Just last week we went on a 7-day cruise aboard Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas. My husband works for Royal Caribbean and he has the ability to submit for a cruise (to sail standby). We had been discussing different vacation options for valentines and prior to giving birth, and we felt this would be perfect for all 3 of us. The reason we decided to do it now is because you cannot be more than 23-weeks pregnant and at the time of departure, I was 19 so this was something that if we were seriously considering, we had to do it NOW.
We didn’t find out that we were going to sail until the day before when bookings had closed for this ship, so I had to pack for all 3 of us in a hurry the day before. Packing for a 7-day cruise is not the easiest thing to do under normal circumstances, let alone in a rush because you have to think of all scenarios. I still feel like I over packed the baby and under packed for myself but we made it work.
When we decided to submit for certain cruises, we had looked at a few different ships from the Royal Caribbean line and their sister lines and felt that Oasis would meet our needs the best. We were looking specifically for kid friendly cruises, because frankly if the baby isn’t happy, mom and dad aren’t either and this ship has a ton of kids activities and kid friendly places. Here’s a rundown of all the things we found on this ship.
They have an amazing kids pool area called the H2O Zone. It’s a pool, a splash pad, and a lazy river pool. Actually, we don’t know what the “lazy river pool” is called, but it’s a round pool with a current so it takes you round and round kind of like a lazy river.
The pool itself (which is only 3.5 feet) also has a hot tub next to it that the kids can use. Actually, the kids can use all the pools on board, except at the Solarium area, but this is a nice zone carved out just for kids and families.
In the kids area (Adventure Ocean) they have a play room that is full of toys and all kinds of fun things for them to do. It is only for kids 5 and under, so the toys inside are geared to that age group. It is not monitored so parents must watch your kids while they’re in this room having fun. If your kid plays well like mine does, this is a nice time to hang out and read a little while your kid plays and has fun with other kids.
Adventure Ocean also offers leader led play where they break out the kids into 3 different age groups, but this starts at 3 years old so Sebastian did not get to participate. We were able to look into the rooms and see the different activities they were doing and all the kids looked like they were having a great time. I wish I could write more about this from my experience, but I can’t. The groups are broken out into the Aquanauts group (ages 3-5), Explorers (ages 6-8), and Voyagers (9-11). They also have a separate tween and teen club and areas they can hang out at. This ship also had the Dreamworks experience, so there was a character breakfast with the Dreamworks characters, 3D movies at the main theater as well as movies on the big screens at the back of the ship. They also had photos with the characters and dance parties at certain times. For the little guys under 3, they also had a music class during certain days. Unfortunately, the timing of this class was right in the middle of Sebastian’s nap time so we were never able to participate. If there is one thing I would complain about is this because this was offered at 1 pm when most kids are napping. It really should have been offered earlier or at least at different times on the 3 days they offered it so kids who nap at 1 could participate another day.
Adventure Ocean also offer babysitting services for a fee ($6 per hour before 8 pm, and $8 after 8 pm) so that if you need a date night, you can have one. We used their services 3 of the nights we were on board so that we can dine at different specialty restaurants without having to worry about Sebastian getting antsy to leave or misbehaving. If you have your kid at one of the Adventure Ocean groups, they also pick the kids up outside of the main dining at certain intervals so you can finish your long meal without worrying about having to keep your kids entertained. So if you’re at a 2 hour sit down meal, they’ll pick the kids up after 45 minutes when they’re usually done eating so you can enjoy the rest of your dinner. Again, I didn’t participate in this because Sebastian was not old enough yet, but we heard a lot of parents talking about what a great thing it was for them.
They have an area known as the boardwalk where they have a hand carved carousel the kids can ride for free. It was one of Sebastian’s favorite things to do, and seriously, a carousel onboard a cruise ship!! It was the coolest thing ever! The whole boardwalk area was pretty neat and interactive.
They also had a mini golf course on board where Sebastian was introduced to the sport. It didn’t go so well, because a 2-year-old with a club and a ball and other people trying to play just doesn’t mix well, but there was an introduction.
