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Why Cruising With the Kids Just Got More Expensive

By Danielle Contray
October 3, 2012
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Courtesy <a href="http://mybt.budgettravel.com/_The-Norwegian-Dawn/photo/5776963/21864.html" target="_blank">2bcyclin/myBudgetTravel</a>

Traveling with children under the age of two isn't always easy from a logistics standpoint, but it is economical. Airlines let them fly for free on your lap and they usually snooze in hotel rooms and laze by the pool at most all–inclusives for no extra charge. The one exception to this rule is cruising, where everyone on board pays, no matter what.

Fares for children under 18 aren't typically the same as for adults, as long as they are sharing a cabin with two adults (they are considered third passengers and pay a percentage of the full cruise fare). Norwegian Cruise Lines used to be one of the cheaper options, since the line charged a smaller percentage if the child was under two (it's not like they are gorging themselves at the midnight buffet). According to a report by Travel Weekly, the cruise line has discontinued the policy and all children, regardless of age, pay the same rate. This policy is also in effect on Royal Caribbean and Carnival cruises. Keep in mind that infants under six months of age are not permitted on Norwegian cruises (which is standard for most cruise lines, except for long–haul trips like TransAtlantic cruises, where the minimum age is higher).

Disney Cruise Line is (not surprisingly) one of the only lines that discounts more for children two and under. A four–night Bahamas cruise in December costs $632 per adult, and $282 for an infant under the age of 2. If your child is 3, the fare would be $564.

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How to Choose the Perfect Cruise

When it comes to cruising, Aunt Mavis has been bragging about how many Caribbean cruises she's taken and what great deals she gets. Charlie down the street just got back from cruising in Alaska and says it was his best family vacation ever. The ads on TV sure make cruising sound like a blissfully carefree travel experience. Whatever your reason for thinking about a cruise vacation, picking the right ship and the right destination are both key to your having a good experience. There are a lot of ships to choose from – the smallest with under 100 passengers, the largest with more than 6,000 passengers. And these ships cruise to destinations literally around the world. But before you even start your planning, there are questions to be asked: Are you looking for a ship where adults and kids – including grumpy teens – will be entertained? Are you seeking a low-key, romantic cruise experience? Do you need a ship that can accommodate wheelchairs or limited mobility? Are you looking for a shipboard singles scene? Are there ships better suited for multi-generational family reunions than others? Are you looking to relax in the sun or are you looking to see the world? The good news is there really is a cruise ship and itinerary to suit nearly every taste – the possible exception being one for people who shun anything to do with group travel. If you've never cruised before – and even if you have – you will no doubt have tons of questions in the areas of finding bargains and making a booking, cabin choice, ports of call, shipboard activities and food, among others. In an upcoming issue, we will look at all things cruise. But first we want to hear your cruising questions, tips and experiences. You comments may appear in an upcoming Trip Coach column. (In addition to being Budget Travel's Trip Coach, Fran Golden is author of the upcoming eBook, Frommer's How to Plan the Perfect Cruise.) More from Budget Travel: Most Popular Cruise Ports on Earth 10 Common Cruise Myths Debunked 6 Best River Cruise Lines

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How'd You Like to Board a Cruise with a Homicidal Maniac?

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How is Disney Cruise Line Catering to Budget Travelers?

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