Cruise Vacation Tips [Babies & Toddler Edition]

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A blog post NOT home related?  Yay!  It’s a nice change up from the normal post and I’m always happy to provide information that I feel others will find useful.  Plus, I get asked about our cruising experience ALL the time, so why not?

Before we begin, this is NOT a sponsored post.  I’m not receiving compensation or goods in exchange for this post.  As always, these are my ideas and opinions.

Let’s get crackin’

Cruise Header

I just completed my 9th cruise!  Eva, our daughter, just completed her second cruise.  She first cruised when she was 9 months old and she’s currently 2.5 years old.  Each of her cruises were very different.  I broke this post down into two sections, tips for babies and then tips for toddlers.

BABIES

Cruising with Eva when she was 9 months old was VERY easy.  If you’re thinking about taking your babes, do it!  I think it’s a great time to travel with a little one.  Please note, we are very laid-back parents.  We have no “schedule,” I was nursing at the time and we co-sleep.  I feel that these things made it easier for us.  (I’m not here to debate co-sleeping or nap schedules etc.  Cruise talk only!)  This cruise, we cruised on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Sea.

Transportation:  Airplane.  Children under two are free and they sit on your lap.  I always wait to be one of the last people on the plane so it’s less “entertaining.”  I always purchase a couple new toys and hide them in the carry on.  I ONLY pull them out if I need them.  That way I can use them on the way home.  I nursed, especially nursing take off to help with her ears.  Eva has always done well on plane rides.  Make sure you have extra clothes in your carry on.  We always purchase bus transfer a head of time.  (Airport to Ship Port).  You do not need a car seat in the bus.  We always take the bus back to the airport too, so if you’re flying the day of the cruise and using a bus service, there’s no need to lug their carseat along.

Sleeping:  We always pick an inside stateroom.  This means that the room is on the inside of the ship and has no windows.  The room had a queen size bed.  You are able to get a crib, if needed.  An inside stateroom with a crib or if you bring a pack n’ play, leaves you with basically NO room.

CP 3

Eating:  Eva primarily nursed.  We did bring a couple snacks (puffs & teething biscuits) and she would nibble on cold soup appetizers at dinner.  This was very easy for us.

CP 8

Daycare:  Be sure to check and see if the cruise ship you’re exploring has a nursery.  Not all ships have them yet.  The nursery is open between certain hours and you must pay her hour.  Eva went a couple times for 1 hour to allow us to lay in the sun etc.  You bring any snacks, diapers and a change of clothes with you to the nursery.  On this cruise, we were on the Oasis of the Seas, we received a phone from the nursery so they could call us if there was any issues.  The nursery was very clean and the staff was amazing.  Also on this ship, there’s a large area with toys that is open for the kids to use.  We used this area a lot! Again, it was super clean and there’s a changing table in the restroom.  The nursery is for children 3 and under.  There’s plenty of toys, cribs and a television.

They also offer parent/baby music classes.  We attended almost all of them!  We all enjoyed this activity.

CP 4

Clothing:  I brought two outfits per day, 2 bathing suits and 6 dresses.  (7 Day Cruise)  I brought a small container of laundry detergent in case I needed to wash something in the sink.  They do have a laundry service on the ship but it does cost extra.

Swimming:  If your child is NOT potty trained, they are not able to go in the main pools.  Some ships do not have an area for children in diapers.  Luckily, the Oasis of the Seas does have one.  The area is very small, but it’s there.  Be sure to bring swim diapers.

CP 1

Bathing:  There are no bath tubs on the ships.  The shower is very small but the shower head has a handle.  Eva could stand up and there was a small bar in the corner of the shower about 2 ft from the floor.  She would stand there holding on to the bar and we could wash her that way.  Another idea, is to purchase an inflatable duck.  (See below)  Fill the duck up and use it as a bath AND for a small pool on the main deck and/or beach.  This duck is a MUST purchase!

Baby Carrier:  Again, I know each child is different, but our carrier has been well worth the money.  We even used it on our last trip!  I have a Tula and I HIGHLY recommend it.  It’s perfect for the airport, getting around the ship and on the islands.  It’s much easier to use than a stroller.  Also, you can nurse in it.  Yay!

Entertainment:  The cruise has shows each night.  On the Oasis of the Seas there is water shows, ice skating shows and regular shows in the theater.  We took her with us each time and she really enjoyed them. I made sure to have snacks, toys and my nursing cover with me!  Sometimes she would snooze away and other times she watched the show.

