We recently took our first cruise as a family from Seattle to Alaska, and it was spectacular!
Since I love to share family travel tips, I’m spilling all our seafaring secrets on the subject.
First, check out my advice for nabbing a killer deal and for entertaining your toddler on your cruise.
Now, here are 20 more secrets to totally nailing your family cruise experience:
1. Request a Pack N Play or portable crib for your room, if you need one.
2. Choose open seating for dinner. Some nights you’ll end up at the buffet, some you will make it to the formal dining room (call ahead for reservations). And other nights you may be seasick and order room service (been there, done that!).
3. Splurge on a room with a balcony so that you can sit outside and revel while your toddler naps or sleeps for the night (be sure to bring an audio monitor).
4. Bring your e-reader so that you can read in the dark while your toddler snoozes.
5. Keep your kiddo’s stuff organized with packing cubes like the ones from Eagle Creek. We use these for every trip for our daughter and for ourselves! Simply throw them in the closet or drawer and you won’t have to worry about piles of clothes forming everywhere.
6. Pack a favorite blanket or stuffed animal to help nap and bed time go more smoothly.
7. Bring a lightweight and compact stroller for excursions and walks around town. We currently use the Chico Liteway stroller and used the Summer Infant 3D Lite stroller when our daughter was younger. The Summer Infant model is perfect for younger, lighter kids but the Chico works better after 18 months or so, and handles better on corners.
8. The easiest way to get your toddler’s milk is to grab a few cartons from the buffet once or twice a day, and then store them in your in-room fridge. On Holland America Line, they keep the milk out at the breakfast buffet, and then at lunch and dinner you can ask for it at the ice cream station.
9. You could also order milk via room service (although this generally takes 30-45 minutes).
10. If you’re grabbing a latte for yourself, you can also get milk from the café.
11. Make peace with the fact that your kid is going to consume a ton of sugar, as will you. Just try to avoid it right before sleeping time.
12. That said, chocolate milk or the chocolates from your nightly turndown service can be your biggest bargaining chips with your toddler!
13. Take advantage of toddler nap time by getting some reading or work done, or snooze along with them.
14. If your child is not yet potty-trained, beware that Holland America Line has zero changing tables in bathrooms, at least on the Oosterdam ship. When it was time for a diaper change, we went back to our room every time.
15. Don’t expect to catch any of the evening entertainment (8:00 pm or later), unless you have babysitters traveling with you or the cruise line offers babysitting services.
16. Use the on-board laundry services to pack lighter. For $20 on Holland America Line, you get a fully stuffed bag and each piece is promptly washed, dried and ironed to perfection.
17. If the dining room is too crowded or you need a change of scenery, plan to eat by the pool.
18. Your toddler will love the towel animals created by your room stewards. See if they can guess which animal they’ll meet next.
19. Take family photos on board, but expect some your toddler to make silly faces in them.
20. Even if you don’t like to go crazy with shopping, you can look for a special book that your child will treasure for years to come, like “Goodnight Alaska”, and you can always find room in your suitcase and budget for magnets.
All set to go exploring? Me, too! See you on the flip side.
*Author’s note: these opinions are my own based on my personal experiences. I have not been paid to endorse any businesses, products or services in this blog
Cruise with kids: Entertainment strategies that keep the whole family happy (baby/toddler travel guide series)
Cruise with kids: Travel tips for cruising with toddlers (baby/toddler travel guide series)
Baby/toddler travel guide series: going international
Baby/toddler travel guide series: what to pack
Baby/toddler travel guide series: the essentials!
Vacation time! Why I’m actually vacationing on my vacation
Vacation fun: 44 things you only do when you're on vacation or holiday
Travel: Insider’s guide to the best Seattle outdoor activities
Your insider Seattle trip planner: lodging (where to stay) and getting around (rental car or no rental car?)
An insider’s guide to Seattle’s Pike Place Market
60 fun and unique date ideas for the young at heart
Parenting: A no-fuss guide to your toddler’s birthday party for Pinterest-fatigued parents
What I never expected about Midwest living
How to be the perfect friend: a guide for the ladies
One year after my major career change from full-time mom to full-time writer: reflections and lessons learned