Am I crazy to do this? I'm taking my first cruise - on Zaandam, 9/28, to Alaska. The decision was made with very short notice (barely one month before departure) so I wasn't able to get another adult to accompany my daughter and me. She is 11 months, or will be at the time of the cruise. I know my options for activities will be limited by her willingness/ability to be cooperate (she's generally a very content little girl who is happy to people watch). After looking through the booklet of shore excursions, I know most of the adventure trips are not options - but that's OK, this trip is for relaxing not strenuous physical activity.
I have read the articles on CruiseMates.com about cruising with young children. Being a single parent, I'm not concerned that I'll be caring for her 24/7 - I truly enjoy that. I guess my main concern is that her presence will not be appreciated, possibly even resented, by other passengers. While I may know she's quiet and happy 95% of the time, I'm also aware that others won't know that about her. I want this trip, our first cruise, to be relaxing and enjoyable without having to worry that just the fact my daughter is present will detract from the pleasure of others.
Has anyone else done this (cruise as a lone adult with an infant)? What was your experience? Any advice?
I'm the family cruise editor here. While my one year old has been on two cruises with me, it has been with my husband and eight year old daughter too. I think it's great that you're willing to try cruising on your own!
While the cruises we brought my baby on were very family oriented (Disney and Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas), sometimes being one of the few infants or youngsters on a ship means that your daughter will be doted on by the staff and passengers. When my daughter was just under three years, we brought her on her first cruise aboard Celebrity Cruises to Bermuda. She was one of only a handful of kids aboard but she was the star of the dining room! We still laugh at the photo of her surrounded by adoring waiters! Call Holland America Line soon and see if they still offer the service whereby they'll provide you with baby food and diapers. It sure beats lugging all that aboard ship! (By the way, I'm the one who wrote the articles on the site about cruising with a baby so feel free to ask additional Q's.)
You're right that the shore excursions will be a bit active for you and the baby. Do you have a baby backpack to use? That would be helpful. For example, in Juneau right near the cruise port, you can take a tram up to Mt. Roberts for WONDERFUL views. There are walking trails up there but I don't think too much of it is paved for using a stroller. (I may be wrong on that since it's been 5 years since we took my daughter to AK.) Ketchikan has some nice things that you could walk to with the stroller, including Deer Mtn. Hatchery and Eagle Recovery Center as well as a Totem Heritage Center where you can see people working on totem poles. (They're right near each other.) In SKagway, visit the Klondike Gold Rush Nat'l Historic Park Visitor Center where there are exhibits and a 30 minute film on the gold rush experience. (It's just a few minute walk from the cruise pier.) There's a great book you may want to purchase (it's on Amazon.com): "Inside Passage Walking Tours" (by Julianne Chase) that details things to see and do from each major cruise port.
I'd love to hear how it goes!
Luisa Frey Gaynor
HAL does offer to supply baby food, formula and diapers. However, at $1 per diaper and jar of baby food, I've decided to bring the former. They're light weight and will give me the advantage of leaving space in our luggage for things we pick up on the trip. Luckily, she's decided she's ready to eat most "big people" foods so I'll only need to bring some formula and some of her favorite finger food snacks.
At this point, we're planning to take a whale & wildlife watching excursion in Juneau and visit Saxman Village in Ketchikan. Both sound like they'd appeal to each of us. Other than that, I think we'll do some casual sightseeing. I hadn't thought of getting a backpack for her but I will add that to the list. She's walking now and will undoubtedly want to practice while on our excursions ashore. I'd think a backpack, though, will be better for viewing many sights than from a stroller when she's ready to let mom do the work.
Thanks for the tips. I'll let you know if I'd do it again once we return.
We took 8 week old on cruise; and then to Vancouver Island in British Columbia when she was 13 months (and on another cruise this summer at age 25 months). I wouldn't worry about your daughter disturbing other people at all merely by her "presence". I am sure that if she is having a tantrum in the dining room (though I don't think 11 month old kids have tantrums - ours didn't - BUT DOES NOW!!!) that'd you do the polite thing and take baby out for a breather to calm down (but that's what you'd do at church, at a restaurant at home, et.c). I think Luisa is correct, she may be the princess of the ship by the time you leave. Dress her up for dinner - the other guests at the table will love this (especially if there are some grandparents in the group!) In Skagway, you also might consider renting a car (it will be cheaper than the "train trip") and you'll be able to drive much further into the Yukon (I think we dorve 60 miles in from Skagway and then back out - scenery is beautiful - several little spots to stop - now, I guess by yourself, that might be a little adventuresome (my wife and I did this and thought it was great) - it depends on how you'd feel about this - and you're pretty late in the season, so I don't know what the weather would be - I presume cooler than in August. We also rented a car in Ketchikan (but in both instances I am glad we reserved well in advance as both places we'd reserved from were sold out for the day so if you just arrived off the ship you'd have been out of luck).
One thing I would suggest for the airport (assuming you are flying) is one of those toddler "leashes" - I know we got looks, but we felt very secure and our daughter didn't mind at all (at age 1 - this summer was a different matter) - anyway, at that age, when so small, we liked it. I don't think it's necessary on the ship as there's no way she'll be able to climb over anything (we had a balcony again this summer on RCCL and there was no way our two year old could've climbed over -and we didn't worry about it (much) - but of course she wasn't out there alone and in fact I always held her hand in case she suddenly got super jumping powers!
