Are you thinking about taking a cruise with toddler in tow? Worried if cruises are good for toddlers? In this guide we round up all our top tips for cruising with a toddler! We have always loved a cruise and we have been cruising with our baby since she was six months old. Since then we have been cruising with toddler in tow around the Med, Japan and even the South Pacific! And I am not going to lie cruises with toddlers do present a unique set of challenges however we still think taking a toddler on a cruise is a good idea! So without further ado here are our tips for cruising with toddlers in tow!
Updated: July 2019
Can toddlers go on cruises? And Is a cruise with toddler a good holiday?
Can toddlers go on cruises? They absolutely can!
Most cruise lines either have a minimum age limit of six months or 1 year dependent on the line, itinerary and number of sea days! But just because toddlers can go on cruises does this make cruises with a toddler a good idea for holidays?
There are so many myths about cruising and there is definitely a misconception that taking a cruise with toddler is not a good holiday! One of the top questions we get asked is “are cruises good for toddlers”?
We have spent many days at sea and believe that cruises are actually a great holiday for toddlers.
We love taking toddler on a cruise because you can see loads of places without having to change hotels or accommodation, you don’t have to worry about transportation and there are built in facilities and entertainment for toddlers (dependent of the ship you are sailing on)!
So if you want to try taking cruises with a toddler we are here to help with our tips for cruising with a toddler!
Things to Know and Top Tips for Cruising with a Toddler
What is the best toddler cruise line?
If you are looking for the best toddler cruise line, I would start by asking yourself what you want to get out of your cruise.
There are some cruise lines that have more of a reputation for having toddler friendly cruises than others and there are a lot of cases to be made for which is the best cruise lines for toddlers!
For instance – Disney, Royal Caribbean Line, Carnival and Norwegian all have a great reputation for toddler friendliness and are often lauded as the best cruises for toddlers!
Disney perhaps has the most toddler friendly cruise ships in their fleet as they are geared particularly at the family audience! If there are any cruise for toddlers I would say this is it!
The great things about Disney are they have splash pools so that even potty untrained children can use the facilities, they have shows and experiences aimed at the toddler audience and you will be surrounded by other families!
And of course – plenty of Disney character interactions! However the only downside to this line are that they are pretty much one of the most expensive cruises out there! Disney never comes cheap!
One of our other favourites is Norwegian! What we love about Norwegian is the whole flexible dining options as this means you can adapt to your toddlers schedule and what you have done in port that day! We find having options for some flexibility helps when taking toddlers on a cruise!
However we have cruised with a range of lines including Holland America – a line that is most commonly associated with an older demographic! We really enjoyed our cruise because the itinerary we did with them was so interesting however they are not the most toddler friendly cruises in terms of the amenities for toddlers! This didn’t bother us as we were using the ship as mode of transport more than as the destination in itself however in other circumstances this might not make the best cruise for toddlers!
It is also worth checking what lines offer discounted or free cruise sailings for infants on toddlers as this can be a huge difference to your cruise budget.
Overall, when thinking about is the best toddler cruise line I think is important to assess what is important to your family – Children’s facilities versus itinerary etc and make the decision based on your family needs. No family is the same so just think about what you want!
What is the best cruise ships for toddlers?
Again, as with the question what is the best cruise line for toddlers, answering what are the best cruise ships for toddlers is another difficult question.
The lines I have mentioned as being toddler friendly are all worth considering but I would urge you to look at the details of the specific cruise ship you are booking on!
It is worth noting that ships within a line can vary – bigger ships have more people but also more facilities so it is worth comparing and working out the type of atmosphere you would enjoy most!
Age of the ship and date of refurbishment can also play an important role in family friendliness so I would say in order to find the best cruise ship just double check the details before booking to make sure it has the key amenities you are looking for!
Are toddlers allowed in cruise ship pools?
Whether or not toddlers on cruises can use the pool is dependent on a number of factors including the cruise line you are sailing with and whether children are potty trained or not!
Only Disney really allow unpotty trained children in the swimming pool – and this is more splash area than actually swimming pool but will be more than enough than to keep toddlers on cruises happy!
Some other lines such as Carnival will have splash areas for toddlers too but this feature isn’t fleet wide but on a ship by ship basis!
In my opinion this is probably the hardest thing about cruising with toddlers! It isn’t easy to explain to a child who isn’t potty trained that they can’t use the pool when they can see other children in there!
