Cruise Tip Tuesday | Deposits are Refundable

Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas

In most cases the deposit you put down on a cruise will be 100% refundable if you cancel by a certain number of days before the cruise starts.  This is great for when a woman gets pregnant and can no longer cruise due to cruise line pregnancy policies.  It is also great if you can not find reasonable airfare to the departure port (European and other foreign cruises especially!) and decide it is not worth that cost to go on the cruise. 

Here are typical cruise cancellation policies stating at what point they are 100% refundable.  Some special cruise rates will not be refundable and concierge level or similar rooms might have stricter policies.  All numbers are for days prior to the cruise start date.


100% Refundable:

  • 61+ Days for 2-5 Day Cruises
  • 76+ Days 6+ Day Cruises (including Alaska and Hawaii)
  • 91+ Days Europe, Panama Canal, Transpacific 7, 9, 12, 12, and 17 Day Cruises 


100% Refundable:

  • 60+ Days 1-5 Night Cruises (non-holiday)
  • 75+ Days 6+ Night Cruises (non-holiday)
  • 90+ Days 1-5 Night Holiday Cruises
  • 90+ Days 6+ Night Holiday Cruises


100% Refundable:

  • 75+ Days for 9 Day or Less Cruises Starting or Ending from a US port
  • 90+ Days for 10 Day or More Cruises and those not starting or ending from a US port

Holland America

100% Refundable:

  • 121+ Days for Grand Voyages (all “Grand” sailings), 15-60 Day Hawaii & Polynesia, Incan, Amazon
  • 91+ Days Holiday and South America/Antarctica Sailings
  • 76+ Days Caribbean, Panama Canal, Mexico, Bermuda, Canada & New England, Alaska, and 14-17 Day Hawaii


100% Refundable:

  • 76+ Days Before Cruise


100% Refundable:

  • 76+ Days 1-5 Night Holiday Cruises
  • 61+ Days 1-5 Night Cruises (non-holiday)
  • 91+ Days 6+ Night Holiday Cruises
  • 76+ Days 6+ Night Cruises (non-holiday)


100% Refundable:

  • 60+ Days 1-5 Day Cruises
  • 75+ Days 6-29 Day Cruises (non-holiday)
  • 90+ Days Holiday Cruises up to 29 Days
  • 120+ Days 30+ Day Cruises

Royal Caribbean

100% Refundable:

  • 60+ Days 1-5 Night Cruises (non-holiday)
  • 75+ Days 6+ Night Cruises (non-holiday)
  • 90+ Days 1-5 Night Holiday Cruises
  • 90+ Days 6+ Night Holiday Cruises

photo credit: Cruise News Weekly

What is Freestyle Dining on NCL?


We have gone on 2 Norwegian Cruises with kids, so we understand a little bit of what Freestyle Dining is all about. 

Freestyle Dining:

  • No set dining time
  • No assigned waiters
  • No set dining location
  • No assigned seating
  • Casual dress code (do not have to dress up on “Dress Up or Not” nights)
  • 2 main dining rooms on every ship
  • As many as nine dining options included in your cruise fare
  • Specialty restaurants for an additional charge
  • Every ship offers steakhouses, French bistros,  and Italian trattorias (for extra charge)
  • Check out this Dining Options document for a full list of options by ship

The Freestyle dining can be a great option for families.  There is no need to rush to the dining rooms for a set dining time as many other cruise lines require.  If your child needs a nap, you can leave once they are sleeping in their stroller or wait until they are done with their nap.  If you stay onshore after dinner starts, you will not miss a set dining time.

Disadvantages of Freestyle Dining:

  • Might have to wait to be seated (especially after 6pm)
  • Might not get a “good” waiter – we definitely saw a difference with the waiters because we had kids.  Some took the kids orders immediately and others did not think to consider the kids’ needs very well.
  • Must plan ahead yourself to ensure you make it to the shows – allow enough time assuming service is decent to get to the show you want
  • Waiters do not know you – such as if you usually order alcohol, if you want a high chair, if you usually need more bread and water, etc.
  • Since you do not get to know a waiter throughout the week, the service might feel less personal than you would prefer
  • You might feel odd being dressed up and seeing people in jeans right next to you

photo credit: Cruise News Weekly

More For Your Money Monday: Kids Cruise Free on MSC Cruises

MSC Logo on the Poesia in Curacao

Did you know that there is a cruise line that actually lets kids cruise FREE on every cruise?  MSC Cruises, a lesser known cruise company from Europe, offers free cruises for kids 11 and under and typically $99 for those 12-17 years old.  The only costs will be government port charges and fees.  Gratuities are additional as well for children over 3* but only half the price of adults.  The children must be the 3rd or 4th passengers in a cabin with two adults paying Early Booking or Regular Rates.

Unfortunately MSC does not have any cabins on any of their ships that hold more than 4 passengers in one cabin, so MSC is great for families of 3 or 4 OR  you could travel with the grandparents like we do and put your older 3rd and/or 4th children in their room and still qualify for the free or $99 child rate.

