Going on a cruise with a toddler can be such a fun and unique experience. As long as you are prepared and follow these cruising with a toddler tips, you will have the best time!
Are you planning on cruising with a toddler and aren’t sure where to start? Are you wanting to go on a cruise but don’t have any babysitters for your toddler? Do the high seas just call to you and you need to get out of your house? If you answered yes to any of these questions or any unasked questions that are related to going on cruising with toddlers then you come to the right place! Cruising with a toddler is no small feat. There’s a lot to consider before just even getting on the cruise too! Like are you flying or driving there? If you’re interested in tips on flying with a toddler, check out the blog post here!
We did so much research before our first cruise with Ollie! It was insane. It felt like that’s all we talked about for almost a month. But it came in handy! For the most part. There were some things we could’ve done and some products we could’ve splurged on to make it a little bit easier. Overall though, it was great! It was fun and although it was a slower vacation than what we’re used to, we have great memories that Oliver still talks about now. Somehow. Because he’s got the brain of an elephant, I guess!
Anyway, I felt like all of the information in my head was just waiting for me to write a blog post on it, so here I am, sharing my wisdom with you future cruisers. It’s so much easier than you think it is! All you need is a little bit of preparation and you will have a great time! This post is the ultimate guide to cruising with a toddler!
Managing Expectations when Cruising with a Toddler
Let’s talk about expectations! Cruising with a toddler is going to be different. Like with other trips that you take with your toddler, they are definitely not the same as if you were going by yourself or with adults only. And that’s OK! You will get to experience things differently, and some more slowly for sure. You may end up in places that you didn’t think you would! My point is that managing our expectations for a trip with toddlers, especially cruising with toddlers, will help you have a better time!
If you are trying to decide whether to cruise with a toddler or just get a babysitter, you do you! Cruising with a toddler is definitely going to be different. If you aren’t comfortable with that, then get yourself a babysitter! Traveling with toddlers is not for everybody. Some people prefer to just wait until their kids are older and then start doing their traveling. And that’s totally fine! For us, we love traveling with Oliver. It’s definitely not always easy. However, we have loved helping him experience new things through travel. We love the planning that it’s required of us. Most of all, we love being able to experience all of this together and being able to have that to talk about when we’re at home.
What Type of Room to Get with a Toddler
There aren’t really a ton of options when it comes to rooms on cruise ships. You basically have four options on most cruise lines: interior, outside view, balcony, and suites. If you can swing it, I would recommend either an outside-view room or a room with a balcony. These are great because they don’t make you feel like you’re stuck inside a room with no windows. A balcony room is especially great if you end up going back for naptime to your room or at bedtime and you don’t want to be stuck inside the room while your little baby or toddler is sleeping.
When we went cruising with a toddler, we got a balcony room. Although we only had him nap in our room once during the trip, it was really nice to be able to sit on our balcony while he was napping, watch a show, and eat some food that we brought from the dining room. It was also great for bedtime because we could go out there and talk after he had fallen asleep and not worry about waking him up.
What Cruise Line Should I Sail with?
I have only been on cruises with Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean, so my personal experience is a little bit limited. However, based on articles we read before going on our cruise and experiences from friends, I would say that the best cruises for toddlers are going to be Disney Cruises (of course!), Royal Caribbean, and Carnival.
The other cruise liners when sailing with toddlers are great, don’t get me wrong! However, the onboard experience of Disney, Royal Caribbean, and Carnival are catered more towards families and they typically offer more kid-friendly cruises than the others.
Excursions with a Toddler
One of the fun things about going on a cruise is being able to experience different things at each port. With all excursions, I recommend booking them when you buy your cruise. Definitely before you actually go on your cruise though because a lot of them have a max number of people they can allow and some do sell out.
When planning an excursion when cruising with a toddler, it’s always helpful to look at what each excursion will require when booking it. Most of the time, you will be able to see if the excursion requires a long car ride or a lot of walking on the website. It will also tell you what things are recommended to bring and if there are any physical limitations that could make the excursion difficult.
My recommendation for excursions is to choose one that isn’t super long and doesn’t require a ton of walking. When we went on our cruise, we actually didn’t end up taking any excursions in one of the ports, Nassau. We just found a cab/taxi that could take us to the aquarium that we went to and that way we could choose when we went back to the ship.
We have done other cruises that we’ve done excursions through the cruise that were so much better than trying to do them on our own, so it really depends!
What to Expect Onboard when Cruising with a Toddler
The cruise employees are always super helpful when it comes to kids. They are so accommodating at meal times and around the ship which is really helpful! There are plenty of highchairs to go around and they will be sure to bring you the food that your little toddler prefers. Most of the time, they bring it first so your toddler doesn’t have to wait super long to eat.
When you are cruising with a toddler, I’m sure the pool is one of the top things on your list! If your toddler is not potty-trained yet, you will need to find a little kid pool that will allow kids in swim diapers. Unfortunately, swim diapers aren’t allowed in the main pools. Fortunately, there is usually a little kid pool/area that will allow them so bring your swimsuits!
There are kid clubs on all cruises, but there is a minimum age! For kids too little for the kids clubs there is daycare! Daycare when cruising with a toddler was something that was a little foreign to me, but daycares on cruises exist! Unlike the kids’ clubs though, they are not included in your cruise fare, so they are going to cost extra. The crew members do such a good job taking care of your little toddler if you ever just want a few hours to swim or go to a show.
