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First cruise with kids, tips please....


MrsBee89
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We're going on a Celebrity cruise next summer (not our choice, was booked by the in laws before anyone else tells me to move to RC). Our kids will be 3, 6 & 8. 8 year old turns 8 on our first full day which is a sea day. Any tips, advice, recommendations or even just recent reviews of the kids camp would be much appreciated. Unsure how we can make it special for our eldest's birthday if anyone has ideas on that too! We are sailing from Southampton doing 7 days round Spain & Portugal. Seem to be a lot of people on these boards that aren't best pleased about kids on Celebrity Cruises so I'm getting a little worried...

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23 minutes ago, MrsBee89 said:

We're going on a Celebrity cruise next summer (not our choice, was booked by the in laws before anyone else tells me to move to RC). Our kids will be 3, 6 & 8. 8 year old turns 8 on our first full day which is a sea day. Any tips, advice, recommendations or even just recent reviews of the kids camp would be much appreciated. Unsure how we can make it special for our eldest's birthday if anyone has ideas on that too! We are sailing from Southampton doing 7 days round Spain & Portugal. Seem to be a lot of people on these boards that aren't best pleased about kids on Celebrity Cruises so I'm getting a little worried...

I would recommend having early dinning time. My experience with kids on celebrity being difficult is those with late dinner times who were hungry and tired. Bring lots of activities to keep your kids busy. Bring OTC kids meds you could possibly need.

 

bring travel sized games, colouring books, books, anything that will keep your kids busy. I still remember some of these from when I was a kid traveling or when my grandmother packed my little bag for church with a toy and snack. 

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7 hours ago, MrsBee89 said:

We're going on a Celebrity cruise next summer (not our choice, was booked by the in laws before anyone else tells me to move to RC). Our kids will be 3, 6 & 8. 8 year old turns 8 on our first full day which is a sea day. Any tips, advice, recommendations or even just recent reviews of the kids camp would be much appreciated. Unsure how we can make it special for our eldest's birthday if anyone has ideas on that too! We are sailing from Southampton doing 7 days round Spain & Portugal. Seem to be a lot of people on these boards that aren't best pleased about kids on Celebrity Cruises so I'm getting a little worried...

 

Hello @MrsBee89

 

To help you out your thread has been moved to the Special Interest Cruising - Family Cruises forum where it will be on topic. Browse through the thread titles on this forum looking for threads of interest. You will probably find your fellow Cruise Critic members have already posted questions and received answers that may be of interest to you.

 

Happy sails,

 

Host Kat

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Please don't worry.  During the summer, all the major lines have plenty of kids.  Celebrity may even be a better choice because while there will definitely be other kids, it won't be overrun with them. 

 

I suggest arranging private tours for your family, rather than the large bus excursions offered by the ship.  A private tour allows your family to personalize your itinerary to skip the boring museums & shopping stops and just go to the fun places to explore - and with a group your size it will often even be less expensive than paying the ship individually.  You can find recommended operators on the ports of call board here.  

 

As SoloAlaska suggested, not letting the kids get hungry or tired is the key to happy travel.  Nap or rest before dinner if possible can lead to success.  Cruising is a great way to travel with multi-generations.  Sounds like a fantastic itinerary as well.  I loved visiting Europe via cruise when my kids were younger as it eliminates the worst part of travel with kids - travel days.  You go to bed and wake up someplace new each day and the kids can pretty much stay on a schedule.  Enjoy!

 

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Please don't worry - we had a wonderful cruise on Cunard, which is really not a kids' line (they are oddly one of the few cruise lines that take 2 year olds in the drop off kids club programs, so we sailed with them to Norway). And we had a very nice cruise on HAL, which is also not really ideal for kids in general.   As long as the kids club is good you all should be perfectly fine (sorry I haven't sailed Celebrity yet so I can't vouch for their kids club).    

 

One thing you can do for your child's birthday is decorate all the cabin walls with magnets - Shutterfly periodically lets you print photo magnets on sale for $1 each, shipping included.  We celebrated my mom's birthday on a previous cruise by decorating her cabin door, but the walls of the cabin are magnetic too so that's another option.  Your three year old will spend lots of time in the cabin happily rearranging the magnets all over the room.

