Cruisin' for 5...with small children

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#1
Canada
3 Posts
Joined Mar 2012
Hi everyone!

I'm a newbie cruiser, and need some advice.

Planning a cruise for 5 for my 10 year wedding anniversary, and eek! 40th birthday!

The 5 includes hubby, me, and three children (7 year old, and 2.5 year old twins).

I've narrowed it down to 4 day cruise between 1) Disney Dream and 2) Norwegian Sky. Both going to Bahamas.

1. Thoughts on either one of these ships? We can probably get an oceanview with Disney and an Owner's Suite with NCL (twice the amount of room) for the same price.

2. How do you get from the airport to either hotel or port without car seats? And, how much is this going to cost? We are not planning on bringing our car seats, and if we rent a car, we will rent with car seats.

3. Can you rent a mini van (with car seats for the day)? Pick up at airport, and drop off at Port and vice versa?

4. Can you bring a stroller on the cruise?

5. What do you do when you're docked? How do you visit the city (Bahamas, etc) with kids? Do you have to pay?

If you have any thoughts/ideas or even what other questions I should be thinking about, please let me know!


I'm trying to wrap my head around all of this, and the main issue I have right now is how to get to and from places.

Heellllp! Thanks!
#2
Fredericksburg, va. USA
82,085 Posts
Joined May 2001
Go for the most cabin space...with 5, you're gonna need it!

Many hotels have shuttle buses...check that out...in buses, you can't use carseats, anyway.

Definitely bring a stroller....you will need it! Lots of walking on a ship! And, it's a nice place for the little ones to nap, while you're out and about.

Get a guidebook on your ports first. Read up on what there is in each place that might interest you. If you book an "excursion", it can cost alot! Many things are easy to do on your own, but you have to do your research! Most ports have straw-markets within walking distance. There are public beaches...a cab ride will get you there. Some places have public buses. The guidebook will tell you what you need to know. it can be your best investment into a good time, and save you bunches of $$$!

You will need LOTS of sunscreen...the sun is MUCH stronger there than in Canada! Do NOT skimp on that!!!!
#3
Ontario, Canada
2,321 Posts
Joined Oct 2010
1. I've never been on Disney but I would go for the NCL suite in a heartbeat. You will be grateful for the extra space!
2/3. I'm a firm believer on bringing your own car seats, for a variety of reasons, but mainly because I have personally experienced all the verbal offers and they have never panned out. We have schleped two car seats around the world, there are a variety of ways of doing it, but it is possible. Otherwise you are looking at using public transportation, buses, water taxis or walking. Again, it is do-able, depending on your ports and what you want to do as excursions. I will put in the caveat that I am a certified car seat technician (CRST) in Ontario.
4. You can definitely bring a stroller on a cruise. I wouldn't bring a side-by-side double, but a tandem or two umbrella strollers that click together would work fine. Ship hallways are narrow. This is also another reason why I suggest the suite, you're going to need the room! If you baby-wear, I've successfully worn DS2 when he was 2, 3 and 4 yrs old on our trips. I actually prefer it to a stroller, but that's me.
5. Once you are in port, you walk off the ship and are on your own. Depending on the port, there may be things of interest nearby, or you may need transportation. We have taken our car seats/booster in a taxi to the beach in Mexico and St. Thomas, used a bus and boat to get to ruins in Belize, walked around Sint Maartin and Cozumel, taken a water taxi in Nassau and hired a car (again with the car seat and booster) to tour the island in Roatan. The ports of call forums and the family forum will all give you whatever information you want to know about planning an excursion in port.
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#4
Ontario, Canada
1,828 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
For the same price, cabin size/category are definitely very different. Suite definitely has more space.

Also, one ship debuted in 1999, the other one 2011. Age of the ship isn't an issue for me but I know my DW will always prefer a newer ship.

Depends on when you are going, the demographics of the passengers may also be very different.

Disney Dream departs from Port Canaveral, NCL Sky from Miami - not sure if you have a preference on any one port-of-departure.

DCL has the mouse and friends, firework, and everything else Disney themed.

At the private island, I believe Great Stirrup Cay is tender, whereas Castaway Cay is dock.
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#5
Ontario, Canada
1,828 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
I just also wanted to mention that, for those Oceanview stateroom that can sleep 5 on the Disney Dream, they are 246 sq ft.
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#6
Canada
3 Posts
Joined Mar 2012
WOW! Thank you for the detailed replies. I am left...more overwhelmed than when I first asked these questions

Re: Stroller. We have a side by side, lightweight stroller. It's a Peg Perego Aria that fits through most regular sized doors.

Re: Baby Wearing. Never thought to wear one of the twins now. Hmm...

