When myself and the Husband used to travel around the world just the two of us, we had a backpack each that weighed in about as much as the Big One does now.
Then we had children and not only does life change but packing does too. Then when you add in limited weight luggage with baggage restrictions, the need to bring bulky nappies, and the fact that you are going on a holiday of a lifetime that you have never been on before. Well then your packing list gets even longer than you’re used too.
So what is essential to pack when you go cruising with children? What needs to arrive in your cabin with you and what can be left at home “looking after the house”. In our case, Big Buzz Lightyear was left on guard duty while we were away and a fine job he did too. Until we got home and the Big One launched him in a fit of jet lagged rage.
The Baby Essentials; Packing for Cruising with Children
While they are available onboard there is no guarantee that they will have the right size or an unlimited amount. As we realised when we were talking to the shop manager it’s not as if they have a warehouse full of stock just downstairs they can bob down too. That said we ran out on the last day and luckily enough they had the right size in for us. At a premium, we paid £13 for 22 Pampers size 4 so trust me these were treated like gold dust.
If you’re anything like me, especially as I’m now practically horizontal with Baby Boy being my second, you go for comfort over outfits. Which means that vests – or bodysuits if you want to give the new fandangled name – were the order of the day.
Just because vests are comfy and easy to move in doesn’t mean they are boring. I am in love with the Mamas&Papas robot set (though there are lots of designs I love from the M&P Essentials Range). Bright designs and bold colours make these vests stand out from the crowd.
Not only that but they stand up to being dragged belly round on the floor by our commando crawler, without too much wear. Withstanding the constant washing I had to do (I think every day he wore an M&P vest) as well as the tumble drier. They’ve kept their shape, colour and still look good as new.
Seeing as the Baby doesn’t sleep so well we tried to keep to our routine as much as possible, which meant taking our sleeping bag with us. This was especially useful in the transfer journey between night nursery and our cabin as it meant we could pick him up and then just pop him back down. Simples. (Obviously in real life it didn’t quite work like that.)
After the first night dressed up the Baby used to come out for dinner with us in his sleepsuit as chances are, while we were enjoying our pre-dinner drink, one of us would have done a couple of laps of the bar and gotten him to sleep. Alternatively he would have crawled all round the bar, up to unsuspecting passengers giving them his biggest “I’m so cute” grin he’d have worn himself out so he fell asleep at dinner. So we took along his best – none hand-me-down – Christmas PJs from bluezoo Debenhams so he looked extra adorable whilst out and about.
We started seeing wondrous things happening with the Whisbear we received at Christmas. So much so it makes the cut; and I slept soundly for 2 weeks that’s for sure.
On a more serious note any essential baby sleep aids, loveys, dummies, blankies, should always be taken. In duplicate. In case of losing one!
It’s hot and the little one doesn’t have much hair! We love our La Millou bandanas.
Along with the Bandana we also packed essential swimwear for the Baby, a rashvest and a reusable happy nappy by Splashabout.
The Big One Essentials; Packing for Cruising with Children
As I mentioned in becoming a cruise convert, for the first week the Big One came out to dinner with us every night (before we discovered the delights of night time kids club). Children also have to adhere to the dress code on board, though you don’t have to go all out in little tuxes on formal night as long as they adhere to the evening casual standards.
We have some beautiful (matching) shirts for the boys from Maddy & Eva here in Dubai.
I think that by the time we left the cruise the Big One had it drilled into him that he looked very smart (which he did, and so big!) as every night as we got ready for dinner he would trill
I look very smart
While I loved the smart shirt look, some days he just didn’t want to wear a shirt. Never fear, once again it was Mamas & Papas to the rescue, polo shirts can look just as smart as shirts without having the blotchy face of a tantrumming child over the top who didn’t want to wear the shirt.
Again, I can’t fault the quality of the M&P Polo shirt as this shirt became my favourite outfit, especially paired with chinos. So I washed it, and washed it, and washed it again. The best thing? It can also be fairly casual with shorts so you get double the wear out of one top packed.
Not only were trousers deemed more appropriate for night time in line with the evening casual dress code, it got chilly on board at night!
As I’ve mentioned in Why We Became Cruise Converts, the pool onboard the Azura were very deep which meant that I struggled to take the boys in without any kind of floatation device. Of course I had left ours at home, though luckily was able to buy one in the ships shop, but next time I would pack one!
This was the Caribbean, it was too hot to stuff feet into sweaty trainers, and some of exploring required more substantial shoes than flip flops. Luckily for me Clarks has just opened their first Kids Only store here in Dubai, where we managed to grab a pair.
Along with the rubber ring, and just like the baby, swimwear is essential! How else can you splash in the pool? We go with rash vests and shorts for the Big One.
And of course, because it is the Caribbean hats are essential due to the sun!
And the rest….Packing for Cruising with Children
Travel Medical Kit
With a teething baby and an accident prone 3 year old it was always likely at some point I would need to break out my travel medical kit, Calpol, Ibuprofen, special plasters, Snufflebabe, saline spray. You name it my DIY kit has it.
Of course should either of them have become ill I wouldn’t have hesitated taking them to the onboard medical centre, fully staffed with Doctors and equipment. Luckily other than one teething episode, all was fine with our boys, but it’s lovely knowing that there is professional back up if required.
Having two small boys we needed to take the pram, we contemplated taking the double but settled on our Bugaboo Bee in the end. I’m so glad we did as the corridors and doorways weren’t really wide enough to take our side by side double and we managed just fine. Though on the last day I found out the we could have borrowed the Reef Clubs double buggy…..
And of course, whichever boy wasn’t in the pram would then be in the Baby Carrier…..
What would be your essential items when packing to go cruising with children – I’d love to know for next time, do drop me a comment!
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Disclosure; some of the items mentioned were gifted to us in return for an honest review (though most I bought using the husbands credit card shhhh). All opinions are my own and all items I deem essential when you are cruising.