With more cruise lines returning to pre-pandemic schedules and some still offering mid-pandemic prices, it’s the perfect time to set sail! But is cruising with a toddler worth it? Absolutely! Follow these ten tips and your family will have a wonderful time!
- Make sure you bring a Slumberpod, the number one travel hack for room sharing! This will allow your little one to have a dark sleep environment and you can still move around the cabin freely during nap time. During the day, you can fold the Slumberpod and stick it between the couch and the crib to maximize space. Cruise lines will provide you with cribs (or pack ’n plays), just call ahead to reserve one. Also, be sure to ask what size the pack ’n play will be, as some of them are the mini crib size - you want to make sure your toddler will be able to fit comfortably!
- If your toddler is a milk lover, grab some extra milk cartons at breakfast and bring them to the room to use later in the day! Most rooms have a refrigerator, so you can stock up without having to worry about finding milk at times when the dining hall may not be open.
- Sometimes your toddler just needs to run around & play! Most cruise lines offer childcare, but some have age restrictions where you have to pay under a certain age. Check your ship map to see if they have a play area that functions as a playground, where your little one can run around and explore while you supervise from afar.
- While the boat has unlimited food, not all of your toddler’s favorites will be available 24/7. Bring Ziploc bags with you to the dining areas so you can bring some food back for snacks throughout the day - we all know how suddenly hunger can strike for little ones!
- Think you don’t need a stroller for a cruise ship? Think again! Cruise ships are huge so even just going from your room to the dining area can be a trek. You might be tempted to bring your nice stroller, but keep in mind that your cabin room will most likely be small and cleaning carts are often parked in the halls - bringing the smallest stroller you have will make life much easier. A simple umbrella stroller is perfect because it’s incredibly compact once collapsed; however, if you’d rather keep it open in your cabin, in the dining area, etc., it still doesn’t take up much space.
- Don’t forget to bring your own straw cups and bottles if your toddler isn’t drinking out of a standard cup (especially because less cruise ships are offering straws these days). Also bring your own snack containers, bibs, and anything else you might need for daily meals. Be sure to bring your own dish soap so you can wash these food items in your stateroom throughout your vacation.
- If it’s in the budget, consider booking a balcony room so when your baby is sleeping, you can still enjoy the views of the cruise and maybe even relax on the balcony!
- A small stateroom and no diaper genie does not make for a great vacation! Pack some odor-controlled diaper bags that will mask the smell when you’re housing a dirty diaper between housekeeping services.
- Many cruises offer reserved dining times, meaning you can choose to have a table waiting for you at an earlier or later time, such as 5:30 PM or 7:45 PM. Try to choose a time that will work best with your child’s bedtime- because when the baby is rested, the whole vacation is more relaxing!
- Finally, let go of all expectations! This, of course, is one of the most important rules of parenthood and it extends to the open seas. Flexibility and patience will be the best co-captains in helping your experience remain positive.
With unlimited food, no dishes, lots of entertainment, and a new place to explore every day, cruises are a great choice for a family vacation. With the above tips, you and your family can expect smooth sailing and fun memories!