Setting Sail from New Orleans: Cruising with a Toddler

While New Orleans may be a vacation destination for many, it is also a portal for destinations. We have access to several cruise lines that call the Port of New Orleans home. That means that you are a 15 minute car ride to downtown away from places with crystal clear water and warm sand every day of the week.

Annelise dancing on the beach in Progresso

This year for Mardi Gras, my mom’s side of the family (all 30 of us) decided to go on the Carnival Cruise out of NOLA. I know that some people reading this are freaking out that we could possibly even consider leaving for Mardi Gras, but a little variety is good every now and then.

The whole gang sailed off on the Carnival Elation. The majority of us were 18 and up but we did travel with two children: a two-year-old and a three-year-old. I admit that I was slightly skeptical of cruising with a toddler, but I was proven wrong. Cruising is a perfect way to travel with a toddler.

I was worried that we would not have anything for her to do, which was the reason I packed an entire bag of toys. Well, I could have saved hauling that to and from the car! There was so much to do.

My three-year-old cousin went to Camp Carnival and loved it! I didn’t send Annelise because I wanted to spend the time with her since she is at school normally during the day at home. In addition to the record amounts of ice cream we let her consume, she played putt-putt, rode the glass atrium elevators three dozen times, danced with the pool DJ and ran around the pool deck like a crazy lady. Plus all of the scheduled activities that Carnival had planned.

My daughter has food allergies, so I was a little nervous, but the restaurant team was more

Daddy and Annelise in Progresso outside of the Carnival Elation

than prepared to handle this. I would argue that the servers onboard were better prepared than most local restaurants. Plus, they always brought her food first and were ready to go with menu origami at a moment’s notice. They would bring a couple of courses, which gave a variety to answer whatever she was in the mood for. If that didn’t do the trick, there are 24 hour food options available. Plus, room service is included, so if you want a lazy morning, breakfast can be delivered right to your door.

While in port we visited Progresso and Cozumel. In Progresso we visited Iguana Beach, an all-inclusive beach resort. My daughter, Annelise, was a beach bunny! She was in the water, picking up shells, and jumping on the inflatables. In Cozumel, we went to Paradise Beach; food and drink was not included, but the activities were. She swam right through nap time and was not fussy at all because she was having too much fun.

The entire experience onboard the Carnival Elation was positive for the three of us and the 27 other people we traveled with. The staff on board was beyond accommodating to kids. Everyone we encountered remembered her name, which to me was impressive with thousands of people on board.

Mommy and Annelise in the Carnival Elation infirmary

One service that I wish we didn’t try out but we did was the infirmary. Because the rules of parenting state that kids get sick at the most inconvenient times and always at night that unfortunately proves true on vacation as well.  Annelise ran high fever two days in a row, and we wanted to get her checked out. Fortunately, Carnival had a fully stocked infirmary and staff on board that were very nice (and smiling) when we dragged them out of their beds pretty close to midnight. Turns out it was just a little virus that her overprotective parents freaked out about.

This was not my first Carnival cruise, but it was my first cruise with a child. Cruising does a great job of meeting the need of the traveler with and without children. I recommend checking out the cruises that are in our own backyard and supporting the Port of New Orleans to embark on a super easy family vacation.

Top 5 Reasons Mommy & Daddy loved the Carnival Cruise:

  1. Easy on, easy off with as much luggage (toys, diapers, etc) as you can carry
  2. All you can eat options are great for picky toddlers
  3. Naptime is really easy, just go down a couple of decks
  4. The gentle rocking of the boat makes toddlers sleep really well
  5. With so many kids on board, someone else’s kid has to be behaving worse than mine at any given moment

Top 5 Reasons My Two-Year-Old loved the Carnival Cruise:

  1. The towel animals that magically appeared before bedtime
  2. 24 hour chocolate ice cream
  3. No car seat for five whole days
  4. The waiters dance and sing at dinner
  5. Putt-Putt is available all day and the final hole doesn’t take your ball!
Carnival towel animal at bed time
Carnival towel animal at bed time


  1. I’ve been on two Carnival cruises, and they were both amazing experiences. Glad to hear your family enjoyed your cruise as well. I heard the other day that Port of New Orleans is trying to lure Disney Cruises as well. That would be incredible. For those with kids, Disney cruises are nothing but magical!

  2. My family is leaving on this same cruise this weekend! 🙂 Question – Were diapers available for purchase on the ship? I plan on packing plenty, but I’d like to have a backup option.

    • To be honest, I am not sure as it has been a couple of years since I went. I do remember swimmy diapers in the gift shop but not sure about regular ones.


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