Should I bring my baby on a cruise?
So, you want to take your baby on a cruise. Well, congratulations because 1) you must be rich and 2) you won at life.
Sorry, I had to slip a little sarcasm in there. But seriously, what a kind mother (or father, or whatever you identify as… it’s 2020) you must be!
Before you start surfing with your baby off the coast of Hawaii, read these helpful tips first:
1. Is your baby allowed on the cruise?
Each cruise line has different rules for bringing your baby on board. We will focus on what parents must know for the 3 most popular cruise lines. For other cruise lines, please do your research. What’s true of one ship may not be true for another.
Norwegian Cruise Lines:
Your baby must be at least 6 months old to go on a Norwegian Cruise Line ship. However, if your cruise itinerary has 3 or more at-sea days (meaning you don’t stop at any ports), your baby will need to be at least 12 months old. For more information on taking your baby on a Norwegian Cruise Line ship, check out their official FAQ page.
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It will change your baby's life!
Carnival Cruise Lines:
Carnival has similar requirements to Norwegian Cruise Lines. Your baby must be at least 6-months-old to go on a cruise. When there are more than 2 at-sea days, your little one must be at least 1-year-old. Carnival would like to remind you that they do not have any baby food or formula available for purchase. Make sure you come fully stocked. Check out Carnival’s official rules about traveling with infants and/or toddlers to ensure you’re ready when it’s time to sail.
To sail on a Royal Caribbean ship, your baby must be at least 6-months-old. For destinations such as Hawaii, transatlantic, transpacific, and certain South American and cruises, your baby needs to be at least 12-months-old. Check out this helpful article for more information on taking your baby on a Royal Caribbean cruise.
2. Arrange plans for the port on (stroller, etc.)
Don’t arrive at the port unprepared. If this is your first cruise, you’ll be surprised at how busy the ports are. In my experience, cruise ports are a slew of hustle and bustle. Taking your baby in a large crowd can be daunting if you’re unprepared.
Many times, there is a long line to get off the ship once you’ve arrived in port. You’ll either want to be the first in line or you’ll want to wait a bit until the line dies down.
Other times, you have to take a short boat ride from the cruise ship to land. These quick water shuttles can sometimes be very bumpy and packed. You’ll still be able to get your stroller on, but be prepared for a bit of anxiety before you’re on land at your destination.
3. Is your baby seasick?
On a cruise, you might have a completely calm ocean. Other times, you may be traversing some rocky waters that can get the best of even the most well-traveled.
Pro-tip: don’t underestimate the power of the ocean. A rocky cruise can be a nightmare if you’re nauseous. You may notice adults wearing little circles on their bodies. Those are to help combat seasickness using Dramamine.
According to Healthline.com, you cannot give your baby Dramamine unless your little one is at least 2 years old. For younger babies, please consult with your pediatrician first.
4. Check if your baby needs a passport
Just like us adults, your baby needs a passport when traveling internationally. Typically, the same passport requirements that apply to adults also apply to babies. The last thing you’ll want is to be denied entry once you reach your destination because your baby doesn’t have his/her passport.
5. Accept that your baby won’t remember this cruise
Babies don’t start making long-term memories until much later in life, so just know that your baby isn’t going to remember any of this. Your baby won’t appreciate going on a cruise. So if you’re taking your baby on a cruise because you want to win his/her affection, forget it. Like right now. It’s not gonna happen.
6. You won’t be able to walk around the cabins without getting pestered. Unless your baby is ugly.
People on cruises LOVE to drink. So if your baby is cute, your baby just got 10x cuter to these people. If your baby is ugly… don’t worry. Your baby still just got 10x cuter to these people. Also, we know there is no such thing as an ugly baby. Just trying to make you laugh.
Maybe you need to get somewhere on the ship quickly. With a baby, this just won’t happen as thousands of your fellow passengers are about to comment on how cute your baby is. Yes, they will ask a million questions. And yes, you might be late for dinner or the show in the theater. Check out our article about tips on taking your baby to a restaurant because there are plenty of dining options once on-board.
7. You’ll remind yourself several times a day to stay positive.
You’re on a cruise, darn it! So how in the world are you starting to become miserable by day 7? Oh yeah! Because you’re on a cruise with your baby! Life gets real, real stressful when you’re in a foreign location with someone who can’t even feed themselves.
So get used to reminding yourself to stay positive. You’re going to get annoyed and you’re going to get annoyed very quickly. Your patience will start to wear thin after a few days onboard.
You’ll begin to wonder why you even took a cruise with your baby… but then you’ll remember point number 4.
8. Appreciate how temporary this all is. Truly live in the moment.
Live in the moment with your baby. Going on a cruise is so magical, so don’t get caught up in things that don’t matter while you’re on board. You’re never going to be in this situation again. You’ll never be able to turn back time and take your baby on a cruise when he/she is suddenly a teenager. You’ll never be around all of these exact passengers again. The time you’ll all spend watching the same shows, enjoying the same laughs, etc is all temporary.
This cruise will end. How are you going to want to remember it? Don’t spend your time thinking of the negatives. There are far more positives when taking your baby on a cruise.
Going on a cruise can be so magical, so capture those special moments.