Cruising with Your Baby

» Posted by on Sep 5, 2014 in Blog, Carnival Breeze - 2014, The People | 0 comments

Cruising with Your Baby

When we published our first issue of Fun Time Cruisers magazine we included an interview of Shoshana Fischer who took her baby with her on the Carnival Breeze in January. Recently we’ve seen several questions posted on Facebook about the pros and cons of taken young babies on a cruise. So we decided to revisit the interview here on the blog for any interested folks who might not have seen the original article.

Shoshana and her husband, Adam, have one child. Her name is Danielle … they call her Dani. She was 10 months old at the time of the cruise. We originally planned to interview Shoshana during the cruise but that just didn’t work out. So instead I talked to her over the telephone several weeks after the cruise. Here’s what she had to say.


What was your personal cruising experience prior to this one?
This was either my 25th or 26th cruise. My first cruise was on Premiere Cruise Lines when I was seven. I also did Disney World in the Big Red Boat with my dad. And then at 16 I started cruising again with Royal Caribbean on the Monarch of the Seas. I went on a cruise again about three years later and have been cruising multiple times every year since.

Had you cruised with Danielle before this Breeze Cruise?
Just once when we took her on the Disney Fantasy out of Florida about three months earlier. We always did late seating for dinner. We live in California, so even then it’s a bit early for us to eat. Danielle didn’t have any problem with the time change. She was great.baby_cruise

Of course, we had to change some things that we would normally do. We couldn’t go dancing every night or go to the clubs. But we were able to use the on board nursery one night. We had a lovely dinner and then did go to one of the clubs. Then there was one night when Adam was with Danielle while I went to one of the shows. And on another night I stayed out with her and he went to a show.

Two other couples joined you for the Breeze cruise and they brought their babies along as well. How did that all come about?
We’re all best friends and we have a lot of fun whenever we’re together. But this was the first time that all of us had traveled together. The other two couples had cruised together on Carnival the year before. During that trip the two husbands actually won a free cruise. So when it came time to book it they asked if we would like to go with them. I think they were somewhat surprised when we said, “Sure, but we want to cruise with Danielle.”

So they weren’t originally thinking about taking the babies?
I don’t think so. If we hadn’t taken Danielle, I think they would’ve left their babies with relatives. For me, Danielle is such an easy baby to be with that I didn’t mind traveling with her. We knew how good she is at traveling. We knew what to bring and what not to bring … so we were set.

But for the other two couples, this was their first cruise with their babies. I think the girls were fine with it. They were like, “Yes, let’s take the kids.” I think the husbands were probably more hesitant. They were like, “You know, this is a getaway. It’s a cruise. You want to relax. We’re not going to have as good a time, as we could.” I think that was probably part of the issue.

Now of course they did not have to bring their kids just because we were bringing Dani.

How did your husband initially react to the idea?
Actually he had to convince me. He was like, “We’ll have so much fun! We’ll hang out, and the guys will go to the casino, and the girls will go to the spa.” I said, “Okay, so who’s going to watch the kids?” He was like, “Okay, we’ll figure that part out.”

So then your husband was really the one mostly in favor of it and he talked you into doing it?
Yes, but it really wasn’t that difficult. When we were originally booking the cruise it was going to Nassau and Key West, which I love. I was very excited. I said, “I’m not a huge Carnival fan, but it’s a new ship, and these are great ports.” But then I was less excited when the itinerary was changed. I felt like, “Okay, I’m going to the same ports that I’m not a big fan of.”

Let’s talk about the cruise, itself. Overall, how did it go?
A lot of it was just managing expectations. For example, we did Your Time Dining, which Adam and I typically don’t do. I like having the same table with a waiter who knows my name. The others all like the flexibility of Your Time Dining.

baby_diningBut it was a problem with the kids. For instance, one of the other babies needed a booster. But only certain tables had the right configuration. Some nights we’d be waiting for 20 to 30 minutes. Once a table became available we would have to wait for the highchairs to be set up and then explain things to the wait staff. It was always a big production versus just sitting down and having someone come up to you and say: “Oh, hi Miss Shoshana; hi Mr. Adam; here are your drinks.” I missed that part.

So can you give us some more examples of the main challenges you faced having the babies with you?
One was just the way the ship was laid out. We needed strollers to get around and some of the decks didn’t go all the way through. This was especially frustrating when we wanted to go to breakfast in the dining room. It was the one that you can only get to by stairs or elevator. We were forced to take the elevator versus being able to go over to a less crowded deck and walking across it.

Another challenge was the lack of changing tables. They’re only available in the handicapped bathrooms which are sometimes occupied. To solve that problem I would just take out a changing pad, find a spot of carpet, and then just change her behind a plant or something like that.

