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berkeleykel

Cruising with 3 year olds (and an introduction)

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Hi all!  I’m new to this board and wanted to introduce myself.  My husband and I are Americans living in London with a 3.5 year old.  We’ve been on a couple of Carnival cruises, mostly recent one was 4 years ago, so none since our son was born.  We have our first Royal Caribbean cruise coming up in September, 7 night Greek Isles from Venice on the Rhapsody. 

I've been lurking here for a few weeks and have searched past posts, but I haven't seen too much specific to cruising with toddlers/pre-schoolers, so that's what most of my questions relate to.

1.  Adventure Ocean -- I think you guys more than most would understand our complete joy and relief that in the last couple of weeks my son has finally turned a corner on potty training! Of course when I booked this cruise ages ago, I purposely chose a date after my son would have turned 3 so he could make full use of the pool and Adventure Ocean, naively thinking that he would of course be potty trained by 3.  But after wrecking our nerves and making us consider cancelling altogether, I think he will go into the cruise about as potty trained as you could hope for a 3 year old to be (poop smears notwithstanding)!  So, my question is...the past posts I’ve seen about 3 year olds in Adventure Ocean all indicated that people only left their kids for a limited time, checking in on them regularly and/or picking them up after 2/2.5 hours.  Our son does full days in nursery 3x a week, and he’s pretty sociable and adventurous, and loves to stay up late and party, so I think he’d be fine staying longer/later.  But I’m also worried he’ll be the only young’un left hanging past 10 pm and might get lonely/we might look like crazy parents.  Anyone here drop their 3 year old off at Adventure Ocean for longer periods?  How’d they do?

2.  Dinner --  I had intended to eat in the main dining room for most of our evening meals with My Time Dining.  Is this typical or do people with young kids often just go with Windjammer?  (I don't think we'd get much from the speciality dining so haven't planned for that).

3. Excursions with young kids --  We picked this itinerary for the ports and want to make the most out of them with excursions. I don't feel I get much out of just walking around ports aimlessly. Is it fairly common for young kids to join their families on excursions, or is that considered poor form?  We will try to keep him quiet/behaving, but with toddlers you just never know.

4. Excursions generally (finally not kid-specific!) -- there isn't a wealth of information and reviews out there about Royal Caribbean’s excursions on this itinerary (ports: Kotor, Corfu, Piraeus/Athens, Mykonos, Argostoli).  If you have done any of the official excursions at any of these ports I’d love your thoughts on dos and don'ts.

Thanks!

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While i don't have kids myself, I traveled with a 4 year old once (friends), and he had fun at the kids program, and also spending time with us. where we ate, he ate, whether it be the MDR or the buffet. As I book excursions in the cruise planner, I see age restrictions, so maybe start there? They have some targeted for families, so that may be a good place to look.

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6 hours ago, berkeleykel said:

2.  Dinner --  I had intended to eat in the main dining room for most of our evening meals with My Time Dining.  Is this typical or do people with young kids often just go with Windjammer?  (I don't think we'd get much from the speciality dining so haven't planned for that).

So I'm no expert, but we are doing a cruise with the kids in April. I know on that Navigator sailing it gave me the option of My Family Time Dining. From my understanding, it's done at the 6 o'clock seating. Kids have starters with their parents and receive their meals before the adults come out. Then staff from Adventure Ocean come by and pick up the kids so adults can enjoy their main dishes and dessert kids free. All the while the kids have fun running around elsewhere. 

Hope you enjoy. That sounds like a dream cruise! 😀

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We started cruising when my youngest was 3 (she's 8 now).  I have 4 kids who have traveled the world so some general tips as I haven't done a greek isle cruise.

1.  I don't think you'll be the only one to use the late night hours in AO after 10 especially on a cruise out of Europe.  My only word of caution is to make sure the following morning can be a sleep in day.  My kids can't handle a late night followed by an early morning without a melt down (and to be honest neither can I)

2.  We've always have done My Time Dining with my kids.  

3.  I book private tours.  I've never done an RC sponsored excursion.  I hate the wasted time on those tours and I'd rather change my tour if my child is having a tough time.  We also tend to make sure our port days are around something our children would enjoy.  If your child is ok with AO, you could leave him in AO on a port day and you do something that you know your child would hate.  If you want to stick with RC, look into their Private destinations where they put together a private tour just for you.

4.  I like looking at Trip Advisor and Cruise Critic for shore excursion ideas.  

Have a great cruise.

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16 hours ago, berkeleykel said:

Anyone here drop their 3 year old off at Adventure Ocean for longer periods?  How’d they do?

We definitely used to leave our then-3 year olds past 10pm. They would have a GREAT time with the staff, watching movies, etc. Potty training aside, they loved it.

16 hours ago, berkeleykel said:

I had intended to eat in the main dining room for most of our evening meals with My Time Dining.  Is this typical or do people with young kids often just go with Windjammer? 

We prefer to feed our kids at the Windjammer at 6pm and then drop them off at AO at 7pm, and then enjoy dinner in MDR at 8pm.

Nothing wrong with dining with your kids in MDR at all, just our personal preference.

