It is not unusual for parents to travel with the younger members of the family. The best way to enjoy your trip is to go with a toddler. It is not difficult to do so. You just need to avoid the following list of common mistakes which will increase your child’s annoying behavior. It is not difficult to do so. You just need to avoid the following list of common mistakes which will increase your child’s annoying behavior.
When planning a trip, there are a lot of things to consider. Do you need to do research into the places that you are going to be visiting? Should you plan ahead of time or just wing it? How much are you willing to spend on your trip? What are you willing to take with you?
In an effort to make the trip to the ports of call a little less stressful for parents and fun for the kids, I thought I would share 25 tips for going on a cruise with a toddler.
Toddlers can be a difficult bunch, can’t they? They may be thrilled with life one day and have a complete breakdown the next if their cookie is the incorrect shape. It’ll undoubtedly be an adventure. I like traveling with my two children, Isobel (2 years old) and Finn (4 years old), but a cruise with two toddler maniacs? We’d never done one before, and let’s just say I was a little apprehensive on the eve of our maiden sail…
However, I’m happy to say that the trip was wonderful, and I’m eager to repack my belongings and join the next ship from Southampton since we had so much fun!
Cruising with a child is as simple as A, B, Sea…
We’re about to go on our first cruise (image: Helen Wright)
A cruise with a newborn or toddler may seem daunting at first, but in terms of family vacations, bringing a toddler on a cruise is really simpler than you would think. Consider this: you’re aboard a floating palace of pleasure, with entertainment on every level. Little ones’ eyes and brains will be awestruck by the vast, gleaming, and intriguing new area they will be able to explore. With first-rate facilities and activities tailored just for children, there is fun around every turn. Picky eaters won’t be an issue, however, since they’ll be able to pile everything they want on their plate. Don’t force them to eat the broccoli, Mum. After all, they’re on vacation.
Finally, let’s speak about kids’ clubs! There is no charge for daycare. And we’re not talking about any old crèche here. Children’s clubs on cruise liners are among the most creative and elaborate in the world. You won’t have to worry about your children refusing to enter; the major challenge will be getting them to leave.
Which cruise is ideal for toddlers?
Disney Cruise Line’s Captain Minnie Mouse (Photo courtesy of Disney’s Matt Stroshane)
The Disney Cruise Line is fairly self-evident, but it is one of the most family-friendly cruises you can take with a child. Captain Mickey or Minnie at the helm, a cast of Disney characters on board, and a horn that plays “when you wish upon a star” – it’s a taste of Disney magic at sea, which was, coincidentally, the name of the cruise we went on!
On one of the UK seacation cruises departing in summer 2021, we boarded the Disney Magic at Sea in Southampton. These cruises were created to let people to enjoy the pleasures of sailing in a Covid-safe atmosphere. It was the ideal way to introduce Finn and Isobel to cruising, since this trip was all about discovering everything there was to do on board the incredible ship. There are no planes to deal with, and it’s just a short drive from home to the terminal. It was our first cruise as a family, but I was sure that with Disney at the helm, it would be a dream come true.
Before you go on a cruise with your child, think about these 25 recommendations.
Before the trip, I sought out on social media and received some excellent advise, which really aided our cruise with toddler experience. The following is a list of 25 suggestions for cruising with a baby or toddler, including advice we received and small bonuses we discovered on the Disney Magic at Sea.
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1. How to Select a Cruise
There are so many different cruises for families to choose from, how do you know which one is right for you? Obviously, the location, amenities that fit your family or group, length, and cruise schedule and pricing all play a role.
My recommendation is to begin with the ships themselves. Investigate what’s on board, as well as general pricing and customer reviews. Narrow down the brands that you believe correspond to your group’s requirements and interests. Then look at where and when these cruises are scheduled to depart. Remember to factor on travel time. Some cruises, such as those in the Caribbean, may need a long-distance flight to embark. Most cruise packages include flights, however this may have a major effect on your budget and the amount of time you have to spend on your trip. Finally, keep an eye on the weather and temperatures in the region where you intend to sail.
