- Cruise Tips with Kids | Dollar Tree Style
Disclosure: Carnival Cruise Lines gave me a free trip to share our experience on Social Media. What I love about working with Carnival is that they give me complete creative freedom and don’t ask me to push an agenda or highlight specific things during the trip so I am showing you my top Cruise Tips, mostly items I get from Dollar Tree. This is my honest feedback from our trip. And Ya’ll know I wouldn’t share with you something I don’t absolutely love.
If you have been following along on my Facebook & IG page then you know we just returned from an amazing family vacation on Carnival Cruise Lines.
This is our 7th Cruise & our 2nd with kids in tow, so we like to think we have our cruise trip travel system down to a fine science.
Today I am sharing some of our best tips and tricks we use during our travels – 80% of which were purchased at Dollar Tree. If you are hesitant to cruise with kids, DO IT. It was memorable for all of us! My husband & I got some alone time thanks to Camp Carnival and we made some unforgettable memories as a family.
Also, Moms. Can we just agree that vacations with kids are harder than real life with kids? Carnival makes it super easy to travel with kids. There are tons of stuff for them to do, unlimited food, ice cream and pizza all day long, and we also squeezed in a few date nights on the ship thanks to their kids program, Camp Carnival, which they loved.
It was relaxing and memorable for everyone. If you are thinking about cruising with your kiddos DO IT. You will not regret it.
We sailed from New Orleans and boarded The Carnival Triumph. Carnival gave us a balcony room and we all loved it. The views were beautiful and I got to drink my coffee on the balcony each morning.
New Orleans is a 10 hour drive from Oklahoma City so I hit up my local Dollar Tree to make self service snack and activity stations for the kids. I also bought a ton of the supplies we would need in our Stateroom during the trip from Dollar Tree. My total bill at DT was $64 and it was worth every penny. Plus if we lost something or it broke it wasn’t a big deal.
Here is our Dollar Tree Road Trip System in action.
It’s so easy to overpack when going on a cruise (especially with kids) since you can’t just run down to your local CVS if you forgot something. We were diligent about packing light and it paid off.
We took one large suitcase to check-in, one roll on suitcase for a carry on, and a backpack. We also had our 7 year old carry his backpack with some toys in it so they could play in our stateroom while we were hanging out in there. So technically 4 bags.
To keep organized and to save space I pack all of the kids outfits in gallon ziplock bags (holla Dolla Tree!). I pack 1 outfit in each bag including underwear and socks and 2 of the outfits contained jeans in case it got chilly. This allowed us to just throw the bags in a cabinet and we never had to think about putting outfits together or their clothes getting all jumbled up in a drawer. You can see more about this system on this in my IG Highlights.
I also purchased a pop up clothes hamper from Dollar Tree. Once the trip was over we tied the top securely and put it back in our luggage so all of the dirty clothes could move right into the laundry room once we got home. This also kept our room neat and tidy and the boys could undress and put their own clothes in the hamper and not just leave them on the floor like they do at home when they are acting like heathens.
Jumbo Plastic Clothes Pins from DT also came in handy so we could hang our swimsuits on the balcony to dry or to secure our towels to the lawn chairs by the pool so they wouldn’t blow off.
Battery powered tea lights from Dollar Tree were also a life saver. We kept them on at night so if the boys had to get up and go tp the restroom in the middle of the night they could see and no one was disrupted. We left the restroom light on and just shut the door so they didn’t have to fumble for the light switch. Plus, my husband and 8 year old like it pretty dark when they go to sleep so the tea lights were soft enough it didn’t shine a spotlight on our whole room.
I can sleep with all the lights on, the TV blaring, and a marching band running through my room.
Ya’ll. I HAVE TO HAVE FLAVORED CREAMER IN MY COFFEE. My husband always makes sure I am fully stocked at home but on cruises, unless you want to go to the pay-per-drink coffee shop, there is no flavored creamer to be found. I grabbed two of these portable creamers at Dollar Tree.
Each morning we ordered (FREE) room service so I could have my coffee ASAP. And the guys could munch on cereal, bagels, bacon, and whatever their little hearts desired while we got ready for our day. Then we usually went up to the Lido Deck for our 2nd breakfast. LOL. We have a group of foodies in this family.
The ship has an infirmary if you get sick but their supply of children’s medication is pretty slim. Plus I think there is a fee to go to the infirmary (knock on wood – after 7 cruises I have never had to go). We packed all of our medication in Axton’s lunch box and purchased smaller sizes of most medications at Target in the travel section. A big bottle of Benadryl takes up a lot of room, so we brought smaller versions of what we needed. PS: Scott made me buy nasal strips for snoring and spoiler alert: they don’t work! I have never snored in my life but I think since I’ve gained extra weight it’s caused me to start. Ugh.
Baby Aquaphor is my go-to for sunburns. We didn’t have to use it thankfully, but I had it on hand just in case. You can see it’s been through many uses.
If you learn nothing from this blog post take note of this tip. I brought an over the door clear shoe organizer from Target to put all of our miscellaneous items in. From dry shampoo, kleenex, lotion, hand sanitizer, clorox wipes, – almost all bought from Dollar Tree – this helped keep everything in plain sight and kept our stateroom clutter free. I preloaded it while packing and just folded it up and put it in our suitcase, so it was ready to hang as soon as we unpacked.
More Dollar Tree Finds: Earplugs and a mini first aid kit.
Make sure to bring a power strip because our stateroom only had 2 outlets. We were able to charge all of our electronics, use my flat iron and blowdryer, and not fight for a spot in the modern days.
For the adults we packed our hang up clothes on the hanger and folded them in our suitcase. We just popped them right into the closet and whatever wasn’t worn went right back in with the hanger still on it.