CP 5

Excursions:  Usually, my husband and I are participating in an excursion when we hit the islands.  We didn’t schedule any with her.  We did walk around at each of them and in St. Marrten, we took taxi to Orent Beach and we stayed there all day.  Thankfully, she did awesome and even took a nap.  Always pack a large beach bag.  On this trip to the beach, this is what I brought:  Inflatable duck, U.V. tent, sand toys (she used in the duck/ pool), sun hat, snacks, sun block a dry set of clothes in a zip lock bag and towel.  Here she is, in her tent, protected from the sun and having a blast in her pool!

Packing List:  2 Outfits per day  //  Ziplock Bags  //  Travel Laundry Detergent   //  Travel Dish Soap  //  Baby Wash, Lotion and Sunblock  //  2 Sun Hats  //  Shoes  //  Duck Tub  //  U.V. Tent  //  Large Beach Bag  //  Extra Bag (Used to carry around the ship filled with diapers, toys and snacks)  //  2 Swim Suits  //  Swim Cover  //  Diapers, Wipes and Swim Diapers  //  Toys  //  Snacks  //  Thermometer, Children’s Tylenol, Teething Tablets etc.

Cruise Collage 1

Skip Hop Central Park Blanket  //  Melissa & Doug Take-Along Shape Sorter  //  Pacific Play Tents Lil Nursery Tent  //  Inflatable Duck Tub

Toddler

We just cruised from January 2nd to the 11th, 2016.  As I mentioned, Eva is 2.5 years old.  This cruise was different and again, good! Eva really enjoyed it, especially the ice cream and the extra special attention she received in the main dining room!  This cruise, we cruised on Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Sea.

Transportation:  She had her own seat and we did not use a car seat on the air plane as we wouldn’t need one when we arrived.  Eva did get motion sickness on the plane.  Always be prepared for this as I was NOT prepared. I had wipes and extra clothes but no BAG ready.  Again, I had new toys, iPad, headphones, water and snacks.

Sleeping:  Eva still co-sleeps.  Nothing changed for us here.  We had an interior room and we all slept together.

Eating:  I brought a plastic container full of snacks.  I used the plastic container so crackers and such wouldn’t crumble and it was nice to set out and Eva (or her dad) could grab a snack if she wanted.  This worked out great.  I also brought fruit pouches.  For drinking, we used disposable sippy cups.  She did awesome eating breakfast, lunch and dinner on the ship and on the island.

Daycare:  There was a daycare on this ship but it was much smaller.  The daycare was only open at 5:00 p.m. till I think 10 p.m. this time.  The daycare was open during the day for open play.  We went once to let her play.  It was MUCH smaller than the Oasis of the Seas.  Instead of a phone like we received on the Oasis, we received a pager, for emergencies.  We scheduled a daycare session and she flipped out.  We didn’t leave her and didn’t attempt it again.  Also, when we last cruised with her, it was during spring break.  Therefore, there was a lot of kids on the ship.  It was fun!  This time, we cruised when everyone went back to school after the Holidays and there was a total of 50 kids on the ship.  It was a MUCH different experience.  I’d prefer it with more kids.  Also, this ship is MUCH older than the last boat we went on.  Because of this, there’s a lot of things this boat didn’t offer.  I understand, it’s old, I wish we didn’t choose an older boat though.

Children have to be three AND potty trained to go into Adventure Ocean, which is of no extra cost.  Get the details on this program HERE.

Swimming:  Eva is fully potty trained so this was not an issue.  However, this boat, Vision of the Sea did not have a children’s pool.  There was one main pool and an adult only pool.

Cruise Post 2

Excursions:  We did an excursion at each stop, but one.  We chose excursions that were a little site seeing (bus rides) and then headed to the beach.  It worked perfectly because by the time Eva was ready to get off the bus, we were almost to the beach!  Again, pack your large beach bag.  I brought sand toys and it was a big hit!  On the bus, I made sure to have toys and snacks.  This kept her attention when needed.

Cruise Post 1

Entertainment:  This was much different.  She was bored and wanted to leave each time.  We didn’t see any shows.  They did show 2 children movies so we watched Frozen (for the 700th time) in the theater one day, because it was cold and rainy.

Clothing:  I brought two outfits per day.  2 Bathing suits, swim covers and hats.  1 Dress per night for dinner.  She mainly wore Crocks for shoes during the day.  Eva still struggles to walk in flip fops and the pool areas can be very slippery. I bought two pairs of slip on shoes for dinner, one white and one gold, which matched all her dresses.

