I’ve always been a bit unsure about cruises. Having been on a few over the years, from luxury Caribbean cruises to mini cruises around the Mediterranean, I absolutely love that you get to explore so many different places in the space of just a few days. Sitting on a different glorious white sandy beach every day? Yes please!
But on the other hand having only a day, or half a day really by the time you’ve got on and off the boat, isn’t really long enough to properly explore somewhere in depth. When I travel I like to do things off the beaten track, meet the locals and get lost trying to find the best eatery, but you just can’t do that on a cruise.
For a taster of a few different cities or beaches it is perfect though so we decided to give it a go with Evie. Our week’s cruise visited several places in Southern Spain, Gibraltar, Portugal and Morocco and I never would have guessed how seriously brilliant a cruise is with a baby. So here are just a few reasons why we loved cruising with Evie so much and, if you’re a bit unsure yourself, why I think a cruise with a baby is the most perfect holiday.
♥ They will love being the centre of attention
Cruises are not generally thought of as being ideal for children and they usually tend to steer towards the older clientele (nan and grandad I’m looking at you) which is why Evie was one of only four young children/babies on the entire ship. Because we were always out and about doing lots of things it meant that everyone saw her and she became a pretty popular little lady. Everyone knew her name and would say hello to her as they walked past; I got stopped everywhere (I’m not joking, someone actually grabbed me just as I was about to get into a lift and we bumped into someone in the middle of Cadiz who must have been onboard too!) to tell me how lovely she is and how good she is at this travelling thang. What can I say, she gets it from her mama!
The staff paid her even more attention than the other cruisers did, showering her with big smiles and silly faces wherever we went, rushing to get her a highchair in the restaurant, and making a huge fuss of her all the time, so much so that other guests got completely ignored but they didn’t seem to mind in the slightest as they were all smiling away at Evie too!
She loves people and always has a smile on her face ready to charm someone new so she was basking in all the attention. When we got back home she must have been thoroughly bored!
♥ There’s lots of entertainment for everyone
When we travel, I’m not one of those parents who hides away in the room every evening because the baby absolutely has to go to bed at their routine time of 7pm. I think it’s only fair that on holiday I should be able to enjoy myself a bit too! So not having a strict routine at home actually works pretty well when we’re away.
There is always something going on on a cruise to keep everyone entertained including cocktail evenings (for mum), morning boules tournaments (for grandad), quizzes and dancing classes (for nan), spa time (for me), and kids’ clubs which Evie was actually too young for but the colourful balloons and the maid’s towel art kept her perfectly happy.
We watched the nightly shows on the boat which ranged from dancing and tribute acts to live bands and comedians. We nabbed a seat in the front row and the singers would come down and sing to Evie. The dancers had her mesmerised with their sparkly costumes and as soon as the music began to play she would start clapping and bopping up and down – a new skill that she picked up on this trip. She was a little less interested in the comedian although she did shout out some loud baby talk at just the right moment during a comical pause in a joke!
The shows were an absolute hit and we were all kept thoroughly entertained every night – even if Evie did fall asleep a couple of times!
♥ 24 hour buffet food
With a baby or toddler this couldn’t be any more perfect. Evie was 8 months when we went on the cruise in November so she had been eating solids for a couple of months and was a pro at baby led weaning – for those who aren’t up on their baby lingo this is where you disregard puréed foods and only give them finger foods to help themselves to – making buffet food so ideal, especially at all hours of the day for whenever their little tummies start to rumble.
There was a great selection of food and plenty for all taste buds including the vegetarians, gluten frees and nut allergy sufferers who I was with. Yes, we are a fussy family! There was so much for Evie to eat and we made some new favourites including banana pancakes or fresh omelette for breakfast, pasta, fish and veg for lunch and dinner, plus cucumber and melon with absolutely everything! She even joined in with some banana cake for afternoon tea, a meal she rather enjoyed. I’m not sure where she gets that from.
Although it might not feel quite so luxurious having buffet food, it is so much more suitable when travelling with children. There’s no waiting around for a table or for meals to be prepared with the little ones getting bored and there’s a much bigger selection to choose from. There are still fancier restaurants on board where you can have waiter service but we found the buffet worked best for all of us. Especially the chocolate champagne buffet on our last night!
♥ Lots of stimulation and new adventures
I’ve said before how I really think travelling is fantastic for young children and I really believe it helps them develop and learn new things and it was so evident with my little explorer on this trip. There was always so much going on, from the entertainment on the boat to visiting lots of new places, seeing different sights and trying new foods. We explored new cities, visited wildlife parks and mosques, played in parks and saw the ocean.
I’ve already mentioned she learnt to clap and dance along to music; she also began waving at all her fans on the boat every time they walked past and said hello and I noticed how inquisitive she was becoming. Always eager to explore, always looking around trying to catch the eye of someone new who could entertain her, and she never once whined or cried about a single thing. Oh except for when we all had to take part in a safety drill and put on our life jackets. Baby girl, don’t worry, I promise you looked the cutest of us all!
♥ It’s basically a floating hotel
Even though there are daily opportunities to get off the ship and explore different cities, there’s no having to lug around bags or move around every day. Everything is in one place and you can pop back to the room at any time. Super convenient and super easy. And a huge bonus – a gently rocking boat means baby (and you!) should sleep soooo much better! But if you somehow don’t manage to be rocked off to sleep, the sunrises on the sea are out of this world.
A few tips to know before you go:
♥ Cabins on cruises are notoriously small so make sure the room you get is big enough to fit everything in if you need a cot for the little one. Evie and I shared with my mum so we had a twin room and the cot between the beds quite literally took up the rest of the space. There was no room to put our cases, we couldn’t open the wardrobe doors, we couldn’t even get from the door to our beds without pretty much climbing over the cot!
It was so ridiculous we threw out the cot and made a makeshift snuggly bed on the floor for Evie, which she seemed rather happy with, but the staff thankfully found us a bigger cabin before one of us ended up tripping over her in the night. I shared a huge double bed with Evie and my mum pretended like she was a teenager and had the top bunk AND there was still room for the cot.
♥ None of the cabins have baths so unless you want to wash babies in the shower every day or squeeze their chubby bottoms into the far too tiny sinks, take an inflatable bath with you, a fantastic tip I got from Wandermust Family. Evie’s little blow up bathtub fitted in the bathroom perfectly and she loved splashing about in there – especially when the boat rocked a bit and swooshed her from side to side!
♥ On most cruise lines children aren’t allowed in the pool until they’re potty trained which is a bit of a pain if it’s hot weather and you have a little mermaid on your hands like I do. If it’s a sunny day at sea the inflatable bath could also work as a substitute pool.
Have you been on a cruise (with or without kids)? Do you love them or hate them? Let me know in the comments below or at: