4 Helpful Tips for Cruising with Toddlers

by Carrie McLaren with 1 comment

Packing and prepping for an upcoming cruise requires time and a bit of planning too. And when there are kids involved — it means even more planning and preparation.

My girls were only 3 and 5 years old on their first Carnival cruise, a quick three-day sailing out of Port Canaveral and they had a blast. It was on that first trip that I quickly realized what things I should have packed and what I should have left at home.


I had a long talk this past weekend with Melissa from Sippy Cup Mom about her upcoming cruise and I decided to turn our conversation into a helpful post!

Here’s a look at my helpful tips for cruising with toddlers –

Bring Your Own Child-Friendly Cups

Nightly meals in the dining room is a cruise tradition for many — and my girls have always found the experience to be fun for them too. With a separate kids menu featuring pizza, chicken, spaghetti and even banana splits for dessert – the only thing missing during meals is kid-friendly cups.


Yep, you’ll only find glassware in the dining rooms. With that in mind, I always pack plastic disposable cups (affiliate link) for my girls. Servers are always very accommodating and usually just pour the girls drinks right in their cups for them. Easy peasy — and no spills!

You will find plastic cups on the Lido deck in the buffet areas – but no lids. So best to be prepared!

What About Diapers?

Ziplocs are your best friend! I never cruise without plenty of Ziploc bags. Besides keeping wet and dry things separated (hello, swimsuits!) – they are also great for minimizing the smell of diapers. Drop it in the bag, zip it up and you are good to go!

Forget Ziplocs? Don’t worry — just ask your stateroom steward for some little garbage bags. They’ll be happy to help you out!


Pack a Kids To-Go Bag

When you’re making your way back and forth to Camp Ocean (also known as Camp Carnival on some ships), bring a little bag for your little one’s belongings. An extra change of clothes (because you never know), plastic cups, water bottle and camp crafts — there’s no need to juggle everything.

We often found ourselves stopping off for ice cream or an activity before or after heading to Camp, having the bag came in handy and the girls loved being in charge of carrying it too.


Mandatory Quiet Time in the Stateroom

And my top ‘must do’ rule when cruising with toddlers and younger kids — mandatory quiet time in the stateroom each afternoon. I think this time of rest is key in allowing us all to stay up later and enjoy the onboard activities after dinner — the girls love going to Camp after dinner and my husband and I enjoy catching a show!

Whether we nap, watch television, order a snack from room service or just enjoys the views from the balcony — a time for everyone to relax and take a break is important and necessary!


Taking your little ones on a cruise may require a bit of planning, but the outcome will be incredibly worth it. Some of our most favorite travel memories have come from our cruising adventures.

A week out on the high seas with great food, relaxation and plenty of family activities is just the right vacation for us.

What questions do you have about sailing with your kids? 



  • Tyler@TheTravelingToddler.com

    Take full advantage of the on-board day camps. On Carnival it’s Camp Ocean. A great way to kids to spend some time on their own with their own age friends, and the adults can get some quiet time. And you’re already paying for it so might as well use it!

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