Cruising with a baby for the first time can be daunting there is so much you need to know when travelling with a baby. And so much you need to pack and consider, however it need not be as overwhelming as you think. With a little preparation, cruising with a baby can be a wonderful experience. We have grouped together our tops tips and advice for family cruising, including the best cruise lines for babies and tots and what to pack. If we have missed anything let us know and we will find out.
Cruising with a baby – important things to know before you cruise.
There is an awful lot of negativity out there about family cruising and taking babies on a cruise. It is hardly surprising that some people and put off by this, we have read some of those awful threads. However the key is avoiding the cruise lines that do not cater for babies, you will save yourself a lot of grief. Start by finding a cruise with a splash pool that babies can go in. Of course this only relates to hot weather cruises, who wants to go into a pool in Alaska? But doing your research will help you make the best decision.
Age restrictions for cruising with a baby and pregnancy on cruise ships
Can I cruise whilst I am pregnant?
Most ocean cruise lines will not accept passengers who have entered into their 24th week of pregnancy at any point during the sailing. This has been put into place to protect the safety of travelling mums and babies. So do check before you book.
Can I take a baby on a cruise?
Family-friendly cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, P&O Cruises, MSC and Disney do not allow infants under the age of six months to cruise. If you are going transatlantic, or have more than three days at sea, your toddler will need to be 12-months-old on the first day of your cruise.
Can you get nappies, wet wipes and calpol on a cruise ship
Cruise ship shops are much more focussed on souvenirs and gifts than baby essentials. You will find many don’t stock diapers or wet wipes. So either bring them with you or buy them in port. We have highlighted the nearest chemist in all of our port guides to help with this. Always carry more than you would when cruising with a baby usually need to be on the safe side.
Is cruise food baby friendly?
Buffets are great for weaning babies with plenty of pasta, vegetables, cooked meat cuts and cheese for mini-munchers to test their tastebuds. If you prefer to serve your weaning baby pureed food then bring your own mini hand-blender and Tupperware, or pre-prepared food pouches and jars. However don’t be put off the main restaurants they are very attentive and will help to serve your baby food they can eat such as rice, pasta and vegetables.
Can You get baby milk and cows milk on a cruise ship?
Like nappies, you’ll not find baby formula to buy onboard cruise ships. You also may not have a kettle in your cabin. The best solution is to bring pre-made formula cartons and top up your stock while in port. There are also often cartons of milk at breakfast so you can top up your cabin fridge with these for bed time. Cows milk is only recommended for children over 12-months-old.
Shore excursions with babies
Something you might find when cruising with a baby and young children is that you don’t need to pay for their place on excursions. There are normally several options where under fives could join us for free. However, be warned, if you’re not charged for your little ones it’s unlikely it will be a family-friendly day. Speak to the shore excursions team to find the best day trips for you and your baby. Also, if there’s a coach involved the kids will have to sit on your laps if you haven’t paid for their place – important to know when you are on a six hour excursion from Livorno to Florence!
However this is a great opportunity to self explore, long days on trips are often a little too long with children. Its a great idea to research activities close to port and create your own child friendly adventures.
Can babies go in swimming pools on cruise ships?
The majority of cruise ships do not allow babies and toddlers who are not potty trained to go into the pool, this also stands for some splash parks. This is due to international laws, to limit the spread of infectious bugs onboard. However, many newer ships do have splash pools for babies wearing a swim nappy.
Babies can go in splash zones on some cruise ships.
There are cruise lines who do have ships with dedicated splash zones, where babies and tots can wear a swimming nappy. This is such a welcome change to cruising families, and makes choosing the best cruise lines for babies and tots a much easier decision.
Which cruise lines have splash zones that are baby and toddler friendly?
If having a pool is important to you then the best cruise lines for babies are:
Royal Caribbean ships with baby and toddler friendly splash zones?
- Allure of the Seas.
- Anthem of the Seas.
- Freedom of the Seas.
- Independence of the Seas.
- Oasis of the Seas.
Disney Cruise Line ships with baby and toddler friendly splash zones?
- Disney Dream: Nemo’s Reef.
- Disney Fantasy: Nemo’s Reef and AquaLab
- Disney Magic: Nephews’ Splash Zone
- Disney Wonder: Dory’s Reef
MSC ships with baby and toddler friendly splash zones?
- MSC Meraviglia
- MSC Bellissima
- MSC Preziosa
- MSC Seaside
Dirty washing when cruising with a baby
While laundry is not something you’ll be hoping to do lots on holiday it’s inevitable with a small person. There may be a few options open to you: bring your own detergent and wash items in your cabin sink; make arrangements with your steward for your washing to be done for you; or, if available, use the passenger laundry room. These are small, so avoid them on a sea day as you could get caught in a queue. MSC have a special baby laundry service onboard, which uses a different machine and gentle detergents – ideal for sensitive baby skin!
Cots and high chairs
You can request a travel cot for your cabin at the time of booking and linen will be provided. Dining rooms will have high chairs, which the waiting staff would bring over for you as you enter the dining room or buffet.
Baths and showers
Not all staterooms will have a bath so consider lining a suitcase with a baby bath if your little one doesn’t get on with showers. Plan ahead and take an inflatable tub that fits in the bottom of your shower, this makes bath time so much easier.
The best cruise ship cabin when travelling with a baby.
While cabins with balconies might be a concern to parents of active toddlers, there’s no way your baby is going to be able to open the patio door by themselves, so indulge your desire for an outside cabin if your budget allows. Do bear in mind that kids pay the same passenger rate as their parents unless your cruise line has a special offer on third or fourth passengers. We have a comprehensive CABIN GUIDE HERE.
Kids clubs on cruises
A lot of cruise lines offer amazing kids clubs but you may find that not all activities or sessions are open to babies. For example: Carnival and P&O Cruises have clubs where you can leave your kids from the age of two; Norwegian Cruise Line offer play sessions for children aged six months to three-years-old supervised by their parents; MSC have a bookable baby sitting service for babies over one-year-old and stay and play sessions for guests with kids up to the age of two; and Disney Cruises have a bookable nursery for babies from six-months-old.
Getting around the ship when cruising with a baby
The most family-orientated cruise ships tend to be of a reasonable size. Bring a compact stroller and a baby carrier to help you get around by day and night. You’re going to cover some miles visiting all the decks and wandering the promenade! On busy port days put your baby carrier to good use going up and down stairs to avoid waiting for lifts. And reserve your stroller for evenings when your baby will hopefully be napping while you enjoy a meal.
You can read all about our first cruise with a baby or why not take a look at our cruise video below. Please note that all cruise ships are different and cruise lines are updating their offer for families all the time.
Are you planning a cruise with a baby? Do you have any questions or concerns? Pop them in the comments below. We’re always happy to share our experiences.