Cruise Advice Needed

Updated on March 18, 2010
R.T. asks from Orlando, FL
13 answers

We're going on a cruise for spring break--yay!!!!
Do you think we should invest in a good walkie-talkie set? I read someone's advice that they used a set because it's really hard to find eachother on a big ship. I am especially concerned about finding my kids. I have a 12 year old that we are going to allow to hang out in the 12-14 year old "club" and I'd like to be able to check in with him without having to go all the way to where he we may allow my 10 year old to go in the "club" for the kids in her age range, too. Plus, my husband and I may want to split up occasioanlly while one of us has relaxing time and the other entertains our 3 year old.

Anything we should for sure bring with us or leave behind?

Any other advice/tips?

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answers from Boca Raton on

Cruises are the best and you will have a great time. I especially love Royal Caribbean. Yes, i think that you will be glad that you have the walkie talkies. As far as other things to bring I would say don't let the caribbean fool you as far as what to pack. The ships tend to be cold I think you should bring a light jacket or sweater for the evening when you are at dinner or a show, maybe even jeans to change into. HAVE FUN!

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answers from St. Joseph on

I think the walkie talkies are a really good idea. Do you all have cell phones? Will they work in the area and can you text? It might be cheaper. I'd look into it. When I was younger and my parents and I went on a cruise we had designated meeting places and times where NO MATTER WHAT WE WERE DOING OR IN THE MIDDLE OF we dropped everything and met up. Now, after the meeting we might go back to what we were doing but it was an opportunity to touch base and determine how the rest of the day/evening was going to proceed.

FOR SURE, pack the anti-emetic! YOU WILL BE SEASICK at least the first day! Stay out of the cabin and get up top as much as you can the first day, it will help. DON'T pack a lot, share hair products to cut down on packing. DO pack at least one or two extra bags for stuff you will pick up. If you drink alcohol. Buy in the first port you are in and drink it throughout the cruise. You will save A LOT of money not buying it from the ship! Definitely pack the sunscreen and the sunshirts for the swimming pool. The reflection of the rays off the water is brutal and you can burn easily. I'd also recommend a hat and maybe swim shoes. Rubber soles are good because decks can be really slippery.

If you are planning on doing the onshore excursions get to the front desk ASAP when you get to the ship (even before going to the room). These excursions fill up exceedingly fast and it is a first come, first served basis. Helicopter rides, scuba/snorkel, paragliding, horseback riding and jet ski fill up fastest. You should be able to get a list from the cruise company what excursions are available for your trip...see if you can even book them BEFORE you get to the ship. Some will let you do it when you book the trip.

I would definitley also schedule down time. And with three kids, I'm REALLY serious about this...even if it is just meeting up for a movie in the middle of the afternoon (the three year old will probably nap through it). It gives everyone a chance to just chill and recharge their batteries instead of GO GO GO.

I would also discuss safety with your 10 and 12 year old. Staying in groups is the best thing but people can still lure them away. There are all kinds of people out there. I would highly recommend that if they find themselves in an unsafe situation they perhaps yell FIRE instead of HELP...I find many people don't even hear help ALWAYS gets their attention. Crew is NOT allowed to socialize with passengers outside of their duties but there are always some on every cruise that do...make sure your children KNOW this is not allowed. I would also have them introduce you to whatever "friends" they are paling around with to at least meet them, maybe their parents, and get their room number in case you need to try to track them least you will have another source to help look.

Good luck and have a great time!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Orlando on

Yeah!!!! You will have such a blast - we just got back from a Disney cruise with our 6-month-old :oD Don't pay too much for a walkie-talkie set - the boat is not that big, lol - we have a maybe $20 set that works just fine - the only problem you'll run into most likely is finding an unused channel since EVERYBODY takes their own set as well!
For sure bring some water toys for your 3-year-old if she is not potty trained - I'm not sure about other cruise lines but on Disney the kids have to be potty trained to get into the pools, if their not then their is just a little fountain play area that might get boring after a bit.
Have fun!!!



answers from Washington DC on

I don't know if they'd be allowed, but if they are, they might be handy. We didn't realize how much we relied on cell phones til we were out in the ocean with no service. We had to plan where to be and when and had the kids check in at regular intervals. The kids' programs are a good place for your kid to be. We took a cruise on one of Royal Carribean's ships. Apparently it wasn't the biggest, so your mileage may vary, but we were able to run into the girls while they did scavenger hunts and other teen things. You can talk to the staffers to see what they plan to do with the kids, if they'll leave the area, where you could pick them up for dinner, etc. We took a trip where there was only one other toddler that we noticed, so we spent a lot of time with her. We did try their activity programs, but since she was alone, it was kind of a wash. We had a play date with the other toddler but our kid is really gregarious and theirs was shy, so it was only one night. We used the game room.