MSC offers Caribbean and Canada/New England cruises in North America as well as Northern Europe, Mediterranean, South African, South American, and Transatlantic cruises.  We sailed the beautiful MSC Poesia over Thanksgiving in 2009 which was built in 2008.  This is their ship that currently cruises in the Caribbean and Canada/New England.

If you have any questions about MSC, feel free to leave them in the comments, and I will try to answer them below or in another post.

*I am not positive of the free gratuity policy, but my 6 month old and 3 year old at the time were NOT charged gratuities on the MSC Poesia.

Cruise Line Policies: Minimum Age for Infants to Cruise

My 6 month old on the MSC Poesia with his grandpa and sister

Bringing your baby on a cruise can be a fun experience especially if you have help from the grandparents!   The crew members absolutely love to see babies on the ships as they often miss their own families back at home, and well babies are just cute!

Below is a list by cruise line of the minimum ages for infants to cruise.  Please note that even if there is no minimum age, it can be very difficult and expensive to get a US Passport for an infant shortly after his/her birth.  You need to receive the infant’s Social Security number as well as the Birth Certificate to apply for a passport.  Both of those can take several weeks to arrive after the birth. 

Planning a cruise for when the infant is 6 months old is fairly safe as long as you get the passport application in shortly after receiving your child’s Social Security card and official Birth Certificate.

Not all cruises require a US Passport, but it is definitely safer to have one in case anything happens while in port in a foreign country.


  • 6 months old – All except below
  • 12 months old - Transatlantic, Hawaii and South American cruises


  • 6 months oldas of the first day of the cruise/cruisetour Except below.
  • 12 months old –  Transatlantic, Transpacific, select South American cruises/cruisetours and other select cruises/cruisetours (Any cruise that has 3 or more consecutive days at sea will require infants to be 12 months old on the first day of the cruise/CruiseTour).


  • 6 months on embarkation
  • 12 months on embarkation for: trans-ocean crossings (Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Arctic, etc.), World cruises, cruises of 15 days or longer duration, and any other itinerary which may in the opinion of Costa Crociere or CCL present serious risk to infants in need of emergency medical care.


  • 12 weeks old on the date you sail.

Holland America:

  • 6 months old - All except below
  • 12 months old - For transocean cruises at the time of sailing


  • No minimum age requirement

Norwegian (NCL):

  • 6 months old – All except below
  • 12 months old -  For cruises with 3 or more consecutive days at sea


  • 6 months old - Alaska, Canada & New England, Caribbean & Mexican Riviera, Europe, and Panama Canal sailings
  • 12 months old – Africa, Asia, Antarctica, Australia, New Zealand, Indian Subcontinent, South Pacific, Tahiti, Hawaii, South America, Transpacific, and Transatlantic sailings

Royal Caribbean:

  • 6 months old - As of the first day of the sailing Except below
  • 12 months old- Transatlantic, transpacific, Hawaii, select South American and other selected cruises and/or CruiseTours.  Basically any cruise that has 3 or more days consecutive at sea will require infants to be 12 months old on the first day of the cruise/CruiseTour. - click here!

Cruise Line Policies: Pregnancy

Session - Marchiori Family - Ciudad Jardín del Palomar - Buenos Aires
Creative Commons License photo credit: emilianohorcada

Taking a cruise while pregnant not seem like a great choice, but I have seen several ladies do it and actually seem to enjoy themselves.  If it can be planned, cruising sometime between 13 weeks and 23 weeks of pregnancy would probably be ideal.  The second trimester is usually the best time to travel as you are usually over the morning sickness and not too big to be too uncomfortable.  Rough seas and morning sickness could make for a pretty miserable cruise vacation.

Here is a list of the pregnancy policies by cruise line:


NOT reached 25 weeks by disembarkation (last day of cruise).

All pregnant women are required to produce a physician’s letter stating that mother and baby are in good health, fit to travel and the pregnancy is not high-risk. The letter must also include the estimated date of delivery (EDD).


Can NOT have entered the 24th week of pregnancy by the date of embarkation or the beginning of the cruisetour.

They also require a physician’s “Fit to Travel” note faxed to them prior to sailing, stating how far along (in weeks) your pregnancy will be at the beginning of the cruise and confirming that you are in good health and not experiencing a high-risk pregnancy.


24 completed weeks or less on the date of cruise disembarkation. 

Cost requires all pregnant women to provide a physician’s letter at embarkation stating the estimated date of delivery and that mother and baby are in good health and fit to travel


Can NOT have entered the 24th week of pregnancy on the day of Embarkation

Holland America

NOT entered 24th week by the end of the cruise.


NOT entered 28th week of pregnancy by the end of the cruise.

They also require a medical certificate of fitness to travel.


NOT entered 24th week of pregnancy by the end of the cruise.

Must provide a medical certificate establishing your due date prior to your cruise.


Can NOT have entered the 24th week prior to the end of the cruise.

Royal Caribbean

Can NOT have entered 24th week of pregnancy by the end of the cruise.

A physician’s “Fit to Travel” note is required prior to sailing, stating how far along (in weeks) your pregnancy will be at the beginning of the cruise and confirming that you are in good health and not experiencing a high-risk pregnancy.


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