Family Cruise Message Board FAQ's by Luisa Frey, CruiseMates Family Editor February, 2009
Here in one concise sampling are the highlights of recently posed message board questions, and their answers, for your reference before your next family cruise.
Parents of today are constantly running in many different directions and have little time to research family travel options. That's why our CruiseMates.com Family Message Board is so helpful. It provides a wealth of information in regards to what you need to know before embarking on a family cruise.
This article saves you even more time since we've chosen the highlights of the recently asked and answered message board questions for your quick perusal.
Just keep in mind that once you step aboard a cruise ship, you won't have to be concerned about saving time and can simply relax instead.
READ THE FINE PRINT
Q: What form should I use for my ex-husband to sign to allow me to take our daughter out of the country? I have sole physical custody but we have joint legal custody.
A: Go to this site for a wide choice of legal forms for traveling with your children. All you have to do is fill them out, sign them, and bring them to a notary. Then you're "good to go."
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Q: I was going to book a Carnival cruise which departs when I'll be 29 weeks pregnant. I just found out that Carnival doesn't allow pregnant passengers past 23 weeks. I hear that Royal Caribbean is the same. Does anyone know what Disney's policy is?
A: It seems that on most cruise lines, women who are 24 weeks pregnant or more cannot cruise. Here is fine print from a Disney ticket: "Women who have entered their 24th week of pregnancy as of their embarkation date will be refused passage due to safety concerns. Neither a physician's medical statement nor a waiver of liability will be accepted. In addition, Disney Cruise Line cannot be held responsible or liable for any complications relating to pregnancy at any stage."
Q: Please help us decide which of the following cruise lines are best for infants: Carnival, Disney, NCL, Princess or Royal Caribbean.
A: Here are the pros and cons of each line:
Carnival: No private babysitting, but group sitting (hourly fee) for infants and toddlers is offered on port mornings and after 10 p.m. Counselors change diapers. Youth program starts at age two.
Disney: No private babysitting. Nursery (hourly fee) for those 6 weeks to 3 years old; caregivers in nursery change diapers. Youth program (no fee) starts at age 3 years and children must be potty trained. Disney ships have a splash pool for diapered infants and toddlers.
NCL: No private babysitting. Those 2 years and older can participate in the youth program which includes late night group babysitting. Diapered tots over 2 years can participate, but parents must come and change diapers.
Princess: No private babysitting. Those 3 years (must be potty trained) and older can participate in the youth program. Children under 3 years are allowed in the youth room to play with the toys if accompanied by a parent.
RCI: Private babysitting (in room) for an hourly fee for those one year and older. Fisher Price Aqua Babies (45 minute sessions) offered daily for those 6 months and older who are accompanied by a parent or guardian. Youth program is for those 3 years and older who are potty trained. Liberty of the Seas has a small splash pool for those in diapers.
Q: We need help deciding between two premium cruise ships: Crown Princess and Holland America Line's Eurodam. While we prefer the mid-size of the Holland America ships, we're concerned that the passengers will be mostly older folks. Any advice on which to book?
A: We went on a Holland America cruise in 2007 to Alaska and we loved it. My kids were five and 13 years old then. I wrote an article on the family home page of CruiseMates about it. You won't feel too old on the ship -- Holland America is lowering its average age yearly.
Q: What do you suggest in regards to taking kids out of school for a week in order to cruise?
A: My 15-year-old daughter has been on about 30 cruises. When she was in grade school, I took her out of school usually one week per year for a cruise. However, once she reached middle school, we stopped that. Not only did I feel she'd be missing too much school work, but I know she'd feel stressed coming back to certain subjects (like algebra) without a clue as to what's going on.
Q: Do you know anything about the Nickelodeon family cruises?
A: Yes, in 2008 there was one Nick family cruise and this year there will be two: one in July to the Mexican Riviera and one in August to the Caribbean. Both are aboard Royal Caribbean ships and feature plenty of fun family programming -- Nick style -- ranging from Slime Time Live to Meet and Greets with favorite Nick characters like SpongeBob. For more information and to book it, click right here.
Q: We're cruising in October and I'm concerned that there won't be many kids in the youth program for my children to play with. I heard that Carnival programming won't go on as scheduled if there aren't many kids onboard. Is this true?
A: No, Carnival's programming goes on no matter how many kids are onboard. However, you are correct that there won't be tons of kids onboard any cruise line in October since it's back to school time. However, Carnival, Royal Caribbean or Disney Cruise Line are your best bet for always finding kids for your children to play with any time of year since they carry the most youngsters at sea.
Q: We have a six month old and will be cruising aboard Royal Caribbean. Can you tell us more about Royal Caribbean's babysitting services?
A: I have used RCI's in-cabin babysitting and the babysitters were very good. The fee is $8/hour for one child and $10/hour for two. However, your child has to be at least one year old for the babysitting service. If interested, check with guest services upon embarkation to reserve your desired babysitting time.
Q: We've used walkie talkies on RCCL, however sometimes we've picked up other conversations as well as some static. The walkie talkies we had cost $40 -- do you think more expensive ones would be better?
A: It really won't make a big difference if you spend more on walkie talkies. The ones we use cost about $30 to $40. Often it's more a function of the size of the ship; how much steel on the ship through which the messages are being transported; and where you are located on the ship when using the walkie talkies. I found them handy for my tween -- once she was a teen, she didn't want others her age seeing her using a walkie talkie! Definitely "not cool!"
Q: We're first time cruisers looking to sail aboard Carnival Triumph. We have a three and a five-year-old. Can we all fit in one room or do we need a family room?
A: Quad cabins are fine for a family of four. Sometimes the configuration is two upper berths (pull down bunk beds) and two lower berths. Other times the configuration is one queen or king sized bed; one couch that converts into a twin bed; and one upper berth.
TAKE A SEAT
Q: We are flying to the port city the day before our cruise and staying at a hotel the night before. I have a four year old daughter. Do I need to lug her car seat for the car rides from the airport to the hotel and from the hotel to the pier?
A: I suggest you take a booster seat with you. While you can't use the booster seats on the airplane, you can check them with your luggage. After you use them, you can bring them on board ship and ask your room steward to store them for the cruise duration in his storage closet on your deck. Just remember to ask him for the seat back the night before disembarkation.
Q: Does Carnival offer highchairs in the dining room?
A: Yes, all cruise lines which have youth programming offer high chairs in the dining room. After the first night, your waiter will have the high chair waiting for you nightly.