 

 

 

 

Edited by kitkat343
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you are going to have a wonderful cruise! We cruise with our kid (he was 3 when he started) and he had a blast on all of the cruises. He especially loves Princess ships, even though they don't have much for kids, and he doesn't do kid's club. Princess is a lot like Celebrity - more sophisticated and upscale than kid-friendlier lines. But nobody hates or despises the kids...

 

As for tips, I only have a couple: when he was 3 until about 10, we always brought a tablet with headphones with us to the dining room, with a small tablet stand. This allowed us to enjoy dinner in peace, while DS enjoyed cartoons or kid movies. People always remarked on how well behaved nd quiet he was. Once he got to 10+ yo, he decided that he was grown enough to have conversations at dinner table in MDR and be entertained by them as well. 🙂

image.thumb.jpeg.7e219b7924707d6b3513a65e354fcbf8.jpeg

At 3-8 yo we also brought a small container with small toys for him to play with when chilling in the cabin or elsewhere.

image.thumb.jpeg.a8d495ad0c62750857964a3efaad0f13.jpeg

 

He still brings a stuffed toy with him to sleep with. He is 12 now. 

 

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On 8/23/2023 at 2:29 PM, MrsBee89 said:

We're going on a Celebrity cruise next summer (not our choice, was booked by the in laws before anyone else tells me to move to RC). Our kids will be 3, 6 & 8. 8 year old turns 8 on our first full day which is a sea day. Any tips, advice, recommendations or even just recent reviews of the kids camp would be much appreciated. Unsure how we can make it special for our eldest's birthday if anyone has ideas on that too! We are sailing from Southampton doing 7 days round Spain & Portugal. Seem to be a lot of people on these boards that aren't best pleased about kids on Celebrity Cruises so I'm getting a little worried...

- If your oldest is 7 when he boards, he will be 7 for the entire cruise. I know, I know, that's not true, but that's how he will be "counted" for the kids' clubs.  

- You'll need to go to the kids' clubs as soon as you board to register your kids.  

- You should send your kids to the club the first night so they'll meet friends and become excited about the kids' club activities.  

- You'll receive a paper "newspaper" each evening and/or you'll have a phone app that'll tell you all the kids' club activities.  You should go through this with the children and help them pick out what they want to do the next day.  I'd say bring sticky notes in 5 colors (one for each family member) and write out each person's plans /stick them to the wall.  The kids' club activities might include video game parties, science experiments, trips to the sports deck, movies or PJ parties.  

- Going on a cruise for your birthday already IS pretty special.  I don't really see the point in doing "more".  If you were to get him a "birthday boy" tee-shirt, he'd hear lots of "Happy Birthdays!" throughout the day.  

- Does Celebrity have ice skating?  If so, and if you think your kids will want to go, know that they must have long pants.  

- If you're planning beach excursions on the islands, ask on these boards whether beaches are rocky /whether your kids should have water shoes.  Consider how much a cut foot would impede your vacation.  

- My grandson will be three when we take him on a cruise next year.  He's getting a Fisher Price Cruise Ship for Christmas.  It's not the prettiest ship I've ever seen, but it'll give us lots of opportunity to talk about cabins, the dining room, good manners, etc.  

On 8/23/2023 at 2:58 PM, SoloAlaska said:

I would recommend having early dinning time. My experience with kids on celebrity being difficult is those with late dinner times who were hungry and tired. Bring lots of activities to keep your kids busy. Bring OTC kids meds you could possibly need.

 

bring travel sized games, colouring books, books, anything that will keep your kids busy. I still remember some of these from when I was a kid traveling or when my grandmother packed my little bag for church with a toy and snack. 

- Consider splitting your dinners between the main dining room and the buffet.  You don't need to make reservations to have dinner at the buffet.  

- Yes to packing plenty of quiet things for the kids to do during transit and in the room.  They'll have plenty to do around the ship.  

- Yes, definitely bring plenty of bandaids and OTC meds.  These things (and sunscreen, socks and similar items) cost so much onboard.  

