Do Cruise Ships Impose Curfews on Teens?

January 6, 2012

(3:30 p.m. EDT) -- Do cruise ships impose curfews on their youngest passengers? That's the question readers have been asking after we learned of a teenager who alleges she was sexually assaulted on a recent Royal Caribbean cruise. According to police reports, she left Allure of the Seas' teen club at 1:45 a.m. to go to the cabin of another teen she met. So we wondered: Are kids and teens allowed to roam the ship after hours, or do cruise lines ask that they be tucked in their beds by a certain time?

What we learned is that there is no industry standard for teen curfews, leaving much of the responsibility to parents to set guidelines and educate their kids on late-night behavior and safety. Here are the policies of a few of the top family-friendly lines:

Carnival. Carnival Cruise Lines has no curfew for teens after organized activities end around 12:30 or 1 a.m. Company spokesman Vance Gulliksen says that "generally speaking, teens tend to return to their cabins following the conclusion of the nighttime activities. As for younger children participating in the Camp Carnival program, parents are required to collect their children when the program ends at 10 p.m." Parents are also required to personally collect kids from the for-fee Night Owls late-night babysitting program, which is offered until 3 a.m.

Princess Cruises. According to Princess Cruises spokesman Brian Henriksen, Princess does not impose a curfew on kids or teens. The line leaves this to the discretion of parents. The teen program typically remains open until 1 a.m., but during select voyages with high numbers of teens onboard, the teen center may be open until 3 a.m. There are certain spaces that are off limits to younger passengers. Minors (under age 18) are not permitted in the ships' nightclubs after 10 p.m., regardless of whether or not they are accompanied by a parent/guardian, and passengers under the age of 21 are not permitted in the casinos. For a fee, the line offers group "kidsitting" for children ages 3 to 12 in the Youth Center from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. each evening.

Norwegian Cruise Line. Norwegian imposes a 1 a.m. curfew for passengers under the age of 17, says spokeswoman AnneMarie Mathews. Kids and teens are allowed to be out later if they're participating in an organized youth club activity or accompanied by parents. The curfew is published in both the Freestyle Daily onboard newsletter and in the Youth Program booklet, and is enforced by the ship's security staff. Late-night babysitting and teen programming typically run until 1 or 1:30 a.m.

Disney Cruise Line. Disney does not impose a curfew. "Safety is our top priority and we trust that parents set appropriate boundaries for their families," company spokeswoman Lauren Falcone told Cruise Critic in an e-mail. She adds that supervised activities in Disney's kids clubs -- the Oceaneer's Club and Oceaneer's Lab -- are available until midnight, while teen activities run until 1 or 2 a.m.

Royal Caribbean has not responded to our multiple e-mail requests for information at press time.

--by Erica Silverstein, Features Editor