Have you ever thought about taking a baby on a cruise? It’s something that we have considered as you seem to get the best of both worlds; seeing lots of new places without the hassle of having to pack yourself up and move around every few days.
In this weeks edition of Meet the Parents, Claire from Tin Box Traveller tells us about her trip on the Carnival Vista with her 2 children aged 3 and 13 months old. They had a great time, so I’m even more tempted by cruising than before! Over to you Claire….
1. Where did you go on holiday with your baby or toddler?
We went on an eight day Mediterranean cruise with Carnival Vista, which was brand new in the spring of 2016. It was our first family cruise and we visited seven fantastic ports of call in Spain, Italy and France.
2. How old was your baby or toddler when you went? Was this your first holiday away together?
Tin Box Tot was three-years-old and Tin Box Baby was 13 months. We’ve been going away with them for holidays and short breaks since they were as young as two weeks old. However, this was the biggest trip we’d taken as a family of four.
3 Why did you choose to go there?
While I’ve always wanted to try a cruise Mr Tin Box has been a bit more sceptical. He’s in the Royal Navy so says he ‘cruises’ all the time. For anyone unfamiliar with navy ships I can assure you they are VERY different from cruise ships! So, how did I get Mr TB – the cruise doubter – onboard Carnival’s newest ship? We were super lucky and won our holiday in a competition.
4. How did you get there?
We flew from the UK to Barcelona where we joined Carnival Vista. This was a great opportunity for a couple of days in the city either side of our cruise. We stayed in an extremely family friendly hotel just off Las Ramblas and took our girls to see some of the sights Mr TB and I had visited during a previous trip.
5. Where did you stay?
We had an outside state room with a picture window. The girls loved this during the day as the comings and goings on the dock side kept them entertained. By night Mr Tin Box and watched the waves go by while the girls slept. Our room had two bathrooms – one with a small bath, which was ideal for the girls. Tin Box Tot slept in a bunk bed and Tin Box Baby had a travel cot below. The cabin was brilliant for our young family, but if we’d had older kids I might have upgraded to one of the Harbour Family Suites with larger living space and separated sleeping areas.
6. What did you like best about the place you stayed?
We enjoyed having the option of taking Tin Box Tot to the kids club during the evenings so we could have a quiet dinner with Tin Box Baby sleeping in her buggy. We took this holiday at the perfect time with a baby who was too young to go to the club unescorted (you have to be two with Carnival). Tin Box Baby was sleepy enough in the evenings to just drift off and be pushed around the decks. Had she been a bit older she would have been running around all evening! Not very relaxing for Mr TB and I.
7. What did your children like best about the place you stayed?
Apart from the kids club, Tin Box Tot loved the Waterworks splash park onboard Carnival Vista. She would have spent all day running through the water sprays and going down the slides. Unfortunately, Tin Box Baby wasn’t allowed in any of the ship’s pools because she was still in nappies. This was probably the least baby-friendly part of our cruise. Tin Box Baby thought the range of food was fantastic. She enjoyed tucking into the buffet-style fare on offer in the Lido Restaurant whatever the time of day.
8. What did you do during the day? Were there any great baby and toddler friendly days out in the local area?
We had one sea day during our cruise and we spent this exploring the ship’s pools, the children’s activities in the kids club and joining in with the onboard entertainment. When we were in port we leaned towards spending the first half of the day sightseeing in places like Sicily, Pompeii and Marseilles, and spending the afternoons beside the pool onboard. This made it easier for us to stick to much needed nap and toddler meal times.
9. Did the accommodation provide any baby or toddler equipment for free?
Carnival supply travel cots for your cabin for free. You just need to book them in advance. There are also plenty of high chairs in the dining rooms. As Tin Box Baby was over the age of one we didn’t need to worry about warming milk or sterilising bottles as you don’t have facilities for doing this in your cabin. There were plenty of cartoons of milk available at the buffet breakfast and you could order warm milk and cookies for your cabin. The curtains in our cabin were really thick, so acted as excellent black out blinds. Unless we had to get up early to go sightseeing I don’t remember the girls getting up much before 8am.
10. Why did you love it so much?
It was a total change of holiday style for us. Since having kids we have been much more used to self-catering breaks in the UK, so this was a real treat for us. I loved arriving somewhere new every day and knowing that food was available for our hungry little people around the clock. The ship was stunning and there was so much on offer for us to do each day.
11. Would you recommend it to other parents? If so, why?
Yes, if you are looking for bite-sized experiences of lots of destinations in a short space of time then cruises are the ideal family holiday for you. Families – especially those with young kids – are also guaranteed a friendly welcome from the ship’s crew who may have been away from home themselves for several months.
12. Is there anything else you would like to add about your holiday?
There’s a few things to bear in mind if you are thinking about cruising with a baby or toddler: bring all the baby consumables you might need, like nappies, wet wipes and medicines, as you can’t buy them onboard; bring your own sterilising equipment as this won’t be supplied; check the minimum age for leaving your baby or toddler in the kids clubs to see whether you can use them; and, the last majority of ships ban children who are not toilet trained from their pools.
If you’d like to find out more about Claire, and the Tin Box Family you can connect with them below.