Cruising With a Little One
Guest Blog By: Kristen Genung
We recently took our first cruise with Ava Jane when she was 7 months old. Most cruise lines allow 6 months and older, but there are some lines that are adults only. On more exotic itineraries and long crossings they prefer children to be at least 1 year old. We felt like we had taken enough cruises in the past (90+ for Danny) to feel comfortable taking Ava to a different country even though medical care might not be as good as at home. We also were lucky to bring the grandparents so it wouldn’t’ completely kill our nightlife and sightseeing fun!
We were asked many questions so we decided to make this into a Q&A for people. Email Danny (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions about cruising with young children and we will answer them in the next installment of “Cruising With a Little One.”
Can I take a baby on a cruise?
Do I have to pay for my baby to cruise?
Yes, and not usually at a discounted rate. There are some “kids sail free” promotions or discounted 3rd or 4th passenger rates available, but it depends on the ship capacity and time of year.
Is there babysitting on the ship?
Babysitting varies on different cruise lines. Often there is minimum age of 1 year, and only available at certain times. For Princess Cruises, the kids club starts at age 3 where they can play most of the day and are fully supervised. It’s never safe to leave a child in the room alone.
Where will my baby sleep on the ship?
Cruise ships have Pack n Plays which are small portable cribs, available on request ahead of time depending on availability. We bring out own if we are leaving from Los Angeles or San Diego. Babies can sleep in your bed, on a pullout sofa if available in your room, sleeping bag that you could bring if your child is too big for a crib but isn’t ready for a real bed. Ava goes in the Pack N Play and we’ve done great with that so far. If you can afford connecting cabins with a family member or friend, that’s a great option that offers more space. Some lines have room dividing curtains, and Princess has a separate closet area where a crib can fit.
How can I bathe my baby on a cruise?
Unless you book a mini suite or suite, you will most likely not have a bathtub. Cruise bathrooms are narrow, so you can either take him/her in the shower with you or bring a portable bath or bin to put on the shower floor. I bring my own portable bath and soap/shower gel as well.
How do I feed my baby on a cruise ship?
Some cruise lines will mash or puree foods for you on request, but I would check beforehand. You can bring your own jar or packet baby food to the eating areas, and we did a combination of both and it worked well for us. You will need your own food/snacks when going on excursions, and having extra back ups helps and is provides a comfort to your baby. Cruise ships provide high chairs as well.
We brought our own formula on board, and there is a mini fridge in the cruise cabin. If you need certain milk, I would check with your travel agent beforehand. You can also ask room service if you need anything kept at a colder temperature or frozen.
We also brought our own items for washing including bottles, sippy cups, spoons, bibs and other infant essentials.
Is there a safe place for my baby to play onboard?
Yes with exceptions. Under the age of 3 on Princess they are not able to attend the kids club. We ran into this issue with Ava since she is so young, so when there isn’t an unused lounge or bit of hallway space, we spent a lot of time cruising the walking deck in the stroller and Ergo baby carrier, people watching in the public lounges, and lots of different toys and books from home.
Can my baby use the cruise ship pool?
No. Children must be out of diapers in order to use cruise pools. I would bring a swim diaper for excursions.
Should I bring a stroller or car seat?
We bring our stroller, baby carrier, and car seat. The smaller the better, but we use our jogger for everything, so storing it has to be considered. Car seat is also not always used, but I bring it just in case and for excursions.
Can I bring my baby on a shore excursion?
There are age minimums on most excursions, so check before you go. We either trade off with the grandparents, or just walk around in port.
Can I do laundry onboard?
We do laundry every other day at home, so I make sure to bring my own detergent and dryer sheets for the self service laundry machines. There is a fee if you use the cruise laundry service, and they don’t use gentle detergent. You can also hand wash in the sink, and there is a dryer line in the shower. We brought extra blankets and items we wash frequently and we probably used 100 cruise ship towels!
Do I need to bring diapers and wipes with me?
Yes and bring extra! We used a lot of wipes to sanitize the room and for everything else as most parents do. I allotted for 10 diapers a day.
Bonus Pictures of Ava Jane’s First Cruise!