I’ll have to be the first to admit, I didn’t think I would ever be cruising with a baby. But, when Carnival Cruise Lines approached me last year about hosting our immediate family on a cruise in return for a review, I was intrigued. Excited. While I love cruising (and so does Chase), I wasn’t sure how the kids would take to it. I had an entire year to think, plan, and wait for Scarlett to grow up a little bit. Our cruise aboard the Carnival Liberty came so quickly, I couldn’t believe it. As we started packing, there were lots of questions. What do we bring? What are Carnival’s baby policies? I hope I can answer some of those here for you!
Carnival’s Baby Policies
(All these policies are current as of 12/2016 and are subject to change. Please see Carnival’s website for more information)
- On ALL ships, children MUST BE TWO years or older to participate in camp activities. (Children TURNING 2 on a ship may participate).
- Children under two can play in the kids camp areas WITH parental supervision during a set time period. (Please see more about those times on Carnival’s help site)
- Children do not have to be potty-trained in order be part of Camp Ocean or babysitting services. Parents must supply all diapers and diapering items.
- Babysitting is available from 10pm to 1am (no stateroom services). They also have a Night Owls Program for ages 6 months to 11 years. Fees apply.
- Parents must administer all medications. Only Epi-pens, inhalers, and diabetic supplies are allowed in the Camp Areas.
- Any child that is not fully potty trained (read: NO SWIM DIAPERS or any other kind) is not allowed in pools, slides or splash areas.
- Breakfast buffets will display cartons of milk, cooled and ready to drink on the line. During lunch and dinner service, all I had to do was ask a Buffet attendant or our waiter for milk for the kids. They even washed out our sippy cups and refilled them for us! Milk is supplied at no extra charge.
- Children under the age of 11 will be given wristbands at first muster to identify muster stations in case of separation. They must wear the wristbands at all times (see photo below).
What To BRING With You
Bring twice as many diapers as you think you will need, and there’s reason for this. Once you board the ship (in fact, once you enter the terminal parking lot) you will not find any diapers or diapering supplies. So if you have a bout of an upset tummy, need overnight diapers, training pants or any other supplies, bring them. I brought two sleeves of diapers, and 4 extra overnights for our week-long trip. In fact, and an entire side of Scarlett’s hard side Minnie suitcase was stuffed with diapers and wipes!
If you need bottles, sippy cups or even snack traps, bring them. Two will suffice; one to wash and use and another as a backup, in the case of a lost item. There aren’t any kids cups available, but you will find straws at any bar location. Just as you would for daycare, write your child’s name on each item, or use personalized dishwasher-safe labels.
In case of dirty laundry, which is inevitable, especially with a little one, pack a small bottle of your preferred detergent. It will save you a little bit of cash and time in the ship’s laundromat. Use your Set Sail card or coins to operate the laundry machines on each stateroom deck.
First Aid Kit and Medicines
This is another set of supplies you’ll want on board. I packed everything I could think of, from bandaids and ointment to Dramamine and Infant Advil. Add in my medications for adults like simethicone and ibuprofen and you can bet I had three staterooms worth of family knocking on my door! If you think you will need it when you travel, take it. In fact, pack travel sizes and your luggage will thank you.
White Noise Machine or App
This is an absolute MUST. Our stateroom ended up being DIRECTLY above the grand theatre, which was usually not a big deal until the 8pm show with the 10pm REPEAT with the bass speakers vibrating even the sheets. It was a rough go, even with kids… so I’m telling you that even if you don’t sleep with one normally, spend a buck and choose a white noise app that will drown out hallway noise, theatre speakers and the occasional announcement pumped into your stateroom.
Blankie, stuffies, and pacis. Stuff them into your suitcase or carry on and then bring a back-up. I brought extra universal pacifier clips for each of our pacis so we wouldn’t lose them easily. Knowing that I couldn’t run out and easily replace something meant I did extra inventories every time we changed locations or were getting onboard the ship.
One of the best pieces of advice I heard before cruising with a baby was to bring along my baby carrier. Scarlett has always been a big fan of our Baby Ergo, which meant it was a smart and light packing choice. I was a lifesaver in small port cities, restaurants and shops. Our ship was fairly small, meaning that lots of stairways and little elevator space meant we moved more quickly than other families. I used the back-carry during muster so Scarlett could see the ocean!
What to LEAVE at Home
Just as much as you will love baby wearing, you’ll hate using the stroller. Strollers take up VALUABLE stateroom space and are yet another piece of luggage to bring and track. Carnival ships offer stroller rentals for on-board use as well as port use for a low price, meaning you can use one when you REALLY need it an save the space otherwise. I was so happy we rented a double for our Walt Disney World Resort trip and had nothing to bring aboard!
Carnival had lovely, clean, sturdy cribs for our stateroom use. Though I had it marked on our reservation and called down to guest services for it, our housekeeping steward was my ultimate savior when he brought the all-metal, fixed side crib with mattress and sheets in time for Scarlett’s nap. I set it against the “couch” that was made as Red’s bed and left a little walkway on either side to get in and out of our bed. It will be a snug fit, but we will had room to walk and two suitcases on the floor. (Did I mention it saved me lugging a pack and play?!) It’s worth nothing that we tried putting Scarlett in a Pea Pod napper, and she was completely adverse to it. The Carnival cribs were a fabulous option.
Something else you’ll find in each of the Carnival Liberty restaurants is highchairs. If one wasn’t in sight (and it had always just been cleaned), we asked an attendant. Instead of being pointed towards one, he or she brought it immediately, which was much appreciated. They all had working seat belts and fit neatly under the tables.
Leave your crib sheets at home! Carnival’s linens were always in good shape, clean and soft. We brought Scarlett’s favorite thick blanket and Red’s blankies to snuggle. Everything else was completely adequate (including their crib sheets) and made our vacation easy.
Carnival’s baby policies state that no children who are not potty trained can be in the pools, splash areas, or waterslides. This meant that both swim diapers and bathing suits were a no-go for my water baby. In fact, we mostly avoided the pool areas at all with her, since she wasn’t allowed to even have her feet in the water. While I completely understand this policy and why it was instated, it was extremely hard to have someone this young on a cruise and not be able to swim! I am grateful to my husband and my dad for taking my five-year-old swimming and down the big water slide!
If you have refrigerated items, take caution with your stateroom fridge. Ours was hotter than the room was… I asked our stateroom attendant about it, and he said that most of them didn’t work or couldn’t be made colder. While we didn’t have any baby food, formula or breastmilk that needed cooling, I would have liked to have our champagne chilled or our fruit basket we received cooler!