Setting sail on a cruise ship marks the beginning of an enchanting journey. However, amidst the excitement, there’s a pertinent query often poised by enthusiastic explorers: How old do you have to be to go on a cruise by yourself?

We’ve got you covered with a detailed guide to help you plan your solo cruise adventure while keeping in mind the age restrictions and other important considerations. Whether you are a seasoned traveler or a novice, this guide seeks to illuminate the path to your high-seas escapade, ensuring your journey is as smooth as the ocean breeze.

Two cruise ships docked

Legal Age Requirements: The Basics 

Embarking on a journey across the serene and expansive seas is a dream many harbor. However, there are essential legal prerequisites to be considered, primarily focusing on the age requirement stipulated by cruise lines. Generally, the majority of cruise lines mandate a minimum age requirement of 21 years. This age criterion is put in place to ensure a secure and responsible environment aboard, mitigating any potential liabilities or disruptions.

This age prerequisite, however, isn’t universally standard. Different countries and cruise lines may have varying age restrictions, each molded by their respective legal frameworks and organizational policies. For instance, while some European cruise lines might permit 18-year-olds to travel unaccompanied, others, especially those operating under U.S. jurisdiction, may stick to a stricter 21-year age threshold.

Moreover, international waters have their own set of rules and regulations, and these can also impact the age restrictions imposed by cruise lines. It is crucial for potential travelers to meticulously research and adhere to these diversified age requirements to evade any hindrances in their oceanic sojourns. These considerations are pivotal in ensuring that the cruise experience is harmonious and delightful, unmarred by legal complications or unforeseen impediments.

What Is the Youngest Age You Can Go on a Cruise? Cruise Lines Minimum Age Requirements

Planning a cruise can be an exciting endeavor, but it also comes with its share of complexities, especially when it concerns age requirements. Each cruise line has its own set of rules, and sometimes these rules can even change depending on the time of year or specific circumstances. Below, we delve into the minimum age requirements for major cruise lines, as well as spotlight some unique policies and exceptions.

Family of three going on a cruise

Carnival Cruise Line

For Carnival, the general rule is that all passengers must be at least 21 years old. However, if you’re traveling with a group, having at least one person in the cabin who is over 25 years old is sufficient.

  • Drinking: Must be 21 or older.
  • Gambling: The age limit is 18.

Holland America Line

The age requirement for Holland America is somewhat lenient compared to others. Passengers must be 18 years old or accompanied by someone who is at least 21.

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises stipulates that all passengers must be 25 years old, or have at least one individual in the cabin who is over the age of 25.

Disney Cruise Line

At Disney Cruise Line, all passengers must be 21 or have at least one person in the cabin over 21 years of age.

  • Drinking: 21 or older.
  • Gambling: Not applicable as Disney ships do not have casinos.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Similar to several other cruise lines, Norwegian requires all passengers to be 21 or be accompanied by someone over 21.

  • Drinking: 21 or older.
  • Gambling: 21 or older.

Costa Cruises

Costa Cruises requires that all passengers be at least 21 years old or be accompanied by someone over 21. Notably, during specific periods like Spring Break, passengers between the ages of 21 and 24 must share a cabin with someone who is at least 25 years old.

  • Drinking: 21 or older.
  • Gambling: 18 or older.

Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises allows passengers who are 18 or older, as long as there’s someone in the cabin who is also 18 or older.

  • Drinking: 21 or older.
  • Gambling: 21 or older.

Royal Caribbean

All passengers aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise must be 21 or share a cabin with someone who is at least 25.

Windjammer Cruises

Windjammer also allows passengers who are 18 or older, as long as there’s at least one person in the cabin who is 18 or older.

Unique Policies and Exceptions

1. Costa Cruises’ Spring Break Clause: Age requirements may tighten during specific seasons.

2. Disney’s No Casino Policy: The gambling age is not applicable due to the absence of casinos.

Knowing these age requirements can be crucial for planning a hassle-free, enjoyable cruise experience. Always check the latest policies directly with the cruise line before booking, as rules may change.

