It’s vacation time! Spring break is happening or starting soon for a lot of families, and that means fun family vacations. In our house, we just got back from an AMAZING 2-week Caribbean cruise. We are avid cruisers and our LO is already moving on up in our favorite cruise lines loyalty program. Vacationing and cruising with a child is definitely different, but I am glad we took the steps to prepare ourselves. Below are some tips for having an amazing vacation while cruising with Children.
Research the cruise line/ship before you book
Your first step is to make sure your child is old enough to cruise. From our experience, children must be 6 months or older to cruise. Your next step is to make sure the cruise ship you want to travel on has programs/activities for your children’s age range. The last thing you want is to book a cruise on a ship that has no activities for your children. This can be organized activities in the cruise lines kid’s programs or even just activities to do on the ship.(Example: bumper cars, ice skating, swimming pools/splash parks/water slides,etc.) Most cruise lines have age based activity programs for kids. (We sailed on Royal Caribbean and they have their Royal Babies and Tots program, and then their Adventure Ocean for old children.)
If you are planning on participating in excursions while cruising call your selected cruise line and talk to them about age requirements for excursions.Some excursions have age requirements so if you have younger children they may not be old enough to participate. For our cruise our daughter was not old enough to participate in the majority of the excursions available. This meant we had to either forego some excursions or go on our own adventures.
Talk with your child’s Pediatrician before Sailing
Make sure you talk with your pediatrician before sailing to make sure you don’t need to take any extra precautions. For us our LO had not received her Hep A vaccine yet so we were advised to not let her eat the food on the islands we were visiting. (As a precaution.) So, we packed her favorite Happy Baby/Tot squeeze pouch food, and some snacks we could take off ship with us.
Budget for childcare
While the majority of the older kid activity programs are free the younger kid’s programs may not be. For Royal Caribbean, their Royal Babies and Tots program has open free play times where parents can use the facilities to play with their children, but other times it is only open to those paying for child care.The cost is not huge, think under $10 an hour, and they have trained and certified staff who take care of and play with your child.
My husband and I recently used the Royal Caribbean Royal Babies and Tots program on our vacation and LOVED it. It gave us time to go on a couple of date nights where we went to dinner, saw a show, spent time in the casino, or did an on-board excursion. The plus was our daughter also loved it, and kept asking to go play. So, if you are planning on using any of the kid’s programs make sure there are no fees involved, or if there are make sure to budget for them.
If you haven’t noticed by now activities for kids is super important. Haha! Packing activities is also a great way to entertain your children while cruising. Coloring books, books, iPad if you use them and will be purchasing internet, and any other activities your children like. (Or you can go our route and also play in the arcade winning duckies. I think the final total we took home was 20. Haha!)
Plan your meals/dining
Children get bored, tired, and hungry a lot faster than adults do so make sure you have plans in place for meal time. If you plan on eating in the main dining room,make sure you select a time you will be dining. The last thing you want is to not have selected a time and be told the dining room is currently full when you walk up. If you are going to the buffet we found going right as it opens, or after it has been open for a little while are the times to go. It can get really crowded in the buffet and if you get there during the meal rush you could be walking around trying to find a table for a while.
Help the little ones to sanitize those hands
Children put their hands everywhere. So, when cruising it is very important to have them sanitize their hands. (You do not want to be cruising and get the Norovirus.) Keep some in your stateroom, and also carry some around with you. There will also be hand sanitizer stations throughout the ship, and staff reminding you to sanitize your hands as well. On our cruise our daughter was the life of the party. She wanted to wave and high-five EVERYONE, which is cute, but also meant she was coming in contact with EVERYONE. As one of my daughter’s favorite crew members said, “Washie, Washie!” 🙂
Clear room on your camera
Make sure you have enough room on your camera for LOTS of pictures. My husband and I combined took a total of over 1,000 pictures on our cruise. This would not have been possible if we had not cleaned out our camera’s before we set sail. You will want to capture those adorable moments, and not be receiving error messages that your camera is full.
Some items to look into bringing just in case
Below are some item’s my husband and I found very useful while cruising with our daughter, and the bonus is most are also very useful for adults as well.
Nauzene or Psi bands: Children can/do get seasick, and if they are small they really don’t understand, so try to bring items that can help settle their stomachs if they do end up getting seasick.(They also help if you do end up on a cruise where there is an outbreak of Norovirus.)
Pedialyte: This is a good item to have just in case. If your LO does get seasick or there is an outbreak of the Norovirus on board you will want something to help replenish their electrolytes. Great thing about Pedialyte is they have powder packs that are easy to take along.
Tylenol/Motrin: It’s never fun when kids get sick on vacation, but it is also not fun if they get sick with a fever and you left the Tylenol/Motrin at home. While cruise ships do have Tylenol and Motrin available for purchase you will pay almost double what you normally pay at home. So, make sure you pack some just in case.
Probiotic’s: Cruise food is yummy, but it can wreak havoc on stomachs. Make sure your LO eats’ yogurt or bring a probiotic to help keep them regular. Culturelle and Goodbelly both provide probiotic supplements you can take with you on the go.
Bottle cleaning tablets or soap: If you have a child who uses bottles you will want to bring bottle cleaning tablets or soap with you.
Walkie Talkies: These are great to have on hand for both children and adults. If one parent goes to lay a child down for a nap or an older child goes off on their own you can use the walkie talkies to find your family on the ship.
Most Important Item…
Baby carrier/foldable stroller: Most cruise staterooms are smaller than hotel rooms so space is limited. You must use it wisely. If you have younger children you would normally use a stroller. You might want to look into using a baby carrier or a really compact foldable stroller, like the GB Pockit, instead.
With the above tips, you and your children can look forward to an awesome cruise vacation time and time again. Do you have any tips for cruising with children? I would love to hear it. Submit your tips in the comments section. Happy cruising!