Hello All! We took our son on a cruise when he was 10 months old and had a blast. I’m excited to share our cruise with you!
It’s been a while since we’ve cruised. Last year, we were blessed with our son, Isaac. He’s such an awesome little guy. We missed cruising so much last year! In December, my husband, Wesley, and I decided to take our 10-month old son on the Liberty of the Seas. We invited my Mom and Aunt to come with us as well. We had a nice time cruising as new parents.
It should take me a few days to complete the review. For those of you who are familiar with my reviews, I take you through just about every moment of our vacation, from start to finish. So, for those of you who want a short review, here is a quick summary: New Moms and Dads, rejoice! Cruising with a baby can be done, and it is awesome if you’re well-prepared. It is certainly different from cruising just with your spouse, but it is still a wonderful vacation. We loved every minute of the trip.
If you like long reviews, keep reading! Feel free to ask questions and I’ll answer them the best way I can. I hope this serves as a source of information and as a virtual vacation for all of you.
Ok, so where do I start? I think I’ll share a little bit about my family so you can understand our point of view. Please bear with me, I promise I’ll get to the cruising part soon!
Wesley and I have been married for 7 years. We’ve been together for about 14 (high-school sweethearts). You can see reviews of our previous cruises via the links in my signature. We love cruising, and Royal suits us best at this point in our lives.
2013 was a busy year, full of ups and downs. Isaac was born last February. Four days before he was born, my father passed away. It was an incredibly sad and incredibly happy time all in one. We get to see a glimpse of my Dad in Isaac every day. He looks just like him:
Here are some photos of Isaac through the months. He’s a very observant, good-natured little guy. We’ve done some road trips with him and he’s been a pleasure in every way.
Ok, so most of us are familiar with what to pack when we go on a cruise. When planning our trip, I felt like a newbie all over again. I spent hours researching to find the right products for Isaac- and for us. Let’s face it, we need to make life as easy as possible for all of us when we’re traveling with a baby.
First off, if at all possible, bring family along with you. I can’t begin to describe how grateful my Mom and Aunt were with us on this cruise. They were really helpful, keeping Isaac occupied if we needed to take care of something. We asked them well before our departure if they felt comfortable taking Isaac once in a while so we could be alone, and then taking him into their cabin overnight one night of the cruise. Isaac still wakes up once or twice per night. In general, he goes back to sleep quickly, but we can have an ‘off’ night once in a while. We were so happy to have some uninterrupted sleep. Just the thought of that sleep made us so happy as we counted down the days to the cruise. I’m sure you new parents can relate.
Here is a list of items that really helped us make things as smooth as possible. I’m providing links to each in the name of the product in case you want to buy them yourselves. You’ll see them as we go through the review:
1. Cosco Scenera Convertible Car Seat: We were initially going to have Isaac fly as a lap infant. As I did some research, I came to understand that the best possible place for Isaac on the plane was in his own seat, in his carseat. We had a pretty bulky car seat at home, and we needed one that would fit in the narrow plane seats, and one that was light enough to schlep around with us. This car seat is wonderful for travel. It only weighs about 8 lbs. We flew Southwest, and the seat fit nicely on the plane. It even left the person in front of him some space to recline. It was easy to install. We’re so happy with this purchase.
2. The First Years Ignite Stroller: Perfect for travel! It’s compact and gives baby a smooth ride. Nice storage for a jacket or blanket underneath, and a cup holder on top. A nice canopy to keep baby out of the sun. The stroller didn’t take up too much space in the cabin closet.
3. High Sierra Curve Backpack: This was a nice, lightweight backpack that replaced our “baby bag” on this trip. No complaints.
4. JL Childress Gate Check Bag for Strollers: We used the stroller to get Isaac to the gate in the airport, and used this bag to check the stroller at the gate. Easy to use, easy to roll up, stayed in one piece through both flights.
5. Diaper Genie on the Go Dispenser: Totally needed these to keep the room smelling fresh. They worked. Enough said.
6. Burnout SPF 30+ Kids Sunscreen: Soooo gentle and kept my little guy safe from the strong sun. You do have to rub this in quite a bit, so I applied it to his skin as I got him dressed in the morning. I mixed it with a little bit of his Aveeno moisturizer to apply it to his face. He has eczema and sensitive skin, and he didn’t break out with this one at all. I was relieved.
7. JL Childress Ultimate Car Seat Travel Bag: A lifesaver! Wes was able to carry our carseat like a backpack. Mind you it was pretty large, but it wasn’t all that heavy. I was surprised at the number of parents awkwardly lugging their car seats throughout the airport. We were also able to put our heavy winter coats around the car seat in this bag, so it’s great for additional storage. It still looks like new, after this trip.
8. Tiny Love Take-Along Arch: We use this on car rides; Isaac loves it. Brought it with us on the flight and it kept him occupied until he fell asleep.
We had a very early start to the day before the cruise. We had a 7:05 AM flight out of Philadelphia on Southwest. I chose an early flight because I didn’t want to have to deal with large crowds as we went through security screening for the first time with Isaac. I chose Southwest because it seemed to be a pretty baby-friendly airline. The two free checked bags didn’t hurt either. With all the things I was packing for Isaac, it was nice to know I wouldn’t have to pay to check an extra bag or two. Wesley and I shared a suitcase. Isaac had his own. I packed things like his sound machine and his fitted crib sheet so he would have a couple familiar things with him in our room.