Re: Car Seats. We tried bringing one 2 in 1, a booster and renting the 3rd, but quite honestly, it was really difficult to have all this luggage, car seats, stroller, and trying to watch twins and 6.5 year old.

Re: Hotel/Shuttle. Thanks! I'm going to look into this.

Re: Guides. Oh My! More researcH!

Question from Hubby - is there wi-fi (paid or free?) on ships?
#7
Coastal GA USA
20,705 Posts
Joined Nov 2007
Originally posted by Ida Kno
WOW! Thank you for the detailed replies. I am left...more overwhelmed than when I first asked these questions

Re: Stroller. We have a side by side, lightweight stroller. It's a Peg Perego Aria that fits through most regular sized doors.

Re: Baby Wearing. Never thought to wear one of the twins now. Hmm...

Re: Car Seats. We tried bringing one 2 in 1, a booster and renting the 3rd, but quite honestly, it was really difficult to have all this luggage, car seats, stroller, and trying to watch twins and 6.5 year old.

Re: Hotel/Shuttle. Thanks! I'm going to look into this.

Re: Guides. Oh My! More researcH!

Question from Hubby - is there wi-fi (paid or free?) on ships?
Side by side strollers are a problem on a ship. Corridors are about 40" wide. Sure that's enough for your stroller, but what if you meet someone on a scooter, or the steward's cart is in the hallway...or you meet another passenger...You will be taking up too much width of the corridor. EM
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#8
Ontario, Canada
2,321 Posts
Joined Oct 2010
Originally posted by Ida Kno
WOW! Thank you for the detailed replies. I am left...more overwhelmed than when I first asked these questions

Re: Stroller. We have a side by side, lightweight stroller. It's a Peg Perego Aria that fits through most regular sized doors.

Re: Baby Wearing. Never thought to wear one of the twins now. Hmm...

Re: Car Seats. We tried bringing one 2 in 1, a booster and renting the 3rd, but quite honestly, it was really difficult to have all this luggage, car seats, stroller, and trying to watch twins and 6.5 year old.

Re: Hotel/Shuttle. Thanks! I'm going to look into this.

Re: Guides. Oh My! More researcH!

Question from Hubby - is there wi-fi (paid or free?) on ships?
Some ships have paid wi-fi, you can usually find free or low cost wi-fi in port. Onboard there are internet cafe's to use if you must stay connected but honestly I make DH leave the BlackBerry at home
I do know the double Aria, it will be tight getting through the common areas of the ship. Keep in mind that doorways, hallways etc on a ship are smaller than most of our world.
Travelling with young kids is all about planning. We even try our our walking with suitcases and children plan in the airport before we leave home! (I know, some call me anal This is one reason I really like toddler-wearing, as it keeps one child contained while leaving both hands free. However, not all toddlers like this idea, so definitely try it out before you go. I use an Ergo carrier that goes to 40lbs, DS2 weighed 35 lbs at the time and I could carry him for about an hour before my back got sore.
For reference sake, our family's plan looks like this:
DH carries the car seat on his back with a strap. He also has two rolling suitcases with 2 carry-ons attached. One carry on is the booster. DS1 (who was also 6.5 yrs the last time we cruised) was responsible for the rolling carry on i.e. emergency bag and his backpack. I had another rolling suitcase, carry on and DS2 on my back, with extra space for a backpack on my front on our return. How I would add in another child and car seat is to buy the thing that turns your rolling carry-on into a stroller by attaching it to the rolling carry-on, and giving the full-sized suitcase to DS1. This is also assuming you can travel with three full sized suitcases, which I think is do-able since we did 12 days of clothes in our 3 bags.
If you have a visual of this procession, we had MANY comments from kind passengers about how cool, calm and collected we were despite all our stuff
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Upcoming:

Anthem of the Seas 2-1-2017 12 day Eastern and Southern Caribbean

Completed:

NCL Sun 1-1-2011 Eastern Carribean
NCL Star 1-1-2012 Western Caribbean
NCL Jewel 30-12-12 Florida and Bahamas
Disney Dream 14-3-13 Bahamas
NCL Breakaway 9-3-2014 Florida and Bahamas
NCL Gem 22-12-2014 12 day Christmas and New Year's
NCL Pride of America 28-3-2015 with a week in Kona
NCL Star 31-1-2016 Western Caribbean
NCL Breakaway 13-3-2016

Land trips to Italy, Portugal, Spain, Egypt, Colombia, Venezuela, Jamaica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, most of the eastern US and all the Canadian provinces.
#9
NY
1,024 Posts
Joined Jun 2006
Don;t stress it - cruising is the greatest vaca you can take with kids. Mine love it and are now 10 and 7, having started when they were both under a year. Enjoy it!!!
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#10
Canada
3 Posts
Joined Mar 2012
Aww, thanks LOVINCRUIZIN!

