First timer - need advice

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#1
Philadelphia area
36 Posts
Joined Jan 2013
I've NEVER been on a cruise before. I'm totally clueless - so please be gentle. My son is currently 9 mths old. We are considering a cruise for our vacation this year. We would probably go in May, maybe September...? My son will be just over 1 year old. We're not 100% certain about when just yet.

We live in the Philadelphia area, so we'd like to leave from NYC, Bayonne, or Baltimore so we wouldn't have to fly anywhere. My husband has said that we should go to Bermuda because it's only 1 port of call therefore easier with a baby.

Any suggestions about which cruise line is best are sincerely appreciated. As is any other advice! Thanks in advance!
#2
St. Simons Island, GA
46 Posts
Joined Jul 2012
Originally posted by psimpson3-5
I've NEVER been on a cruise before. I'm totally clueless - so please be gentle. My son is currently 9 mths old. We are considering a cruise for our vacation this year. We would probably go in May, maybe September...? My son will be just over 1 year old. We're not 100% certain about when just yet.

We live in the Philadelphia area, so we'd like to leave from NYC, Bayonne, or Baltimore so we wouldn't have to fly anywhere. My husband has said that we should go to Bermuda because it's only 1 port of call therefore easier with a baby.

Any suggestions about which cruise line is best are sincerely appreciated. As is any other advice! Thanks in advance!
My two cents worth - remember that Bermuda is roughly the same weather as NY, so if you are looking to luxuriate in the sun, you may want to go over the summer months. I've never cruised to Bermuda, but we enjoyed staying at a hotel there.

Also, most (all?) cruise lines don't have programs for kids as young as yours. If you want any time away, you'll need to pay for a babysitter and those costs vary. If you have family, friends, or a nanny/babysitter that can go with you, it may actually be more cost effective.

I've been on several cruise lines - Carnival, Celebrity, Princess, Holland America, Royal Caribbean. Carnival and Royal Caribbean are the most kid-friendly, but my personal preference is Celebrity. As your baby is so young, I suggest you do what YOU want to do because he's not going to know the difference. If he's like our son, things like the stairs, shops, etc. will be his entertainment.

A great suggestion I heard from someone is to get a blow-up pool to put on your cabin balcony because kids who aren't potty trained aren't allowed in the ship pools - not even in swim diapers.

Hope that helps!

Tyra
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Have cruised Celebrity, Princess, Holland America, Royal Caribbean, and Carnival. Worked on Carnival ships a million years ago after college.
#3
Philadelphia
32 Posts
Joined Aug 2012
Hi P-Siimpson!

I have cruised several times before & really enjoy it. I am in the same boat as you with cruising with a baby for the first time. My husband & I will be taking our son on a cruise next month. He will be 11 months when we go.

We have several things in common so I will respond accordingly:
1 - Not having to Fly:
We also live in Philly and wanted a decent vacation without having to fly. We have cruised out of NYC & Bayonne before and decided to do that again so we can bring as much baby crap with us as we want & won't have to pay for baggage.
2 - Price:
When we priced it out, it ended up being about the same price for us to go on a 7 night cruise from the North East as it would be for a 4-5 night at an all-inclusive in the Caribbean. (kids aren't free on most cruises but with flight costs its about the same in the end)
3 - Where to go?:
Cruising out of the NE leaves fewer options with destinations. We decided to go with what we know therefore we decided between Bermuda & The Bahamas (w 1 day in Fl) since we have done both before. Bermuda was appealing for the same reason as your husband - being in 1 location, but since we were looking at a winter vacation, we went with The Bahamas/Florida for weather.
I have cruised to Bermuda in May before & the weather was great. So that may end up being a good option for you.
4 - Cruise Lines:
We are doing Royal Caribbean for the family friendly aspect. I didn't love Carnival and the food on NCL isn't as good as Royal Caribbean. Those are the only lines we have cruised...

Since we haven't actually cruised yet with the baby, I can't give you much more. I have learned a lot from reading the forums here & have made a list of tips from others that I plan on using. So look around there are a lot of posts with tips, etc.
I can tell you that the things I like about cruising are: the ability to be flexible, not have to plan a lot in advance & have a lot of options at your disposal. I think those are the same things that are going to make this a good vacation for us now that we have a baby.
I will keep you posted on how it goes so look for me after Feb 18th!
Let me know if you have other questions.
Happy Vacation Planning!
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Jenn

