Updated July 2019
Our Head of Global Supply, Simone Clark, decided to find out for herself just how child-friendly P&O Cruises really are, by holidaying onboard with her six month old baby! Here's what she had to say on the experinece:
For my very first family cruise I went for a 17-night itinerary onboard P&O Azura sailing to the Eastern Mediterranean — 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 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! Just mention your needs at the time of booking, and you can expect all the items waiting for you in the cabin.
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 the pushchair to get it into the cabin (quick and easy). Because the ships are equipped for wheelchairs you can get around everywhere using the 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 and wheelchairs to exit the ship, and you get to queue jump sometimes! There was a lift to the tender and lots of help with 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.
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 among 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, the restaurant was quietest between 5 and 6pm, and there’s a selection of food for children as well as baby food. This 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 old, there is the night nursery — where you can leave them to sleep at night and carry a beeper for any alerts (from 6pm until 1am).
During the day you can take your baby to the nursery 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. In 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.
Take a look at our range of holidays with P&O Cruises to see when you could be off with your little ones.