As ships get bigger and more family friendly, they offer an ever increasing range of options for even the smallest cruisers, often comparable- and sometimes far superior- to some of the better, land based resorts.
But a ship is not a hotel. She is a moving object that happens to contain many of the facilities, functions and support services of a hotel. And, unlike a land based hotel, a ship is subject to the effect of wind and waves.
That is something that any family thinking about travelling with small children should really take on board, pun wholly intentional. And, with that in mind, here’s a few things that a family travelling with young toddlers and/or babies, really should consider before they book that much anticipated cruise holiday.
1) Is there a babysitting service available? If yes, just how extensive is it. What hours does it cover. How, exactly, does it work? Are you given baby alarms, or do certain cruise lines provide a dedicated child sitter?
2) Inquire about the use and practicality of taking strollers on board. For instance, if your ship is docked some way offshore and you have to tender in, is it safe and practical to take junior ashore? Tenders move- fact. Try and find out in advance how your proposed choice handles such matters. It would be a real shame to have to forego some landmark port of call owing to unforeseen landing problems.
You also have to bear in mind the practicality of getting in and out of lifts- worth remembering even when most strollers can fold down to something that approximates a pygmy’s postage stamp in terms of size.
3) Baby cribs in the cabin? Most cruise lines can supply them, but what about the dimensions of the cribs themselves? If the little ones are not comfortable and getting out their sleep, there’s a more than even chance that the parents won’t be, either.
4) Ask about high chairs. Are there plenty, and are they freely available in all of the dining venues you might wish to frequent? I would also advise you to double check this with the Maitre’ d on embarkation. Sometimes head office and the actual cruise ship are not always on the same page.
5) Food. If you’re travelling with a baby/babies, can the cruise lines meet and satisfy the dietary requirements of your little ones. For instance, can they puree, and generally prepare any special foods as needed?
6) Your cabin. Have you chosen one with a balcony? If so, what are the balcony barriers made of? A solid, plexiglass screen is going to buy you a greater amount of peace of mind than the older, traditional ones with open metal bars. As for private facilities, does you room have a bath, a shower, or even both?
These might seem like simple and obvious things to consider, but they take on an added dimension aboard a ship, where every inch of space is a compromise on some level. Make sure you’re not compromised, and you and the little angels should all enjoy a heavenly journey. Have fun!