Monday, May 26, 2008

Transfers and Car Seats

How do we get to the ship? Will we need car seats when we get off the ship?

Let's try to break it down into Pre/During/Post cruise
Pre/Post Cruise
Many first time cruisers will book "transfers" with the cruise line. Transfers will take you from the airport to the port, usually on a bus. Using the cruise line transfer is not always the best option. First look at the price. Transfers vary from $70 - $99 per person. If you are a family of 3, your total cost for transfers can start at $210 and up. Make that a family of 4 (or more) and your minimum cost skyrockets to $280 and up.

Also, those transfers aren't the most stress free option. You need to find the cruise line agent at the baggage claim. You follow that person and about 50 of your closest friends as you are herded to the bus. Meanwhile the kids are yelling they need to go potty. They want a drink. But you are afraid of losing the cruise line rep and you realize, this is not a good way to start a vacation.

There are better and less stressful options. Let's talk about a few...

MIAMI - If your cruise leaves out of Miami and you fly into MIA, take a taxi. When you get off the plane, get the kids settled (potty breaks and drinks if needed)...go down to the baggage claim, retrieve your bags, walk out the door at the baggage claim (ignore the people who are trying to grab you and coax you into a shuttle, just say "no") and find the transport sign that says "Taxi". There is a desk and a very nice person who will ask "How many are in your party?" and "Do you have car seats?" (more about that later). The person will then radio a taxi, who will arrive right away. You will be handed a ticket with the number of the taxi on it and a phone number to call if you had any issues with the ride. The flat taxi rate is $26. Just 8 miles later you will be pulling up to your ship.

PORT CANAVERAL - ORLANDO AIRPORT - Port Canaveral is too far from MCO to take a taxi (45 minute trip), so your best bet is to have a private town car or van (pending on the number in your family) If you are traveling with 5 or less people, go with the town car. More than that, you will need a shuttle van. The private town car/van service starts at about $180 round trip. When you compare that to the cruise line prices, you are still saving money. Nothing is better than getting off the plane, walking into the baggage area and seeing your own personal driver holding a sign up with your name on it. The driver will load up your baggage and you follow them out to the car. You move at your own pace because it is YOUR driver. Some have told me that they even have the driver stop at a store on the way to pick up some necessities that they couldn't pack (diapers/gallons of nursery water).

FORT LAUDERDALE - PORT EVERGLADES - This port is the same as Miami. You are only 3 miles from airport to port. Take a taxi.

CAR SEATS - Do we need them Pre/Post/During Cruise

The answer is a resounding YES! But let's try to make it easier on you instead of lugging the full sized car seats around. Some private transportation will bring car seats for a fee (usually $10). But this will not help you once you are out of the country and using taxis.

Your best option is to buy portable car seats.

If your child is under 20lbs, then use a infant carrier car seat. Chances are if you have an infant, then you already have a seat like this. These seats can also be a great place to put the baby during dinner. They can relax in the comfort of their own seat.

From 20-40lbs, there is a travel car seat that I personally use called Eddie Bauer Portable Car Seat Bryant Collection. The cost should be no more than $39. Some web sites (Amazon) are listing the price at $149, totally outrageous. Do not pay more than $39. This car seat folds flat in a suitcase. You can stow it on a stroller when walking around the ports. All you need is a seat belt in the taxi/car to hook this seat up. Some mention that in some Caribbean ports, it's tough to find seat belts in the taxis. Not necessarily true. If you happen to get a taxi with no seat belt, simply wave that cab on and go to the next one. You WILL find one.
UPDATED - I am adding in another option. I am sad to say that the Eddie Bauer seat is now up to $249 on Amazon. I wouldn't pay that price. I have found another option but I haven't personally used it. It is called the Joey Safe Freedom Ride - . If you have any info about this seat, feel free to comment about it.

If your child is at least 40lbs and 40" tall, then you can step up to a backless booster. The Graco Backless Turbo Booster is the best and most economical option. The turbo booster can be purchased anywhere from WalMart to Toys R Us. I have seen them as low as $17.98. They are a great portable option and very easy to hook up using the taxi's seat belt. This seat will accommodate a child that weighs up to 100lbs and 57" tall.

So do you really need to bring a car seat? YES, you do. Unless you plan on driving your own car to the port and then walking to all excursions once you get there. The only exception to the car seat rule is taking a ship sponsored excursion that uses a bus or open air van with side benches. The buses do not have seat belts and you will not be allowed to bring the car seat onboard. They will ask you to stow the seat underneath the bus in the storage compartment. The open air safari vans have no seat belts. So no seats belts means no car seats. You will just have to hold your child (not the safest). Some with younger children (infants) suggest bringing a front pack and wearing the baby.
Some of us wouldn't imagine driving around our hometowns without our children secured safely. So there is no reason to change that when your own vacation. Accidents can happen anywhere. Personally, I think the Caribbean taxi drivers make playing chicken with buses a national sport. Narrow one lane winding mountain roads with no guide rails, it's frightening even without kids.

Keep those kids safe. We want you to have only GOOD memories of your cruise vacation. :)


Jim's Mom said...

Thank you so much for the tips about car seats--especially about the prices for the Eddie Bauer seat!

amy said...

I'm so glad I found your site! It's good to know that people have gone cruising with kids and have survived! We are going on a cruise with my 18 month son at the end of July - Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas to Bermuda for 5 days. Do you have any experience with that cruise line?

cruisinmama said...

Hey Amy, thanks for your sweet comments. Yes, we are planning our 4th Royal Caribbean cruise right now. It's personally my favorite cruiseline.

What did you want to know about the Explorer?

Sharon said...

Good idea talking about car seats. I would also mention the Sit-n-Stroll and the Radian, a seat which folds to make travel easier and could be stowed under the bed in a cabin. This holds a child in a 5 point harness till 65lbs (or 80lbs in the Radian80).

The Cosco Scenera is a more affordable option that goes to 40lbs.
Light and easy to carry.

Please do mention that children should be *4* years old minimum to go in a booster safely. Under that age is risky, even if they're 40lbs.

Please also note that neither a booster nor the Eddie Bauer can be used in the aircraft. The Eddie Bauer, I understand, is also not allowed to be sold in Canada. This is not a seat that is loved by car seat techs.

Hope that helps!

CSoul said...

You are simply a gem!!! Thank you for taking the time to write all of this VALUABLE information for all of us "newbies to cruising with children". Would it be too much to ask if you could email me at so that I could ask a carseat question that might be a tad lenghty? I would greatly appreciate your help. Danielle

christinaparis said...

Hi Cruisinmama,

Thank you for all your great tips on cruising with kids! We are trying to find the Eddie Bauer portable car seat, but can't find one for $40 as you mentioned. Could you tell me where you got yours?

cruisinmama said...

Christina - I bought mine on Amazon back when they had it for $39. After we started discussing it on Cruise Critic, Amazon raised the price to the current $249...outrageous price. I wouldn't pay that for the seat. As soon as I find an alternative, I will post about it.

Ryan and Sarah Sutherland said...

I have been using the JoeySafe/FreedomRide carseat for about 6 months and I am really happy with it.

It folds up small and is lightweight to carry around.

Once you (and your little one!) get the hang of it, it is really easy to get on and off. When I bring it out my toddler gets so excited b/c it means a car ride!

It can be used with a lap belt or a shoulder belt.

Hope this helps!

Courtney Galler said...

My youngest daughter is the only one who uses a carseat anymore. While we're vacationing, we won't be taking our own car around. Will transportation companies let me use her carseat in their vehicles?

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