Baby Sets Sail: Cruising With an Infant

This is a guest post from Jenny Reed, a first time mom and owner of OurCruisePlanner.com, a full service travel agency. Jenny also wrote a great article about Cruise Travel With Severe Food Allergies last summer.

My husband Jerry and I have been on over 20 cruises in the many years we’ve been married. None could have prepared us for the adventure of cruising for the first time with our seven and half month old son Logan on the Norwegian Spirit March 29, 2009 out of New Orleans.

Reed Family in Cozumel
Reed Family in Cozumel

Our first concern was what to pack? To say that we packed all but the kitchen sink for our son was an understatement. But we just weren’t sure if he would need something and worried that it would be the one thing we forgot. He didn’t wear half of what we packed but that was okay. My advice – make sure to pack a few small, portable toys like the rings that hook onto the stroller and extra diapers. Diapers and other baby sundries are very hard to find onboard. In port, you may be able to find a few supplies but it is best to plan ahead especially if you need specific brands or styles.

With our bags packed, we drove down to New Orleans, leaving a day early so we could pick up my mother in law and her sister in Mississippi. An annual getaway is a family tradition, and on this cruise they would be able to help out with light babysitting for the first time as well!

I packed a separate duffel bag with baby food, toys and books as well as an extra blankie. One of us sat in the back seat with Logan to keep him entertained and make sure he was doing okay in his car seat. A few stops to stretch our legs and eat and we were in Mississippi by mid afternoon (about a 7 hour drive from Atlanta). He did manage to sleep well in the car- so that was great! He found it quite entertaining to be able to see out the windows now and was quite amused every time a large truck went by! I think Logan thought overall it was an adventure to ride in his “big boy” car seat for the first time for a long car ride.

On March 29 we headed for the pier in New Orleans. Even with a baby in tow, it was a breeze getting to the pier and everything was very well organized. Because we were returning passengers with Norwegian Cruise Lines, we didn't have to wait long to check in. Logan took it on in stride as he was propped up in his stroller “bucket” enjoying the view.

By mid-afternoon we were checked-in and settled into our balcony, connecting cabins and ready to set sail. The cabin steward brought Logan’s small crib in shortly after we arrived and I brought sheets and mattress pad for his crib rather than use what they had provided. We also requested a small refrigerator in the room. We relaxed all afternoon, headed to the mandatory life boat drill (lots of fun and smiles with an infant!) , then off to dinner.

That evening, we decided to eat an early dinner in one of the dining rooms. Later we found that although the main dining rooms had great menus we preferred buffet dining, where we could get our own food without a wait, was easier for us all. We had packed all of Logan’s baby food so we didn’t have to worry about him not having something to eat that he liked. We kept him seated in his stroller as a convenience (high chairs were also available) and chose tables in low traffic areas where we would be out of the way of staff and other guests. Logan is a happy baby and was entertained with all the sights and sounds during the meals. We always sat in a corner table away from all the high traffic areas.

Norwegian Spirit Cruise Boat
Norwegian Spirit Cruise Boat

On this cruise we headed to Costa Maya Mexico first then onto Belize and then Cozumel. Because of Logan’s age we decided not to take him into the ports (except for a little while in Cozumel), and he was too young to join in on a guided tour. Instead, we took turns babysitting while one of us went into port with the mother in law and aunt. Just spending a relaxing morning with Logan listening to the waves and feeling the tropical breeze was more than enough entertainment for me.

Onboard the stroller came in handy and Logan loved riding up and down the boat's glass elevators. At night there were sound and light shows that Logan often liked. Sometimes he was actually ready for bed after a day of pure entertainment by everyone so he would crash before the 7:30 nightly show.

Our cabin stewards were fabulous and sometimes when Logan would be asleep before they came to make the bed down at night, they would make sure we had towels for the next day. Our cabin steward even made sure the towel animals were on the bed even if it was the next morning instead. One challenge, though was giving him a bath which, in our cabin, turned out to be a shower with one of us. The shower did have an adjustable shower arm which made it a bit easier and Logan loved the new adventure.

We did keep Logan on a pretty regular schedule even while on vacation when it came to meals and napping. This was essential for a happy baby!

The vacation more than exceeded our expectations – both as new parents and as vacationers. Traveling with an infant when you plan ahead was easier than we had anticipated. We look forward to our next adventure soon!

Jenny Reed is a first time mom and owner of OurCruisePlanner.com, a full service travel agency with no service fees. She can be reached as jenny AT OurCruisePlanner DOT com.

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Comments

  1. Emily E.

    May 28, 2009 at 6:56 a.m.

    We took a cruise with our daughter when she was 9 months. I recommend getting one of those inflatable bathtubs for bathtime. We also used it as a little pool for her that we set up on our balcony. She had a grand ol' time.

    We are the opposite of the guest poster- we pack as little as possible! lol. We stopped at Target after flying to Miami and stocked up on essentials. My daughter loves to eat table foods, so we brought a few things of baby food but mostly feed her food from the dining room. We rented a stroller rather than bringing our own.

  2. Jenny Reed

    http://www.OurCruisePlanner.com/
    May 28, 2009 at 1:03 p.m.

    Emily E - love your ideas! We learned our lesson as well as to what to pack to so on our next adventure we will be a little more savvy :)

  3. Debbie

    May 28, 2009 at 2:32 p.m.

    Emily,

    Great tips!

    Jenny,

    It gets easier to pack with each subsequent trip. I pack about half as much for a typical trip (with two kids) now as I did on our very first trip with Baby E! Packing light is one of the few things soley under my control that helps make the trip less stressful.

  4. Diane Strong

    June 4, 2009 at 4:07 p.m.

    We're stay-cationing this summer, and I thought I'd share with you a wonderful and affordable family evening dinner cruise here in Seattle, by Waterways Cruises.

    Our Waterways Family BBQ cruise left from South Lake Union docks, and into Lake Washington with all the comforts of home, and glamour of a yacht! The sights were amazing from Gas Works Park throught the Montlake Cut and into gorgeous Lake Washington, with the spectacular Medina waterfront estates as part of the guided tour. The food was exceptional served family style and offered two choices of desserts at the end of the meal. Full service bar and luxury seating inside were available at all times. We spent most of our time on the upper deck outside during the cruise, enjoying the panoramic views of Mt. Rainier, Bellevue, and lastly the Seattle skyline with the sun setting almost precisely upon our return. The crew was first class, and made our cruise incredibly comfortable. . . which was very appreciated since we were aboard with our 3 year old daughter!!! I look forward to booking again with Waterways and trying the many different cruises they offer.

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