I have been stressing, and it just seems like to make it work, I need to buy and pay for so much other stuff.

I had the cruise off the table again, but I'll seriously reconsider again...I know the hubby really wants to go on a cruise with the kids.

Is it ok to not visit ports? Will there be things to do on the ship when we're docked? Food?

Sigh...what to do???
#11
Chicago
9,343 Posts
Joined Mar 2010
OP
I'd go with the NCL suite, seriously! You'll have a butler and they can be helpful if your little ones are fussy and you want to have dinner served in your suite. Plus you get many other perks, so that is a selling point for NCL.

Now, you don't ever have to leave the ship, unless its time for debarkation! There are things to do, the kid's club will be open and the pools will be nearly EMPTY! The spa usually has port day specials when treatments are cheaper. There are activities, and sometimes its nice just to sit and relax.

Also with NCL there is no set dining time, you can eat when you need to, DIsney has assigned dining times and tables. There is also a great choice of restaurants on NCL so if you need to leave a dining room due to antsy children you can always go back later and finish your meal or start over when things are settled.

The crew will treat you well and fuss and fawn over your children as many have their own back home and miss them terribly.

There is a GREAT forum under the specialty section of C.C. You'll find cruising with children or family cruising and the parents over there will have TONS of information that might help you.

Beach days are great in the Bahamas, there is also a Zoo in Nassau and the cab fares are cheap. I think you're stressing too many details, just take a deep breath and relax. Where else will you get a vacation where someone will do ALL the cooking ALL day long, entertain you, let you sleep and relax in lovely settings and never have to worry about a thing?

Good luck on what you decide. Also I wanted to mention that you can go off season so you can get really good prices when its low season. If you have an Amex card and you book a suite by 3/31 you'll get $500 on board credit! So it behooves you to move quickly.
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#12
Georgia
6,262 Posts
Joined May 2000
Originally posted by Ida Kno
Aww, thanks LOVINCRUIZIN!

I have been stressing, and it just seems like to make it work, I need to buy and pay for so much other stuff.

I had the cruise off the table again, but I'll seriously reconsider again...I know the hubby really wants to go on a cruise with the kids.

Is it ok to not visit ports? Will there be things to do on the ship when we're docked? Food?

Sigh...what to do???
Ida....Here is my advise(I have cruised with my children and now with my grandchildren): first of all go for the ship where you can get the largest cabin. You will enjoy the extra space with 5 of you. By the way I was on Disney with a 2.5 yr old and he was terrified of the characters. As far as your point of departure I would leave from Miami. The airport and ship pier are close to each other. If you leave from Port Canaveral you will fly into Orlando and that is about an hour drive to get to the port. If you find a hotel in Miami that provides a shuttle then you will not need carseats on the shuttle.Your other option is to rent a car with carseats. Now I am assuming you are going to fly in a day ahead of your cruise just in case of flight delays.
No, you do not have to get off the ship at all. But...if one of your stops is the private island this will be a beach day that the kids will enjoy. You don't have to worry about a carseat for that.
#13
Ontario, Canada
1,828 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Originally posted by Ida Kno
Is it ok to not visit ports? Will there be things to do on the ship when we're docked? Food?

Sigh...what to do???
We cruised the Disney Dream last year (January). When the ship docked at Nassau, we basically stayed on the ship. There were less people, kids having fun playing mini-golf and swimming at the Mickey's pool and the Aquaduck. The Cabanas (buffet) and the Main Dining Room were opened for lunch.

Here is part of the daily program (called the Personal Navigator for Disney ships) when we were at Nassau.

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#14
6,436 Posts
Joined May 2009
Originally posted by Ida Kno
WOW! Thank you for the detailed replies. I am left...more overwhelmed than when I first asked these questions

Re: Stroller. We have a side by side, lightweight stroller. It's a Peg Perego Aria that fits through most regular sized doors.

The average cabin door is 21"-22" wide. The average hallways are 40" wide and the housekeeping carts that are out all day long take up half that space. You're side by side stroller will not fit.
#15
Fair Lawn, NJ
51 Posts
Joined Mar 2012
I will be traveling with a double stroller as well. However, I found that the side by side just doesn't work in the narrow hallways with housekeeping carts and lots of people walkign around. I also know that the double stroller that is long back to front can be kind of hard to maneuver on the Lido deck.

My solution - get two cheap but identical umbrella strollers (mine have baskets underneath for convenience). Use them individually while on the ship (yes you will need two people to push). In areas where there is lots of space or you are at port, use the Prince Lionheart Stroller Connectors - presto - instant side by side stroller. It's a really neat idea and easy to connect/disconnect. You might want to check it out.
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