Monday, August 27, 2012

Cruising: Advice? Please?

I never thought I'd ever go on a cruise. Ever. The idea of being stuck onto a boat for days at a time with animal-towel-making classes for entertainment, felt stifling. But more importantly, I felt that instead of a cruise to the Bahamas where one day is spent on the island, why not just go to the Bahamas on a quick flight and spend the otherwise-boat-hours at the actual location taking in the local culture, vibe, foodings, and let it seep into you more deeply?

Enter, kid. And the fact that despite previous vows to never let said kids stop us from traveling, we have not stepped foot on foreign soil in three years. Our friends and family members who have been on cruises suggested we look at it differently: It's not about the destination, its about the journey. The downtime, the experience of being on the boat. Considering this, combined with no car seat unbuckling and rebuckling, nap schedules, and eating conundrums, all while checking out, albeit briefly, a new foreign destination-- suddenly a cruise didn't seem like the worst idea.

So we're going. And I'm skeptical but excited.

Ever been on a cruise? Yay? Nay? Any advice, recommendations? What sort of activities did y'all do? Any advice on cruising with kids? Did your toddler go on the kids-camps they have? Did you like the nannies? How safe did you feel with your personal belongings? How tight was the room? Any sea-sickness fighting ideas? What did you do on your day excursion to the Bahamas or island of destination? Any advice or input of any sort much appreciated!

16 comments:

Reem said...

Salams Aisha,

it's me Reem! I liked the cruise, but now if I had to choose, I'd rather get on a quick flight and spend more time on the actual island than the ship. My father has worked with aviation his whole life so I'm a frequent flyer and love air travel compared to road trips or cruises. I didn't take Z on the boat, but honestly if you just get on a plane with W and fly, you might enjoy more time on the beach (woohoo!). I wished we'd had more beach time and less cruise time; I love land and air :). The room is pretty tight but was comfy for me and the hubby. Adding a toddler will def make the space tighter. DIdn't experience sea sickness and just chose the beach excursion upon reaching which was just chilling on the beach.


Also another thing to consider when disembarking from the ship to land, (reaching the US again) the lines were v.long and tiring! I'm not a US citizen so that probably delayed us even more, but nonetheless the lines were long for all, so take that into consideration as well, esp with a toddler.

If I was traveling with Z to the Bahamas, I'd do a plane as the travel is shorter. I know the cruise is about the journey, and enjoying it, but I couldn't help wondering if I was there yet! Husband had to keep reminding me it was all about the experience.

best of luck!! :)

Alan Howard said...

I despise cruises. Sorry, I have tried them once and found them confining and you are restricted to seeing only what they want you to see. I like to do my own research and then go visit and see what I want to see.
But to be fair, there is something inherently relaxing about a cruise.....you have no worries.

Anonymous said...

I can't offer any advice because I've never been on one. But I guess things change when you have kids! We are thinking of doing the Disney one next year. Have fun!!!!!!!!! Can't wait to hear about it when you get back! Pixie

katery said...

i have never been on a cruise, the thought of being in the middle of the ocean on a giant boat does not appeal to me, but you never know, maybe someday. i would consider an alaskan cruise because it is BEAUTIFUL there and there is a ton of stuff to see that you just can't do without a plane or a boat. as far as the sea sickness goes, there is a prescription you can get from your doctor for something called a scop patch. it's a small patch that goes behind your ear and prevents sea sickness, from what i've heard they work well. only problem is, your insurance probably won't cover it and they are not cheap.

Anonymous said...

have fun!

Lawyer Loves Lunch said...

The hubster and I went on a Hawaiian cruise pre-baby and loved it. I recommend springing for a suite- the extra space is really worth it when you don't feel like battling the crowds for meals (most ships have room service) or just down time (all the more necessary with a baby). If I could do it again (especially now), I'd probably do less excursions in favor of more pool/beach time. They're kinda tiring, especially if the goal is to have a relaxing vacation. Oh, and some ships have "deluxe" restaurants that have a small surcharge. Totally worth it, especially when you get tired of the buffet fare. I can't wait to hear all about your trip!

hausmilleradventure said...

I don't have any advice for a cruise, having never been on one myself, but I can talk about travel with toddlers and babies. Since moving to Germany 9 months ago (with a 20mo old and a 4mo old) we have traveled to Paris (2x), Switzerland (2x), Italy, Amsterdam, Croatia and around Germany (all by car except train to Amsterdam). Yes, it's tiring doing it with the toddlers (now 2.5 and 1), but it's worth it to just keep doing it.

I will readily admit that we don't get to see as many sights/museums/etc or relax as much as we did pre-children. We have learned to keep our expectations of what we can do to a minimum and choose to enjoy walking around where ever we go. We have seen a lot that we wouldn't have because we were just walking around with sleeping babies in a stroller. : ) It is good for our children to learn to be in different environments and to experience different cultures, even if they won't remember it. We will and we have photos to remind them when they're older.

We are going to keep traveling while living in Europe. There is a definite need for some down time between trips, but after a few weeks at home, we're always ready to go again.

