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Toddlers & Cruises: The One Thing Every Parent Should Know

If your toddler isn't potty trained you'll have to save the swimming fun for excursions.

When most parents envision themselves on a cruise with their toddler they probably picture the cool turquoise waters of swimming pools that adorn the decks of the ships and their chubby cherub laughingly splashing in the water.

That’s not generally the case.

If there is one thing that every parent should know before booking a cruise with a todder it is this:

Toddlers who are NOT potty trained aren’t allowed in the pool. Period. No swim diapers, nothing. And searching various cruise lines won’t help. As USA Today reports, no cruise with a U.S. stop will allow swim-diaper clad toddlers in the main swimming pools.

Although it initially seems like a bummer, the rule is for good reason:

These cruises fall under the purview of the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP), whose mission is to prevent gastrointestinal illnesses on board. The VSP conducts unannounced twice-yearly inspections of cruise ships, scrutinizing a vast checklist of sanitation standards, from food-handling safety to swimming-pool maintenance.

The VSP also provides public health information and safety requirements to cruise lines, including the ban on soggy nappies. The idea is to prevent contamination of pools, and ward off the spread of norovirus, cryptosporidium, giardia and E. coli — all of which have caused illness outbreaks after fecal accidents at public pools and water parks on terra firma.

Truth is, swim diapers aren’t leak-proof. So your toddler not being allowed in the pool keeps it clean for the rest of us.

As an alternative, many cruises are offering kids programs like Norwegian Cruise Line’s Splash Academy which touts engaging kids ages 6 months 12 years old in creative, active play. “Whether it’s learning to juggle at circus school with Cirque du Jour presented by Hilario Productions, working on arts & crafts projects or getting the high score on Wii™, there’s plenty of fun for everyone throughout the ship.”

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

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