On 8/25/2023 at 5:09 PM, Itchy&Scratchy said:

As for tips, I only have a couple: when he was 3 until about 10, we always brought a tablet with headphones with us to the dining room, with a small tablet stand. This allowed us to enjoy dinner in peace, while DS enjoyed cartoons or kid movies. People always remarked on how well behaved nd quiet he was. Once he got to 10+ yo, he decided that he was grown enough to have conversations at dinner table in MDR and be entertained by them as well. 🙂

- My kids are 26 and 29, so we didn't have tablets when they were that young.  Three is old enough to learn to behave at the dinner table.  If you think your kids can't "make it" the whole time, consider having them come in for appetizers and entrees, and take your dessert "to go".  

- You can pull up example menus ahead of time.  Consider letting the kids "practice" ordering what they want -- an appetizer, an entree and a dessert -- ahead of time.  

- Consider putting the kids into the kids' clubs for dinner maybe twice during the week /have a nice, leisurely adult dinner with your spouse. 

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2 hours ago, Mum2Mercury said:

Three is old enough to learn to behave at the dinner table. 

well, every kid is different. Mine would have been bored to death with just the adults talking about adult things and would start whining, probably, but our friends' kid has ADHD, so for him it was nearly impossible to sit through the dinner. He was running around, getting under the table, etc. A tablet would have most likely saved everyone a lot of trouble. Learning to behave and being able to sit through a 2 hour dinner are different things.

 

Also, mine had separation and stranger anxiety, so we couldn't ship him off to kid's club even if we wanted to.

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5 hours ago, Itchy&Scratchy said:

well, every kid is different. Mine would have been bored to death with just the adults talking about adult things and would start whining, probably, but our friends' kid has ADHD, so for him it was nearly impossible to sit through the dinner. He was running around, getting under the table, etc. A tablet would have most likely saved everyone a lot of trouble. Learning to behave and being able to sit through a 2 hour dinner are different things.

 

Also, mine had separation and stranger anxiety, so we couldn't ship him off to kid's club even if we wanted to.

They’ll definitely all have a tablet for dinner, if we choose to have a long dinner in the MDR that’s nice for us but not their decision so are happy to let them have their tablets to enjoy while we enjoy a leisurely dinner. My oldest is excited though to go to the buffet for a quick dinner and then off to the kids club! 

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13 hours ago, Itchy&Scratchy said:

well, every kid is different. Mine would have been bored to death with just the adults talking about adult things and would start whining

That's why you include the children in the conversation!  Make a portion of the conversation about things they enjoy.  

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3 hours ago, Mum2Mercury said:

That's why you include the children in the conversation!  Make a portion of the conversation about things they enjoy.  

At that point in time we were always seated at a large table with strangers, and both my son and husband are introverts who do not enjoy talking to strangers. Also, not many adults enjoy a conversation with somebody else's 3 yo.

We know what worked for our family and I simply shared it in case it helps somebody else's. Please note how my post is all "this is what we did" and "this is what worked for us" instead of "you should do this" and "what you will need to do is."

Edited by Itchy&Scratchy
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  • 2 months later...

We took our then 3 year old on a Holland America cruise and my then 4 year old nephew was on as well. Same situation - my parents booked a family cruise. Everyone was very nice to them and had no issues with them not being around other kids. We took them to dance classes and on excursions and of course spent plenty of time at the pool. And if someone gives them the stink eye, that's their problem, not yours. It's not a Virgin Cruise where it's adults only. children are a part of life, even if you don't have your own. In March, we went on another cruise (this time on Princess) with our daughter who is now 15 and also had a great time as a family. She loved the teen club. 

You can let the cruise line know that it's your child's birthday and at dinner that night the staff will celebrate them. The kids should stay full most of the time, but we always bring a few snacks on board just in case. They come in handy especially during excursions when the time between meals could be stretched out. Make sure everyone has a water bottle and get some of those drop-ins that taste like Kool-Aide or Gatorade so the kids have water during the day. Another way to get them involved is to have them help pick the excursions that you decide to do. Even if it's just getting off the ship and walking around in town, having the kids research the local life, food and what there is to do helps get them excited and engaged in their vacation. Hope everyone has a great time!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Celebrity have some rooms with interconnected balconies.   We went with kids and grandparents on the Celebrity Silhouette.  We asked the cabin attendants to remove the divide between the balconies and then every morning my early risers would run off to bang on Granny’s balcony doors and she would enjoy morning cuddles while I enjoyed a lie in!!

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