I was provided with a promotional one day cruise on board the Royal Caribbean Navigator Of The Seas. All opinions are my own.
When it comes to family vacations, heading out to sea on an amazing family cruise has always been one of my big to-do’s. Recently we had the chance to experience a one night cruise with our family on board the Royal Caribbean, Navigator Of The Seas and of course I was UBER excited!!
After I sent in all my family info and received our boarding passes I sat there thinking about all the fun I was going to have with my husband, how I could visit the spa and he could get lost in the casino and we both could sit out on our balcony and be lost in the sea. And then BAM! (reality smack to the face) I realized I had forgotten something; BISCUITS!!, I have 2 little kids that are coming with us that are not going to allow me to do any of that!!
But I was so wrong. In fact, the ship we were going on offered great programs for kids and we were able to enjoy our mini vacation knowing they were safe and having fun as well. I learned some valuable cruising with kids tips that I’m hear to share with you and I hope they’re able to help ease your vacation worries!
1 - If you’re planning on a cruise with the family, research the different ships available with the cruise company you plan to sail with. Some cruise lines offer LOADS of areas for kids to play, be babysat and have fun while other’s don’t. Researching before booking a ship is always a good idea.
2 - If you’re looking for time alone and away from the kids, check and make sure there is a kids area or baby sitting service on board that is geared towards the ages of your children. On Royal Caribbean’s Navigator Of The Seas they offered complimentary areas for kids; Royal Babies & Royal Tots for 6 – 36 months, the Aquanauts for 3-5 year olds, Explorer’s Program for 6-8 year olds and Voyagers for 9-11 year olds. They also offered tween and teen areas for the older kids. Navigator Of The Seas also offered a Sitters At Sea option which was a paid, in room baby sitting service for kids 1 and older. Just FYI – none of the private areas for kids allow photography of the area’s so you don’t have to worry about weirdos video taping your kids. It’s also why I wasn’t able to get any pictures of the inside of the clubs.
3 - If you plan on checking your kids into a youth program, check and see if you need to pre-register them before you sail or if you can do so on the ship. These programs can fill up fast and most of them only allow a certain amount of kids in them at a time as to not overwhelm the care givers so be sure to book your kids as soon in advance as possible.
4 - Check for potty training requirements in the youth programs!! If you have a 3 year old that REFUSES to poop outside of his pants like I do, then you will have to check and make sure they are still able to go into the youth program for their age group. On Royal Caribbean’s Navigator Of The Seas, we learned this the hard way as my son decided to plop one out while playing at the Aquanauts and we had to take him to a different area. Since they have a potty trained only policy, he had to be registered at the near by Royal Tots & Babies nursery.
5 - If you’re looking at booking a dinner with the family, be sure you look and see which restaurants on board are family friendly and book it early in the evening. My husband and I attended a dinner in the gorgeous Sapphire Dining Room on the Navigator Of The Seas but I would not want to have my littles there. Although we did see some older kids, it took a while for our dinner to get to use ( the whole dinner took about 2 hrs) and I don’t see little ones being able to handle this time frame in a “peaceful” manner.
6 - If you have a child that gets ANY type of motion sickness, stock up on the Dramamine!! Although cruise ships have special stabilizers to help with the rocking of the boat, you can still feel it pretty heavily at times, especially when sitting, lying or standing still. If your child is too young for motion sickness medication or won’t/can’t take it, I highly suggest grabbing some SeaBands from your local drug store. They are little cloth wrist bands with a plastic nub in the middle that help relieve nausea using pressure points.
7 - Pre-register your family for boarding and anything that requires a reservation. If the ship gives you the option when booking to fill out info about your family and emergency contacts, this is a MASSIVE time waster when you have to do it at check in so the earlier the better.
1 - Don’t assume that ANY child care is offered or pre-booked for you. Always research and know what is offered on the ship you are sailing on.
2 - DO NOT forget to bring your child’s form of identification!! Either a passport or CERTIFIED copy of their birth certificate will work if they don’t have a state ID yet. Even if you’re not traveling out of the country you will need this verification for your kids upon check in.
3 - Try as hard as you can to go with as little large luggage as possible. Cruise ship rooms, unless you’re shelling out the BIG bucks for a giant stateroom tend to be VERY compact. I suggest sticking to one large suitcase and backpacks for the kids since those can be easily condensed once they are emptied. You will have a closet in the room but it’s also kind of small and you really don’t want to be using up the walking space you have to store your suitcases.
Check – In Do’s
1 - AGAIN! Double check that you have either a passport, ID or CERTIFIED birth certificate for your kids. You will NOT be allowed to board without these documents.
2 - Arrive as early as you can! This one I can’t stress enough, especially if you have kids in the 2-6 stage. Mine are 3 and 4 and we got to the ship around 1:30pm which was 3 hours before it was set to depart. We first had to park our car which was in a lot a good ways from the ship. They do offer shuttles to take you to the terminal so be sure to hop on one. Going through security is no where near as stressful as it is at the airport which was nice BUT we then encountered the line to check into the ship. GOOD GOD was it long. Like I said we arrived at 1:30 but didn’t get on the ship till about 3:20. My kids were FREAKING out. Combine crazy amounts of excitement with needing a nap and being hungry and you will not have a pleasant line waiting experience.
