Cocoa Beach is a pretty nifty little beach town. Since moving here in 2010, I have enjoyed every moment of being here and love the experience of living in a beach town. Despite the negatives and downfalls (which there are anywhere), I am happy & content in this little slice of paradise.
Cocoa Beach is a tourist town that attracts lots of spring breakers and young people from different towns in Florida, as well as travelers and vacationers, many of them stopping by real quick before they get on their cruise.
Here are 5 simple, yet fun things you can do during your visit to Cocoa Beach.
Visit Ron Jon’s & CBSC
Ron Jon’s is a world famous, gigantic surf shop located right off of main road A1A on the northern end of Cocoa Beach. This two story building has a variety of pretty much all types of products, from clothing to jewelry to house goods. Whether you plan on purchasing anything or not, it is definitely worth stopping by.
After you are finished browsing through Ron Jon’s, step outside and catch some pictures with the sand like sculptures, cars, and water ways displayed about the exterior. Then talk a walk across the street over to the Cocoa Beach Surf Company, located inside the Four Points by Sheraton. You can enjoy more browsing, a coffee at Starbucks, and a cocktail or appetizer at the Shark Pit.
Visit Minuteman parkway & downtown Cocoa Beach
If you drive south past Ron Jon’s for a couple of miles, you will enter downtown Cocoa Beach, it’s central hub being Minuteman Parkway. In this area, you will find the popular Coconut’s on the Beach, a busy restaurant and bar beautifully located directly on the coast of the stunning Atlantic Ocean. Enjoy a cocktail or appetizer (they have a wonderful happy hour starting daily at 4pm and lasting until 6pm (food) and drinks until 7pm. After enjoying your time at this beach shack, stop by the actual Beach Shack (located directly next to Coconuts), or take a stroll and check out the local bars, shops and restaurants located in the streets surrounding Minuteman. This is the perfect area to spend time at to get a taste of the true local Cocoa Beach lifestyle. If you’re visiting in the morning time, I recommend a coffee beverage at Juice ‘N Java followed by breakfast at Roberto’s.
Eat the Port while watching the cruise ships
There are so many options for a great meal. Depending on the time of day you choose to enjoy this relaxing yet simple port on the coast of central Florida, there are many options you can choose from. Every restaurant on the strip is good, but here are my personal recommendations. For breakfast, I like to eat at Grills. They have an amazing Salmon Benedict that is to die for. For lunch, we enjoy Fishlips, as the outdoor seating area is very nice and atmosphere is quaint and enjoyable. For dinner, we always head over to Rusty’s for their early bird special while watching cruise ships depart. We love to start off with a dozen oysters, followed by either shrimp scampi or sirloin steak. For drinks and tasty apps, check out the newest addition and my favorite yet, the delicious Rising Tide, which has a generous supply of different beers from around the world on tap.
Go to the beach & surf
What would a visit to Cocoa Beach be without visiting the beach? While it holds no bare to the turquoise blue waters of the Caribbean, Cocoa Beach contains unique and stunning beauty of it’s own, while offering residents and visitors the best surfing spot on the east coast. You can rent boards right at the Pier or through Ron Jon’s, however, I recommend stopping by A1A Beach Rentals for your rental needs while in town. They will deliver to hotels and offer excellent deals. There are dozens of different beach accesses located along the whole strip of Cocoa Beach, and all are great. If you are looking for the best waves, head south. If you want to be in the popular areas, than visit the beach in front of coconuts, or the pier. Or, if you want to be more secluded, you can park at virtually any metered parking spot and take your pick. If you are trying to avoid paying for parking, you can park for free at Lori Wilson Park.
Go fishing by the river
For some great fishing, residents love to pull their car off the road and set up some chairs next to the relaxing and peaceful Banana River. Some popular spots are underneath both of the bridge overpasses on the beach line expressway, although you can find people virtually anywhere along the 528 and banana river shore line. Pick a spot and enjoy! For more convenient fishing options, the Cocoa Beach Pier has a lovely, popular spot on the very end of the pier. The town also offers various fishing tours and excursions if that is more your style.
