I am a stay at home mum trying to be a freelance writer - or a freelance writer trying to be a stay at home mum. I enjoy getting out and about with my two little girls and am Chief Editor of Perth Mums Group perthmumsgroup.com.au
Published January 26th 2019
A guide to taking the kids on a cruise for the first time
My husband and I recently took our 3.5 year old and 1.5 year old children on a cruise, along with my husband's mum. It was certainly an interesting experience and we learned a lot about cruising with kids in the 8 days we spent on board.
Our cruise started at Melbourne and took us to Adelaide, Kangaroo Island, Hobart, Port Arthur and Burnie. There are cruises to suit every budget and taste - from short, 6-day cruises from Fremantle to Adelaide, to longer cruises that will take you interstate and overseas. Our cruise was the perfect introduction to life onboard.
If you're thinking about a cruise and whether it is a feasible holiday option when you have children, especially young children, there are a few things to consider. Here are some tips for taking the kids on a cruise.
Find a family-friendly cruise
Some cruise companies cater for kids better than others, while some don't even allow children under 18 on board! We cruised with P&O, who are fairly well-known for their family cruises. Here are some of the best family-friendly companies operating in Australia.
Has supervised kids activities for children aged 2 and over
Children under 2 are welcome to enter the play zones with parent supervision
Offers a night nursery from 6pm to 11pm for children aged 12 months to 23 months
Cruising and pregnancy
Most cruise companies will allow pregnant women to travel if they are less than 24 weeks gestation by the conclusion date of the cruise. This means if you plan your holiday then become pregnant, you won't be able to sail if you'll be entering your 24th week of pregnancy at any stage during the cruise. So plan carefully, mums and dads!
You will also need a letter from your doctor or midwife stating your estimated due date and that you are in good health. There are doctors on board all cruise ships.
The typical age restrictions for children are listed below but check with the specific cruise company before you go.
International: 12 months and over
Domestic: 6 months and over
Baby formula, baby food and milk
My 18 month old loves her milk, so I took a tin of toddler formula onboard as I didn't want to pack 800 little boxes of long life milk in my luggage. Bear in mind though, that there are no kettles in any of the rooms, so you can't boil water for the formula. I used bottled water but personally, this is something I wouldn't have done if she was younger than 12 months. If you have special requirements for milk for your baby, check with the cruise operator before you go.
You may have to ask staff for boiled water and keep it in a Thermos or a flask. I was, however, given full cream milk by the staff whenever I asked for it, usually at no extra charge, or it was included as part of my drinks package. There is also no microwave in the room for heating food or sterilising bottles. You can take baby food on board but again you would have to ask the staff to heat it.
It's not exactly relaxing to cruise with preschoolers!
You do need to be far more organised than the average cruiser and you may need to lug around a lot more equipment, such as a pram or stroller, baby carrier, electric bottle steriliser, bottle warmer….
The kids programs typically cater for kids aged two and over - on the P&O Cruise we went on, children under 2 were welcome to attend the Kids Club - with parent supervision. Almost defeats the purpose!
You can't assume your child will automatically love the kids club. Our 3.5 year old didn't - she went the first day and refused to go again after that.
Babysitting services are often limited and may start well after 10pm!
Travel sickness may be a problem, especially for young children, but you can take Kwells or another form of over-the-counter travel sickness medication.
No kettle in the room or microwave to heat milk or have boiled water on hand.
So, in my opinion, I'm all for cruising with kids, especially as they get older, but just remember that it will be a different experience to cruising without them and you won't be able to do as you please 24/7! You just need to be organised and don't be afraid to ask the staff for help. Happy cruising!