When my in-laws planned a family cruise for all of us, the first thing that came to mind was (aside from excitement of not having to meal-plan or clean for a week) how the heck do I prepare for a family cruise with baby?! It’s a total bummer when you come across “9 Reasons Not to Take a Baby on a Cruise” when you first start planning. However, if there’s an opportunity to travel, I have two words: challenge accepted!
Just as you would for any other trip, you’ll need the usual necessities of clothes, diapers, wipes, etc. There are definitely other necessities you want to pack, though. Now that I’m back from our family cruise, here’s my roundup of the top 5 things you need for cruising with baby:
1. Carrier / Sling or Compact Stroller
We brought both. Our little one loves being in a carrier but the use of it is a bit daunting for Grandma and Grandpa. So it was great to also have a stroller. Staterooms are small, so if you can manage an umbrella stroller or carrier, all the better to save space. We travel pretty often and we started using the Baby Jogger City Tour.
Features to love about this stroller:
- Folds up easily
- Includes a carrying case with backpack straps
- Fits in the plane’s overhead bin
- Has a generous sun shade.
- Reclining seat! Though not a full recline, we loved the option to recline the seat for nap time during land excursions. When restrooms were nowhere to be found for diaper changing, it served as a portable changing station.
- Not as expensive as the stroller we initially had our eyes on.
2. Compact Toys / Books
We brought a board book and little toys that we knew wouldn’t take up much space. Since our baby loves animals, we ended up handing her travel pamphlets for the zoo and aquarium that were available at the cruise terminal. She loved looking at the pictures, and we didn’t feel terrible if she ripped them up. We also bought children’s books by local authors and small toys representative of the areas we visited. Basically, you don’t need much if you intend to find things when you go ashore.
3. Hydrogen Peroxide
I know it sounds random to include, but aside from using for cuts and scrapes, it also works as a great disinfectant for toys and treating stains before washes. Our baby-led weaning baby makes messes and stains clothes a lot. Seriously, hydrogen peroxide isn’t just a first aid staple — it has so many other uses too!
4. Blue Painter’s Tape
I am so glad we brought a roll of Blue Painter’s Tape. However, I’m certain our room steward hated our sealed minibar cabinet and our trash bin in a taped-shut closet. Using the tape was necessary for baby-proofing for our very curious 13-month-old. We were able to tape up the drawers, cabinets, and closets without damaging the fixtures. The tape can also cover up any electrical outlets within baby’s reach or adhere rolled-up towels to serve as makeshift corner guards.
I get pretty high-strung about schedules and lists, especially when traveling. I have to remember to take a breath and be patient. Misguided tours, missed cabs, and other cruisers could easily bring out the beast in us (or just me). Patience is key. Remember: it’s a vacation and we should focus on the fun, not the fury.
And, just in case…
Most cruise ships don’t have bathtubs, with the exception of Disney Cruises and other liners geared toward families. We were on a Holland America ship and I was debating for weeks about whether or not I should pick up an inflatable tub. Luckily our ship, the Nieuw Amsterdam, had a tub in the stateroom! Definitely check in advance and plan for packing that tub if you have to!
Now you’re ready for your family cruise with baby.