Traveling with Baby- Cruising
Before booking our cruise, I searched the internet for honest, helpful reviews about whether or not to cruise with a baby and there wasn’t much out there! Here’s a few things we wish we had known or learned about cruising with a baby.
*When you arrive, organize baby’s gear and clothes right away! Since the room is small, organization is key. Be sure to put things like the stroller and suitcases under the bed but pull out frequently used items to be easily accessible. We put her clothes into the set of drawers and placed diapers, wipes and a simple changing pad on and under the desk area. Then we put the pack and play in the open space. It was tight but functional.
*Most cabins do not have bathtubs but suites do. Luckily Emmylou is a water-baby and loves a shower as much as a bath, but 13 days without a tub was a bit tough. She showered with one of us (in the tiny shower) before dinner, that way one of us didn’t have to get back in to bathe her before bedtime. It totally worked but wasn’t ideal for. We’ve heard of bringing an inflatable tub but didn’t think it was necessary.
*Order room-service coffee and fruit to get everyone going before breakfast. It takes time to get everyone ready to head out, so coffee and some snacks in the cabin can make the mornings easier. Emmylou enjoyed fruit, yogurt and Cheerios most mornings and we enjoyed sipping our coffee!
*Cabin size really matters when you have a baby. Usually people say the opposite with cruising (go cheap since you don’t spend much time in the room) but with a baby you will be in the cabin a lot! Between naps and sleeping 12 hours at night, Emmylou kept us in our mid-ship balcony room for a few hours during the day and in the evenings too. We enjoyed having the balcony space (we could read or chat out there while she slept) but it still felt tight!
Upgrading to a suite-style cabin would have been great with a baby. There would have been more space to work around her crib, we could have pulled the curtains closed on her half of the space and still had room to move about normally while she slept (we spent many naps watching movies on low/no sound in a dark cabin). This nap we got lucky and she passed out poolside!
*Cabin location is also important because you will be taking the stroller around and getting into an elevator can take a while. We ended up carrying the stroller and Emmylou up and down the stairs to avoid waiting. Being near “the action” would have made this easier. An ideal location would be within a couple floors of the pool and main restaurants.
*Pay for unlimited WiFi. We did not do this but spent much more time in our cabin/on our phones while she slept than we anticipated. We also would have been able to divide and conquer easier if we could have texted each other (Jon go to the gym while I showered and EL napped and then switch or meet up after). Coordination was slow and awkward without texting- with a little one, communication needs to be seamless for the trip to be relaxing for both spouses. I also missed being able to read blogs and such on my phone while she napped. Which brings me to my next point…
*Pack less toys for baby and a book for yourself. The library on the ship had very few choices that interested me (other than a book about the Great Barrier Reef) so I wished I had brought a book to read while EL slept. Emmylou also got bored quickly of the toys we brought from home so we played in the ship’s play room and at the pool. She also loved playing with cups and straws more than her toys; go figure!
*Crew will obsess over your baby. Many are away from their own children or family for extended periods of time, so your baby will be constantly entertained and doted on. This is another reason you need very few toys. We also had my parents along on this cruise, so Emmylou was always entertained. 🙂
*Expect to always talk about your baby. Everyone wanted to know her name and age. The endless conversation was a bit exhausting, to be honest. The most annoying thing was when people asked why we brought her on a cruise she wouldn’t remember. Our answer: We brought our daughter on a family trip that we would remember (and don’t sass me)!
*Eat dinner as early as possible. Even if baby had a massive afternoon nap, go to dinner early and try to make it to the early show. If you wait until later you will not enjoy dinner and won’t see the show (trust me).
These photos show the struggle of baby bedtime vs. vacation dinnertime: we tried to take her out to eat already asleep in the Ergo but she woke up the second the meal began. We ended up entertaining her with bread and getting through the meal fairly quickly. Bunny joined us for that meal, hah!
The next photo shows us trying to wheel her to dinner in the stroller…she was passed out in her crib so we transferred her to the stroller, tucked her in with bunny and her sound machine and tried to roll our sleeping babe to dinner. She woke up (sticking her head out of the carseat cover) on the way to dinner. We joke that on this trip she learned there is nightlife and she didn’t want to miss it!
*Take a baby that is eating solids. EL was 8 months old on our cruise and she ate so many things on board! The buffet was the perfect opportunity for her to try things and experiment without me having to cook dozens of different foods for each meal and clean up afterwards. She had a blast trying everything but, of course, french fries and ice cream won her taste buds (let’s be honest, they won all of ours)! Eating also kept her entertained during meals.
*Bring more baby supplies than you think you need. Thankfully we had enough diapers, wipes and infant medicine, but it would have been tough or impossible to find those things had we ran out. Ships are generally baby friendly but absolutely do not cater to the youngest passengers. Here we are boarding with diapers, haha.
*Bathrooms with changing tables are scarce, so ask someone at Guest Services to tell you where they are. Some floors have them in the handicapped bathrooms and some don’t. It was frustrating to find the closest one and not every staff member is familiar with that feature of the ship.
*Book a cruise that offers childcare for your child. Yes, you have to pay for baby to cruise (taxes and port fees) and yes it’s worth it; so long as the ship offers childcare. This way you can get out and see/do things while baby naps with a babysitter or in a daycare space. Our ship didn’t offer childcare for children younger than 3, which was a bit of a bummer but fairly common.
Overall, we had a great time on our cruise and don’t regret it one bit! Not having to pack and move to each location was ideal with a baby. We missed out on some things due to her schedule but accessed as many as we could and had a wonderful cruise!
K, J, EL & P