Jonathan and I’d taken cruises individually, but the last time either of us had been on one, our parents had taken us, so, obviously, it had been a while. We considered taking a cruise as a babymoon trip, but most cruises don’t allow you to cruise in the third trimester. However, if you plan to do so, here’s what you need to know before cruising with kids.
When we had the opportunity to take a cruise to Alaska, we had one question: is it kid-friendly? We weren’t taking a Disney Cruise, so we really had no idea.
Short answer: yes! Here’s why.
We love traveling and do it enough that we don’t view our travels as vacations. If you’re looking for a vacation, then maybe bring a nanny or don’t bring your kids. If you love traveling as a family, cruises are fantastic because you can do most of your normal life activities, but with beautiful views.
There’s so much to see. It’s like a big hotel, but on the water, and kids LOVE hotels. Coming in each night to the turndown service and towel animal delighted our two-year-old. She knew the towel animals were made especially for her and thanked our room attendant, Willy.
What to do with Kids on a Cruise
On the sea days, we’d take the kids to breakfast- some days at the restaurant, some days at the quick buffet. Then, we’d do a stroller walk around the ship and sightsee, then do nap time, then the kids room, and so on.
Even if it’s not a kid’s cruise, they likely have a kids program. We took our little guys twice, and they enjoyed the singing, dancing, and toys. Had they been older, there were other activities, including arts and crafts.
On our days at port, we’d take our kids to the speedy buffet breakfast, then leave the ship for our adventure. If we had an excursion, we’d go on it, bringing baby carriers to nap them on the go. We scheduled our excursions first thing so we could be back in time for a nap, when possible. If it wasn’t possible, it was a baby carrier nap.
Longer tour excursions meant baby carrier naps, and as long as we bring snacks, the kids are happy. Between the changing scenery and food, they’re good to go. No need to bring a circus bag of tricks and toys.
If we went to explore a port without a scheduled excursion, we took the stroller and then returned to the ship for the afternoon nap, then went back out.
Kids Love Cruise Food
Food, food, and more food. Pretty much anything an adult likes about going on a cruise is nothing short of magical for a little kid. Buffets, ice cream station, sitting in a restaurant, and ordering for dinner each night… Little kid heaven. Plus, you have the same server each night, so the kids learn and love the familiarity in the new environment.
Cruises aim to please. Where your dinner server will learn your preferences, they’ll also learn your kid’ preferences, too. When we ordered soft steamed veggies for our baby two nights in a row, they learned to put that order in the second we entered the restaurant for all future meals.
Also, as a parent, not having to make food yourself for every meal is nothing short of spectacular.
The Downside of Cruising with Kids
The only downside to going on a cruise with kids is that you’re in a dark room once they go to sleep. There are a couple of workarounds, though. If you get side by side rooms and bring a baby monitor, it’s just like being at home.
If You Go on a Cruise with Kids, Do This
The other workaround is also a great all-around bonus. If you can upgrade to a balcony room, do it. Not only is it a great place to hang out when your kids’ nap, but it’s also gorgeous at night. Watching the stars and sea from a private balcony while you can hear your kiddos snooze is beyond peaceful.
If you’re cruising somewhere beyond the regular places with open water views, the balcony is helpful for another reason. People jockey for views of glaciers, the Panama canal, Hawaiian volcanos, and so on. When you have kids and a stroller, you can skip all that and view it from your balcony. Besides, there’s nothing like waking up, throwing open your balcony door, and listening to the sound of the water.
A word of safety: we don’t let our kids go out there unattended, and we recommend using precaution in that regard, as well.
If you want to know what about my tips for flying with a baby, click here and I’ll see you there!