View Full Version : Traveling with LITTLE kids - 3 and 1!

January 3rd, 2006, 02:13 AM
My kids are 3 and 1. We are booked on the Vision later this month, 1/29/06. These boards have answered a LOT of my questions, but I am looking for any advice people have to give!!

Have people taken their little ones on shore excursions? When I called and ask RCCL, they actually weren't sure. The woman I talked to had to ask a superior and then came back and told me, "Well he doesn't think it's a good idea for the baby." Do you think we should divide and conquer and have DH and 3-yo DD do fun stuff like whalewatching while 1-yo DD and I stay on board?

We have a Combi twin savvy side by side stroller. I think it's something like 31 inches wide, small enough to fit through most standard doorways. It folds pretty well and is really light. Do you think this is a reasonable stroller to bring, or should I invest in two small umbrella strollers? Both girls like to nap in the stroller, so I need something COMFORTABLE for them!

In terms of babysitting, we have the girls in day care and we don't really have anyone other than family members sit for us once in a while. Do you think it would be too much of a shock for them to have a sitter watch them in the evenings so we can see the show? Or maybe we could just have someone come to the cabin after they are both asleep...We are actually going with my in laws (including SIL and BIL), but I don't want to *assume* that we'll be covered in terms of child care, KWIM?

My last question is about sleeping arrangements. We have booked 2 cabins for the 4 of us. Currently we co-sleep with DD2 (no comments please) but are working on getting her into a crib, partly because of this upcoming cruise! DD2 ends up in bed with us half the time too. Have people brought bedrails with them to keep their kids in bed? How do people DO this? We have a Pack N Play, and we can certainly bring it, but I have a feeling it would just get no use at all, so it would be a waste.

I am sure I will think of lots more questions about food, pools, onboard activities, etc., so if anyone has ANY advice for me, please post!! TIA!!

January 3rd, 2006, 12:23 PM
We went on a cruise with our 16 month old in Nov. It was NCL, so I am sure some things will be different on your cruise line.
As for the stroller, I certainly would take one. Our son always napped in his. I don't know the width of the doorways on the ship, but you might want to check. I know our cabin doors seemed smaller than a normal door.
We never used any of the onboard babysitting. I am sure the people working there are great, but I was just too chicken. We actually ended up taking him to most of the shows. We would just get his pajamas on and take his blanket and milk, and amazingly he would usually fall asleep. The shows are pretty loud, and your 3 year old might enjoy all of the costumes, lights... You could try, you can always sit on the end of the row and leave if things aren't going well.
We didn't take any of the ships shore excursions, we just went to beaches on our own. This worked well for us. I just researched each port thoroughly, mostly on here, and planned what we would do before we left. What ports are you stopping at?
As for the sleeping, we used the crib provided by the ship. It was pretty small, but it worked.
I don't know if I answered any of your questions:o if you can think of anything else I will try to answer again;)

January 3rd, 2006, 10:25 PM
Couple of thoughts

Save long bus ride shore trips for when the kids are older

If the side trip is longer than 2 hours or mentions the word "party" in it-don't bother - you won't have much fun

Taking the kids for a Stroll at each port is fun- go shopping or head to the beach. Consider zoo type attractions but skip the dolphin swims.

Watch what you feed them off the ship.

Do the type of activities that you would consider doing at home.

Spliting up- one parent taking the older child out and one staying with the baby at the ship is not a bad idea. Just make sure the both parents get a chance to do one thing they really want even if it means going solo. You can always hang out with other fellow travelers when going alone. I do..


January 3rd, 2006, 10:26 PM
double entry please ignore

January 4th, 2006, 10:10 PM
First, do some research on each port of call. My kids were 4 and 6 on their last cruise and we simply found hotels at each port of call that had a nice pool and the kids had a blast. We usually just stroll around the area around the ship's terminal. Any serious sightseeing, we will wait until they are older and appreciate the trek.

My sister who had a 6M old and a 26M old on our Alaskan cruise last summer took 2 strollers and a backpack with seat. We went to the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau on our own. We negotiated with the bus driver and the kids got onthe bus for free. Once we got there, one child was in a stroller and the other in a backpack. But in certain places, it was impossible to manuver with a stroller. So the backpack option is the only do-able one if you have small children. Both my sister and her hubby are seasoned backpackers and after this short trek, I think her hubby back was hurting. But they persisted on with the backpack or baby bjorn (I think 9M old would be too old for a Baby Bjorn).

