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best toddler line (not disney)


punkmuse
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my husband and i are thinking of going on a cruise before our daughter turns 2 (fly free! yippee!)

we would probably go in Feb or March 2015 so she would be 22-23 months old (her bday is at the end of April)

 

my husband and i have cruised 4 times before but never with kids or even the thought of kids so i never paid attention to even the presence of children.

 

what would be a good toddler friendly line?

 

our favorite cruise line from our 4 cruises was RCCL but we cruised so long ago (i think our last cruise was early 2010) that im wondering if everything is totally different now.

 

the reason i say no Disney is because we are terrible mean parents and don't allow our toddler to watch tv or movies (does Jeopardy count?) so she really has no concept of whom the Disney characters are so im not sure a Disney cruise would matter. plus the idea of a Disney cruise with all those kids sounds to me like my worst nightmare. (i love my kid but lots of kids is not my thing)

 

right now at almost 18 months she really just likes to do whatever it is we are doing or explore new things. we go hiking alot. our original plan was to go to Glacier Natl Park in July 2015 but you really need to book that a year in advance and i never got to it and we are thinking we should get one more free flight before she turns 2!

 

i guess im wondering what cruiseline and what types of itineraries might have things that would interest an almost 2 year old. my husband read that RCCL has a fisher price toy lending program so that is cool.

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Royal Caribbean is still your best bet - I would look at Freedom, Liberty, Independence, Oasis, or Allure - all have a Royal Babies & Royal Tots Nursery, and all have baby splash areas (places where diapered children can splash). In terms of itinerary, during those months you are looking at a Caribbean cruise. I would go in Feb vs. March, as March is beginning of spring break so higher prices and more kids. I have heard that Western routes are a bit warmer than Eastern routes during winter, but I would chose whichever itinerary has most beach days :)

 

 

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Royal Caribbean is still your best bet - I would look at Freedom, Liberty, Independence, Oasis, or Allure - all have a Royal Babies & Royal Tots Nursery, and all have baby splash areas (places where diapered children can splash). In terms of itinerary, during those months you are looking at a Caribbean cruise. I would go in Feb vs. March, as March is beginning of spring break so higher prices and more kids. I have heard that Western routes are a bit warmer than Eastern routes during winter, but I would chose whichever itinerary has most beach days :)

 

 

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This would be my recommendation as well but be sure to book one of those ships for the toddler amenities listed.

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I have to agree with either RCI or Carnival...but if you choose an RCI ship, make sure they have the nursery, if you will want that....not all ships have it, yet! If they don't have it on your ship, then there is nothing for the "under 3" crowd!

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thanks for all the replies. will look into what RCCL cruises there are in my time frame.

happy to know they will be a good fit as we enjoyed our 2 cruises with them especially our honeymoon cruise. (and this trip will actually be around our 10th anniversary so it would be appropriate).

 

we probably wouldn't put her in the nursery. she is super attached to me and is with me 24-7 so i cant imagine it would go over well with her if we tried to leave her in a strange place with strange people. im more looking for things to entertain her with us. i think i read somewhere on one of these threads the Royal Tots have a program that is parents and kids or something.

 

the splash pool will definitely be a good thing so ill have to look for those ships. i know my husband read kids in diapers cant go in the big pools which makes sense!

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Consider you say she does whatever you are doing, just pick a cruise and take her along.

I wouldn't pick a cruise just because the will hand out a bucket of toys. Which, by the way several lines do. We used the feature on Celebrity once.

RC, NCL, Carnival, Disney...even Cunard or another luxury line would be fine.

Edited by Lerin
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We do Carnival. Kids are 7, 5, and 3. But...we waited til the youngest was 2 so she can go play with the other kids for an hour during dinner. 2 hour dinners don't work with 2 year olds very well. We don't leave them there all day, but that hour or two is glorious.

 

We also like to cruise with a balcony so kiddo can go to sleep and we have somewhere to go where we can talk. Usually the kids sit out there and color and play. We (gasp) prop the door open. It makes the room not seem so small.

 

Carnival has Build a Bear program anyone can use. Kids of all ages are allowed in the kids club after 10 pm for a fee. I think there are some family parties up there as well.

 

Kids in swim diapers aren't technically allowed in Water Works at all, but I've never seen an employee ask someone with a swim diaper to leave.

Edited by luvsviola
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Royal Caribbean is still your best bet - I would look at Freedom, Liberty, Independence, Oasis, or Allure - all have a Royal Babies & Royal Tots Nursery, and all have baby splash areas (places where diapered children can splash).

