I didn’t quite know what to expect when it came to going on a cruise with a baby. I knew it wouldn’t be like our previous cruises, but I wasn’t sure how different it would be. As you might have read from a previous post, we are huge fans of cruising.
Our New England and Canada cruise left from Baltimore, MD, which was only an hour drive for us. This was very appealing to us as we were hesitant to fly with our busy baby. From Baltimore, we stopped in Boston, MA, then Portland and Bar Harbor, Maine, next St. John, New Brunswick, and lastly, Halifax, Nova Scotia. My wife and I agreed that Bar Harbor was our favorite port. It was so peaceful and picturesque. We hope to go back one day.
We travelled after Labor Day when most of the area kids are back in school. There were only ten kids on the ship, while there were around 2,000 people total. Most of the passengers mentioned at some point or another to us that they were grandparents. People (passengers and staff included) were constantly telling our kiddo how cute he was and ogling over him. My son had VIP status just for being an adorable eleven-month-old, and he was loving it.
The weather at our ports was amazing. My wife and I had a hard time figuring out how to best pack since the temperatures seemed to fluctuate between 55 and 80 degrees. This caused us to over-pack so that we’d have options, both for ourselves and for our baby. Thankfully, we didn’t need any of the heavier stuff since it was between 75 and 80 degrees everyday, which was unseasonably warm in those areas for this time of the year (thanks to the looming tropical storm). While we didn’t get to see fall in its true form up there, the weather still made for a wonderful port experiences.
With our over-packing came bulkier suitcases. We had chosen to stay in an interior room since it was the cheapest option and since we had stayed in interior rooms in the past with no problems. These rooms are tight though, and our stuff only made for tighter accommodations. We were looking forward to the completely dark room, though, as we thought it would ensure all of us sleeping more soundly.
Another thing that made the room tighter was a Pack ‘n Play. This is what Royal Caribbean provides as a crib. With that said, having two large pieces of luggage plus a stroller and a Pack ‘n Play made for a cramped quarters. Royal Caribbean also includes a small sofa in the room that I wish had not been there to allow for a little more walking space in the room.
On past cruises, my wife and I weren’t bothered by having a small interior room because we hardly spent anytime in there. However, with an eleven-month-old, who still takes a morning and afternoon nap, we had to spend a lot more time in the room than in the past.
It ended up working out that one of us would stay with him during his morning nap and the other would take the afternoon nap. That way both of us would not be required to stay cooped up in the cabin for a long time. One thing we didn’t anticipate was my son sleeping so poorly on the ship. We thought that between the ship’s rocking and the darkness of the room, he would sleep like a rock. Before the trip and even now that we have returned, he is able to sleep through the night with no problem. However, on the trip, he woke up every couple hours crying and wanting to nurse. I don’t know if it was because he knew we were right there next to him or because of the unfamiliar environment, but we were soon both exhausted and needed to take afternoon naps ourselves.
With my son nursing so much at night, he didn’t have as big of an appetite during the day as we had hoped. This was unfortunate since obviously cruising is all you can eat (and that is partly what you are paying for!). While we tried to enjoy the food as much as possible in the dining room, we were hyper-aware of him making any noise and disturbing those around us. This put us slightly on edge. On a positive note, everyone around us was super nice and understanding.
Due to his nap schedule, we had to plan our shore excursions to cater to his nap schedule because nobody likes a fussy baby. Unfortunately, our son does not sleep very well when he falls asleep in the stroller. Therefore, we were somewhat limited in the length in terms of activities or tours, which meant that we couldn’t necessarily see everything that the port had to offer.
For instance, Portland, Maine, is known for their lighthouses, but we were terrified to ride on a ferry with our son in case he decided he no longer wanted to be on the boat. The thought of a wailing baby on a small ferry was too stressful. While we didn’t get to see all the famous lighthouses, we were fortunate to see a couple in our own exploration.
Pool Time, or Lack Thereof
A downer that we found out is that Royal Caribbean policy does not allow for babies or children in diapers to be able to swim in their pools due to hygiene issues (even with a proper swim diaper). While we understand the policy, it was disappointing not to be able to utilize the pools on the cruise ship with our son since he enjoys swimming. Although we did see some a couple of babies in diapers using the pools, we didn’t want to take the chance and break the rule.
We assumed going into the trip that we would not be attending any of the evening shows. Our kiddo doesn’t sit still for too long. We gave it one try though towards the end of the trip, but, as we had anticipated, it was unsuccessful. But, we found a great alternative. The Centrum area of the ship played live music most evenings. This ended up being perfect for us because our son was able to enjoy the music and clap along. If he was ever getting too into it (he started trying to sing along a few times), we were easily able to walk away and eventually come back since there was no formal seating for these performances.
Would We Do It Again?
I know it sounds like there are a lot of negatives in this post about going on a cruise with a baby. However, I am trying to provide a real perspective from our point of view. My wife asked me today if we knew what we do now, would I still have wanted to go on this trip. My answer was absolutely, and she agreed. Overall, we still had an amazing vacation to places we had never been before. Were there some hiccups along the way? Sure, but when do things go perfectly when a baby is involved?
Have you travelled with a baby? What about a cruise with a baby? What were your experiences?