The time has come to finally take a vacation and you’re more than a little excited. But instead of a romantic vacation for two, this vacation is one for three. That’s right – it’s you, your significant other, and a little one, specifically a baby. Everyone is trying to tell you that you’re not going to have any fun with a child on your cruise, but you think otherwise. Are you right or wrong? No matter what travel option you choose, your child will be with you whether you stay at home or travel so why not take a cruise. Be prepared before you go and understand which cruise option is the best for you and you’ll have a great time.
Disney Cruise Line: Thought of as one of the best, if not the best, cruise line for families, Disney allows babies as young as 12 weeks or older to sail on their cruise ships. Cabins have bathtubs for bathing the little ones and there’s also a nursery on board in case you want a few minutes at the spa or a quiet dinner. Reservations can be made online in advance and there is an additional charge for the nursery. Remember that they have great venues onboard that are exclusive to adults so you’ll have a great time, too.
Royal Caribbean: With their Royal Babies and Royal Tots program, children between 6 months (minimum age) and 36 months can enjoy their programs while you swim, dine, or have a drink (or two). Additionally, they have programs for kids right up through teenagers and your family can enjoy vacationing with them every year. Lots of kid friendly and family friendly activities on board, Royal Caribbean understands how active families like to cruise.
Celebrity Cruises: Sister cruise line to Royal Caribbean, children must be at least 12 months old on the first day of the cruise in order to travel. Celebrity has a toddler program (ages 3 and under) as well as other programs for children right through teens as well as in cabin babysitting that is available for children 12 months of age and up.
Norwegian Cruise Line: Another family friendly cruise line, Norwegian has age specific children’s programming available onboard and infants must be at least six months of age at the time of sailing. Parents are given beepers after signing in their children, but toddlers are in an area that does require parental supervision. So maybe if you’re not quite ready to let your little one go off without you, this might be the best possible option for you.
Carnival Cruises: Children must be six months of age or older to sail with Carnival, except for Transatlantic, Hawaii and South American cruises, where children must be 12 months of age or older. Camp Carnival is available for children as young as age two permitted and their youth counselors are some of the only ones at sea who will change diapers. They also provide parents with beepers/phones for those who have children 4 and 5 years old (based on availability).
Princess Cruises: A member of the Carnival Cruise Line family, Princess’ minimum age for cruising is also six months (12 months on some of the line’s Exotics itineraries). To participate in the children’s programs, children must be 3 years of age and potty trained, but parents may accompany and supervise those children under that age.
Once you have your cruise line picked out, start to prepare for your cruise by making all your necessary arrangements.
- Will your cabin have a refrigerator if you need to store milk, formula, or breast milk?
- Will there be washers/dryers available for you to use or will you have to send out your dirty laundry?
- Make sure your cabin is not over nighttime entertainment like the theatre or under the pool area where they will be moving deck chairs late at night or early in the morning if you’re looking for a quiet cabin.
- Pack your own baby/toddler food and snacks if you have a picky eater. Your child might like the food on the ship, but if he/she doesn’t, what will you do?
- Don’t expect everyone to fall as madly in love with your child as you are. They might initially want to squeeze those baby cheeks, but not everyone is on board to listen to your baby scream, holler, cry, etc. People will understand to a point but consider that they, too, are on vacation. If baby is overly fussy during dinner, for example, it might be time to take a little walk.
Can you have a great cruise with your baby? Absolutely! As with any vacation, plan appropriately beforehand and you’re certain to have a great time.
Marian Krueger is the Founder of the Travel Shop Girl blog, a blog that simply states, “Travel musings by a girl who loves to write and travel the world.” Functioning on high-octane coffee most days, her straightforward and honest approach has resulted in a worldwide following and a desire for global domination. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.