Cruising with a 1 Year Old
Updated: Feb 18, 2020
We just got back from taking our 14.5 month old on a 7 day Royal Caribbean cruise on the Oasis of the Seas. I want to preface this post by saying that the ship was AMAZING and had it just been my husband and I on the trip, I would have had zero complaints. Alas, our toddler was with us. And he was wild. He had a blast, but in my opinion, it was really tough to cruise with him. It can be done though!
Even though the travel days were what I was stressing out about the most before the trip, they ended up being not nearly as bad as I thought they would be.
On our way there our flight was at 9am, so we can to get Gavin up a little before 6am to leave for the airport. That sucked, but he handled it well. We barely had to wait in the airport once getting through security, so that was really nice. On the plane, we upgraded ourselves to Delta Comfort and had a row of 3 seats to ourselves, which was SUPER helpful. I sat in the window seat with Gavin, Chris sat on the aisle, and we put all his stuff in the middle seat. We fed him snacks almost the entire time, let him play with the screen on the seat in front of us and watch movies, and I got him to nap in my arms for the last hour of the flight. Pretty painless!
On our way back home, we had to get off the cruise ship around 8am and our flight wasn’t until 1pm. So we had about 4 hours to kill in the airport……that was rough. Nothing was making Gavin happy, he was teething, and I felt awful. We did whatever we could to entertain him, walked him around, and he took a 45 minute nap on my chest, on the airport floor. Yep. It was disgusting. He didn’t sleep at all on the flight, but was content-ish for most of it. We did the exact same things we did on the way there.
The things we brought on the plane that were most helpful were:
– Babyganics sanitizing wipes (I am psycho and wiped literally everything down)
– Gavin’s own iPad (we bought a child-case and loaded his favorite movies, shows, and pictures on it)
– ALL the snacks. Anything your baby will eat.
– Painters tape and sticky notes (we let him stick them all over and peel them off, over and over)
– Water bottles (Gavin liked to put the lid on and off a million times)
– Books (we read them before trying to get him to go to sleep)
– Whatever your baby needs for sleep (paci, white noise machine, blanket)
– A change of clothes (I wanted his dirty plane clothes off of him the second we got off the plane)
Checking into the cruise was a stressful process, but mainly just because we had so much stuff. In addition to our 2 suitcases (we split Gavin’s stuff between the 2 of us), we had a pack and play, stroller, car seat, 2 backpacks, and a duffel bag. It was absolutely insane. Add that on top of trying to corral a toddler through an airport, into an Uber, and through a cruise terminal with thousands of people? It was pretty wild. Once we got on the ship and were able to drop our things off in our room and get some lunch, we were all in a much better mood.
By that point, I could tell Gavin was exhausted, but he had already had a short nap on the plane. I had no clue if he would sleep again since he hasn’t taken a second nap in months, but I thought I would give it a shot. Our pack and play also hadn’t arrived at our room yet, so I laid down in bed with him, turned the lights off and sound machine on, and hoped for the best. And he fell asleep for almost 1.5 hours! It felt like an absolute miracle.
After that first travel day, all of our days were pretty identical. Gavin woke up about 6am every day. Then we would do everything we could to keep him chilling out in bed with us until 7am-ish when breakfast opened. He watched a LOT of Disney+ on our iPads. Then we took him to the breakfast buffet, walked around the ship, utilized the baby splash pad, and played in the indoor play place until his nap around 11:30am. Most days he napped around 2 hours. Then we would feed him lunch and do the same activities we did all morning again. Around 4pm we would take him back to the room, give him a shower, and try to get him to chill out with the iPad again since he was always really tired again by this point. We had dinner at 5:30pm each night which we always rushed through (our server was great and would come take his order and my order right away). I would take him back to the room shortly after 6, get him ready for bed, and he was in bed about 6:30pm every night.
Other things he really liked on the ship were:
– Pushing chairs around on the main level
– Tiny ice cream cones on the pool deck
– Having his own “adult” cup of water outside so it didn’t matter if he poured it all over himself
– Touching the interactive map/info screens all over the ship
– Pushing the elevator buttons
– Being around other babies his age (we were lucky to meet a few really nice families with around 1.5 year old boys, too)
Oof. This was the roughest part. I had been on cruises before so I KNEW how small the rooms are, but it’s a whole new ball game when you’ve got a baby and all their stuff in your room, too.
Luckily, we had an adjoining room with my sister. This saved us. We were able to keep the really big things (suitcases, stroller, car seat, etc.) in her room and just have essentials in our room. We also stored a lot of clothes and bathroom stuff in her room, so we could use her bathroom while Gavin was sleeping instead of risking waking him up by using ours.