As far as what to bring, we brought our own sheets for our toddler for the ship's pack n play. I don't know what type of room you have but ours were really narrow and small. We had the pack n play shoved against the wall and the twin beds shoved together for a full bed for me and my husband. The older kids had another room, but they had to be right next to us, per ship rules. We also brought our towels and washcloths for her. We also packed her carseat, figuring that if we took a taxi we might want it. We didn't use it, but I'm not unhappy we had it. An umbrella stroller might be good, too. Ships are narrow and little kids get tired. Also, if your 3 yr old is still potty training, find out if he/she might not be allowed in the pools. Our ship did not allow non-potty trained kids in the pool so that really changed some of our plans for the family. We couldn't all swim at the same time. I did take swim gear, though, as I knew we'd hit the beach when we got to Bermuda. We also brought a few snacks for the little one because I didn't know what she'd eat at dinner. We had the option of going to the formal dining room for all meals, but ended up eating breakfast and lunch cafeteria style so we didn't have to wait. Dinner was our only sit-down and order meal. The staff also got used to us and started having fruit ready for our daughter. If you know the toddler might melt, ask for something off the menu for him/her to get started.

Sunblock. It's deceptive to be on a ship but you'll be in the sun. We all got burned from not thinking about being in/out of the sun all day.

EVERYTHING on a cruise is billed to your room, even if you want to pay cash. It's sneaky so you don't realize you're paying so much. You'll get a bill at the end of the trip. There's also tips for everybody, usually a standard rate for all like $3 per day for your waiter at dinner. Factor that in your budget. We told the kids that they had to tell us before they charged anything extra or they'd be responsible at the end of the trip. They were pretty good about it. In our case, room service was free, but ice cream at Ben and Jerry's was not and so long as they asked, we were ok. We bought the soda plan where for a flat rate you could get soda at any bar and at meals.

Bring a couple of nice outfits. We had a dress code at dinner and one night was formal. Also, they may take pictures so be prepared for that. It was really nice to have a formal picture of the whole family.

If anyone gets motion sickness, ask your doctor for dramamine patches. They go behind the ear and stick there for a couple of days. My stepson used them and they really helped.

If you do excursions, consider doing one or two planned ones and a couple of on your own things when you get there. We missed the glass boat snorkel trip, asked the locals, and ended up at a beach where the fish were terrific, and we could all get out and swim vs the toddler and I stuck on the boat while others swam. We got bus passes and wandered around on the island for two days.

If you drink alcohol, find out the ship rules. Some may not allow you to bring it back on board.

If you buy flowers, know that they will probably be confiscated by AFIS on your return. When we left the boat, all the pretty flowers were on the side of the exit because they weren't allowed back in the US.


answers from Tampa on

Hi there,
My husband and I worked for a cruise line for a few years and were "youth staff" onboard - meaning we ran the kids programs that you mentioned in your post. I absolutely recommend allowing both of your kids to participate as much as they want to. They'll have a great time in a safe, controlled environment and you will have the peace of mind knowing this that allows you and your husband to have a great time too. Walkie talkie's are great. They do work onboard, however, after the first day, most kids and parents find them annoying and they end up being left in your room because lots of families bring them and you end up never being sure who's kid you're talking to.
Main idea is that these clubs/programs are designed to capture and keep your kids attention. They'll love the staff that they "hang" with and will have the best time with the kids they meet. They won't want to leave. Promise.
They're going to have so many stories of great times and memories because of it and so will you and your husband.
Have a great time!



answers from Miami on

At 12 and 14 they should be able to be somewhere and you trust them without "checking in" My kids now 15.5 and 21 were always allowed to police themselves and they learn from an early age how to rely on themselves. They don't need you for everything at 12 and 14....if they need something, they will have to make it known to the ppl in charge. Relax with your little one and don't worry a bit about those two. They grow so fast enjoy your little one with nothing else on your head. Go over rules beforehand and then send them into the world. I'm sure they will come through it perfectly.....My two cents.......old school.



answers from Orlando on

I just went on a Carnival cruise. My friends had their kids in the kids zone thing that they do - and the cruise line gave my friends a cellphone/pager to carry with them. In case the kids needed them, emergencies, crying, etc then the parents could be notified. Maybe the cruise line you're going on does the same thing? Oh, and I have T mobile and the rates are crazy out on the ship. It was like 35 cents to send/recieve text messages and 4.99 to make calls from the ship.



