Going on a Royal Caribbean cruise with our kids is always a highlight for both them and us. My kids love the idea of going on a cruise and eagerly await the day we get to board the ship with the same passion of a baseball fan on Opening Day.
There is a lot going during the first day, so here is a look at the important tasks to complete on day one when you are cruising with kids.
1. Eat lunch
The first rule of parenting is to keep your kids well fed so that they will not descend into a hangry tantrum. If your kids are anything like mine, they will only be interested in a light breakfast, so by the time they get onboard the ship they are hungry (even if they do no admit it).
All the excitement of embarkation day can lead to easily overlooking the need to eat. As a matter of sanity, be sure to stop by the Windjammer to grab lunch. The Windjammer usually opens within 30 minutes of boarding beginning, and we love the wide variety of food available. When it comes to eating with kids, there is never enough choices to contend with whatever they are in the mood for, gastronomically.
You will find pizza, chicken, burgers and a nice selection of international foods too. In short, everyone should find something to enjoy.
Tip: head to the back of the Windjammer to find more ample seating.
2. Find your room
Once your stateroom opens up (usually at 1pm), it is an opportunity to drop off all the stuff you have been carrying and check out your home for the next few nights.
Kids especially take interest in checking out their room. There is something about a new bed and places to play that really get them interested.
Once in the room, have your kids put away whatever they brought onboard with them and let them look around.
Tip: To make it fun, tell your kids the room number and point them in the general direction of the room, but let them find it first.
3. Meet your stateroom attendant
At some point on embarkation day, it is a good idea to meet your stateroom attendant and make any requests you may need for the week.
We always ask for a bucket of ice to be readily available, and we ask to keep the sofa bed open during the day so that when the kids need to take a nap, there is no fuss or delay in getting down to sleep.
Another good request for families is to get extra towels. There are never enough extra towels when you have kids!
Tip: Introduce your kids to the stateroom attendant, because he/she will want to learn the kids names and welcome them as you come and go. A friendly high-five is always welcome!
4. Go for a swim
If there is one important lesson we have learned is to let the kids burn off energy at the pool on embarkation day!
On the first day very few guests take advantage of the pool, primarily because they packed their bathing suits. We carry our bathing suits in our carry-on luggage and change in one of the restrooms. A swim at the pool is the perfect before-your-stateroom-is-ready activity.
With more Royal Caribbean cruise ships having water slides, this is also a great time for the kids to get a lot of rides down the slide while the lines are short.
Tip: If you need more room to change, look for companion restrooms that offer more space that is great for kids who need a helping hand. There is usually one in common areas near the staircases.
5. Register for Adventure Ocean
Royal Caribbean opens up its complimentary programming for kids on the first night of the cruise, but you will want to register them earlier in the day.
Check your Cruise Compass for open house times, where you and your kids can check out the Adventure Ocean space, register them, and ask any questions you have. This is the perfect opportunity for kids who might be a little shy to get a sense of what Adventure Ocean is all about and meet the counselors.
As parents, you will need to fill out some basic paperwork and let the counselors know of any health or behavioral issues, and to ask questions.
Tip: The open house on embarkation is the only time when photos are allowed to be taken in Adventure Ocean, so bring your cameras!
6. Explore the ship
The first day of your cruise is the best time to explore the ship and see what is available onboard. Even if you know a lot about your ship, walking around and exploring is a really good idea so that you and your kids can get your bearings.
Royal Caribbean designs their ships with so much to see, do, eat and try. While you may know about a lot of things to do onboard, your kids will have likely forgotten everything you told them in the weeks leading up to the cruise and now is the perfect time to re-learn it all (for the first time).
Tip: Encourage your kids to point out places and activities they are interested in doing later in the cruise.
7. Review tomorrow's activities
At the end of the evening when it is time to come back to the stateroom for a good night's sleep, this is a great time to look at tomorrow's Cruise Compass to see what is in store next.
Each evening, your stateroom attendant will deliver a copy of tomorrow's Cruise Compass. Royal Caribbean offers the regular Cruise Compass for all guests, and the Adventure Ocean daily for kids. In both cases, these newsletters are the perfect way to learn about what is going to happen tomorrow and to ensure you do not miss out on any of it.
We like to read over what's planned and figure out what time we need to wake up to "do it all."
Tip: Your stateroom attendant should bring the Adventure Ocean daily with your Cruise Compass, but ask if you do not get it. Moreover, feel free to ask for additional copies if your kids do not share very well.
Bonus tip: If you are curious about the sort of activities offered on Royal Caribbean for kids or adults, consult this Royal Caribbean Cruise Compass archive.
What do you recommend to do with kids on the first day of a cruise? Did we miss anything from our list? Share your ideas in the comments!