Tips on Cruising with small children

( He is obsessed with his miniature "cruise ship" toy ^^ )

Ryan has been a little spoiled when it comes to cruising.
I didn't go on my first cruise until I was engaged to Aaron ( he had been on a few growing up ) -
My family decided to try the "Disney Cruise" for the first time 5 years ago.
We obviously LOVE the Disney route and we have done a few since but Aaron and I have also done a couple other cruise lines ( Norwegian and Royal Caribbean ) with his parents.
Ryan has been able to experience cruising at a young age
and Aaron and I have learned a few tricks and tips on the way :)

1. RESERVE Early Dinner time
Depending on your cruise line Dinner times are usually around 5:30 - 6 and 7:30 - 8. MAKE SURE you reserve your room (s) on the EARLY time beforehand. Unless your child is used to eating at 8 o clock at night :) Makes it so much easier for kids.  Dinner usually takes quite awhile ( full course meal every night ) so bring a few toys for your small children to play with while you wait for your food. Every cruise we have ever been on will always provide crayons and coloring for children at dinner :)

2. Connecting Rooms
If you are traveling with family, I would totally recommend connecting rooms! This allowed us to put Ryan down for a nap almost every day in our room so we could hang out in my in-laws room, and play games while he napped. It was a life saver! This also allowed Aaron and I to have a couple late night date nights on the ship if someone was in the connecting room listening for Ryan.

3. Kid Areas ( pools, etc. ) ( checking kids into daycare )
Every ship we have been on has had PLENTY of kid areas! Disney Cruise line or not, you will have a kids pool, and a kids hang out for ALL ages. Every ship has the option of Daycare. Before a certain age ( I believe before 18 months ) they will charge you and after a certain age you can check your kids in for free. We have never taken Ryan before because we have always had parents to watch him etc. and he's pretty good to go with the flow and go wherever. However, I love that they have the option if you wanted to attend a late night show, go on a high speed excursion etc. :)

4. Book excursions in the morning ( so kids can have nap time )
This one is huge. Kids will get tired. Of course, there will be longer excursions that will last into the afternoon and kids will be thrown off their nap schedule, however, I would recommend booking excursions as early as possible. Ryan is always happiest in the morning. Even though we had to be up by 7:30 AM for an excursion, having our excursion done by noon or 1 allowed Ryan to have a little nap almost every day so he was happy and ready to go for dinner. SO worth it. It's also really nice to have a few hours of "down time" in the afternoons. ( I will say when we took Ryan to Europe, most excursions lasted for the majority of the day. Bring a stroller, pacifier, blanket, and all things possible to help your child sleep while you are on the go. Ryan doesn't sleep very well on the go, but if he is tired enough, he will. )

5. Kid Friendly Excursions ( Ask for a carseat before hand )
The challenge with taking kids on cruises is finding small kid friendly excursions. When cruising somewhere tropical most excursions have an age limit of 5 years old.  There are fewer excursions available with a "no age limit" :) However, with any excursion, make sure you request a carseat before hand when booking your excursion. We have never been on an excursion that did not provide a carseat upon request. When your children are really small - ( anything younger than 6 months ) I would bring your own carseat so you have one handy. ( We went on a cruise when Ryan was about 4 months old and he slept everywhere around the ship in the carseat - it was awesome. ) However, anything over 6 months - I would recommend leaving your carseat at home and just bringing a stroller. The carseat gets pretty big and bulky to carry around.

( Sleepin poolside on his very first cruise ^^ :)


1. Bring an umbrella stroller.
I know they are a little cheap and about 15 dollars at Walmart but they work AWESOME for cruise ships. Don't try and lug your BOB or nice jogging stroller on a cruise ship. If you have been on a cruise ship, you know the LIMITED amount of space available for storage. A big stroller would take up a good chunk of your little room and isn't worth it! We have always brought our 15 dollar Walmart umbrella stroller! Works so much better for jumping on and off excursions and carrying throughout the boat. Plus it stores really nicely under your bed in your state room. :)

Also! If you are cruising somewhere that will require lots of walking / hiking and your child is young enough to sit inside - I would TOTALLY recommend a backpack!! Ours is a CHICO brand that we found at Babies R' Us and is definitely worth the purchase!

( Ryan was 9 months old and spent all day in a backpack ( slept etc. ) and didn't mind at all! ^^ )

2. Ask in advance for a porta crib or rollaway bed ( depending on your child's age ).
They will have a crib or bed set up for you on your arrival. Now this WILL make your room crammed. Just be prepared to live in a tiny space for a week or so and it won't shock you when you do actually see it. HA Ryan's porta -crib sat right next to our bed. You have to do things a little different and sneak around the room with your phone flashlight to try and not wake up the baby but it is all do-able! They do provide one blanket in the crib but I would suggest to bring one or two of your babies' favorite blankets to make them feel more at home.
With two or more children I believe you have to upgrade to the next size room. In this room there is usually a bunk bed on one half of the room with a sliding curtain followed by a king bed on the other side of the room.

( Notice the porta-crib right next to the bed ^^ HA Squishy but it works! )

3. Baby food or if you child is a little older - SNACKS.
I would recommend bringing a few snack bags! I know you are on a cruise ship and eating options are pretty much endless. However, excursions will get long and kids don't eat as much as adults do at meals to sustain them for 4 hours straight. Bring bars, ( make sure everything you bring won't melt ! - our favorite bars to bring are the Belvita's for Ryan ), fruit snacks, goldfish etc.
Going along with this - I usually grab an apple or some type of fruit at breakfast to take for the day. I get hungry between meals after a few hours so I would recommend taking some fruit at the breakfast buffet for your room in case you get hungry throughout the day or in case you are leaving on an excursion and need some extra snacks.

4. SWEATERS, Clothes and Diapers.
Some cruises obviously go to cold places, but REGARDLESS of the weather on your cruise, I would recommend bringing your kids a couple sweaters! When we cruised the Mediterranean with Ryan, the boat got FREEZING at night! ( even though it was really hot in the day! ) Sometimes the air conditioning is way down throughout the ship and certain places in the ship are freezing as well ( like at dinner! ) so bring a sweater! They do have diapers avaiblabe on the ship for purchase but obviously they are really expensive and can charge whatever they want because they know you need them - so don't forget :) (( Ryan was potty trained this cruise and goodness it was wonderful not having a suitcase devoted to diapers :))

5. Sunscreen, Hats and floatie devices.
It's a given. Protect your skin! Also very expensive on board if you forget! Whatever the age of your child bring their floatie for "at sea" days to go to the pool!

6. Toys
I wouldn't recommend bringing a lot of toys. Again, LIMITED amount of space. But bring a few of their favorites in case you have a little down time in the room. With Ryan we usually get something new for the trip ( so it never gets old ). This recent cruise he had a sticker book of about 400 stickers that kept him busy for hours :)

RELAX and enjoy.
I will admit I am pretty strict with having a schedule at home. Ryan has a nap every day at the same time, eats meals at the same time, etc. HOWEVER, when I travel, you have to throw the schedule out the window for a week or so. If you stress about getting your baby down for a nap every single day, you will not enjoy it to the fullest! Their schedules WILL be thrown off, they won't get their naps ( just know it will happen ) and they may get a little cranky every now and again. As long as you don't let it get to you ( all you schedule crazy moms like me! ) you will ENJOY it!

Happy CRUISING with those kiddos!

Karina Marie Powell

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