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Kids cruise free: 7 cruise lines offering family deals in 2024

Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information.

Cruise vacations give families a chance to reconnect and create shared memories. But cruise fares for three or four people can add up, especially when you consider extras like flights, hotels and excursions. One solution? Share a cabin and save with a “kids cruise free” deal.

Many cruise lines — including family favorites like Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line — offer free kids fares and other cruise deals for kids sporadically throughout the year. A few always let kids sail free. You might have the best luck finding family-friendly discounts during wave season, which falls between January and March, when cruise lines have some of the best pricing of the year.

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To make your family trip more affordable, here’s a list of family-friendly cruise lines where kids cruise free (or on the cheap) when you time your booking to coincide with a short-term promotion. These incentives change frequently, and the deals can sell out fast, so you might need to be flexible on where you sail and when you go. Always read the fine print before booking to catch any hidden costs or restrictions.

MSC Cruises

Woman with toddler in cruise ship pool

MSC Cruises frequently offers its “Kids Sail Free” promotion throughout the year in combination with other limited-time sales. Kids 17 and younger sail free as a third or fourth guest in most cabins. (Yacht Club rooms are excluded.)

Some deals might also include discounted fares, along with cabin upgrades, flexible booking options or freebies (like beverage packages or Wi-Fi), so mom and dad might get a perk or two as well. The “Kids Sail Free” offer is combinable with MSC Cruises’ discount program for healthcare workers and active-duty or retired military.

Kids will love MSC Cruises for its kids club partnership with Lego and waterslides enhanced by virtual reality. Its pizza is among some of the best in the industry.

Check throughout the year for kids-cruise-free deals on MSC Cruises’ website.

Related: The 5 best cruise lines for families

Norwegian Cruise Line

Girl jumping into pool by twisting water slides

Norwegian Cruise Line offers free kids fares via its “Free at Sea” promotion. The offer gives cruisers complimentary booking perks, including free specialty dining, free beverage packages, shore excursion credit, free Wi-Fi and discounted rates for extra guests in a cabin (including kids).

With the latter offer, you can access free or $99-per-person fares for third and fourth guests, regardless of age. This special pricing applies to select sailings and only when the additional passengers share a cabin with the first and second guests.

NCL often offers discounted cruise fares for the first two guests in combination with the “Free at Sea” promotion. Additional perks to help a family’s travel budget might include free airfare for the second guest or reduced deposits, depending on the particular promotion running when you book.

Choose Norwegian’s newest cruise ships for wow-factor family activities such as go-kart racing, laser tag and waterslides. The line’s casual ambience will appeal to kids who don’t like being forced to dress up for dinner.

Related: Best kid-friendly cruises: The 7 best cruise ships for kids

Holland America Line

Holland America Line offers promotional pricing, including its “Kids Cruise Free” program, throughout the year. The restrictions might change, but the bottom-line savings remain the same.

At press time, the line is running a deal where third and fourth guests under age 18 can sail for free on select Caribbean, Mexico and Panama Canal sailings. (Taxes and fees are additional.) The deal is limited to two children per booking.

Parents and caregivers will want to look for additional promotions that might include free balcony upgrades, onboard credit and reduced deposits. Some throw in a complimentary “Have It All” premium package, which includes specialty dining, a beverage package, complimentary shore excursions (the number depends on the length of the cruise) and Wi-Fi. Otherwise, families can upgrade to the more inclusive package for a discounted price.

Holland America is ideal for multigenerational families traveling together who like to go exploring in port and listen to live music on board.

Royal Caribbean

Families playing in pool with water park in the background

Royal Caribbean’s “Kids Sail Free” promotion is offered periodically throughout the year. Not every deal is the same, but the line typically offers free cruise fares to children 12 years old or younger who sail as additional guests with two full-fare-paying passengers. This is in addition to occasional offers for onboard credit and a discount on a second guest.

Be sure to read the fine print, as the free cruises for kids come with many restrictions, such as blackout dates over major holidays and school vacation periods and minimum sailing lengths.

Royal Caribbean also occasionally offers a deal where “Kids Sail for Less,” which usually includes 25% off the fare for additional passengers in a cabin. This promotion has no age limitation, so it’s open to any extra guests sharing accommodations with two full-fare-paying passengers.

Royal Caribbean is a favorite with families who love its big-ship attractions, including ice skating and high-diving shows, onboard splash parks and waterslides, rock climbing walls, miniature golf, laser tag, escape rooms and zip lines. Its enormous kids clubs cater to all ages, from babies to teens, and its private island, Perfect Day at CocoCay, is a top destination for families with its multiple beaches and pumped-up water park.

Look for family discounts on Royal Caribbean’s deals page.

Related: 5 best Royal Caribbean ships for kids

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Regent Seven Seas Cruises doesn’t usually let kids cruise free, but the luxury line does offer reduced fares for kids ages 17 and younger on select sailings during the summer and holiday season. These fares start at $999 per child (or young adult) sailing as the third or fourth guest in a suite and vary in price, depending on the voyage.

At press time, Regent is advertising a “Kids Sail Free” promotion on select itineraries. The offer is a per-person, cruise-only fare that is available to kids ages 17 years or younger at the time of sailing. They must sail as a third guest in a suite accompanied by an adult who is 21 years of age or older.

Regent always includes unlimited complimentary shore excursions, so kids can explore and stay active while cruising in Alaska, Europe, the Caribbean, the Panama Canal or other destinations included in the promotion.


Amalia Rodrigues riverboat on the Douro River
Amalia Rodrigues riverboat on the Douro River. SERGIO ALBINO/CROISIEUROPE

River cruise line CroisiEurope’s Family Club cruises let kids up to age 16 sail free or at reduced rates of up to 30% off on select sailings.

Because the line’s ships have few rooms that can accommodate more than two passengers, the line has waived the single supplement for families on these sailings. That means two parents and one child can book two cabins for the price of one. (Each parent pays for one berth in each cabin, and the child travels free.)

In 2024, you can find kids-cruise-free deals on CroisiEurope river cruises in Portugal, Spain and Italy, as well as the Rhine River. For Family Club sailings to Croatia, children under 16 years of age receive a 30% discount.

This Family Club cruise deal is limited to two children per paying adult. Supplemental fees might be added for upgraded rooms. On these sailings, optional excursions are geared toward kids, and a menu for younger palates is available in onboard dining venues.

On all other sailings, the river cruise line offers a 20% discount for kids younger than 10 years of age. Children under 2 always sail free.

Star Clippers

If you’re planning a multigenerational family getaway, consider booking a voyage on one of Star Clipper’s tall ships. Currently, kids between 3 and 17 can sail free with one or two adults in the same cabin on select three- to nine-night 2024 and 2025 sailings in the Caribbean, Central America and the Mediterranean. (For this promotion, you must book by April 30, 2024.)

If two children are traveling with two adults (in specific room categories), the line accommodates the family in two individual cabins. What’s more, grandparents ages 65 and older can join in the fun and receive a 10% discount on cruise fares.

Kids can imagine themselves as sailors or pirates with onboard activities such as knot tying and climbing the ship’s mast. Older kids especially will enjoy water sports right from the ship.

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