Do not bring a double stroller. Instead, bring 2 umbrella strollers for both kids. Buy the type that kids can fall asleep in.

I would suggest that you and hubby just walk around town and visit the sights that you can reach by walking. Go to a hotel pool nearby or a beach by the ship's terminal and just let the kids play in the sand. They'll have more fun that way.

Kids need naps in the afternoon, so after a morning walk around port, come back for lunch and nap. Don't alter your children's routine too much.

It's like any family vacation with small children except that you don't have to worry about what to eat. There are so many choices even the pickiest young child can adapt to eating on a cruise. Any seasoned parents will tell you that it's not fun travelling and vacationing with young children, but one makes the best of it. That's why I like cruising.

For shows, you can either take your children with you and sit in the back. Kids may or may not fuss during the show. If they fuss, just take them back to the cabin. You and hubby can take turns going to shows. We often ended up watching a lot of movies in the cabins while the kids napped in the afternoon. Hubby and I took turns going to afternoon activities that interest us.

January 6th, 2006, 11:04 AM
I agree with Merela, flexibility is the key when traveling with young children. We've found :
- Renting a car for sightseeing is nicer (and sometime cheeper). Allows you to stop or alter plans if needed. Finding a park with a playground can be a lifesaving experience.
- Two single strollers work better than one.
- A small collapsable cooler for lunch, snacks, and drinks is helpful.
- Don't make hard plans for anything.
- Bring the the notebook computer or portable DVD player with lots of DVDs.

January 6th, 2006, 08:03 PM
I took my daughter on her first cruise when she was just 3 months old on Royal Carribean. She did just fine. She's a good sleeper but she slept even better than than normal which I attribute to the rocking of the ship. There was a group of Japanese tourists on board who took her picture every time they saw it. I thought it was amusing. It was a short cruise and we only did one shore excursion to a resort for a beach day but she did fine. We had an inside cabin and she slept with me while my husband slept in a bunk but it worked well for us

I am the type of person who needs to go somewhere at least every six months or I start to get cranky. That didn't change when I gave birth. My daughter is now 14 montha old and she hase been to Virginia twice, Pennsylvania and Grand Cayman. She travels very well and is well behaved for such a young one....although she has her moments I would not leave her home. We took her everywhere except snorkeling in Grand Cayman at 9 months. Just don't forget the sunscreen and a good hat.

Our next cruise is already booked on the Norwegian Sun in March. we have a balcony cabin and I can't wait!

January 6th, 2006, 10:38 PM
Our daughter will be going on her 4th cruise in June (to Alaska). We take her on shore excursions at every port. She's a easy child (thankfully) and has already flown at least 10 roundtrip flights.

For travel in airports, we use this: www.rideoncarryon.com (http://www.rideoncarryon.com/)

It's great. It's a chair that you attach to your own suitcase. It folds up, so you can put it in the overhead bin on the plane.


Her first cruise, we used the stroller once. (She didn't get a nap on embarkation day, so she slept in it during dinner.)

Second cruise, didn't bring it. Brought a backpack for Mayan ruin tour.


Third cruise, used it once. Walking Ghost tour in Key West, FL.

For the fourth cruise, we won't bring it.

I'm a pre-planner, and I knew what excursions we were going to go on beforehand, and planned accordingly. There's enough stuff to haul with a little one--anything that can stay home is great!

We don't use a stroller much at home--our daughter likes to walk and stays by us. On the ship, it's a great way for her to expend energy.

Our daughter does sleep with us and we bring a portable bed rail. On our last cruise, our son (age 10) slept in a couch/pullout bed and it was my hubby, me, and then my daughter in the pushed-together twin beds.


January 7th, 2006, 02:43 AM
Oops! I forgot to mention our daughter's age. She was 14 mos. for the first cruise, 16 mos. for the second, 27 mos. for the third, and will be almost 35 mos. for the fourth. :)

January 7th, 2006, 11:50 AM
Thanks, everyone! What great suggestions! Please keep 'em coming.....:)

January 7th, 2006, 11:59 AM
Your kids are probably too young for the ship sponsored excursions.

What are your port stops?