We arrived at about 5 AM. Getting through security was pretty easy. We did have to take the car seat out of the travel bag, and I had to show them Isaac’s milk (pulled it out of the back pack and opened the container so they could see the contents). They waved it through with no issues.
A note about the milk: at this point, Isaac is still pretty much just on milk. He’s still not a fan of food all that much. Less packing for us! I needed a lot of it to get us through our day of travel. The FAA states that a reasonable amount of milk is acceptable to take on the plane, however there’s no exact amount listed anywhere. I brought four 4oz bottles, along with three packs of frozen milk at about 4 oz each, tucked in the middle of the bottles (to keep everything cold). It kept the milk cold as we traveled that day, and by the time we got to our hotel, I had some thawed to give to Isaac while we settled in. That system worked well for me and it passed through screening with no issues.
My Aunt needed wheelchair assistance in the airport, so she and my Mom were able to preboard. On Southwest, you get to choose your seats, so they were able to reserve a row for us . I had Early Bird checkin, and my ticket number was A30, so if they never did the preboarding process, we still would have had a chance to get a good row. Even if you aren’t near the front of the line, Southwest lets anyone with a child and carseat to board after the first group of passengers. I really appreciated that. We checked his stroller at the gate.
Waiting to board:
We had to place Isaac’s car seat in the window seat. It was very easy to install, took a few seconds.
Here’s a clip of Isaac during takeoff. He was great on the flight; just curious about what was happening around him: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BScVObmkkKw
He got a little cranky later on because he wanted to cuddle a bit while he fell asleep. He had to stay in the car seat, so having the arch to keep him occupied was helpful. I had also taken some of his favorite toys and books and packed them away a few weeks before the trip. That way I could pull some out during the flight to keep him entertained, as if the toys were new. After a bottle of milk, he was out like a light. He slept until we go to the baggage claim area of the airport.
Getting through the Fort Lauderdale airport and gathering our luggage was easy. There are plenty of porters available to assist you if you have a lot of luggage. Here’s a shot of the car seat bag. It was nice- we stuffed all our winter coats into the bag, around the car seat. Plenty of space.
The tricky part was catching a cab. There is a taxi stand right outside the baggage area, to the left.
When we arrived at the taxi stand, we requested a large taxi since there were 5 of us, including a car seat. A driver was assigned to us, and he had a van. As he was loading our stuff into the van, I realized that there was only space for 4 of us to sit, if we installed the car seat. While Wes was installing the seat, I kept asking the driver, “Do you really think we’re all going to fit into your van?” He just shrugged and told us to sort of stuff ourselves into the back seat! !! I don’t think he wanted to let go of our fare…..we were heading on about a 20-minute drive to the hotel.
Thankfully, one of the female dispatchers called him ridiculous and told him to move it along and take care of another group. She said she would call an SUV to take us to the hotel.
It was pretty cold and rainy (bummer) when we arrived, so we had Mom take Isaac back into the airport while we waited for the SUV. It was about a 10-minute wait.
I’m not sure what’s going on with the service of the taxi drivers in FLL, but this driver was pretty bad too. He never even greeted us, didn’t say hello or anything. We told him where we wanted to go, and he opened the SUV doors so we could start loading our luggage. Yes, we pretty much did it ourselves. He stood there and stared at us for a while. I approached him and said, “This is all our luggage that can go in the back.” He stood there some more. We took the baby out of the stroller and put him in the car seat. He actually stared at my mother struggling to fold the stroller down. I had to hand the stroller to him to get him started.
The ride to the hotel took about 20 minutes and cost about $20. Once we arrived, the driver let the meter run as we were unloading the car. We gave him the total we hit when he got out of the taxi to help us. He looked at me funny when he counted up the total but I looked him straight in the eye with one of my ‘looks.’ He didn’t say anything else.
Enough about that. We loved our hotel stay! I chose the Gallery One hotel because I stayed there before and had a great time. They have two-bedroom suites, which was perfect for our group. The hotel is also a Water Taxi stop. We wanted to ride the water taxi all day, however it was too cold and rainy to do that. In any event, we still enjoyed the hotel.
I emailed the hotel before our trip, to ask about early check in, and a room with a view of the Intracoastal Waterway. They told us they would try their best. We arrived at about 11 AM, and were able to check in early. AND, we had a room with a great view of the water. I have to say, the service at this hotel is excellent. And who could resist the warm chocolate-chip cookie they give you before you head to your room? Yum.
Here are some shots of the room. There was a living room with sleeper sofa and a balcony, a nice kitchen area, and two bedrooms. Our King bedroom had a bathroom with a glass enclosed shower. The Two Double Bed room across the living room had a bathroom with a tub/shower.
Our room (the crib arrived later):
The bridge opened a couple times.
Publix and the Galleria Mall are within walking distance for your last-minute needs.
We settled in and decided to take it easy for the rest of the day. Wes and I walked to Publix to get some extra diapers and some food for lunch. We got lunch meat, sandwich items, etc. I also bought two bottles of wine to take on the ship.
Since we woke up at 3 AM, we slept pretty hard throughout the rest of the afternoon. Later that night, Wes walked to P.F. Chang’s (in front of the Galleria Mall) for takeout.
Up next- boarding day!