Cruise Packing With Kids

Cruise Packing with Kids - 1

Packing for any trip with kids can seem daunting, but add that you’ll be on a ship in the middle of the ocean, and it seems downright impossible. Packing for a cruise with kids for the first time comes with a million questions.

What if you forget something? What if you run out of diapers? What if they have 17 more accidents a day than they usually do? What if there’s nothing for them to do on the ship? What if they don’t like the food?

Packing for a cruise with kids doesn’t have to be scary. Here are a few tips to ease your mind and get your family ready to go on a trip of a lifetime!

Pack All Essentials in a Carry-On

You won’t immediately have access to your room when you board the ship. And once you do have access, you still won’t have your bags. Cruise lines guarantee bags will be at your door that day… but it may be as late as 7:00 pm!

Anything you need for your first day, including snacks, bathing suits, toys, and medicine, should all be packed into a carry-on and brought with you on board.

It makes getting around that first day a bit cumbersome, and it may feel weird sitting at the pool with a piece of luggage next to you, but trust me. It will be worth it!

Sun-Protection for Kids

No matter your child’s skin tone, they should always be slathered in at least SPF 30 sunscreen whenever they’re outside on the cruise.

Make sure you pack enough sunscreen to reapply every couple of hours, every day. Sunscreen is expensive at Walmart, but the markup once you get on the cruise ship will have your head spinning, so you don’t want to run out.

If you want to save money (and time applying, drying, reapplying, etc.), invest in good sun gear for your children.

A sun shirt and big-rimmed hat will protect much of their skin, leaving only their legs to lather up!

Shoes, Shoes, and More Shoes

Cruising is a fantastic family vacation choice because of all the things you get to do. You can explore a new country daily, spend time at a mini-waterpark, and eat in a fancy restaurant, all on the same vacation! However, many of these activities require a different kind of shoe.

Pack comfortable shoes for walking on your adventures, close-toed shoes to run around the kids’ club, and nicer shoes for dinner.

Consider bringing a pair of water shoes for the splash pad or to wear in the pool. The deck can get very hot, especially in the middle of the day, and your child’s tender feet will appreciate it.

Traveling Pharmacy

When cruising with kids, you should just plan for Murphey’s law– “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

That’s not to say be a pessimist and assume it’ll be a horrible vacation. Still, it’s a good idea to plan for not-so-fun scenarios like motion sickness, bumps and bruises, upset stomachs, and other minor health-related things.

While ships will have (wildly overpriced) medicine available for purchase, it’s easier to pack your own mini-pharmacy.

Snack on Snacks on Snacks

While cruises are known for their incredible food, your four-year-old probably doesn’t care how decadent the herb-crusted salmon is in the main dining room. They’d rather have goldfish, and you both know it.

While cruises are an excellent time for kids to explore new foods and expand their palette, bringing some snacky foods you know they’ll love is still a good idea.

Not only will it help them feel more comfortable to have a familiar snack by the pool, but sometimes you just don’t feel like getting up and going to the buffet to grab a snack. It’s a win-win!

Keep ‘em Busy

You may look at the ship you’ll be on online and think, “There’s so much to do; we’ll never be able to do it all,” which is true, but believe it or not, you will have downtime.

Whether it’s because what you want to do isn’t open yet, you’re waiting for the next course at dinner, or you just need a moment to chill between all the excitement, you should pack some activities for your kids to keep them entertained.

For younger kids, coloring books and sticker books are great entertainers. You could even bring a few small toys they can use with their imagination.

If your kids are older, bring along card games and board games. Card games like Phase 10 and Uno are easy to play at the dinner table, and you can always find a table to play your family’s favorite board game between other activities.

Baby Supplies

Babies are allowed to start cruising at just six months old. While they won’t remember it that young, you will! Go and make memories!

Here are a few baby-specific tips for packing for a cruise with kids:

  • Figure out the average number of diapers you use daily, and then add two to the number. Multiply it by the number of days you’ll be on the cruise and bring that many. Better safe than sorry!
  • Most cruise lines will have a Pack n’ Play you can use at no additional fee. Ask me to request it before you embark so it’s in your cabin when you arrive.
  • You can carry on filtered water to use with formula. Double check with your me, but most cruise lines don’t limit the amount of food and drink you bring on when it comes to infant nutritional needs.

DIY Packing Cubes

Use zip-top plastic bags to pack individual outfits for your child to make getting dressed on the cruise a breeze.

A quart-sized bag would work for most babies-preschoolers, but bump it to a gallon-sized bag for elementary age.

In each bag, include a pair of underwear, socks, and a complete outfit. Squeeze the air out while you’re zipping to make it take up even less space.

Pack two bags for each day, one for the morning and one for dinnertime. Label the bags “AM” and “PM” to ensure you’re grabbing the right one.

Make Those Memories!

Don’t let packing for a cruise with kids keep you from making the memories. With just a few simple tips, you’ll be ready to cruise the ocean blue!

Click here to learn a little more about cruising!