Once kids come along, many parents may think their options for taking relaxing cruises have become extinct. However, many cruise lines have great baby friendly options for parents with young children to take part of. Before booking a cruise, parents should be sure to consider all the child and baby related amenities available: childcare, availability of baby necessities, like diapers or food and availability of diaper changing stations.
Disney Cruise Line
Disney Cruise Line is one of the most family friendly cruise lines available, with a nursery program available for kids from 12 weeks to 36 months old. Flounder’s Reef Nursery offers a variety of toys and activities for toddlers, and infant swings and cribs for babies. Up to 10 hours of nursery time per child can be reserved before boarding, though more may be available once onboard. For each child, there is a 15 hour nursery time cap per cruise. The cost of nursery care is $6 per hour for one child, with each additional child being $5 per hour. Parents will be issued pagers, as attendants do not change diapers.
Some pool areas are reserved for toilet-trained children, like Goofy’s Pool or Mickey Pool. For children who aren’t yet potty-trained, there is a water-play area close to Mickey’s pool, but swim diapers are required.
Diapers, formula, diaper cream and other baby necessities are available for purchase onboard. The kitchen will even prepare pureed fruits and vegetables, by request, for babies beginning solids. There are also baby changing stations available in handicapped bathrooms throughout the ship for quick and easy diaper changes, and a limited number of strollers available for rent.
Babies must be at least 12 weeks old to set sail on Disney Cruise Lines.
Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival Cruises offers a free program, Camp Carnival, for children aged 2-5. Many games and activities are available for kids here, like finger-painting, picture-bingo, and story-time. Kids do not need to be potty-trained in order to participate, though parents are expected to provide diapers and wipes. For children under 2, toys are available for use during designated family play times. There are also babysitting services available, though none in-cabin, and cost is $6 per hour for the first child and $4 for each additional child.
Strollers and bouncy chairs are available for rent, and cribs are provided. Diapers, wipes and ointment can be purchased onboard, though parents should take note to bring along baby food, as none is available for purchase. Parents should note that Carnival does not allow children in diapers or swim diapers in any of the ships’ pools.
In order to cruise, children must be at least 6 months old. For transatlantic cruises, Hawaii or South America cruises, children must be at least 12 months old.
Royal Caribbean International
Royal Caribbean has partnered with Fisher-Price for their children’s programs, making it a great environment for babies. There are two playgroups available, based on age: Royal Babies, for children 6-18 months, and Royal Tots, for kids 18-36 months. Royal Babies can play with musical instruments, participate in baby gymnastics and other fun activities. Royal Tots have many pretend games and dress up clothes to keep busy with. In-cabin babysitting is also available, at a cost of $5 per hour per child. This service must be booked 24 hours in advance, and payments must be in cash.
Royal Caribbean also has a Baby Splash Zone available for children still in diapers. Apart from the splash zone, diapered children are not allowed in any other pools onboard. No cribs are available for in-room use, though complementary Pack and Plays are available. Parents are advised to bring their own strollers, diapers, and other baby items, as these are not available for purchase or rent.
To sail on Royal Caribbean, children must be at least six months old.
Before booking a cruise, parents are strongly encouraged to seek out information directly from the cruise line concerning childcare and amenities, as well as the availability of diaper changing stations. Taking a cruise with young children can be daunting at first, but with the right preparations, can be an enjoyable vacation for everyone.
Elana Cameron is freelance writer and frequent contributor for BabyStaitions.com. You can find her on Twitter@CleanDiapers