Since baby's arrival on 4.5 months ago, we've only traveled once, but that was to my hometown in North Carolina. I don't count travel if it's to visit your hometown. With that in mind, our last trip then would be to Montreal 9 months ago. However, that was to visit my sister's family, so that only half counts. Let's get to the point... I'm overdue for an exciting trip!!
Given a daddy with a super super busy schedule, a baby who requires special sleeping arrangements and considerations, and a budget for our newly single income family, what's a girl to do?? Research!! On the plus side, with me not working for "the man", we only have to coordinate with my hubby's schedule, so should be easier to get an off-peak deal somewhere, right?
My first thought was to go on a cruise. I've only done that once, when I was 13. My husband's never done one and I think it'd be lots of fun, and pretty much the easiest vacation (other than an all-inclusive-resort, which will most likely be volume 2 of this travel bug series!!). So, here's what I've found about taking a cruise with baby in tow.
Cruise Critic lists the best cruises for tots as being: Carnival, Cunard, Disney, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean. I've got them listed with details below, in order with baby-friendliest on top. <Disclaimer - some info might be incorrect or out of date, please check with the individual cruise line about their kiddy policies before booking>.
Disney Cruise Line:
Babysitting: $6/hour in an awesome nursery with drop-off service (you can also stay and play with your kids). But space is competitive - you can book up to 10 hours online before setting sail, and additional hours later. No in-room service.
Crib: Cribs, Graco Pack 'n Plays and Diaper Genies are free
Kiddy Rentals & Buys: limited number of strollers, bottle warmers and bottle sterilizers for rent; pre-order baby supplies online and have them waiting in your room for you (you can also find diapers, formula, etc in the gift shops)
Pools: There is a water-splash area for kids in swim diapers. Other pools, even kiddy pools, are only for potty-trained kids.
Other info: Most staterooms have bathtubs;
Babysitting: $6/hour (no in-room service, though)
Kiddy Rentals & Buys: Stroller $25/week or $6/day, and bouncy chairs; diapers & wipes sold in shops; bring baby food - none sold or mashed for you
Pools: must be potty trained
Other info: Designated family play times for children under 2
Royal Caribbean Cruises:
Babysitting: in-room service for $10/hour (minimum age of 1 year), also have nursery service for $8/hour
Crib: free pack 'n play, and high chair on request
Kiddy Rentals & Buys: no strollers for rent; can pre-order supplies, but none are availabe in shops
Pools: must be potty trained for pools, but some boats have splash zones for the little ones
Other info: 45-min parent & baby playgroups led by counselors
Cunard Cruise Line:
Babysitting: only for children 1 year and up
Crib: free play-pen like crib
Kiddy Rentals & Buys: no diapers, wipes, or baby food in shops; Kings Court restaurant will mash baby food for you
Pools: some boats have special kiddy pools
Other info: Queen Mary 2 has largest at-sea library, with a well stocked children's section
Norwegian Cruise Line:
Babysitting: 3-12 years old only
Crib: available on some ships, but only fit in some rooms
Kiddy Rentals & Buys: no strollers for rent; baby wipes & diapers available in shops
Pools: must be potty-trained
Other info: have Under 2 Zoo, where parents can play with kids
1) Babies do not cruise free. There is usually a discounted rate for 3rd, 4th, etc passengers, but there don't seem to be free tickets for the kiddies... big bummer!!
2) Sorry, you won't be able to swim with your baby in the cruise pools, by federal law apparently. There's always the ocean... but that's a bit scary...
3) You won't be able to cruise with a baby under 12 weeks, and for most liners 6 months, and some destinations 12 months!
4) Disney seems to be the baby-frinedly winner, hands down.
Better to wait til your little one is old enough to enjoy the free kiddy programs and pools (i.e. 3 years old).
For more information on flying with baby, check out my blog post here.