Travelling with young kids is easy — said no parent ever. You may be daddy cool or mommy composure, but kids can take the joy away from trips if they are not planned well. Taking a cruise is half the battle won, because your warriors have a lot to do. Here are some more handy tips to make that holiday even more fun.
While a cruise takes care of food, stay and entertainment for adults, when it comes to the kids, it is a different ball game altogether. Here are some important aspects of cruising you must keep in mind before you hop on:
- Carry lots of diapers, formula, vitamins and supplements. Most cruises do have stores onboard but the supply will be limited and your regular brand might be difficult to find. Cruises such as Royal Caribbean International offer a Babies 2 Go programme where you can order the basic supplies for an additional cost. Alternatively, you can pick up extra items while you are onshore. Carry prescriptions, because getting non-OTC drugs without them may not be as easy.
- Cruises run through the year – look up the climate and temperatures of the ports of call. Pack enough climate wear
- A 24/7 clinic is present onboard all cruises for supplying regular medication. However, it is always better to carry all the necessary medication – sea sickness, stomach aches, paracetamols, cough medicine and so on for any emergency. Make sure you purchase an international health insurance
- Bring a light stroller – essential for your land excursions. Strollers are easy to maneuver and your baby can relax on deck too! If you don’t want to carry one all the way from home, don’t worry – most cruises let you rent it.
- The pools onboard cruises are great for kids to splash in. However, parents must accompany their kids at all times and make sure they have all swimming essentials.
- Cribs are available upon request for an additional charge.
- Most ships accommodate food preferences and allergies. Princess Cruises needs them to be communicated at least 30 days in advance. But if you require a certain kind of baby food, it’s best to take your own.
Phew! Now let’s get cruising! Once you are onboard and settled in, let your baby have some fun while you enjoy some quality time to relax and soak in the view. Here are some tips for your time onboard:
- Safety and communication is a major concern for parents. Cruises such as Royal Caribbean and Star Cruises give you a wireless phone to stay in touch with your child when they wander off. The staff communicates all emergencies and is trained to deal with them.
- Talk to the staff before you drop your kids in the play services. Explain to them any dietary requirements your child may have.
- Most cruise ships offer a nursery with arts and crafts programmes and playrooms all day. Norwegian Cruise Line’s Splash Academy has an Epic Jungle gym, video games and an interactive dance floor for kids from ages 3 to 7 years. Royal Caribbean has a Royal Babies and Royal Tots Nursery programme which takes care of your kids while you are away. It’s open all day and the fee is just US$8 per hour. Disney Cruise Line, onboard its Disney Dream, has a nursery called ‘it’s a small world’ for babies and toddlers (from six months to three years) for US$9 per hour.
- In-room babysitting is only available on certain cruise liners and comes at a premium. For example, Princess Cruises doesn’t offer in room, but has an after-hours programme from 7pm to 1am in their nursery for US$5 an hour. Royal Caribbean, on the other hand, provides in-room sitters for US$20 an hour. Some liners such as Cunard Cruise Line offer free afternoon care hours
- A doctor and nurse are always onboard and on-land to provide emergency services.
- Keep an eye on the baby during onshore excursions.
- Embarkation and disembarkation will take a significant amount of time – about an hour or two. Make sure your babies are well napped for the bustle onshore!
And finally, let your baby have fun and interact with the other toddlers onboard. It’s an experience like no other!
Ask your cruise line for discounts – most offer significantly lower rates to the third and the eighth guest. If your packing and planning worries are now at bay (we are sure they are!), why not check out which cruise lines are the best for your baby?
Have a lovely time onboard folks!