Watch a rocket launch
I couldn’t bear to end this article without mentioning the classic, most unique thing to do while visiting the wonderful Cocoa Beach.. watching a rocket launch. This is the space coast, after all, and it’s no big deal to randomly feel your windows and house shake and the ground rumble. We absolutely love this part the best, and are so blessed to live somewhere we can watch the wonders and beauties of the universe first hand,
As I prepare for my second cruise with a baby, I realize just how important it is to be fully prepared. I should be a pro at this, as I have traveled numerous times with my children when they were little, but it is always nice to have a refresher to ensure ultra preparedness. From what to pack, what to do, and figuring out naps, there is a lot that goes into bringing a baby along for anything, let alone a week long cruise vacation.
A lot of people look down at the thought of traveling with a baby, specifically cruising. “They’re not going to remember it”, they say. “It’s too much work, you won’t enjoy it. Leave them home with grandma.”
But don’t worry. It can be done. First off, let’s be real. Sure, they most likely wont remember it, but I will. The cameras will, and the memories will. And that’s what it’s all about. He may not remember it, but in the moment, he is going to enjoy it, and have a blast, and grow into a cultured, humble being. There’s a time and a place for adult vacations, but a yearly family vacation is an absolute must for my family. Life is meant to enjoy, and there’s nothing we enjoy more than traveling and seeing more of our beautiful world.
Please enjoy my ultimate guide to cruising with a baby. After several trips with little ones, I feel confident my experience, as well as tips and hints from other mommy travelers, can help others.
Ultimate Guide to Cruising with a Baby
Section 1: Basics
In this section, we will go over some basic questions you may have when it comes to taking your baby on a cruise.
First of all, how old exactly does an infant need to be to go on a cruise? Most cruise lines require babies to be 6 months old on the day of sailing. For trans-atlantic and trans-pacific, Hawaii, and some South American cruises, the required age is 12 months old. My son will be 16 months old at the time of cruising, and my first son was 9 months old when we first cruised with a baby.
Secondly, does my baby needs a passport? The simple answer is yes, the complicated answer is no. We get a passport. We don’t like playing any games, feel safe with a passport, plus you never know when and if you’re going to have to leave the country. However, I do understand many people cannot get a passport in time for many different reasons, so the good news is that United States citizens can travel with a birth certificate in leui of a passport. However, check your cruise lines specific regulations, because other forms of identification may be needed, included notarized letters from parents not traveling or if the last name differs.
Section 2: Packing
This cruise vacation list will be based off a 7 day trip. Please adjust the number of items to fit the length of your cruise and families habits. I also tend to slightly over pack, as I never know exactly what I’ll be in the mood to wear, but I have gotten a lot better with this. I also live close to the port, so I don’t have to worry about weight restrictions with my luggage. With a baby, there is a lot of “just in case” stuff that needs to be packed. Still, I try to fit everything into 1 suitcase per person, smaller suitcases for the little’s, of course.
Here is a detailed list of what I will be bringing for my 16 month old on our cruise.
Baby Cruise Packing List
Jogging Stroller: Many people prefer to bring an umbrella stroller for the obvious convenience of it, however the benefits outweigh the cons for me when it comes to bringing my jogging stroller. As much of a hassle as it will be to transport the thing through the hallways and door frames, the ability to keep my little one in the stroller for naps so I can continue with what I am doing and not having to be confined to the room for naps was the driving force for my decision. Other conveniences include: moving around on port days, as an umbrella stroller may not handle well on the beach and/or rocky roadways, having a place to store our belongings while hanging out on the pool deck or moving about the ship, as well as having a place to put our drinks, made it worth it for me.
Baby Carrier: I will be bringing my ergo, which I will use while walking around and exploring the ship with my family, and in cases where the jogging stroller is impractical. Also, if my 5 year old gets tired, I can wear my little guy so he can take a rest in the stroller.
Baby Harness: I understand the controversy around these things, but in my book its a no brainier, especially when traveling on bigger ships that are more crowded. My child’s safety and his ability to run off at anytime, is much more of a priority for me than funny looks from strangers.
(2) Formal outfits: Even though I plan on using the children’s center on formal nights, I still want to get photographs of us all decked out and spend time with my little one before dinner. The first night will be a cute mini captain outfit, and the second night I will dress him in a collared button down shirt and baby slacks.
(10) one pieces: I pack one for each day and a few extra just in case. We also got cute cruise themed ones, thanks to grandma.
(2-3) dress shirts: I will pack 2 polo shirts and 1 extra collared button down
1 rash guard
2 swim diapers
1 swim shoe
1 formal shoe
1 flip flop
2 baby shoes
3 pairs of socks
3 pairs of pajamas
*These numbers are give or take 1 or 2, I may take a little more or little less depending on the day of packing. Keep in mind, my little one is a mover and an eater and gets into everything, so he dirties clothing quite frequently. If your baby is a little less mobil or neater, you may decrease the numbers. I also bring extra in case we loose anything or it gets soiled and we need to throw it away.
