When we tell our friends and family that we, “just came back from a cruise” one question they always ask us is, “did you bring the kids?” and our reply always is OF COURSE! Cruising with kids especially on a Carnival cruise ship is really easy and fun for both the kids and the parents.
Disney cruises are also very kid friendly but in my opinion it is a little too much kid stuff and not enough grown up stuff for parents who want to enjoy some adult time too.
On Carnival they offer activities for kids ranging from age 2-17 and have activities almost the entire day and night, late night babysitting is also available for a small fee. Which is great as this leaves time for the adults to have fun and enjoy some time away from the kids. But don’t worry the day’s activities for kids are not mandatory and your children are free to come and go. There are hourly activities scheduled throughout the day so you can drop them off for some or all of the activities. The ship is pretty safe and if needed you can even have a cell phone issued to you so you can check up on the little ones anytime you want, which I found very comforting. Here are some tips if you plan to bring along the kids.
Here are My Tips For Going on a Cruise with Kids Teens and Young Children.
- Pacifier- If your child relies on a pacifier be sure to bring extra pacifiers because most ships do not have extras for sale. If they do it will probably not be one that your child is used to and it will be expensive.
- Nightlight- If you child is afraid of the dark bring a nightlight because interior cabins are will be completely dark once the lights are off and may scare some children. Some ships have reading lamps near the bed but can be brighter than a standard nightlight but this varies. If you do decide to bring along a nightlight make sure it is safe and does not contain a bulb that gets very hot.
- Milk- Cruise ships will have whole milk, 2%, skim and even chocolate. Most likely they will not have strawberry milk available so if your child likes strawberry milk remember to bring a bottle of strawberry syrup with you. You will most likely find milk at the buffet lines and even if the buffet is closed you can ask one of the waiters for some milk an they will gladly give you one. Remember to bring a milk or two with you to your cabin for your child’s nighttime bottle or breakfast. Use the in-cabin ice chest or mini-fridge to keep the milk fresh during the night and the extremely hot water in the bathroom to warm up a bottle if needed. If you forget to grab a milk you can usually ask one of the waiters near the kitchen to bring you out one or 24 hour room service is available on just about every ship. There my however be a fee for the room service but usually it is minimal.
If your child is on formula you will not be able to bring any kind of bottle warmers or heaters but don’t worry the water from the bathroom sink is extremely hot and can warm up the bottle in no time.
- Pre-Register Camp For The Kids- Make sure you pre-register your kids online to avoid more paperwork once you arrive to the camp which sometimes can have long lines. Be sure to bring your child to the camp early and attend the orientation, that will give your child time to make friends and possibly win prizes. You will also be given a welcome packet complete with the schedule of events for the duration of the cruise keep this handy as you will be referring to it a lot!
- Snacks For The Road - Our family usually has breakfast at the breakfast buffet instead of the formal dining room because we use it as a time to plan our day as it is less formal for and much easier in my opinion. It also helps us gather snacks such as those small boxes of cereal for the kids, bagels and fruit that we pack in our day pack when we arrive in port. Some countries and ships are very strict on bring food in and out of the ship and some don’t. We have never been told that we couldn’t bring snacks for our toddler but if u are extra cautious, just ask but it shouldn’t be a problem. We also bring Capri Sun juice (that we bring from home) as well as other of our children’s favorite snacks with us as well.
- Shows and Entertainment with Kids - The wonderful thing about cruise ships are the variety of entertainment on board. Nightly shows and other entertainment are things not to miss and if watching with children here are a few tips. First of all depending on the age of the child it may be best to just send them to camp. Babysitting for kids over the age of 2 years old is usually free until 10pm, after that there is a small hourly fee per child and usually a discount for siblings. If you must bring the younger kids with you try to get a seat near the exit, you want to make sure you have a quick escape route once your child gets fidgety and starts to cry or whine. Some ships offer adult only shows that range from game show type shows, to scavenger hunts and stand up comedy. This is a perfect opportunity to leave the kids in the cabin or at camp and enjoy some private time with your spouse. These adults only shows are really fun and if you happen to be on a Carnival ship that offers a show called “The Quest” you must check it out! Probably my favorite show on the ship, a must see!
- Kids Menu- If you plan to eat at the formal dinners your waiter will bring you out a kids menu which usually has things such as chicken nuggets, pizza, hot dogs, mac n cheese and other kids favorites. So don’t worry about bringing them to the formal dining room there are usually lots of kids in the dining room and booster and high chairs are available too.
- Portable DVD Player - This is something we always pack for our youngest child which is as of our last trip two years old. The cabins do have television and offer kid’s programs but they are almost most likely not what your child is used to. My son kept asking for the show “Bob the Builder” and “Yo Gabba Gabba” but the only thing available was old cartoons from the 80s! Most of the Tvs that I have sceen onboard have inputs that allow you to hook up a portable dvd player. This is something that is great to help your child feel more at home. If you have a laptop or iPad load it up with some of your child’s favorite movies too.
- Car Seats - A common question that I am asked is if it is necessary to bring a car seat with you. In my opinion I would say no. This is because most of the places you will visit will not require your young child to be in a car seat. What we do is place our child on our lap and buckle in. This is not as safe as a carseat but in my years of cruising I have yet to see another family lug around a car seat.
- Bunk Beds- To save space on the ship bunk beds are often used which can be dangerous for younger children. The beds also come with a small aluminum ladder that helps you get up into the bed. I would suggest that you allow the older children to sleep in the bed and not allow the younger kids to play on the bed.
- Cribs and Pack N Plays - When booking your cruise let the person know that you would like to have a crib in your cabin. This will be a small rolling style crib that was actually pretty nice. Our one year old slept in it along with his pillow case and blanket and loved it. I would not recommend bring a pack n play or similar products because space on the ship is limited and it would take up too much space.