answers from Boca Raton on

Hi Just curious what cruise ship you are going on? I am going over spring break as well. My son just turned 13. We are sailing on Royal Carribean Liberty of the Seas.


answers from Miami on

What cruise line are you going on? My husband works for Carnival Cruise as a vacation cruise planner. And we are actually going on our first cruise with our 2 year old daughter, we plan on having her in the camp carnival thing they have for the kids, they divide it by ages, and they give the parents pagers and contact the parents if there is any problems. They look after the kids in small groups, especially the younger ones, and they have activities for them to do around the clock, and even provide after hours babysitting services, and they will change diapers with no problem at all.



answers from Orlando on

We tried walkie-talkies once and they didn't work because of a frequency problem. The ships do sell them, of course, in the gift shop so if you really want communication, buy them there, that way you know they will work.
Seasickness is not a given. I am prone to motion sickness in the car, a plane, smaller boats, but have never had a problem on a cruise ship.
The best way to keep tabs is set a time/place to meet up and just do it. Put the 3 year old in the kids club. Mine always loved it and he is now 7. They have good supervision and you can tour the place the first night and ask questions so you feel comfortable. They have structured activities and at age three, they keep them in the playroom so you will always know where they are. Depending on the cruise line, there will be certain times the 3 year old can go to the camp/club. We would send for the afternoon, pick him up for dinner and then take him back there from 7 to 10 p.m. so we could catch a show or hit the casino and have a cocktail.
I always overpack, and since we are able to drive to the port, I would just bring everything and check it curbside.. They deliver it all to your cabin. A small stroller is good. They do rent them on the ship, but it is first come, first serve. I also brought toys and DVD player so little one could watch a movie if he was up too early. I would also suggest ordering breakfast via room service. It does not cost extra, just tip the server. You can enjoy a nice, quiet breakfast (preferably on your balcony if you have one) without fighting the army of a crowd in the cafeteria/dining room.
Book excursions online before you go if there is something you know you want to do. If you are adventurous, rent a car when you get to the island and tour around on your own. (Depends on the island, though, for safety) I have a friend that her and her family rented cars in Nassau, St. Maarten, St. Lucia, Grand Cayman and St. Croix.
Definitely put sunscren on before you go out everyday. Be prepared to bathe your little one in a shower stall the size of a phone booth with a hand-held showerhead. Not impossible, but challenging when they are used to a tub.
You can check the status of your "sail and sign" tab anytime. Go to the pursers desk or newer ships will have it on your T.V. in the cabin. That way you will not have surprises at the end of your cruise when they slip the final bill under your door.
Relax and enjoy. You will have a blast!



answers from Tampa on

My cousin goes on cruises all the time. He said that Walkie Talkies may or may not work. He also said you really don't have to worry to much about the kids as they are watched pretty closely. He said don't overpack. Lots of sun block, beach towels, swim suits, one good outfit for dinner and casual clothes. Comfortable shoes and a light jacket. He also said that there should be childcare on the ship for you and your husband to leave your 3 year old to have a break and relax....



answers from Miami on

It's not hard to find your way around a ship at all. I've been on two cruises, both were with my husband only. Anytime we went venturing out on our own, we agreed to meet at a designated spot at an appointed time and you can very well do that with your family. I wouldn't suggest you allow your children to go alone anywhere. That's just's a ship and bad things can happen to people anywhere regardless of their ages and personally I think 10 and 12 is a bit young to allow going around alone. But then again, that is just me.

Do you get sea sick? I would suggest those wrist bands that you can buy at a pharmacy. Not attractive to wear but they do work. Sea sick meds may not mix well with alcohol and some of them make you sleepy anyway. I would read the cautions on the meds if you choose to take sea sick medicine. You really won't need much as the ship will provide just about anything you need. Your own toiletries is a given, you bring your own stuff but towels and such, you will get better service on a cruise ship than any hotel. Enjoy yourself and let them pamper you. It's really nice to be waited on the way the cruise staff wait on people.



answers from Miami on

Sounds like fun. Most ships now have these programs set up for kids where they stay in one location for blocks of time, but if you allow them to roam free, they usually will provide you with a set of walkie talkies for kids under 17. we've gotten them on Carnival and Norwegian, and i'm sure Royal Carribean has them also. you can always call the company or visit online and they should explain this in detail. Have a great time!

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