We are experienced cruisers – now being in double figures, and have sailed round the Med, Carribean, Greek Islands, New York and Alaska, so there was no doubt in our mind that we would cruise with our baby! Excitedly we booked our first cruise on Royal Carribean’s Rhapsody of the Seas sailing out of Rome as soon as our daughter hit the required 6 month minimum age (minimum ages vary by cruises but 6 months seems the most common – check with your cruise line before booking).
As I normally do once I book a holiday I started googling. To my horror the first thing I found when looking for information about cruising with a baby was an article on how terrible cruising with a baby was – here’s said article – 9 Reasons Not to Take a Baby on a Cruise! Eek! Had we really been naive in thinking we could continue cruising with our baby?
The answer we found was NO! It was the absolute perfect family vacation for us!
So why are cruises great with babies?
There’s no need to worry about where to eat! There are restaurants for every occasions. If you are tired, have a cranky baby or just can’t be bothered you can enjoy the buffet or even better complimentary (check your line) room service. And for nights you want something fancier you can enjoy fine dining in the main restaurant! We even managed to have a special anniversary meal at the ships Steak House!
Plus you never have to worry about availability of a high chair! That’s the one thing we have found inconsistent when travelling with baby is availability of high chairs but this isn’t the case on cruises!
Also on our cruise, Royal Carribbean were only too happy to purée fresh foods for our baby. She particularly loved the fresh peach and pear purees the chef would whip up for her! I can imagine the restaurants being great for fussy child eaters too!
Someone else can help organise. Organised shore excursions are a great way to see things without the hassle of organisation. Please remember to check with your line which excursions allow under threes and children!
Kids Club and Babysitting
There are kids clubs and baby sitting services offered, in room or Kids club dependent on age, for a charge, so it’s easy for parents to enjoy a baby free night while being only minutes away from your tot at any time. I really like the fact that you are guaranteed a certain standard of child care facilities. We didn’t use these facilities on our cruise but would definitely use them in the future.
Plenty of places
You get to satisfy your wanderlust without exhaustion for you or little one. I love the fact that you can see several places on one trip without the hassle and stress of driving between places. It also gives you a really good bite-sized introduction to a place so you know where you want to go back to (or not) at a later date!
- Pack wisely – bags don’t arrive in Stateroom until late in the evening (if you are unlucky). Pack your hand luggage wisely – for more advice on embarkation day packing lists why not check out our Essential Guide to Embarkation Day Packing List for Babies.
- Remember babies, unless toilet trained, are not allowed to use the pool. I recommend taking an inflatable baby bath with you so baby can cool off on the comfort of your balcony. Also many staterooms – unless you book a suite or sail on Disney do not have a bath! So an inflatable baby bath in my opinion is a definite must pack.
- Dining Room Options – first sitting or anytime dining. Anytime Dining on Royal Caribbean is only available if you prepay your gratuities but is totally worth it in our opinion. It allows you to change your schedule day by day and also means you can get a table on your own which might take some of the stress out for parents.
- Pick the best stateroom you can afford. I am not going to lie, indoor staterooms are small. As a couple wanting a cheap holiday we would always book an inside cabin but we are older and wiser now. Babies come with lots of stuff. Storage of a stroller, travel cot, car seat plus cases will take up a lot of room so bigger staterooms are better if you can afford it. If not pack wisely and keep cases down to a minimum (I know easier said than done). Also you are likely going to be spending more time in your stateroom than when you were a couple. It might be nice to have a balcony or at least a window (depending on age and mobility of a baby you might prefer window to balcony)!
- Don’t overschedule and be flexible – my go to advice for any travel with a baby! Tired babies are cranky babies and cranky babies make for cranky parents. Prioritise what you really want to do and plan down time for the little ones.
But don’t just take my word for it! Here’s what other parents of babies have to say!
