Passengers Younger Than 22 Sail for Free With This Cruise Line

The deal aligns with the current youth movement in cruising

a smaller boat full of passengers sailing away from a cruise ship
The deal is a great incentive for family trips this year

At what age do kids stop qualifying for travel-related discounts? According to most airlines, the answer is 12 years old. The more generous policies say 16. But if you’re Lindblad Expeditions, “kid” now covers anyone younger than 22. And, as an extension of that allowance, everyone under the age of 22 is now eligible to cruise for free onboard select National Geographic sailings this summer.

“We believe that discovery is a lifelong pursuit, and Lindblad Expeditions is making it easy for children and young adults to join their parents in experiencing some of the world’s truly remote places,” Noah Brodsky, chief commerical officer at Lindblad Expeditions, told Travel + Leisure.

Per the report, the offer is valid on bookings completed by June 30, 2023 and extends to the the company’s 16-day Norway’s Fjords and Arctic Svalbard trip, which departs May 17; its 13-day Legendary Northern Isles: Scotland, Faroes & Iceland departing June 29; its 24-day Gateway to the Northwest Passage: Greenland & Canada departing August 3; its 11-day South Greenland Exploration: Fjords, Waterfalls & Fishing Villages departing August 24; and more. All you need to do is enter code “CHLD FR” at booking.

The one caveat, of course, is that the those younger than 22 are only eligible to sail for free if they’re accompanied by a “full-fare paying adult in [a] double occupancy cabin.” The idea is, I’m sure, that Lindblad wants to reduce the possibility of an onboard MTV Spring Break situation from occurring (and wants to turn at least somewhat of a profit). Which is funny if for no other reason than I’ve always, albeit unfairly, equated cruise ships with mobile retirement homes (according to Cruise Lines International Association, the average age of a cruise passenger is actually only 47).

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The real irony of that line of thinking, however, is that the core cruise market coming out of the pandemic has shifted from Boomers to Millennials and older Gen Zers. According to a 2021 study by Tripadvisor and Accenture, Millennials were found to be more interested in cruising than ever before, with a whopping 58% saying they plan to take a cruise for their next leisure trip. 

Why now, you ask? I have a few theories. Aside from the fact that Millennials and Gen Zers were the first generations to be exposed to cruising at a young age, cruises really do offer the best bang for your buck. Say what you will about them, but the average rate of $130-$260 per person/day covers a cabin, most meals, soft drinks, onboard entertainment, 24/7 access to a concierge and access to the pools, lounges and, presumably, a handful of countries. It doesn’t require much imagination to see why that would appeal to a younger cruiser with potentially limited travel experience and even less disposable income.

Further, cruise lines today are offering real travel opportunities that even the greatest cruise critic can’t deny. There are the Alaskan and Arctic expedition cruises — the demand for which has skyrocketed in recent years — but there are also itineraries that take passengers through the Mediterranean, European rivers and around the Galapagos, just to name a few. I was recently invited on a springtime sail through Japan, China and Vietnam with Azamara and, reader, I’ve never wanted to be holed up on a ship for 17 days so badly.

The last reason, I think, has to do with the sheer amount of options. Itineraries aside, passengers can take a two-night Bahamas cruise, a four-night Amsterdam cruise or even a three-year cruise around the world. The possibilities are endless. And if you live near a port in a city like New York or Miami, it’s easy to justify a short, potentially even weekend, cruise.

So, all of that said, while the Lindblad deal excludes 21-year-olds from scoring the deal sans parent or guardian, it stands to reason that it will increase the likelihood of them agreeing to a family vacation in the first place. And some might even call that priceless.


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