Should we go cruising with a Toddler - Please help
Three families with grandparents are all booked a March 2008 cruise through the Panama Canal on Princess Cruise Lines.
One family (never cruised before) has a then to be 5 year old and a 2 year old. They are planning to bring both kids.
My family (never cruised before) has a then to be 2 1/2 year old. We are completely unsure if we should be bringing him along given what appears to be very restrictive requirements for potty training and possible difficulties obtaining babysitting. If the Grandparents were not booking and paying for this trip, we would have waited another few years before attempting a cruise.
My questions are...
- What have other people witnessed or experienced from parents that brought along a 2 to 3 year old on a cruise? Were the parents completely frazzled looking?
- Should kids this age stay home while the parents go?
- Is it fair to the other passenger to have to deal with a disruptive toddler during dinner etc?
- Will a child this age get anything out of the cruise?
I cruised with my kids as toddlers and it was a good experience. However, you have to change your expectations. Unfortunately, Princess does not have private babysitting. Also, kids must be 3 and potty trained for the youth program. So there won't be tons for the toddler to do on the ship. However, if you're with a group, then it might just be fun to go along for the ride. You may want to read Bringing the Baby that I wrote. It's on the main family page of CM and has some tips for infants/toddlers.
Luisa Frey Gaynor
Family Cruise Editor
I was on the Carribean Princess last December and one of the first things I did was pull out my photo album of my son and put it on my night stand. The cabin steward asked who he was and I told him and he said you will regret not bringing him. He was so right. There were so many children my sons age, 14 months at the time, that I missed him horribly.
We were supposed to go on the Celebrity Millennium but the trip was cancelled to the ship being dry docked. This year we are going on the Millennium. Probably not as many toddlers on the Millennium, but we are bring him this time. You will have a great time on a Princess ship with Toddlers.
I know that I may not have as relaxing a dinner or maybe not have one at all. I also plan on bringing coloring books, toys, and a portable DVD player to dinner. I will absolutely try and make it through dinner but will not allow my son to disrupt other people's dinners. I have had to walk out of many a restaurant and will do the same on my cruise. Maybe if it's a problem with that large a group you could rotate watching the kids during dinner or if it's on one of the ships that allow for open dining then the couple that stays with the kid's eat early.
I am thinking the first night will be the worst because the muster drill will mess up his nap time
We started cruising when our kids were 2 and 4. It was wonderful for all of us. We had the luxury though of choosing a cruise line that suited our needs and catered to families with young children. DD was so little and just barely potty trained, so Carnival was a perfect choice for us, as they will take children as young as 2, potty trained or not. NCL was also a choice since they have good programs and will page you to come change the kiddos diaper.
The best advice I can offer is to try to stick some semblence of your usual routine. If your child gets fussy or aggitated remove them from a stressful situation and take them somewhere quiet to rest and regroup. I think that taking the kids on cruises with us actually forced us to slow down and relax. Because at least one of us would go back to the cabin mid-day and lay down with the kiddos and take a nap with them and we would get to come back from vacation semi-rested and relaxed. We had very few problems with dinner. The kids still love dressing up for formal nights, of course I loved their pictures. It was a great time for all. We'll be going on our 6th cruise in September.
I think the fact that you will have lots of family members with you to help watch and entertain the little one might provide you with a little break once in a while may keep you from feeling so overwhelmed.
I hope my earlier reply wasn't taken as being negative about cruising with little ones. I totally believe in cruising with your infants/toddlers/kids. My daughter has been on 25 cruises and my younger son started cruising when he was 7 months old. The kids -- and myself and my husband -- have always enjoyed our time at sea. It's a great way to spend time together!
Luisa Frey Gaynor
Family Cruise Editor
I don't think so. I think you were just trying to point out that a toddler isn't always going to be on their best behavior. It also scared me when I first read if if the author thought that if the toddler started screaming that they would just stay in the dining room with the toddler screaming, but I'm sure the parents would remove the toddler so as not to disturb the other passengers.
I think it's a mixture of the original questioner has never been on a cruise and that each of us has had different experiences.
Personally I think Moms (whether they are stay at home or working) need a vacation without their toddler) however preparing someone to take care of their toddler is so much work it is easier to take them with you and if you are like me I worry. The money spent on Internet on the ship was a lot. And we just did one e-mail a day and signed up before leaving port so we got extra minutes and almost ran out. My mother was getting upset because it took so long for us to respond to her questions.
So I think I was more frazzled then the parents on the ship. I think I will have more quality time with my son and I think he will have fun. And I never want to see the look on my son's face that I got when I returned from the cruise last year. So other then a short business trip when my mother might stay at the house with my husband (who will still be working) my son will always travel with me until he is older and doesn't want to. Of course then I won't trust him
we took our son on a cruise and he was 2, we had a great time. he loved camp carnival. they never had to page us we are going in december with a 2 year old a 6 yr old. i think the baby will be ok. my son will only be a little over 6 so i hope they will let him stay on the side with his little brother. if not i think he willbe ok after a while ther is so much stuff to play with, and i think as long as he does see me and hub leave. i think most people aree understanding there were kids everywhere. that's why we are cruising carnival b/c they change diapers and take the kids at 2.
My husband and I waited until my daughter was 3 1/2 before we cruised with her, and I'm so glad we did. I couldn't imagine not being able to let her (and us!) enjoy kid's club AND her not being able to go in the pool. It was so enjoyable that we're planning our second family cruise. My opinion is, if you can wait until they're 3 and potty-trained, wait. I know it definitely would have been a lot more to handle if we went even one year earlier.