written by AJ Ratani and Natasha Sandhir
Having taken 4 cruises together as a family on our around-the-world adventure with our 2-year-old son that lasted 9 months, we learned a thing or two. These are our top 10 tips for cruising with your toddler.
1. Review age restrictions.
Before booking a cruise, make sure the ship doesn’t have any age restrictions, as well as plenty of offerings for toddlers. Most cruises begin with a minimum age limit of 6 months.
2. Utilize a great travel stroller.
You may not be thinking of a stroller for a cruise ship, but cruise ships today are very large and getting from one end of the ship to the other can be taxing. A good stroller will help you navigate the ship, as well as keep young ones in check when they are distracted from all of the bells and whistles on board.
3. Pack a Pack ‘n Play.
Cabins on cruises are small and while you may have an additional bed or sleeper sofa, little kids may be safer and feel more secure in a portable crib.
4. Bring all of your gear.
There are no restrictions on how much you can bring on a cruise ship, and there is nothing worse than running out of diapers or formula and having to spend time on shore searching for what you need.
5. Take advantage of the ship’s daycare.
Most ships offer this service for children 3 and older. Enjoy your family vacation but be sure to have a date night at one of the ships’ adult restaurants or to enjoy some of the evening entertainment; don’t be afraid to have your child stay with the sitters.
6. Pay attention to ship itineraries.
You’ll receive a daily itinerary in your cabin each day listing all of the activities and events for the following day: plan out what you’d like to do. You never know what the ships will offer for fun, such as meeting the captain and scavenger hunts. Take advantage of all of the offerings.
7. Arrive a day early, especially when crossing time zones.
By spending a night in your embarkment location, it will help your child get adapted to the time zone and won’t rush him or her from a plane to a ship.
8. Splurge on a mini suite.
Cruises can be expensive, but if you can, book a mini suite to give you more space. Traveling with a toddler means nap times and lots of gear, so having the space will come in handy.
9. Plan your own excursions.
Instead of joining the pricey and crowded cruise excursions, plan and book private excursions that you can enjoy on your own, at your own schedule and pace.
10. Don’t skip the fine dining.
Start out at the buffet to feed your child, follow up with your bedtime routine and PJs, and then hopefully your child can fall asleep in the stroller while you enjoy a later meal at one of the fine dining options.
Cruises are great for families, with an array of activities, accommodations and services to appeal to both kids and parents. With a little planning, you can have a fantastic vacation together!
AJ Ratani and Natasha Sandhir traveled around the world with their son Aarav. Having visited 41 countries and six continents as a family, they have documented their year-long travel and trips on the The 2 Idiots Travel Blog and are the authors of the e-book, How To Travel With Kids (Without Losing Their Mind). Visit their website for more travel and destination advice and get their book at howtotravelwithkids.com.