Save some money on your next family vacation by bringing the kids along for free

Taking a cruise is at the top of many families’ vacation wishlists. The ability to enjoy activities for every age group, eat plenty of tasty food, and see great destinations without changing hotels makes cruising the ideal vacation. Even better? Enjoying a cruise that allows children to sail for free. Because while a cruise is a lot of fun, the cost can quickly add up. Some cruise lines offer this perk year-round and others have specials to keep an eye out for. To make it a little easier, we put together a list of those cruise lines that offer this special option to those vacationing with young children.

Royal Caribbean

Home to the world’s largest cruise ship, Royal Caribbean looks to ensure that you never hear the dreaded “I’m bored!” In addition to having the tallest slide at sea, Royal Caribbean ships offer activities such as surf simulators, Broadway musicals, youth and teen clubs, multiple restaurants, and trapeze school. Royal Caribbean often has Kids Sail Free promotions where children 12 and under cruise for free with two passengers. These deals apply to three nights or longer sailings when booked in the same cabin as qualifying guests.

Princess Cruises

With highly rated kid and teen clubs, putt-putt golf, dance classes, movies under the stars, and special parents’ night out events, Princess Cruises offers plenty of opportunities for vacationing families to have fun. From onboard shows to the educational programs developed in conjunction with Discovery Channel and Animal Planet, cruising on The Love Boat promises to be entertaining. There are also plenty of dining opportunities to satisfy even the pickiest eaters. On Princess, 3rd and 4th passengers on the same booking sail for free (excluding fees, taxes, and deposits) on select itineraries, including unique destinations like Hawaii, Antarctica, and trans-Atlantic voyages.

Related: Sail to the Caribbean with Princess Cruises for the Easiest Vacation You’ll Ever Take

Norwegian Cruise Lines

Families sailing with Norwegian Cruise Line have plenty of opportunities to have a vacation they won’t forget. With stops at ports worldwide, including multiple locations in Africa, there’s a trip for every type of group. With an eye on helping with the comforts of those traveling with children, Norwegian has family balcony staterooms near the pool deck and youth program areas. There are multiple choices for dining from main dining rooms, buffets, and room service, with children 12 and under eating free at all of Norwegian’s specialty restaurants. In addition, 3rd and 4th guests in one stateroom sail for free on select sailings.

Holland America Line

Holland America ship docked at Ketchican Alaska
Kate Loweth


Known for its elegance, Holland America Line isn’t just for older passengers. Families with young children are welcomed warmly onboard, and there are plenty of activities for kids to enjoy. Those ages 3 to 17 have access to the onboard kids club, where there are plenty of activities and educational presentations depending on ports of call. Dining options offer everything from specialty restaurants to burgers and hot dogs. And larger families will enjoy the suites, some offering complimentary laundry services. To help encourage more family travel, Holland America allows guests 18 and under to travel for free when booked as a 3rd or 4th guest on select cruises. The offer has no expiration date but is limited to up to two children per booking and doesn’t include taxes, fees, or port charges.

Related: A Holland America Alaska Cruise Should Be on Your Family’s Bucket List

CroisiEurope Cruises

A unique vacation experience is taking a river cruise. More intimate ships with passenger numbers in the hundreds instead of thousands, river cruises allow guests to visit smaller cities more inland than a traditional cruise line. While some river cruises don’t allow children, CroisiEurope has family-friendly cruises in Portugal, the Rhine, Italy, and Spain that enable children ages 16 and under to sail free. With all-inclusive menus that they adapt for younger pallets, excursions, and waived single supplements for grandparents sailing in a separate cabin alone, it’s an opportunity to experience a different type of cruising.

MSC Cruises

A newer addition to cruise lines that have ships based out of the United States, MSC Cruises has been a staple in European cruising for over 30 years. The fourth largest cruise line in the world, they know cruising and families. Family-friendly excursions with special pricing for children, kids clubs, and special kids’ areas in restaurants add to a vacation everyone will remember. And MSC’s partnership with The LEGO® Group as their exclusive entertainment partner means new play areas, plenty of LEGO bricks to build with, and an experience once every cruise dedicated to everything LEGO. MSC occasionally has promotions where children age 17 and under sail for free as the 3rd and 4th passengers on select sailings. These promotions are subject to availability and exclude fees, taxes, and drink packages for minors.

Star Clippers

Have you dreamed of taking a family vacation on a classic tall ship? Star Clippers makes it possible! With destinations in the Caribbean, Central America, and Europe, there are plenty of opportunities to explore new cultures. While this line doesn’t have a kids club, there are nautical activities on board, such as knot-tying classes, climbing the mast and helping the crew hoist a sail, and excursions on shore to keep them entertained. Now through July 31, 2023, Star Clippers has a “kids under 18 years old sail free” offer, plus 10 percent off for grandparents on select 2023 and 2024 cruises, making it the perfect time to schedule a unique family reunion.

Related: Cruising Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast Should Be on Your Family’s Bucket List: Here’s Why

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