Welcome to the fourth and final installment of the Travel Time with Tots: By Sky, Land, and Sea travel tips series! If you are travelling with a baby, toddler, or preschooler this holiday season (or any other time of the year), then this series is for you! Here are the four parts to this series:
- Travel Time with Tots: Generic Travel Tips
These are the need-to-know travel tips that can be applied to just about every travel situation.
- Travel by Sky: Take Off
Taking off into the wild blue sky to fly to your destination–wee ones in tow? Here’s what to know when in flight.
- Travel by Land: Road Trip
Are we there yet? Avoid this dreaded question and make the most of that long road trip with your kiddos.
- Travel by Sea: Cruising Along
Hitting up the high seas? Discover some tried and true tips to make cruising with a wee one a true bon voyage.
The smell of the salty sea, the sound of the water lapping the shore, and the sight of a huge, majestic cruise ship. Ah, there’s nothing quite like hitting the high seas. And bringing along the kids may not be as much of a hassle for you nor as much of a bout of boredom for them if you know a thing or two about cruising with the kids.
Before cruising along, be sure to ask your travel agent or a cruise line representative about the items they offer (including those detailed below), preferably BEFORE you book your trip.
- Are wee ones allowed? Before booking your cruise, be sure to first ask if babies and/or toddlers are even allowed. Some have minimum age limits or other restrictions (such as must be potty trained) and others don’t allow them at all.
- Free travel. Inquire whether or not your 12 months or younger child can travel for free. Many cruises allow this, but some will charge you a fee.
- Reserve a crib. Ask your travel agent to reserve a crib for you while you’re booking your trip. You may even want to opt for a larger stateroom so that crib can fit more easily (if the room has two beds, they can remove one for the crib) and so your wee one has some room to roam and play.
- Bring a bed rail. If your toddler is old enough for a big kid bed, but they still tend to fall out of it, pack portable bed rails (such as inflatable ones). Most cruise ships do not provide bed rails.
- Request a stroller. Rather than lug along your own stroller, request one. Many cruise lines will either rent or lend you a stroller to use on board or while you’re about on excursions. Be sure to ask if this service is available, though, so you’re not stuck without a stroller.
- Stock up on consumables. Bring lots of diapers, wipes, formula, children’s medicine, baby food (but read the next tip) and other consumable baby necessities before your trip. The shops on most cruise lines do not carry these items and finding shops that sell them on your excursions may be challenging. If you don’t want to lug all the extra baggage, consider using a service such as Babies Travel Lite, who will ship items like diapers and baby food to your destination (make sure they service your cruise line before ordering).
- Baby food. Ask if the kitchen staff on the cruise provides baby food or has the capacity to puree or steam foods your wee one. This may determine just how much actual baby food you pack for your trip.
- Mealtime. If the cruise staff is aware you have a wee one with you, they’ll usually have a high chair ready at your dining table. And you might want to consider requesting the earliest mealtime (typically 6 PM in the evenings) so it does not conflict with your wee one’s bedtime.
- Tipping. Ask your travel agent or cruise line what their guidelines for tipping for your child are. Some don’t ask for tips for children under a certain age, whereas others request a smaller percentage or even the same as that for adults.
- Mini fridge. Ask for a room with a mini fridge if you need to store formula or any other perishable items.
- No swimming. Unfortunately, many cruise lines do not allow your diapered wee ones in the pool (not even if he’s wearing a swim diaper). One exception is Disney cruise lines which are tailored with kids in mind.
- Nursery. If you and your spouse would like to have a date night or two, you might like to put your wee ones in the cruise’s nursery. Not all cruises have a nursery, so ask if there’s one prior to booking and be prepared to pay an hourly fee for using it. Also, claim your time slots in the nursery as soon as you board because they fill up fast.
- Babysitter. Some cruise lines have the option to hire a personal babysitter to watch your child in your cabin. Again, be sure to book them as soon as you can after boarding.
- Toddler programs. Some cruises have fun programs for your toddlers to learn and play. Ask about the programs prior to entering your diapered wee ones, though, because some will not change any diapers. Also be aware that some cruise lines require a parent to be present during the activities.
- Bath time. Most cruise ships (except those catered towards children) do not have bathtubs. Some higher-end staterooms do, but that costs money. Fortunately, most rooms have hand-held nozzles that might make bathing your wee one a little easier. You may want to consider bringing an inflatable bathtub to set in the shower for bath time.
- Potty time. If your child is in the process of potty training or is already potty trained, you might like to bring along a portable potty seat.
- Life vest. Be sure your room comes with a life vest that will fit your wee one. If it does not, be sure to ask for one right away.
- Research excursions. Look for activities that you can do with your wee ones present.
Have you been on a cruise with a wee one or are planning a cruise with a wee one? Do you have any tips or advice to give that was not laid out in this post? Feel free to share in a comment below!
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