Another factor to consider is how much you want to learn about the places you’ll be sailing to. A cruise with a toddler will almost definitely be a pleasant experience on board, but consider if you’ll want to go out and explore if your ship is stopping in different locations. Toddlers will quickly tire of trudging up steep European slopes as you bounce the buggy over cobblestones. I love traveling with kids, but if you want a more relaxed, stress-free vacation, a cruise with fewer stops and more time at sea may be the way to go with a toddler.
Disney – but with a nautical twist (Photo courtesy of Disney Magic at Sea)
The Disney Trip Line was our first family cruise with a toddler and a newborn. We knew that selecting Disney would ensure excellent customer service, and that the theming and character branding would be appropriate for our children’s ages (4 and 1). My daughter’s birthday fell on the same day as the sail, so adding a little Disney to the mix made the vacation even more wonderful. Following Covid, Disney is now offering a sea-cation cruise departing from Southampton (and three other UK ports). It was stress-free and extremely attractive to be able to sail from the UK with no flights to contend with and no risk of being stranded anywhere on the red list. It was also a once-in-a-lifetime chance to enjoy a little Disney vacation in the UK, so we gave it a huge thumbs up.
Read about our Disney Magic at Sea Staycation cruise experience.
2. Which cruise cabin is ideal for a toddler?
On each ship, the names and cabin types differ, but they all essentially follow the same pattern as the cabins on the Disney Cruise Line, which had four options:
Inside cabins are the most cost-effective cabins on board since they have no view of the outside world. Inside cabins on certain ships feature a’magic porthole,’ which is a screen that mimics the view outside on a tiny screen to make passengers feel less enclosed.
A cabin with a window but no balcony or outdoor access is known as an oceanview stateroom. Verandah Stateroom: Similar to an Oceanview Stateroom in size and design, but with a tiny balcony.
Suites are perfect for bigger parties (or larger budgets). They provide greater space, separate bedrooms, and bigger balconies, with individual hot tubs in certain cases.
When traveling with children, there are many advantages to reserving an inner accommodation.
While it is true that booking an inside stateroom on a Disney cruise is a fantastic way to save money, I would never pick an inside cabin. I like the view of the lake outside, but the lack of windows makes me feel claustrophobic.
However, there are some lesser-known advantages to these rooms. If you’re traveling with a baby or toddler, keep in mind that the cabins are quite dark at night, so if your kid is accustomed to sleeping with a blackout blind at home, an inside cabin may be preferable to help them relax. Adults often state that they always get a good night’s sleep. Guests in an inside stateroom may also be less impacted by strong waves because the interior of the ship is typically the calmest area to stay (and seasickness).
TOP TIP: It’s worth remembering that most ships have fewer interior staterooms, and they’re usually the first to sell out. So, if you want to get in, you must ‘get in’ quickly and reserve a bed.
On a cruise with a child, why pick a balcony stateroom?
I usually suggest that families traveling with children reserve a Verandah stateroom. Cabins with balconies provide a better experience for parents after the children have (finally) fallen asleep. Being able to slip outside and relax on the balcony with a cheeky glass of wine after hours extends the day for grownups and offers some precious alone time, just like in any hotel room. Plus, there’s nothing like waking up to a vista of the horizon while sipping your daily coffee.
Finn was enthralled by the vista of the water (Image: Helen Wright)
It’s natural that parents on a cruise with toddlers may be concerned about the safety of reserving a balcony accommodation. The balconies on the Disney Magic feature high glass railings and are regarded very safe for babies and toddlers. Talk to your child about the hazards of the water before your trip, and move any furniture away from the edge. It goes without saying that children should never be left alone on the balcony.
Choose an Oceanview stateroom if you’d prefer not have to worry about balcony safety in your cabin. These have a big window and there’s no danger of the wildlings tossing anything overboard.
Children may sleep in most cabins on a pull-down bunk bed or a couch bed. If your infant or child still need a cot, please contact guest services. On board the Disney Magic with a four-year-old and a newborn, we reviewed the Deluxe Verandah Stateroom.
Bunk beds are also available in certain cabins (Image: Helen Wright)
Last but not least, when reserving a stateroom on a cruise with toddlers, keep in mind that most rooms have just a shower, which may be inconvenient for children under the age of five. Some cruise lines do, however, provide staterooms with bathtubs (such as our Deluxe Verandah Stateroom on the Disney Magic), so it’s always worth asking if one is available.
