Top Tested Tips for Cruising with Babies and ToddlersBy
By the Avid Cruiser
I’ve taken my nearly 7-year-old twin boys on 20 cruises, the first when they were 9 months old, so I’ve learned the ropes from good old practical hands-on, trial-and-error experience. If you’re thinking about cruising with babies or toddlers, heed some advice from a mom who had lived to tell about it.
Make sure you know the minimum age for kids programming before you book a cruise. Many drop-off programs have a minimum-age of three; a few age one or two (Disney and Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas have drop-off programming for babies under one; three months and six months respectively).
Don’t assume your little ones will be happy about being dropped off at the nursery or playroom, if there’s too much crying, you’ll be asked to take them out. It’s never happened to me (what does that say?), but I’ve seen it happen often to other parents. Bummer to have to cancel a massage appointment or a wine tasting seminar, but it’s a possibility.
Private babysitting works great for young children who are predictable sleepers. For me, worked like a charm to have an off-duty cabin stewardess come in about 8:15pm every night just after boys had nodded off into dreamland. I split for four hours to have dinner and drinks with adults, and they were never the wiser.
Ideally, book a cabin with a mini-fridge and tub. And don’t forget to use the 24-hour room service to order milk, breakfast, snacks and sometimes even pizza.
If your kids are still in diapers, eating jar food and/or drinking formula, you gotta bring your own. I repeat, you have to bring your own.
Most ships have cribs, but don’t forget to request one when you book. Keep in mind, there’s not an unlimited supply on board.
In the spirit of packing light, don’t bother lugging aboard extraneous baby supplies. For instance, ditch the pile of bibs (I tied ships’ cloth restaurant napkins around my guys’ necks in a cute little Frenchy-style triangle) and forget bulky plastic or sponge baby bathtubs (though most standard cabins have showers only, I made this work by putting a folded bath towel on the shower flower and placing my babies on it while showering them; most cabin showers have a removal hose-style shower head that makes this routine easier).
The more ports, the better, and make sure they’re warm and sunny ones …trust me. It’ll be a loonnnnnnggg week with a squirmy toddler if there’s not ample opportunity to jump ship and explore. Beaches are no brainers, but even just pushing baby around the port town in a stroller is a nice change of pace. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a grassy park or playground to visit.
Make sure you take potential time changes into consideration before booking a cruise with young children. For me, my guys’ predictable sleep schedule (they were snoring by 8 every night) kept me sane; changes of time zone and jet lag can wreck havoc on an other wise good sleeper.
Avoid the cost and hassles of flying with kids and cruise from a homeport nearby. Seems obvious, but be sure and check out all the options from ports in your vicinity before you assume you have to fly to the ship.
If your mother or Aunt Shirley are hankering to spend some quality time with you and the kids…what are you waiting for, invite them and think: free built-in babysitters!
Content provided by the Avid Cruiser