I think they would be fine with the in cabin sitting if they are used to day care, remember they will be together with the sitter, and I think that helps.

Could you upgrade to a larger cabin instead of having two? I know this is coming up quickly.

I don't think your stroller will fit through the doorways on the ship, unless you have a wheelchair accessible cabin! The doorways and hallways are really narrow!

The beds are probably up against a wall, so the child could sleep on the wall side?

January 7th, 2006, 03:52 PM
We will be cruising in April with a 16 mo old and 13 year old, and with relatives with a 23 mo old and 11 year old. First time with the kids so I can't speak from experience, but I've been doing a lot of research to get prepared.

One helpful hint I saw that I think is particularly useful for traveling with children is to bring some ziploc baggies with you. On port days you can order sandwiches from room service before taking off and pack them to bring with you. Enjoying the local cuisine is 1/2 the fun, but when you have children with you knowing you have a snack for them when you need it can be a god-send.

My other big concern was a car seat. I didn't want to lug a big car seat around with us, but didn't relish the idea of going completely without. I found this online and think I'm going to purchase it. Doesn't look as safe as a regular car-seat, but looks like a good compromise:


I may also get one of the hip-slings to carry the baby around in for those times we don't want to haul a stroller with us as well.


I've never used onboard baby-sitting. If you do you could consider taking walkie-talkies with you. On our last cruise I saw a lot of people using them to keep track of older kids. If you leave one with the sitter and take the other with you, you would have the peace of mind that the sitter could get ahold of you quickly/easily if need be. Also helpful to keep track of your spouse should you get split up :-)

Good luck! Let us know how your cruise goes and what you found useful!

January 7th, 2006, 05:05 PM
To answer some of your questions, our ports of call are Puerto Vallarta, Cabo, Mazatlan and Acapulco. We do not need a carseat (I *think*) because we are just driving to the port of LA and boarding the ship. We live locally here in Southern California.

I am a baby carrier addict, so I am definitely planning on a couple of baby slings and mei tai carriers. We will bring 2 small strollers rather than the double side by side, thanks to you all's suggestions!

I love the Ziploc baggie suggestion! I also put in a request with the cruise line to have a fridge in the room so we can store leftovers, etc in there.

I am not sure we can change rooms on such short notice. I could call and ask. We are in a group of rooms with MIL, FIL, SIL and BIL all in a row though.

Thanks, everyone!!

January 8th, 2006, 01:53 AM
Most young kids won't get much out of organized excursions, especially riding around in a bus sight-seeing and I don't think you'd enjoy yourself much either, hasseling with all their gear, strollers, etc.

When we took our four young (5 and under) grandkids on a cruise last winter, all they really wanted to do was play in the sand and water. They loved Paradise Beach on Cozumel, the boat ride (but not the snorkeling or sting rays) on Grand Cayman and the tubing and beach at Dunn's River Falls in Jamaica. The Jamaica excursion included some sight-seeing which they did not get much out of. Since my husband and I had climbed the Falls before, we took the kids to the small beach there while their parents did the falls. Good choice!

So don't overplan or try too much--you'll end up tired and frustrated and the kids will be too.

January 11th, 2006, 08:54 PM
Your stroller will NOT fit through the cabin door nor some other doors on the ship or even down the halls during the hours that cleaning carts are in them.

Babysitting is done by off duty ships personnel If they choose to do it, they have no special screening or training to do so.

January 12th, 2006, 12:04 PM
"One helpful hint I saw that I think is particularly useful for traveling with children is to bring some ziploc baggies with you. On port days you can order sandwiches from room service before taking off and pack them to bring with you. Enjoying the local cuisine is 1/2 the fun, but when you have children with you knowing you have a snack for them when you need it can be a god-send."

Please check first - many ports of call will not permit anything other than prepackaged food, and absolutely no fruit or meat products. If discovered, it could mean anything from it being confiscated to your being fined heavily. We took small boxes of prepackaged cereal for DGS on our last cruise in case he needed a snack. The in-cabin refrigerators do not keep anything cold, just cool.

January 24th, 2006, 04:19 PM
We cruised on the Carnival Conquest w/our 18 month old son last year.

We did not do ship excursions. We planned beach days @each of our ports (Cozumel, Grand Cayman, and Montego Bay). We arranged private transportation to each spot (we went to Seven Mile Beach and then 2 all-inclusives on the other stops). At that time, our son would not stay in a stroller, so we didn't bring it. We also brought along snacks, food, and drinks for him. But, he did eat grilled cheese, fries, chicken nuggets, etc @the resorts.

