Kids

Cruising with kids on Royal Caribbean

In:
09Jan2018

A Royal Caribbean cruise is a great family vacation choice, where both they and you can enjoy plenty of fun at sea and on shore.

Royal Caribbean welcomes children of all ages, and you will find plenty of other families on all Royal Caribbean sailings.  In fact, Royal Caribbean offers a variety of activities and programming for children and their families to ensure there is plenty to do onboard.  Royal Caribbean has dedicated facilities for children, where trained crew members supervise the children and guide them through different daily offerings.

What's available for kids on a Royal Caribbean cruise?

Royal Caribbean's Adventure Ocean offers programming for children as young as six months old, all the way through the teenage years.

Infants and babies

For most cruises, infants sailing on a cruise must be at least 6 months old as of the first day of the cruise. For transatlantic, transpacific, Hawaii, select South American and other selected cruises, the infant must be at least 12 months old as of the first day of the cruise. Moreover, any cruise that has 3 or more days consecutive at sea will require infants to be 12 months old on the first day of the cruise.

Children between the ages of six months and 36 months old can participate in the Royal Babies and Royal Tots (6-36 months) program.  Most Royal Caribbean ships offer a nursery, where parents can drop children off throughout the day and evening. Use of the nursery comes at an hourly charge. Young children can enjoy soft play areas and age-appropriate toys, as well as cribs and cots for napping or sleeping.

If you have children under the age of three, be sure to book a Royal Caribbean cruise that offers a nursery.  For child and parent alike, the nursery is a wonderful resource.

In addition to the Nursery, there is often a open play area set up during the day for parents to bring their young children to and play.  This is unsupervised play time, but does provide an opportunity every day for parents with toddlers to have space to crawl, play, and have some fun.

Children 3 years and older

Royal Caribbean's primary program for kids is Adventure Ocean and is offered in three segments

  • Aquanauts (3-5 years old)
  • Explorers (6-8 years old)
  • Voyagers (9-11 years old)

Adventure Ocean is complimentary and is offered for most of your day onboard your ship, whether the cruise is in port or at sea.  From when Adventure Ocean opens until 10pm, there is no additional cost to use Adventure Ocean. From 10pm to 2am, Royal Caribbean offers an after hour option that has an hourly cost for parents that want to let kids stay a bit later.

There's a lot for kids to do here and the programs specialize for each age group.  It's a mix of learning, play time and socializing.  

Kids are checked in and out by parents and it's fully supervised by Royal Caribbean staff. The requirement for children to participate is to be at least 3 years old and be fully potty trained.  There are after hours programs offered as well in Adventure Ocean for an hourly fee if parents want their kids to have supervision later into the evening.

On sea days, Adventure Ocean is typically open

  • 9am - noon
  • 2pm - 5pm
  • 7pm - 10pm

On port days, Adventure Ocean is open for the entire duration your Royal Caribbean ship is in port.  Once the ship leaves port, it resumes the normal schedule described in sea days.

In addition, Royal Caribbean will open Adventure Ocean early enough for guests booked on Royal Caribbean shore excursions to drop children off.  Check with the staff on exact times.

Tweens and Teens

Tweens and teens have their own programming on Royal Caribbean ships. Just like the younger children, there is crew member supervision, but the activities are designed to be more open and less restrictive to the kids. Royal Caribbean built the teen programs to be about empowering teens to do their own thing but still offer activities and fun events to help introduce everyone.

There are teen-only spots onboard the ship where they can come and go as they please. Each day there are teen only events planned in the Cruise Planner, where teens can have dedicated time to enjoy special activities. Royal Caribbean ships are known for their amazing features, like ice skating rinks, surf simulators, bumper cars, and more, so teens will have opportunities to enjoy these activities exclusively.

Sample Activities by Age Group

If you want to get an idea of the kind of activities offered by Adventure Ocean, here is a sampling from previous cruises.  This list is not indicative of everything offered by Royal Caribbean, nor is it a guarantee that it will be offered on your sailing.  It is merely an example of the sort of programming available in the past.

