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Old 01-29-2013, 09:53 AM   #1
MedicGoofy
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Question for those with infants/toddlers

I have a question for all you parents that cruise with infants or toddlers....

How do you manage this? How do you enjoy the cruise with having such young ones with you?

Our family is hoping to take a cruise in early 2015, and at that time, we will have an infant and toddler along. Just wondering how most people manage this.

Do you get to sit around the pool? Do you take turns watching baby, while others go play?

Any insight on how this works, or is possible, I would love to know
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Old 01-29-2013, 10:05 AM   #2
lbgraves
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Both kids will be restricted to the Nemo's Reef splash area due to not being PT'd. Personally, I wouldn't let them wander around there on their own without supervision. It can be slippery and there could be older kids running through. It's an area seperate from the pool.

I viewed our first cruise as an extension of being home. The kids were 3 & 5. While, DS5 loved the club, DD3 did not. DH and I spent the entire cruise with her. He went on an excursion on his own in one port while I stayed onboard with the kids at the pool one day, then I had tea with some DIS ladies & went on the galley tour at other times. Even though we spent our time with the kids, I still found it much more relaxing than if we were at home. I was usually on my own with them at home. It was also great not having to clean, go to the grocery store, or cook for a week. I was quite spoiled by everyone onboard.
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Old 01-29-2013, 10:29 AM   #3
jdb in AZ
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Take grandma along -- instant babysitter.

Seriously, I would love to spend more time with my 18-mos old grandson and give his parents a break.
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Old 01-29-2013, 10:36 AM   #4
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What jbd said. My mother and father in law will be traveling with us. I have a feeling I'll have to fight to even see my daughter during the cruise!
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Old 01-29-2013, 12:03 PM   #5
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We cruised for our son's first and second birthdays. No it was not as relaxing as cruising by ourselves, but it was still great. We did alternate at times so one parent could do something while the other played with our child. We spent a lot of time in the room or on the balcony watching movies, playing with toys, ect. I am a stay at home mom so being with my son all the time is nothing new, but at least on a cruise I had new things to entertain him with and didn't have to worry about cooking or cleaning. We really enjoyed our cruises with DS at this age because it gave us a great opportunity to spend a lot of quality time together as a family.
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Old 01-29-2013, 12:23 PM   #6
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I've travelled with DD(2) and then twice with DD(4) and DS(1), who didn't spend a minute in the kids clubs (too shy). I even stayed in an inside standard stateroom with a pack and play. Already booked cruise #4 with DD(6) and DS(3)! Is it as relaxing as not having kids? No. But some of my favorite memories are watching my DS wait his turn then run headlong into a big Mickey hug!! And I can't find anywhere else that is LESS stressful to take 2 little kids. You don't find crazed parents running around about to strangle their kids like you sometimes see at WDW Constant entertainment available in short doses.

I think the 3 biggest 'challenges' for us were:

1. Getting everyone to settle down and sleep when we're in one cabin. Even thought they are exhausted, they get slap happy and want to play.
2. Getting them to survive 1 1/2 hours for dinner. We took the little one out to the lobby to run around while waiting for food a couple of times. One of us missed dessert a time or two, but overall, not as bad as I feared. We could have bailed for the quick service places, but it's my cruise too, and I wanna eat! If I let them have tablets or cell phones at the table this time, this concern will completely go away.
3. Scheduling around naps. Same as at home. Might be a major cramp to some, but you're already used to it. We usually send 1 to the room for nap and the other to the pool to watch DD. My DH is more than willing to nap, too, so no problem.

Just spend a few minutes thinking about where the pain points are likely to be for your family, and spend a few extra minutes planning to minimize those, and you're golden.
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Old 01-29-2013, 12:28 PM   #7
ChemGirl2000
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It can be magical...

We took the Disney Dream in October 2011 with my 4 yr old daughter and 5 mo old son. Our daughter loved the kids club and would go there to play often. We arranged to have our son in the nursery for his nap time. It worked out that we had essentially 1-3 pm to be by the pool by ourselves. We also booked time in the nursery at dinner time for the baby to sleep as well. As others have mentioned, it's not ever like being on vacation w/o the kids. However, Disney provides so many activities that you can do together that it is a really amazing experience. I found that having the wave phones on the ship made me feel better about sending my kids to the nursery/club. The staff could contact me any time if one of my kids needed me. My son loved the nursery. Many of the cast members in the nursery were from Britain, so we would joke that he is being cared for by "Mary Poppins". By the end of the trip they were snuggling him and caring for him like a sweet auntie.

