Travel with kids especially toddlers and babies can be quite intimidating. There is all the extra packing, coordinating their schedule to your travel schedule, and the keeping them from being overwhelmed by the changes to name a few. That being said a cruise was not high on my list of places to take our two year old and nine month old but we had an expiring cruise next deposit. So at Christmas I found myself booking a NCL seven day adventure out of New Orleans.
I proceeded to read everything I could find about cruising with kids. Needless to say I was terrified after reading most accounts. Cruising with children was portrayed as barely survivable at best and torturous at worst. I seriously considered cancelling our trip. Luckily we braved the trip and had an awesome time. Looking back the following were pivotal in making our trip a success.
- Pack lightly but carefully. Even our upgraded minisuite cabin was quite small for the four of to live out of for seven days. Between the strollers, car seat, clothes, and more we could barely move. Packing only the essentials and eliminating or minimizing as much possible will help with the space situation. That being said nothing is worse than forgetting something important (like the stroller car seat adapter) same a list. Adult essentials can usually be purchased on ship or in port but baby items tend to be harder to find. Big items to remember are nausea remedies for the kids (think Sea Bands, zofran, emetrol, etc)
- Know your ship. Be familiar with the ship you are sailing on and it’s layout before you leave. It will save time a frustration. It will also give you a leg up to keeping your little one entertained as well the shortest route of escape when a tantrum is imminent. Also remember that children must be potty trained to use almost all pools on ship.
- Know your kid. If your child thrives off his two o’clock nap don’t try to skip it. Work it into your schedule. Pushing your baby past their limits will only result in tears and frustration for you both. Work with your child’s likes and personality in order to maximize your vacation in enjoyment
- Know your ports. All of our ports but one required a taxi ride to our activity so a car seat was a must. In my youth we always just got off ship and chose our port excursion then. With two small children I researched all the options and prebooked at three of our four stops. This allowed us to plan for exactly what we would need at each for and saved frustration.
- Go with the flow. I found this advice applies to pretty much anything I try to accomplish since having kids. By rolling with the punches I get more enjoyment out of life and end up far less frustrated with my stubborn boys.
We had an amazing time with the cubs on our cruise and obviously far more went into making our trip a success than just the above but those are the big five. In all honesty cruising was quite challenging from the rough seas, constant stimulation, and tight quarters but we still loved it. Feel free to ask any questions about your upcoming trip hopefully we can help.