Child-free cruising: How to avoid cruises with too many children

Ponant's Le Boreal is a small, upscale ship.
Ponant’s Le Boreal is a small, upscale ship.

This post may not be politically correct so forgive me.

Generally, I’m not a child-averse person but I have to be honest. Like many travelers over 50, unless I’m traveling with my own kids or with my own grandchildren (which I’m not yet blessed to have), I prefer a sedate, relaxing cruise without the patter of little feet running through the corridors, up and down stairs, or racing around the deck.

To reduce the odds of being surrounded by kids on your next cruise, here are some tips for child-free cruising:

1) Travel off-season

If you have the luxury of being able to travel whenever you want, actively avoid booking cruises when kids are out of school and on vacation (e.g. during the summer months or over the holidays (e.g. Christmas and Easter). There should actually be some rule that makes those times sacrosanct for families. Shoulder seasons are wonderful times to cruise and may be less expensive.

2) Choose small ships

Of course, the larger the ship the more there is of everything for everyone: restaurants and bars, public spaces, entertainment venues–and amenities for children and teens. Smaller boats (like barges and riverboats) and even small cruise ships, are less likely to cater to kids. Given all the choices offered by different cruise lines, parents are less likely to sign up for cruises that don’t offer camps, climbing walls, and kids’ clubs.

3) Book longer, more exotic itineraries

The thought of a parent being sequestered with children for 10 days or two weeks at sea isn’t appealing to most sensible parents. Instead of taking short cruises to the Caribbean, save up for a trip to the Baltics or a Mekong river cruise.

4) Go upscale

Opt for smaller, more upscale luxury lines (e.g. Seabourn Cruise Line, Crystal Cruises, Regent Seven Seas, Silversea Cruises and Compagnie du Ponant) that tend to attract a more mature clientele of couples and singles. Be wary of any line that offers discounts for kids under the age of 18.

5) Sequester yourself

If you are cruising on a large megaship, create an onboard corner of the world that’s your own. Book a ship within a ship (such as The Haven on Norwegian Cruise Line  or The Yacht Club Suites on MSC Cruises.) On Holland America Line, you can book a private cabana by the pool and draw the curtains for privacy. On most lines, you can choose to dine later in the evening at one of the specialty restaurants (rather than the buffet or main dining room) or always find a quiet place to read on one of the decks.

A travel agent specializing in cruises can help you find the best ship and itinerary to meet your needs.


Do you have any tips to add to this list?

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