3 - Make sure your family is with you when you check in. For Royal Caribbean Navigator Of The Seas, they needed to take pictures of each passenger including the kids.
Check – In Don’ts
1 - Don’t forget to have your tickets, sailing documents and ID’s for everyone traveling.
2 - Do not forget that you will need a valid credit card for check in. The cruise line will add this credit card to your room cards so that you can charge things to your room. If you do not want it added to certain people’s cards, tell your attendant at check in.
On Board Do’s
1 - Head straight to your room and drop off any bags and luggage before exploring the ship. Boarding is always a giant traffic jam and you will most likely have a wait for any elevators. So this is where getting there early really helps as well.
2 - Once your settled in your room, check the room for a pamphlets that talks about the ships programs and where they are. This is a great way to make sure you head the right direction when looking for the youth programs, pools and restaurants. They also tend to have the hours that everything on board is open to.
3 - Look on your room key or listen to the cruise info on the TV in your room to find what and where your muster station is. A muster station is the emergency group you are in if a emergency happens on board. There will normally be a number reference, a floor and area you are meant to meet at. Our muster station was D22 and we were directed to meet on the 4th floor in the Sapphire Dinning Room of Navigator Of The Seas. You will ALWAYS be asked to participate in a mandatory safety drill before the ships departs. This means heading down to your muster station, checking in with the crew there and waiting until the captain has declared the drill over. This normally takes about 30-45 min.
4 - Ask for child life vests. In the case that there is an emergency, life jackets are normally stored for all guests in the closets however child sized life vests must be requested.
5 - Register your kids with their appropriate youth programs. After our safety muster, we were able to head to the 12th deck and register our kids for the Aquanauts program. There were crew members out front of the youth programs registering kids. We had to fill out forms for each child and the crew wrote which youth program they were to attend on their Sea Pass (room key)
6 - Make sure you verify how late the youth program is open till and if you will need to feed your kids. The Aquanauts program on Royal Caribbean Navigator Of The Seas had time schedules that they followed. From 5pm-7pm children were offered a dinner and from 8pm on they were kept busy with crafts and fun activities. We were given a beeper for our children and were beeped if anything went wrong, our kids needed us or to pick them up.
7 - Make sure your balcony is always locked! If you have young kids and your staying in a stateroom with a balcony, make sure it is always locked or you are accompanying your kids outside. Although the balconies on Royal Caribbean Navigator Of The Seas came up pretty high from the ground, the first thing my 3 year old did when we went out was try to stand on the chairs out there. Making sure they are always supervised is the best way to make sure you don’t end up diving in after kiddo.
8 - Check out the ship! Get to know the decks that have the areas you’ll be visiting the most. Its VERY easy to get lost on a cruise ship since there can be 10+ decks to explore so knowing where you are going is a must. Royal Caribbean Navigator Of The Seas offers a digital Cruise Compass on all decks near the elevators. This handy tool shows you everything that is happening on the ship, where you are, what’s on which deck, activities for kids and more!
9 - Set a meeting point and times. Once you head out into international waters you’ll soon realize that your cell phones will be going all sorts of wacky. Mine was telling me the time was 12:43am at 5:43pm. This also means that your text messaging and calling won’t work. Setting a meeting point and specific times is a great way to make sure your easily able to find each other through out your cruise.
10 - Head to guest services and ask about on-shore excursions! Most cruise lines offer awesome adventures for you and the family once you’ve hit port. This can range from snorkeling and kayaking to hiking and guided tours. If you haven’t pre-booked any of these, Guest services on board will be able to help you
On Board Don’ts
1 - Don’t forget to sign the names of the people authorized to pick up your children from their youth programs. If you are with your spouse, be sure to list both of you so that you can avoid not being able to check them out.
2 - Don’t forget to supply diapers (if needed) for your child’s caregiver.
3 - If a beeper is provided when dropping off your kids at their youth programs, Don’t ignore it if it goes off or keep it somewhere you won’t hear it go off. The last thing you want is for your child to need you for some reason and you don’t realize it.
4 - When heading out in a port, make sure you don’t forget your passports or Sea Pass cards! This is how you will be allowed back on board the ship. No ID’s means no admittance and you don’t want to get left behind.
5 - Try not to forget to set bed times for your little ones. Although it’s hard to give up your “us” time without the kids remember, if your children are still in napping age they still need a schedule to help regulate their little bodies. Little to no sleep for young ones is not a pleasant experience and even though you may have to cut your night a little short, you all will be much happier in the long run.
Top Cruising Tip
HAVE FUN!!! Above all don’t forget you are on vacation. Royal Caribbean Navigator Of The Seas did an AMAZING job at keeping our kids safe and entertained while we were able to have fun by ourselves as well as giving us the chance to do fun things as a family.
If you are looking to go on a cruise for a family vacation I highly recommend taking a look at Royal Caribbean and the ships they offer. We had a wonderful time on board Royal Caribbean Navigator Of The Seas and the kids LOVED their youth programs, not to mention every staff member we encountered was incredible nice and willing to help with anything.