**If you are traveling by plane and need to keep your luggage under a specific weight, my advice would be to pack half of what I have listed and do a load of laundry mid ship. Much cheaper than hauling extra weight or an extra suitcase.
Baby shampoo & bodywash
Baby q-tips and swabs
Baby nail clippers
Diapers: I calculate 6 per day, plus another 10 or so. So for my 7 day cruise I will bring at least 50 diapers.
Big pack of wipes
Diaper rash cream
infant cough medicine
syringe for medicine
TOYS AND ENTERTAINMENT
2 sippy cups
2-3 washable bibs
tip: use the cloth napkins in the dining areas as a bib. Loosely tie around babies neck and viola, easy to toss and protects very well.
baby food and/or formula if needed
baby bottle sponge and small bottle of dish soap for cleaning bottles
Small bag of toys
Baby Activities Onboard
Most cruiselines have a very sophisticated and fun filled children’s center, however it is free of charge only after your child reaches a certain age, which is age 2 on Carnival and age 3 on Royal Caribbean. This can make parents of babies feel a little disappointed, but need not be. While it is amazing to have a place for your child to play every now and then at no extra charge, you absolutely can utilize the kids center with an underage tot.
Here, I will break the logistics down by the cruise lines Royal Caribbean and Carnival, as these are the only lines I have personal experience with.
Royal Babies & Tots Nursery: Guests ages 6-36 months are cared for by trained professionals while enjoying special programs designed just for baby. Daytime and evening drop off is available at the low price of $6 per hour during the day, and just $8 an hour in the evening. (Nursery drop off not available on: Empress, Majesty, Jewel, Adventure, Explorer or Voyager of the Seas. *TIP: Make reservations for childcare on embarkation day, as space is limited.
Babies & Tots Programs: Check your cruise planner for specific times when parent and baby can enjoy the royal tots nursery for playgroup sessions, which offer activities that incorporate playtime and learning.
In-Room Babysitting: If your ship does not offer a nursery, or your child does not want to go there, you have the option of in- room babysitting. It is more costly ($19 per hour), but it allows your child to stay in the room while being supervised by a Royal Caribbean employee. The key to this is you have to speak to guest services before hand, as it is not a regularly offered service. If a crew member is available to assist, they will, that is why it is key to give them as much notice as possible.
Baby Splash Zone: On select ships, Royal Caribbean offers an infant pool known as the baby splash zone, where babies in swim diapers can enjoy the water.
Family Events & Activities: There are several opportunities to get together as a family; including festivals, pool side activities, theme nights and more. There are also several family friendly shows that you can enjoy together. Certain ships also have a carousal for your young ones to enjoy.
The DreamWorks Experience: On board the ships, you can enjoy many opportunities to meet your kids favorite DreamWorks characters. Check your cruise compass for more details.
Babies 2 Go: If you are traveling via air, you will find the Babies 2 Go program very useful. You can pre-order diapers, wipes, cream and baby food to take the stress off of having to take up precious space in your already limited suitcase.
Managing your stateroom with a little one may seem taunting at first, but it can be done. Here are some tips to make your stateroom organized and enjoyable for baby.
Cruise lines provide a pack n play free of charge. We generally take advantage of this, and is definitely a must with younger babies. However this year, since my little one is a little more stable and strong, we may skip the pack n play in order to free up space and have him sleep right in the bed with us.
Bring magnetic hooks and a curtain for naps. You can arrange them to shield your baby from light so he or she can get a better sleep.
Stroller storage can be a challenge, depending on the size. Umbrella or compact strollers will easily fit in the closet. Jogging strollers may be more of a challenge based on the size of your room. If you have a balcony, you can store it outside. Or, if it doesn’t fit in the closet, you can store it between the side of the couch and the all folded up. You could even store it under the bed if its collapsed with the wheels removed.
Decorate your stateroom door: the new and fun trend for families is decorating your stateroom door, and I love it. While we haven’t done it in the past, I am excited to create this memory for our family, as well as being able to easily ocate our stateroom. See my post here for more information on decorating your door.