There were 3 ports of call for this sailing: Labadee, Haiti, Falmouth, Jamaica, and Cozumel, Mexico. We got off at Haiti and Jamaica and skipped Cozumel. We’ve been to Cozumel before and we really weren’t impressed, so we opted to just stay on board this day. We decided not to do any excursions since we were a bit hesitant about the logistics of the bringing the baby with us and with me being pregnant, we were also afraid of the mosquito situation. I did take a lot of mosquito repellent and heavy sprayed myself before leaving the room on port days, but we felt it was better not to venture too far, so this time around we didn’t do any excursions.
At Haiti we decided to enjoy the beach. Labadee is basically a portion of Haiti that is reserved solely for Royal Caribbean guests, so we have access to the beaches and then the crew brings an awesome barbecue lunch out for us to enjoy.
The port at Jamaica is really more of a shopping port. We got off the ship and looked around at the stores and ventured a bit into Falmouth itself, but never too far away from the ship. Sebastian actually fell asleep in the stroller before his naptime, so we decided just to keep walking around while he napped because the alternative was to carry him out of the stroller to get through customs and back on the boat. That may have caused him to wake up prematurely and we didn’t feel it was worth the risk, so we let him sleep while we window shopped.
While on the ship, Sebastian shopped a little…
Relaxed a little…
But, all in all, we had a great time and are already looking forward to our next cruise as a 4-some after the baby is born.
There were a few lessons we learned on this trip and maybe a few things we would do differently the next time we sailed.
- Research the ship. Make sure you are sailing on a kid friendly ship or make sure you bring plenty of things to entertain your child with. We went for the kid friendly ship so we didn’t have to pack an extra bag for toys, but we still brought some to keep him entertained during meal times and time in the cabin.
- Take a small stroller. We took our umbrella stroller and I think that was the limit as far as stroller size because even this small stroller was a bit tricky to maneuver in hallways and elevators.
- Plan for sleep. Our Jamaica day got a little tricky at night. Since he napped in the stroller, he didn’t get a good nap in because he only napped for about an hour, which means he was in a mood later in the day. Unfortunately, this day we also had reservations for one of the specialty restaurants and we ended up having to cut dinner short because he had a meltdown at babysitting. On the plus side, he slept really well that night.
- Consider your child’s age. I think if we could have we probably would have been better off waiting until he was 3 to sail because it would have opened it up for a lot more activities that he could do without us around. He could have had his time and we could have had our time. Because he was just a few months shy of being 3 we had to take turns taking care of him if we needed our own individual time to decompress, so we also never really got time to do things together unless we paid for babysitting.
- Take kid-friendly snacks to stock the mini fridge or grab stuff from the buffet. There are a few things you can get on board and keep in the room for your child, but we also decided to pack Gerber Grabber pouches of snacks because that seems to be Sebastian’s go-to item when he wants a quick snack. During breakfast, stock up on milk and Cheerios or any other cereal your child likes to keep on hand. Also, things like bananas and apples or other fruits are good items to take back to your room for those moments when they absolutely have to have a snack and it might not be available in the dining halls.
- Find the kid friendly restaurants as soon as you can. We found that the buffet was not very kid friendly and didn’t have things like mac & cheese or chicken nuggets. We found one restaurant that only served pizza and the main dining hall had things like mac & cheese and chicken nuggets. A lot of times we had to take Sebastian to eat at one place wait for him to eat, and then we ate somewhere else, like the buffet, because they really didn’t offer food he liked. It also wasn’t until the end of the cruise that we figured out room service would bring us kid-friendly food, but we also didn’t want to always eat in our room. But if you’re in a bind, room service is another option.
- Plan for a slow pace. Don’t expect to fit a bunch of things in on the same day because your child will just not be able to keep up. This goes for any vacation with a toddler, though, and I think that the atmosphere of a cruise is set for a slower pace anyway (as opposed to Disney), so that’s not so hard to do, but just keep this in mind on port days.
- Become very familiar with your cabin’s sleeper sofa. Sebastian decided to sleep in our bed day one, sleeper sofa day 2, and we just never knew where he would want to sleep on which day. So instead of having our cabin steward make the sleeper sofa every day (and take up all valuable space in our room) we learned how to open and close it and set it up when he wanted.
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