My husband and I are sailing with our 16 month old daughter next month on the RCI Rhapsody. It is our 4th cruise, but first with the baby! I have learned much information from this board, so thanks! A few questions left:
- Can you ask your cabin attendent to keep your fridge stocked with milk (whole milk?) Is this free?
- Is it easy to find a highchair in the Windjammer?
- Please tell me to stop obsessing over the fact that we don't get to the ship until about 3pm (due to flight and shuttle from Houston to Galveston) - I am worrying about this because I want to secure a babysitter and I have read that you need to get to Guest Relations ASAP if you want to get a good one for the week. Is this too late?
- Do you get to meet the babysitter before they come? (my daughter goes to sleep at 7pm - so she may be asleep before they even come to the room - we got late dinner seating hoping we get a babysitter a few nights)
I'm the family cruise editor here. While you may think you're "obsessing" about details involved with cruising with a baby, you're not. I've been there and it is best to be prepared as far as what you need to bring and what you need to do and what your expectations are. So here are some answers to your Qs:
1) Good question about keeping fridge stocked with milk. Ask your steward the first night. In case all the milk comes out of a fountain the way soda does and the steward does not have access to small containers or milk, perhaps you want to bring a sealed plastic container or bottle so you can get some milk daily from the Windjammer buffet area so you have a stash in your frig for when your little wakes up, etc.
2) WHile you won't see the highchairs when you enter Windjammer, just ask one of the many stewards who clean up the tables to get you one. They are very efficient! (We just went on Royal Caribbean in June when my son was nine months old...)
3) Don't worry that you'll get boxed out of babysitting. Just make sure you make going to guest relations to set this up your first priority once you get aboard.
4) You don't get to meet the babysitter ahead of time since they are people who have other jobs on the ship and babysit on their time off. Perhaps on the first night you use a sitter, you should ask her to come earlier when your daughter is awake and then she can stay and get your daughter to sleep. Even though this will be before your second dinner seating, you can then go to a lounge with your husband to relax, etc. We used a babysitter in June and she was lovely. In fact, she got our son to bed earlier and easier than we ever did at the point!
Feel free to ask other questions. Make sure you realize that this cruise will be different from before you had a child, but that it will provide you with great family time and wonderful memories!
1. Milk - my guess is cabin steward won't have access to milk in small cartons - bring some along with you (if you've anyway to carry it with you) Also, there are some new "insualted" sippy cups we bought before our cruise with 2 year old last summer - they purport to keep the liquid cool longer - and you can always keep a supply of sippy cups filled with milk from the buffet in the fridge. (Remember there will be a few hours during the day when the buffet is closed but some of the bars should have milk - or maybe baby gets a little soda - they probably won't charge you for it if you hand them a sippy cup to fill up!)
2. Babysitter - you may not be able to get a sitter on the first night - we were told that we might not - but ended up with one - but we had arrived in Galveston a day before departure and my mother-in-law always wants to be first in line - so we were on the ship early. Nonetheless, I'd still go right to the purser's desk to sign up. Here's what I posted elsewhere about a sitter on board: We paid for a sitter for three hours each evening, though we didn't use her the full three hours any night - we had late seating dinner so sitter came from 8 to 11. One night (when we were in port late at night) we could tell she had really hoped to go on the town with some friends so we sent her off to the bars in Key West (with $5 for a drink on us) and everyone took turns with our toddler at dinner. we would bring dinner to the cabin from the dining room for our daughter or we'd come back to change clothes after dinner so always checked in at least once to make sure all was well - though it didn't matter as the sitter was great. She made $25 an evening and we tipped her at the end of the week. It was money well spent. We didn't worry. If there had been a rash of "cruise line child abuse by cruise line babysitters" I am sure we would have seen this on Dateline, or 60 Minutes, or somewhere - the cruiseline certainly has no interest in that sort of liability. We were asked if the sitter should stay in room with child or not. Of course our toddler was asleep by 8 or 9 so this didn't apply to us - but for example, the sitter met us for a formal photograph and then took daughter back to room.
If we hadn't liked her after a night (or even if we met her and felt uncomfortable with her) we'd simply have cancelled (and in fact she told us that if she hadn't liked us she would have fired us - as this service is never guaranteed and I think the cruise line tells their staff that if they are uncomfortable with the babysitting situation not to do it - our sitter had also been hired to cabin sit for elderly people in the past and she was expected to feed the person and dispense medicine - she did this one night and then declined to come back as she felt it was too much responsibility ). Our sitter had four children at home so had experience with children. I know many would not feel comfortable doing this, but we were. We've also hired babysitting services through hotels. My mother-in-law, the grandmother, had no worries (had it been my mother, the other grandmother, it would have been a different story - but then she would have said, "I'll stay in the cabin and watch her , you go have dinner" more because of the cost rather than the "danger") .
We were on Rhapsody too - our sitter's name was Ardis - she was from St. Vincent. I too think she had our daughter asleep before we could get her to sleep. The TV has the cartoon channel. If you get Ardis, tell her hello from Maureen, Fred & Karen.
We just got home from a week long cruise with our 16month old (see my thread "Pregnant and cruising with toddler"). One piece of info to know is that RC does not allow babies still wearing any type of diaper in the pool or in the childrens playroom.