The mere thought of it sounds awful, right? A floating hotel, surrounded by leagues of water, with pitfalls of danger around every corner… Well, don’t be quick to rule out a cruise vacation! It actually provides a consistent environment, well suited to schedules. And if you have young twins, this may be the break you were hoping for. Now seriously, this is not a break for you, because no vacation is a break for mama; not unless the nanny is coming!
Here are some things you need to know about cruising with multiples:
- Reservations: decide beforehand if your kids are sleeping with you, you want to get a cabin with two rooms, or if you want to get two cabins that connect. Call to make reservations; I had a ton of questions the cruise representative could answer on the spot. You can reserve pack and plays on the ship for your littles to sleep in if they still sleep in cribs. Sheets and blankets are not provided. And note: they are very small.
- Arrival: The number of things required to maintain our littles overwhelmed us as we tried to pack “lightly.” Here are a couple of things to remember as you pack.
a. The DOCK: Porters were available to put our baggage on the ship. You WILL want to use this. Get rid of all the luggage you can. Your hands are full. There’s nothing like chasing down toddlers in customs with luggage hanging off you like ornaments on a Christmas tree!
b. BOARDING: This process can take a bit of time, so make sure you have a diaper bag full of food, toys, diapers, and a change of clothes. Once you board, you will not have immediate access to your room. Note: if you choose to go to the buffet, find a table first. It’s like claiming a chair at the pool. They go fast. Trust me: claim it ASAP. We didn’t, and it was a disaster.
c. MUSTER: This is the emergency evacuation plan and attendance is required for all passengers. By this time, our littles were up early that day and missed their nap. Now, the entire ship has packed all the passengers on the outer decks pretty tightly. Containment is key here. Find a way to keep them comforted and CONTAINED. My littles were exhausted and both wanted me to hold them. Not being strong enough, I opted to use the TwinGo carrier.
3. Ship Life...
Hack #1: Move the coffee table into the closet. It sounds crazy, but you’ve brought more luggage than you can comfortably access and putting the table into the closet serves two purposes:
· Luggage rack: you have access to its contents without having to unpack or destroy the order of its contents.
· It frees up play space in the room for your twinadoes.
Hack #2: Take a hanging shoe organizer for inside the bathroom door. Great for easy access to items you need often. My twins could reach into the bottom compartments, so I cut it off and hung it in the closet with command hooks. This is where I put all our medicines and syringes.
Hack #3: Move the beds to face the wall: If you opt for two bedrooms with an adjoining door, move the beds to face the wall in the kids’ room. We brought rope (and well, why wouldn’t you bring rope on a cruise…? ) and JINSHUNFA Wall Hooks to secure the beds. We brought them, but didn’t tie our beds.
Eating: There are two places to eat for free: dining hall and buffet. You will quickly find what works for your family. If you eat at the dining hall, choose a “no reservation” dinner time so you can eat at any time. I preferred the dining hall where I didn’t have to fight a crowd for food and make several trips for everyone. Instead, we sat down and people brought us food. It was everything. Having a new dollar store treat for the kids while they wait for dinner at the table was helpful.
Place-mats: we have used disposable place-mats and silicone place-mats. Both are a bit inconvenient; one has tabs to peel away and the other you must clean to reuse. The staff work hard to keep things sanitary, but there are 5,000+ passengers every 3-7 days passing through these ships.
Kids Club: make sure you know what age the kid’s club starts on the ship. You will pay for childcare for babies, but kid’s club is free.
Miscellaneous must know
a. Dirty Diapers:
· Balcony rooms: set the trash outside
· Cabin rooms: take freezer baggies and seal them.
b. Clothes: take clothes appropriate for all seasons. Nights at sea can be quite cool, even in summer. Having a light jacket can be especially useful. Baggie the kids’ clothes: put a day’s worth of clothes in a baggie so when you need a set for the day, all the contents are in one easy grab-bag. Make sure air can escape from the baggie for optimum packing.
c. Snacks: single serving things are best, especially proteins.
d. Insulated Thermos: We chose Foogo. Note: when the cap is not secure, it is not leak-proof. Very useful.
e. Strollers: we took our umbrella double stroller, which was sufficient. Two single umbrella strollers would have been more maneuverable, but since our twins can walk, we didn’t use the stroller on the ship; we only used it off the boat. It was ESPECIALLY helpful boarding the ship: the kids walked or sat on the luggage we put in the stroller.
f. Umbrellas: hand umbrellas provide instant shade no matter where you are or how you are transporting your twins. We took two so we could both hold a child.
We had a navy blue one and a red one. However, something happens under the hot Cozumel sun that made us burn under that red umbrella. Take my word for it, two dark colored umbrellas.
Just remember to keep in mind, as the old adage says, “A family vacation isn’t a vacation for mama; that’s called a girls’ trip.” And that, my friend, is truth!
Catrina Marshall is a nurse who has worked all over the world. She is the mom to twins Cydney and Cooper, and serves FWMOM as our Treasurer.