Must-Know Hacks for Parents Cruising with Young Children

Tuesday, 8 August 2023

Mother and child looking out to sea from a cruise ship

Taking children on holiday can be an excellent way to let them experience the world. With new foods, much-needed family time and unique experiences to enlighten their senses, having a holiday with the whole family can create fond memories that will be cherished forever. However, as amazing as that all sounds, sometimes travelling with young children can become overwhelming and with all the stress, it can take to fun out of the holiday before it has even begun.

A family cruise holiday can be a great way to gently introduce young children to travel without the stress of getting to the airport, checking in luggage and sitting on a plane. Although much easier, a cruise holiday can still have hurdles when travelling as a family. With this being said, we have compiled a list of hacks for parents when embarking on a cruise with their young children.

Hacks for parents cruising with young children:

  • Strategic packing
  • Invest in a cabin with a balcony
  • Pack toys and books for entertainment
  • Keep track of time
  • Plan ahead
  • Pack a lot of snacks
  • Utilise the pool

Strategic Packing

Ensuring that you have everything you need when venturing away from home can often be one of the most stressful aspects of going on holiday. However, planning and being as strategic as possible will ensure that packing goes off without a hitch.

One of the first things to do is make a list of every person you will be personally packing for; this way, you can tick off everything as you go, so nothing important gets left behind. It is always a good idea to pack a few small toys for your children so they can be occupied during downtime. You may not want to let them bring every toy they own, but you can always allow each child to take a small backpack with their favourite toys and books.

You wouldn’t want to run out of nappies, wipes or other essentials for younger children whilst travelling, so it is essential that you bring enough with you for the whole trip to give you peace of mind. Additionally, it is worth considering whether you will need to bring your travel cot or other larger items so you can consider them whilst you pack.

Cabin with a balcony

A balcony room on a cruise ship

Depending on how old your children are, they may still have a nap during the day. With open-plan cabins, staying quiet during this time can be hard, and sitting in a darkened room won't be much fun. However, opting for a cabin with a balcony can be a good idea so you can relax on the balcony and keep a keen eye on your child without worrying about waking them up.

It is important to note that all children should always be supervised on or around a balcony. However, balconies are a great option to have when you're trying to let your children nap, as you'll be able to relax whilst enjoying incredible views out to sea.

Toys, games & entertainment

As mentioned previously, packing toys and books is essential to keep the little ones busy during the duration of the holiday. Whether you are lounging around the ship or spending some downtime in the cabin, most children will need to be entertained via a tablet, toy or book. It is always good to bring a variety of options so you can keep them interested, but not too many that your cabin turns into a toybox. If you can, then you should use an empty suitcase as a makeshift drawer under the bed as a toybox, as this is a great way to save space in the room.

READ MOREFun games to play whilst on a cruise.

Keep Track of Time

We all know things don't always go to plan, but there are always things that can be done to try and make things go as smoothly as possible. As parents, we all know that time really is of the essence, so coming up with a schedule of plans and times can be a good way to stay organised.

Of course, children like to keep you on your toes, so your plans may go out of the window, but having the foundations of how you are going to spend the day is a good place to begin. Planning the day around your children's schedule should be the first priority, as keeping them as much in a normal routine as possible will benefit you in the long run. For example, getting them down for a nap at their usual time or eating meals when you normally would.

However, you don't want to miss out on all the fun if you are sticking to a strict schedule, but setting reminders on your phone can be a great way to stay on track. We spoke to Karen, who runs a family travel blog called Travel Mad Mum, and she shared one of her best tips when travelling with children:

“I think my main tip would be don’t think you need to get off at every stop as it can be quite a lot with small children. Hanging back can be a great way to enjoy the facilities.”

Plan ahead

A child using binoculus on a cruise ship

Like with any holiday (or activity when you have little ones!), planning ahead is a good way to take any stress out of the trip. Firstly, you should consider what you want to do while on your cruise. Will you need to bring a car seat, pram or pushchair for when you are docked or when you are strolling around the ship?

You can also look to book dinner reservations before you depart, so you can start building out your schedule and timings before you leave. If you are enjoying a trip with grandparents, you might also want to see whether they’d be happy to babysit for an evening or even during a stop at a port you are really keen to explore fully. Splitting the load like this can give you time to unwind, but also mean you aren’t asking grandparents at the last minute when they might already have plans of their own.

READ MOREMulti-gen cruise holiday benefits for each generation.


Having a stash of snacks in your cabin is essential when travelling with children, as they always love catching us off-guard, letting us know they’re hungry when we least expect it. Of course, there will be snacks to purchase, and meals served onboard, but having a good selection of non-perishable things with you that you know your little one loves is a good way to ensure you can easily grab something if required. Items such as crisps, cereal bars, fruit bars, raisins etc., are all good snacks to keep in the room for “just in case”.

Utilise the Onboard Facilities

From West-End quality performances in The Palladium to our great on-deck pools, make sure you’re making the most of your time on board with your little ones. You can sample our amazing range of onboard dining facilities and enjoy sea days as well as port days.

Although Ambassador are an adult-only cruise line, we offer a selection of multi-generational cruises during school holidays for those who want to bring little ones with them. These cruises enable the whole family to spend quality time together in a stress-free environment enjoying some beautiful places around the globe.

If you are looking at heading on an adventure with the whole family in tow, then we have a range of cruises from Tilbury in 2023, letting you embark on a trip where you will cherish the memories for years to come. If you’re planning further ahead, why not check out all of our multi-generational cruise holidays and get something in the diary?

For more guides on the cruises we offer, then take a look at our blog.