What onboard childcare options are available during a UK cruise?

11 June 2024

The very idea of vacationing on a cruise ship with your family can bring about mixed emotions. On one hand, it presents the opportunity of creating unforgettable memories with your loved ones. On the other, parents with young children may be concerned about keeping their kids entertained and safe at all times. If you fall into the latter category, have no fear. Cruise ships have evolved considerably over time, and today, they cater extensively for families with young children and even babies. This article will delve into the childcare options available onboard UK cruises and how these services can transform your travel experience. Specifically, we will discuss options on popular cruise lines such as Disney, Celebrity and MSC.

Childcare options onboard Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line is renowned for its family-friendly approach and this extends to their excellent childcare facilities. They offer something for children of all ages, ensuring that your little ones will be engaged and entertained throughout the journey.

It's a Small World Nursery is a dedicated space for babies between 6 months to 3 years old. Here, babies are cared for by trained nursery counsellors in a cheerful environment, complete with a viewing area for parents to check in on their child.

For older children, the Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab cater to children between 3 to 12 years old. These spaces are packed with activities that are both educational and fun, from science experiments to treasure hunts.

Onboard childcare on Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises takes a slightly different approach to childcare. They believe in family interaction and as such, most of their activities are designed to be enjoyed as a family unit. However, they understand that parents need time for themselves too.

The Fun Factory is an interactive play area for children aged 3-12 years. It offers a variety of activities including arts & crafts, theme parties and game nights. For teenagers, there's the X Club, a teen lounge with DJ workshops and sports games.

For babies and toddlers under 3, Celebrity Cruises offers the Toddler Time program where toys and activities are available for toddlers and their parents to enjoy together.

Childcare services on MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises takes great pride in their onboard childcare services. They have partnered with Chicco - a leading baby care brand, to ensure top-notch care for your little ones.

The Baby Club is for children under 3 and is equipped with Chicco products such as bottle warmers, strollers and bouncers. Parents can leave their children here under the care of professional staff.

Children aged 3-11 can join the Mini and Juniors Clubs where they will enjoy a range of activities like arts & crafts, sports and cooking classes. Additionally, MSC Cruises offers a late-night group babysitting service, allowing parents to enjoy a night out on the ship.

Nighttime childcare options

Most cruise lines understand that parents might want to enjoy a night out without their children. As such, they offer nighttime childcare services often in the form of group babysitting.

For instance, Disney Cruise Line offers the Disney’s Night Night Nursery. Here, children aged 3 to 12 can sleep or watch movies under the watch of trained staff while parents enjoy the evening activities. On Celebrity Cruises, nighttime group babysitting is available for a nominal fee. MSC Cruises also offers a similar service.

In-cabin babysitting services

While group babysitting services are common, some parents might prefer individual care for their child. Whilst less common, in-cabin babysitting services do exist on some ships. Essentially, a babysitter comes to your cabin and watches over your child. However, availability is often limited and it's always best to enquire about this service when booking your cruise.

In conclusion, there are ample childcare options available on UK cruises. From dedicated playrooms for babies to interactive clubs for older children and even nighttime babysitting services, parents can rest assured that their children will be well cared for. This allows families to enjoy the best of both worlds. They can spend quality time together, as well as enjoy some alone time, knowing their children are in safe hands.

Childcare on Royal Caribbean Cruises

Royal Caribbean is another popular choice in the UK for family-friendly cruises. Their childcare options are wide-ranging, catering to infants, toddlers, and older children.

The Royal Babies and Tots Nursery caters to infants from 6 months to 36 months. Here, babies are looked after by trained childminders in a safe, fun, and interactive environment. They also provide a selection of baby food, as well as facilities for warming breast milk, ensuring your little one's nutritional needs are met.

Children over the age of 3 can be enrolled in Adventure Ocean, a program that sorts kids into different age groups for age-appropriate activities. These include educational games, sports activities, and even science experiments. Older kids and teens aren't left out, with spaces like The Living Room and Fuel Teen Club for hanging out, dancing, or watching movies.

Moreover, Royal Caribbean offers a late-night program named Late Night Party Zone, where your child can enjoy fun activities under supervision while the parents can indulge in nighttime entertainment or shore excursions.

Camp Ocean on Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Cruise Line, though lesser-known in the UK, also offers an extensive range of childcare options. These are organized into age-specific categories in their Camp Ocean program to ensure that each child's needs and interests are well catered to.

For the tiny cruisers aged 2 to 5, the Penguins program offers a variety of fun and educational activities, such as arts and crafts and sing-alongs. It's important to note that all children must be potty trained to participate in Camp Ocean activities.

The Stingrays program, for kids aged 6 to 8, and the Sharks program for children aged 9 to 11, offer a range of engaging activities like treasure hunts, dance parties, and video gaming.

For teens, there’s Circle C for 12-14 year olds and Club O2 for 15-17 year olds, offering dance parties, games, and shore excursions.

Carnival also offers a night owls service for an additional fee, allowing parents to enjoy the ship's nightlife. They even provide in-cabin babysitting on a limited basis, which can be arranged with the ship's guest services.


To sum it up, family-friendly cruise lines are going above and beyond to ensure that cruising with your little ones is a memorable and enjoyable experience for everyone. With a variety of age-appropriate activities and facilities, as well as nighttime and even in-cabin babysitting services, parents can relax and take full advantage of the cruise ship's amenities. Whether you're cruising with a baby, a toddler, or a teenager, there's plenty of fun to be had and memories to be made on these family-friendly cruises. So, book your next family vacation on a cruise ship and set sail for an unforgettable journey!

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