Age Categories and Requirements for Different Cruise Lines

The age policies of various cruise lines can be a tricky task. This guide simplifies the landscape, providing a breakdown of age categories and unique requirements across popular cruise brands.

Family playing together by the sea

Infants (0-1)

Cruising with infants can be a unique experience, and many might be surprised to know that some cruise lines welcome newborn babies. CroisiEurope, a river cruise line, also has no minimum age requirement, providing an additional option for families with infants. MSC Cruises is notable for its flexible age policy, welcoming even newborns on board for extended voyages and trips with multiple consecutive sea days, although certain exceptions do apply.

However, parents must consider potential complications like the baby needing medical care before deciding to cruise with a very young infant.

Children (2-12 years old) 

As infants grow, more cruise lines become available options. For instance, Celestyal Cruises opens its doors to babies from three months old. At six months, most cruise lines will allow babies, especially on routes with less consecutive sea days. By the time babies are 12 years old, they can cruise on nearly all family-friendly cruise lines, even on those with more extended sea days like transatlantic cruises.

However, families with walking babies should consider choosing family-friendly ships due to the active nature of toddlers. P&O Cruises sets itself apart by permitting children as young as two to participate in their kids’ club, a feature that distinguishes them from many other cruise lines with stricter age restrictions.

16 Year Old

Sixteen and seventeen-year-olds must be accompanied by a legal guardian or an adult on most cruises, but they usually enjoy more freedom on the ship, being allowed to stay in their cabins and participate in various activities independently, like attending theatre shows and going to the gym. However, leaving the ship without adult permission may still be restricted depending on the cruise line’s policies.

18 Year Old

father and son doing a toast

Turning 18 opens up more cruising options but with limitations. Many cruise lines require at least one passenger on the booking to be aged twenty-one 21 or over. Eighteen-year-olds seeking to cruise without parents will need to find those specific cruise lines that allow them to book independently or will need an older companion to comply with the age policies of most cruise lines.

Other Considerations

The rules continue to diversify as children age. For instance, many river cruise lines start accepting children at four years old, like Uniworld and AmaWaterways, and some exotic river cruises require kids to be at least seven years old. However, eight is generally considered a suitable age for kids to truly enjoy and learn from river cruises.

In summary, age requirements for cruise lines vary significantly, and potential cruisers, especially those with young children, should thoroughly investigate their desired cruise line’s age policies and available amenities and activities for children to ensure a harmonious and memorable cruise experience.

Cruise Options for Individuals Eighteen Years of Age

Exploring the ocean waves is not solely the privilege of those over 21; there are ample cruise options and tailored packages that cater to the zest and vigor of the younger demographic. Several cruise lines offer an array of services, activities, and packages designed to engage and entertain younger travelers, even if they cannot travel unaccompanied.

Friends having fun on a ship

Special Packages and Activities for Young Cruisers

Some cruise lines have recognized the enthusiasm and curiosity of younger travelers and have crafted special programs and activities to cater to them. For example, cruise lines such as Cunard, Marella, MSC, and P&O Cruises permit 18-year-olds to cruise even without the accompaniment of someone with a minimum drinking age of 21 or older. However, it’s noteworthy that certain restrictions apply like MSC and Royal Caribbean allowing this only if there are no ports in the U.S.

These special packages and activities are meticulously crafted, aiming to provide younger cruisers with an enriching and invigorating experience. They often include engaging activities, entertainment options, and possibly educational programs, catering to the diverse interests and preferences of the younger demographic.

Pool in a cruise ship

How Old Do You Have to Be to Participate in Onboard Activities?

