Cruising with kids, cruising can be a lot of fun for families with kids and also an affordable vacation or transport option. But is cruising safe for kids? The tragic February death of a child in a cruise ship’s pool has probably added more anxiety to the shoulders of the potential cruise parent. I can only share my experiences of cruising with kids based on what I saw on our 3 cruises (with children each time) with 2 different cruise lines. Maybe I can help worried parents in forming their own opinions on their child’s safety on a cruise ship and give you some insight on cruising with kids. Is taking kids on a cruise ship a fun thing to do, for them and for adults?
My biggest concern when booking a family cruise, was, would it be safe for my kids? I can’t imagine anything more horrific than falling from a cruise ship into the sea, from a cruise ship balcony or deck. So yes, like you, I was anxious.
We have taken 2 transatlantic cruises, UK to New York and Florida to Spain, plus a multi-stop world cruise.
This is what we thought about child safety for kids on cruise ships, this post represents our opinion only and accidents can and do happen.
Is Cruising Safe for Children?
Is cruising safe for children? We can’t vouch for every cruise line, but we found the 3 cruise ships we’ve travelled on to be fairly safe, so long as children (particularly toddlers) are well supervised.
Before We Took Our First Cruise, I Was Worried About Child Safety
I was convinced the kids would find a way to fall over the side.
It is for you, fellow worrier, that I am writing this post.
I know I’m not the only one to get stressed out about these things.
Stupid, I know, but I suffer from anxiety and I have the sort of boys who will always find a way to do what you least expect.
These things include climbing on railings, slipping, tripping and falling at every opportunity.
I needn’t have worried. On our cruise ship we were mostly encased by glass walls.
On the pool deck they were floor to ceiling, on some of the promenade decks they were so high that even I couldn’t worry.
These were level with my 9-year-old’s chin and totally uninviting to climbing toddlers or kids.
Are Swimming Pools Safe For Children on Cruise Ships?
I don’t worry much about swimming pools. My boys, at 9 and 7, are reasonable swimmers and we have a pool in the back garden, but still, I would never allow them near water without close supervision from me or my husband.
If one parent is in the water with them, or watching closely, I’m perfectly happy that they are safe.
Their father is a qualified surf lifesaver, so that gives me an extra level of reassurance.
On our cruise there were no lifeguards, no pool fences and the water was deep and moving fairly violently with the swaying of the ship.
We had loads of fun in the pools, the moving water added an extra dimension of enjoyment, but it could be an issue for weak swimmers and certainly for wandering toddlers.
The lack of lifeguards on cruises seems to be something of an industry standard and has been brought up in the media.
I have read that Disney Cruises have now introduced lifeguards.
I think that all this is totally fair enough. Lifeguards would be nice, but we parents are always the first layer of child protection.
If kids are on the pool deck at all, they need family supervision. We would consider the whole pool deck to be the pool area, equivalent to our fenced pool areas back home.
As such, it is an area that unsupervised children don’t enter.
Are Cruise Ship Cabins and Bunks Safe For Kids?
We were very happy with safety on our cruise ship, bunks and cabins, as far as bunks went.
The top bunks had railings and a fall would have been hard to achieve. On some ships, the bunks have been above the adult bed, so the fall would have been short and hopefully soft.
On other cruise ships we took outside cabins. There is no way I would let a child on a cruise ship balcony without me right next to them.
The chairs on the cruise ship balcony would make climbing and falling a possibility.
I would never leave a child unattended in a cabin with a balcony at all. This is one of the calls you have to make when choosing an inside or outside cabin on a cruise ship.
If the boat is moving a lot in rough seas there’s a chance of a tumble and bumping heads on furnishings, but we’ve never seen super rough seas even halfway across the Atlantic.
The feared deck plummets seemed to be an impossibility in most areas and I really couldn’t find anything else to worry about. Well, other than my husband when he did this.
There is no road traffic, they can’t really get lost, there are plenty of well-trained staff around and we all had a wonderful time.
So much so, that we booked another Atlantic crossing. Obviously, I can only give you my impressions of the limited number of cruise ships we’ve travelled on with kids.
Save me to Pinterest
Are Cruise Ship Activities Safe For Kids?
There are usually adventure activities to enjoy on cruise ships, along with more gentle pursuits.
Kids can often take part in kids’ club or accompany their parents to take part in the many “things to do” on a cruise ship.
My kids really enjoy water slides, climbing walls and ropes courses, some of these are high above the ship, too scary for me, but they loved them.
We felt that the harnesses were new and of good quality and that safety was handled well by trained staff.
In high seas these activities would often be closed for extra safety.
There’s always some risk in any activity, even eating breakfast, but we were confident enough to allow our kids to take part. That says it all really.
