I've been reading a lot of posts and read the Cruising with Baby article and have gotten a lot of helpful information. But, I still have lots of questions!!
First of all, does anyone know what kind of portable crib Carnival uses? If we choose to take our own pack n' play, will there be room for it in a balcony cabin? If not, can furniture be removed?
Do the cabins (we'll be on Carnival Conquest) have mini-fridges for DD's food/snacks?
What about excursions? Is it worth trying to take her with us on any? Do I need to take a carseat for transportation on land?? It seems ridiculous to, but I have that little nagging worry. We're thinking of probably just doing port (Montego Bay, Grand Cayman, Cozumel) stuff on our own rather than booking thru Carnival, that way we're not held hostage by someone else's schedule. Any suggestions for baby friendly activities on shore?
Finally, any input/suggestions for entertaining a not-yet-walking 1 year old (and trying to fit in a little fun for myself and hubby!) would be greatly appreciated!!
Luckily Carnival has limited group babysitting (port mornings and after 10 p.m. evenings) if you're intersted -- there's an hourly fee. I suggest you take a cab to beaches so you can go at your child's schedule. Read my article on this family section on "Back to the Beach" which gives suggestions. I suggest Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman especially. In Jamaica, you might be better having one of you or your spouse take a group excursion and the other stay w/your child -- Jamaica is better explored with a group.
Luisa Frey Gaynor
Family Cruise Editor
I just returned from the Conquest with an 8 month old....... start your work out now!! My entire body hurts from carrying dd for a week! If you have a sling or front carrier make sure you bring it!
We did not use a crib we co sleep but my SIL did; they had plenty of room still in there balcony room.
As for excursions..... tendering into Grand Cayman was so easy...... Cozumel was a pain in the rear!! I would suggest booking an excursion through Carnival there because you get tendered out much more quickly!
Yes there is a fridge for snacks and juice! Around the third day I was offered pureed food for her - I never ordered any because we had babyfood. She loved various soups (Avacado, Spiniach, Mango).
I took a little pool to bathe her in (never did cause it was too akward to put in the bathroom) It was great though to have as a "playmat", I could have taken her pool to the deck but we never even swam ourselves!
As far as a carseat..... I totally understand (my 9 year old just got out of his booster) but honestly it would be next to impossible to take one on shore.
Jamaica was not as bad as people make it sound just remember your common sense. It is very pretty and there really is nothing right within port. I was glad we went into the country just be catious.
Let me know if you have any other questions. I too was a first time cruiser!
Your insights are really very helpful. It's especially nice to hear from a mom in a very similar situation!
MOMX5, I was wondering, did you use the babysitting service Carnival provides at all? If so, what were your impressions? And do you have any brilliant ideas for how to keep the little one occupied on sailing days?
No I did not use the babysitting or camp carnival for any of my kids! There really aren't "activities" for the babies but some things we did that entertained her were going up on deck by the ping pong tables and just letting her sit on deck. I bought some little 88 cent duckies @ WalMart for her to play with. She loved "dancing" to the music both on deck and in the lounge. Otherwise I had her in the sling and carried her to whatever we went to. Have a great trip eat some oamlets for me my poor stomach is going crazy just being fed 3 normal size meals a day now!
Are you flying down to the port and using the carseat on the plane? If you're taking a bus from the airport to the port, you might want to check and see if the carseat will work on the bus. (Plus those buses are packed so you want to try to get on one asap so you can get the seat on there!)
Once you get on the boat, ask your room stewart if he can store the carseat for you until the end of the cruise. Dont even attempt to take the carseat in port. Some of the taxis don't have seatbelts (so the carseat is useless) or they put quite a few people in the taxi or van so there isn't room for the carseat. Trying to store the carseat in your room....well, there just isn't much room! We now drive down and the carseat stays with the car.
You may want to ask the limo service ahead of time if they can have a car seat for you. This is a difficult scenario. We used to fly with the car seat (we'd always buy a seat for my son on the plane) and use it in a taxi bet. the airport and port. Then we'd have the room steward on the ship store the seat during the cruise. As someone else posted, the taxis are not very car seat friendly in the Caribbean. However, you have to do what you feel most comfortable with.
Luisa Frey Gaynor
Family Cruise Editor
We used a Sit n Stroll when we travelled with our babies. Its a carseat/FAA approved flightseat and when you slide up the handle and flip down the wheels it becomes a stroller and comes with a sunshade.
It works like a charm. I have seen a few good prices for them on ebay. I still have mine and should try listing it there since the kids have since outgrown it.
Regardless of whether you take the baby off the ship or not, make sure you have at least a simple umbrella stroller with a shade. Like the PP your arms and back will be ready to fall off by the end of your cruise if you don't have one just to get around the ship with. Avoid bringing a big bulky stroller with all the bells and whistles because it will too hard to navigate with.
Good luck and let us know how you get along. Most of all relax and have fun.