Aquanauts (3 - 5 years)

  • Finger Painting
  • Camp Aquanaut
  • Building Blocks
  • Play dough sculptures
  • Music Activities
  • Dot Dancing
  • Games – animal, color and shape BINGO 

Explorers (6 - 8 years)

  • Pirate Night
  • Backstage Tour
  • Nutty Nicknames
  • Carnival Night
  • Sports Tournaments
  • Wide World of Sports Night
  • Autograph Hunts 

Voyagers (9 - 11 years)

  • Karaoke
  • Sports Tournaments
  • Adventure Challenge
  • GaGa Ball
  • H20 Thunder Races
  • List-o-Rama
  • The Art Walk 

Navigators (12 - 14 years)

  • Sports Tournaments
  • Pool Parties
  • College Night
  • Challenge Series
  • Scavenger Hunts
  • Karaoke
  • Disco Dancing
  • Video Games 

Teens (15 - 17 years)

  • Dancing
  • Pool Parties
  • DJ Training
  • Battle of the Sexes
  • Karaoke
  • Coffee Talk
  • Talent Show
  • Formal Night
  • Survivor Series 

Cruise pricing for kids

A common question is if kids are charged the same as adults on Royal Caribbean, or if there is a cost to bring infants onboard.  

Like most of the cruise industry, Royal Caribbean charges all of its guests the same regardless of age. Cruise line pricing is based on double occupancy in a stateroom, and this has to do with the pricing model the cruise industry relies on to be profitable.

If your children will be the third or fourth (or more) passengers in the same room as two adults, their cruise fare is usually far less than the first two adults.  Occasionally, Royal Caribbean offers discounts on third and fourth passengers, as well as Kids Sail Free deals.  Be sure to consult your travel agent for guidance on taking advantage of these deals when they are available.

Staterooms

Most families book a single stateroom for their family during the cruise.  Royal Caribbean has staterooms that can accommodate three and four passengers easily, along with some stateroom configurations that can handle even more guests.

In recent years, Royal Caribbean has begun offering family staterooms, which provide extra space and are designed to handle families of five or six passengers.  If you need more space, some suites can handle even more guests.

Depending on your family size, age of your children, and your comfort level, booking multiple staterooms can often be the same or cheaper than booking a large room.  Multiple rooms provides not only additional living space, but extra restrooms and separation from parents and children. Royal Caribbean does offer some rooms with a connecting inside door between rooms.  

If you need a crib, Royal Caribbean can provide a pack 'n play upon request.  You can request this prior to your cruise by contacting Royal Caribbean or your travel agent, however, you can still get one once onboard the ship.

Speaking of toddlers and young children, you will need to bring your own supply of diapers, bottles, and other supplies.  Royal Caribbean provides milk to all guests without an additional charge (skim or regular).  Some parents prefer to bring their own kid-friendly snacks and food, which is permissible by Royal Caribbean. Refer to our Taking an Infant on a Royal Caribbean cruise article for more information.

Kids activities on Royal Caribbean beyond Adventure Ocean

There's lots going on onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise regardless of if your kids are in the kids club or not.  There are pools and even dedicated pool and splash areas on select ships.  Known as the H2O Zone or Splashaway Bay, these areas offer water spouts, slides, colorful decorations and lots of areas to get soaked and the perfect place for kids to run around.

Speaking of fun in the water, Royal Caribbean has begun offering water slides on some of its cruise ships.  Water slides are open to all guests, provided they are tall enough to enjoy the slides safely. We do not have to describe the virtues of water slides, but families with older children may want to ensure they book a cruise that offers water slides.

Oasis, Quantum, and select Freedom and Voyager Class cruise ships offer the DreamWorks Experience, which incorporates the DreamWorks film characters into meet-n-greets, parades and character breakfasts.

Each day of your cruise, the Cruise Director's staff offers many family-friendly activities in the Cruise Compass. Families can join in trivia, scavenger hunts, tournaments on the sports deck, pool games and more. 

The signature activities on many Royal Caribbean ships is also open to children, such as mini-golf, the FlowRider, the rock climbing wall, ice skating and more.