Claire from Tinbox Traveller says
“If a friend was to asked me if they should take their baby on a cruise my answer would be a resounding ‘yes’. It really was the best family holiday we’ve had so far.
However, there’s lots of things you need to be aware of so you are well prepared before you set sail. We took our then 13-month-old baby and three-year-old on a Mediterranean cruise with Carnival Vista in June 2016.
Over eight days we visited three countries and seven ports of call. It was a trip that satisfied our desire to explore new places but also allowed for the down time needed when travelling with small children who are still dependant on ridged meal times and naps. We sought the advice of other seasoned cruisers before our holiday and learnt lots of lessons for ourselves. Here are my tips for cruising with a baby:
- pack your own bottle cleaning and sterilising equipment. You won’t have a microwave in your cabin, so steriliser bags or a cold water steriliser are a must.
- Take all the nappies, wet wipes and other baby consumables you will need for your cruise as you won’t be able to buy them onboard.
- Be aware that the vast majority of cruise lines don’t allow children in their ships’ pools unless they are potty trained.
- Most of all, don’t over do things. It’s great to see the sights in each port but excursions are often geared towards older families and couples. Go for half day excursions and opt for self-guided tours so you can stop for nappy changes and feeds without loosing your group or guide”.
You can read more about Claire’s experience of her blog:
Sharon from Where’s Sharon says
“We went on our first family cruise when our kids were 20 months old and three. It was on the Carnival Freedom exploring the Caribbean for 7 days. I must admit that beforehand I was worried after reading that our kids couldn’t play in kids club together, that non toilet trained kids couldn’t use the pool, etc. I wondered if it was a good choice at all with a 20 month old.
I worried for nothing. We absolutely loved it. It’s the only time I have felt like I had a break since becoming a parent. It was just so easy. The biggest thing that made it a success for us was deciding not to worry about whether we thought activities were kid appropriate and just trying things anyway. It was great! We all enjoyed the shows and I never would have thought that a bar with live music would be good with a 20 month old, but he loved dancing away!
We found our youngest could go to kids club – just only super early and on port days we could pay for him to play there. We did that one port day and it was so amazing to spend time in the Bahamas with just my husband.
The food was great. We went to the fine dining room most nights and they were fabulous with the kids. It was no problem at all. We loved getting room service for breakfast and would order a bit extra so we had some snacks in our room for later.
All four of us had a great time and we are looking forward to doing another cruise in January with our newest baby who will be 7 months old”.
I for one can’t wait to hear about Sharon’s next cruise goes. To find out more about Sharon’s experience of cruising visit her website here
“Our first cruise was in 2014 on Royal Caribbean Rhapsody of the Seas – my hubby booked it and I’m not going to lie I was a little hesitant , I had NO idea what to expect, especially with kids aged 7 5 and 9 months. But we have since cruised every year after and I found cruising with a baby much easier than with a toddler!
We stayed in a Grand suite (3 kids don’t fit in normal rooms), and it was perfect size for us. A lot of the normal cabins don’t have baths and the basins aren’t a great size for bathing a baby. So make sure your baby is used to having showers before you go.
Check to see if the ship you want to sail on has a nursery / daycare for under 3. Rhapsody of the Seas did and it was fantastic. Some days you could only do 2 hour slots once a day depending on how many kids where in there.
Make sure you have a good, compact stroller. Our baby would sleep while we walked around the ship. Plus with the ships being so big a good stroller is a necessity.
Take your own nappies and supplies, and plenty of – as it’s really hard to buy them on the ship. The same applies as for any other holiday, pack all your medicinal products with you – again there is limited options to buy onboard, and although there is a doctor if required it will be much easier to have anything else already onboard with you.
With shore excursions, a lot will not take kids under 3. Check your itinerary and make sure the shore excursions you want to do take babies. We never book our excursions through the ship so generally find the locals take the younger ones.
Bottle feeding – I had to heat the bottles up with the kettle in our room which was a pain but obviously there’s no microwaves in your cabin”.