Well, my family is back from another cruise. Yes, we did it again... The good news is that it's all for your benefit!
In this post I will cover the toddler and baby friendliness of the ship. I will publish some additional posts on other aspects of the ship like dining and activities after.
For some background info, this was my son's 3rd cruise. Previously he went on a 7-day Carnival Glory cruise at 9-months old and a 3-day Enchantment of the Seas cruise at 14-months old.
For this trip we didn't bring many extras like we have in the past. My suggestion, if you like to travel, is to invest in a good umbrella-style stroller. We used to have The First Years Ignite, but since upgraded to the Chicco Liteway. I actually prefer it over my full-sized stroller these days! The Chicco fit great in the back corner of our stateroom. We saw parents will full-sized strollers struggling to get around in the ship. We did not bring a pack n play this time because they provided us with a crib. However you cannot request the crib in advance on Carnival.
On the previous two cruises I lucked out with balcony cabins. I do mean lucked out, as we rarely pay for a balcony. Both were free upgrades. This time I booked a category 6M Oceanview stateroom, no upgrade- but in the end I was very thankful. Carnival has been offering these nice "family" staterooms on their newer ships (Dream, Magic, and Breeze). So you're probably thinking what is so special? I'll show you :)
We ate in the Main Dining Room, Blush, on 5 of the 6 nights. We chose to eat in the buffet on the second formal night because we didn't feel like dressing up. Service was adequate, our waiter made some napkin animals on a few nights to help entertain the little guy. We requested a high chair on the first evening and it was automatically there on subsequent nights. The first ten minutes were challenging each night because we had to order a fruit plate for my son, to keep him occupied. On another cruise we took they would bring fruit as soon as we sat to help keep him busy.
Carnival's childrens' programming does not begin until age 2. At two, you can send your child to Camp Carnival and enjoy your day on your own! The only thing offered for the under-2 crowd is Open Play in the mornings on sea days and "group babysitting" on port days. Both are limited to about 3 hours each time. If you want to leave your little one, it is $6.25 an hour plus tip. We attempted to leave our son there on one occasion so we could go on the water slides without having to take turns. My son wouldn't have it. He cried for 30 minutes straight. He used to be so good about going to daycare, but he's now out of that routine. We used the open play once for my son and he enjoyed the variety of toys available.
Carnival recently partnered with Dr Suess to provide onboard activities and entertainment. It is being rolled out on various ships right now. On the Carnival Breeze they offered green eggs & ham breakfast ($5 per person), story time, and a parade. We were able to catch both storytime and the parade on the afternoon of being in Key West. It was cute, although you could tell it was a new program as there were not very many people in attendance. The parade began in Liquid Nightclub. Entertainment staff handed out props to hold and introduced the characters with music and cheering. The Cat in the Hat was supposed to come out last but didn't so the parade was actually an "adventure hide & seek." We marched through the ship until we reached the theater where the Cat in the Hat was hiding! This led in to the story time, which was really nice for slightly older kids. They invited all the kids on stage and had some kids and parents participate in the story telling adventure. My son was watching for 10 minutes then wanted to run around on the stage, so we left!
We felt the ship was okay with young toddlers and babies. As a parent you have to be willing to spend all of your time with your child unless you bring along a grandparent or babysitter. We're okay with that because we travel so frequently. I did find Royal Caribbean to be more accommodating to families with very young children.
For more information on the programs offered onboard and to book your next family vacation, please contact Nicole@sunkissedadvetures.com or 561-702-2096