Eating with kids on Royal Caribbean

Every parent knows that dining out with their kids is an adventure that can never be predicted.  Luckily, Royal Caribbean offers a variety of culinary choices that are sure to appeal to all palates.  Whether your child is a pizza and chicken fingers kind of kid, or enjoys the finer foods in life, there is lots available.

The main dining room has a special menu just for kids (adults can order off of it too), which has plenty of kid-friendly fare.  This includes pasta, hot dogs, burgers, mac and cheese, and more.  Of course, kids are free to order off the regular menu too. 

The dining room staff is usually very accommodating to families, and can work with parents to find something that their child will eat.  On past cruises, we have had instances where the waiters went to other restaurants onboard the ship to bring our kids a food not offered in the dining room.  That level of service is what makes dining (and cruising) with kids on Royal Caribbean such a pleasure.

My Family Time Dining

There is a special dinner option in the main dining room known as My Family Time Dining, which is offered for the first seating time in the main dining room, for children ages three to 11.

Here is how it works

  1. You arrive at the dining room with the kids and let your server know that the kids will be headed to Adventure Ocean as part of the My Family Time Dining program.
  2. The kids order and are served right away so that they can finish their meal within the first 40 minutes.
  3. After about 45 minutes, the Adventure Ocean staff arrive in the dining room lobby to sign in and hand off the kids.Parents will need to escort their children to the designated Main Dining room entrance doors at 6:45 pm to check their child in with the Adventure Ocean counselors. Once checked­in, the Adventure Ocean counselors will then escort their children to Adventure Ocean for ongoing evening activities.
  4. Adults return to their table to enjoy the rest of their meal at a more leisurely place.

Prior to the cruise, you can can contact Royal Caribbean or travel agent to book it. Alternatively, guests can sign up onboard in the Adventure Ocean area. Pre­-cruise reservations are encouraged.

Windjammer

The holy grail of kid friendly dining is the Windjammer, which is Royal Caribbean's buffet style restaurant.  Open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, it offers the greatest variety of food that includes many different types of food.  

Most importantly, there is lots of ice cream available on Royal Caribbean! In fact, there is usually a self-serve ice cream station conveniently located near the pool for anyone to enjoy throughout the day.

Specialty Dining

If you want to take your children with you to a specialty restaurant, they are more than welcome to eat there as well.  Kids ages 6-12 can dine at specialty restaurants for a $10 cover charge. Kids 5 years old and under eat free.

Kids 5-12 have a modified adult menu,which is a round-up of kid-friendly favorites from the regular menu. Kids under 5 are free and have a kiddies menu similar to the kids menu in the main dining room. Some restaurants do not have kids menus and so kids order off the regular menu.

Royal Caribbean specifies restaurants such as Wonderland Imaginative Cuisine, 150 Central Park, and Chef's Table do not have kids menus, as those experiences are better suited for guests age 13 and older.

More cruising with kids info

You may have additional questions about cruising with kids on Royal Caribbean, or simply would like to learn more tips and advice.  Here are some good resources to consider:

Your thoughts

Now that you have read over our guide to taking kids on Royal Caribbean, let's hear from other parents. What tips do you parents think are most important? Which advice we shared do you agree with? Where do you disagree? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Six things to know about Royal Caribbean's Adventure Ocean

In:
25Sep2017

Taking your kids on a Royal Caribbean cruise means a family vacation to fun and beautiful places to visit.  Along the way, Royal Caribbean provides award winning kids programming that is largely included in your cruise fare.

Before you step aboard, check out these six important tips for a successful time in Adventure Ocean

You can (and should) register on the first day

On the first day of your Royal Caribbean cruise, guests can register their children in Adventure Ocean prior to Adventure Ocean opening.  While you can register kids at any point in the cruise, take advantage of the open house on embarkation day for an optimal experience.

The Cruise Compass will list times when Adventure Ocean is open for registration.  This time is not when Adventure Ocean is open for kids to stay, but for kids to see the area and for parents to ask questions and get acclimated to the program.