We are taking the kids on the Wonder in March/April for 5 days, so I'll have a new perspective with a nearly 2 yr old and a nearly 6 yr old.
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Old 01-29-2013, 12:49 PM   #8
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We cruised with DS when he was a toddler, and will be going again this year when he's 3.

For us, we will take a vacation every year, as a family. It's just a question of where. So we evaluate the relative merits of visiting family, staying in a land-based resort, and cruising. When it's land-based resort vs. cruising, for us there are lots of benefits to cruising with little ones.

1. You're always very close to your room. Ideal for cranky LOs who need naps. Ideal for quick clean-ups.

2. No down time while you transition from one activity to another. You don't have to drive anywhere, and can very quickly go from having a snack to taking a walk to checking out the theater. Easier to deal with short attention spans.

3. Always tons of stuff to do a walk or elevator ride away. Walking the track, playing mini golf, relaxing at the pool, and there are tons of activities on the ships each day.

4. Beach outings are great with toddlers. Pick your beach well (and bring rash guard suits for the little ones), and babies will happily play in the sand, walk in the water.

5. Stateroom attendants on a ship are far more attuned to your needs than housekeeping in a land-based resort. So you can quickly get them up to speed on when nap times are (so don't be in the room cleaning then). Trust me, it is extremely annoying to come back to the room to find housekeeping in it and they won't leave.

What we did with DS was play in splash pool with him (we sailed RCCL Freedom of the Seas, there was a spray area like Nemo's Reef). Walked around the ship (sometimes in his stroller, and he'd fall asleep). Played mini golf. Went to the theater, but did not expect to see a complete show. Beach days when in port. RCCL had family play times in some of the kids spaces, with toys provided, and it is my understanding that DCL has similar open house hours you can bring the little ones to and play with them. Character interactions (RCCL had the Shrek characters).

We would only cruise with little ones in a balcony. We needed someplace to be while DS was sleeping, since his bedtime was well before ours. Mostly we stayed out there and talked. One of us would run to get snacks or drinks. Sometimes I'd shop and DH would stay on the balcony, or I'd read out there and he'd gamble.

No, it's not like cruising when you're just a couple. But it was inconceivable to us to vacation without our son, so it's really just a question of which vacation would best suit our needs, and we thought the cruise was a good fit.
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Old 01-29-2013, 01:11 PM   #9
jaulty
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChemGirl2000 View Post
We took the Disney Dream in October 2011 with my 4 yr old daughter and 5 mo old son. Our daughter loved the kids club and would go there to play often. We arranged to have our son in the nursery for his nap time. It worked out that we had essentially 1-3 pm to be by the pool by ourselves. We also booked time in the nursery at dinner time for the baby to sleep as well. As others have mentioned, it's not ever like being on vacation w/o the kids. However, Disney provides so many activities that you can do together that it is a really amazing experience. I found that having the wave phones on the ship made me feel better about sending my kids to the nursery/club. The staff could contact me any time if one of my kids needed me. My son loved the nursery. Many of the cast members in the nursery were from Britain, so we would joke that he is being cared for by "Mary Poppins". By the end of the trip they were snuggling him and caring for him like a sweet auntie.

We are taking the kids on the Wonder in March/April for 5 days, so I'll have a new perspective with a nearly 2 yr old and a nearly 6 yr old.
We'll be going on the Dream in October with an 11 mo and I like the idea of signing up for the nursery during dinner times and even nap times. I didn't think of that! I know there is a fee ($6/hr or something), but do they also have a "you must cancel within 24 hours or else" rule for the nursery?
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Old 01-29-2013, 01:58 PM   #10
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It's hard to say without knowing more exact ages. Technically (at least at the old daycare my wife worked at) infants go from birth to 18 months. Toddlers are from 18 months to three years. Problem is, a 3 month old child will be a lot different than a 17 month. And 18 month old child will be much different than one who is almost 3yo. So I would factor in most people's advice based on how close in age their kids were, compared to your kids.

Figuring that the cruise you're considering is two years off, and you know now you'll have an infant, I'm assuming the infant will be born later this year and be between 15-18 months when you plan on cruising?

We just got back (2 weeks ago) from a cruise on the magic with DD (7) and DS (4 months). In our case, traveling with DS at that age was much easier than I thought it would be. We did have to take a bunch of extra stuff, including extra clothes for ourselves because DS always knows the least opportune time spit up in mass quantities... We had to take a bunch of diapers... and we had to adjust our expectations. It was certainly different than any past cruise we've ever taken.

The great things about our cruise were:

1) The nursery staff was absolutely phenomenal! We can't say enough nice things about them. They loved DS too.. always oohing and ahhing over him. He's a very happy baby, loves interacting, and smiles a lot. We were very comfortable leaving him the in nursery.
2) At 4 months, he still slept a lot. There were numerous times each day we'd be out and about on the ship and he'd just sleep through everything. He'd sleep through dinner in his stroller, sleep through shows on mommy's lap, etc.

