Cruises are not the most infant and toddler friendly vacations, but they can be done! Here are some tips and tricks for cruising with infants and toddlers:
Know the age requirements. Most cruise lines do not allow women who have entered their 24th week of pregnancy to sail. In addition, most cruise lines will not allow children under the age of six months to sail. Disney Cruise Lines is one of the few exceptions, allowing children to sail at 12 weeks old.
Most cabins will not have a bathtub. Unless you are staying in a deluxe stateroom or are cruising on the Disney Cruise Line, your cabin will probably only have a small shower stall. You might have to get a little creative in giving your little one a bath!
Your child might not be allowed to swim in the ship’s pools. If your child is not potty trained, your child might not be allowed to swim even if he or she is wearing a swim diaper. Disney Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean both have separate swim areas for children who are not potty trained, while most of the other cruise lines do not.
Don’t expect your child’s cruise to be free. Unless the cruise line is running a Kids Sail Free promotion, you will probably be charged for your child on your cruise. These rates are usually a reduced rate.
Know the rates for the nursery. Most cruise ships do have a nursery for children under the age of three. However, these nurseries usually charge an hourly rate. Know the rates and minimum times of the nursery if you plan on using it.
Try to stick to your schedule. This is true of any family vacation. Try to eat meals and take naps around the same time and stick to your bedtime routine. Your child (and you!) will be glad to have routine in a new place.
Bring an umbrella stroller. If you need a stroller, bring a small one that folds down easily. Larger strollers won’t fit through narrow hallways and doorways.
Request a crib. If you think you will need one, request it. There are only a limited number of cribs on most cruise ships. If you think you will need one, request it. If you end up not needing it, you can always request that it be removed from your cabin.
Request the first dinner seating. Most cruise ships serve dinner in the main dining areas at two separate times. The first is around 6:00 PM and the second is around 8:00 PM. Most children eat dinner around the first time, so request it if that fits into your family’s normal schedule.
Research shore excursions. If you plan on booking shore excursions, do so early and book it early. Many fill up quickly, especially the ones that are specifically for children.
What tips and advice would you give someone cruising with an infant or toddler?
Alexia is a Disney Vacation Specialist with Destinations in Florida. When she is not helping plan magical vacations, you can find her on Facebook and Twitter.