That was a challenge, for sure. What else did you discover?
Having cruised on Disney I was used to having certain amenities that Carnival doesn’t have … or at least the Breeze doesn’t have. I missed having a splash area for the kids. There was no water area for little ones who were in swim diapers, for example. Disney has with splashes

I didn’t feel comfortable not having a nursery. At the orientation session for the youth programs I asked the staff, “Do you have a separate area for the infants?” They said, “No, everybody’s together.” I didnt want a bunch of 8-year-olds running around my baby.

I also asked if any of the staff were infant-certified and didn’t get a straight answer. I wanted to know that these people are used to working with infants, not just kids in general. So Adam and I never did use the kids’ club for Danielle.

Were there any significant surprises during the cruise, good or bad … things that you really weren’t expecting?
We had never taken Danielle to the shows before and we ended up going to two of them. She loved it. I was kind of surprised. I didn’t know how she was going to react to being in a room that was that loud. I didn’t know if it would scare her or if she would get upset … but she was really good at that.

The other part that was kind of nice is that we were able to take her to Trivia. We would alternate walking around with her. For the most part having her with us during the daytime didn’t stop us from doing anything. That was surprisingly positive.

I wouldn’t say surprisingly negative, but the biggest headache was just getting from point A to point B, and trying to figure out the best way to do that. For instance, it was difficult when we would go up to the buffet. Sometimes the narrow walkways made it difficult to use a stroller. And if we all wanted to eat together we’d have to find certain configurations of tables. Sometimes I would just stand up and eat.

The staff was great. I know they were trying really hard. Whenever they saw that we had kids people would be very accommodating. They would move over, or shift, or try to make it pleasant for us, which was really nice. Our cabin steward was amazing.

Mostly I just wish we would have had the same wait staff at dinner. I feel like that would have made for a much better cruise overall.

So it sounds like your experiences in the main dining room were the most frustrating for you.
I think so. At one point, we should probably have said to our friends, “Guys, we’re going to change to the late seating. We love you very much, but we’re going to eat separately, and we’ll meet you afterward.”

So what are some tips you might have for other people who are thinking about taking a baby on a cruise with them? Definitely know your own strengths and weaknesses. I would start out with taking your baby for a day at your local theme park, or a day at the mall, or to some big event. Do that before you go on a cruise, even if it’s going to be just the two of you.

On the cruise you won’t be able get to everything easily, so you do have to bring things with you. I ordered a package from that was shipped to our hotel the night before. It had diapers, wipes and formula. That was very helpful because I didn’t have to bring as much stuff with me.

Also, be patient. Things might not turn out the same way that you planned. As I said before, the itinerary changed after we had booked and we ended up going to locations where we had been before. So we ended up staying on the ship, which was okay.

baby_buggyThere were days when we just walked around the ship. I think those were some of the times when we had the most fun. We pushed Dani in the stroller. Now, we loved having our own stroller. But one tip I’d definitely recommend is don’t bring your big stroller. A small one would work a lot better. If you need to get up and down stairs one of you can take the stroller while the other takes the baby.

That’s a great tip. Anything else that comes to mind?
Explain your situation and needs to your cabin steward as soon as possible. Some of them are great with babies … some of them aren’t. If you need things make sure that you ask. We told our steward that we always needed extra towels because Dani would spit up. He was totally cool. He brought us extra towels. He brought us whatever we needed. Don’t be afraid to communicate your needs to the staff. A lot of them are really accommodating.

So for you and your husband, would you do it again?
Yes, I would cruise with Dani again. We know that she is a good traveler. She can sleep through noises. She can eat at any time, and we’re pretty flexible. Like I said before, I can change her anywhere.

How did the other couples feel about how it all turned out?
From what they told me they’re not going to cruise again with the kids until they can put them into one of the clubs. At the earliest, that would probably be when they are about three years old.

Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?
As long as you can be flexible, I would say, there’s no reason to not take a baby on a cruise. For me it’s not so much about the baby, it’s more about the parents. Unless you have a baby that’s screaming bloody murder all the time there’s no reason to not cruise. Sure, you will have to adjust what you do. The only thing it kept us from doing was just the two of us going somewhere together without Danielle.

In the evening the guys would go to the casino. One night I went to the casino with one of the other ladies while Adam watched Danielle. Afterwards I went back to the cabin and said, “Honey, it’s okay; I’ll get her to sleep.” So then he went to the casino for a while. We agreed to a tradeoff. For every night he went to the casino I would get a spa treatment. I made a good trade on that one … I got two spa treatments during the cruise.

Is there anything else?
Definitely keep in mind that each cruise line has their own kid programs, and each ship has their own kid things. Maybe in a few years nurseries will become standard. Disney has them. Royal is adding them to all of their ships. I think that’s a great perk to have, even if they charge you for it.

Go with an open mind and enjoy it. At a certain point your kids won’t want to be with you anymore. When they do go to those kids’ clubs they’ll be like, “Oh, Mom, Dad, go away!” You only get them for a few years when they still like being with you.

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