There are *plenty* of options for food for your little one, especially if they are feeding themselves. From cereal to fresh fruit and spaghetti to chicken fingers, you’ll have everything from snacks to full course meals for your baby. And this is such a fun time for food, as smaller babies will generally eat (or at least try) anything. Watch your baby enjoy and try numerous different types of foods and snacks on your cruise.
High chairs are offered for your little one in the dining areas.
Milk is available 24/7 on the cruise. Just stock up on cartons, and store them in the in room fridge.
You can bring snacks back to your room for your little to snack on throughout the day. Some of my favorite snack ideas are: whole fruit, yogurt, boxed cereal, bread and various danishes.
Wash bottles in your stateroom using the sponge and dish soap you packed with you.
Going on a cruise is one of the best, most exciting and rewarding ways to travel. No matter the size of the ship, you’re guaranteed to have the time of your life. Both big and small ships have their own pros and cons, but there is definitely an extra sparkle there when you’re going on one of the worlds biggest ships, in my case the Royal Caribbeans Oasis of the Seas. And if you’re anything like me, planning for your cruise is half the fun. I couldn’t help myself but to research the ship before hand, as it was hard for me to contain my excitement. Here I have compiled a deck by deck outline of the beautiful Oasis of the Seas.
Note: I will update this post with my own photos that I will be taking myself in a few weeks once I get on board. For now, I have used images borrowed from google.
Royal Caribbeans Oasis of the Seas: Facts and Information
Laid down: November 2007
Finished: October 2009
Length: 1186.5 feet
Tonnage: 225, 282
Passengers: 5484 (double occupancy), 6780 (max)
Speed: 22 knots
Oasis of the Seas Cabin Amenities
Personal Stateroom Steward
Flat screen TV
Telephone with voicemail and free room to room calling
Vanity with lights
Table & chairs
Nightly turn down service
As you see, she is a big girl! When you think about being in a sea of over 6,000 people, it does get a little overwhelming. I can’t help but worry about crowds and bumping into people. but then remember her sheer size and remember we will all fit just fine. Now, I will go deck by deck, listing all attractions on each floor. We will be starting at deck 3, as 1 & 2 are strictly for employees, however you will use deck 1 if your boat needs to tender.
Growing up, I was blessed to have parents who treated our family to proper yearly vacations. The majority of the years when I was young we traveled to Aruba (which is one of my favorite places on the Earth) but once I got into my teens we started veering towards cruises. I went on 4 cruises with my parents before I stopped cruising for a long time while I moved to Florida and had a family.
After my husband and I had our first child, our adorable son Ethan, I decided I wanted to continue the tradition my family held while growing up, of having a proper yearly vacation. This was something I was willing to invest my dollars into and felt it was the absolute minimum in truly maintaining a life of adventure and happiness. We would find the money one way or the other, as in the end a family vacation is worth every penny.
We booked our first cruise as the Tineo family in September of 2013 on the Carnival Ecstasy. We had an amazing time, and vowed we would do it again. The next year we traveled to the beautiful Dominican Republic and promised each other 2015 was the year. In November of 2015, we boarded the Carnival Valor with my mother and son, his second cruise and not even 3 years old.
Fast forward to 2018, and I have been dreaming about cruising for several months. I was having an intense desire to go on one, soon, as it had been well over two years since our last cruise (the years in between our last cruise and now we stayed continental and traveled to Colorado in 2016, and a multi state trip in 2017 which included Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Maryland.)
So imagine my delight (and surprise) when I got the exciting phone call from my parents saying they wanted to treat my sons to a family cruise. It was long overdue, as I hadn’t been on a proper vacation (excluding our usual trips to Disney) with both of my parents since our trip to Aruba in 2008. Unfortunately, with such short notice, my husband couldn’t get off work from his job as a manager, so this would officially be a Silverman family vacation.
This time we would be traveling on the giant beauty, the Oasis of the Seas. It made me feel a little nervous and intimidated, as this will be the largest ship I’ve ever traveled on, the biggest being the Carnival Valor, which fits half the passengers Oasis does. Also, I enjoy the intimacy of small ships- seeing and getting to know the same passengers and crew, it is essentially a small (floating) town. With all that being said, my excitement over the vast size and countless options for fun that we will have, far outweighs any apprehension I have about the Oasis.
Follow along as I prepare for cruise #7 on the wondrous Oasis of the Seas!
