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Need advice - if you've traveled with the under 5-year-old set...

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A little background - my kids were grown before we started cruising - the youngest was 16 on our first cruise. Since then, I've cruised with my grandson, and he has always loved the kid's clubs, on NCL and Carnival. Our last cruise, he was 12, and could check himself in and out, and he was happy...

 

 

Anyway, here is my question: in October, we are cruising with my stepdaughter (who has never cruised) and two grandchildren - barely 3, and 5. Can some of you more experience parents, PLEASE, give me a quick rundown on what embarkation day looks like for you? (I seem to remember that my daughter usually goes straight to the kid's club for something?) What do the kids do during sailaway? I mean, I can see them being interested for a few minutes, but we like to sit and watch for an hour or so...they'll be bored silly...what do you do with the kids? I just want to have recommendation ready :)

 

 

 

And what does a typical sea day look like for you?

 

One of our difficulties may be that the mom is *very* leery about leaving the kids anywhere...so any hints you have along those lines would be helpful too :)

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A little background - my kids were grown before we started cruising - the youngest was 16 on our first cruise. Since then, I've cruised with my grandson, and he has always loved the kid's clubs, on NCL and Carnival. Our last cruise, he was 12, and could check himself in and out, and he was happy...

 

 

Anyway, here is my question: in October, we are cruising with my stepdaughter (who has never cruised) and two grandchildren - barely 3, and 5. Can some of you more experience parents, PLEASE, give me a quick rundown on what embarkation day looks like for you? (I seem to remember that my daughter usually goes straight to the kid's club for something?) What do the kids do during sailaway? I mean, I can see them being interested for a few minutes, but we like to sit and watch for an hour or so...they'll be bored silly...what do you do with the kids? I just want to have recommendation ready :)

 

 

 

And what does a typical sea day look like for you?

 

One of our difficulties may be that the mom is *very* leery about leaving the kids anywhere...so any hints you have along those lines would be helpful too :)

It would help to know which cruiseline :confused:

 

I can certainly answer a few of your questions if you're sailing on RCI since we have sailed a few times recently with grandchildren in your's age range.

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We will be on the Carnival Valor this time - since they all have children's clubs, I guess I thought it wouldn't make a difference (well, unless it was DCL, lol)... with my grandson, he seemed to like NCL and Carnival about the same, as far as I know (his mother may say differently)....

 

 

As far as the schedule goes, does that make a difference?

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No personal experience with Carnival. But typically kids programming starts after sail away on all lines on which I have travelled.

 

As far as Step-D's reluctance to "leave" her kids anywhere, while kids personality vary, most kids prefer hanging out with other kids for at least a part of the day. And most will prefer the programs aimed for kids at the kid's programs more than the stuff we adults usually do. Give the kids some time to be kids every day and then they will be more likely to try other family-oriented stuff that includes the adults The staff is very well vetted and the program procedures ensure safety The kid's club counselors tend to be among the more highly paid regular employees on board so they aren't just there for the tip money. They tend to really like working with kids so they make the programs fun places to be. She should check them out and let her kids participate if they want to.

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I haven't sailed Carnival with kids. According to their website, Carnival will give parents cell phones so the kids club staff can reach them if the child is unhappy, or the mom can call the kids club to check on your child (don't just show up until you're ready to pick up since if they see you they may want to leave even if 5 minutes earlier they were playing happily). There are supervised dinners available with the kids club staff. Hours on sea days are 10-1, 2-5 and 7-10 (and then you can pay for extra time late at night). Port days are time of arrival - 10 pm. At 3, my kids never wanted to leave the kids club.

 

Someone may be able to answer the specific questions about what time (if any) the kids club is open on the day of embarkation. Some lines open that night; others only have an open house that night for registration and parents need to stay. IF no one answers on this forum, try reposting your question on the Carnival one. On intergenerational cruises, the adults split their time watching children when the kids club is closed. If the sail away is important to you, then you can have your DIL take the kids once they get bored. The adults can call which events onboard are most important to them, and someone else will take the kids during that time. I'd recommend letting the kids explore the ship during sail away. If they're like mine, they will especially like the sports deck. Even if they can't play the actual sports, it's lots of fun throwing balls against the net on a tennis court. Plus, its screened in so a parent can read a book while the kids play and are penned into one area.

