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4 Ways to Find a Cruise NOT Teeming With Kids

Let’s face it: even if you love kids, you probably do not want to cruise with them. While an all-gay cruise is an option, it will likely be priced higher than comparable “regular” cruises; and, you may not want that much gay! When we organize our gay groups on cruises, we use these 4 rules of thumb that help us avoid the kids.

Go when the kids are less likely to go Industry experts say to book when kids are in school. But these days, parents are so willing to take their kids out of school for a trip, you’ll need to be more focused. I recently interviewed a Carnival Cruise Youth Director. She said they see fewer kids during these three times, and here’s why:

  • Very late August through late October, because that’s when most kids start their school year. Parents want their kids to get well established before they pull them out for a vacation.

  • Early December. Most families will travel right before this time (Thanksgiving), or right after (Christmas), but not now. Incidentally, I have found this time period offers the lowest prices of the year for just about any cruise. Flights are cheap then, too.

  • Lastly, early January through mid-February. Parents see this as too soon after the holidays, and not time yet for spring break. Prices are good now, too.

  • Worst times? Thanksgiving, Christmas, and June to mid-August.

Go on longer cruises

Families love those shorter (3-7 nights) cruises. They’re more affordable, and less risky if the kids end up not liking it. Once the cruise exceeds one week, the number of kids on board drops dramatically.

Go on cruises that do not appeal to kids

Remember when you were a kid? The Panama Canal, New England fall foliage and vineyards in the Loire River Valley were at the top of your vacation wish list, right? Of course not. So avoid places kids really want to visit. Top picks for families are the Caribbean, Bermuda and Mexico’s west coast. Close behind are Alaska and Hawaii and the southern Caribbean.

That leaves you with so many other options (most of which are even available for just 7 nights if you don’t have the time for a longer cruise):

  • California/West Coast—round trip from San Francisco or Los Angeles

  • New England—especially during fall foliage

  • The Panama Canal—especially full transit

  • Mediterranean or Baltic Seas

  • River cruises—some lines even prohibit guests under 18 on board!

  • So-called “exotic” cruises—Japan, South America, southeast Asia, Australia, Galapagos Islands, the Middle East, and my dream trip: Antarctica

  • Repositioning cruises—these are cruises that start in one city and end someplace else. Example: a ship sails round trip from Seattle to Alaska all summer long. In the winter, she sails from San Diego to Mexico. Once a year, she will sail from Seattle to San Diego one way, as a repositioning cruise. Prices on these cruises are usually excellent, too.

  • And many more options!

Go on cruise lines or ships that do not attract kids

While most cruise lines claim they want families to sail them, a few go out of their way to attract them: Carnival, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean. Avoid these three and you have a greater chance of avoiding kids. If you want to sail them, choose older or smaller ships—fewer “bells and whistles” means fewer kids. MSC has a “kids sail free” program, so it’s another one to avoid.

On the other hand, Holland America has the reputation of attracting older guests, so fewer kids. Princess and Celebrity are also good choices, especially when combined with my other tips above. River cruise ships are not built with kids in mind, so fewer families sail them. And Viking—the largest river cruise line—doesn’t even allow kids under 18 to sail!

Of course, a fifth way to avoid kids is to leave what we call the mass market (Carnival, Princess, Norwegian, etc.) and sail the luxury market (Crystal, Cunard, Seabourn, etc.). But if you have money for that, you probably have money to pay someone else to sail with you and keep all the kids way more than socially distant from you!

About Brian Cole Miller Brian owns and hosts Daddy Cruises®--a seven year old agency that gathers together guys who’ll travel to create community on the seas, with intimate sized groups on reasonably priced voyages. You can reach him with questions at

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