Royal Caribbean - Explorer of the Seas - 5/06
Carnival - Imagination - 2/09
Royal Caribbean - Jewel of the Seas - 1/10
NCL - Norwegian Gem - 3/11
Royal Caribbean - Explorer of the Seas - 2/13
#4
Philadelphia
32 Posts
Joined Aug 2012
Prior to having a baby we almost always vacationed with our best friends. Fortunately for us, they have a baby that is 6 weeks younger. So we are keeping with that tradition.
We got adjoining rooms so we can put the babies to bed in 1 room & hang out in the other. We considered a balcony but decided against it to keep costs down.
We are planning to take turns giving each other couple time & friend time without babies. We won't be able to use in-room babysitting since they have to be at least 1yr old. (it's $19 pr hr on Royal Caribbean)
If you have friends w kids - consider it!
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Jenn

Royal Caribbean - Explorer of the Seas - 5/06
Carnival - Imagination - 2/09
Royal Caribbean - Jewel of the Seas - 1/10
NCL - Norwegian Gem - 3/11
Royal Caribbean - Explorer of the Seas - 2/13
#6
Philadelphia area
36 Posts
Joined Jan 2013
Originally posted by MikeysMom619
Prior to having a baby we almost always vacationed with our best friends. Fortunately for us, they have a baby that is 6 weeks younger. So we are keeping with that tradition.
We got adjoining rooms so we can put the babies to bed in 1 room & hang out in the other. We considered a balcony but decided against it to keep costs down.
We are planning to take turns giving each other couple time & friend time without babies. We won't be able to use in-room babysitting since they have to be at least 1yr old. (it's $19 pr hr on Royal Caribbean)
If you have friends w kids - consider it!
Funny you should mention this. The reason we are considering a cruise is because close friends of ours also have a baby. Their daughter is 2 mths older than our son. We plan to go together.

How did you manage to get adjoining rooms?
#7
Philadelphia area
36 Posts
Joined Jan 2013
Originally posted by MikeysMom619
Hi P-Siimpson!

I have cruised several times before & really enjoy it. I am in the same boat as you with cruising with a baby for the first time. My husband & I will be taking our son on a cruise next month. He will be 11 months when we go.

We have several things in common
Thank you!!!!

Question - who did you book your cruise through?
I am a serious COSTCO shopper and have successfully (and cheaply) booked a vacation through COSTCO previously. I was considering doing this again.
#8
Philadelphia
32 Posts
Joined Aug 2012
Originally posted by psimpson3-5
Funny you should mention this. The reason we are considering a cruise is because close friends of ours also have a baby. Their daughter is 2 mths older than our son. We plan to go together.

How did you manage to get adjoining rooms?
When you book, call together & tell them that you need adjoining rooms & link the reservation. We have cruised 2 other times with them & have done it every time.


Are you sure we aren't the same person? We are at COSTCO like every other day! In fact - we are going this weekend! Diaper stock up!
We have never booked vacation through Costco but I am sure they could arrange the adjoining rooms for you. (I am sure you will not be the first person booking adjoining rooms through them!)
If nothing else, once you know which ship - you can check the cruise line website & request specific rooms that are adjoining. You can tell based on the maps (I think)
We have used Cheap Caribbean with success in the past. My husband booked this time so not sure if he used them or not.
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Jenn

Royal Caribbean - Explorer of the Seas - 5/06
Carnival - Imagination - 2/09
Royal Caribbean - Jewel of the Seas - 1/10
NCL - Norwegian Gem - 3/11
Royal Caribbean - Explorer of the Seas - 2/13
#9
Philadelphia area
36 Posts
Joined Jan 2013
Originally posted by MikeysMom619


Are you sure we aren't the same person? We are at COSTCO like every other day!
It's very likely, although which COSTCO in the area is your favorite?
#10
Philadelphia
32 Posts
Joined Aug 2012
Originally posted by psimpson3-5
It's very likely, although which COSTCO in the area is your favorite?
We usually go to KOP. Closest to us.
We live in Mt. Airy... you?
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Jenn

Royal Caribbean - Explorer of the Seas - 5/06
Carnival - Imagination - 2/09
Royal Caribbean - Jewel of the Seas - 1/10
NCL - Norwegian Gem - 3/11
Royal Caribbean - Explorer of the Seas - 2/13
#11
Philadelphia area
36 Posts
Joined Jan 2013
We live near West Chester. So we'd go to either KOP, Sanatoga (Pottstown), Lancaster, and Christiana. If you haven't been to the Christiana, DE location yet, I'd HIGHLY suggest it - liquor, beer, & wine!!! - plus tax free! More recently they opened one in Concordville, so we go there.

On a side note - I haven't checked with cheap Caribbean or any other discount sites, but COSTCO prices for Celebrity and RC are exactly the same as their respective websites, however COSTCO offers shipboard credits and other bonuses. As for NCL - the prices on COSTCO vs their website, COSTCO's are a bit cheaper + sometimes there are shipboard credits and other bonuses. We're still only looking. After confirming with the other couple, they want to wait until late August/early September.

