First I'd like to thank all of you for providing such a wealth of information. This forum has helped me prepare for a couple of great cruises, and we've got another in the works. I hope I can ask my question without getting a bunch of negative responses. Every two years, a large group of my family and friends take a cruise. Next one is the Eastern Caribbean on 12/03/06 on the Valor. My daughter will be 11 months then. We just can't bear to miss out, so we're taking her along. Fortunately we'll have a lot of willing babysitters with us. I'd love to hear any tips or hints from others who have cruised with an infant. We've already requested a crib for our cabin and for Grandma's.
I must be pretty oblivious, because I don't recall noticing babies in the dining rooms. Are there high chairs? I try to be a very courteous parent and not ruin anyone else's dinner with a crying child, but I would like to try going to the dining room with her, especially on formal nights, when she'll be all dressed up.
Also I don't remember seeing strollers on the ship. Again, probably just me being oblivious, but are they allowed? I'd like to bring a slim umbrella style, not a bulky one.
Besides the dining room and stroller questions, any other general advice would be welcome, whether it be about being on the ship or in the ports. I'm a little nervous, but I know we'll have fun (albeit a much different kind of fun than we had on our pre-parent cruises!) I figure I should start planning now and maybe I'll be ready by December!
Luisa wrote a great article about cruising with a baby. I'm sure if you do a search on this site you can find it. I would just make sure you bring plenty of diapers, baby food, etc. Also, lots of sunscreen, a hat, toys, etc.. I would limit my shore excursions to things you can easily do with her.
Celebrity Century 1/09
Carnival Destiny 10/07
Carnival Destiny 9/06
Monarch of the Seas 3/06
Carnival Inspiration 8/05
Carnival Miracle 4/05
Carnival Inspiration 4/04
Sovereign of the Seas 4/03
I just got back from an 8 night cruise with a 22 month old on Monday off the Carnival Legend and we cruised with her on her first cruise last year, 7 day cruise when she was 9 months old on the Glory.
First, to answer questions. Yes, there are highchairs in the dining room, just let them know as soon as you arrive to be seated. There are also highchairs in other dining area on the lido deck for the buffet, just a little harder to track down. Stroller is a good idea, definitely a unbrella stroller, anything bigger won't fit through the cabin doors and are harder to manuever in the elevators and all.
Other tips: If you didn't book a suite, bring a little blow up bathtub to bath her in (target has little duck ones) Our daughter didn't like the shower that young. Bring lots of diapers and wipes, don't count on the boat having the kind you'd want. For those "stinky" diapers, pack scented bags.
Bring lots of snacks that she likes, "splurge" a little, if she likes dry cereal, and usually eats cheerios, go for corn pops or something, keeps it interesting and them entertained longer. If she is on a bottle, bring dishwashing liquid to wash the bottles/cups/spoons/whatnot with in the bathroom sink. If she is on formula, just a suggestion, bring water on. It is expensive to buy on the boat and the water out of the tap in the bathrooms doesn't taste all that great. (Plus you have plenty of room going home for souviners) What else...new toys, ones she hasn't played with before for the cabin. Plus the old favorite, especially at bedtime. I actually ended up doing laundry on the boat, packed the detergent and all in ziploc bags (cheaper!) and brought quarters. Wasn't to bad.
You'll have a blast and so will she, so will the babysitters (I'm assuming family?) Relax and enjoy yourselves! Good job on already requesting the cribs. They don't let little ones with diapers in the pool but we had the huggies swim diapers on our daughter and no one said anything. I saw many others do the same.
Many of the workers on the boat love to see the babies and they'll dote on them and do anything they can to help ya'll out. Bring yogart, and special foods they can.
Any other questions, let me know. This got long and I'm sure I'm missing something. But no worries, it can be done. And our daughter had a great time and everyone enjoyed her as well! (Even those crotchety people who say babies should be on cruises...ba-hum-bug on them!)
I cruised with my twins when they 9 months old and then again when they were 18 months old. Yes, strollers are allowed and are a real lifesaver when moving about the ship or for afternoon naps on deck. Carnival used to rent strollers if you don't want to bring your own. This was 5 or 6 years ago, though, so I'm not sure if they still do. At the time, it was $25 for the duration of the cruise (10 days).
High chairs are available in the dining room. Just ask your waiter on the first night and he will make sure that it's there waiting for you from that point forward.
Prior to my cruises, I stocked up on inexpensive toys at the Dollar Tree Store and put them away so that they would be new and interesting for the trip. These turned out to be a lifesaver to keep them occupied during the long dinners in the dining room, as well as afternoons on deck and while waiting for the show to start in the evenings.
I would stock up each morning on the little boxes of cereal at the breakfast buffet. These worked great as small snacks while waiting for meals to arrive or at other times when they became restless and food wasn't readily available. The cereal was also useful in ports since we were traveling to places where I would not feel comfortable with them eating the local food.
Make sure you plan for naptime and for times when she can just run around and be a kid. I would put the boys down for a nap, usually in a loungechair on deck, in the early afternoon. Then when they woke up, we would go to an empty nightclub or the tennis courts (if not being used) so that they could just play and work off their excess energy without disturbing anybody. This was especially important on the second trip when they were at the toddler stage. I think the combination of being rested from the nap, but a little tired from the play, made things go much smoother at dinnertime and during the evening events.
My boys really enjoyed the nighttime entertainment. They were fascinated by the music and bright colorful costumes of the evening shows and would sit about as still and quiet as I've ever seen them throughout the whole thing. Then afterwards, we would go "dancing" at one of the nightclubs. For them, "dancing" consisted of just sitting or standing on their chairs and swaying to the music, but they loved it. Again though, I brought along their bag of toys and snacks to keep them occupied while waiting for the show to start or for breaks in the music.
For bedtime, make sure not to forget any of her comfort items. We nearly had a major meltdown on the first night when I couldn't find my son's favorite "binky" (pacifier). I had about a dozen others with me, but not his favorite. Luckily, I finally found it at the bottom of an empty suitcase.
Make sure to also pack any medications that she may need. This includes prescription and over-the-counter. Children's medications can be difficult to find aboard ship and are very expensive when you do find them.
I was very apprehensive about my first cruise with my twins, but everything turned out great. It was even better on the second cruise since I had a little experience and new better what worked and what didn't and what to expect. Cruising with young children is definitely a way different vacation than cruising without them, but with some careful planning and the right expectations, it can be just as much fun (or even more fun!). Now, I couldn't imagine cruising without my boys!