It is a good idea to register kids on the first day simply because there is a set time for registration to occur, and it ensures a smooth first night later on.

Adventure Ocean is open on the first day

In the past Royal Caribbean did not open Adventure Ocean on the first day of the cruise, but that has changed in recent years.  

There will be limited hours, but Adventure Ocean will be open.  You will have to check with Adventure Ocean for exact hours, but expect it to be open the first night.

If you are looking to plan dinner, it is our experience Adventure Ocean opens at 8pm on the first day.

Port day hours are different from sea days

Aside from embarkation day, there are two types of Adventure Ocean operating hours: port days and sea days.

On sea days, Adventure Ocean is typically open

  • 9am - noon
  • 2pm - 5pm
  • 7pm - 10pm

On port days, Adventure Ocean is open for the entire duration your Royal Caribbean ship is in port.  Once the ship leaves port, it resumes the normal schedule described in sea days.

In addition, Royal Caribbean will open Adventure Ocean early enough for guests booked on Royal Caribbean shore excursions to drop children off.  Check with the staff on exact times.

Adventure Ocean is mostly complimentary

Up until 10pm, there is no additional cost for Adventure Ocean.  The programming is included in the cruise fare.

From 10pm to 2am, Royal Caribbean offers an after hour option that has an hourly cost for parents that want to let kids stay a bit later. The cost is $7 per hour. 

There is no need to make reservations for after hours, it simply kicks in if you do not pick up the child before 10pm.

There are special events for families

In addition to the Adventure Ocean programming, the Cruise Compass will list special events for families to enjoy, if they so choose.

Depending on your ship, the variety of activities will vary.  There are events like family movies, DreamWorks character meets, art sessions, ice skating and more.

Usually on the first night of the cruise, there will be a special time where many arcade video games are set to free.  Check the Cruise Compass for the exact time.

There is a special dinner option for families

My Family Time Dining is offered for the first seating time in the main dining room, for children ages three to 11.

Here is how it works

  1. You arrive at the dining room with the kids and let your server know that the kids will be headed to Adventure Ocean as part of the My Family Time Dining program.
  2. The kids order and are served right away so that they can finish their meal within the first 40 minutes.
  3. After about 45 minutes, the Adventure Ocean staff arrive in the dining room lobby to sign in and hand off the kids.Parents will need to escort their children to the designated Main Dining room entrance doors at 6:45 pm to check their child in with the Adventure Ocean counselors. Once checked­in, the Adventure Ocean counselors will then escort their children to Adventure Ocean for ongoing evening activities.
  4. Adults return to their table to enjoy the rest of their meal at a more leisurely place.

Pre­cruise, guests can call into Reservations, reserve online, contact their travel agent or certified vacation planner. Or guests can sign up onboard in the Adventure Ocean area. Pre­cruise reservations are encouraged.

6 cool things for kids to do on your Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
Category: 
12Jan2017

Kids can get just as excited as their parents for a Royal Caribbean cruise vacation, because there are lots of fun things for them to do onboard. Cruising with kids is an exercise in energetic adventures, big smiles and hopefully a nap inbetween. In our many Royal Caribbean cruises, we have discovered certain aspects of the cruise that are real winners with our children and wanted to share them with you.

Consider some, or all, of the following fun things for your kids to do on your upcoming Royal Caribbean cruise!

Meet DreamWorks characters

Ever since Royal Caribbean partnered with DreamWorks to bring their characters onboard Royal Caribbean's cruise ships, it has been a big hit. Guests on select Royal Caribbean ships can meet characters from some of the most popular DreamWorks Animation films.

DreamWorks Animation characters including Po of Kung Fu Panda; Shrek, Fiona and Puss in Boots of Shrek; and from Madagascar, Alex the Lion, Gloria the Hippo, King Julien and the Penguins will be available for guests to meet. There are meet locations set up throughout the cruise, with times and spots listed in the Cruise Compass.

Royal Caribbean cruises are great for meeting characters because the lines are quite short and the characters regularly engage in fun antics with the kids.  The interactions are whimsical and make for really great photo opportunities!

