Be prepared. It’s the Boy Scout motto, yes, but more importantly, preparation is your best friend should you decided to book a cruise with your toddler.
Don’t be afraid! Cruising is the perfect vacation for those of us with little ones who require a big entourage of gear as we get to see a lot of destinations while only having to unpack all that crap once.
But! There are a couple things you should know before you actually pull the trigger and book a cruise. According to Fodors Travel Intelligence, here are 7 important things you need to know before booking a cruise with your toddler. Get these issues sorted before you embark and you’re golden!
Room: When booking your cruise you should consider two rooms. For example, Norwegian Cruise Line offers 2-bedroom family villas or connecting staterooms which makes for hassle-free naptimes and bedtimes when you don’t have to tiptoe around a sleeping toddler – if you can get him to sleep in the first place.
Crib: Make sure you reserve a crib so it will be delivered to your room the day you arrive.
Dinner: Request your dinner seating time when you book. (First seating is usually around 6 p.m.; second is 8:15 or 8:30 p.m.) Obviously you’ll want an earlier time as 8pm is pretty much bedtime for most toddlers. According to Fodors, “You don’t have to reserve high chairs ahead of time. In the buffet areas, ask a bus boy to get you one. At dinner in the main dining room, your waiter will set it up nightly for you once you request a hair chair from him on the first night of your cruise.”
Babysitting: Cruise lines all have different babysitting policies so make sure you confirm availability in advance. Some ships require that you reserve your requested hours ahead of time. You can either go to the guest relations desk soon after embarking to make your request, or check online to see if you can reserve hours before departure. Is babysitting free? Do they offer private babysitters? Do you pay in cash or charge it to your room?
Laundry: Ask the cruise line if the ship you’re sailing on has public laundry facilities to cut down on the amount of baby clothes you need to pack. If not consider bringing your own laundry soap so you can wash oft-dirtied toddler clothes in your sink and then hang them on a small camping laundry line to dry in your room.
Strollers: Ask if they have strollers on board and what the policy is for using it. Is a reservation needed? Will a deposit be required? Is there a fee? If it’s too much of a hassle, bring your own but make it a tiny fol-up umbrella stroller.
Excursions: Do your homework! “Check out what attractions can be reached independently via walking/stroller from the port. Many excursions sold through the cruise lines last too long for babies and toddlers. Instead, in warm weather destinations, opt for a taxi ride to a beach. Rent an umbrella there for your baby and you can return to the ship whenever your little one is ready. Note that for those desiring to take an infant or toddler on a shore excursion sold through the cruise lines, some lines do not charge for lap children and/or charge a discounted rate for children. Discounts vary greatly per line and per excursion.”
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