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19 hours ago, berkeleykel said:

4. Excursions generally (finally not kid-specific!) -- there isn't a wealth of information and reviews out there about Royal Caribbean’s excursions on this itinerary (ports: Kotor, Corfu, Piraeus/Athens, Mykonos, Argostoli).  If you have done any of the official excursions at any of these ports I’d love your thoughts on dos and don'ts.

Pinging @Traveler and @mom2mybugs , traveler has been multiple times and I believe mom2mybugs just went to similar ports, if not the same ones.

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19 hours ago, berkeleykel said:

4. Excursions generally (finally not kid-specific!) -- there isn't a wealth of information and reviews out there about Royal Caribbean’s excursions on this itinerary (ports: Kotor, Corfu, Piraeus/Athens, Mykonos, Argostoli).  If you have done any of the official excursions at any of these ports I’d love your thoughts on dos and don'ts.

We have this exact cruise on the same ship last year and its a very nice cruise , you can can read about the excursions and other information in the semi live blog I have done for this cruise : 

In General : 

For Kotor  as it is tendering port and you only have half day I will highly recommend to take RC tour , we took the taste of Kotor that takes you up in the mountain for a wonderful bay view and a visit in one of the villages plus a very short tour in the old city , we wish we had more time in the city. one or even two hours before entering Kotor , go outside and enjoy the view , the ship will enter a very nice bay. 
Corfu - again we had a ship tour to several villages and a city tour after , it was nice and not too long.
Athens - we took a transfer from the ship to the old city area , then we walk around after we saw the long queues to go up the Acropolis , if you want to go to the Acropolis take a tour from the ship. just remember it  can be super hot around September , so remember to drink allot of water.
Mykonos - Its another tendering port , the boats bring you very close to the old city and we just stroll around the narrow streets .
Argostoli - we did not plan anything , so we did a tour in the city (nothing much to see) and eat good Greek food in one of the restaurants.

We enjoyed the cruise (and even the ship) we actually doing another Greek Island cruise on board the same ship in 5 days from now , this time we  take the one that brings you to Santorini    and Dubrovnik

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We had our 3yo and 2yo grandchildren with us on our last cruise. The first two nights we did My Time Dining altogether (9 of us) and the wait staff was great! They know how to handle the little ones. That said - they still get rammy after an hour or so. The remaining 3 nights my daughter would take them to the Windjammer to eat and then take them to be watched while we ate. We didn't have to rush to beat the rammy phase and the kids loved being with the other kids. Win-win! 

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Thanks everyone!   I've been mulling over dining decisions some more, may post a separate thread about that in the Dining forum as my questions aren't really 3 year old related at all!

@Traveler, enjoy your upcoming cruise, I will be following your blog!  Would love to hear your thoughts on any of the evening entertainment that you go to, as presumably it will be pretty similar for my cruise as well.  Grateful for your blog for your last Greek Isles cruise!  It reminded me that I have been completely ignoring the fact that I need to plan things to do in Venice for our two days there before the cruise starts, arggh 😩

 

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On ‎8‎/‎18‎/‎2019 at 4:06 PM, berkeleykel said:

2.  Dinner --  I had intended to eat in the main dining room for most of our evening meals with My Time Dining.  Is this typical or do people with young kids often just go with Windjammer?  (I don't think we'd get much from the speciality dining so haven't planned for that).

3. Excursions with young kids --  We picked this itinerary for the ports and want to make the most out of them with excursions. I don't feel I get much out of just walking around ports aimlessly. Is it fairly common for young kids to join their families on excursions, or is that considered poor form?  We will try to keep him quiet/behaving, but with toddlers you just never know.

We have a 20 month old who is heading on his 3rd cruise next Wednesday.

2. If you fear that you will disrupt other while at the same table them you can request a table to yourselves. We have done that in advance by emailing dining. Your waiter will knew what we needed for our little guy and had it at the table as soon as he saw us sit (at nine months they brought him mash potatoes and a fruit bowl right away)

more info here:

3. My only concern with excursions is the Baby/Child sitting in cabs or shuttles. you can drag your own around OR you can chance it like when we were kids and just put him on your lap or in a traditional seat belt. It's my understanding drivers do not care what you do...but something you might not have thought of.?!

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My kids are 4 and 8 and they've cruised multiple times. I would suggest to request a table by yourselves. I actually have never sat with other parties in the MDR in my past cruises, we've always been a party of 4 or more. We have done both My Time and early seating in the MDR. Even with My Time, we always asked for the same table - this meant that the staff got to know the kids real well to - their likes and dislikes. Kids also got food quicker and were fully fed before getting picked up or dropped of at AO.

For the most part our kids were asleep when we picked them up after 10. The latest we got them is probably midnight. After dinner is probably the longest stretch we leave them at AO - 4 hours. During cruise days we would drop them off for a morning or afternoon AO session for a few hours. We did activities and the pool together the rest of the time.  

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On 8/19/2019 at 11:16 AM, tiny260 said:

Pinging @Traveler and @mom2mybugs , traveler has been multiple times and I believe mom2mybugs just went to similar ports, if not the same ones.