I found a blow up bath tub shaped like a duck @the Wal-Mart Super Center before we left. We brought that along for baths. It was smaller than a blow up pool, and he loved it. I believe the brand was First Steps or One Step Ahead.

He had a wonderful time and loved going to the beach. We were lucky b/c we were traveling w/the whole extended family, so we had lots of help. We're planning on doing it again next Christmas w/him (he'll be 3.5 and our 9 month old son).

Kerry's Girls
January 24th, 2006, 08:00 PM
I am taking my one year old twins on the same itinerary in two weeks. You've received some great suggestions already, but here are my additions:

I have the same stroller as you, but I bought a used front/back one on Craig's List just for the cruise so I don't have to worry about narrow spaces. However, I cruised a couple times when my husband was in a wheelchair, so I know it's possible, but I'd strongly suggest two umbrellas or a front/back.

Someone suggested that I bring a small blow up pool to use for baths in the shower.

As for the ports - I'm not attempting Cabo because I don't want to deal with the babies on the tenders, but I'm traveling alone with them, so you may want to go ahead. In Cabo, you could take them for a walk right off the pier.

In Puerto Vallarta I'm going to walk my girls over to the Krystal Hotel, which was suggested to me on the ports of call board. It's close to the ship and we'll use the pool and beach and facilities. We're going to bring some toys along to play with that we will leave there for the local children to play with.

In Mazatlan, I'm not going to trust the girls in those open cabs - but again, since you're not outnumbered by your kids like I am, and if you're not worried about not having car seats, you could take a cab to one of the resorts (look on the ports of call board for suggestions).

Please take lots of sun screen and hats for the kids - too much sun can be deadly.

I know that cruising is going to be the ultimate way to travel with the kids. Just not having to deal with car seats for a week is going to be heaven.

Bon Voyage!
- Mia

January 25th, 2006, 02:05 AM
Thanks, Mia! You are so brave to cruise alone with your twins. Kudos to you!

We do have a front/back Sit N Stand stroller. I suggested to DH for us to bring it but he was concerned about how bulky/heavy it is. If you think it's a good idea, I'll work harder on him to bring it.

Thanks for the advice on the ports of call. I tried looking at the Ports of Call boards and got too overwhelmed to keep looking through it. I'll re-visit those boards.

I can't believe we are leaving in just 5 short days!!

glen tev
January 28th, 2006, 04:39 AM
My kid's are also 3 and 1 (4 and 2 on next cruise)Keep excursions to simple things.Beach days with ample food and drink along with a pail and shovel do wonders for kids.Don't drag your kids on a excursion thru the rainforest on a hot bus HAHa.Also a balcony cabin really helps,when the kids want to nap or are ready for bed at night you can still sit out and have a cool drink and just relax-it's actually one of my favorite times(along with coffee in the morning when everyone is still sleeping)good luck

February 7th, 2006, 12:47 AM
We are back! We had a great time overall. Thanks, everyone, for the excellent advice.

Unfortunately, with regard to shore excursions, other members of my party prevailed, and we were "forced" (seriously, you don't know how these people are) to take my two little ones on bus tours in both Cabo and Mazatlan. DD actually vomited on the bus! It was horrible! I kept pushing for the resort option, but even DH would not listen to me on this until the last port, where we had an amazing time at the Krystal in Puerto Vallarta.

Aside from that, the trip was great. The service on the Vision of the Seas was fantastic. We loved the Aqua Babies classes for the infant. My preschooler wasn't too into the Aquanauts program though - I think it was just a bit too old for her, and plus she's in preschool 4 days a week, so this was her time to be with us instead, KWIM? We did see a show and do the Gala Buffet with grandma babysitting though.

We loved having the two adjoining cabins. I would definitely do that again. I ended up finding two portable bedrails by Regalo that folded up into small travel bags, and we just put the 2 girls in the same bed together.

I also loved the suggestions of the 2 single strollers, the blow up bathtub, the ziploc baggies, and the disposable dishwashing sponges! I was an ultra-prepared mommy!

If anyone has questions for ME now, fire away!

Thanks again, everyone, for all of the great advice.