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Plan Baby Friendly Vacations

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The Love Boat

What's not to love about a cruise? The sun, the sea, the feeling of being completely removed from your everyday life — plus, you're in a safe, controlled environment — it's all good. Here's why:

Chow Down: Buffet meals are ready and waiting whenever you're hungry, so you can dine on your own (or baby's) schedule. You should bring your own baby food, although some cruise lines will purée certain foods for babies — so ask! Oh, and no dishes to do after baby's gone to bed.

See the Sights: You can visit many destinations and you only have to pack and unpack once.

Rock and Roll: It's easy to push baby around the deck in a stroller.

Hire a Sitter: You may be able to opt for on-board babysitting so you can enjoy a romantic evening. But do call ahead to make specific inquiries, suggests Rivoli. “Make sure you book with a cruise line that offers organized care specifically for infants rather than just the possibility of babysitting by unnamed staff in off hours,” she says.

Good Cents: The all-inclusive price of a cruise is almost irresistible; it makes planning a trip with baby so much easier.

Keep in Mind:

  • Check out the cruise line's minimum age requirement, cautions Rivoli — it can range from 12 weeks to 6 months or older, depending on the cruise and itinerary. There may also be a minimum age for shipboard nursery care.
  • Find out the policy for allowing babies in the pool. Believe it or not, some forbid it (even with a swim diaper).
  • Ask about your stateroom. What size is it? Will there be space for a crib? (Speaking of space, you may need to swap your travel system for a compact stroller.) Does it have a bathtub? Is there a cooling unit for baby's milk or snacks?
  • Find out ID requirements for baby. You'll definitely need her birth certificate, and a passport is required to enter foreign countries the ship may visit.
  • Fly or drive to your port of departure the night before, says Tornatore. “Most cruises depart by noon,” she says, “and the last thing you want is to get held up by a baby emergency and miss the boat.” Now that's sound advice!
  • Make sure to bring plenty of diapers, formula, medications and baby food. A limited amount of supplies may be for sale in the ship's gift shop, but they're bound to be pricey, says Rivoli — and you may not find what you're looking for on shore excursions.

Plus: 100+ Family Travel Ideas!