There are various ways to accommodate a family of five or more at sea without breaking the bank.
★How do the rates for kids sharing a cabin with two adults generally compare with adults' rates?
Cruise lines have a third/fourth passenger rate that generally applies to both children and adults. This rate is greatly discounted from the rate for the first two passengers.
★Do any cruise lines offer a special third/fourth berth rate just for children?
Yes, but only a few. Holland America Line often (not always) offers third/fourth berth rate for children ages 2 to 18 that is usually $100 cheaper than the standard third/fourth person rate. Disney Cruise Line also lowers its rates for children occupying the third/fourth berth.
★Are there any deals for infants and toddlers?
Yes, again, only a few cruise lines – Disney Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Costa Cruises, and Cunard Line -- let little ones under age 2 sail for free. Children must be under 2 at the time of sailing (not at the time of booking), and parents must pay the applicable port charge and government fees.
★We are a family of five. Can you suggest any strategies for booking an affordable cabins?
Some families of five with at least two teenager children book a cheap inside cabin for the teens, then reserve a roomier outside stateroom across the hall for the adults and any younger children. That way the family has two bathrooms -- which come in handy when dealing with teens. However, with this option you pay full fare for the two children who occupy the inside cabin.
Some ships have more options for larger families, such as connecting staterooms or quads and quints. For example, both Norwegian Star and Dawn have many cabins for families of four or more, including about 700 quads, 12 quints, and more than 140 sets of connecting staterooms each. The forthcoming Pride of America will have a new category of family suites.
According to Carnival Cruise Lines, interior category (4A) adjoining cabins are the least expensive way to go for a family of five or more. Also, the Destiny- and Conquest-class ships offer family staterooms, many of which are adjoining. Spirit-class ships, on the other hand, offer adjoining staterooms but not single family staterooms.
Royal Caribbean's newest ships have a variety of staterooms to fit larger families. Family staterooms are found on all Voyager and Radiance-class ships and some Vision-class ships. These larger staterooms have one bathroom and can accommodate up to six people. There are also family suites on all Voyager, Radiance, Vision-class ships as well as Monarch of the Seas. They accommodate eight people with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a living area.
Disney Cruise Line's options include family staterooms that can sleep up to five; suites that sleep up to seven; and connecting staterooms. Note that all Disney staterooms have split bathrooms (one room has a toilet and a sink, while the other has a bathtub/shower and a sink), which make getting a family ready for formal night a bit easier!