Decorate your stateroom door

Your Royal Caribbean stateroom door is made of metal, which means it is magnetic and a great family project prior to the cruise to create the decorations.  It can be a fun family activity to come up with different ways to personalize your door to share with everyone how excited you are for the cruise.

Often you will find other doors decorated with pictures, magnets of various sizes and shapes, leis, and more.  Your kids could draw something to put on the door, or you could help them create name tags to decorate and then put on the door with magnets.

Keep in mind that you will need to supply your own magnets to affix anything to the stateroom door.  Tape is not allowed.

For those less artistically inclined, Royal Caribbean does offer stateroom decorations for purchase that can be delivered and set up for you.  This can be a great way to celebrate a special occasion, or just plain surprise the children.

Eat ice cream by the pool

Near the pools, you will find free soft serve ice cream that is available most times of the day and there is as much of as you want. I do not think there needs to be any more elaborating.

Ride the carousel

If you are going on an Oasis class cruise ship (Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas or Harmony of the Seas), then your family must go on a carousel ride in the Boardwalk neighborhood.

Royal Caribbean commissioned for each ship a hand-crafted carousel that is inspired by turn-of-the-century carousels. These carousels are as pretty look at, as they are fun to ride.  Plus, rides on the carousel are included in your cruise fare.

Be sure to also get some nighttime carousel rides in too, because the carousel and the entire Boardwalk neighborhood are lit up beautifully once the sun goes down.

Decorate a cupcake

What is better than eating cupcakes? Decorating and then eating a cupcake! Many Royal Caribbean ships offer guests the opportunity to learn to decorate cupcakes in a quick and fun class.  There are classes for kids and adults, but the experience is quite similar.

Kids can let their decorating imagination run wild with icing, sprinkles and a host of other toppings during a cupcake decorating class. There is a nominal charge for this experience, but this will be something your children will clamor to do and probably want to do again and again (making a mess and eating cake, what could be better?).

See a movie at night, in the pool

If there are two things kids love, it is swimming and watching movies.  On Royal Caribbean ships, you will regularly find popular feature films shown on the big screen near the pool each evening.  After dinner, you and the kids can hop in the pool and splash away while enjoying a great flick!

Royal Caribbean shows all sorts of films, from recent releases to classics, and adding in the ambiance of a night swim is always a fun treat as well.  Plus, the pools and hot tubs are much less busy at night, so that means more opportunity for your kids to act like kids and enjoy time in the pool while everyone in the family gets to enjoy a great flick.

Dining with kids in Royal Caribbean's specialty restaurants

In:
14Dec2015

Royal Caribbean's specialty restaurants are one aspect of the cruise experience many guests look forward to each sailing, but just because you have children with you does not mean you cannot enjoy these restaurants.

Royal Caribbean welcomes children younger than 13 in all of its specialty restaurants (when accompanied by an adult) and even offers them special pricing.

How much does it cost for children to eat at specialty restaurant?

Kids ages 6-12 can dine at specialty restaurants for a $10 cover charge.

Kids 5 years old and under eat free.

Is there a special menu for kids?

Kids 5-12 have a modified adult menu,which is a round-up of kid-friendly favorites from the regular menu.

Kids under 5 are free and have a kiddies menu similar to the kids menu in the main dining room.

Some restaurants do not have kids menus and so kids order off the regular menu.

Royal Caribbean specifies restaurants such as Wonderland Imaginative Cuisine, 150 Central Park, and Chef's Table do not have kids menus, as those experiences are better suited for guests age 13 and older. 

What if my kids want to eat off the regular adult menu?

In this scenario, you may be charged full price for your children.

It is worth discussing with your waiter, as we have heard of situations where they still charge the children pricing.  

Your mileage may vary, but expect to pay full price for children ordering off the regular menu when there is no kids menu option.

How do I make reservations at a specialty restaurant if I am bringing children?

If you book in advance, you will pay the full price but then it will be adjusted for the children's price as a credit on your SeaPass on board.

