There is no one who needs a vacation more than a parent of a toddler. But the idea of traveling with that toddler can be incredibly overwhelming, especially if it is your first time traveling as a parent.
I love cruising because it just simplifies so much of the hassle that comes with traveling with young children.
If you are looking for a relaxing vacation, you can have it on a cruise. The kid’s clubs on some ships allow you to put your child in the nursery while you enjoy the pool, spa or just going to the bathroom alone.
If you love adventure and experiencing new cultures and think your wanderlust days are over because of your spawn, you can see loads of places without having to change hotels or accommodation, you don’t have to worry about transportation, and there are built-in facilities and entertainment for toddlers
The truth is, taking a toddler on a cruise is easier and more fun than you might expect
Infants must be at least 6 months old in order to be able to travel on most cruises with Celebrity. For transatlantic cruises, transpacific cruises, and some cruises to South America, as well as cruises with three or more consecutive days at sea, children must be at least 12 months old.
What itinerary should I pick?
This depends on what you are hoping to get from your cruise. Is it that relaxation? Then I would look at a Bahamian Itinerary and choose the best cruise line based on the on-ship amenities.
Looking for that adventure and culture? A Northern European, British Coast, or Western Med would all have great ports for kids to explore. Think about the mode and length of transportation between ports and the sites you want to see. Places like Rome the port of Civitavecchia is a few hours away. Are their toddler-friendly activities in your ports of call or do all of the excursions have age restrictions? You can always do a private tour but odds are if the cruise ship doesn’t have anything to offer you are going to have a hard time finding something.
What cruise line is the best for toddlers?
Age requirements for nurseries and kids clubs vary by cruiseline. Some will require your child to be fully potty trained and some don’t have these restrictions.
Watch the video below for my Top 5.
For larger lines like Norwegian and RCCL you also need to pay attention to the ship. Some of the newer ships may have splash pads or nurseries but not all of them do. I like to look for:
laundry – let’s face it toddlers are messy!
Splash pad (place for unpotty trained kids)
Kids club access for under 3s
Where will my toddler sleep?
Choosing the right stateroom can make or break any cruise, but especially traveling with a toddler. Disney designed their staterooms with young children in mind so they have room dividers in every room. Traveling on other lines you may want to consider upgrading to a larger suite so you won’t be forced to sit in silence in the dark during your baby’s afternoon nap or their early bedtime. Some families enjoy a balcony so they can use it as a seating area during naptime but a balcony with a toddler makes me a little nervous so I prefer the separate sleeping area.
Speaking of naps & early bedtime you should analyze your stateroom location, make sure you are not underneath a busy pool deck, above a late-night disco club, and are far away from the noise of the elevator banks.
Families traveling with a baby can request a Pack ‘n Play or portable crib at the time of the booking. Some cruise lines have bed rails for toddlers but some do not so if this is something you require, be sure to make the request at the time of booking.
Is your child potty trained?
Due to health code stipulations, diapers or swim diapers are not allowed in cruise ship pools. But don’t worry, some cruise lines have splash pad and water play areas for little cruisers. DCL Royal Caribbean’s Freedom- and Oasis-class ships have splash pad play areas for non-toilet trained cruisers.
How do I get some alone time?
The great news is some cruise lines like Disney Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean have a nursery for children 6 months to 3 years available at an hourly rate. Celebrity’s kids club that is included in your cruise fare starts at age 2 and most others start at age 3.
Private, in-cabin babysitting is a great alternative for young children. A few lines — including Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line, and most of the luxury lines — offer private babysitting in your cabin at an hourly rate of approximately $20. A few hours’ break at the end of the day after young children are asleep is a huge treat for some parents.
What should I pack?
Layers, Formal Nights, Inflatable Tub, Umbrella Stroller, Toddler First Aid (the ship will have over the counter medicine but not usually the kid’s version,) Prepackaged and sealed snacks, a tablet with downloaded movies and shows (don’t rely on wi-fi), magnetic hooks, Nightlight, Diapers and swim diapers, Sippy cup, White noise machine.
Some Final Tips
EVEN WHEN ON A CRUISE, STICK TO YOUR TODDLER’S SCHEDULE! I know you are on vacation, but if your child thrives on a schedule, keep it. This will help avoid tantrums and will keep everyone relaxed and rested. Book dinner in advance so you get the early time slot and request a table on your own if that is preferred.
Book babysitting in advance if it is offered by your line to be sure you get the time you want.
Prepare for Dirty Diapers – If you have a balcony room, you can set the dirty diapers in the room trash can and set it outside to keep the air in your cabin clear. If you don’t have a balcony, we suggest bringing some Ziploc bags to seal up those dirty diapers, along with some air freshener. The room steward will empty the trash when they clean, but that can be several hours.
With all the joy of Disney magic combined with an exciting new destination every day – there’s something for everyone on a Disney Cruise. Disney Cruise Staterooms are some of the biggest and best designed sailing the seas, and selecting yours should be next on your list after choosing your ship and itinerary. But with so many to choose from, how do you know which is right for your family? The ‘Disney Cruise Line, Guide to Choosing the Best Stateroom’ covers everything you need to know about each room – including budget, size, category and more – to ensure that you really do get the most out of your cruise!
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