I am always dismayed at folks who actively discourage other people from taking their babies or toddlers on a cruise. You see it all the time in the various cruise-related internet groups. It usually starts with some prospective traveller innocently posing a question about taking babies on cruises. A slew of negative responses often follows. Notably, most of the naysayers usually have never themselves traveled on a cruise with young children.
You will usually see the same objections. Some people assert that you won’t be able to have any fun because you’ll be chained to your room during evenings and bedtime. Or, that your kid won’t enjoy it because there aren’t any activities for babies and toddlers. Or, they will be unhappy with no access to water play if they are still in diapers. Yet others claim that you will feel uncomfortable because you will be annoying all those other cruisers. Or, that it’s a waste of money taking babies on cruises because they won’t remember any of it.
Hogwash to all of it! Granted, not every baby or toddler will do well on a cruise, just like not every adult does well on a cruise. But most people who contemplate taking babies on cruises can do just fine and have a wonderful time. So, if you are struggling with negative feedback about your potential vacation choices, continue reading. You will find here five great reasons to ignore those grumpy naysayers and sail on.
1. You Can Choose to Sail a Ship That Offers Childcare Options for Taking Babies on Cruises.
An objection commonly raised to taking babies on cruises is that they are too young for kids club, so at least one adult will be chained to the room for nap times and early bedtime. This is a basic childcare issue and one that you would face at most hotels or resorts. But, more importantly, this concern can be fully addressed by selecting the right ship for your sailing.
Generally, most cruise lines start their regular children’s programming at age 3. Carnival starts at age 2. A few cruise lines, however, now sail some ships that offer some form of childcare for infants and toddlers — usually for a reasonable fee. The following cruise lines currently offer full infant/toddler care on at least some of their ships: Disney (all 4 ships); Royal Caribbean (some ships including Oasis-class and Quantum-class); Norwegian (one ship). Celebrity has an in-room babysitting option for children starting at age 12 months. Carnival offers group evening babysitting for infants and children six months and older. It also offers additional infant babysitting on port days during certain prescribed hours.
For more information about infant and toddler childcare options for cruisers, check out These Awesome Cruises Actually Have Childcare For Babies.
For practical tips on cruising with a baby, check out How to Confidently Cruise With A Baby.
2. You Can Choose a Ship Offering Water Play Options for Cruising Babies and Toddlers.
One oft-stated concern about taking babies on cruises relates to the restrictions on using pool facilities. Generally, the relevant public health regulations prohibit babies in diapers — even swim diapers — playing in the ship pools or hot tubs.
To counter this, some folks go so far as to take an inflatable baby pool on board, so their baby can play. Well, you don’t have to worry about all that anymore. You can select among several different ships that have diaper-friendly water areas. Many of the new family friendly cruise ships feature specific baby pools and splash parks that have separate, dedicated filtration systems to address sanitation issues.
Disney has water play areas open to diaper-wearing babies and toddlers on all four of its ships: Nemo’s Reef on the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy, Nephews’ Splash Zone on the Disney Magic and Mickey’s Splash Zone on the Disney Wonder. Royal Caribbean also offers baby splash zones — some quite elaborate — on at least nine of its ships: Freedom of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas, Independence of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas, and Harmony of the Seas. (If you know of other ships with diaper-friendly water areas, please share in the comments.)
The cruise lines have been unveiling new large family-friendly ships with more features every year. We will see if the choices continue to expand.
3. You Can Choose A Ship Where Babies And Toddlers Fit Right In.
Other common objections or concerns involve the possibility of negative reactions from other passengers to the presence of small children. But, if you select your cruise well, this hypothetical reaction should not be a concern. If you choose a family-oriented cruise on one of the new larger cruise ships, there will literally be hundreds of other small children on board. The addition of your baby or toddler will not meaningfully change the tenor of the cruise for other passengers. People who truly do not want to be around children either avoid such cruises, or they have an option to spend most of their time in the adults-only portions of the ship.
If you need help figuring out which cruise lines have kid policies that fill your needs, check out this post: Family Cruisers: Use This Easy Tool to Quickly Weed Through Dozens of Cruise Lines.
4. It’s Okay to Have Fun Today, Even If Baby Won’t Remember it Tomorrow.
Another frequently voiced objection to taking babies on cruises is that they will be too young to remember the experience. That’s true – but so what? If your baby/toddler is too young to remember, sharing your own memories later works quite well. Why put family fun on lockdown just because one family member won’t really remember it all a few years from now? Also, you can’t assume that the opportunities you have today will still be available a few years from now.
When I was about 1 ½ years old, my family visited Disneyland. I only know this to be true because I have seen the pictures of my toddler self in Mickey Mouse ears and a stroller. My then-8 year old brother was standing beside me in his matching set of ears and sporting a very large semi-toothless grin. I have absolutely no recollection of any aspect of that trip, but me and my brother both seem to be having a great time.
That turned out to be the only trip my family made to a Disney park while I was growing up. In fact, I remember the first time I ran across the photos of that trip and being shocked to discover that we had ever made a Disney pilgrimage at all.
Should my parents have waited to go until I was older? I honestly think that would have been a mistake. By the time I was old enough to really remember such a trip, my brother would have been a teenager. By then, he was not really into that sort of thing. Also, while I have no idea how that opportunity happen to come about the first time, I certainly know that it never rolled around again. If they had tried to defer the visit, most likely all of us would have missed out on the experience. So, instead of my own memories, I have a lot of fun photographs and stories from other family members . . . and that is okay.
This same sentiment applies to cruise vacations. Recently, a cruise line travel specialist tried to discourage me from looking at Alaska itineraries because my youngest son is 5 years old. He was quite surprised when I informed him that the first cruise I sailed to Alaska actually included a then 2-year-old son. And, we had a fantastic time on that cruise.
My now 10-year-old son obviously has no real recollection of visiting Alaska. He knows from the photos and various funny stories and anecdotes that his 2-year-old self had a great time. Regardless of his personal recollection of the event, he still enjoys hearing the stories. And, while he might not remember it, I certainly do, and I love sharing the stories with him. My kids love to look at photos of themselves when they were babies and toddlers and hear the story behind the moment . . . again and again and again. I am sure they are not the only ones.
So, take lots of great photos and make your own fantastic memories that you can share later.
5. Taking Babies on Cruises Can Be A Great Bridge For Returning To Work From Parental Leave.
Okay – I recognize that this one is not quite so obvious, but it’s true!
You can use your time on a cruise vacation to try some of those steps that experts recommend for transitioning from maternity leave. See, for example, Mom365 — 10 Tips for Going Back to Work After Baby, or Parents Magazine — Going Back to Work After Baby. For instance, you can experiment with morning routines for getting out of the house/cabin. You can start making adjustment to temporary separations. Your baby can practice drinking from a bottle (whether expressed milk or formula). And, you both can practice letting someone else feed your baby.
And, you can stick your toe in the waters of third-party childcare. You can use the ship’s nursery or babysitting as a low key dry run. This gives you and your child will handle that transition. Because you are on a ship, you can easily pop into the nursery to check in and assess. And you can start to gain some insights into how your baby might do with third-party care.
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Bottom line, if you have interest in taking your baby on a cruise, don’t let the negative voices deter you. You have many options for finding a cruise that your whole family can enjoy.
How have you countered resistance to the idea of taking babies on cruises? Share below.
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