Hubby & I are thinking about cruising with our 3yrs old in JAN/FEB. I read lots of posts here and ship reviews. I have this feeling that most of the activities are geared towards adults. Are kids allowed in shows/performances? My 3yrs old is usually (key word) quite. Are their any other areas where kids are not allowed? Are their enough activities for a 3yrs old or should I wait a couple of years? What cruise lines are more geared towards kids?
Also, I like to dress casual and just have fun. Give me some sun, a book and I am happy. Dress-up nights, formal dancing, etc. scare me. Are some cruise lines more casual then others?
Kids are allowed in the shows. In fact, it was often the case that our son (who started crusing at 2) would fall asleep in the show and then we'd carry him back to the cabin when the show was done. Kids are not allowed in the casino.
Royal Caribbean and Carnival have very good activities for kids. Don't fret the formal nights! The rules are not that stringent. All they really ask is that no one wear shorts or t-shirts to the dining room for dinner service. There is no requirement to dress to the nines, nor to engage in formal dances. You can do as little or as much as you want. It is your cruise!
A 7-day cruise will have two "formal nights". A dress of pretty much any sort will suffice. A jacket and tie will do for the gentleman. He can ditch the tie and jacket after dinner. Other nights are casual (except for those t's and shorts!)
Actually they all serve dinner in the buffet restaurant now, so you can go there and skip the dining room on formal nights. Or you can skip the dining room altogether and eat every night in the buffet! I've had some pretty nice dinners in the buffet restaurants on RCCL and Carnival ships.
Another choice that was not mentioned is NCL (Norwegian Cruise Lines). They feature "Freestyle" cruising - no assigned tables or dining times, just go whenever. Formal night is a strictly optional affair, and there is no pressure to dress up or to not dress up - do what you enjoy. They also have a kids' program.
Thank you all for your responses. I have now decided to go on the cruise with my 2yrs old. Responses here and talking with my friends who have been on cruises has helped me make this decision.
The next question is which cruise to choose. One of my friends had a good experience with RC, so I am inclined towards them. However, Carnival & Norwegian looks good too, mostly price wise and I am thinking that with these cheaper cruises, I can afford a balcony cabin. Can anyone give me suggestions on which cruise ships to choose for these lines?
Something to keep in mind, and to find out, is how each cruise line deals with 2-year-olds. Some are more restrictive (i.e. whether they can be in a pool, or whether there is any child care available) than others. That may help you with your choice. I'd suggest you talk with a cruise-oriented travel agent to help you narrow all this down; they can help "match" you to a cruise line and ship that you will most enjoy.
I could'nt agree with Karen more, you really need to talk to a cruise oriented agent to help you sort things out. I will state, that the childrens program on Carnival will accept the children at age 2 and on RCCL the children have to already be 3 at the time the cruise starts to take them into the program.
A cruise agent can tell you the differences and also fill you in on the activities for each cruiseline.
Our favorite for children is Carnival. Their children's "Camp Carnival" program is terrific and the kids enjoy it so much. We took our Grandsons (one, age 3) and he cried when we went to pick him up. The Camp Carnival girls even have dinners planned for groups, so you can go to the dining room without the kids, knowing they will be taken care of. The kids can stay in that program until 10:00 pm, free of charge. After that time, they can still stay but you will be charged a babysitting fee.
RCCL finally put into print that children not potty trained cannot be in the pools. That was posted on the ship but not in their brochures when I was planning our first WITH-KIDS cruise and I only found out on this chat group at the last minute! Also, RCCL would not bend the rules and allow my youngest into the kids program even though he was only 8 weeks away from his 3rd birthday.
Don't get me wrong, I LOVED the RCCL kids program - as did my kids! Just wanted you to be clear on their rules.
As far as dinner was concerned, I made my kids go to dinner with us because we - as a rule - eat as a family. Having said that, our waiters brought the kids' dinners earlier so that they could have their desserts while we were eating dinner. Then, the kids took off their dress shirts and clip-on ties (for formal night only) and had their t-shirts on underneath. They were ready for one of us to take them up to the kids' program while my husband ordered dessert and coffee for us both.
I haven't gone on Disney yet but it does seem to be the ideal for this age group. However, they are pricier so if you are looking for a bargain, go with RCCL (I cannot speak for the other cruise lines regarding kids).
I have sailed on Holland America the Zandam and the Costa Magica both had excellent kids programs for ages 3 and above and they had to be potty trained, on Holland the kids could even stay there while we went on excursions at the ports altho i recently read somewhere they changed the kids program to where they had to be 5 now but you could check costa was great to but they had broken times which interfeared when you were at port! good luck!