Bookings made on board will be charged the reduced rate when booked.

Because the Cruise Planner does not offer pricing for children, we recommend making reservations for a party size that omits the children and then showing up to the reservation with the children and informing the staff your dining party has grown.

This strategy allows guests to not overpay for their dining reservations and require an adjustment later.

What is the pricing for children at a la carte specialty restaurants?

At a la carte specialty restaurants, children are charged based on what they order off the regular menu.

5 Reasons Why Your Baby is NOT Too Young for Royal Caribbean

In:
17Aug2015

A Royal Caribbean cruise is a fantastic family vacation, even if your family consists of babies or toddlers.  

Assuming your infant is old enough legally to cruise (6 months old from North America, 12 months for international and repositioning cruises), taking your toddlers on a Royal Caribbean cruise is a great idea.  

Despite some folks advocating to. "wait for your kids to be old enough to remember the cruise", there are many good reasons to take a little one on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

5. Royal Babies & Tots Nursery

A parent's best friend is the Royal Babies & Tots Nursery, which is a facility created just for children up to 36 months old.

The nursery allows parents to drop their infants and toddlers off in a supervised environment, where the kids can watch TV, play with other children, explore and nap.   

The nursery will offer parents a drop-off option in the daytime and evening, while always maintaining an optimum staff-to-child ratio.

For a modest fee per hour ($8 at the time of this blog post), parents can reserve time for their kids here to give parents some time alone to enjoy what Royal Caribbean offers or explore a port.

The nursery staff are trained child care professionals and they will make sure your child is taken care of in the time they are there.  Parents also get a special mobile phone to use on the ship in case the nursery needs to call them or if the parents want to call and check in on things.

The Royal Babies & Tots Nursery is available on select Royal Caribbean ships

4. In-room babysitting

If you are looking for more personalized child care or perhaps are sailing on a Royal Caribbean ship that does not have a nursery, then the in-room babysitting program is for you.

The program is simple, go to Guest Services during your cruise and ask about availability for a babysitter.  Guest Services will ask various qualified crew members if they are available to babysit and if there is a match, the crew member will meet you at your stateroom to watch the kids.

Royal Caribbean charges $19 per hour (at the time of this blog post) to watch children in a stateroom and what is great about in-room babysitting is it allows the kids to remain in their comfort zone and sleep or nap in their own beds.

Just like the nursery, in-room babysitting allows parents time to enjoy dinner, a show or a night out on the ship alone.  

3. Babies 2 Go!

Any parent knows a great deal of the bulk with traveling anywhere with a toddler is all the supplies you need.  Diapers, baby food and wipes are just a few of the things you will typically need when you travel.

Royal Caribbean offers parents the Babies 2 Go! program, where parents can pre-purchase Huggies diapers, wipes and cream, and Gerber organic baby food that will be delivered straight to your stateroom when you arrive on the cruise and even during your cruise.

This gives parents piece of mind for lessening the amount of stuff to pack, especially if you are flying to your cruise port and are limited by how much you can pack due to airline restrictions.

You can purchase the packages by calling (800) 722-5443 in the U.S. or Canada.

2. Baby splash zone

On select Royal Caribbean ships, guests will find a special pool just for little ones that are still wearing diapers.

The baby pool is an ankle deep pool, where infants and toddlers can crawl around and splash to their heart's content.  

Parents can sit on the pool's edge or with their child in the pool as the kids enjoy cooling off, just like the big kids.

1. Memories

If you ask me, the best reason to bring your baby on a Royal Caribbean cruise is for the memories you will make. Just because they are young does not mean they cannot have a great time onboard the ship or in the ports of call you will visit.

The portrait sessions in the evening are among the best opportunities to get professional photos of your kids dressed up.  Moreover, these portrait sessions can give you momentos from an early age that you will look back on fondly for many years.

In addition, there are intangible benefits to bringing a baby with you on a Royal Caribbean cruise, such as meeting their favorite DreamWorks characters, or their first visit to the beach and ocean.   Perhaps it's a ride on the carousel or enjoying the parade on the Royal Promenade. 

