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Baby On Board
Cruise Travel Rules For Infants & Expectant Moms

by Linda Coffman

Aboard Disney Cruise Line ships, Flounder's Reef Nursery features a caring staff of child specialists for infants and toddlers, ages 12 weeks to 3-years olds.

Cruises are wonderful family vacations, but did you know that cruise lines have minimum age requirements for infants? And that there are also regulations regarding moms-to-be? While policies vary, here's an example from Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, and Azamara Cruises:

Infants sailing on a cruise must be at least 6 months old as of the first day of the cruise. However, for Transatlantic, Transpacific, Hawaii, select South American cruises, and other selected cruises, the infant must be at least 12 months old (again, as of the first day of the cruise).

Check with your preferred cruise line before booking to avoid disappointment or worse. As Royal Caribbean notes, "Denial of boarding for infants who do not satisfy these minimum age requirements may also result in the denial of boarding for one or more guests sailing with that infant. No refunds or other compensation shall be due from the cruise line to anyone as a result of the denial of boarding to an underage infant or other accompanying guests."

Baby & Tot Friendly Disney
An exception to the no-babies-under-six-months rule is Disney Cruise Line, which goes so far as to offer care for babies as young as 12-weeks old in their nurseries. As you would expect, traveling with infants and toddlers on Disney Cruise Line is very stress-free. It's even more so, thanks to a service that delivers baby supplies directly to guest staterooms, as well as a host of child-friendly offerings onboard their ships. Families preparing to sail on Disney Cruise Line with tiny travelers have access to an online service that allows them to order baby supplies in advance of their cruise and have them delivered to their stateroom rather than packing them from home. Provided by Babies Travel Lite, an online retailer offering more than 1,000 brand-name baby products including diapers, baby food, infant formula and specialty travel items, the service is exclusive for Disney Cruise Line passengers.

Families traveling with children under age three on Disney cruises also have access to numerous onboard services to make traveling with babies and toddlers in tow a breeze:

-- Diaper Genie units, cribs and playpens are available complimentary upon request from the stateroom host/hostess for use during the cruise.
-- Bottle warmers, bottle sterilizers and strollers are available complimentary at Guest Services for use during the cruise.
-- At Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island in the Bahamas, wagons are available to facilitate navigating the island’s sandy beaches.
-- Baby supplies are available for purchase on the ships.
-- These amenities complement Disney’s infant-care center at sea, Flounder’s Reef Nursery, which features an “under the sea” soft play area themed to Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” where children 12 weeks to 36 months can enjoy themselves under the watchful eyes of trained Disney caregivers.

Also for infants and toddlers is Mickey’s Splash Zone, a water playground extension to the Mickey Pool featuring interactive fountains, a soft play surface, and whimsical splash areas that create an inviting environment for children not yet toilet trained and in swim diapers. Families sailing on 7-night cruises can enjoy some ‘together’ time with their little ones during Family Time Sessions at Flounder’s Reef Nursery. Also on 7-night cruises, you can enjoy Toddler Time at the Oceaneer Club and at Mickey’s Splash Zone. Families can join their littlest members and explore the world together by participating in musical games and fine motor skills exercises led by Disney’s youth activities counselors. There is no in-stateroom babysitting available on Disney ships.

Royal Babies & Royal Tots Aboard Royal Caribbean
Aboard Royal Caribbean's ships, you can join your 6- to 36-month-old sailors in the fun of Royal Babies (6- to 18-months) and Royal Tots (18- to 36-months), interactive playgroup sessions developed for the cruise line by early childhood experts at Fisher-Price®. Each 45-minute session attended by your and your little ones (yes! mommy and daddy must come along!) offers age-appropriate activities that expose children to new experiences while combining playtime with learning time. On their newest ships, Oasis and Allure of the Seas, a full-staffed Nursery, with childcare drop-off options will be available day and night.

Traveling with infants and toddlers has gotten easier and you can now pack lighter for your cruise by using Royal Caribbean's Babies 2 Go program, where you can order organic baby food and diapers, wipes and creams by Huggies for delivery to your stateroom upon arrival. Baby essentials can be ordered online through Royal Caribbean's Gifts & Gear section at RoyalCaribbean.com.

In the mornings, Stroll & Roll dedicates the jogging track to you and your fellow parents with infants in strollers to participate in your exercise regimen together. A treasure chest of Fisher-Price toys is available to during your cruise in the Fisher-Price Toy Lending Program, where you'll find a collection of developmental toys specifically created for infants and toddlers, ages 6- to 36-months. You can borrow and exchange toys for a new activity every day.

Mom and dad can also enjoy a little time away from the kiddies with peace of mind by using Royal Caribbean's Sitters at Sea. Created by Fisher-Price, it's an in-stateroom babysitting service for guests with infants, one-year old and above. A trained Royal Caribbean staff member arrives equipped with Fisher-Price toys and Mattel games, and engages and entertains the young cruisers until you return. You will need to reserve a sitter at least 24 hours in advance and complete an information checklist. A charge applies.

While Disney Cruise Line and certain Royal Caribbean ships have nurseries, nearly all cruise lines have programs for children age two or three and up. Of all the lines, only caregivers on Disney Cruise Line and Carnival Cruise Line will change diapers. On other cruise lines, you will be issued a beeper and summoned as necessary.

Rules For Expectant Mothers
Not every mom on board has checked her little one into cruise camp—some of their babies haven't arrived yet. After baby is born, mothers do the pampering thing 24/7, so a cruise is the ideal pre-stork vacation with lots of time for mothers-to-be to rest up and get pampered.

Expectant moms should be aware of certain time constraints when planning a cruise. Although the stated terms and conditions vary, as a general rule cruise lines will not allow you to sail if you are from 24 to 28 weeks into your pregnancy (or will be before the cruise ends). A statement from your attending physician that establishes your due date might also be required prior to sailing.

For example, Azamara Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, and Royal Caribbean cannot accept passengers who will have entered their 24th week of pregnancy by the beginning of, or at any time during, the cruise. A physician's "Fit to Travel" note is required prior to sailing, stating how far along (in weeks) your pregnancy will be at the beginning of the cruise and confirming that you are in good health and not experiencing a high-risk pregnancy.

Also consider, if you're prone to seasickness, combining it with morning sickness might be mistake.

Cruising With Kids? This is must-have Info:
       ~ Going to sea with children... why you need a Consent Letter
       ~ Family Cruising, The Basics
- Will your family enjoy a cruise?
      ~ Do's and don'ts & what to know Before You Go  

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Photo Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line©


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