3. Make arrangements for a stress-free leaving day.
If you don’t live close to the cruise departure port, consider reserving a hotel near the terminal. This means you won’t spend the morning faffing about and worrying about cases and getting ready to go since you’ll be packed and ready the day before your trip. This will relieve your tension and keep your child quiet and relaxed before the journey.
With unruly children in tow, traveling can be stressful for everyone, so limiting your trip on embarkation day is a smart idea. You’ll want your toddler to be thrilled and cheerful when you board the ship before your vacation since weary and grumpy tiny humans aren’t enjoyable.
The ship had mesmerized Isobel. (Photo credit: Helen Wright)
Our youngsters had never previously seen a cruise ship in person. We chose to stay in a hotel the night before despite living just an hour and a half away from Southampton. We decided to take the kids along the dock to show them the ships and answer any questions or concerns they had before getting on board, as well as extend the trip a little. It was a success. Finn, in particular, had a lot of questions (doesn’t everyone?) Because both kids were so eager to fly by the time our planned boarding time arrived, navigating through the airport was a breeze.
4. Tips for cruising with kids during boarding time
It goes without saying that the sooner you board, the more time you’ll have to appreciate the ship and her amenities (getting the most for you money, you see). The departure time will be announced ahead of time, but with an average cruise ship carrying over 3000 passengers, there will be a lot of people and baggage to board.
Allow additional time for boarding when taking a cruise with children. Examine the time when check-in starts, since embarkation will most likely occur an hour later. When you check in online for your trip, you will be prompted to choose a port arrival time. While it is recommended that you remain close to this time, it is not rigorously enforced. Consider when your child will need a meal or a sleep. If you don’t expect to be on board by lunchtime, bring some snacks or a meal for them to eat in the departure lounge so they don’t feel hungry.
You will be allowed to push your stroller through the departure terminal, but if your kid is sleeping in the pram, they will need to be pulled out and photographed by cruise security. So, for happy, well-rested child cruisers, I’d recommend delaying boarding until after nap time!
5. Make packing a breeze.
At the airport, Finn is having fun with Trunki Bus (Photo: Helen Wright)
If you’ve read my article on traveling and flying with a newborn or toddler, you’ll know that I usually advise packing light. More stuff equals more stress, so pack wisely and thoughtfully to make your trip as enjoyable as possible.
We cruised on the Disney Cruise Line, which boasts some of the biggest accommodations in the business, but cruise cabins are generally smaller than hotel rooms. If you’re going on a short cruise (less than two days), bring a compact suitcase or, better yet, a soft bag that can be conveniently stowed in your cabin. Larger, bulkier prams are inconvenient, so go for a travel pram that can be folded and stowed beneath the bed.
I would avoid taking ‘fun’ baggage, like as Trunkis, on a cruise with a child since they don’t fit much and are bulky and difficult to store. With so many other things to do while on board, your children will lose interest in it.
6. What to bring on a cruise with a child
I prefer to travel light wherever possible, but the cruise put me in a bind since they need swimsuits and towels, as well as formal evening attire, day clothes, costumes, and waterproofs due to the inclement weather. It’s also a good idea to bring a different day bag on the day of the embrakmentation (more on that later).
I got there in the end, so here’s a quick checklist of things to bring on a cruise with a toddler:
If you are not traveling with the child’s shared parent, bring your passport and birth certificate.
A stroller with an umbrella or a small folding stroller.
Snacks of choice Although there is enough to eat on board, we brought breakfast bars, raisins, and other snacks that kids may want in the cabin. Fresh fruits and vegetables are generally prohibited from being brought on board.
Lotion for the sun (even if the weather is cloudy).
Calpol, antihistamines, and skin lotion are examples of medications you may utilize. You’ll also need a diaper and a change bag (if required).
Swimwear, PJs, and two clothes each day (or three outfits per day with my kid since she gets into a lot of mischief and I wanted her to look good in pictures!)
