DH's grandpa is taking the entire family on a cruise next year (about 27 people). We haven't got all the details yet. It's a 7 day Mexican Riviera cruise (I think either Carnival or Royal Caribbean). Dh has plenty of siblings and cousins, and the rest of the family who will likely help out with the kiddos onboard, which is nice.
We will have 3 kids at the time of the cruise (I'm due in 5 weeks now). Our boys will be 4.5 years, and 2.5 years (both being just 4 months shy of their birthdays then), and our daughter will be 9 months old or so.
We have never cruised, and have no idea what we're getting into.
Right now I'm thinking our youngest son may not be potty trained, and obviously our daughter won't be - we cloth diaper only, but I'm thinking this isn't so practical onboard? Do we risk cloth diapering on board and washing during the trip, or buy paper diapers (doesn't this take up a ton of space packing 7+ days of diapers for 2 kids?!?).
Since it'll be a warm weather cruise, I'm going to have to have swimsuits and warm weather clothes bought way ahead of time (like this spring/summer), since we live in Oregon and will have zippo selection come cruise time instores. I'm worried about guessing what sizes my kids will be in that far ahead.
Obviously I'm overthinking and overstressing on details (pregnancy nesting), but I know there's tons to plan before hand. Passports for everyone (which outta be fun since I'm Canadian citizen but US permanent resident and DH and kids are US).
Where do you all get your details and advice for what all needs to be done/packed? I'm overwhelmed with details.
We waited for our kids to be older before we cruised, so I don't have a lot specific information for infants/toddlers. Here are some of my thoughts: if you are willing to pack the disposable diapers, that's one less "chore" to do on the ship (laundry). With such a big group going, maybe they can help you by carrying diapers on with their carry-on, so you don't have to bring them all on yourself (give everyone a package to carry). Don't know about RCCL, but on Carnival, your 4.5 year old can attend Camp Carnival, giving you a little break (and he should have a great time----remember, he doesn't have to stay in there for a set amount of time.) There will be a meeting on the first night, to introduce the program and sign up; be sure to go and give it a try. If your 2.5 year old is potty trained, he'll be able to go too. Also, non-potty trained kids are not supposed to go into the pools on board (this is the rule, it's controversial for some; just letting you know). I don't think the cruiseline provides formula or baby food.........you'll need to check on that and bring whatever you need. Let your older boys bring a favorite stuffed animal or other item. Some parents bring a small blow-up pool that fits in the shower to bathe their small children, if they aren't used to showering. That would probalby be best for your infant.
The good news is you have time to prepare and plan. Although you don't know what cruiseline you'll go on, visit a Travel Agent and get the Carnival and RCCL brochures. There will be a lot of information in there and also on their websites. Just start making lists for each person. Mix and match as many outfits as possible. You do not need a new outfit each day and, yes, it's ok to wear something to dinner twice (men do it, women can too--I just rotate so I don't wear the same thing two days in a row). Remember there are formal nights on the cruise, so those clothes take up a lot of space. However, a nice family portrait will be a great souvenier!
Camp Carnival starts at 2 so both your older children will be able to go if you cruise on Carnival. Also, Carnival has self-serve laundry rooms if you decide to go with the cloth diapers.
I wouldn't stress about the clothing. Now with the internet you can buy seasonal clothing all year round easily. Make sure you bring plenty of waterproof sunscreen and hats for the little ones. I got my kids full swimsuits, they looked kinda of like a short sleeve/short wetsuit that were 50 spf. You can get them on line at LL Bean.
Hope this helps.
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
You should read an article I wrote (listed on the main family page here on CruiseMates.com) called "Bringing the Baby" which gives helfpul tips on cruising/packing for a baby. Definitely don't bring cloth diapers -- nowhere other than your cabins to store stinky diapers 'til you wash them and not all ships have public washers. You'll have to average the # of diapers used per day and multiply that times #s of days away.
Royal Caribbean does have private babysitting day and ni ght for your little one. However kids have to be 3 yrs old and potty trained to go to the kids' program. Carnival's counselors do change diapers and kids only have to be 2 years old. However, there isn't any private babysitting for your infant. You can bring the infant to the youth room for group babysitting after 10 p.m. but that's not too practical.
Congrats on your new wee'un. I haven't actually cruised, yet, but I have done tons and tons of travel with children of all ages (my youngest, at 7 months old, had 12,000 air miles under her belt). My number one advice is to make sure you're still nursing the baby when you travel! My kids usually don't start solids until 8 or 9 months old, so breastmilk alone for the cruise will make your life sooo much easier. Or even mostly breastmilk with some food-for-the-fun-of-it.
Whoever had the idea to have others pack diapers...Bravo! That's a great idea. I'd take it one step further and ask them to pick up a package themselves...a 9 month old will probably go through 4-6 diapers a day, more if there is swimming involved. You might want to experiment with disposables before you go so you know what kind to request. Maybe hit up your disposable-diapering friends for two or three of their kind.
Unless your kids are unusually large or unusually small, they'll pretty much fit in the clothes that are their age size. Ebay for summer clothes off season is a great idea, too!
Good luck with those passports...that part's a drag.
Rissa - take a deep-breath, relax, we are here for you.
I totally agree about disposable over cloth diapers, Phew! do you want to be going to the self-serve laundry every day to wash dirty, stinky diapers? Love the idea of having each family member pack some diapers!
shop the clearance sales, end-of-summer for shorts & bathing suits, after holidays for formal wear. Check out thrift stores like Goodwill, Salvation Army for dress clothes especially.
If you do not nurse, you will need to pack formula for the baby.
I'm in the same boat....... taking our first cruise this summer and we have 5 kids they'll be 8mo,3,6,8 and 10. Watch these boards I've snagged some great ideas and just pop them into favorites. I'll post when I get back so I'll give you any wish I had advice! With your middle child maybe there will be the old faithful hand me downs, for your oldest buy a bunch of T-shirts end of season at Kohls or other good clearance stores and you can by two seperate sizes. You know they will fit into them eventually and if he can't the next one will. I always buy a year ahead on clearance for the most part bumping up one size has worked for us.
As for diapers I agree with pp that recommended trying out a couple brands B4 hand. Strore brands have worked on all of mine but one and he could ONLY wear Luvs he would wet through anything else.
Good Luck I'm a bit nervous too its different for people who have been before taking kids but trying to pack and prepare for the entire family is tough.... I feel your pain while I'm feeling your pain I'll take some of the labor pain for you too!
One word of advice -- start packing early! It does take much more than one night to pack up for that many people, especially for the baby. You might want to use my suggestion (per "Bringing the Baby" article listed on this site) about packing all the diapers, wipes, etc in a box that you can discard once on the cruise.
Luisa Frey Gaynor
Family Cruise Editor