Your child may not remember every moment of the cruise, but bringing them on a Royal Caribbean cruise is a positive experience for families and one of the best ways to spend together on a vacation.

Have you brought a young one on a Royal Caribbean cruise? Share your experience in the comments!

What you need to know about taking an infant on a Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
Category: 
08Jul2015

Taking a Royal Caribbean cruise is a great family vacation for all ages, including infants.  The key to a successful cruise with an infant is to be prepared and find the right sailing for your family.

How old does my infant need to be to go on a Royal Caribbean cruise?

Royal Caribbean requires infants be at least 6 months old as of the first day of the cruise to be able to go on a Royal Caribbean cruise. 

For transatlantic, transpacific, Hawaii, select South American and other selected cruises, your infant must be at least 12 months old as of the first day of the cruise.

In addition, any cruise that has 3 or more days consecutive at sea will require infants to be 12 months old on the first day of the cruise.

Any children younger than the infant policy will be denied boarding.

Does Royal Caribbean charge infants a cruise fare?

Yes, infants are charged a cruise fare, just like everyone else onboard.

If your infant is the third or fourth passenger, they will usually pay a reduced rate.

Does my infant need a passport?

Ideally you will travel with a passport for your infant because it greatly simplifies the process of traveling by airplane, should an unexpected event occur that causes your family to miss the cruise ship.

United States citizens can travel with a birth certificate in lieu of a passport, but having a passport has tremendous benefits and most travel professionals advise investing in a passport when traveling overseas.

For non-United States residents, you will need a valid passport and in some cases, a visa.

What to look for in a ship

Royal Caribbean has 23 ships in its fleet and each ship offers something different, so it is important to research what each ship has in terms of facilities for your infant and which facilities you absolutely need and which you do not.

Pools

Select Royal Caribbean ships have an infant pool known as the Baby Splash Zone, where children who wear a swim diaper can go into.  Ordinarily, children that wear diapers are prohibited from going into pools onboard the ship, but some of the newer cruise ships now offer an infant pool.

If your cruise has a few sea days, having access to an infant pool can be important, whereas if you are taking a port intensive itinerary, it may not be a factor.

There are Baby Splash Zones on Freedom of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas, Independence of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas.

Nursery

On many Royal Caribbean ships is the Royal Babies and Tots Nursery, where parents can drop off infants and toddlers who are too young for the Adventure Ocean program.

The Royal Babies and Tots Nursery is for children between the age of 6 and 36 months old. For a small charge per hour ($8 per hour at the time of this blog post), your child will be supervised by trained professionals.

Keep in mind that the nursery has limited space, so you will want to go there on your first day to reserve times.

Most Royal Caribbean ships now offer a nursery but you should verify the ship you are sailing on does in fact have one.

Stateroom

Picking the perfect stateroom is always a big part of the decision to book a cruise, but when you add an infant into the mix, it adds another layer of complexity.

Royal Caribbean will provide a crib for your child to sleep free of charge, but you will want to also consider the stateroom size and how much space the crib will take up as well as there being enough space for your child to crawl around in.

Keep in mind most staterooms that are not suites will not have a bath tub, so when it comes to bath time, your child will either have to be okay with a shower or you should consider packing an inflatable tub.

You should also look for staterooms that have a room-dividing curtain or wall so that when your infant is sleeping, you can still have the lights on or watch television or read.

Dreamworks Experience

Select Royal Caribbean ships offer the DreamWorks Experience, where there are DreamWorks characters to meet, such as Shrek, Alex the lion, the penguins, Fiona and more.

There are also DreamWorks activities onboard, such as DreamWorks character breakfast, parades, movies in your stateroom and more.

Bring plenty of supplies

One important aspect of planning for a cruise with an infant is having plenty of everything.  

Infants can go through wipes, diapers, formula and even clothing faster than you can anticipate, so it is important to have as much extra as possible, especially since you cannot go to the store to get more supplies on a cruise ship.

Estimate how much supplies your infant will go through for the duration of your cruise and then pad that number by 25% to give yourself some cushion. 