Toys:  We brought this along with some Play Doh and tools. (See Play Doh Mat below)  I know you think, when will you play with this?  Well, my husband and I got food poisoning, sharing a Cuban sandwich in Key West.  It was NOT fun.  We both could hardly move and thankfully, Eva wanted to play with her Play Doh!  We brought her iPad, Lite Brite, books, crayons and coloring books.  I again brought an extra small bag and would bring toys to dinner with us.

Cruise Post 3

Baby Carrier:  This was helpful again for us.  Especially site seeing around the islands and through the airport.  I didn’t have to bring a stroller, nor would she sit in one.  I’m still using my awesome Tula!  Tula also has a “Toddler” carrier that carries more weight.  You can use it on your back too!

Sea Bands:  As I mentioned, Eva got sick on the plane.  I gave her Dramaine before the plane ride, prepping for the boat.  I’m not sure if this made her sick as she was fine on the way home.  However, the boat was smaller than any other boat we had been on and pretty rocky.  To be safe, we all wore sea band.  (I told Eva she was apart of the Paw Patrol if she wore them.  She was pretty stoked about it! ha)  I would purchase these a head of time.

Packing List:  2 Outfits Per Day // 2 Bathing Suits //  Toys // Snacks //  Large Beach Bag //  Small Extra Bag //  Shoes //  Dresses (Diner) //  Thermometer, Tylenol, Sea Bands etc.  //  Pool Toys //  Sand Toys // Sunblock // Hat // Disposable Sippy Cups // Zip Lock Bags // Underwear // Socks

Cruise Collage 2

Lite Brite Magic Screen  //  Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Game Tin  //  Fintie iPad mini Case  //  Play-Doh Ez-Mat

Random Thoughts:

  • I’d now prefer to cruise with kids during times when kids WOULD be cruising.  I never thought about this until this last experience.  Also, cruising with family and friends is nice too.  Real nice.
  • Don’t go a “mega” ship (Oasis), then go on a REALLY old boat.  When booking this last trip, we booked it for the ports of call.  We were thinking, “the boat will be fine, we wanna go to Aruba!”  Well, the boat wasn’t fine.  After having EVERYTHING on the Oasis of the Seas, we missed things like the promenade, pizza, extra kids areas etc.  It was a bad decision on our part,  Don’t do it!
  • I’ve read on Cruise Critic that a lot of kids lost their favorite “blanket or animal” when they left them in the bedding.  I guess the stateroom attendants would just grab all the bedding, not knowing something was in there.  So, if you bring an item like this, be sure to remove it from the bed when you leave the room for the day.
  • Room service.  We never used on any of our other ships.  Each morning we had fruit and cereal delivered and it worked perfectly for us. Room service is no extra charge unless it’s from 1-4 a.m, or close to those times.
  • Yes, we will continue to cruise.  However, it will only be on the newer ships and we enjoy Royal Caribbean.
  • Safety:  Someone recently asked me how safe we felt on the islands with Eva.  I guess this depends on which island you’re on.  I’ve never felt unsafe EXCEPT in Jamaica and we have been to a lot of islands.  Places we have been to: Curacao, Aruba, St. Marrten, St. Thomas, Bahamas, Belize, Haiti, San Juan, Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, Cozumel, Cancun, Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, Puerta Vallarta, Key West and Jamaica.
  • On our first cruise with Eva, we ate dinner at the 8 p.m. seating time and this worked for us.  This past cruise, we chose that time again and we wished we did the 5 p.m. seating.

I hope you found this information helpful!  If you have any suggestions or tips, I’d love to hear them.  Also, if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or email me at shabbygraceblog@gmail.com.

 

 

20 thoughts on “Cruise Vacation Tips [Babies & Toddler Edition]

  1. Wow, Ninth cruise! That’s awesome! I’ve been on three so far, and have enjoyed them greatly. I love that you get to see so many different points of call in one trip. We have yet to take the kids, but definitely plan to soon (they are 9 & 6). I love your “Random thoughts” tips at the end, for they are relevant to any age group!

  2. You all look like you had a lovely time! We always wanted to take a cruise but just couldn’t picture cruising with 3 kids. I’m kind of bummed now seeing hiw feasible it is:-( These tips are very helpful!

  3. We have too many kids to afford a cruise but I think it would be fun once we are empty nesters. I have heard really mixed reviews about cruises so it definitely seems you have to check into the cruise line first.

  4. Thanks so much for posting, we are about to cruise with our 15 month old! Did you actually use the duck on deck? I am definitely going to try, but wonder if they’ll actually let me and what happens to the water in it once we are done? Thanks!

    1. Hey Alison! I’m glad my post was helpful. I did not use the duck on the deck, only at the beach and bath. I have seen pictures of people using it on the deck though. Maybe you can ask? Good question on the water! Have fun!!!!

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