We also made Gavin his own little room within our room. We put his pack and play as far from the door as possible and used command hooks and a black sheet to make a curtain between him and us. This was really helpful, because he couldn’t see us in the night. I tried to recreate his room at home as much as possible and set up his books, oils, lotions, sound machine, diapers, etc. in his little “area.” Obviously we brought a crib sheet from home and all his loveys and pacifiers, too.
I kept his bedtime routine exactly the same as it is at home for naps and nights. I made sure to give him his same cup of whole milk before his naps and nursed him before bed at night. He seemed to respond really well to this and always napped decent and did much better than I thought he would at night. He was in bed around 6:30pm each night and woke up at 6am like clockwork every morning. This is about an hour earlier than he is up at home, but it was better than I anticipated. A couple nights he woke up in the night and was up for around an hour, but one night I know his belly hurt and another he was cutting a tooth, so that likely would have happened at home anyway. Overall, sleep was much better than I thought it would be – I was pleasantly surprised. I was honestly thinking he would need to sleep in bed with me, but he never did.
Here is what I brought for Gavin for our 7 night, 8 day cruise: (I will call out if something wasn’t used – if there is no note, we used it!)
– 4 pairs of footie pajamas (I used 3)
– 2 pairs of long-sleeve long-pants pajamas
– 1 pair of short-sleeve short-pants pajamas
– 7 different dinner outfits (he wore some of these clothes during the day, too)
– 3 extra t-shirts
– 3 bathing suits, 2 swim shirts, 4 swim diapers
– 3 hats (he never wore them)
– ALL the sunscreen (my favorite brands are Babyganics and Sun Bum)
– sunglasses (he never wore them)
– 2 pairs of sandals (we used 1), dress shoes (never wore them), tennis shoes (only used on travel days), & socks (I only brought 1 pair and wish I had brought more)
– regular & overnight diapers (I estimated 6 regular diapers per day and 2 overnight diapers for day (we use them for naps and night) and only came home with 2 leftover!)
– 3 packages of wipes, 1 package of antibacterial wipes
– 10 books
– small bag full of toys
– toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste, body/hair soap, snifflease oil, tummygize oil (we never had to use this one), cedarwood oil, coconut oil, diapers rash cream, tooth oil, vitamin d drops, thieves spray), Motrin, Tylenol
– eating: suction plate, 3 cups (2 for water, 1 for milk), fork, spoon, food containers, 7 pouches, puffs, prunes (never had to use them), dish washing brush, dish soap
– iPad with childproof cover (we used this on the plane and at dinner every night)
– travel: stroller, pack and play (with sheets, loveys, and pacifiers), car seat, baby wrap, nursing cover (never used it, I was reminded that I don’t care at all if I nurse in public and he hates being covered)
I’m probably forgetting some things we brought, but this is what I remember!
OUR BIGGEST CHALLENGES
Keep in mind that Gavin had a blast on this trip! These are merely challenges my husband and I faced. It was more exhausting and overwhelming for us than it was for Gavin.
Here is what we thought were the toughest things about cruising with a 15 month old:
– His attention span lasts about 8 minutes. So by the time we got him in his bathing suit, applied sunscreen, and got him in the splash pad, he was only content for 15 minutes max before he wanted to do something else. Then we would have to dry him off, get him dressed, and go to the inside play area where he would last another 15 minutes and do it over and over again.
– There are a LOT of “no’s.” He can’t get close to the edge of the ship, can’t knock on people’s doors, has to get his hands cleaned a lot, has to have sunscreen applied a million times, and has to be in a stroller more than he likes.
– The rooms are SO small. There is absolutely no room at all for him to play in there, and he obviously didn’t have many toys to play with anyway. Having all of us in the same room just made for less restful sleep, too. Both my husband and son make a LOT of noise in their sleep!
– You have to bring your whole entire life with you. You are stuck on a boat for a week and have to be prepared for anything. I was so stressed the whole time that Gavin would get sick and we wouldn’t have what we needed or we would run out of diapers.
– You are stuck in the room with your baby while they are sleeping. This part wasn’t SO bad since we did have the connecting room, but it would be miserable if you didn’t have that!
Overall, we really did have a good time. Gavin had a blast, we got to relax a little (because of the help of my family that was there with us), and it will be such a good memory. It was tough, but it is absolutely doable if you want to cruise with a toddler! It will also really, REALLY make you appreciate your home and your space once your trip is over. 🙂
Let me know if you have any questions or if you think I missed anything!