The thought of babysitters on a cruise DOES sound enticing, however... :)

pj said...

went on a cruise b/c of limited time, needing maximum sightseeing and relaxation and didnt have alot of to plan. how bad could it be? we did a spain/portugal/morocco cruise but honestly i would not consider it with a toddler. perhaps the carribbean cruises are different but the rooms are (usually) cramped unless you spend bigger bucks, you destinations are often limited to the ports OR if you want to spend a long time in a bus, being hauled to a further-away-destination only to have to take the bus back after a few photo ops. better to fly to a place, get there and settle in and explore on a routine and timetable that you know if best for you and your little one.

Anonymous said...

I felt the same way before I went on a cruise, it was a family getaway planned by my parents. I gotta tell you, I loved it! So much to do on the ship,from entertainment to food to just chilling out on the deck. Plus tons of kids stuff. You also get to know a lot of the other people after spending 5-8 days together, which is nice. Doesn't feel stifled. The most amazing thing? In the middle of the night or early early morning like right at sunset when everyone else is asleep, go out on deck and just take it all in, look out at the horizon and remember that you're surrounded by nothing but ocean for miles and miles. Hard to explain but truly exhilarating. :)

Aisha said...

Reem, thanks for your POV. But wow I mean, your cruise was really really short too wasn't it?? So you would never do it again ya think?

Alan, I suspect I will feel the same way as you upon return. Where did you guys go?

Pixie, will definitely update when I return!!!

Aisha said...

Kate, an Alaskan cruise is a dream of mine too. I heard with a kid though its not as much fun because you can't do nearly any of the excursions, but yes, one day!!!

Azmina, man, we should have gotten the suite :0/ We got the regular room so likely will be quite cramped. Thanks for the excursions advice. We will definitely keep that in mind and try to stay more on the chill side.

Hausemiller, WOW I am in awe of your globe trotting! What do you do with naps and sleep times? Do you retire early and wake up early? Do the kids just skip naps? Very inpsiring!

PJ, I think the cabins are going to be small :0/ Well its already booked, but its good to hear perspectives so we are fully prepared for the reality either way. Thank you!

Aisha said...

Anon, whoops I missed your comment--- thanks so much for your take on this and your positive experience gives me hope!!! Appreciate you sharing :) I am afraid of miles and miles of ocean but iwll try to keep your POV in mind!

hausmilleradventure said...

"What do you do with naps and sleep times? Do you retire early and wake up early? Do the kids just skip naps?"

We try to keep bed time about the same as normal. Sometimes it gets slipped back. If they're really cranky and fussy it gets moved up.

Wake time is the normal wake time (unless we have to be up early to travel somewhere). Daily activities don't normally get going until mid to late morning when we're traveling. In my opinion it's not worth the stress of trying to get out super early in the morning.

As for naps, if we're in a place where our hotel room is close to us we try to do naps there. Sometimes when you're out it isn't possible to get back for a nap. Usually a stroller nap happens (not nearly long enough most times). My kids are pretty good stroller nappers, so it works. My 2.5 yr old sometimes goes without a nap, but that makes for a VERY tired toddler at the end of the day who just can't manage a dinner in a restaurant that night.

Also, they don't have very firm nap/sleep schedules so they can go with the flow more. If your child is very set on their sleep schedule you might have more problems. We're a little bit free flowing with the child schedules in Haus Miller. :)

We do meals in our room a lot. If we can find a place with a kitchen we try to do that. 1: cheaper. 2: ease. Or we do easy sandwich-type meals that don't require a long sit in a restaurant.

It would be nice to be able to go and have a nice evening meal with my husband and enjoy it without rushing through because we have 2 mini ticking time bombs. But, this is such a short time with babies and when we'll live in Europe we are trying to do as much as we can.

Aisha said...

Hausmiller, thanks for sharing your experience .Now that W is older its definitely easier to be flexible with his napping but like your own 2.5 year old, a meltdown is always at risk later in the evening if a nap is missed. and I WISH my son was a stroller napper, how nice would that be!!! Definitely take advantage of your time in Europe, as long as you are having a good time on the trips regardless of the "behind the scenes" manuevering of the kids, that's what matters. The kids though young are soaking up the experience and gaining a lot too.

Katie said...

hope you have fun. i cant think of anything i would hate more but maybe you will have a good experience and it will change my mind. I have taken my 3 year old to bermuda, a few US holidays, France and london twice. She really enjoyed the whole thing and although it can be a little stressful from time to time with car seats etc.. on the whole we did a lot of public transport whcih she adores. Dont let it put you off in the future. I will be interested to see how you handle the small cabin. When we travel we try and get a place with the bedroom and living room are separate so we can still enjoy ourselves once they go to sleep. Whatever happens, i am sure you will have fun.

Fruitful Fusion said...

Salam Aisha, we went on a cruise when I was a teen and LOVED it! My youngest brother was about a year old at the time, so we had his stroller with us! We stopped at Cozumel, Ocho Rios and Grand Cayman and went snorkelling one day and walking up the falls another day. The cruise ship itself was great, but we ate too much! There was booze in certain areas, which we avoided anyway.
Can't wait to read about it!

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