My advice is to either wait until after they are potty trained or consider a cruise with Disney or sailing on a ship with a toddler splash area!
Alternatively if want to take your toddler cruising before they are potty trained you could consider picking an itinerary with fewer sea days and perhaps a more beach based or active port day based holiday, then you won’t miss using the pool so much!
How to pick the best itinerary for cruising with toddlers
All cruise itineraries are good but some are better than others! Think about what your toddler enjoys and what you want to get out of a cruise – for instance a Med or Caribbean cruise with all the fab beaches is probably a better bet than a Baltic cruise when cruising with a toddler!
Also consider how many days you are going to have at sea and how you will occupy your child on these days! Here’s our advice on how to occupy toddlers on sea days! But if you are only going for 7 days I would try to pick an itinerary with only one or two sea days max!
For more consideration on how to pick a toddler friendly itinerary check this post out!
What facilities are there for taking toddler on cruise ships?
If you are considering taking toddler on cruise ships you will want to make sure it has all the amenities and facilities you require.
As I mentioned above ships can vary from line to line and even within the same fleet! Some things to consider, that might not be on every ship but that might help you if you are going on a cruise with a toddler, include
- laundry – let’s face it toddlers are messy!
- Splash pad (place for unpotty trained kids)
- Kids club access for under 3s
Cabin Cruise with Toddler Tips!
It is always a dilemma choosing the type of cabin on a cruise line but I think this dilemma is amplied when cruising with a toddler. In this section fo the guide I round up all our info on cabin cruise toddler tips to help you with your booking decision!
In truth all cabins are acceptable but travelling with a toddler you may want to consider whether you are happy with a balcony? Having walking toddlers and a balcony may fill you with dread – if so maybe an ocean view cabin is better for you!
However if you travelling with a toddler you might want to have a balcony so you and your partner have somewhere to sit on those inevitable early nights! It really just depends on what you feel comfortable as as a parent.
If you can afford it I wouldn’t choose an indoor cabin with a toddler as my toddler tends to stick to her bedtime routine as we travel and cabins are small so it can be hard to watch something in the evening or talk! The balcony cabins being that bit bigger and having outdoor space does give parents more evening options!
For more information on room types check out our post here
And if you want to know more about cruise suites you can see our review here!
How to Cruise with a toddler – Things to pack for a cruise with toddler
One of the things you might be wondering when considering how to cruise with a toddler is what should you pack for a cruise with toddler! Well having done several now I think we have got cruise packing for kids down!
When taking toddlers on a cruise one of the important things to remember is that space is a premium! However while I emphasis packing light here are some essentials for your suitcase!
Wherever you travel – it doesn’t matter if you are doing Baltic Cruise, a Caribbean Cruise with a toddler or an Alaska or Hawaii Cruise with a toddler – the nights at sea and air con on the cruise ship can get cold so layers are a key to pack! I always have little cardigans and jumpers at hand even on warm nights just in case!
Remember a cute outfit for your little for those important formal night photos!
Inflatable Swimming Pool
If your line doesn’t allow toddlers in the swimming pool this will be a godsend if you have a balcony. Also doubles up as a bath if your room doesn’t have a bath!
We usually go for low irritation toys that can be used outside the stateroom such as colouring, sticker books and jigsaws!
Umbrella Stroller or compact stroller
Space is a premium on cruise ships so make sure your stroller is compact.
For a full guide on what the best stroller for cruise travel is click here!
Though sometimes available it is best to take a good supply with you and stock up in port!
If you are cruising with a baby or toddler be sure to check out our dedicated baby cruise packing list!
Should I take a car seat on a cruise?
This is a lot to do with what type of excursions you usually take. If any by car this is going to be necessary unless your private tour operator can supply!
We love our urban kanga as it is so compact and stores away easily even in a cruise ship cabin!
You can read about our favourite car seats for toddler travel here!
Other things to know before taking a cruise with a toddler
Book dinner in advance so you get the early time slot and request a table on your own if that is preferred.
Book baby sitting in advance if it is offered by your line to be sure you get the time you want.
What are your tips for cruising with a toddler?
What to Read Next!
- Tips for Cruising with A Baby
- First Time Cruise Tips
- Cruise Cabin Guide for Families
- What to do on Sea Days?
- Are Suites on Cruises Worth the Money?
- How to Find a family friendly itinerary
- A Guide to Italian Cruise Posts