 

During the cruise, we take our kids on excursions with us. On sea days they spend the whole time the kids club is open there. They usually like the sports deck, and (if potty trained) the pools for the rest of the time.

 

Encourage your DIL to go to the open house at the kids club, since she'll probably feel better once she meets the counselors. And her kid will feel more comfortable if he has a chance to play with the toys and see what's there with his mom present.

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When you travel with small kids, you will have to "adjust" your routine a bit...you're right...sitting and watching land disappear will bore the kids silly.

 

And I agree with letting the kids try the clubs...they are the PERFECT ages to love the activities!

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We will be on the Carnival Valor this time - since they all have children's clubs, I guess I thought it wouldn't make a difference (well, unless it was DCL, lol)... with my grandson, he seemed to like NCL and Carnival about the same, as far as I know (his mother may say differently)....

 

 

As far as the schedule goes, does that make a difference?

It doesn’t make a difference on carnival, but most other lines won’t let them into the clubs until their third birthday. The two year old will need to be potty trained to go into pools and splash areas. I don’t know if they need to be potty trained to go into the kids club.

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we started cruising with DS when he was 3. He doesn't do kid's club at all (separation and stranger anxiety, which is getting better with age and experience). So, he hangs with us and does everything we do - we watch the land disappear, and so does he. He literally tags along to everything: shows, bingo, happy hour, galley tour, cooking demonstrations, etc. He is not interested in a lot of them, but if we want do to something together (DH and I), DS has no choice but to go with us.

 

Our saving grace has been a tablet with cartoons, games and movies. If he gets bored, he just fishes it out and watches/plays (with headphones). He's been called the best behaved kid in the MDR by many a neighbor.

 

A disclaimer: the last 3 cruises with DS have been on Princess, which is awfully boring, if the kid doesn't go to kid's club. Princess ships offer very little in terms of family with kids fun. When we sailed on RCI's Independence, we didn't have that problem. You shouldn't have this problem on Carnival either - I do believe Carnival is a lot more oriented toward families with kids and offers different activities.

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I don’t know if they need to be potty trained to go into the kids club

 

Carnival's kids clubs start at the age of two, and they change diapers for children aged 2-3. Children aged 3 and over who are not potty trained can visit the kids club, but the parents will be issued beepers and must return to change their children, and therefore children who need assistance using the toilet must not be left behind on the ship while the parents go on excursions (this was also the policy on NCL)

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No personal experience with Carnival. But typically kids programming starts after sail away on all lines on which I have travelled.

 

As far as Step-D's reluctance to "leave" her kids anywhere, while kids personality vary, most kids prefer hanging out with other kids for at least a part of the day. And most will prefer the programs aimed for kids at the kid's programs more than the stuff we adults usually do. Give the kids some time to be kids every day and then they will be more likely to try other family-oriented stuff that includes the adults The staff is very well vetted and the program procedures ensure safety The kid's club counselors tend to be among the more highly paid regular employees on board so they aren't just there for the tip money. They tend to really like working with kids so they make the programs fun places to be. She should check them out and let her kids participate if they want to.

 

Also have never been on Carnival but I wouldn't say most 3 and 5 year olds would prefer to be in a kids club. We rarely use kids clubs. For us a sea day is taking the kids on waterslids or swimming in the pool. Watching the kids in the splash area. Like to sit on the balcony while kids play inside. With both grandparents and parents you can take turns.

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My twins are 5 and about to be going on their 3rd Carnival cruise, so we have plenty of experience!

 

Embarkation: Have some simple bags of snacks (goldfish crackers, etc) and juice boxes handy as lines can be long and boring. We've found simple snacks really make it better! This is one time we break out tablets too.

