There’s nothing quite like the excitement and anticipation of embarking on a cruise with your family. However, when you’re traveling with infants or toddlers, your dream vacation can quickly turn stressful if you’re not well-prepared. As a mom who’s been through it, I want to share my experiences and tips to help you make the most of your cruising adventure with infants.

Understanding Cruise Policies for Infants

One of the first questions many new parents ask is whether their newborn can join them on a cruise. Most cruise lines have specific policies requiring infants to be at least 6 months old on the day of sailing. For longer cruises, the requirement often extends to 12 months.

Infants must be at least 6 months of age at the time of embarkation to sail. Children must be at least 12 months of age at the time of embarkation to sail on trans-ocean crossings and remote itineraries, where there are more than 2 consecutive sea days. 

Carnival Cruise Line Infant Policy

It’s crucial to check with your specific cruise line as these age requirements are generally standard, but offerings for young children can vary greatly.

Sleeping Arrangements: From Cribs to Comfort

Most cruise ships are equipped to provide cribs for your little ones. However, you’re welcome to bring a portable crib or pack and play if your baby is more comfortable in a familiar environment. Bringing your baby’s favorite blanket or comfort items is essential for helping them sleep in a new place. While ships provide sheets, having your own can add that extra touch of home.

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Feeding Infants on Board

Here’s where things can get a bit tricky: most cruise ships do not stock baby formula or standard baby foods. If your child is not yet on solids, or if you prefer specific brands or types of formula, you’ll need to bring enough to last the entire trip. For babies eating solids, while prepared baby food isn’t available, most dining facilities are willing to puree food or provide soft, mashable options. Always bring unopened containers of baby food as opened ones are not allowed onboard.

Diaper Duty

Never underestimate the number of diapers you might need. It’s better to overpack than find yourself in a sticky situation without enough diapers. Cruise ships typically sell them at a premium, if they have them at all. Royal Caribbean offers a helpful service called Babies 2 Go, where you can pre-order diapers, wipes, and other essentials to be delivered directly to your stateroom. This can significantly reduce the amount of luggage you need to handle.

A mother playing with her baby in room  for infants

Childcare and Entertainment

For parents looking to enjoy some adult-only time, most ships provide childcare services for infants aged 6 months and up. However, babies between 6 months and 2 years old are generally not included in the main kids’ clubs. Programs like Royal Caribbean’s Royal Babies and Tots, and Carnival’s Night Owls, offer specific services for the youngest cruisers

Packing Essentials For Traveling With Infants

Here’s a mom tip: pack a separate carry-on with everything you might need for the first few hours on board. This includes swimsuits, a change of clothes, diapers, formula, and sunscreen. If your baby is still on formula, be sure to pack distilled water in your carry-on as well. Sometimes it can take a while for your luggage to be delivered to your room, and you don’t want to be without the essentials.

What’s Not Allowed?

It’s important to be aware of what you can’t bring on board. Open containers of food and drink and homemade items are generally prohibited due to safety regulations. For breastfeeding mothers, coolers up to 12x12x12 inches are allowed to store breast milk, and you’re welcome to breastfeed anywhere on the ship.

Additional Gear

If you’re wondering about strollers, car seats, or life jackets, here’s the scoop: you can bring them all. Strollers and car seats can make excursions more comfortable. While the ship provides life jackets for all sizes, having your own can be more convenient, especially those designed for little ones.

For specific item recommendations – Check out our essentials list for baby cruisers.

Concluding Thoughts

As you prepare for your cruise with your baby, remember that planning is key to a stress-free experience. Being well-prepared means you can spend less time worrying and more time making precious memories with your family. Cruise lines are increasingly accommodating to families with small children. With a bit of preparation, you’ll be all set for a fantastic voyage.

Please check your cruise line’s websites for more information on their specific infant policies. 

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