Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Taking a Toddler on a Cruise....

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 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!!!!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the Toddler Cruising tips! I would not have thought to bring dish soap and the inflatable tub.

Marie said...

OMG! I love you! Never would have thought about dishsoap. Brilliant.

Im so nervous about this cruise. but his grandma is paying for it. soooooo

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your post! I would have never of known about the pools and I would of never of thought of the dishsoap!

Julie said...

thanks for these great quick tips (dish soap for sippy cups - will be a lifesaver!) Makes me a little less stressed that I will take a cruise with a 2 year old BY MYSELF....eeek.

Anonymous said...

Wow so glad I googled and found your blog about cruising. I didn't know about the pool so I may rethink the cruise until my little guy gets a little older.

Anonymous said...

Im so happy I found your post!!! My husband and I are taking our two boys (3&5) This Feb-Mar 2011....Were very excited as this is mine and my hubby's 2nd cruise in 1 year!! ;-) Ready to show our little ones the thrills! So happy they'll be able to do every thing they have for the kids!! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much! I'm taking my two year old on a Jamaican cruise and really needed this advice!

Christine said...

Some cruises, not many, have a separate pool for diapered children or a water splash park that diapered children can play in.

We also bring an UMBRELLA STROLLER if we bring a stroller as it generally tucks under the bed to get it out of the way.

Also check on the excursions or ports of call to see about the need for a CAR SEAT, chances are you will not have use for a car seat on your cruise and can either leave it behind or ask your cabin steward to store it for the duration of the cruise.

We also like to bring a few NEW TOYS along as well as some favorite toys, keep things as small as possible.

Don't forget a SMALL DIAPER BAG and DIAPER SACKS for disposing your diapers in. We like to carry a small diaper bag, just enough to carry a spare diaper and wipes and other necessities with us on board, we also tuck a few small toys in there just to keep him occupied when necessary.

Most cruises will have INDIVIDUAL CEREAL SERVINGS at the breakfast buffet, we like to grab an extra box or two for a snack for the day.

If your little one is still drinking FORMULA you will want to pack more than you think you will use as well as a REFILLABLE WATER BOTTLE so you will always have good clean drinking water for mixing.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tips (and to those who responded and left tips as well!) My father-in-law wants us to go on an Alaskan cruise with him this summer & I am unsure of whether to go along with our daughter who will be about 18 months by then, or if she & I should fly out to see my parents instead while hubby and our 4 & 5 yr old boys go on the cruise. This helps me make my decision!

Anonymous said...

This is really helpful! Thank you so much for sharing your experience! We're planning to take our 20 month old for our first cruise.

Anonymous said...

My baby will be 13 months when we sail in July. Big sister (10-year old) and grandma is also going so I'm not even worried. I have four more extra hands :)

Anonymous said...

Can you tell me how you filled the tub with water? And where you dumped it afterwards = especially when he was by the pool. Thanks so much! I love your advice!

Raising Z said...

We "filled" the tub up in the bathroom using the shower and on the balcony for swimming using a cup (emptied it in the shower). We didn't put that much water in it, just enough for splashing or bathing :) We had our own balcony though so we let him "swim" there. Good Luck! Raising Z

A's Mommy said...

Thanks! Great to get a mom's I'm on a mission to find an inflatable tub! Leaving in two weeks, yay!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info. We took our 16 month old on a cruise last summer and I found my most important items I brought was disposable bibs and take'n'toss sippy cups so that I didn't have to clean anything. AT the end of the day we just throw it away. I highly recommend cruising with a toddler!

Anonymous said...

Went to Alaska with my then 12 months old baby last year. I was also a bit worried so I researched for dozens of tips online and I overpacked. Turns out to a great and memorable experience. It was more relaxing than I expected. Pure fun. Don't overthink things. Just pack everything you need and enjoy the vacation with your little one.

lashadeese said...

I am a little bummed about no kids under the age of 4 in pools. We are taking a 6 day 7 nighter ( 2 days on sea) in May. My 2.5 year old will be very disappointed. I am also disappointed that the agent we booked with did not inform us of this. Good post and great tips ! I too will be looking for an inflatable tub :)

Anonymous said...

I've been on multiple cruises. The best by far for families with small children is the Disney cruise line. They had a "splash pad" area for non-toilet trained kids to play with water shooting out of jets. They also had babysitting for as young as infant. The sit down restaurants were kid friendly, but good for adults too. And, because it's not all about the kids, they have adult only areas too.
In my before kids cruising days, I'd always get a cheap room, because I just never spent any time in the room. With kids who take naps, I wish I'd gone for a better room. It wasn't fun to be stuck in the room during nap time.

Katie said...

I agree with you that the staff love kids. Most would show us pictures of their children when they saw us trying to wrangle our 2-year-old. The best tip I can give is pick your cruise line carefully. Princess doesn't have babysitting and you have to be 3 in the Kids Club. Carnival - You only have to be 2. Here is how we coped on our cruise with a toddler.

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