 

Once on the ship, have lunch. They can register the kids for Camp Carnival and tour the area, so they kind of know what it looks like and meet the ladies who will be in there for the cruise. The camp is not usually open until 10pm on the first night, so don't plan on using it. I'd have the kids in swimwear under their clothes and head to the pools after checking into the camp. Swim, dance to the Lido music, and enjoy seeing the Seuss characters. My kids stay entertained easily until the safety drill is called.

 

All children are different. My twins are very social and LOVE Camp Carnival. They beg to go anytime the doors are open. Our sea day schedule is usually sleeping in, brunch, swimming, water works, and lunch. They usually then want to head to the camp for an hour or two before dinner, which gives husband and I time to relax/nap!

 

Port days are spent on the island as a family. We never leave our two behind as we cruise for the ports and experiences. Usually, we come in from our excursions, shower, nap a little, and head to dinner at 6. Our waiters keep the kids a course ahead of the adults (appetizer fruit on table at arrival, entre while adults have apps, etc). At 7, my kids are begging to head to Camp. They stay until 10pm every night and we usually allow them to stay until 1am a couple of nights for the Night Owl party because they beg! We are always amazed at their stamina!

 

I'd definitely try to use the clubs if the kids will go, as they really make the vacation both for our children and us...it's nice to have some adult time! Have fun!

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Recently sailed on the Carnival Vista with my 5year old daughter and she had the time of her life. I purchased FFTF withallowed us to board early. Once boarded we went straight to our room anddropped off our carryon’s we changed into our swim suits and headed to lunch. Afterlunch my daughter and I got into the main swimming pool and people watcheduntil time for the muster drill. During thesail away party we hung out on the lido deck and danced to the music, whichreally put us into vacation mode. The muster drill was held inside one of themain dining rooms. It was nice and cool and so much going on that it reallythat my daughter sat through it without incident. We toured the kids club shortlyafter the muster drill and got her registered. The club wasn’t open the 1stnite. We had YTD which we dressed up for (We dressed up each nite not requiredbut our personal choice). My daughter was so worn out that she fell asleepduring dinner. I let he sleep at the table as I enjoyed a nice quiet dinner. Theplan was to catch a show after dinner. We went back to the room to changeclothes and I was so wiped out that I decided to “rest my eyes for a bit”turned out I was actually out like a light and woke up the next daymid-morning. The rest of the week was filledwith trip to the kids club, water park, and pool. The 5 year old had the timeof her life. She has mentioned the cruise everyday for the past 5 months and iscounting down till out next sailing which is during Christmas.

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My twins are 5 and about to be going on their 3rd Carnival cruise, so we have plenty of experience!

 

Embarkation: Have some simple bags of snacks (goldfish crackers, etc) and juice boxes handy as lines can be long and boring. We've found simple snacks really make it better! This is one time we break out tablets too.

 

Once on the ship, have lunch. They can register the kids for Camp Carnival and tour the area, so they kind of know what it looks like and meet the ladies who will be in there for the cruise. The camp is not usually open until 10pm on the first night, so don't plan on using it. I'd have the kids in swimwear under their clothes and head to the pools after checking into the camp. Swim, dance to the Lido music, and enjoy seeing the Seuss characters. My kids stay entertained easily until the safety drill is called.

 

All children are different. My twins are very social and LOVE Camp Carnival. They beg to go anytime the doors are open. Our sea day schedule is usually sleeping in, brunch, swimming, water works, and lunch. They usually then want to head to the camp for an hour or two before dinner, which gives husband and I time to relax/nap!

 

Port days are spent on the island as a family. We never leave our two behind as we cruise for the ports and experiences. Usually, we come in from our excursions, shower, nap a little, and head to dinner at 6. Our waiters keep the kids a course ahead of the adults (appetizer fruit on table at arrival, entre while adults have apps, etc). At 7, my kids are begging to head to Camp. They stay until 10pm every night and we usually allow them to stay until 1am a couple of nights for the Night Owl party because they beg! We are always amazed at their stamina!

