Daily Archives: December 19, 2010

To paradise and back

We had an overall fantastic time on our 12-day cruise to the Southern Caribbean (RCI line if you’re interested). Lots of sun and sand, shopping and touring, and a bit of adventure thrown in for good measure. But I’ll delve into that more when we share some pictures in the next post, which will require the same password as usual.

This post will be all about taking a cruise with a 19 month old boy. It took some getting used to, for all of us. If you put yourself in his shoes, all he knew is that he was in a very different place for a very long time and what the heck happened to “home”? Toddlers don’t typically ‘get’ vacations, so it was a lot for him to handle. Overall, he did very well, but there were definitely some challenges we faced.

Here are the good things;

  • The pack n play fit in our room’s bathroom (really! ok, part of it was in the shower, but still!). This meant a quiet, dark, enclosed place for Curly to sleep at night, giving us the freedom to move about our cabin/watch tv/read/talk/enjoy the balcony without waking him up. It also meant we could not use our bathroom after 7:30/8pm and had to use Nutella’s parents’ bathroom in the adjacent room if they were around, or use the cruise ship’s bathrooms one floor down or two floors up. But that’s what we did and it was fine.
  • RCI, if you’re lucky, provides in-room babysitting. We used this for 9 out of the 12 nights. There was a 2-hour maximum, but that gave us a good chunk of time to enjoy the activities on the ship in the evenings, including seeing some of the shows that Curly couldn’t last through. We typically got sitters from 8-10 pm. Curly was already asleep by then and the women that sat for him were wonderful.
  • There is an abundance of food on cruises, so it was always easy to find things for him to eat. There were always bananas, cheese, breads, pasta, meats, etc. At dinner, he loved the chilled fruit soups and drank them with a straw. Many nights he chowed down on steak and ice cream. And there was always a bowl of cut-up fruits for him and a glass of milk at dinner.
  • For our 6 ports of call, we arrived first thing in the morning and didn’t leave until 5 or 6pm. This means we had breakfast and then got right off the ship. We were able to extend Curly’s awake time until around 2pm, so we were able to enjoy a good chunk of time before getting back on the ship for his nap. If grandma & grandpa were back on the ship as well, they graciously listened to him on the monitor while we sometimes went right back to the port for another hour or two.
  • We overpacked for him, which was great since his stuff is mostly small. We didn’t run out of anything and had more than enough diapers (and the gro-baby hybrids worked wonderfully!)
  • He was interested in everything. On the ship, he loved having the freedom to walk down the hallways, climb on hundreds of seats in an empty theatre, explore lounges and dance floors. At port, he was usually happy to be in the ergo and observe the world around him. He loved playing in the sand at the beach, and once he got used to it, being held in the ocean or using his little float. He saw fascinating historic landmarks, met dozens of people who fawned all over him, and generally had a great time.

And the bad:

  • Dinners were….bad. We ate at 6pm every night, and dinner usually lasted til 7 or 7:30pm. No matter what we did, Curly was D-O-N-E after no more than 30 minutes and things were very difficult. We tried the DVD player, lots of different toys, and we even had another 2.5 year old toddler at the table with us (friends we made on the cruise). He would be so tired and restless he could hardly function. Nutella and I were constantly tending to him, and after the first few nights, were practically begging grandma to sing to him or grandpa to take him on a walk so we could eat. A couple nights we knew he couldn’t handle it at all and so we took him to a quick dinner at the casual cafe, and went to dinner ourselves much later, but otherwise we felt obligated to eat at the main dining room table and it was very hard.
  • The fact that he needed a long mid-afternoon nap made us plan our port activities around it, even if there was more that we wanted to do. We knew it would be like that, but it still sucked to leave a gorgeous beach or end a historical tour early because he was going nuts from being overtired. A couple times he actually fell asleep in the Ergo, but not for long.
  • We had a total of 5.5 days at sea (2.5 getting there, 3 coming back). Even when you don’t have a toddler, that’s a bit much, but if it were just the two of us we would’ve done a lot more on-board activities. The fact that Curly has a 60 second attention span ruled out many of the things we wanted to do, or we had to tag-team and do them alone. He was able to focus on the production shows for around 15 minutes and live music for about the same, so at least there was that!

After this, I would recommend cruising with a toddler but as with any vacation-with-baby, it’s not the kind of vacation you’re used to taking in the past. Any questions, please let us know! Pictures to come next.