Cruise Tips for Traveling with a Toddler

We just returned from a fantastic 4-day Bahamian cruise! IbD and I have taken 4 cruises together but man was it different with L in tow. I’m comprising a list of tips for other families that plan on taking a cruise with a toddler. Hopefully they will help you avoid some painful moments.

1. Bring Benedryl. This was a tip from my wonderful pediatrician. Both IbD and I have to take dramamine and I was worried about L getting seasick. Although children tend not to get seasick if they do Benedryl will help. According to my pharmacist the drowsiness removes the nauseous feeling. This is also why dramamine makes you drowsy (I do recommend the less drowsy formula for adults).

2. If your toddler is still drinking lots of milk, grab a couple of cartons from the breakfast buffet to keep in your room refrigerator. Otherwise you might be stuck waiting forever to get a cup of milk from the dispenser next to the coffee machine!

3. Visit the nursery (usually available for an hourly fee throughout the cruise) during it’s open house hours on your first cruise day. We decided not to put L in the nursery but the open house was a good opportunity to get her comfortable with the surroundings. She also had a great time playing with all the new toys!

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4. The ships adult lounges and clubs are sometimes “closed” for the day but are in open spaces around the ship. We took L to several lounges and let her run around, climb the plushy chairs, and inspect the flashy walls.

5. If you try to take in a show, sit in the back. From the cruises we’ve been on there’s no bad seat in the theatre. We took L to one of the shows and I’m so happy we did. She only lasted for the first half but she loved what she was able to sit through. And I did too!

6. If your toddler is teething grab some ice cream cones from the ships ice cream station (there’s one on almost every cruise!) and take them to dinner with you. We broke L’s into pieces and let her nom away and we could usually get through a dining room dinner.

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7. The muster drill is kind of scary for little ones with its loud noises and lots of people crammed into a small place. Our cruise dismissed our family early (right after we checked in) because L was terrified of the muster drill so this may be an option for you. No one wants to be around a screaming toddler!

8. Free room service (but please tip) can be your best friend but don’t forget you can run up to the lunch buffet and bring plates to your room as well. L starts her naps at noon so IbD and I took turns running up to the buffet while she napped.

9. Some cruises have a “toy check out” option at their nurseries where you can check out a bag of toys for the duration of your cruise. If your cruise line does not offer that option consider bringing some new toys to occupy your toddler. L’s birthday was a month prior to our cruise so I held back some gifts for her to open on the ship. Her puzzle and “camera” were enough to capture her attention for 4 days.

10. Bring a tripod or exchange picture taking duties with another family to capture some great family pictures. I was shocked at the price of the cruise pictures. $20 for 1 print or $200 for a photo cd for a 4 day cruise!

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