Tips for cruising with a baby
Not only was this my first P & O cruise but it was also my first time cruising with a baby, a six month old to be precise. My daughter was 14 so it had also been a very long time since I’d done the baby thing. My mum joined us too so I had an extra pair of helping hands.
Prior to the cruise I discovered that P & O offer more for parents with small babies. You can order a baby bath for your room, which no other cruise line does as far as I’m aware, please correct me if anyone knows any different. A steriliser, bottle warmer, a cot (which is a travelcot) and baby food. All at no extra cost.
We arrived in the room to find a lovely balloon tied to some sweets as a little extra touch for Joshua. The balloon came in very handy when I was trying to distract Joshua long enough to get ready to go out. Surprisingly the travel cot fits easily between the two beds or even at the foot of the farthest bed. Although if you have it there it obstructs the fridge which can be a bit of a pain. I used to move it to the foot of the bed in the mornings when I was getting ready and then have it in the middle, at night. I guess if, like most people, you are travelling with the baby’s father, you will want the beds as a double. In which case you can either have the cot at the end of the bed or around the corner. I’ll show you further down.
The steriliser and the bottle warmer, together with tea and coffee making facilities and a fridge.
My daughter Lucy was booked into a twin room with my Mum so that she didn’t have to pay a single supplement. However, once we got onboard, we asked if Lucy could join Josh and I in our room. The ship staff were great about it and issued us with another key card for Lucy. If you are swapping rooms it is very important to notify the ship staff. This is because, your allocated meeting point in an emergency, depends on where your cabin is on the ship and if you go to a muster station that is not expecting you, there may not be a seat on the lifeboat should you need one. Similarly, if you are required to disembark the ship, it will appear that you are still onboard and someone may risk their life trying to save you unnecessarily.
This is the area outside the bathroom where you can hang your clothes. The travel cot and bedding already in our room for us. You can place the cot in this area if you prefer so the baby almost has a separate bedroom area. It’s whatever you feel most comfortable with really. Speak to your room attendant about your needs because they will put the cot up every evening for you and then fold it away during the day.
Ventura has a playroom which is open all day for parents and their under 3’s, and is complimentary. Joshua was one of only about five babies onboard, so it will depend on when you travel as to how many children are onboard your cruise. At night, the room turns into a night nursery with cot beds and curtain dividers. As long as your child goes to sleep without a problem, you can drop them off from 6pm onwards so that you can go and enjoy a meal and some entertainment with peace of mind. You are given a pager so that you can be contacted at all times. I think the nursery is open until about 1am, however I think the latest I collected Joshua was around 11.30. I was really surprised that he just went straight off to sleep every night. But it allowed me to have some time to relax and switch off.
I like to get up very early in the morning and luckily with Joshua, I don’t need an alarm clock. One of my favourite things to do is get up while most people are still in bed, around 6 am, and walk around the top deck taking in the views and the sunrise.
The staff were really friendly and loved Joshua.
It was a great opportunity to try Joshua with different foods. For baby food and yoghurts you need to ask a member of staff as they are kept in a separate refrigerator for your childs’ health and safety.
If you’ve seen the P and O adverts with Rob Brydon, you will recognise Captain Charlie Carr who is one of the cruise lines most loved Captains.
The public areas on deck have plenty of space to move around, and there is a large covered bar and seating area.
A big hit with the kids is the poolside grill that serves pizza, burgers, hot dogs and ice cream.
Balcony cabins on decks C and D are larger than most, however bear in mind that you can be overlooked by those looking down from upper decks.
One of my favourite places onboard the Ventura is The Glasshouse. Writer, tv presenter and sommelier Olly Smith who can be seen on Saturday Kitchen and This Morning, has developed a menu of 32 wines which can be paired with specially crafted dishes in this uniquely designed wine bar restaurant.
I was keen to attend the wine pairing seminar, which was held on a sea day at 11.30am. As there is no childcare available during the day for under 3’s, I was concerned about what to do with Joshua. The staff in the Glasshouse reassured me that I could bring him along, and if he became disruptive they would take care of him.
I had to take a quick photo before they handed him back to me. The staff were lovely.
If you are worried about getting lost, you will find one of these deck plans by the lifts and stairs on each deck.
Feeling indecisive about what to have from the lunchtime buffet, I decided to try a little bit of everything!
Ready to sailaway from Dubrovnik with a cheeky margarita.
There is usually a couple of formal nights onboard, however it only compulsory to wear formal clothes if you are dining in one of the restaurants. For those people who prefer to stay in shorts and tee shirts, there is plenty to choose from in the self service buffet.
Formal night menu included a menu by Marco Pierre White.
There is plenty of space around the pool to be able to move the sun loungers around. A must have accessory is a Towelwizz band, which keeps your towel in place and doubles up as a luggage strap.
Babies in nappies are not allowed in the main pools due to strict health and safety procedures that apply to cruise ships. I believe it’s something to do with the chlorine levels allowed on board being lower than those at public pools. Not all ships have splash pools for babies, however Ventura does and it is at the back of the ship next to the kids clubs.
Sailing into Venice is something that is hard to explain, but those who have done it say it is by far the best port to sail in or out of for breathtaking views.
Cruising along the Grand Canal while relaxing on a sunlounger or having a dip in the pool, is pretty hard to beat.
Mum and I spent our last night with a meal in Marco Pierre White’s onboard restaurant, while the sun set over Venice.