Our cruise vacation was so wonderful! I loved every minute and will treasure our memories for the rest of my life. So would I do it again next year? I don't think so. Next year the plan is to go to one hotel and stay put. We loved our cruise but we think that we will give the one hotel a whirl and see if it is a bit more relaxing.
So are you are thinking of taking your toddler on a cruise? If so I want to highlight a few things that will help you be prepared for your vacation with your kiddo :)
Tips for cruising with toddler:
1. Toddlers pay full fare on most cruise ships--This is ridiculous but true! They don't go to the shows, don't eat the volume of food that the adults do but still pay the same rate. Many passengers do not know this and will give you dirty looks if you bring your child to a show or into a lounge. If your child is not acting out in these public places, kindly let them know that they paid the same rate and deserve to be there ;)
2. Most rooms do not have bathtubs--Rooms on ships are very small and so are the bathrooms. If your child is not accustomed to showering, make sure you bring an inflatable bathtub to bathe them in.
3. The staff love kids!!!--Many of the staff members have families at home and they are away from them for up to 6 months at a time. These staff are usually drawn towards the little guys and want to talk with them, slap them five etc. Make sure you ask them to tell you all about their families.
4. Toddlers who are not toilet trained can not use the swimming pools--There is a rule that children who are not toilet trained are not allowed in the swimming pools. There are also rumors that the pools are so heavily chlorinated (due to all the illnesses on cruises) that they are not safe for children under 4. This rule can be very hard on a toddler who loves to swim! Imagine yourself in that situation.....it is a hot day and there is a nice, refreshing pool right in front of you that you are not allowed to use. We tried to avoid the pool area with Z but this is very challenging. We compromised by placing his inflatable tub on the deck and he "swam" out on the balcony of our room :)
5. Kids clubs usually start at age 3 and are only for toilet trained kids--Many ships have toddler rooms but you are required to be with your child at all times. If you are wanting a vacation where you drop off your child for the day and go and relax by the pool....a cruise might not be a good choice.
6. Most cruise lines are very accommodating for your child's limited palate--Cruise ships are very good at providing foods that kids love. Z had his chicken fingers on a silver platter every night at 6pm ;) They also provided rice milk for him in the room! Some cruise lines make their own baby food (you need to request it ahead of time).
7. Inflatable toys are perfect for travel--We brought a few inflatable beach balls and other toys. Z enjoyed playing with them in the room. We also brought two small trucks, lots of books and some other smaller toys. He had a toy bag in the room so he knew where to go to find his toys.
8. Bring a power strip to give you extra plugs--This is great to plug in your portable DVD player, cell phone charger, walkie talkies etc. There are not many plugs in the rooms so this is essential.
9. Adjoining rooms are wonderful--If you are traveling with other people try to get rooms that adjoin. This makes nap time and bedtime much more manageable, the child can go to sleep while you are in the other room reading or watching TV.
10. Room service is your best friend!--And it is FREE!!!! We got tired of dining out with Z. He was so distracted and did not want to sit in the highchair. We finally got smart and started ordering breakfast in. Every morning at 7:30 our breakfast would arrive and when Z was done, he would go and play. We could then enjoy our food, sip our coffee and take in the sights from our balcony! So much more relaxing. We also got his chicken fingers from the dining room and he ate in the room every night. We had late seating so the nights when we didn't have a babysitter, one of us would stay with Z and order room service in my dad's room. It worked great!!!
11. Babysitting on the ship is great--This allows you to get some needed adult time. The babysitters are staff members (cleaning crew, receptionists etc.) who want to make some extra money. They charge between $8-10 an hour and usually won't take your child if they are under 12 months old. Our babysitter never met Z because we always put him down to sleep before she got there but many sitters deal with awake children :)
12. Leashes are not a bad thing--We got a leash with an animal back pack for Z and it worked out great. We used it in the airport, as we checked in to get on the ship and many times when we would explore the ship. Z is quick and there are lots of stairs on ships!!! The leash allowed us to keep him close (especially in big crowds) and he loved the monkey.
13. Don't forget dish soap for your sippy cups--Enough said ;)
14. Bring lots of snacks and foods your child loves--They might not like the food, it is good to have snacks for them to munch on and foods that you know they will eat.
15. Bubbles are fun to pack--Bubbles don't take up much space, they are cheap, can be left behind and they are so much fun!!!!
I hope that was helpful :) Happy Cruising!!!!