Cruises offer families incredible value for money, and they are even more tempting when kids sail for free.
These offers can drastically reduce the price of a family holiday, making it the ideal way to persuade first-time cruisers to set sail or to encourage repeat customers to try a new line, ship or itinerary.
Here are three ocean and river cruise lines offering free kids’ places:
Kids aged 11 and under cruise for free on selected MSC Cruises itineraries. There are a number of options on MSC Virtuosa sailing roundtrip from Southampton to Northern Europe, the Mediterranean and the Norwegian fjords this September and October. The majority operate during term time, but could be suggested to families with preschoolers.
There’s plenty to keep babies, children, tweens and teens entertained on board MSC Virtuosa. The line has partnered with toy giants Chicco and Lego on its spacious kids’ clubs, which are divided by age. They host a variety of games, sports tournaments, quizzes and entertainment.
Highlight the quality time families can spend together too. Each cruise hosts a Lego Experience, which is a day dedicated to family Lego activities. There are also five pools, including a fun-filled aqua park with three slides, a two lane bowling alley, a high ropes course and an arcade.
Recommend a trip to the The MSC Starship Club, where the humanoid robotic bartender Rob tells jokes as he makes drinks.
Excursions are offered at a reduced rate for children, and there are a range of family-focused options.
Children aged 15 and under cruise for free with A-Rosa, with one child sailing free for every full paying adult. Flights and transfers are still chargeable and the deal is valid on all itineraries except for the Douro, where a 25% discount is applied for child fares.
Banish any ideas of river cruising being too sedate for kids, as the line’s new A-Rosa Sena was designed to welcome families, including multi-generational groups.
When the ship launched on the Rhine in June it became the first river cruise vessel to feature family cabins sleeping up to five. These 28 sq m stylish spaces include bunk beds with privacy curtains and portholes, and in these cabins up to three children can sail for free with two adults.
There’s also a dedicated kids’ club room where the team organise games, treasure hunts and arts and crafts. While youngsters are entertained, adults can make use of the spa and wellness area and relax on the sundeck or in the Panorama Lounge.
The ship is home to two outdoor heated pools, one of which is for children, so families can enjoy the scenery as they splash about. There is also a wide range of family-friendly excursions.
CroisiEurope offers free kids’ places for those under 16 years old, limited to two children per fare paying adult. Excursions aren’t included but there are a number of child-friendly offerings through the line’s Family Club programme on the Douro, Guadalquivir and Rhine. On Greek islands and Corsica cruises children benefit from a 30% discount.
This summer, the Family Club is operating on numerous itineraries, which are set to repeat in July and August 2023.
They include five and seven-night round trips on the Douro from Porto, where child-friendly excursions include a tour of Porto by tram plus a visit to the Tramway Museum and a swimming pool in Salamanca.
On the five-night round trip Rhine cruise from Strasbourg, excursions include a boat tour of Strasbourg by night, visiting Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Cabinet Museum in Rüdesheim and a treetop walk in the Black Forest.
Families can also try a seven-night cruise round trip on the Guadalquivir from Seville. Recommend the excursion to the Seville Aquarium and the Isla Magica Theme Park.
CroisiEurope doesn’t offer interconnecting cabins but families with more than one child will stay in two neighbouring cabins.