What to Pack When Taking a Toddler on a Cruise
Introducing your little one to the open sea by taking a family cruise is an exciting and memorable way to spend a family vacation. Cruise lines offer plenty of entertainment and fun in the sun for the entire family, but it’s necessary to put some forethought into the packing process when there will be little ones on board. When you’re on a ship in the middle of the ocean, you can’t quite run to the market to snag a few essentials, after all. While you’ll want to modify the list accordingly in order to accommodate the unique needs and preferences of your individual toddler, these are some of the universally recommended items for parents to bring along on a cruise ship when they have toddlers in tow.
- Baby Bathtub – Unless you’re springing for the pricier staterooms or traveling with an exceedingly kid-friendly cruise line, your on-board accommodations are almost certain to come equipped with a standing shower only. Since toddlers are notoriously hard to wrangle, even when they’re dry and fully clothed, you may not want to take a chance on the showers as a method of keeping up with your little one’s hygiene. Furthermore, a toddler that’s not accustomed to showering is likely to be uncomfortable or downright frightened of the entire process. It’s best to pack a baby bathtub, rather than gambling on the effectiveness or feasibility of showering your little one.
- Diapers and Wipes – Even toddlers that are largely potty trained will have accidents from time to time, especially since their routine will be completely upset by life on a cruise ship. Most cruise lines carry limited supplies of diapers and wipes, which won’t take any skin sensitivities into account. To be on the safe side, make sure that you have plenty of diapers and wipes on hand when you board the ship.
- Proof of Citizenship – If you’re planning to travel into international ports, you’ll need your passport or accepted proof of citizenship. What you may not realize, however, is that even babies will need the same documentation.
- Kids’ Birth Certificates – You may never need to prove that you are the parent of your toddler while you’re out of the country, in a foreign port or in international waters, but it’s far better to be safe than sorry in such situations. Proof of your relationship to your little one is imperative when you’re traveling, even on a self-contained vessel on the sea.
- Baby Monitors – Springing for a suite gives you more room to move around and allows you to stay in your quarters while your little one is napping without whispering to one another in the dim lighting. It also creates the necessity for the same monitoring equipment you relied upon when your toddler was a baby in her nursery. Make sure that you pack not only a baby monitor, but also enough batteries to sustain the device for the duration of your trip.
- Stroller – Toddlers can be a bit too heavy to comfortably carry around on a ship’s deck all day, and their little bodies tire out rather quickly when they have to walk everywhere. A large stroller may be too cumbersome for your quarters and for comfortable navigation, so picking up an umbrella model that’s more streamlined is your best bet.
- Sunblock – In the frantic packing phase of your trip, it’s easy to leave essentials off of your list because you think that they’re too obvious to be forgotten. If you overestimate your ability to remember everything off of the top of your head and forget to pack sunscreen, however, you’ll be forced to spend the majority of your time in your cabin to avoid sun damage to your toddler’s sensitive skin, or to shell out a small fortune for tiny amounts aboard the ship.
- Diversions – You’re taking a family cruise for the memories and the experiences, not to read books and play with the same old toys your child has at home. Still, there will be downtime when you’ll want to relax, and there may not be much in the way of diversions inside your cabin. Favorite books, a portable DVD player and a small selection of DVDs can be a real life-saver when you’re stuck on a ship in the middle of the ocean, so leave room for them in your luggage.
- Comfort Objects – To you, a break from the norm sounds like a wonderful departure from the stress and tedium of your everyday life. To your toddler, it’s an unfamiliar break from routine that can be disconcerting, to say the least. Make sure that the favorite blanket or stuffed animal that she relies on for comfort is in your suitcase, or you’re likely to have more than one tearful episode.
In addition to these basics, bringing along any medications in their original containers is also important. Over the counter fever reducers, a thermometer and a basic first aid kit may come in handy should your toddler get sick or suffer a minor injury while on board.