Everything you need to know about bringing a baby on an Alaskan Cruise
Thinking about taking your baby on a cruise? Some people might think you are crazy. I’m here to tell you, that it is totally doable. My husband and I embarked on a 7-day Alaskan Cruise on the Holland America Eurodam in May. We took our 7 month old with us…..GASP!!! All in all, it was an amazing trip. One that I will forever remember and cherish. I did learn A LOT….. what to do, what not to do, what to bring, what not to bring.
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Let me go ahead and preface this post, by warning you that my husband and I were NOT big on cruises before this trip. We never have been. With our travels in general, we tend to like being on our own schedule. We like the freedom to do what you want, when you want. Based on our prior 3 cruises, we realized cruise lines love to put you on schedules. They have a lot of rules. I understand they are needed. It’s just not my cup of tea. In fact, after our last cruise, we both said we would never cruise again!
Problem is, I have always wanted to see Alaska! After lots of research, I came to the conclusion that one of the better ways to see Alaska, was via boat. I was offered an incredible price for a balcony room through TravelZoo. The cruise also left out of Seattle. We have a Southwest Companion pass that got us from Arkansas to Seattle for super low miles (and NO money). So going on this cruise vacation was a no-brainer! Read here for how I use credit card miles and bonuses to travel for cheap or free.
Here’s everything you need to know about bringing a baby on an Alaskan Cruise:
1. What to do the Day Before the Cruise Departs:
We arrived in Seattle one day before the cruise departed. I recommend doing this, just to rule out any plane delays and not arriving to the port on time. We rented a car from Alamo by the airport. Then stayed in a super cheap airport hotel. I would Not normally recommend Rodeway Inn. It was right next to the airport. But since we didn’t land until 10 p.m., and all we needed was a place to crash, cheap and close but rundown was fine with me. It served its purpose, and the next morning we got out of there asap.
I recommend going to a liquor store to pick up your 2 bottles of wine that you are allowed to bring on board for free. Go explore Seattle for a few hours before dropping the rental car off at the downtown location on 3rd street. Having the car, even for short time, was super convenient. It was worth the total cost of $32 to cart the baby, car seat, stroller and all of our luggage around Seattle. Plus, the rental car company shuttled us, for free, to the cruise port after we dropped the car off. Definitely the best way to go, rather than taking taxis, uber, or public transportation from your hotel to cruise port.
Read here for What to Pack for an Alaskan Cruise
2. What to expect on Embarkation day for your Alaskan Cruise with a baby
Boarding the boat was simpler than I had anticipated. The description below may sound like a lot, but these cruises are well-oiled machines, and you move through each line pretty quickly. The only hiccup was baby J fussing in line once because I didn’t have his bottle prepared. We had a few disapproving looks with comments like “you are VERY brave to bring a baby on a cruise”… insert eye roll. I just smiled and killed them with kindness.
So here’s the process:
We first dropped off our 2 large suitcases at baggage check. Now you are free of 2 less bags YAY! You then pick up a personal health form and fill that out in the line to have your passports checked. Then you go through security (similar to an airport’s). Finally, you go through the line to get your keys to your room. Once we were in our room, I poured myself a glass of wine! I stepped out onto our balcony, took a deep breath, and finally began to relax.
Click here to get your own Beanie with fur pom pom (pictured above). Perfect for your Alaska Cruise!
3. Tips for Alaskan Cruise Day 1
You won’t see your luggage for a couple of hours after setting sail, so it’s important to pack some crucial items in your carry-on. Including but not limited to: a change of clothes for you and your husband and one for the baby, Baby food, diapers, formula, toys, bathing suit in case you want to swim. Keep in mind babies under 2 (or otherwise non-potty-trained) are not allowed in the pool. Pack as light as you can, because you will have the stroller, car seat & Base, plus a carry-on, along with the baby himself, and pulling all that through the security lines can get overwhelming.
Our hope is to travel as a family as often as we can (at least as often as our work schedules allow us).
Click HERE to learn how we use points and miles to expand our travel budget. A step by step guide is included for you.
4. Things to do at each port. Click on the links below for each separate post:
- Things to do in Juneau with a baby
- 5 Cool Things to do in Sitka Alaska
- Things to do in Ketchikan Alaska
5. Cruising Glacier Bay
One full day was spent cruising Glacier Bay. It was so beautiful! It was one of my favorite days, because we didn’t have to worry about taking the baby on and off the boat. We spent several hours just sitting on our balcony, staring at stunning views & drinking wine, while James napped.
6. Last Port of Call on most Alaskan Cruises – Victoria, British Columbia.
No need for a whole separate post for this final port. We didn’t dock until 6:30pm so we decided to forgo the hour long taxi ride to the Butchart Gardens. Although I read that was the number 1 excursion for Cruisers. We knew James would have probably cried the whole taxi ride there. So we decided to walk the Inner Harbor trail along the coastline. Great activity for a baby in a stroller. Make sure you swing by the Fairmont Empress for afternoon tea or a glass of wine. Then head over to Fischerman’s Wharf to watch the sunset! Once James fell asleep we had dinner overlooking the harbor.
7. What to expect on Debarkation Day
On our last night of the Alaskan Cruise, we were arriving to Victoria British Columbia at 6pm and not leaving until midnight. We actually explored the city up until about 11pm. By the time we were back in the room I was too exhausted to pack. They gave us a “debarkation notice” that evening in our mail slot. It had the times each deck was allowed to leave the ship the following morning. The notice also told us to set out your luggage IF you wanted them to move it off the boat for you. I quickly scanned the notice and the last leaving time was at 9:45am. So I assumed we had until about 9:45am to leave the ship.
THIS IS NOT THE CASE. The morning of debarkation, we got up early, ate breakfast and began to pack. They started calling each deck around 7:30am and finished by 8:45am….MUCH earlier than I had anticipated. By 9 a.m., we were getting phone calls from the front desk, requesting that we leave the ship IMMEDIATELY. I, of course, was still packing, with a baby wanting to play…..not easy. By 9:30 am, they had sent security up to escort us off the boat. I threw our stuff that still needed to be packed on top of the stroller to leave the boat. So my tip is to start packing morning before you debark. Even if you don’t plan on setting your luggage out for handling. The nice thing was that, since security had been sent, we had an extra set of hands to help us take down all our luggage.
Anyways, I feel like they could have handled our debarkation a little less rudely. Honestly I feel like it put such a damper at the end of what otherwise was a nice trip that I probably won’t cruise with them again. Sorry Holland America. But for you future cruisers, you can live and learn from my mistakes.
My best advice for cruising with a baby is to keep calm. Be prepared with your go-to carry-on bag for things that satisfy a fussy baby. Ignore the few people who have disapproving looks. Focus on the fun times and precious moments about to be made. Most passengers were oohing and aweing over James the whole time. And that one guy that made the rude comment (when boarding)…. well I never even saw him again on the entire trip. Big boat equals lots of spreading out!
Overall this was an awesome trip! But I do have to be honest. We particularly enjoyed our time OFF the boat in the Alaskan ports more than the time on the boat. That has been the case for every cruise we have been on though (with or without a baby!) I don’t think Will and I will ever be the biggest fans of cruises. Have you been on an Alaskan Cruise? Comment below and tell me about some of the fun excursions we missed. We would love to go back to Alaska when the baby is older one day! Just maybe not via boat.