1st cruise with kids-need tips

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7 Posts
Joined Aug 2006
In Jan. of 07, we will be taking our children on their first cruise. We cruised with Royal Carribean a few years ago for our honeymoon. This cruise will be with Carnival. We have 6 children. Their ages at time of cruise will be 17, 15, 11, 9, 5, 20mths. We are bringing along my 18 yr. old sister to help.

I need all the advive, tips, suggestions that I can get.

I am hoping my 5, 9, 11 will go to Camp Carnival sometimes. From what I understand there are different options available for meals, right? There is the nice dinner/meal and then more of a family friendly option, one that has more foods that kids will eat? I would like to attend the formal night, while the kids enjoy camp carnival, but the other nights I would rather do the quicker route and the one that will be the easiest for 6 kids.

Does the Carnival Sensation ship offer pagers for the parents? What kinds of activities do they offer for my 17 and 15 yr. old?

TIA for all the help.
43 Posts
Joined Jul 2006
Hi, we have cruised carnival and I know they give pagers to the parents of the younger children, I think up to about 8 or so. They have a lot of teen activities, like disco, limbo and trivia games, I cruised a lot as a teen and alwsy had a ton of fun.

Meals are offered buffet style in an upper deck cafe of sorts and there is also 24 hour pizza and such. The dinning room has a children's menu . We always ate in the dinning room for dinner and buffet for lunch and breakfast that way our then 2 year old only really had to sit through one meal

My best advice it to not even read any post that starts off with Leave the children home. Just relax and enjoy your vacation. Cruising is a great time, because all you have to do is relax and have fun. Where to go is decided, where to eat as well. I am sailing in 29 days with my now 3 year old and my 5 month old, so I will definately post back when I return with the new pieces of advice I have picked up. Not sure if I can post a link to this or not, so I will cut and paste. I am the original author, so I know it is not "stealing" from another web site. I hope this helps you a little:

Cruising With A Toddler
Print this page Email this pageby Kim Lebowitz

Cruises are a great family vacation. By day, you spend quality time together as a family. By night, couples get some well deserved alone time, while their children party in the kids club or with in-cabin babysitters. We recently took a cruise with our son for his second birthday and lived to tell about it.

That said we did learn a few valuable lessons along the way:

Traveling to the Ship

1. If at all possible leave the day before sailing and spend the night in a hotel. There is no enjoyment for anyone when your two year old wakes up four hours earlier than usual and had no nap. By being close to the ship you can sleep until a reasonable hour and not feel rushed getting to the ship. Try to avoid airport to ship transfers sold by the cruise lines. Depending on the time you arrive you could wait up to an hour for the bus to fill before heading to the ship. Taxi's or private shuttle services offer you immediate transportation. They are often the same price if not a little less than the cost of the cruise-line transfers. Call a local cab company in your departure city. They often will give you an average fare for the ride.

2. Have a supply of "new" toys you can pull out in the car or on the plane. About 3 weeks before our departure, I tucked a few toys in to our son's back pack and hid it. These old friends provided entertainment and held his attention longer since he had not seen them in a while.

3. A beach ball is your best friend. They deflate and fold up small so that they are easy to carry, while providing a lot of distraction. Find a quiet area in the terminal and play toss, roll and kick. It's a great way to help burn off extra energy prior to your flight or during a layover.

4. Pack a baby banket. Airplanes are always cold and there are never enough blankets to go around.

5. Always pack at least 3-4 more diapers than you think you will need. Moral of the story, you never know when you will be delayed.

Dining on the Ship

1. There are both buffet and sit down choices for all meals on most ships. We found that dinner was just not a good time for our son to sit for an hour. We attended sit down lunches to enjoy the fabulous service, but frequented the buffets for beakfast and dinner. We found that all the entrees available in the dining room were also available at the buffet.

