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Best Caribbean Ports for Toddlers (and a little bit about ships)


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Hello all. My wife and I are looking at booking our first cruise since December 2019, but this time we will have our son with us. We are looking at next February-March, at which point in time he will be 2 years old, and approaching 2-1/2. 
 

As far as ships are concerned, we are already committed to booking on an Oasis or Quantum class ship due to those classes having water features on the pool deck he can enjoy. I’m not wagering any money on being potty trained and out of swim diapers by then, so Freedom, Quantum, and Oasis are a must. We have sailed on Independence and Allure, so we know what we are getting there. Please comment with your experiences on Quantum class vessels with a child his age, and particularly if you have sailed on both Quantum and Oasis with a child his age as to which you preferred and why. 
 

As far as ports go, I guess I’m wondering which ports are easiest, simplest, most convenient, etc. to fly by the seat of our pants with him in. As I’ve read on here, we want to kind of go at his pace and be flexible. We also aren’t opposed at all to staying on the ship in port if all else fails. 
 

In the past, we could always do whatever we wanted to do, but still generally booked excursions through the cruise line. I’m not ready to make that big of a commitment given how we need to go with his flow a bit more. My wife would probably prefer easy (walking) access to a beach or cultural experience above all else. 


I’m kind of leaning toward a booking right now on Odyssey that visits Labadee, CocoCay, and Falmouth for the first two ports and the convenience of what they offer, but other possibilities are certainly on the table for consideration.

 

Any and all input is accepted. Thank you!

 

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Quick run down on highlights from our recent cruises with my 2.5 year old daughter.
Aug 2021 independence - best splash away Bay even if still in diapers as it has a good slide for a 2 year old.  Simpson Bay at St Martin is a very quick walk to water taxi and very short ride over to shallow entry calm waters in view of the ship.

Dec 2021 Oasis -  Very lacking baby splash area.  All other amenities are awesome though (carousel about 8 million times).  Coco Cay Splash Away bay and the wave pool are excellent choices!

Jan 2022 Odyssey - Amazing ABC islands trip but they were long days.  Our daughter did amazing but it could have been a nightmare too, we were lucky.  Caves in Curacoa, Eagle beach in Aruba was very steep entry and lots of rolling waves.  Climbed the rock formations.  Not for everyone with a two year old!

 

A couple of the trips we did Blue Lagoon in Nassau.  Excellent excellent choice for little ones.  Watch some videos and you'll see the very shallow waters.  need to be careful as a current can come through though.  Hope this helps!  Enjoy.

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7 minutes ago, Tanner said:

Quick run down on highlights from our recent cruises with my 2.5 year old daughter.
Aug 2021 independence - best splash away Bay even if still in diapers as it has a good slide for a 2 year old.  Simpson Bay at St Martin is a very quick walk to water taxi and very short ride over to shallow entry calm waters in view of the ship.

Dec 2021 Oasis -  Very lacking baby splash area.  All other amenities are awesome though (carousel about 8 million times).  Coco Cay Splash Away bay and the wave pool are excellent choices!

Jan 2022 Odyssey - Amazing ABC islands trip but they were long days.  Our daughter did amazing but it could have been a nightmare too, we were lucky.  Caves in Curacoa, Eagle beach in Aruba was very steep entry and lots of rolling waves.  Climbed the rock formations.  Not for everyone with a two year old!

 

A couple of the trips we did Blue Lagoon in Nassau.  Excellent excellent choice for little ones.  Watch some videos and you'll see the very shallow waters.  need to be careful as a current can come through though.  Hope this helps!  Enjoy.

Awesome! Thanks for the input. How were the splash areas on Odyssey for comparison? 

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6 minutes ago, MoneyMan702 said:

Awesome! Thanks for the input. How were the splash areas on Odyssey for comparison? 

The baby (swim Diaper) are was just okay.  Better than Oasis but not as good as Indy.  It had a couple rubber things to step on that would squirt water.  Great ship but hard with a little one.  Can't do bumper cars, North Star, Zone Zero with a little one.  Amazing ship but my wife, 10, and 2 year old had to split up often.  She did like the interactive art pieces in the Via.  The splash pad for the toddlers out of diapers on all three ships were much more comparable but the Freedom class still has the best ones.  As much as I really liked Odyssey if the sole decision making factor was ease of use with a 2 year old it would rank lower than Oasis or Independence.    But it would also be very doable to have your little one go to adventure ocean while you hit North Star, IFly, Bumper Cars if that's your thing.  

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7 minutes ago, Tanner said:

The baby (swim Diaper) are was just okay.  Better than Oasis but not as good as Indy.  It had a couple rubber things to step on that would squirt water.  Great ship but hard with a little one.  Can't do bumper cars, North Star, Zone Zero with a little one.  Amazing ship but my wife, 10, and 2 year old had to split up often.  She did like the interactive art pieces in the Via.  The splash pad for the toddlers out of diapers on all three ships were much more comparable but the Freedom class still has the best ones.  As much as I really liked Odyssey if the sole decision making factor was ease of use with a 2 year old it would rank lower than Oasis or Independence.    But it would also be very doable to have your little one go to adventure ocean while you hit North Star, IFly, Bumper Cars if that's your thing.  

Thank you for the input. I was concerned about exactly what you said about Odyssey given how I had never sailed on that class before, but that was dead on my concern/speculation. 
 

I highly doubt he will be out of swim diapers by then, or at the very least am not willing to bet the farm on it. He will also still be under 3 at the time of this prospective sailing, so nursery only for him. I’ve definitely considered how much easier waiting 8 months or so would make things since he could go to Adventure Ocean. 
 

