This is where our cruise concierge team can help. We can find the best family deals, ensure you book the right cabin type and answer all your questions about cruising with children. Just give us a call on 0207 980 2847.

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Jenni Fielding