They each have one evening outfit, comparable to what they would wear to a wedding. On a cruise, there is typically one formal dinner or evening, which is a wonderful chance to dress up!
Because the deck may become extremely hot beneath their feet while the sun is out, they should wear rubber sandals or water shoes.
Because hotel/cabin toiletries may be harsh on delicate skin, bring baby body wash and lotion.
REMEMBER NOT TO PACK:
A baby monitor is a device that is used to keep an eye on Most spacecraft have metal walls and doors, which interfere with the signal and make them unusable.
Too many toys: I doubt you’ll spend much time in the cabin, and there’s not a lot of space for large things.
7. Put together a first-day bag.
Your bags will typically be carried straight from security to your cabin when you check in for your trip. Because you won’t be able to reach your accommodation until much later in the afternoon (hours vary per ship), bring a day bag with you on your first day on board. This is comparable to the kind of bag you might bring to the beach with your child. Bring a change of clothing, swimsuit in case you want to go to the pool, a drink cup or beaker, teddy bears or blankets for naps, a camera, cap, sunglasses, and sweaters in case it becomes chilly. It’s also a good idea to bring any medicines you may need, as well as some food.
8. Keep cool by going to the pool.
Make a splash before it gets too crowded (image: Helen Wright)
Lunch on board makes sense since it’s all included in the price. However, if a little sandwich would enough to keep you going for a while, you may take advantage of a great toddler cruise tip: Make your way to the pool! The swimming pool, water slides, and splash zones will be virtually empty as most visitors use the time to eat, making it the ideal opportunity for smaller children to have a dip before the adults and teenagers arrive. If there are slides or rides on board, take advantage of the half-empty ship and ride them over and over again during embarkation.
This is also a good opportunity to familiarize yourself with the map and have a look about the ship to get a sense of where you are. With fewer people on board, you can take better selfies… So, let’s get started!
9. Have a wonderful holiday season
You may be obliged to do so anyhow, but download the ship’s specialized app before boarding. All of your boarding information, room details, reservations, and safety messages may be stored here. You may make restaurant, kids club, and excursion bookings, as well as receive assistance and guidance and discover answers to commonly asked issues, all with the touch of a finger.
Special event notifications and real-time cruise information will also be sent through the app. You may add your payment information to the app and set charge rights for your accommodation if you like. This enables you to travel about the ship cash and card-free for the duration of your trip, add optional tips and gratuities, and keep track of your expenditures.
The app will also include a ship map and live opening and closing hours for amenities and regions, as well as a schedule of ship activities. We traveled after the Covid outbreak, and all passengers are asked to take a daily health quiz on the Disney Cruise Line Navigator App to ensure that they remain protected from the virus while on board.
10. Plan a cruise with your kid.
The majority of big cruise reservations are made months in advance, so you’ll have plenty of time to arrange your days on board. A cruise with a toddler may be stressful for both parents and children, but preparing ahead of time can help alleviate any tension.
Before boarding, you will be requested to schedule a meal rotation (early approx 5:30pm, or later approx 7:30pm). Pick a meal time that corresponds to when your child eats at home. The remainder of your days may then be scheduled around when your family gets up, eats breakfast and lunch, and goes to bed.
Finn ate as if he were a king. (Photo credit: Helen Wright)
Most big cruise companies offer so much for you and your children to do that you may not be able to take advantage of all on offer on a shorter trip. Make a list of must-see sites, events, eateries, and character or music appearances. Then, if feasible, write down any additional you’d want to do. Shows, fitness classes, spa treatments, kids clubs, and other entertainments often need prior reservations, so look through the options as a family and start getting organized while also becoming enthusiastic.
TOP TIP: Even though you’ll want to get the most out of your trip, don’t sacrifice your toddler’s sleep routine or allow them to miss meals. Even though you want your child to have as much fun as possible, pushing them too hard or expecting too much from them can only result in the typical meltdowns we’ve all seen.