I think it possible you and daughter could enjoy the singing and dancing shows - just sit on the aisle in the back in case you need to make a quick exit - that worked well for us this summer - our toddler loved it (but got restless whenever the cruise director was giving his talk!) you may be out of luck in the casino - our experience on RCCL (when our daughter was 8 weeks old no less) was that she couldn't be in the casino (in a stroller) so I would wait outside while my wife gambled.
Again, as to diapers and such, depending on the itinerary, you'd be able to get baby stuff in Juneau and Kethikan so you might not have to bring too much with you (unless they are the very end of the trip!). We brought along premixed formula (expensive, but easy) in 4 ounce bottles - of course, for your daughter you'll be needing lots perhaps. By having the premixed in bottles, we avoided having to deal with grandmother worrying over whether or not we'd properly sterilized things (we never sterilized at home, but then grandmother didn't need to know that but when she's in the next cabin....) In fact,m we shipped some of the stuff ahead to the hotel where we spent the night before the cruise. Again, expensive, but made the travel out much easier.
Also, the wildlife cruise in Juneau should be fine - we went on that - along with a 2 year old niece - there's room to roam around on the boat (and given the time of year you are going, it may not be as crowded as when we went in August). That was my favorite excursion of the trip. Truly saw lots of wildlife. Definitely the tram ride in Juneau - and there are lots of nice shops in Juneau - I thought better shopping there than in Ketchikan and there are a fair number of taxis in Juneau if you had any interest in the trip up the hill to see the small Russian Orthodox Church (the walk down is easy but not so going up). We actually ran out of time in Juneau.
Ketchikan is pretty walkable - though I'd try and get a taxi to the totem pole museum (again, its up a hill) and then walk back.
Dining Room - make sure your waiter knows to bring your food as quick as he can - you may not get to enjoy the leisurely dining experience. There's always room service I presume on HAL - you might go to the dining room for an appetizer and drink and then take the entree back to the room - I don't know how long your daughter would sit - but at one, she might do just fine with a doll, a book, (a pacifier - if you're OK with that), a teddy and you'll be having a brandy with your table companions while she snoozes. If you're near a window, she might just enjoy looking out. That'd be my only worry but then our 2 year old would never have sat willingly and happily through a long multicourse dinner - no surprise (which is why we had the sitter during dinner this summer - of course, we had late seating, too - a different grandmother was on this trip - so early seating might have been better for our toddler).
I have no doubt but that you will enjoy the cruise. The scenery is beautiful and you'll get to spend lots of time with your daughter at the same time.
I don't know what the age for hiring private babysitters is on HAL - my guess is your daughter is too young - she would be on RCCL but I'd check. We had a babysitter every evening this summer for our 2 year old for a couple of hours. It worked out just fine. If we hadn't liked her, we could have asked for someone else or gone without.
Thanks Fred for all your great input!
Lisa, if you're interested in private babysitting, double check at the main desk as soon as you get on. I'm not positive that HAL has private babysitting anymore. I know that they used to but most of the cruise lines have done away with private babysitting due to liability reasons. Instead, many lines offer group babysitting but that's for kids old enough to be in the youth program (which is age 5 on HAL). The only lines I'm positive that have private babysitting are Royal Caribbean and Celebrity.
Have a great time and give us some details when you return!
Thank you, Fred, I've definitely made some notes of your tips.
Luckily, we live in the Pacific NW so will be driving to Vancouver BC rather than flying. I do, however, have a "leash" on my list of things to buy before we go. I know some people think they're awful but I'd much rather have their dirty looks than a lost child.
We've been "practicing" a bit eating at restaurants so she'll be used sitting for longer periods than she must at home. So far, worked out well as long as she has something to do - and she already likes to "people watch" so I'm expecting that should help keep her entertained. I hadn't considered that I could request we get served more quickly or that we'd be able to eat some courses in the dining room and some in the room. That will makes things easier if she gets fussy - we booked late so have 2nd seating.
I hadn't thought of renting a car while in port that sounds like a great way to self-pace our time ashore. The whale & wildlife watching trip is booked as is a visit to Saxman Village. I thought the latter would be fund as my daughter loves music and dancing - which also leads me to think we may be able to catch a show or two on board. I'll definitely sit where we can make a quiet exit if needed.
Thanks again, all, for the reassurance. I know this will be great even if I don't take advantage of all the amenities on board - but who can and still relax?!
I am going on a 3 generation cruise in Nov. and we are taking my 7 month old grandaughter. As long as you have reasonable expectation and it sounds like you do, go ahead and have a great time! Don't worry about what others may think. There are always people around that feel little ones should be left at home!
Hi...yes, I was a single parent and I cruised with my daughter when she was a year old. (Am now married but I still remember)....since you're going on HAL, there won't be many other children but in my opinion, this is not important. What's important is that you two are together.....never mind the other pax. or their opinion.....try to be a good mom, which I'm sure you are, and if she gets fussy in public areas, just get up and walk around a while...she'll settle down (I think it's due to the motion of the ship which seems to be very calming for babies). My experience was: my little girl became the star of the voyage....she was more popular than I was...other pax wanted to hold her and play with her...crew members brought her extras.....stewards made towel animals for her....The Captain happened to pass by, stopped, did a double take, picked her up and played with her....then he asked if everything was allright, to my satisfaction and was there anything we needed ????? :0 I think you should go, have a good time and never mind what "might" happen...focus on what is.....Happy Sailing....