Aloha from Honolulu!
I was glad to find this older thread
with the same basic question I came here to ask, but since it's been closed I'm hoping I can get more information with a new topic.
I work in a small office, and all
of my coworkers are cruise fanatics - maybe 30 cruises among four of them. The enthusiasm is additive. So, after polling them (they've done both RCL-class cruising and high-end Crystal-style trips), I'm planning to take my family on our first cruise on a Voyager-class RCL ship in the Carribean (hopefully the Mariner of the Seas) next fall. A good "starter cruise," they say, family friendly, good ameneties and activities and decent food.
They even gave me a stack of promo videos, as well as souvenir videos off two separate Voyager-class cruises, which gave me a good real-world idea of what's there. I know kids are not the most popular aspect of cruises for other people, but RCL seems to have done one of the best jobs accommodating them and, therefore, attracting a different demographic (like me, perhaps). In the videos, I was glad to see kids, from toddlers to teens, engaged, entertained, but still generally appropriately "contained."
The rub? I have two kids, a daughter aged five (and she's already
in love with the cruise concept) and a son... who will be two-and-a-half years old.
Now, I know that my daughter will be kept quite busy, that she can be with us but might actually prefer to stay with the other kids and participate in the kids program. I'm mostly curious about the complications that my young son might create.
Are toddlers generally welcome, tolerated, or, frankly, scowled at like any kid would be in an adult environment? What are the protocols I should keep in mind, presuming that my wife and I will have our son hanging off of one of us for much of the time? Are formal events out (in deference to our fellow cruisers)? Will we be eating at Johnny Rockets every meal?
Independent of the (older) kids programs, are there supplemental/special "babysitting" services? The old thread linked above said there was for an hourly rate, which sounds fine to me, just to get out to see one show or visit the spa. Is this still available? Are they in-cabin or is there a "holding pen" arrangement or something in the recreation area? Does anyone have any experience with it?
Honestly, I'm less concerned with keeping my son "entertained" as I am with unknowingly violating customs or annoying other cruisers. Before I had kids, I had a lot
to say about parents who needed schooling in public etiquette, so I want to do the right thing now that it's my turn.