Cruising While Pregnant: What to Know Before You Book

When you’re pregnant, even simple things can take on a new level of complexity. You have to change what you eat, what you drink, and even a number of activities you otherwise would do. It can create a lot of questions that frankly, you may not have ever considered before you were expecting.

Pregnant on a cruise
Not sure what to expect when you cruise while pregnant? Here’s a run-down of some of the important things to know.

Now imagine all of that, on top of taking a cruise. From sleeping to eating… to even if you are allowed to take a cruise while pregnant, there’s likely a lot that you’re not quite sure about when it comes to sailing.

The good news is that cruising while pregnant is fairly straightforward, as long as you know you know a few bits of important information.

You Can Sail Before 23/24 Weeks of Pregnancy

By far the biggest thing you should know before even booking a cruise while pregnant (or planning to get pregnant) is to know there are strict rules about when you can sail.

Each cruise line will have their own cut-offs, but most only allow you to sail if you are not entering the 24th week of pregnancy before or while on the cruise ship. If you are going to be at this point in your pregnancy any time during the trip, then you won’t be allowed to board.

You’ll want to check your specific line for their rules as there may be some variance between lines. 

Royal Caribbean pregnancy rules
Cruise lines typically allow you to sail up to 24 weeks of pregnancy, but the specifics will vary by line.

How will the cruise line know how far along you are? You’ll have to fill out a health form prior to boarding that will include questions about if you are pregnant.

Why Cruise Lines Are Strict About Pregnancy Age Limits

Wondering why the cruise lines are so strict about how late in the pregnancy you can sail? It comes down to safety.

As Carnival lays out on their website, “prenatal and early infant care, in particular, may require specialized diagnostic facilities and/or treatment that are not obtainable during the cruise on board the ship and/or ashore in ports of call.”

Remember, you are on a ship in the middle of the ocean and sailing to ports that are often less developed than what you are used to seeing back home. If there are any complications that come up, it could be a major issue. There are medical facilities on the ship, but they just aren’t equipped to handle these types of issues.

Keep Cancellation Rules in Mind

One thing we highly suggest is knowing the ins and outs of your cruise line’s cancellation policies if you are or plan on becoming pregnant. Sometimes they aren’t so friendly when you’re expecting.

For instance, Carnival’s website says clearly that “any pregnant woman who tries to board the vessel, who has or will enter her 24th week of estimated fetal gestational age at any time during the cruise, risks denial of boarding and/or disembarkation without compensation or refund.”

In other words, it’s possible that if you don’t meet the cruise line’s pregnancy cut-off, you won’t be allowed to sail and you could lose your cruise fare.

That’s why it’s important that as soon as you know you won’t meet the cruise line’s requirement to sail that you go through the steps to cancel. Cruise lines have cancellation policies that escalate — meaning that the closer you are to the sail date, the less money you’ll receive as a refund if you cancel. In other words, canceling as early as possible is ideal.

As well, you can opt for “cancel for any reason” travel insurance, which will let you cancel your trip and receive some compensation.

Navigating Drink Packages When You Can’t Drink

Drinking is a big pastime on a cruise. You’ll find bars all around the ship, and there are even drink packages where you can essentially have an open bar for one set price.

These drink packages are popular, but obviously they are not for those who are expecting. Still, the rules say that if one person in the cabin buys it (i.e. the husband) then all adults in the same room must purchase it as well.

If you find yourself in this sort of situation, it’s worth a call to the cruise line. Since you are pregnant, buying an alcoholic drink package shouldn’t be required. You should be able to get an exception for your situation.

Be Sure to Pack Anything You Might Need

We’ve discussed cruising with babies and small children and always advise parents to pack anything they might even possibly need. There are stores on the ship that sell small sundries, but they are expensive, limited in brands, and may be closed when you need something.

It’s the same advice for sailing while pregnant. If there is anything you could even possibly need, go ahead and bring it. That way no matter the time, you have it available. This includes things like vitamins, medicines, and comfort items.

One thing to know is that in addition to the shops on the ship, most ports of call will have a pharmacy or convenience store with all sorts of items. If you do forget something, chances are you can pick it up here.

Cruises Are Great at Working Around Special Diets

When you become pregnant, you know that your diet can change dramatically. From caffeine to soft cheese, the list of what not to eat and drink can be pretty long.

The good news is that cruises are good at offering a lot of variety and also meeting just about any diet. If there is something you can’t eat — or something that you crave — chances are that you can be accommodated.

You can “do it yourself” via what you order off the menu to get what you want, but don’t hesitate to ask the waitstaff if there are other options if needed.

Be Smart About Shore Excursions

Shore excursions like driving this speed boat are fun, but may not be appropriate if pregnant. You can use common sense, or talk to the Shore Excursion staff on the ship to see if a certain outing is a good idea for you.

Ports of call are a major part of taking a cruise. And in port, shore excursions are a great way to sightsee, have an adventure, or experience things that you simply can’t do back home.

But there is a wide range of excursion options. From extreme activities like jet boat rides and scuba diving to relaxing days like lounging on the beach, you can find no shortage of things to do. However, not all of them are appropriate for someone who is pregnant.

For many of these excursions, you can use common sense to know if they are good for those carrying. But if you have questions, there is a shore excursion desk on the ship. You can stop in and ask them any questions, get more details about the activity, and figure out what is best for you.

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