Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Toddlers and Tots on Tour

Toddlers and Tots on Tour
Top tips for a smooth sailing with toddlers and tots on board



The idea of travelling with a toddler or tot is enough to send many parents into a trembling cold sweat. Just dressing them in the morning is like putting tights on a snake, meal times are more like ‘dining detonation’ and it might possibly be easier to herd chickens through Grafton St at rush hour than getting toddlers and tots through an airport.  Consistent nap times, constant attention and the whole ‘intensive care’ aspect of parenting toddlers is exhausting enough in the confines of home and now we want to take the show on tour?  

A cruise is a great way to take some of the pressure off with their huge variety of activities, excursions, amenities and edibles.  Many new cruise ships are like floating resorts with seemingly endless options to keep all ages entertained.  Meanwhile your family is transported from destination to destination, while unpacking just onceWhere once it was a struggle to find ships that were child-friendly, the challenge now is wading through the bevy of activities, kids clubs and child-themed bells and whistles many of the newer ships offer to determine which cruise to chose.   To make your trip smooth sailing, here are some top tips from e-travel:

  1. The flight: Most cruise itineraries require a flight and with small children, it might be easier to keep flights relatively short so Mediterranean cruises may be best which normally go from either Spain or Italy.   E-Travel offer fly cruise packages with flights and transfers included making the whole booking process for a family a lot easier.  Also, check out the www.airportgenie.com to make your airport experience stress free.  You can purchase a fast track boarding pass from just €5.95 and skip right passed long queues right through to a Genie Chaperone for a whole family to whisk you through the airport with minimum stress from €40.  Pre-book parking online and make major savings with www.dublinairport.com from €29 for a week or if you really want to feel like a VIP, check out the new VIP service offered by www.dublinairport.com

  1. Happy kids, happy holiday’ so chose your ship based on what your children will enjoy best.  Entertainment has been taken to a new level with themed cruises. Families can opt for a "DreamWorks experience" on Royal Caribbean (Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas), during which they'll get to meet characters like Shrek and Po (the Kung Fu Panda). Likewise, Norwegian offers Nickelodeon-themed cruises on Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Gem, Norwegian Getaway and Norwegian Jewel. Carnival is adding Seuss at Sea to several ships.  As a general rule of thumb, the newer ships tend to be the best choice as they have so many new additions.  e-travel offer a wide variety of cruise packages and staff have personal experience sailing with all the top cruise lines with specialist advice on best prices and packages for toddlers and tots.

  1. Food for thought: Dining options and times are now much more family friendly and flexible. When you're travelling with kids, set dining times and show times can be tough. Ships are accommodating families with more flexible dining times, and special menus for tykes are offered in a variety of dining venues. Some cruise lines will mash or puree food for babies; others don't offer this service. Either way, it's good to bring a supply of food and formula for use during shore excursions and as a backup in case your child has fussy taste buds.

  1. Questions to ask: Investigate the kids’ programs thoroughly. Read the fine print on the cruise line’s Web site or pepper your travel agent with plenty of questions. Here’s what to ask when travelling with kids: Is the program open to toddlers under three? (Many are not, or require an extra fee.) Does your little darling have to be diaper-free to attend? What kind of training and certifications do caregivers have? Do toddlers have their own space, or do they share with bigger kids? If you are travelling with more than one child, find out whether the kids can be put in the same group (if you want) or whether that won’t be allowed because of the age-spread. Other questions: Is the program open year-round or just during high season on the high seas? What are the program’s hours? Will you need to supply proof of vaccinations?

  1. What to Bring.  Most cruise lines don't sell nappies and wipes onboard or might not have your preferred brand, so bring your own. Even though many ships provide cribs, be sure to confirm availability before you sail. If you have a toddler on the tall side, ask about the size of the crib; a low bunk with a bedrail might fit your child better.  If your child is hooked on watching Dora or Disney before bed, consider bringing a portable DVD player, as most standard staterooms do not have DVD players. As for strollers & buggies, think about what you'll need at the airport and during shore excursions, in addition to getting around the ship. This will help you determine whether you need.    

Established in 1997, e-travel is now one of Ireland’s leading independent travel agents, specialising in cruising as well as flights, long-haul and online bookings and are the only 100% Irish owned and managed online agency in Ireland.  Whether it is the perfect honeymoon or a family holiday, there are prices to suit most budgets.  e-travel’s award winning team offer expertise and advice, early booking discounts, onboard credit and lots more!  The e-travel Cruise department can be contacted on 01 4081999 or www.e-travel.ie

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