For special events - like the formal night - when we wanted to dine in the dining room we would stay for the meal, then take our dessert to go and enjoy it under the stars while our son played on the deck.

Keep a small supply of toys during meal time. Magnadoodes and playdough are our personal favorites. Crayons are usually readily available.

2. Bring 2-3 sippy cups or water bottles from home. Fill them up at the meals so that you always have cold juice at hand. Palmolive wipes with the soap already added makes keeping them clean in your cabin a breeze.

3. Room service is always available on most ships as well. If its not a morning that you are able to get up and ready, order in and watch cartoons while you prepare for the day.

General Kid Tips

1. Take a small umbrella type stoller. Anything larger will just be in the way in your cabin

2. If you brought along your car seat for your flight, ask your cabin steward to store it for you. They often have closets that they are able to tuck it in to so that you are not tripping over it.

3. Pack light. Many ships have self service laundry areas or laundry services. You can also wash an item or two in your cabin sink. Travel laundry soap or single use packets are avalible in travel stores or from catalogs like www.magellans.com Tide to go or baby wipes work well for spot removal.

4. Try not to take all of the toys out at once. Pack a few things in your suitcase for the end of the week and for the way home. Variety will keep them interested and busy.

5. Bring a large bottle of sunblock to use when you start your day and then packets or wipes to re-apply when you are on deck or on shore.

6. For kids who are not potty trained take a small blow up pool to use on the pool deck. Most ships do not allow diapered children in the pool. You can fill it with water from the pool and they can enjoy the sun deck with you.

7. Explore the requirements of kids programs before you book your trip. Some start at age 2 others age 3. Some require children to be potty trained, while others do not. This will prevent disapointment.

8. Pack a small first aid kit. Include motion sickness pills, childrens tylenol, childrens benadryl and cold remedy. Add bandaides and a thermometer. These items may not be avalible on the ship and may be difficult to get in port.

Above all have fun and enjoy yourselves. We can not wait to venture out again. Our son gets excited everytime he sees a cruise commerical on tv and is looking forward to setting sail again.
Ann Arbor, MI
7,759 Posts
Joined Apr 2002
SIX KIDS?? Wow, I bow to your superior skills!

Room service is wonderful. the kids LOVE it.

We took a couple toys as a surprise and it really helped!
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All about my addictions: Cruising, my boys, writing romance and being a triathlete: blog.liedel.org
134 Posts
Joined Jun 2006
Wow! You are all going to have a great time. I'd love to be there to see the looks on their faces when they see that ship. Husband and I took our 1st cruise on the Sensation for our honeymoon and we loved it.

We're sailing on the Imagination in about 3 weeks with our two toddlers. Thanks to the advice of ryanandsarasmom , I bought some new toys to give them when we fly. I plan to wrap them up like presents and make a big deal about it after we take off.

Our travel arrangements to/from the port seemed to give me the most stress. We will probably use the Carnival transfers because I don't want to lug around 2 car seats. The transfers generally use large greyhound style buses, and children do not need to be buckled up. But, this route may cost a little more, since Carnival does not give discounts for children, but it's worth it for us.

Also, I plan to bring a collapsable cooler for my room. (sorry, can't remember if all Sensation rooms have a fridge). I will ask our room steward to keep it full of ice, so that I can bring back drinks from the buffet and keep them cold (cartons of milk from morning breakfast buffet). I'll also bring a large insulated thermos to keep juice, fruit punch or lemonade in our room, too. These are available at the buffet areas, fountain-style. And I'll buy some bottled water and soda on our 1st stop to keep cold in our room, too.

Have a great time!
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Fascination (April 2011) Bahamas
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Lovely Utah
409 Posts
Joined May 2005
If you have kids or a party of four or more ALWAYS check out local transfers. We cruised on the Summit out of LA and limo transers from Burbank to San Pedro were $110 including tip. This was less than what Celebrity charged and it was so nice to have someone there to pick us up and have the kids watch TV to the airport.