A family cruise with a baby or toddler who is not yet potty trained comes with it's own set of challenges. One planning issue that young parents need to keep in mind when selecting a cruise ship is whether or not your child will be allowed to use the pool. Cruise lines have specific health rules regarding the use of swim diapers in cruise ship pools. Often it depends on the facilities available on specific cruise ships.
Just in case you've been living in the dark ages, a swim diaper is a disposable diaper made from a special material the will supposedly absorb poop and pee but will not swell up with pool water while your baby or toddler is swimming. Of course there are also old school renditions of swim diapers which can be a new specially designed swimsuit to a cloth diaper and rubber pants. According to the Center for Disease Control any swim diaper offers a false sense of security because they can leak.
Urine is not really the issue. It surprises many people to learn that urine from a healthy person is sterile and germ free.
The problem is poop. Fecal material contains many germs that can cause illness...Ecoli, guardia and particularly Cryptosporidium which is a chlorine resistant parasite that can cause diarrhea. If you're baby or toddler enters a pool with a leaky, poopy diaper then your child and everyone else is at risk.
Not all cruise lines or cruise ships will allow babies and toddlers in their main pools. Newer family friendly cruise ships have been designed with specific baby pools. These pool are smaller in size with a separate, dedicated filtration system allowing for easy and effective sanitation. Splash parks offer babies and toddlers cool, wet fun. In a splash park, diapers are not totally submerged as they would be in a regular pool so it does help to prevent the spread of germs.
Here is a list of swim diaper rules from each of the family cruise lines....
DISNEY Cruise Line-YES... "The United States Public Health Service requires that only children who are toilet trained be permitted to enter swimming pools onboard cruise ships. Children under 3 years of age who are not toilet trained can make waves at the Splash Zone next to Mickey's Pool. This special play area has been designed exclusively for the enjoyment of children wearing swim diapers".
Royal Caribbean Cruise Line - YES...on certain ships...Due to public health regulations, children in diapers, swim diapers, pull-ups or who are not COMPLETELY toilet trained are not allowed in the pools, whirlpools or H2O zone. Children in diapers or who are not toilet trained may use the Baby Splash Zone specially designated for them on board Freedom Class ships. Oasis Class ships have both separate baby pools and splash zones for children wearing swim diapers.
Norwegian Cruise Line- NO...According to United States Public Health (U.S.P.H.) regulations, no diapers of any kind are permitted in the swimming pools or jacuzzis, including those marketed as "swimmers."
Princess Cruises -Due to health concerns, Princess Cruises prohibits children in diapers and swim diapers.
Even though you understand the health importance of these issues and abide by the rules, unfortunately the same isn't true for everyone. Cultural and language differences may mean that your family will encounter other families that allow their babies to swim with regular diapers or even naked. The cruise lines do an excellent job of supervising and enforcing their rules but while on board but challenges may occur while your visiting different ports. So how do you enjoy your own family vacation time while protecting your family's health and safety? Here are a few tips...
-Work with a Vacationkids Family cruise Expert to the best baby or toddler friendly ship for your family cruise.
-Supervise your child at all times while swimming
-If your child is allowed to use swim diapers be sure you check frequently to see if a change is necessary.
-Change any diapers in a designated bathroom area and not pool side as this can also facilitate the spread of germs.
-Use proper hand washing techniques after all diaper changes.
-Discourage children from taking any pool water into their mouth.
-If your baby or toddler shows any signs of diarrhea or illness, especially while on vacation, keep them far away from any public pool areas until you see a doctor.
Some families may also be dealing with health and safety issues like chronic medial conditions, a suppressed immune system or even pregnancy. If this is the case or if you are simply a germaphobe, one option is to bring along a small, inflatable swimming pool on your vacation. This way your baby can splash and stay cool while you enjoy a bit more peace of mind. You'll need to ask how to properly dispose of the water from your inflatable pool when you're finished to maintain ship health and safety standards. An inflatable pool can also double as a bathtub in some cruise ship cabins that do not offer a bathtub.
Chances are if you're traveling with a little one or especially if this is your first vacation traveling as a new family it's a good idea to work with a travel agent. A travel agent can can save you hours of searching and worrying if you've found the right answers. They can also offer even more advice to make your family cruise much more comfortable and fun.