I also wanted to note that my son, who is 8, has high functioning autism. I was so nervous about him having sensory meltdowns while at Camp Carnival or just around the ship in general. As soon as we boarded the boat we went to Guest Services and they allowed us to do our Muster Station Drill (it’s a safety drill at the beginning of each cruise) in the cruise ship’s library where it was quiet, vs having to do it outside, crammed like sardines, where the Muster Station captains are shouting the instructions through megaphones. We also informed the Camp Carnival staff that he has a lot of sensory sensitivities and they notated it so each time he checked in the staff knew what to do. Camp Carnival gives you an old school Nokia like phone while your kids are in their care so they can call in if needed. They only had to call us once because they were playing loud music and Axton chose to sit in the corner and they could tell be needed a break. They called us and we got to have some alone time with him in the fancy dining room.
Carnival was awesome about accommodating our needs and I can’t say enough about how their staff eased my mind. I was so full of anxiety before the trip worrying that it would be too much for Axton to handle. But he did GREAT and the staff made sure to keep an eye on him. He loved Camp Carnival and we are proud to say there were ZERO sensory meltdowns during the trip. All the praise hands over here.
I also packed minimally when it came to makeup. It’s humid so it melts off anyway. I kept it to the essentials and now that I am home I haven’t gone back to my full blown makeup regimen.
Some of my go-to’s are
For my foundation, bronzer, highlighter, and blush I use a customized Maskcara Pallete. Learn more about Maskcara here. If you contour your face this is where it is at.
LipSense – which I carry in my boutique. I don’t leave home without it.
I snagged some outfits off of the clearance rack from my store for the trip, so if you are traveling in the off season you can really find some scores to wear on your trip.
TIP OF ALL TIPS: BRING YOUR BLOW DRYER.
Only super high-end cruise lines have blow dryers in the state rooms.
These mini Downy Wrinkle Release Fabric Refresheners are a great because cruise ships don’t allow any type of clothing irons on board. It is a fire hazard so I can understand why. You can find the mini ones in the travel section at Target.
I only brought two pair of sandals and one pair of flip flops. And one the first night of the cruise I broke my gold sandals! It might have been due to one too many banana coladas but I flopped my way back to my stateroom and was stuck with just one pair of sandals for the rest of the trip. It was fine but bring a sturdier shoe than I did!
Again, bring an extra backpack for your kids to haul around. While in Cozumel they bought some trinkets and they always came back from Camp Carnival with little goodies. Books, sticker books, and all their little toys went in here and THEY were responsible for carrying it. And we didn’t have to deal with toys and junk strewn all around our stateroom. They knew all toys went in the backpack and it made for safe walking around our cabin.
Quart sized storage bags come in handy for wet clothes, changes of clothes, medication and handwipes during shore excursions. Plus I kept all of the Ziploc bags from the boy’s outfit storage for extras. Again, Captain Dollar Tree to the rescue.
There is a TV in your stateroom and it did have Cartoon Network so when we napped or it was time for bed and we needed to wind down it came in handy. We also brought a tablet with 3 movies downloaded on it so they could snuggle in bed and watch a movie. Hotel Transylvania 3 was a big WIN because it’s about a vampire going on a cruise. I think they watched it 5 times.
Brink you own drink bottles on the ship. That way you can fill up on water or any booze you brought on the ship and carry it around. All of these came from Dollar Tree and somehow the adults lost their cups and the kids did not. The dining room has super small, open lid cups that are hard to manage while out buy the pool. We were able to fill up with ice water and have plenty for the afternoon.
So what about alcohol and other drinks? Can you bring them on the ship? You can read their liquor and beverage policy on their website here. Even though the food for the most part is unlimited and free the cocktails are not. If you like to have a beer by the pool, a glass of wine at dinner, or tear it up at the casino, your bill will add up fast. Plus cokes and carbonated beverages are not free either.
Carnival’s Website states: A small quantity of non-alcoholic beverages (i.e., sparkling water, sodas, energy drinks, juice, and milk) packaged in cans or cartons may be brought on board on embarkation day and must be in the guest’s carry-on luggage. A small quantity is considered a maximum of 12 sealed, unopened cans/cartons of 12 ounces each or less per person.
We brought a six pack of coca-cola for my husband and a six pack of La Croix for me in our carry on luggage. Our kids do not drink coke so they mostly stuck to water, apple juice, milk, and a bajillion ice creams.
Carnival also states: Guests are prohibited from bringing alcoholic beverages on board with the following exception – At the beginning of the cruise during embarkation day only, guests (21 years of age and older) may bring one 750 ml bottle of sealed/unopened wine or champagne per person in their carry-on luggage. All liquor, beer, other forms of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages outside of this exception are strictly prohibited in both carry-on and checked luggage and such items will be confiscated and discarded and no compensation will be provided.
So basically you can bring 2 bottle of wine or champagne on board in a carry on.
Dear Carnival Public Relations Team: Please cover your eyes and ear on this next part.
I did sneak on a bottle of Ketel One Botanically Infused Vodka (The peach and orange blossom is my favorite!) I mixed the Ketel One with my Peach La Croix in my Dollar Tree Water Bottle. It was WAY cheaper but also I am trying to cut sugars out of my diet and the Ketal One and La Croix are sugar free.
I wrapped the bottle of alcohol in a towel in my checked luggage and it made it safely through to my room where I was able to enjoy it the entire trip.
So yes, I broke the rules, but it was for a good dietary reason.
So that’s it. My most valuable cruise tips. I’ve gotten tons of messages from peep on IG saying they loved seeing all of my travel tips so I wanted to consolidate them into one place for you to make it easy. Please Pin this post so you can come back to it when you are ready for your next cruise!