Kids Sail Free: 4 Cruise Lines Letting Kids Cruise Free in 2021

Cruise ship near beach/kids sail free
(Photo: Shutterstock)

Considering a cruise vacation when it’s safe to travel again? Many cruise lines are trying to entice travelers—specifically families—with incentives to head for the high seas post COVID-19, including promotions that let kids sail free on new bookings. 

When Will Cruise Ships Resume Sailing?

Most major cruise lines won’t resume sailings until summer or fall 2021. For a complete list of all cruise lines and their expected departure dates for new sailings, click here.

Though many cruise lines won’t start operating again until later in the year, planning ahead now can help you save big on family cruises that likely won’t stay this affordable once travel begins its inevitable rebound. Plus, most cruise lines have relaxed their booking policies through 2021, meaning you won’t lose money if you need to cancel your trip. And as more cruise lines start to outline enhanced safety protocols and onboard screening processes for future passengers, it’s easier to imagine a time in which a family cruise is possible again. 

So, whether it’ll be your first cruise vacation or you’ve lost count of how many sailings you’ve been on, why not do it with free cruise fare for the kids?

Kids Sail Free in 2021

With an assist from the experts at Cruise Critic, we’ve compiled a complete list of major cruise lines that will let kids cruise free or at a significantly reduced price in 2021. Additional cruise fare savings onboard these kid-friendly cruise lines also put a vacation within reach for families looking to balance tighter budgets with the strong urge to return to normalcy and have an adventure together again. 

Royal Caribbean International

New Sailings: Royal Caribbean could resume service as early as March, with operations on its global fleet suspended through Feb. 28, 2021.

Royal Caribbean has a loyal family following that appreciates its extensive kid-centric offerings, including kids clubs, family-oriented entertainment options, endless pools and water play areas, menus built with kids’ palates in mind, and even kid-centered spa options.

Royal Caribbean offers kids sail free promotions throughout the year, allowing children aged 12 and under to cruise free. You can find the latest offers here.

Norwegian Cruise Line

New Sailings: Norwegian has suspended cruises through March. 

Another of the best cruise lines for families, Norwegian Cruise Line is offering some seriously good deals on 2021 itineraries, including the chance for kids to sail free. 

The cruise line typically offers up to five freebies with its “Free at Sea” promotion: free open bar, free specialty dining, free excursions and port expenses, free Wi-Fi, and best of all, kids sail free rates for the third guests and fourth guests in your group (for select cruise departure dates; exclusions on Thanksgiving sailings, Easter sailings, and spring break may apply). Visit NCL.com to learn more about this offer. 

MSC Cruises

New Sailings: MSC’s U.S.-based sailings are suspended through February 28. After resuming service in August and pausing sailings during the holiday season, the Grandiosa and Magnifica will begin sailing abroad in January and February, respectively. 

Kids aged 18 and under sail free on select cruise departures with MSC Cruises, while tots aged two and under always sail free. 

MSC also offers an all-in-one pricing option for single parents or guardians traveling with up to three kids. With this offer, the adult is charged full cruise fare, the second guest under age 18 pays 60 percent of the adult fare, and the remaining children are charged reduced fares. For more information or to check the valid cruise departure date for these offers, check out MSC Cruises

Crystal Cruises

New Sailings: All of the line’s sailings are canceled through April 2021, with some sailings canceled through May 1.

Crystal Cruises regularly allows children aged 17 and under to cruise free when staying with the first two qualifying guests aged 21 or older in the same stateroom. The line’s cruise free offer is available on select cruise departure dates. For more information, visit Crystal Cruises

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Amanda Norcross
Amanda Norcross is a travel journalist and spokesperson. Her expertise has been featured in major media outlets including Bloomberg, Cheddar, Family Vacation Critic, NBC News, Red Tricycle, SmarterTravel, The New York Times, USA Today and The Weather Channel. Amanda looks forward to traveling with her baby boy, Isaac, and seeing the world through his eyes.