A good tip is to purchase the supplies close to the port instead of paying the airlines for extra baggage or cramming more stuff in your car for the ride to the port.  If you rent a car, stop by a pharmacy near the port.  If you are taking a taxi, negotiate a stop into the fare.

Royal Caribbean does offer a program called Babies On The Go, which is a partnership with Huggies and Gerber to provide supplies on your ship.  If transporting a lot of diapers, baby food and other supplies is not feasible, consider ordering supplies in advance that will be delivered to your stateroom upon your arrival.

Stroller or no stroller?

Yes, you should bring a stroller but leave the jogging stroller at home because it will just take up too much space in your stateroom.

Consider bringing instead an umbrella stroller or even just a baby carrier.  They may not be that useful onboard the ship but when you go to ports, having a means of transporting your infant other than you carrying them will be quite helpful.

In-room babysitting

If your Royal Caribbean ship does not have a nursery or your child does not want to go, there is in-room babysitting as another option.

Babysitting will cost you more than the nursery ($19 per hour, last we checked) but it allows your child to remain in your stateroom while being supervised by Royal Caribbean crew members.

The key to getting a babysitter is you need to speak with Guest Services about getting one.  At that point, they will ask what day and time you would like the babysitter and then Guest Services will see if there are any crew members willing to assist.

In-room babysitting is not a regular service, so what happens is crew members volunteer to take a shift if they have time and are willing.  

I've had good luck with getting a baby sitter but keep in mind it's on a first-come, first served basis and there are limited baby sitters.

Can I get milk for my infant?

There will always be somewhere onboard to get milk during your Royal Caribbean cruise.  During meal hours, the Windjammer is often the simplest way to get a carton or two of milk.  

There is almost always whole milk available, as well as low fat (2%) milk.

When all else fails, room service can provide milk and deliver it to your stateroom 24 hours a day. Keep in mind that a late night service charge of $3.95 applies if you order very late.

You can also "stock pile" milk in your stateroom mini-fridge.  Ask your stateroom attendant to empty the mini-fridge and then you can always grab extra cartons of milk to store in there for later.

Dinner

You are more than welcome to bring your infant to the main dining room for dinner each evening.  

Royal Caribbean will provide high chairs for infants and there is even a special kids menu, if your child is old enough to eat solid foods.

How do I wash bottles and clothing?

You should be able to wash bottles in the stateroom bathroom sink.  Be sure to bring the proper supplies to clean bottles.

For cleaning your infants clothing, you have two options.  First, you can use the sink to wash clothing.  You can bring onboard single use detergent powder packets that you can hand wash in the sink and then air dry in your shower or balcony.

If you need to clean a lot of clothes, Royal Caribbean offers dry cleaning services for a fee per item.  For a better value, look for the "fill a bag" laundry deal that is often available for a flat fee.

Don't ignore naps

This probably falls under basic parenting, but just because you are on a cruise does not mean you should forget about nap time.

In my experience, the closer you can keep kids to their nap schedule, the better time overall everyone will have.  The nurseries have cribs for napping but often going back to your stateroom is the best idea for a nap.

On embarkation day, your stateroom may not be ready until later in the day (usually around 1pm), so be prepared how to handle a nap if your room is not available.  Some good ideas are to delay arrival to the ship until the afternoon or try for a nap in the stroller.

Have you taken an infant on a Royal Caribbean cruise? Share your tips in the comments below!

Cruising with kids on Royal Caribbean

In:
Category: 
01Jan2014

Happy New Year! Our newest podcast episode is out to help give you a quick "audio escape" to a Royal Caribbean cruise!

Episode 22 is available for downloading where we look at going on a Royal Caribbean cruise with kids

Family cruising is as popular as ever so this week Matt looks at what Royal Caribbean offers for families that want to cruise with kids, young and old.  There's a lot of options in terms of programs and activities, staterooms and dining options.  

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 22. And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast via RSSStitcher or on iTunes!

Take a listen and as always, let us know what you think! Please rate and review the podcast on iTunes and leave your comments below!

Pages