While younger travelers have options, it is pivotal to understand the limitations that come with age when it comes to participating in certain onboard activities. For instance, age restrictions are in place for activities such as gambling and drinking, and accessing adult-only pools. Understanding these restrictions is crucial for younger travelers to manage their expectations and plan their activities accordingly.

Younger cruisers who face restrictions can explore a myriad of other fascinating activities offered onboard. From state-of-the-art gaming arcades to adventurous rock-climbing experiences and enlightening workshops, the possibilities are boundless. They can also explore the enriching shore excursions, varied dining options, and other amenities that do not impose age restrictions.

In conclusion, the cruise industry is burgeoning with possibilities and experiences for individuals eighteen years of age. By staying informed about the available options, limitations, and alternatives, younger travelers can ensure a delightful and memorable cruise experience.

Best Cruise Lines for Young Solo Travelers

Woman swimming in the sea

Traveling solo is an empowering experience, offering an opportunity for self-discovery, adventure, and an unparalleled sense of freedom. For young travelers eager to embark on a solo cruise, certain cruise lines outshine others in catering to their unique preferences and interests. Here’s a curated list of cruise lines that offer remarkable packages and amenities tailored for the young solo traveler:

1. Royal Caribbean: Known for its bustling activity roster, this cruise line offers a vast array of entertainment options, including rock climbing, zip lining, and even onboard surfing simulations. With their ‘Studio Staterooms’ designed explicitly for solo travelers, young cruisers can experience luxury without paying a single supplement.

2. Norwegian Cruise Line: A pioneer in catering to solo travelers, Norwegian offers the award-winning ‘Studio’ cabins that come with access to a private lounge. The cruise line also organizes meet-ups for solo travelers, ensuring they can mingle and make new friends.

3. MSC Cruises: Boasting a modern fleet and vibrant nightlife, MSC offers a dynamic atmosphere perfect for younger travelers. With its dedicated solo traveler activities and a range of entertainment options, it ensures solo cruisers never feel alone.

4. Marella Cruises: Known for its contemporary vibe, Marella Cruises offers an array of onboard activities and entertainment tailored to the younger demographic. With offerings from live musical acts to dance shows and themed celebrations, the cruise line guarantees an electrifying atmosphere.

5. Cunard: While it emanates an aura of classic luxury, Cunard is surprisingly welcoming to young solo travelers. Offering dedicated solo cabins and a series of onboard events and activities, it’s a blend of tradition and modernity.

6. P&O Cruises: Focusing world cruises on British travelers, P&O offers an eclectic mix of activities, including comedy shows, live music, and dance classes. Their solo cabins are both comfortable and affordable, making them an excellent choice for young cruisers.

7. Holland America: Although it might seem more traditional, Holland America has been increasingly catering to younger solo travelers. With music partnerships like BB King’s Blues Club and Billboard Onboard, the cruise line offers a rhythmic journey at sea.

In essence, the world of cruising offers a plethora of options for young solo travelers. These cruise lines, with their tailored packages and amenities, ensure that younger cruisers get the most out of their journey, blending adventure, relaxation, and a sense of community.

Cruises Exclusively for Adults

Couple looking far away

For travelers seeking a serene escape without the hustle and bustle of younger guests, several cruise lines offer exclusively adult-only ships. These cruises provide an atmosphere that’s often more tranquil, refined, and catered to an older demographic, offering the perfect setting for relaxation, romance, or even mature adventure. Here’s a list of prominent cruise lines and their ships that offer an exclusively adult experience:

  • P&O Cruises:
    • Arcadia
    • Aurora
  • Marella:
    • Marella Explorer 2
  • Tui River Cruises:
  • Viking
  • Virgin Voyages

Choosing an adult-only cruise ensures a particular ambiance and style of service. Whether you’re in search of a peaceful getaway, a romantic voyage, or a mature adventure with like-minded travelers, these ships offer an experience tailored to adult sensibilities and preferences.

