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Baby on Board: Taking Your Toddler on a Cruise

By Monica Bielanko |

Kid's Pool on the Norwegian Gem cruise ship.

I hear the phrase “take your toddler on vacation” and it pretty much sounds like an oxymoron to me.  Doesn’t the word toddler mean “no vacation” in Latin or something? Anyone who has a toddler knows you can’t sit for five minutes with one on the loose, let alone take an actual vacation.

Wait! Stop! Maybe you can! Lately I am hearing more talk about cruises being the way to go for two parents who can’t ditch the kids. See, the ship is huge but, unlike basing yourself out of a hotel room and then having to walk or drive miles and miles to see the sights, you are staying in the middle of all the action.  And cruises are increasingly catering to children, even offering discounts for kids under two! And what hotel is going to offer group babysitting while you and the hubs go have a night on the town of whatever port? That alone is worth the cruise.

Still, traveling with a kid can be overwhelming, but not if you prepare wisely. Below are a few things to know before you go!

Most rooms do not have bathtubs – If your child is not accustomed to showering, make sure you bring an inflatable tub to bathe them in.

Inflatable toys – Speaking of which, inflatable toys are perfect to bring along on the trip. They fold down to nothing but keep kids busy for hours! Bring lots of small toys and keep a “toy bag” in your room so your child knows right where to go if they want to play. Bubbles are also a good item to pack. They’re fun and you can leave them behind. Also, if you’re like me you won’t travel anywhere without a portable DVD player to keep the kids entertained during long airport hours and other downtimes. Make sure you bring a power strip to give yourself extra plugs for your computer, cell phone, etc.

Toddlers who are not toilet trained can not use the swimming pools – This is where that inflatable tub comes in handy again. Put the inflatable tub on the deck and let your kid “swim” in the sunshine out on the balcony of your room while you enjoy a cold beverage and a scandalous book.

Adjoining rooms – If you can swing it, get an adjoining room. This makes bedtime and nap-time so much easier for toddler and mom and dad. For example, Norwegian Cruise Line offers an Aft-Facing Mini Suite with Balcony. “These Mini-Suites sleep up to four guests, making them ideal if you want to bring the kids. They have two lower beds that convert into a queen-size bed as well as a sitting area, luxury bath with shower and additional bedding to sleep two additional guests.” If you can’t swing an adjoining room try one with a balcony. You can enjoy the sunshine on the veranda while your kid naps peacefully in the room.

Room service is your best friend – Any parent of a toddler knows dining out with the kid can be exhausting. That’s when you can take advantage of the room service offered and generally it’s no charge. Order breakfast in and have coffee on your balcony. So much more relaxing.

A big thanks to Norwegian Cruise Line for sponsoring this campaign. Click here to see more of the discussion.



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About Monica Bielanko


Monica Bielanko

Monica Bielanko was raised on the wild frontier of late 1970's Utah. She is a recovering Mormon who married the guitar player of an unknown band. She's been married to her Babble Voices writing partner, Serge Bielanko, for the past nine years. Her personal blog, The Girl Who was in the top ten of last year's Top 50 list. Read bio and latest posts → Read Monica's latest posts →

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8 thoughts on “Baby on Board: Taking Your Toddler on a Cruise

  1. Amanda says:

    Good point about the inflatable tub! I never would’ve thought about that.

  2. Tim says:

    If I was a toddler and that was my pool, I’d be in heaven. Looks so fun! More and more I’m thinking how appropriate it is to take a toddler on a cruise…there are definitely lots of options for things to do

  3. Stella says:

    GREAT idea on splurging on a room with a balcony. I can’t tell you how hard it is to move around in a tiny room on a cruise and NOT wake up your sleeping beauties during nap time! A balcony is a relaxing spot to hold-up fort with your hubby for some quality alone time! Nap time for kids = Alone time for parents ;]

  4. Emily says:

    so happy my little ones are now potty trained! bringing the tub along is definitely a great option, but that pool looks so fun I know they’d love it!

  5. Kyle says:

    Inflatable toys are a genius idea! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to repack our bags to fit in our toddler’s new favorite toy.

  6. Stefanie says:

    Balcony, blow up pool, happy kids. Now I’m surely going to get my cruise on. What else can you come up with?

  7. caseymullins says:

    I agree with Stefanie. MOAR TIPS. Obviously you’re edging in on ‘traveling with toddler brilliance” for serious.

  8. dadcamp says:

    Had no idea about no bathtubs. And the adjoining room thing is a great idea .. if you have the budget. We have a 2 1/2 and 5 yr old and the only thing that has me delaying a cruise is the fact we’d be locked in a very small space every night by 8p (unless we could convince the grands to come along too!)… thanks for the tips though, has me thinking about it more.

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