 

Sent from my iPad using Cruise Critic Forums mobile app

 

Mom of a tot here too. In fact we will cruise with her (31 mos)in two weeks on Quantum. I would totally have to agree with this. RCL is probably your best bet. Most of the cruise lines will allow children too young to participate, to play in the kid's facilities when the club isn't in use (supervised by you of course). This is a great way for your tot to get to play and let some steam off. My oldest DD was 2 when we sailed on Oasis. They had certain times when I could bring her to play with the ride on cars, art supplies etc. It was really great.

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thanks for all the replies. will look into what RCCL cruises there are in my time frame.

happy to know they will be a good fit as we enjoyed our 2 cruises with them especially our honeymoon cruise. (and this trip will actually be around our 10th anniversary so it would be appropriate).

 

we probably wouldn't put her in the nursery. she is super attached to me and is with me 24-7 so i cant imagine it would go over well with her if we tried to leave her in a strange place with strange people. im more looking for things to entertain her with us. i think i read somewhere on one of these threads the Royal Tots have a program that is parents and kids or something.

 

the splash pool will definitely be a good thing so ill have to look for those ships. i know my husband read kids in diapers cant go in the big pools which makes sense!

Agree with your possible choice of RCI..We have cruised for many years with RCI and just recently went on our first cruise with our 18 month old grandson....My daughter felt the same as you but WOW did he end up loving the nursery and staff...We ended up using it more than we thought and the open play area and the amount of toys was great..Also the toy lending program worked so well..Amazing experience for all of us and the first of many more planned.

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We loved Allure of the Seas with DD when she was 2! She was potty trained so she could use the regular splash area, but we were able to relax that there was an option for swim diapers if she didn't get potty trained in time (they are very strict about no swim diapers in regular pools--CDC requirement, not individual cruiseline rules). She loved the Boardwalk (carousel, balloon animals, small playground), promenade and shows.

 

The nursery was wonderful! We used it 1 night for dinner at Chops. DD was always with DH, me or grandparents before the cruise (no babysitters, daycare) and she loved her night at the nursery (wanted to go back). There was also a large room with a lot of larger toys and mats where we could take her pretty much any time to play. The bag of toys we were able to check out was great in the room too. We didn't do any of the parent/child programs--timing just didn't work out for us (ex. Evening story timer was at 7 & we were still at dinner).

 

I'm looking in to Disney now that she might appreciate it, but could not see paying the prices for a Disney cruise (same price for 4 days as we paid for 7 at the time we went) when she wouldn't know any different. RCCL gas Dreamworks characters onboard. DD didn't really know them, but had fun with them.

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I've read very good things about the Royal Babies and Tots nursery. But if your child isn't ready for a drop off program, then I would consider Princess. They allow children under 3 to attend the kid zone with parental supervision. We sailed Princess on January 3rd when my son was 24 months old, and there were only 11 children on the ship, so the staff had a lot of time to help my son. If you sail when the ship is empty, the kid zone employees will help entertain your children; when the ships are full it is much harder for them since they are leading large group activities for the older children. The Kidzone employees helped him do all the arts and craft projects the bigger kids made, and they brought him whatever art supplies he wanted when he visited the center. The kid zone is only closed an hour for lunch and an hour for dinner, so you would have a lot of flexibility over what time you bring your child there.

 

There is no in cabin babysitting or drop off care for children under 3 on Princess, so parents looking for a drop off program or private care should select a different line. Both Carnival and Cunard allow children 2 and older to participate in their drop off programs.

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I chose Royal Caribbean for the first cruise with my preschooler. Didn't think about the President's Day thing though, darn it! I'm with you on the Disney thing...I love my child but a week surrounded by Elsa and Ariel would make me go insane.

Edited by akb5k
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i assume the "Adventure Beach kids' pool with water slide" as listed on the RCCL page under each ship is for potty trained kids only?

they dont really specify. it's under "family and kids" under each ship description.

 

I would assume a pool is diaper free. Usually there are just splash pads for diapered kids.

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i assume the "Adventure Beach kids' pool with water slide" as listed on the RCCL page under each ship is for potty trained kids only?

 

they dont really specify. it's under "family and kids" under each ship description.

 

 

Yes. You are correct. Adventure Beach is for potty trained kids only.

 

RCI is notorious for not being vague on their web site.

