We're off to France next weekend, travelling by car and ferry with our 8 month old DS. I haven't been on a car ferry since I was a child and don't really know what to expect in terms of the logistics of travelling with a baby. Our schedule is roughly; get up at stupid 'o' clock and drive from Bristol to Portsmouth, hopefully with DS asleep for much of the way, breakfast for us all somewhere en route to the ferry, 8.15am crossing, 7 house on ferry, four hour drive. We've booked a cabin as DH is driving all the way and will want a kip. Also I thought it might provide some safe floor space for DS to play on for a while. I get very travel sick and although the chemist says I can take Kalms non-drowsy, I may need to be up on deck a lot. Does anyone have any top tips on how to keep a very lively DS entertained and also on the feasibility of taking the buggy on deck (we have an Uppababy Vista which is pretty large)?
I've not been on a ferry for that length of time with a child, however, I imagine they are about the same size as the Dunkerke to Dover ones. Those have lifts so you should be able to get your buggy upstairs, alternatively some 'lounges' have access to the decks anyway.
I've only done the Isle of Wight crossing with dd1 when she was 6mo. There weren't lifts, but took dd up the stairs in her car seat. It was a 40min crossing. If you can take the buggy up in a lift I would.
Thanks. I think we're going get the buggy out for the journey. I did wonder if corridors/ doorways etc would be wide enough, but then it occurred to me that they must have disabled access for wheelchairs.
We did the Holland to Harwich overnight ferry recently with 7 month old ds, he slept in the bottom bunk with me. In the evening we just hung out in the lounge, he loved trying to crawl in the round windows and pull himself up on the chairs. We took our pram on the way there but the issue we found was there was a really long queue for the lift so we ended up being late getting back to the car. On the way back we just carried ds and used the stairs. You will probably find he is easily entertained on the ferry with lots of people to look at. There was a kids area on the boat we were on, older kids love chatting to babies you might find him some little friends
Have you considered staying in a Travellodge or similar? There's one opposite the ferry terminal in P'mouth and I think it cost us £50 for a room with travel cot in August last year. Your DP should then be able to be awake for a lot more of the crossing leaving you to feel ill if you need to. Are you breastfeeding? I didn't manage to find any travel sickness pills that were actually OK to take whilst bf although Holland & Barratt have some homeopathic ones you could try. When you check in for the ferry, let them know you have a young DC and they will give you some sort of sticker so that the staff know to park you near to a lift (apparently anyway - we only found this out after we'd been to France & back last year). Otherwise, as others have said, there are lifts but the queues are long, if indeed the lift is working (it wasn't on our return crossing). Is your pushchair a two piece one? If so, if you're thinking of getting a second pushchair at some point, then you may want to get it now as then it will be easier to collapse and one of you can carry that up & down the stairs with the other carrying the baby & bags. If you are going to have to be on the deck for a significant amount of time and it is blowy, would your DS be happier in the sling or in a pushchair? There will be a children's area but its designed for older kids (3+) so don't go near it as its really busy and your DS won't get anything out of it. Instead, just take plenty of toys and he can play on the floor of the cabin or on the deck if its not too blowy. Do all nappy changes in the cabin as the queue for the loos will the be long & they won't be that pleasant a couple of hours into the journey. Have you booked a travel cot for the ferry or will your DS sleep in the pushchair? We ate in the a la carte restaurant which had highchairs and included a buffet so you'd probably be able to give your DS some bits from that if he's good with finger foods. If he's on puree, then you'll need to take supplies. If you go on the Brittany Ferries website, they do have quite a lot of information about the different boats, the layout & the facilities.
Btw - ferries only have disabled access to a few areas so your logic with the pushchair doesn't quite apply. We have a BJCM and that fitted down the corridors but it was a tight squeeze and there was no way of passing anyone so you had to wait for a corridor to be completely clear before setting off down it which, when everyone is milling about just after boarding and just before going back down to the cars, is really annoying and can take ages.
Thanks everyone, that's really helpful. I am breastfeeding, but our local chemist says I can take Kwells non-drowsy so I'm hoping that combined with wrist bands (which worked for flying when I was pregnant) will keep the nausea at bay. The point about the buggy in the corridors is a good one. I might just take DS in the sling, find a quiet spot and let him roam around, then take him back to the cabin for naps and snooze in the bunk with him. He's very active so probably wouldn't want to spend too long in the buggy anyway.