Iglu's MD, Simone Clark, recently returned to work following the birth of her first child, having been back in the office a couple of months she embarked on her first family cruise and here's what she had to say on the experinece:
This Summer I cruised on Azura with P&O Cruises, on a 17 night sailing to the Eastern Med — taking in Greece, Italy and Croatia and more beautiful ports. I’ve cruised before, but this was the first time as the mother of a six month year old (Theo) — so thought I’d share the experience with you, so you know what to expect.
You can pre-book lots of the equipment on P&O Cruises, and it’s all FREE! We pre-booked a travel cot, baby bath, bottle steriliser and food warmer, which meant more room in the suitcase for shoes! All of these were waiting in the cabin for us.
For small babies, I’d recommend that you pack your own sleeping bag/baby blanket —as the cot comes with a duvet — and also pack a mini bottle cleaning brush and a small amount of washing up liquid for washing the bottles. The travel cot conveniently doubles as a playpen and with a little manoeuvring you can get it onto a shady spot on the balcony, so baby can play while you relax in the sunshine (or try to!).
Theo making sure not to waste any of Noddy's Afternoon Tea & Azura from the beach.
It’s really easy to get around the ship, although I had to remove the wheel of my pushchair to get in the cabin (quick and easy). Because the ships are equipped for wheelchairs, you can get around everywhere, using lifts and ramps. If we wanted a drink or something to eat, we simply parked the buggy near our table — nice and simple. At ports, there is a ramp without any bumps, for pushchairs & wheelchairs and you get to queue jump sometimes! There was a lift to the tender and lots of help getting on and off.
The transfer bus drivers popped the buggy in the hold — so no need to fold it — but you must remember to take the baby out first! The ports were easy to get around with a push chair, although Venice is more challenging than most, so be prepared to do some carrying of the pushchair over all those bridges! It’s easy to get the buggy onto the vaporettos, water buses.
Eating & Drinking
There was plenty of food for Theo to try. Formula and jars of baby food are provided, but you have to ask for them at the buffet or the jars of baby food can be delivered to your cabin. My tip is to take one of those little containers for portions of powder and stock up for the day when the buffet is quieter (during Noddy’s Afternoon Tea for example!).
Theo was just starting on solid food and having a buffet is a perfect way for a baby to try different flavours. There’s always fruit, mashed potatoes, vegetables and fish to try among other things. We sampled fish pie, moussaka, rice pudding with apple, melon, salmon, cottage pie and sole amongst other things. There are lots of high chairs and the crew will happily find you one if necessary. Just mash up the food with a fork and you’re off. In the evening, Noddy’s Afternoon Tea is served from 5-6. It’s quieter in the restaurant then and there’s a selection of food for children as well as baby food. It became part of our daily routine.
Take: a couple of your own spoons, a container for milk formula (if required) and bibs — I found disposable ones handy.
There are two baby pools at the aft of the ship, perfect for a little baby trying the water for the first time. I found them not too busy and often shady in the evening — perfect. There are lots of kids’ clubs for all ages, but for a six month year old, there is the night nursery — where you can leave them to sleep at night and carry a beeper (from 6pm until 1am).
During the day you can take your baby in there and play using all the toys available — including a ball pool. You can even borrow small strollers to use on board. There are also children’s books in the library to borrow. n the evening, a stroll around the promenade deck is a good way to get a baby to sleep and the sound of the sea definitely helps.
Overall, the cruise was extremely relaxing, especially as I didn’t have the headache of negotiating an airport. I’d thoroughly recommend a cruise for someone travelling with an infant as it’s completely stress free.
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