11. When on a cruise with a toddler, make time for the adults.
Take some time to be an adult. (Photo credit: Helen Wright)
Children’s clubs aboard cruise ships are among the world’s finest, most creative, and complex play spaces. On the Disney Magic at Sea, there’s a Marvel Avenger Academy and a larger-than-life replica of Andy’s Room from Toy Story, where youngsters are shrunk to the size of toys for the complete Toy Story toy box experience. Most cruise ships include supervised kids clubs where potty-trained children aged three and up may get free daycare. In-room childcare may be available for an additional fee, so check before you book your trip.
Parents seldom get alone time, but with a free, state-of-the-art children’s nursery on board, now is the perfect opportunity to enjoy some kid-free alone time. Make a reservation at an adult-only bar or restaurant, schedule a spa treatment, relax in the hot tub, visit the gym, or just sleep in your cabin’s solitude. The world is your oyster as far as the ship is concerned!
12. When cruising with a child, be prepared for the weather.
Even on a Caribbean cruise, the tropical weather can be unpredictably unexpected, so be prepared. I would suggest bringing appropriate waterproofs for children on a cruise (splash suits or rain coats). Adults can purchase disposable plastic ponchos if they absolutely need them and don’t need to bring full raincoats if the weather is very terrible but they still want to go up on deck. Children, on the other hand, are irritated and upset by this kind of waterproofing. They’re usually excessively long and heated, flapping about in the wind and making it difficult for them to play.
Consider a little buggy that can be tucked away beneath the bed (image: passportstamps.uk)
They aren’t for everyone, but I am a huge Crocs lover, and they are great for rainy days as well as sunny ones. Waterproof, sandproof, heatproof, and easily cleaned, toddlers can typically put them on and off without assistance, making life simpler for parents.
13. In the shade, use sun cream
I strongly advise all travelers, but particularly children on a cruise, to use a high-protection sun lotion. Even when it’s overcast and doesn’t feel hot, the sun may easily burn sensitive skin, even when it’s breezy and doesn’t feel hot. Even in the United Kingdom! Don’t forget to have some in your day bag as well, since you don’t want to be caught off guard.
14. Don’t forget to bring a slim stroller.
Pushchairs may be brought on a cruise with a toddler or infant, but bigger, non-foldable prams are not. Choose a tiny, lightweight buggy that folds up little. We use and strongly recommend the GB pocket. It can even fold up tiny enough to fit in a closet!
There isn’t typically a pram park on board, and you can’t keep your pushchair outside your cabin in the corridor. As previously said, staterooms are smaller than typical hotel rooms, and with a child in the cabin, you’ll want as much space as possible for them to play.
Under the bed storage is possible with umbrella fold buggies and folding double buggies. We also travel with two children under the age of five in the Joie Twin Stroller, which folds flat and is ideal for traveling with two children under the age of five.
Alternatively, several cruise lines (like Disney Cruise Line) allow you to rent or borrow strollers on board. (Please note that this service is provided free of charge and is subject to availability.) This eliminates the need to bring a buggy to the Cruise Terminal and allows you to rent one for naps only if that’s all you need it for.
On a cruise, do you need a pram for a toddler?
My response would be yes, despite the fact that they take up room in the cabin. A lightweight buggy will come in useful if your child wants a sleep or a place to relax while on the trip. Younger children may also snooze without having to return to their cabin. This was particularly essential for us since we were also taking our four-year-old child on the trip, and he preferred to spend the day playing rather than waiting for his sister to wake up in the cabin.
Depending on how well they sleep, a pram for somewhat older children may also be useful if you want to stay up a little later and enjoy a walk on the deck or evening entertainment.
15. Purchase a sun shade.
Many baby products are gimmicky or unnecessary, but we use our sunshade both when we travel and at home, and it is a must-have for us. Aside from blocking off sunlight, the parasol also gives the interior of the pram a more darker and quieter atmosphere for napping.
Our sun shade is a lifesaver for us. (Photo credit: Helen Wright)
When Isobel is sleeping on the move, she uses her blackout blind at home to help her prepare for sleep. The sun shade is composed of a lightweight material that is better than a blanket or other heavier covering for covering a pram in hot weather. Despite the fact that you can see through the material, it also filters out some outside disturbances, enabling your infant or toddler to relax and go off to sleep.
