Look Out For These Deals When Planning A Cruise For Your Family Vacation

Cruises are often hailed as a cost-effective way for families to travel and see the world together. But don't just take our word for it. "They offer exceptional value, as they're inclusive of dining, lodging, and transportation to amazing ports around the world," Cruise Critic Editor-in-Chief Colleen McDaniel told Travel + Leisure. And aside from that, cruise lines are professionals at making those economical days and nights at sea fun! These days, cruise ships operate much like floating resorts and offer loads of entertainment for the whole family, including kids' clubs, casinos, water parks, comedy, and much more. What's not to love, right?

Still, there are even more ways to get a better bang for your buck when setting sail as a family! Here's one way to spot the too-good-to-pass-up deals and ensure that you save even more money while sailing the open seas with all family members in tow. 

Take advantage of Kids Cruise Free programs

One of the easiest ways to save money when embarking on a family-friendly cruise is to take advantage of "kids cruise free" or "kids sail free" programs! Many cruise lines, including Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Lines, MSC Cruises, and Holland America, offer these savings to entice more families aboard. It's a win-win for everyone! "It's not going to cost families a fortune," Rick Sasso, President and Chief Executive of MSC Cruises, told the Los Angeles Times in 2016. "We're making it easy with our 'kids sail free' program," he declared.

However, it's important to note that this same type of deal may be packaged another way. In September 2022, Disney rolled out an offer to their Disney+ subscribers wherein "third and fourth passengers sail for free" on their Disney Magic, Disney Dream, and Disney Fantasy ships for a limited time.  

Don't forget to read the fine print

As with any deal, however, you'll want to be sure and read the fine print regarding kids cruise free programs. Oftentimes, the offer is contingent on the children sailing as the third and fourth guests, which means a family of four will be piling into one cabin. (Think of all that wonderful family bonding, parents.) And while some cruise lines like Royal Caribbean reserve this promotion for children 12 years of age or younger, others, like MSC Cruises extend the deal all the way up to 17-year-olds via their third and fourth guest program. 

It should also be noted that you'll still be responsible for forking over the taxes and port fees, and you should go ahead and plan to pay more in gratuities while you're at it. You should also keep in mind that most of these kids cruise free programs only run for a limited time and during certain months of the year. This can make planning around winter, spring, and summer breaks somewhat challenging. Still, if you can figure out the logistics, the opportunity for some major savings AND major family fun is certainly there! May you have fair winds and flowing seas!