I understand your anxieties! My husband and I will be sailing with a 13 month old for the first time in the fall. This will be our 4th cruise, but first with a baby. I have been doing a lot of research (and still am) about what to bring, what to expect, things to do, etc.
Here is just some insight into some tips I have found worthwhile. Feel free to contact me if you have more questions or anything!
- Arrive a day earlier. Flying in, getting bags, getting on a shuttle, waiting to board, boarding the ship and waiting for your room to be ready makes for a long day. Arrive in Florida the day before and stay in a hotel that offers shuttle service to and from the airport and cruise port. This will allow your little one to run around a bit and get over the hoopla of flying for the first time.
- On that same note, go shopping in Florida. Plan to purchase disposable things that will take up valuable luggage space there. Locate a hotel near shopping, or one that offers shuttle service to shopping and plan to buy things like diapers, wipes, sun screen, etc. there. I always travel with an extra beach type bag to bring home souvenirs in. It takes up no space and comes in handy.. pack one and then use it for these items, by the end of the trip you will have used everything and you have your empty bag again for souvenirs.
- Bring a small blow up pool. Non-potty trained kids are NOT allowed in any of the pools. It has been years since I have been on the Victory, so I can't remember if they have a baby splash pool or not. Either way, bring the pool to put next to your lounge chairs on the lido deck so the baby has something to do. You can ask the waitress to bring you a pitcher so you can snag some water from the pool.. or consider picking up a cheap plastic sand bucket (at your pre-cruise FL shopping trip) to do so.. and then it doubles as a toy for them when you actually go to a beach.
- Consider buying disposable bibs.
Again, one less thing taking up space in the luggage.
- Don't overpack clothes (this goes for YOU guys and the baby). I remember our first cruise we had 5 pieces of luggage, 5! (thank goodness they didn't charge for it back then!) and we wore maybe 20% of the things we brought. i figured 3 outfits a day.. hah. I was lucky to wear 2. There is also a day on the ship (I believe Carnival does this as well) about mid-week, where they do laundry services and dry cleaning for half price. Or there are machines on board that you can do your own laundry in. Pick up a small bottle of detergent (add it to your pre-cruise FL shopping list!) and make sure you have some quarters. We know kids go through a couple outfits a day, so save yourself from packing a whole wardrobe, go with interchangeable things and plan to do a little wash there.
- Pack a package of large ziploc baggies! These will come in handy to put dirty diapers in, snacks, etc.
- Grab extras from the buffet to have snacks on hand. Little boxes of cereal and fresh fruit are easy to throw in your diaper bag for shore days. Also, if your room has a fridge, grab some extra milk so you have it for late at night or early morning.
- If you baby wear, I recommend bringing a carrier as well as an umbrella stroller.
- Bring one of these
for dinner for easy clean-up. Your waiters and stewards will love you for it.
I hope this helps! Happy cruising!