Costa Cruises Offers Kids Lower Rates ... and Their Own Cabins?

December 12, 2008
Costa Cruises is the latest cruise line to offer low rates to families -- but this particular deal's got a bit of a twist.

The Italian line has announced a family promotion with attractive children's pricing. For example, on a seven-night cruise on Costa Victoria -- departing from Dubai on 4 April 2009 to Oman and Bahrain -- adults pay £529 and children pay £349. Another -- a five-night cruise on Costa Magica, from Savona around the Mediterranean -- starts at £409 per adult and £299 per child. This cruise departs on 5 May 2009. The family promotion will also be extended to U.S. customers at comparable rates.

But, in a change from the norm, children don't need to be the third or fourth passengers in a single stateroom in order to qualify for these lower rates. Instead, Costa will be allowing children younger than 17 to stay in cabins by themselves, and since there is no lower age limit, kids of any age can stay in an inside cabin together, sans parents.

This is different, as most cruise lines' rules (whether they're followed or not) state one person in a cabin must be at least 18 or 21 years of age. For example, Norwegian Cruise Line requires at least one person staying in any cabin to be older than 21, while P&O Cruises requires anyone under the age of 18 to be accompanied by someone over 21. With Costa's promotion, however, so long as one member of the travelling party is older than 18, youngsters can stay in their own inside cabin, and parents enjoy savings and extra space to boot.

We think this is where things could get interesting. Let's say a couple is travelling with two children or grandchildren. Costa will give the group two interconnecting cabins, if at all possible, but cannot guarantee such a setup (Royal Caribbean, meanwhile, will waive their age limit, 21, only "for minor children sailing with their parents or guardians in adjacent staterooms"). So, youngsters might be left to their own devices -- not next door, but down the hall or even on a different deck. This might be a fine arrangement for older teens who are well-behaved and can be trusted "home alone," but what about the wee ones who could potentially cause a wee bit more trouble?

A Costa spokesperson said that it is the parents' responsibility to decide whether their children can stay in a separate cabin and, if so, to look after them. When asked about any potential damage caused by children, again Costa said it is a "parental responsibility." However, one stipulation of this offer is that children staying without parents or guardians are allowed to stay in inside staterooms only.

Would you let your kids sail in their own cabin? Post your views here.

--by Kelly Ranson, U.K. Editor