Thanks again for your help!
#12
Ontario
701 Posts
Joined Dec 2010
We;ve cruised with our son at 10 months, 22 months and will be going again with 2 babies (3 yrs and 10 months). We love it, such a great way to vacation, you can be as active or as chill as you like. I highly recommend selecting a short cruise for your first trip with baby....we started with 4 nights and have worked up to 7 nights. Shorter is better if things don't go smoothly!
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Finally booked another cruise!
RCI Jewel ~ NYE 2017
RCI Adventure ~ 03/13
RCI Jewel ~ 01/12
RCI Navigator ~ 01/11
NCL Dawn ~ 03/08
#13
Central PA
770 Posts
Joined Jul 2006
Grandeur and Explorer both have the Royal Tots & Babies Nursery which would be a plus for you. Drop off service for $8 an hour and they also have free toy lending which is nice. I used the nursery service on Allure and Oasis and it was a good experience although the first time my son didn't want anything to do with it. I attributed that to age (17 mos) and no exposure to daycare. Maybe your little one will be more relaxed or the presence of the other couples child will make it 'fun'. They sail from the ports you mentioned too.

Don't rule out a Caribbean itinerary. Cruiseline private islands are nice options when traveling with kids. Your beaches are typically right off the ship and food and drink are usually provided by the ship. If you are traveling with another couple you could always split the day, one of you go out in the morning and the other couple goes exploring in the afternoon.

BTW, I'm from Pennsylvania too. Greetings from Central, PA.
#14
California
1,924 Posts
Joined Nov 2001
I have twins who are 9 months and we recently returned from a cruise with them.
One of my tips is bring half the clothes for them and do laundry. I would have had more space for souvenirs.
As far as activities they were up for anything since everything is a toy toy to them.
Another thing is they will not purée foods for you either. At 12 months that might not be an issue but my babies were premature so they were just starting to eat solids on the trip and I had to bring everything.
I recommend having your own snacks since that way you will always be prepared. Also it is easier if you plan around their schedule. Don't try to go to dinner for two hours when it is their fussy time. Ours loved music so they loved the shows, but if yours doesn't then don't attempt it.

You will learn what works as you go. Have fun!
#15
SoCal
25 Posts
Joined Dec 2012
Be sure to check that your cruise line actually offers in-room babysitting. Many don't. Carnival for example only offered babysitting between 10pm an 3am on the cruise I was on, and you got a cell phone. If the baby starts crying, they won't try hard to comfort it - they'll just call you and ask you to pick it up.

As others suggested, I would begin with a short cruise. You never know how your little one will take to the new environment.
#16
Philadelphia
32 Posts
Joined Aug 2012
Originally posted by jlrn366419
Grandeur and Explorer both have the Royal Tots & Babies Nursery which would be a plus for you. Drop off service for $8 an hour and they also have free toy lending which is nice.

BTW, I'm from Pennsylvania too. Greetings from Central, PA.
Thanks for this! I have been trying to confirm if they had a Nursery on the Explorer. We leave in a month for our 7 night out of Bayonne and were hoping this would be available so we could do dinner a couple times since we aren't eligible for in-room babysitting (min 1 yr old).
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Jenn

Royal Caribbean - Explorer of the Seas - 5/06
Carnival - Imagination - 2/09
Royal Caribbean - Jewel of the Seas - 1/10
NCL - Norwegian Gem - 3/11
Royal Caribbean - Explorer of the Seas - 2/13
#17
Central PA
770 Posts
Joined Jul 2006
Originally posted by MikeysMom619
Thanks for this! I have been trying to confirm if they had a Nursery on the Explorer. We leave in a month for our 7 night out of Bayonne and were hoping this would be available so we could do dinner a couple times since we aren't eligible for in-room babysitting (min 1 yr old).
I may be mistaken, their website says they have the nursery but another link says its coming in 2014.
#19
Philadelphia
32 Posts
Joined Aug 2012
Originally posted by jlrn366419
I may be mistaken, their website says they have the nursery but another link says its coming in 2014.
Some things I found said it would be on Exp as of Fall 2012. But who knows...

Royal Caribbean is so unorganized. We called to ask & they didn't even know. They said that there "should" be a Nursery, but told us that they couldn't tell us hours, etc. & that we would have to inquire once we got onboard.

I am not sure if they are really that confused or if this is their tactic for not dissuading people from cruising....
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Jenn

Royal Caribbean - Explorer of the Seas - 5/06
Carnival - Imagination - 2/09
Royal Caribbean - Jewel of the Seas - 1/10
NCL - Norwegian Gem - 3/11
Royal Caribbean - Explorer of the Seas - 2/13
#20
Philadelphia area
36 Posts
Joined Jan 2013
Thanks everyone for the great advice! (Sorry I haven't logged in for a few days.) We are looking forward to planning our vacation - but need to finish planning DS's first birthday party and baptism first.