And, dare I say it, if your kid wants to watch an iPad or tablet outdoors, the sun cover makes it easier for them to view the screen and keeps it hidden from others. A sun shade will help offer a safe atmosphere for infants with sensory sensitivity.
16. Go on a solo search
If you’re going on a cruise with your child, bring some water shoes or rubber shoes. The ship’s deck may become extremely hot in the sun and feel scorching beneath little bare feet. They can get in and out of the pool without having their feet burnt by wearing water shoes.
If your ship is landing in several ports, water shoes may be needed on certain beaches. The beach in Croatia had shingle sand, which pained our feet as we walked into the water, so water shoes for the entire family might be a good idea.
17. Packing for a toddler: Don’t bring too many toys.
If you’re bringing a toddler on a cruise, it’s a good idea to have a few toys in the cabin for them to play with (even if it’s only so the parents can have a shower!). You do not, however, need to bring everything they possess just in case. They’ll have enough to do on the trip, and you’ll probably spend very little time in your cabin anyhow.
Choose toys that don’t make a lot of noise and promote creative play. These will keep your child occupied for extended periods of time, and you may bring them to supper to play with at the table. We typically bring a little set of Duplo with us on the road, which may be constructed and rebuilt into something new every day.
18. Place the wine in the bag.
Check with your cruise booking for specific restrictions for each ship and port, but you may save money by bringing wine on board to drink in your stateroom. We were permitted two bottles of wine per adult on our Disney Magic at Sea cruise, so we took advantage and brought a couple of bottles to drink on our balcony after the kids went to bed. You can purchase wine on board, but it will be more expensive than carrying your own!
19. Bring a reusable water bottle with you.
Bring your toddler’s favorite drinking cup so they can drink from something they’re used to. Soft drinks are provided free of charge on cruises since they are all-inclusive. I usually recommend carrying a refillable bottle of water for both kids and adults so that you can keep hydrated on the go, particularly when it’s hot. You may also transport more water to your cabin this way.
20. Prepare your tablet for use.
To avoid meltdowns, it’s critical to take some time off. (Photo credit: Helen Wright)
We all swore we’d be screen-free parents, but let’s face it, contemporary pleasures like travel, eating out, and road trips are a lot simpler when Peppa Pig, Paw Patrol, and Disney+ are on board. While a toddler-friendly cruise will undoubtedly provide enough of entertainment for your child, there will be moments when having a tablet on hand would be beneficial. Particularly during embarkation and if you have children of varying ages in your group and not all of them can participate in every activity.
WIFI on board may be costly, spotty, or non-existent, so pack your toddler’s iPad with their favorite shows, games, and movies before you board.
21. Bring some ‘magic’ with you. Liquid Fairy
It seems like a phrase from the joke about packing everything except the kitchen sink, but on a cruise with kids, it’s a smart idea to bring a little quantity of dishwashing detergent for your stateroom. Bottles, beakers, bowls, and bibs may all be washed in the stateroom sink. If you have a spill on anything you want to wear again, Fairy Liquid also works as a fabric soap.
22. Hand sanitizer is your best buddy
Regular cruise guests were already aware of the advantages of using hand sanitizer on board before Covid-19. When there are a lot of people in one place, there’s always a chance of catching colds, viruses, and stomach bugs like Norovirus. Guests are now rigorously tested for Covid-19 before sailing, but that doesn’t rule out the possibility of catching a cold or a runny nose on board.
Toddlers are more likely to take up bugs because they put their hands in their mouths and lick handrails, among other things. Continue to wash your hands often before and throughout your trip, as you did during the epidemic, and use hand sanitizer after using shared facilities and before visiting the buffet. Even if you forget your own, most cruises have sanitizer machines located around the ship.
We had a fantastic experience on the Disney Magic at Sea and were fortunate enough to be invited on a complimentary press trip. Learn more about Disney Cruise Line and our family’s time on board by clicking here.
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A cruise is a great way to get away from the bustle of city life and spend quality time with friends, family or loved ones. But many people find it hard to do this when bringing along a toddler in tow. So, how do you cope with the inevitable tantrums, noisy friends, complex itineraries, and swimming pools without sinking into total despair? We have some tips for you.. Read more about disney cruise 2022 cost and let us know what you think.
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