Cruising With Kids
Is cruising with kids a good idea? We think so, but a lot depends on the cruise line and how child-friendly they are. Norwegian are the best cruise line for kids and families that we have used. They had huge kids’ clubs, loads of activities and fun things to do for the whole family, not just for kids.
Buffet dining is much loved by most kids. My kids love to eat this way and there are masses of options. I wouldn’;t pick a cruise line with a “kids only” buffet as these buffets are (from what we have seen) filled with low quality junk. The adult buffets are better.
The cabins are comfortable and it’s quite common to find kids cruise free deals if you look in the right places. Cruise ships are not really a good way to see the world, what you see in ports is very limited, but as a floating resort experience, or a way to get to A to B, cruising can be a lot of fun, and very affordable. Crossing the Atlantic in a cruise ship, with kids, was actually cheaper than flying for us.
Do look closely at the kids’ club facilities, we’ve also seen a kids’ club which was a room with a few small Lego sets, it was baby sitting, not fun for the kids at all. Also check for kids’ pools if you have toddlers, the full sized pools can be deep for non-swimming kids.
Look at the on-deck facilities, are there slides, climbing walls, mini golf courses and all the wonders of a modern cruise ship? These are great fun for families and kids.
Be aware that in school holidays ships can be full of kids. I don’t think this would be as enjoyable as cruising on a semi-empty ship, we enjoyed that experience much more. So book your cruise, take your kids, have fun. Just double check what is on offer for families.
Did that help? I hope so. Anybody who asks for my view on “Is cruising safe for kids?” will be given a yes, for that is my impression and opinion. It’s best never to go on other people’s opinions of anything. Is it actually completely safe for toddlers? Well, toddlers are unpredictable. I’d like to hope it is but they will need close supervision.
Even with my two balls of energy, I wasn’t too worried about their safety. I can’t say yes, absolutely it is safe because accidents still happen. As they do anywhere. I just wanted to let you know that I felt much better about it after doing a mommy risk assessment on our first cruise holiday. Now if you’re convinced, go check out my tips on Finding a Cheap Cruise, our latest is costing us under $30/day, really! Once on your cruise we also have tips on maximising your budget. Enjoy your ship!
If you'd like to hire a car during your stay, use this car rental comparison tool to find the best deal!
We also suggest you take a look at this company to get a quote for all kinds of travel insurance.
Try Stayz / VRBO for an alternative way to find rentals on homes/apartments/condos in any country!
Friday 15th of June 2018
Thank you for this! I am going on my first cruise in September with my 4 year old and almost 2 year old. I have been having horrible nightmares of one of my boys somehow climbing a railing and falling off the ship. Im glad Im not the only anxiety ridden crazy mom lol.
Alyson Long for World Travel Family
Friday 15th of June 2018
You are SO not alone!
Monday 24th of March 2014
Thanks for this Alyson. Even though my boy is now 12 (two days ago), I still worry but it's good to know.
Monday 24th of March 2014
PS I want to keep adding comments so i can catch butterflies on your new comment spam catcher - love it!!
Monday 24th of March 2014
I had a few people question whether our cruise was safe with kids, but I can't say I did at all. It was fine, far safer than any other trip we have taken I would say, as I most paranoid about cars and traffic when it comes to my kids safety. They are only 2 and 3 though (1 and 3 when we did the cruise).
I couldn't see anywhere they could fall off. Our kids are too young to go in the pools alone, and my son wasn't allowed in them anyway (although that is a sore point for us!). They were never full on our ship either, and I think our ship was close to full.
Sunday 23rd of March 2014
We love cruising but the pools are a very scary place! If I remember rightly, your cruise was pretty light on kids. Both our cruises have had thousands of children on board and the pools are a nightmare - I can easily see how children could have an accident, even being watched.
I stand at the side of the kids pool and watch my youngest daughter. But when the pools are packed, and you can often only see the tops of heads, it is SO hard to keep track of her! There were numerous times where I lost sight of her for long enough for her to get in trouble. So, we have adapted our pool play for safety: We let them stay up later and go to the pools at night when there's less kids. We swim on port days. We know before we go that there's so much to do, swimming in the pools will not be a priority. Cruising is definitely safe for kids but just have a plan for a busy pool. :-)
Sunday 23rd of March 2014
That's an interesting point Anita. Yes our ship was 2/3 empty. There wasn't a particular kids pool, there was a kids play area with water jets and a paddling pool, too young for our kids, but no designated kids pool. 2 deep pools plus hot tubs on the pool deck plus an over 18s only area with pool on another deck. We're always in the water with ours so a packed kids pool sounds pretty unappealing! We'd probably just avoid it, none of us is that keen on being in pools that you can't really swim in. But they adored the slides, same there, one of us always went up with them, one was at the bottom.