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Old Apr 24, 09, 4:11 pm   #1
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
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Cruise with 4 year old

I am thinking of booking a cruise for me, my husband and 4 year old. My husband is a paraplegic and as a result not only are we on a major budget but due to some health issues he has we prefer to not have to be in an airplane for more than 2-3 hours. As we live in Oregon, a Disney cruise is not really an option. We are thinking an Alaska cruise and I am wondering if it is likely my 4 year old will enjoy any of the kids club offerings on non Disney cruise lines like Holland America or Princess. I would also love to do Beaches but again that will need to be a trip with just my daughter and me. Accessibility is always an issue so a cruise seemed like an ideal family vacation. I am not sure if I should wait until my daughter is a little older though. Any thoughts on this? Thanks.
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Old Apr 24, 09, 5:57 pm   #2
 
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Not sure what kids club activities they offer, but bear in mind that alaska cruises cater to an older demographic. I went on one a couple years ago and probably saw 1 or 2 kids. Most folks were retired folks 50+. So don't expect there to be a large flock of kids for yours to play with. Also most of the things to do on an alaska cruise revolve around enjoying the scenery. Your kid may or may not like that kind of activity.

There are cruises that leave from San Diego, which I think is within the 3hr plane ride requirement. Also Disney has cruises that leave from Los Angeles that go down to Mexico.
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Old Apr 24, 09, 8:19 pm   #3
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Originally Posted by yukira View Post
I am thinking of booking a cruise for me, my husband and 4 year old. My husband is a paraplegic and as a result not only are we on a major budget but due to some health issues he has we prefer to not have to be in an airplane for more than 2-3 hours. As we live in Oregon, a Disney cruise is not really an option. We are thinking an Alaska cruise and I am wondering if it is likely my 4 year old will enjoy any of the kids club offerings on non Disney cruise lines like Holland America or Princess. I would also love to do Beaches but again that will need to be a trip with just my daughter and me. Accessibility is always an issue so a cruise seemed like an ideal family vacation. I am not sure if I should wait until my daughter is a little older though. Any thoughts on this? Thanks.
I took my son, then age 8, on a Princess cruise to Alaska last fall, and he had a fabulous time in the kid's room every day we weren't on shore. We went mid-September, so the total kid's room count was 12 kids, ages 3 to 8. For him, that was great, a couple kids to play with when he was in the mood, and no waiting for the PlayStation when he wanted to play by himself. The staff told me their mid-August sailing had over 100 kids in that age range: pick your dates carefully. The number of "teachers" in the kid's room was the same for both cruises, so kids on our sailing had a lot more attention and supervision, and really got to know and like the staff.

We made friends with a family with a 2 year old and a 4 year old. Their older child couldn't wait to head to the kid's room every day, and the younger was horribly frustrated she couldn't go, too, because there were so many toys and things to do. (I think the minimum age is 3 + must be potty trained)

For me, having my son enjoy the supervised kid's activities so much was a huge bonus. That meant that not only was he happy and well cared for, I had free time! Hours of it, everyday! Which truly made the cruise a vacation for both of us.

Right now Princess is offering some incredible discounts on Alaska cruises - just got another email from them today - and they do offer Seattle departures, which might be the easiest on your husband.

One personal point of preference: pick a sailing where your time in Victoria is mid-day if you can. Some trips arrive there at 7 pm and leave at midnight, which means you can't do many of the nicest things in Victoria. Victoria is very accessible for wheelchair users, too.

Oh, also, on the ship don't hesitate to have room service! We loved being lazy and eating breakfast in our pajamas a couple days of the trip.

Kids don't need Disney to really enjoy a cruise.

Last edited by CDTraveler; Apr 24, 09 at 8:23 pm. Reason: forgot something
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Old Apr 25, 09, 9:17 am   #4
 
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I totally agree with CDTraveler and disagree with the other poster. Alaska cruises are in the summer and there will be lots of kids. Leaving out of and returning to Seattle would be ideal for you as you could drive,or it would be a very short flight.

A cruise is a great family vacation and cruise ships are set up to deal with people with limited mobility.
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Old Apr 25, 09, 3:15 pm   #5
 
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Thanks for the replies. I was just looking at my AAA newsletter and there is a cruise advertised from Seattle for September. They are also putting together a motor coach from Eugene so we wouldn't have to fly or take the train to Seattle (our long distance car is not big enough for wheelchair, three passengers and suitcases). Is it too cold to swim in the pool in September. September days are often still warm here in Oregon but not sure if that far north it is still warm.

Thanks.
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Old Apr 25, 09, 4:49 pm   #6
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Originally Posted by yukira View Post
Thanks for the replies. I was just looking at my AAA newsletter and there is a cruise advertised from Seattle for September. They are also putting together a motor coach from Eugene so we wouldn't have to fly or take the train to Seattle (our long distance car is not big enough for wheelchair, three passengers and suitcases). Is it too cold to swim in the pool in September. September days are often still warm here in Oregon but not sure if that far north it is still warm.

Thanks.
We left San Francisco Sept. 14 last year for a 10 day r/t cruise to Alaska, and there were some days that were warm and gorgeous, and some that were freezing and wet. The best weather was the day we were in Victoria, which worked out well for us as we could walk all over town. Worst weather was the day we went fishing on a small boat, in pouring rain and choppy water - but we still caught fish!

Best thing about taking the bus would be no TSA and no baggage weight limits: I know those suitcases I packed were more than 50 pounds each because we had fall clothes, winter clothes and formal clothes, plus books and entertainment items (iPod, puzzles, etc.)

