Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Family Cruise Tips ~ The Gear

Today I'm going to talk about the products we brought along to help on our family's first cruise back in January.  These are things that we recommend you consider as well when planning a cruise with kids.

#1:  Stroller

This stroller was perfect.  We didn't use it that often because I'm more used to wearing the baby in the sling and there were plenty of us to carry her around the ship, but I was glad I had it and would definitely bring it again.  

It is narrow enough for the hallways - even with housekeeping carts in the way - and fit through the stateroom door perfectly.  It is also very light so we were able to take the baby out of it and carry it up the stairs from deck to deck if we didn't want to wait or weren't near an elevator.  

It is compact even when not folded up so I left it in the corner of the room out of the way.

Three other important features are the reclining seat, sunshade and nice storage basket underneath for all of those things you don't want to run back to the cabin for.

#2: Stoller Caddy

The stroller above does not come with much in the way of storage for the parent.  There is a cup holder that hooks onto the side, but in our use at home before the trip we found it to be unreliable in staying on the stroller. So we purchased the Diono Buggy Buddy Stroller Organizer in black.

 It attaches by Velcro straps and stays put.  There are two spaces for cups or water bottles and enough room in the middle for a snack, phone, camera or whatever else you may need to bring along.

#3: Wet Wipes

We ate at the Windjammer Buffet a lot.  A. Lot.  It's a great casual place to eat with enough variety to please everyone in our party.  After each trip through the buffet, touching all of the utensils that everyone and their brother touched, we'd wipe our hands down with a Wet One.  These came individually wrapped so I was able to place a handful in the backpack for each meal.  

They also came in handy for wiping the table or high chair and messy little hands/faces after lunch without needing to head back to the cabin before the next activity.

#4:  Diaper Disposal Bags

These are pretty much a no-brainer when travelling with card-carrying members of the diaper club.  They make it easy to dispose of dirty diapers in your small cabin without the mess or smell.  Your stateroom attendant will think you’re awesome!

#5:  Inflatable Bath Tub

Although some ships have splash zones for kids in swim diapers, I would say most do not.  The Serenade did not have an area for babies so we brought along the tub.  It did take me several minutes to inflate it but our 10-month-old had fun splashing while her older brothers swam.  

Truth be told, her favorite part was putting her brother's sandals into and out of her tub.

It did double duty on the floor of the shower to bathe the littlest kids at night.  

#6: Power Strip

This tiny power strip allowed us to charge several electronics at once.  We had two phones and a camera and no issues with getting it on board.  Remember to unplug it when not in use.  

#7: Dinner-Time Activities

These.  Are.  Lifesavers!  Actually, they're called Play, Pack, Grab & Go and they're the best thing that we brought along all week.  Inside each small packet is a coloring book, some crayons and a sticker sheet.  They come in all kinds of character options like Cars and Frozen.  There are several options for both boys and girls.  

My initial plan was to use these activity books for the four youngest boys.  I figured the 16-year-old could entertain himself at dinner (food does that to a teenager).  However, I also picked a few up for the baby.  I would take the sticker sheets out and then pass the coloring books and crayons over to the boys.  Then I would use the stickers to entertain the baby during meals and between courses.  

Of course I had to pay attention so she wouldn't eat them and I did remove them after we were done eating.  I didn't want to create any more work for the great waitstaff that we had at each meal.  

I found these at my local Target store in the dollar section by the entrance.  I would recommend looking there or at your Dollar Tree (if you have one).  That way you can pick up several.  I think I brought somewhere in the ballpark of 20 of these babies for the week.  I thought it was a bit overboard but we ended up using them all.  Definitely a bringer!

#8: A Good Backpack

#9:  Over-The-Door Shoe Organizer

This is another great thing that we decided to bring.  Actually, we brought two of them - one for our cabin and one for the kids.  We used almost every pocket.  No joke.  

It came in handy for all of the small bathroom things and sunglasses as well as sunscreen, hats and toys.  Make sure you pick up one with see-through pockets or you will be wasting time searching for things.  

As you can see from the above picture, it really didn't get in the way of the room at all.  

#10:  Patience and Flexibility

No, you can't buy these from the internet or any local store, but they are probably among the most important things you can bring along on any family vacation.  

Things aren't going to be perfect.  You might not make it to that after-dinner show.  You might even end up walking out of dinner early and holding the restless baby strategically over the new stain on your dress (who, me??)

If you bring along patience and flexibility, you'll come out on the other side with great memories and a few good stories to tell!  

I hope some of these ideas will help you prepare for a family cruise.  Check out our review posts 

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive referral fees.  However, we were not compensated in any way for this post and these views are our own.  We bought the gear mentioned above with our own money.  

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