When my SIL first decided on a destination wedding on the beaches of Galveston, TX, & a Caribbean cruise, I knew in an instant that babywearing was going to happen. Airports, boats, ports of call… oh yes, it was definitely happening. My first dilemma came while packing- what was I going to bring with me?! (First world problems, right??) I was used to always bringing along some sort of clip-style carrier so that I always had the availability of quick ups in a pinch. However, my Jublii SSC was off on a secret mission and my 2Lambie Onbu wouldn’t arrive before we were scheduled to leave, which left me with wraps and ring slings. In the end my Pretty Paisley Black Watch ring sling and Tekhni Meandros Santorini wrap, size 6, made the cut! I had never been on a cruise before, so I was going in blind when it came to knowing what to expect, but luckily I’m not a novice to babywearing so I knew that no matter what it would all work out!
And I was right 🙂
We decided to take a ride on our local train to the airport, which is about an hour drive from our house, instead of leaving our truck parked in long-term parking. It was our first time taking the Front Runner and we discovered that it was actually far easier than we anticipated. I decided to wrap little miss Alice for the trip, so that when we arrived at the airport I wouldn’t have to take her down, which I would have had to do if I had put her up in the ring sling (because of the metal rings). It was easy to switch from the train to the tram, then to check in and get through airport security. No hassles, no toddler chasing, just quick in and to the gate! We were even able to walk around a bit because we were early and only had a small carry-on each.
Each time that I fly, I always find that I have extra appreciation for babywearing while walking through the airport. Not only does it get a lot of notice and people stop to ask me questions, which in turn leads to more interest for the babywearing community, but as I walk by the parents struggling with strollers and car seats, I’m so relieved to be ABLE to simply walk past with my child safely attached to me and a single carry on diaper bag. I don’t have to worry about gate-checking and later picking up anything from the gates. No meltdowns from my toddler for wanting to get in and out of the stroller to walk around. No trying to figure out how to get the stroller into the bathroom with kids and luggage in tow (family bathroom or otherwise). Just us. It’s so easy and convenient that sometimes I forget until moments like those, when I’m reminded of just how much wearing has helped me along the way. ESPECIALLY for those times that I was flying solo, literally just Alice and I. Or the time that I had to actually RUN from one gate to the next because my plane was so late that my connecting flight was slated to leave 5 minutes later? Forget it! I never would have been able to make it if I’d had to wait on gate-checked items, and then lug them down the terminal by myself! So, so grateful for babywearing in those moments.
FRUSTRATIONS AT CRUISE CUSTOMS: A TODDLER’S TASTE OF FREEDOM
Getting underway for the cruise was similar to our airport experience. We easily navigated shuttles, got through the line hassle-free, and afterward found our room with little incident. The most-frustrating moment happened at Customs, prior to boarding the ship. So, at the airport, you go through the metal detector with your baby being worn and as long as you don’t beep and your hand swab comes back clean, then you are cleared to continue on your way. Not at port customs, apparently.
We had a fantastic experience with the lines all the way up until we hit the metal detectors, and this was even with all of our luggage in tow. Then I was informed that I would have to unwrap my toddler, walk through separately, then I could re-wrap if I chose.
“You’re kidding me right?” <- yes, I actually said this because in the beginning I thought it was in fact a joke. Yet, after much questioning, it is safe to assume that I was not a happy camper when he stated that I couldn’t wear her through the metal detector, even though there was no metal on/in the wrap or one of us. So, I unwrapped her, which of course sent more customs officials running my way because they were afraid I was going to drop her (aggravation building; one even told my husband to stand next to me so that he could catch her when she fell!!), then let her walk through the metal detector to daddy (no beeping, would you have guessed?), refused point blank to put my wrap on the conveyor belt so I just walked through with it (amazingly it didn’t beep *hard eye roll here*), then swooped up the toddler to get her up so that we wouldn’t continue hold up the line any longer.
Enter a huge toddler meltdown.
At this point Alice had tasted about 60 seconds of toddler freedom and she had discovered that trying to run pell-mell through a throng of people is waaaaay more fun than being up on mom’s back. So when said mom goes to re-wrap her she had a fit of hysteria, arching backwards, putting her knees into my back, screaming at the top of her lungs….. you get the picture. And of course I’m not going to get fussed at HER. She’s little! I understand wanting to run around and have fun! What I couldn’t understand was why the heck they made me take her down in the first place?! If an airport, with its stricter policies, can allow parents to wear babies through a detector, why couldn’t they?!