 

I'd definitely try to use the clubs if the kids will go, as they really make the vacation both for our children and us...it's nice to have some adult time! Have fun!

 

 

 

This is great advice, I don’t have much to add except I recommend fttf. We cruised once on the magic out of Galveston and the lines for checkin were crazy and with fttf we were at the front of the line and with kids this is very important! I have triplets and a singleton 18 months older and I can tell you waiting isn’t easy! Your advice about the swimsuits is spot on because regardless of weather cold or hot my kids will find water and they will be entertained!

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People head to the kids club the first day because there is paperwork you need to fill out before you can use the club.  Its easier to do that right away and that gives the kids some time to look around the club and meet the staff, etc

When our kids were that age,  we would bring a set of dry erase markers for sea days.  If you have a balcony room,  the kids can go to town on the plexi-glass  while you sit and read with a glass of wine.....I mean supervise...  just grab a towel and clean it off when they are done.

Our kids also love to play bingo.  we divide up the cards and they help find the numbers.

There is always something going on...it never seems like a problem to find an activity.

 

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I cannot stress enough how great the Dr. Seuss brunch is! We have done it twice on Carnival ships. It is a perfect way to entertain the littles during a seaday. They have a fun menu made for the kids. Plus they get to meet all of the Dr. Seuss characters. It is worth the $5 or whatever it is to eat there.

 

 

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On 10/18/2018 at 6:19 PM, Katemusical said:

I cannot stress enough how great the Dr. Seuss brunch is! We have done it twice on Carnival ships. It is a perfect way to entertain the littles during a seaday. They have a fun menu made for the kids. Plus they get to meet all of the Dr. Seuss characters. It is worth the $5 or whatever it is to eat there.

 

This thread has great advice! We are booked on Carnival with our 6 and 3 year old for 6 days. They do many things with us, but I am warming up to the idea of them spending time in the kids club, as well! 

 

For the Suess breakfast, do you have to reserve ahead of time? I can't figure it out from the Carnival website. 

 

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You've gotten a good overview!

 

I heartily second the Faster To The Fun, if only for faster lines on embarkation. Small people can have trouble with waiting in long lines and its easier to limit that when you can. 

 

I love cruises with my 3.5 year old and she's been on 3 so far. We have some of the best family time and pretty much stick to Carnival with her. The kids club has been great - my daughter is active and social so its a good place for her. We give her the choice of kids club or swimming or whatever and she chooses a fair amount of club time. She's also ditched us for dinner, preferring to do dinner "with her friends" (We planned to keep her with us for dinner, we like eating as a family, but she saw the club setting up for kid dinner and just left us. Now we ask her what she wants to do for dinner.)

 

Embarkation day - have some snacks and a couple of new to them small toys - we like a water wow tablet and a car or a dinosaur. She has her own small backpack that she puts things in for travel. Get through the line and go check out the kids club, get the kids introduced and they'll give you a ship phone if they have any and your kid is very young. The phone is very useful, don't lose it. It can call or be called by any of the rooms on the ship. If your kids like to swim and are fully potty trained you can have have swim suits in carryon. Sailway is going to be by the nature of the child - quiet kids might really enjoy it. My pinball of a child waves good bye to the land and then wants to join in the dance party. 

 

One of the things we've loved about Carnival is the ubiquitous excellent care of children - all of the staff, not just the kids club staff, seem to take really good care of kids. The taco stand guy who befriended her and would run the fresh tortilla machine so she could watch (and get only fresh tortillas). The bartender who learned her favorite drink and would prepare it with serious flourish (orange soda with extra cherries). The dinner staff who kept dinner within her patience level every night. If you need help, you'll get it. Tip them as well as you can.

 

Sea days we spent swimming, eating tacos, napping, watching the family movie on tv, swimming some more. Its not complicated time, but its very fun and literally the best family time I know. You get to be very close as a family without anything stressful - food and clean sheets are all taken care of!

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