@berkeleykel I just did Athens and mykenos.  Mykenos had a tiny close beach that was free...we did a trip out to the ancient island of delos....  In Athens we did the Acropolis.  Both of these ports involved a ton of walking, much over uneven pavements.  If your little one tires easily, temper expectations and don't plan on the whole day, or think about some time in adventure ocean while you explore.  Let me know if you have any other specific questions...we didn't find cruising until my kids were teenagers but I'm a preschool teacher so I tend to have little ones in the back of my mind lol!  Jane

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On 8/23/2019 at 3:15 AM, bokx2 said:

I would suggest to request a table by yourselves.

On 8/22/2019 at 2:41 PM, MotleyCruiser said:

My only concern with excursions is the Baby/Child sitting in cabs or shuttles. you can drag your own around OR you can chance it like when we were kids and just put him on your lap or in a traditional seat belt. It's my understanding drivers do not care what you do...but something you might not have thought of.?!

Thank you! It would have never crossed my mind that we would've been sat with others on MTD.  Will email dining. 

On 8/22/2019 at 2:41 PM, MotleyCruiser said:

If you fear that you will disrupt other while at the same table them you can request a table to yourselves. We have done that in advance by emailing dining. Your waiter will knew what we needed for our little guy and had it at the table as soon as he saw us sit (at nine months they brought him mash potatoes and a fruit bowl right away)

Haha well some may question my parenting skills but I live in a city without a car so I'm used to chancing it in taxis etc so I'm not toooo worried, although some of these places the roads look to be a little rough so I may regret it.

On 8/25/2019 at 5:31 PM, mom2mybugs said:

@berkeleykel I just did Athens and mykenos.  Mykenos had a tiny close beach that was free...we did a trip out to the ancient island of delos....  In Athens we did the Acropolis.  Both of these ports involved a ton of walking, much over uneven pavements.  If your little one tires easily, temper expectations and don't plan on the whole day, or think about some time in adventure ocean while you explore.  Let me know if you have any other specific questions...we didn't find cruising until my kids were teenagers but I'm a preschool teacher so I tend to have little ones in the back of my mind lol!  Jane

Thanks! Loved your trip blog. You inspired me to get some new sundresses!  We've signed up for the Delos excursion through RCCL and we've decided on a private tour guide for the Acropolis.  I think it will be a bit rough on him and he's so lazy when he wants to be  Kind of hoping that he takes well to AO so we can leave him behind, but we'll bring the carrier if not.  Fingers crossed!

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14 hours ago, berkeleykel said:

Thank you! It would have never crossed my mind that we would've been sat with others on MTD.  Will email dining. 

Haha well some may question my parenting skills but I live in a city without a car so I'm used to chancing it in taxis etc so I'm not toooo worried, although some of these places the roads look to be a little rough so I may regret it.

Thanks! Loved your trip blog. You inspired me to get some new sundresses!  We've signed up for the Delos excursion through RCCL and we've decided on a private tour guide for the Acropolis.  I think it will be a bit rough on him and he's so lazy when he wants to be  Kind of hoping that he takes well to AO so we can leave him behind, but we'll bring the carrier if not.  Fingers crossed!

Awww... Thank you.... Lands end and zulilly are my new faces!  Just like heading to Disney... Just take the breaks when you gotta and you will be fine!  Also grab lots of water...I think that made our trip so much more bearable (though we got so lucky it wasn't hotter).  I will cross my fingers that adventure open turns out to be the best thing ever!! Jane

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On 8/19/2019 at 9:17 AM, Matt said:

We definitely used to leave our then-3 year olds past 10pm. They would have a GREAT time with the staff, watching movies, etc. Potty training aside, they loved it.

We prefer to feed our kids at the Windjammer at 6pm and then drop them off at AO at 7pm, and then enjoy dinner in MDR at 8pm.

Nothing wrong with dining with your kids in MDR at all, just our personal preference.

I take this a step further. I EAT with the kids at the Windjammer at 6pm then drop them off at AO at 7pm and then enjoy dinner in MDR at 8pm.

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Our daughter has been on 4 cruises with us, she's now 7 but we took her when she was three.   Adventure ocean is great, she loves going there.   We usually take her for a couple hours after dinner so we can do adult things.   She enjoys hanging out with other kids her age and they have all kinds of activities and crafty things to do, the staff has always been awesome.   We don't leave her there all day, would rather spend time with her during the day and experience things.   We usually eat dinner in the MDR and she has always gone with us, wherever we ate she ate there as well.   Being 3 they might still need naps so we would take turns, I'd stay in the cabin with her for a couple hours in the afternoon one day and the wife would handle the next day and so on.    I can suggest getting a compact/lightweight/foldable stroller to take on port days.    As for excursions when she was younger we would just do tours and things that didn't involve a ton of walking or exhausting activities.  Now she does things we like to do like swimming with dolphins, stingrays, etc that are a bit more involved.  One thing we learned quickly back then is that stroller wheels and deep sand like on a beach don't play well together....lol.   Obviously things like lots of kids sunblock and waterproof toys to play with on the beach.   

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