Now I’m standing there, all calm on the outside as I slowly wrap my writhing child, giving the evil eye to the 5 people who are hovering (with good intentions, I’m sure) telling me every 3 seconds not to drop her and that “that” doesn’t look safe, while I’m standing in a crowd of onlookers at this huge scene that has been created all because they made me take her down. It’s safe to say that my fuming inside may have steamed out of my ears a little and probably definitely showed on my face. It could have been worse, though. At least I wasn’t the older, wheelchair bound gentleman that they actually made get up and walk through the metal detector, unassisted, behind us….
The rest of boarding was a breeze!
RING SLING TO THE RESCUE: DINNER-TIME CRASH
Walking around the ship was easy and Alice enjoyed getting to run around and shake everyone’s hand! She loved getting to explore and run all her energy out (this was excellent for naptime!). I rarely wore her onboard because she enjoyed being able to stretch her legs, and I admit it was fun watching her have a good time following her older cousin around. However, I found that bringing the ring sling to dinner was a must.
At first bringing the RS to dinner was due to the mass congregation of people waiting for the dining room to open each evening. I was afraid she’d get hurt because someone would step on her or knock her over by accident so I just put her up before we’d head up to dinner. It may have been due to the lack of wearing her while onboard, but she enjoyed our new little before dinner ritual. She’d just lean against me with her arm around my neck and it was some of the sweetest moments that I will forever cherish!
One of our nights at dinner, Alice fell asleep in daddy’s arms before the food made its way to the table! Black Watch to the rescue! It was an awkward wrap job, with no real seat; it was more to keep her attached to daddy so that she didn’t slip out of his lap and so he could have more freedom of his hands so that he could eat. It worked out pretty well!
PORTS OF CALL: DRIVING AND WALKING AROUND
Each port of call was different and every adventure was memorable! Wearing Alice off the ship and to each destination helped me to be very stress free and allowed both she and I to see quite a lot of the sites, without any fuss that goes into chasing or carrying a toddler in your arms. Sitting on a little tour bus with no seat belts was also easily done with the little one safely wrapped!
One of my favorite wrapping experiences of the whole trip came on our last port day, in Cozumel, Mexico. We spent the day at a beautiful little island called Isla Pasion (Passion Island). We enjoyed a great day spent on the beach and in the water. At one point, my husband & father-in-law decided to go on a little walk to explore the island around us. So I wrapped Alice and away we went! It was a fun little adventure, spotting Blue Iguanas, wandering up to Black Vultures, and picking up tons of hermit crabs to share with Alice! 🙂 We were barefoot, still wet from swimming, and only in our suits. It was so much fun and nice to not have to worry about getting my wrap dirty; I chose to bring Meandros because I knew that she’d not only look gorgeous out in the sun but because her repreve blend could take a good beating!
WRAPS AS BLANKETS
And let’s not forget wraps as blankets, because it’s super important! Whether it was used in true blanket fashion or she just pulled it over her head while up & nursing, you can bet that nothing makes a better blanket in a pinch! Bonus? Having a wrapee child means that each of these wraps already make her feel safe so she had no hesitation using them to snuggle to sleep in. It was nice not having one more thing to carry around and keep track of.
CLOTH DIAPERING ON A CRUISE
I’ve been asked multiple times how cloth diapering on the cruise went, so I’ve decided to tack on a small bit about that, in case it can help others looking to do the same thing in the future!
*Pictured are just some of the diapers that we brought with us
First, I checked with my particular cruise ship via website to see if they offered a personal launderette service (they did). Mine in particular didn’t take cash so I had to use the Sail & Sign card (it was a Carnival cruise) for all of my wash/dry purchases. It cost me $3 to wash a load & $3 to dry, though I noticed that any of my hemp or hemp/blend inserts needed a full second dry round (instead I just laid them out in my room but, I’m cheap!). I brought one of my little octopus hangers from IKEA ($4.99) and hung all of my shells & wet bags in my room. I also bought travel packs of Tide from the store before I left; it’s what we use at home so I trust its cleaning ability while using unfamiliar machines and I know my daughter won’t have a reaction to it. It took only one pack per load. Also, due to the high cost of using the machines, I skipped a pre-rinse load entirely. Instead, I used the hottest wash and made sure to smell EVERYTHING before putting it in the dryer and (thankfully) we didn’t have a single problem with smells or leftover residue! I washed like I would at home, every 2-3 days, and made sure to bring at least 2 days worth of diapers (I brought about 4 extra to have ‘just in case’ because let’s be honest, it’s a cruise and you get busy!) so 24-30ish is what I would suggest, depending on the age of your kiddo (my toddler is 21 months). And that’s all! 🙂
Overall, our trip was a huge success! We ate a lot of great foods, met some wonderful people, and enjoyed some quality family time. Congratulations again to my beautiful SIL & new BIL!