We got a veranda thinking we'd have a place to sit while he napped. But in reality I think we only used it once while he was napping, most of the time he napped in his stroller.

All of this is dependent on the kid however. If your child screams every time he's left in the nursery, you may not want to leave them there. If they are older, they might not nap as much and as well in a stroller, confining you to your room more.

My advice:

- Utilize the nursery... if the nursery wasn't an option, I probably would want to do another cruise until DS was at least 4
- Take a stroller... we took our big Graco travel set (big stroller and takes the infant car carrier on top of it). It was a lifesaver! It also would barely fit through the doors on the Magic, so we could set it up in the room and wheel it out.
- Make sure you adjust your expectations... On cruises with young kids, or really any kids, the focus has to be on them. In many cases, you'll end up with plenty of fun yourself, but just know you'll be catering to your child's needs most of the time.
- Get an adequate stateroom... We did a 4a, and honestly wouldn't go less than a cat 4. You need a place to put the crib/PnP, and getting the extra storage space from a 4 was crucial. We also liked having the actual bath tub, so we could give DS a bath.

You certainly won't be the only one with an infant on the ship. I was sure our DS would be the youngest on the ship, but now I'd guess he was maybe 10th youngest. There were a bunch of babies only 3 months old. And the numbers are big at every age going up as well...

Hope this helps!
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Old 01-29-2013, 02:30 PM   #11
MedicGoofy
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Thanks everyone for the great replies!! I appreciate the advice and tips

As for exact ages, we will have a just over 3yo, and hopefully an infant to travel with. That's not a for sure on the infant, but wondering how people manage it.

There will be the family of 3 (hopefully 4), along with me the Auntie, and Grandma and Papa. So there is lots of extra helping hands. And definitely a Grandma who will enjoy time with the kid(s).

Have just been curious, after just recently cruising, how the families with little ones cope. Or how they make it a great vacation.

Lots of great ideas here, really appreciate it!!!
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Old 01-29-2013, 02:55 PM   #12
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Quote:
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I know there is a fee ($6/hr or something), but do they also have a "you must cancel within 24 hours or else" rule for the nursery?
I just got back from a Fantasy trip on Saturday. The policy was that if you cancelled 4 or more hours ahead of time, no charge. Less than 4 hours or no show, you'd be charged half the fee (so $3 an hour) for the unused time. They have strict ratios for staffing so they need an accurate head count. You're allowed to book a certain amount of hours ahead of time- it was 18 for our 7 night trip. After that, you can try to get more hours once you're on board, after everyone's had the first shot at signing up ( so maybe on the second day). I used my prebook hours to cover 7 nights of dinner (2 hours each, we had late dinig and I knew it wouldn't be pretty for our squrmy 2 yo), then used the rest to have sometime on sea days. We wound up bringing her to dinner a couple times, and sending her during the evening show instead. As long as you respect the 4 hour window they're very accomodating. Trying to book last minute (can you take her NOW) was hit or miss- twice it worked out, once not.
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Old 01-29-2013, 02:56 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by klepton
- Get an adequate stateroom... We did a 4a, and honestly wouldn't go less than a cat 4. You need a place to put the crib/PnP, and getting the extra storage space from a 4 was crucial. We also liked having the actual bath tub, so we could give DS a bath.
All the bathrooms on DCL have a tub, not just the Cat 4s. We've given DD baths on both the cruises we've been on with her and those were in an 11B and a 7A.
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Old 01-29-2013, 03:10 PM   #14
lbgraves
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All the bathrooms on DCL have a tub, not just the Cat 4s. We've given DD baths on both the cruises we've been on with her and those were in an 11B and a 7A.
Actually, some 8As on the new ships and any designated HA rooms do not have tubs on DCL. The 8As were originally suppose to be HA, but did not meet the standards.
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Old 01-29-2013, 03:13 PM   #15
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When we cruised with a one and a three year old, we booked the nursery each night for about 6:30, 45 minutes after dinner started. We'd ask for the kid's meals to come with our appy's, then one of us would run the kids down to the nursery and club. We'd be able relax and enjoy the rest of our meal, have a cup of tea, then go for a stroll around the decks. At about eight we'd collect the kids and either go to the show or off to bed, depending on how tired we were. Worked like a charm.
On our next cruise we plan to do the same with our three and four year old, as well as planning a lunch each day on our own without the kids. For the rest of the time we'll do a mix of family time and taking turns with the kids while the other relaxes. Not quite as relaxing as the no kids trips, but still a lot of fun.
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