My suggestion to you would be get AAA right on the job of getting you a wheelchair accessible cabin, because they are limited. I have serious mobility problems now, and tried to book that type of cabin for a couple different cruises in May, but they were already filled, so we opted for a different vacation.
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Old Apr 30, 09, 1:31 pm   #7
 
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We used to cruise frequently when our children were 5 and under. We usually brought someone along for our youngest, but when our Daughter was 4 she absolutely loved the kids. I have never been on Disney since I can't see paying their inflated prices, but the other lines we were on had great kids programs.
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Old May 2, 09, 4:31 am   #8
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Two years ago we took a cruise. Our kids were ages 3, 5 and the oldest turned 8 on board. It was an Eastern Med cruise leaving out of Rome for 10 days and it was on Celebrity (which, may I add doesn't really sell to families but the kids' activities were great).

Disney is so expensive because of the name and also the fact it doesn't have a casino. Cruises make a lot of money on gambling and this helps keep the prices down on other lines. I personally don't gamble (or even like games, preference, not morality issue) but I didn't even notice that area of the ship. It wasn't pushed on us.

What is great about cruising is not having to pack and unpack. We just got back from Italy and we had to check in three times, pack and unpack in three hotels, etc. Not with a cruise. Put your gear away and you're done. This is something you will appreciate especially with a disabled husband.

For any cruise, if they have facilities for children, there will be other children on board. Only a few select cruse ships with specific companies don't cater to families and this will be very evident in their advertising. Even if the majority of your fellow cruisers are elderly, don't let this hinder you from booking. Also, all cruises with any sort of children's club will have more families on board during school vacations. Check but most have an age minimum of 3 so your daughter is plenty old enough.

The best site for cruise information is Cruise Critic.

They have a family forum;
http://boards.cruisecritic.com/forumdisplay.php?f=49

One of their regulars has a blog, although most of her experience is in the Caribbean, you may find it helpful.
http://cruisingwithchildren.blogspot.com/

And here is the board specific for cruising with a disability;
http://boards.cruisecritic.com/forumdisplay.php?f=190

Dig through old posts and "stickies" before posting a question, as many of the same concerns are commonly shared.

You can even look up and review specific cruises and find out how to get a "deal".

Good luck!
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Old May 4, 09, 3:32 pm   #9
 
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Thanks for everyone answers. If I am unable to swing the cruise this year then I will definitely be planning for an Alaska cruise next year. I am glad to hear it doesn't have to be Disney to be enjoyable for the little ones. I would like to try Disney one day but for now it is too far and too far out of my budget.
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Old May 4, 09, 3:42 pm   #10
 
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Be sure to sign up with the cruiselines you are interested in, so you receive their sale offers!

You certainly don't have to cruise with Disney to have fun.
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Old May 5, 09, 4:29 pm   #11
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Not only does it not have to be Disney for the kids to have fun but when I was researching our trip, I found veteran cruisers citing other companies as being better for kids' activities.

Most cruise ships these days do a great job of entertaining the kids. Any big cruise ship will have enough kids for your daughter to hang out with. People don't see them because they're off having fun. My son just wouldn't leave the kids' club, even to eat with us. Many parents pull their children out of school to cruise (depends on your school, etc.) because otherwise it's not affordable. Some "straddle" vacations. Do what works for your family!
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Old May 7, 09, 12:22 am   #12
 
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Since your child is 4 you have more options for non DCL cruises. Our kids are soon-to-be 4 and 15 months. The issue is the baby...only a couple of cruise lines we've looked at had options for nursery/nanny/babysitting for the baby either in a "club" area or in-room. We found one option but then found that the baby could only be in the infant club with a parent AND they use the same club as the big kids meaning she could only go when the kids weren't in there during lunch. We were looking for a way to rid ourselves of both kids at the same time, for most of the day if possible!

True, Disney ships don't have a casino...they also don't push the alcohol. In fact, you can buy booze at port calls and bring them back on board to your stateroom. When we were getting last minute junk at St. Maarten, a guy from the Carnival ship came hustling back demanding they pack the wine bottles his wife bought into sturdy crates because he found out ship's Security was going to place their wine in the hold and further, why didn't they (the shop clerks) tell him? The store manager said that's why they ask what ship people are on because Disney doesn't do that. Well the guy got mad because he felt they should warn people etc. Anyway, DCL allows you to bring your booze back to the room and will even (for a small corking fee) allow you to bring your own wine to your dinners. So, they charge a premium because of that, the lack of casino, the great kids programming and of course, the Mouse
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Old May 7, 09, 1:31 pm   #13
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Don't discount Carnival. Camp Carnival is consistently rated the best kids' program at sea. The value of a Carnival vacation simply can't be beat.
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Old May 12, 09, 4:47 pm   #14
 
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I will second Carnival, (for basic cabin size as well) but as stated earlier, any of the family-oriented lines (Princess/RoyalCaribbean/NCL) will be great for your young one - As second choice, we like NCL because of the lower prices they tend to offer in shoulder season for balcony cabins & lower additional passenger charges. The round-trip Seattle or Vancouver Itineraries also save that extra shuttle & flight to or from ANC.

Here's a link to a Travel & Leisure article.
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Old May 19, 09, 4:55 pm   #15
 
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I would focus on you and your husband's enjoyment - at 4 years there will be a great variety of fun things for you child - You need to be excited about where you are going!
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