Any parent knows that packing for a cruise with children isn't easy. Don't forget the basics, like clothing and toys, but also include these nine essential items below:
Pack it up
- Lovies, blankies, binkies: Whatever you call it, it's invaluable if your child can't sleep without it.
- Water bottles: Especially helpful for port excursions; fill up before you disembark.
- Binoculars: Scanning the horizon is a perfect quiet-time activity for kids; and who doesn’t love shouting "Land ho!"?
- Journal/autograph book: For cruises with "characters," an easy — and inexpensive — way to interact with larger-than-life costumed pals.
- Inflatables: Since many ships don't offer bathtubs (Disney is an exception), tuck an inflatable tub into your luggage for easy baby bathing. Inflatable balls and other blow-up toys pack flat and are fun for in-room play.
- Tupperware: Moms in the know fill up a small take-away with cereal or snacks from the morning buffet for daytime treats and excursions.
- Baby supplies: Bring bottles with disposable liners and single-use sippy cups to cut back on dish washing (but still pack a small bottle of dishwashing soap for bottle parts, etc.).
- Walkie-talkies: Most cell phones either don't work at sea or have exorbitant roaming fees; to keep tabs on the family, bring these two-way communicators instead.
- Portable DVD player or loaded iPad: Onboard televisions get limited channels; if your kids can't relax without watching Dora and the like, be sure to bring your must-have shows along with you.
Leave it at home
- Wheels: On most ships, sneakers with built-in wheels, scooters, skates, skateboards are prohibited outright, and even if they aren't, wheels + slippery decks + low railings = you really don't want to go there.
- Full-size strollers: Staterooms are small, and most full-size strollers are very large. Unless you know you can fold yours easily and fit it under the bed, leave it at home. Umbrella strollers or lightweight compact strollers are a better choice.
- Booster seats, portable cribs and bottle warmers: Almost every cruise that welcomes children has these available to borrow from guest services (some cruises also have stroller loaners available for port excursions).