Financial Considerations for Young Solo Cruisers

Young solo cruisers often find themselves navigating through unique financial challenges when planning a cruise vacation. When searching for the best cruises for young adults, it’s important to consider both the financial aspects and the types of activities and entertainment that cater to a younger crowd. From single supplements to age-specific promotions, understanding the financial landscape of cruising as a younger traveler can make all the difference in ensuring a memorable and affordable voyage.

Woman on a boat looking at the sea

Tips for Affordable Solo Cruising

Budgeting for a cruise doesn’t mean compromising on the experience. Here are some strategies tailored for the young traveler:

  1. Look for No Single Supplement Deals: Some cruise lines waive the single supplement fees during promotional periods.
  2. Early Bird or Last-Minute Bookings: Booking well in advance or snagging last-minute deals can lead to significant savings.
  3. Travel During Off-Peak Seasons: Avoiding peak vacation times can result in better deals and fewer crowds.
  4. Join Youthful Loyalty Programs: Cruise lines like Norwegian and Royal Caribbean often have promotions targeted towards younger demographics, providing discounts or onboard credits.

Tips for Young Solo Travelers on Cruises

If you’re looking for a life-enriching adventure, going on a solo cruise can certainly provide that. To ensure your journey is as enjoyable as it is safe, there are a few tips you should keep in mind.

  1. Safety First: Always inform a trusted person of your itinerary, and be cautious when sharing personal information with new acquaintances.
  2. Participate in Meet-ups: Many cruise lines organize gatherings for solo travelers, offering a fantastic way to meet fellow cruisers.
  3. Embrace Group Activities: From dance classes to shore excursions, group activities can be a gateway to new friendships and experiences.
  4. Stay Informed: Attend the ship’s daily briefings to stay updated on activities and events tailored for solo travelers.


From exploring the myriad of age-related policies set forth by different cruise lines to diving into the world of exciting activities, tailored packages, and serene adult-only ships, the choices and considerations are as vast as the ocean. Navigating through the nuanced policies regarding the minimum age requirements, understanding the specificities of various cruise line age policies, and harnessing tips for financial planning ensures that your cruising experience sails smoothly from the harbor of anticipation to the shores of delightful memories.

Even as we anchor this guide, your adventure is just on the horizon. Sail into a world where your vacation is filled with breathtaking vistas, encounters with diverse cultures, and memories crafted in the unique mold of your experiences. As you ponder over the thrilling question of how old you have to be to go on a cruise by yourself, may the waves of adventure inspire you to explore the vast, mesmerizing ocean of opportunities.

Set your sights on your next big adventure, consider your options, dive into meticulous preparation, and may your sails be ever filled with the winds of awe-inspiring travels. 🚢🌊🌏


Can 2 people aged 18 year old go on a cruise alone?

Yes, certain cruise lines, like Cunard and Marella, allow 18-year-olds to cruise alone. However, most cruises have specific age policies, often requiring at least one person in the cabin to be 21 or older. Always check the specific cruise line’s age policy before booking.

Can a 16 year old go on a cruise by themselves?

Typically, no. The majority of cruise lines stipulate that travelers under the age of 18 must share a cabin with at least one parent or an adult who is typically 21 years of age or older. Some cruise lines may have specific policies for teens traveling with their families in separate cabins.

What can a 16 year old do on a cruise?

A 16-year-old can enjoy a variety of activities on a cruise, including participating in teen-only clubs and lounges, engaging in onboard sports like basketball or mini-golf, and taking advantage of age-appropriate entertainment options like movies and concerts. Many cruise lines also offer special teen excursions at port stops, providing opportunities for adventure and exploration. It’s a mix of freedom and structured activities that make cruising fun for teenagers.

Can an 18 year old go on a Carnival cruise alone?

No. Carnival’s policy states that all passengers must be 21 years old to travel alone or have at least one person in the cabin over the age of 25. Exceptions might be made for married couples or active military members, but it’s crucial to confirm with Carnival directly.