There are a lot of shows and movies happening onboard and most of them are kid-friendly. Each night, you will get an itinerary of all of the events happening the next day that will show you what there is to do onboard the ship
There is always something open if you or your toddler need a snack. However, as with most traveling you do with a toddler, I highly recommend bringing snacks with you that you can have access to whenever you need them. Hunger is no joke with kids so keeping them well-fed is gold to have a good vacation!
Like with food, the servers are super accommodating when it comes to drinks like milk for you toddler. They even warmed up some milk for us when we asked them! It was really nice. If your toddler is still drinking formula though, I would highly recommend bringing it with you and not planning on buying it on the boat or on any ports.
Cruising with a Toddler Tips: Favorite Products
Our favorite cruising with toddler products is definitely very similar to our traveling with toddler products. Here’s that blog post!
We also have a blog post on our toddler cruise packing list. We go over everything that we recommend bringing with you on your cruise and links to some of our favorite things! For a comprehensive list of what to bring, I recommend checking this one out!
Here are some of our favorite products that were so helpful when we went cruising with a toddler! Below is not a comprehensive list of what to bring of course (that is on the blog post HERE), just some of the unique products that we found that helped make the trip so much more enjoyable!
Inflatable Travel Bed
If you have a little toddler who is no longer sleeping in a crib, then you probably don’t want to stick them back into a pack-and-play for the cruise. When booking your cruise, you will be able to let the crews know how many beds you need in your room.
If your little toddler is going to be sleeping on a pull-out bed, and you are worried about them falling off, I recommend this inflatable travel bed. There are little bumpers for your little toddler to make sure that they won’t roll off of the little travel bad or better sleeping on. The inflatable travel bed folds up pretty small and is not too heavy so it’s a perfect fit in your suitcase.
Pack and Play/Crib
Most cruise lines we’ve been on or looked at will provide you with the crib ( basically just a pack-and-play). And they will set it up for you! Which is great. If you have a very specific type of pack-and-play that you like to use for your toddler, then I suggest you bring that on. We love this pack-and-play for toddlers that love to use all the space in their crib and this compact pack-and-play when we want to travel light. Just remember that it is another extra piece of luggage that you have to carry around. But if you’re OK with that and just would prefer for your child to be more comfortable, bring it on!
This is one thing that we didn’t splurge on for when we went cruising with a toddler, and I’m really sad that we didn’t. We instead got this pack-and-play cover that was meant to blackout the pack-and-play. Don’t get me wrong, the theory is so great! And it did work great for when Oliver would go straight to sleep. However, since he was able to sit up and pull himself up, he was also able to pull down the cover. It also didn’t block out as much light as we hoped it would.
The SlumberPod is great when you share a room with a toddler and is not easy for little hands to pull down or move. It would’ve made sharing a room with him on our cruise so much easier!
Instead, we just hid under the covers on our phones watching a show until he fell asleep.
Haha, my point is that the SlumberPod is worth it and we have definitely invested in it for future travel with little babies and toddlers!
Cruises, like most hotels, have a lot of noise that can come in through your door from people walking by. Having a sound machine is so helpful in keeping little noises from waking up your toddler in the middle of the night!
Some little kids still need a night light, so don’t forget to bring one! Some sound machines come with a nightlight, so it’s like killing two birds with one stone!
Let’s be honest, your little one will probably do most of their napping on the go in the stroller. That’s why having a comfortable stroller that will recline is going to do wonders for you. Oliver didn’t do so hot on the flight over for our cruise. He did end up sleeping in the stroller at the airport while we waited for our shuttle though!
Travel Car Seat
This is one that I didn’t think too much about, but I definitely should have. It’s not something you really think about since you are going on a boat! If you are flying though, you will most likely take a shuttle to the ship. Some shuttles will have a car seat. However, there’s no guarantee what type of car seat that will be. Some car seats will be meant for older kids.
If you have a little kid though, I recommend bringing your car seat with you! If you are wanting a less bulky option, you can always try this travel car seat. That will guarantee that they get the right type of car seat for them to be safe on the drive to and from the boat.
Most cruise rooms won’t have a bathtub. (Although I have heard that Disney Cruises do though which is a game-changer!) If your little toddler is used to taking baths and not super sure about showers, bring an inflatable bathtub! It will make keeping your little toddler clean so much more enjoyable!
Travel Power Strip
A travel power strip is more than a cruising with a toddler tip and more of a general cruise trip essential. There aren’t a ton of plugs in the cruise room, and having to plug in a lot of things for little people too makes the number of plugs available even less. Having a travel power strip is a huge help in making sure that things can get charged and sound machines stay on and all of that jazz.
However, you want to be careful with what you bring. Cruise ships will not allow extension cords or outlet extenders that have a surge protector, which is why this power strip is perfect when cruising, especially when cruising with a toddler!
OK, these aren’t real tattoos! They’re just temporary tattoos that you can put on your little toddler with your name and phone number so that if they get lost, your little toddler will be able to find a way back to you! We love these for travel, especially for trips like cruising with a toddler and even Disneyland!
If your little toddler is still small and not comfy in their little walking feet, a baby carrier is a great idea. Especially when you are going on excursions, the stroller may not be well suited for some of the places you are walking around in. Having a baby carrier can be a great alternative!
For cruise ships going into tropical places, having a beach bag for beach days is super helpful! I love this type of beach bag because it folds up pretty small. I can just fit it in your suitcase when you’re not using it.
Don’t forget the sand toys! These silicone sand toys are super easy to clean and really helpful to have on beach days!
There you have it folks! Haha. I hope this guide of cruising with a toddler tips has helped you feel more prepared! Cruising with a toddler is so much fun, and I would highly recommend it!