Ironically enough, Independence has been our least favorite ship we have been on so far, which surprised me considering how much we liked Mariner. 

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  • 4 weeks later...
6 hours ago, MoneyMan702 said:

We ended up booking Oasis, mostly due to itinerary and because we thought Oasis might suit him better at his age than a Quantum vessel. I definitely want to get on Odyssey or another Quantum-class ship someday relatively soon though. 

When you say you booked Oasis, do you mean Oasis-class (if so, which one? I'm guessing something other than Allure - Symphony? Wonder? Harmony? 😛) or Oasis of the Seas? 😛 

I'm assuming Oasis of the Seas but just double checking 😛

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5 hours ago, Jamesszy94 said:

When you say you booked Oasis, do you mean Oasis-class (if so, which one? I'm guessing something other than Allure - Symphony? Wonder? Harmony? 😛) or Oasis of the Seas? 😛 

I'm assuming Oasis of the Seas but just double checking 😛

Sorry. Oasis of the Seas. The itinerary for March 5, 2023 goes to CocoCay, San Juan, St. Thomas, and Labadee. The only port of those three we haven’t been to is San Juan, and we love simplicity of being able to get off and go to the beach more or less straight from the ship at both of Royal’s destinations. 
 

We may make use of the Nursery service while at San Juan so the wife and I can enjoy some time in port together. It is also a later stop from 2 PM til 10 PM. 
 

The Odyssey itinerary on March 5 also goes to Labadee and CocoCay, but ports at Falmouth which we didn’t particularly love. Add in that the Oasis itinerary was a bit cheaper on a cost-per-night basis and is 7 nights vs 6 on Odyssey, and the decision became quite clear for us.

 

Can’t wait to be back on the water!

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On 4/25/2022 at 7:05 PM, Tanner said:

The baby (swim Diaper) are was just okay.  Better than Oasis but not as good as Indy.  It had a couple rubber things to step on that would squirt water.  Great ship but hard with a little one.  Can't do bumper cars, North Star, Zone Zero with a little one.  Amazing ship but my wife, 10, and 2 year old had to split up often.  She did like the interactive art pieces in the Via.  The splash pad for the toddlers out of diapers on all three ships were much more comparable but the Freedom class still has the best ones.  As much as I really liked Odyssey if the sole decision making factor was ease of use with a 2 year old it would rank lower than Oasis or Independence.    But it would also be very doable to have your little one go to adventure ocean while you hit North Star, IFly, Bumper Cars if that's your thing.  

We were on the Odyssey with a 10 month old and agree that the baby splash zone was okay and very nice to have. One negative side is the location in the same area as the main pool: music was played on a nightclub level when the band or the DJ was playing. Not cool for the babies in my opinnion. 😬 Gave Royal feedback, but don’t know if there is anything they can do.

 

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San Juan is a very good port for toddlers. It's all walkable, and looks to look at that will caugh baby's attention. I highly suggest you stay at the south side, bottom of the hill and don't walk up the streets, its a bit tiring, toddler may walk up but you will definitely carry him/her down. The Paseo de La Princesa is perfect to walk and sightseeing and will lead to the waterfront, very interesting for the baby. If you want to walk up the street go to the Plaza de Armas which is halfway and also nice to let you toddler walk and walk.

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13 hours ago, smokeybandit said:

Just about any ship with a splash pad is the best for a toddler

Totally agree. There wasn’t a bad choice so long as it had H20 Zone or Splashaway Bay. He would be content in an inflatable pool. Hah. 
 

 

6 hours ago, Rayma said:

We were on the Odyssey with a 10 month old and agree that the baby splash zone was okay and very nice to have. One negative side is the location in the same area as the main pool: music was played on a nightclub level when the band or the DJ was playing. Not cool for the babies in my opinnion. 😬 Gave Royal feedback, but don’t know if there is anything they can do.

 

Yeah, he doesn’t love loud noises at this point. Things may change by then though. 
 

9 minutes ago, vmartin12 said:

San Juan is a very good port for toddlers. It's all walkable, and looks to look at that will caugh baby's attention. I highly suggest you stay at the south side, bottom of the hill and don't walk up the streets, its a bit tiring, toddler may walk up but you will definitely carry him/her down. The Paseo de La Princesa is perfect to walk and sightseeing and will lead to the waterfront, very interesting for the baby. If you want to walk up the street go to the Plaza de Armas which is halfway and also nice to let you toddler walk and walk.

That is great news to hear! I definitely wanted to check out San Juan since we have never been there. We visited St. Thomas in 2018 and considered using that as a day to stay aboard. Easily walkable is definitely our preference for this trip with him. Thanks for the input. Now hopefully I don’t forget between now and then. 

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12 hours ago, MoneyMan702 said:

Totally agree. There wasn’t a bad choice so long as it had H20 Zone or Splashaway Bay. He would be content in an inflatable pool. Hah. 
 

 

Yeah, he doesn’t love loud noises at this point. Things may change by then though. 
 

That is great news to hear! I definitely wanted to check out San Juan since we have never been there. We visited St. Thomas in 2018 and considered using that as a day to stay aboard. Easily walkable is definitely our preference for this trip with him. Thanks for the input. Now hopefully I don’t forget between now and then. 

Check this video I found. It will give you an idea if how nice are the port side street and boardwalk. It's a bit lengthy but... Trust me I'm a born/rised PR'ican. San Juan is nice cause locals actually visit Old San Juan, it's far from been a tourist trap. Hope this help:

 

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