 

 

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I've read very good things about the Royal Babies and Tots nursery. But if your child isn't ready for a drop off program, then I would consider Princess. They allow children under 3 to attend the kid zone with parental supervision. We sailed Princess on January 3rd when my son was 24 months old, and there were only 11 children on the ship, so the staff had a lot of time to help my son. If you sail when the ship is empty, the kid zone employees will help entertain your children; when the ships are full it is much harder for them since they are leading large group activities for the older children. The Kidzone employees helped him do all the arts and craft projects the bigger kids made, and they brought him whatever art supplies he wanted when he visited the center. The kid zone is only closed an hour for lunch and an hour for dinner, so you would have a lot of flexibility over what time you bring your child there.

 

 

 

There is no in cabin babysitting or drop off care for children under 3 on Princess, so parents looking for a drop off program or private care should select a different line. Both Carnival and Cunard allow children 2 and older to participate in their drop off programs.

 

 

I think the nursery on RCI also has parent and child play times, so it does not have to be completely drop off.

 

 

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Just to go in a totally different direction on this, I would think about maybe doing a different trip besides a cruise for your last "freebie". The reason being that a small baby still has to pay the regular 3rd passenger fare on a cruise. Plus, they are too young for the kids club, and you'd end up paying for babysitting if you want to do anything without her.

 

My recommendation for a last "baby is free" trip would actually be Disneyland or Disney World. Kids eat for free and don't require a park ticket until they are 3, so it's a really great deal for kids. We've taken our girls at around that age, and even though they don't know many of the characters, they still had a great time seeing the shows, going on rides and even meeting Mickey, even though they didn't necessarily know who he was!

 

Anyway, that's totally not what you asked, but just an idea! We always sneak in a last Disney trip once when they can still fly free, and once before they turn 3 and have to have a ticket! For cruises, we've only done Carnival with kids because we like to cruise out of LA, and not many lines have ships there. But they have really enjoyed the kids clubs and overall experience on the ship. I've also heard great things about Royal Babies. For our next trip, we're actually combining Disneyland with a cruise, so we'll be in Disney for my DD's 2nd birthday, and then she'll be old enough for the kids club on Carnival Miracle by 2 days! We thought about going before so she could fly free, but we decided against it because we didn't want her missing out on Camp Carnival when her sister would be going.

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If you don't want Disney, then hands down it is Royal Caribbean.

My 19 month old has been on 4 cruises: Carnival Glory, Enchantment of the Seas, Carnival Breeze, and Brilliance of the Seas. Royal Caribbean blows Carnival out of the water with what they offer toddlers. hehe. On Carnival there was not much for that age group.

 

Look at my signature and read my reviews for each of those trips. My most recent review, Brilliance, is VERY detailed.

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I just took a Princess cruise with my two year old son and it was awesome. The staff treated him very well and while we could not drop him off at the activity center, we were able to take him there as long as we stayed there with him. We went to Canada/New England because it was a dream trip of mine and I wanted to see the fall colors. We also timed it so that it was before he turned two years old so we could also fly him foe free (FYI for certain international flights, while you don't have to pay the full fare, evidently you still have to pay a percentage of the fare - very confusing).

 

Last year, when he turned 1, we took him in a Disney cruise. Disney was amazing too - we were able to drop him off at the nursery a couple of times. But I pick cruises based on itineraries, and Disney for the most part sticks with the beach cruises, which are a lot of fun, but I like to experience other places. So I wouldn't hesitate to take another Princess cruise.

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As someone else mentioned, if going with the "baby is free" mentality, just be sure you know what you're booking. We've been eyeing the RCL website for months and frequently the 3rd and 4th person rates aren't really that great, plus sometimes the 1/2 rates go up once you add a 3rd. We just booked today and it was cheaper for us to get our girls (ages 3 and 1) a connecting room

Than to put us all in one room! I'm

Not saying this is always the case, but sometimes adding the kiddos is not "cheap".

 

That said, we've cruised twice with ODD- when she was 16 mos we did Ncl, their baby program was no drop off (with parent only) but she had a lot of fun. We took a mini pool for the balcony since she couldn't swim in the big pools. At just over 2 we did Disney and it was amazing with kids - she loved the activities, spent some time in the nursery and enjoyed the shows. We actually find their adults-only areas to be top-notch and have never felt like the ship was overrun with kids. Our DD is very adaptable and a good traveller, it sounds like yours is similar. I would just look for an itinerary that interests you

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