TIPS FOR CRUISING WITH BABIES
1. Almost all cruise ships have adjoining rooms so you can book your baby in his own cabin. If this isn’t an option, look for “family staterooms.” Disney offers a room where a curtain separates the living area and the sleeping quarters so you can have some semblance of privacy.
2. Find out of your child is old enough for the kid’s clubs. If not, see if they offer one-on-one babysitting services during the day, as well as the evening. (Most of them do, enabling you to escape to the gym or go on a childless excursion while in port. Sitters are never allowed to take babies off the boat.)
3. Don’t fret if you didn’t bring everything—most ships sell diapers, baby food, and will even clean your bottles for you. Become fast friends with your steward—you’ll need to know his name because you’ll be asking him for things like warm milk or a quick bottle wash throughout the trip. You can also always stock up on anything you need in port.
4. Know that with the exception of Disney cruise lines (which has a special filtration system), most babies in swim diapers are not allowed in cruise ship pools for sanitary reasons. Many of them do have kiddie pools, but your child needs to be potty trained. You might consider bringing your own blow up pool if you’ll be on deck often with the baby.
5. Bring your own stroller. Disney offers strollers for rent, but the rest of the cruise lines do not.
6. Book your evening sitters as soon as you’ve boarded and are settled in. You don’t know how many are available, or how many other passengers have children looking to snag up the available sitters.
7. Only Holland America and some Disney lines have a bathtub in every room—the others only have them in their more expensive suites. However, almost all showers have handheld nozzles, which makes bathing a baby in the shower a bit easier.
8. Look at the list of excursions ahead of time, and find which ones you’ll be able to do with babies or children. If they don’t specify, contact them yourself and ask. These days, you can book most of them in advance online.
9. Mini fridges are available on almost all the newer ships. Ours didn’t have one, so to keep milk cold, we had our steward fill our ice bucket each day, and would just chill it (snagged from the cereal section at the buffet in the morning) on ice as though it were a fine Chablis .
10. Be considerate of fellow shipmates. Unless you’re on a family cruise where children are the norm, not everyone wants a wild toddler around them all the time. Assess the environment, and if it doesn’t seem baby friendly (like the lovely café/library on ours), go elsewhere.
About the Author:
Gillian Telling is a freelance writer, editor, and parent to a 17-month-old boy. She loves traveling with her family, especially going on road trips since car rides make the baby go to sleep. You can find her at gilliantelling.com.