In fifty short days, I will be embarking on a new type of cruise adventure, a father and daughter cruise. Although, in reality, this is the point of a cruise countdown where the days really start to drag, so I use the term “short” lightly. I am taking my four year old daughter on a three day cruise to the Bahamas. It will be her second cruise but it will be the first time the two of us go together, ALONE. No mommy for her to run to or to help me with the many parenting tasks that come along with vacationing with a preschooler. With that said, my daughter is well behaved most of the time, I think all four year olds have their moments though. I’m hopeful the trip will go smoothly and we will have a great time.
I have done these short Bahamas cruises so many times that they generally don’t take much planning. Of course this time I have to take into account a number of new details and I have actually had to do some new research and planning. So many of my “go to’s” in Nassau revolve around drinking and partying that I have had to go back to the drawing board for my 20th visit to the island. Transportation has also been an area of focus as I now have to think about car seats. I actually enjoy vacation planning, so I welcomed this with open arms. I will touch on a few topics that will hopefully help out some other parents who are planning to cruise with their young children for the first time, specifically out of Port Canaveral.
We are flying into Orlando International Airport (MCO) and sailing out of Port Canaveral. For those of you that do not know, it takes about 45 minutes to travel between the two depending on traffic. We are flying in the day before so we will require a hotel one night pre-cruise. There were two options that came to mind. One, we stay at the on site hotel at MCO and then take the cruise line transfer the next morning to the ship. The other option, we do a one way car rental, spend the night in the Cape Canaveral area, and return the car in the morning. Going this route I would need to think about car seat options. To note, most of the car rental companies in Cape Canaveral offer a shuttle to and from the port. As I started to price the options out it became obvious that staying in Cape Canaveral and doing a one way car rental was going to be the much cheaper option.
Since I decided on renting a car I started to look into car seat options. Fortunately my daughter meets the requirements for age, height, and weight for a booster seat. This opened the door a bit for options. If she still required a 5 point harness car seat we would have needed to bring our own from home or rented one from the rental car company. While I have not purchased it yet, I am planning on using the following travel booster seat by BubbleBum.
There is another more compact travel booster seat on the market by Mifold. I ended up choosing the one by BubbleBum because the Mifold does not “boost” the child. While in theory it isn’t a safety issue, it does cause the child to slouch or move forward to get their legs to hang over the actual car seat for comfort. Whereas the BubbleBum model does “boost” them and they can naturally hang their legs while in the seat correctly. The BubbleBum model is also a little bit cheaper and helped me make my decision. While I would not use one of these for daily driving, I think it certainly fits the bill for occasional travel use.
As I mentioned, we will be staying one night pre-cruise in the Cape Canaveral area. This time I chose to stay at the Radisson Cape Canaveral. I have stayed at the Country Inn & Suites a couple of times previously. While I never had any issues there I saw a great rate at the Radisson and thought it would be a good idea to try something new. I finally booked our return flights a few weeks ago. It was a lot cheaper to spend an extra night in Florida after the cruise and fly home the next day. For our post-cruise stay we will be staying at the All-Star Sports Disney Resort. We will not be visiting any parks but will enjoy a relaxing day by the pool at the resort. Both the Radisson and the Disney resort were under the $100 mark per night.
The last piece of planning to sort out, what will we do in Nassau? I thought about just going to Junkanoo beach because it’s close to the port and it’s free. We took my daughter there last time she went to Nassau though and I figured we should try something different. Blue Lagoon was highly recommended by a number of people but our ship doesn’t get in until Noon that day and I wasn’t sure I wanted to spend that much money anyways. Ardastra Gardens and Zoo was also highly recommended. After seeing a friends photos of the attraction I decided it would be perfect for me and my daughter. My only concern is the need to take a taxi. The walk from the port in Nassau to Ardastra is walkable for an adult but not for a four year old. It is just over a mile away so it is at least a short ride each way.
Most importantly, I am excited to share my passion for cruising with my daughter. I’m sure I will have a lot of tips for cruising with a preschooler after the trip is over. I will be sure to report back on how everything worked out. Including transportation, the booster seat, and venturing into Nassau with a preschooler. Be on the lookout for a post-cruise blog in late August.
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