Rested and refreshed from our easy day at the pool the day prior, we sat down for a simple breakfast and contemplated what activities the day would bring. We narrowed it down to three choices: Animal Kingdom, SeaWorld & Aquatica or Typhoon Lagoon. Considering all factors, including my parents resistance to long waits and walking, and the rising temps creating a desire to splash around in the water, we chose to go to SeaWorld & Aquatica.
We drove to SeaWorld and parked the car, and then took the shuttle over to Aquatica, as we wanted to be in the water during the peak heat time of the day. I really enjoyed this water park and it is my personal favorite. They have fun and exciting water slides as well as plenty of family friendly slides and activities, including two wave pools and a lazy river. My favorite, though, is the Rapid Rivers, which is a thrilling rapid moving lazy river. Just slap on a life jacket and race down the river for as long as you want. It is relaxing, enjoyable and produces tons of laughs for me and my littles as we decide which turn we will take and as we get hammered with water falls. After many hours of fun, we switched gears and headed over to SeaWorld.
SeaWorld has three exhilarating roller coasters to choose from. We decided to try Manta, as my brother and nephews had never been on this classic spinning coaster. You start off hanging from your chairs as the cart lies you belly down. You climb up and up, still belly down, before you drop and whiz away upon multiple loops and twists that keep you hanging on and cringing for dear life. We shouted and screamed as we whizzed, and by the end we were happy it was over.
After Manta we checked out the beautiful and fun dolphin show. After, having only a little time left, we ended the day on the Emperor of the Penguins, which is well worth the long wait it always has. You board a moving cart that glides around like a hockey puck on ice, bringing you through several different corners and turns that are beautifully themed and animated with vibrant colors, before the cart shoots you off in front of several adorable, live penguins. A must see and one of the best attractions I have ever been on.
We stayed to the park until closing and were absolutely exhausted as we headed back to the car to end our Disney World vacation. Sad that it was over, but ready to go home, we piled in the car to head back to our little peace of paradise.
Day three of our trip was one of the most exciting and my personal favorite. Today we would visit Islands of Adventure. I was super excited, as I had never been there before and I am a huge Universal fan. Percy and I had been talking recently about how we wanted to go, and how fortunate for us that the wish had been granted so soon.
We had a nice and slow start. We woke around 8am, putzed around for an hour before meeting my brother and his family at the hotel restaurant for breakfast. The place was lovely. It looked more like a sushi restaurant than a breakfast buffet. Very modern and sophisticated decor, and the buffet was plentiful with a wide array of hot and cold food items. The prices were reasonable and the server went above and beyond.
After breakfast, we Ubered up and headed to the park. We met at the front of IOA, and after a long wait in line to get our tickets, we were free to roam the park. We rushed in eagerly to finally take in what has been long anticipated, and it was great. The beauty of the parks astonishes me and it is amazing to think about the heart, soul and human intelligence that goes into creating these beautiful, amazing rides. As we walked along we noticed the ride for the Hulk coaster, and after some hesitation, my brother, hubby and I (everyone else was too scared) headed to test our luck, while my sister in law waited with the kids. You see, roller coasters are not the same when you’re old. Yes, they are fun, but I think more about the frightening stories I’ve heard of or getting ill. We decided to take the single riders only line since it was only a 10 minute wait. Less than 10 minutes later we reached the front and were seated. Ironically, we were all in the same cart and my husband and I were together. The ride was short yet thrilling, and we happily exited and went out to meet the rest of the crew.
The next ride we rode was the iconic 3D Spiderman ride. It still holds up to its name and in my opinion, is the best ride I have ever been on. My 4 year old absolutely loved it and asked to ride it again, which we did later in the day. The effects were real and vibrant, the motion was thrilling yet not too jerky, and it is just overall a fun, creative, well executed reenactment of being in Spiderman. I cant even imagine what my son must have been thinking.
Other rides we squeezed in were King Kong, which features a life size, real as can be King Kong and was too stimulating for my child (he covered his eyes the whole time.) We jumped in line at Pteranodon Flyers as we thought it was only a 5 minute wait but were frustrated when it turned into a good half hour. Slow moving ride with only 3 vessels that seat 2 each and not worth it in my opinion. As my brother said, its the worst ride in the park and they need to do away with it. Jurassic Park is a close second favorite, which is an enjoyable boat ride through prehistoric times.
At this time, we took a little break and refueled with some ice cold drinks and snacks. P and E played in the little kids section and rode quite a bit of rides while we relaxed. We finished of the day with another go on Spiderman, and two fun and exciting spins on Popeye & Blutos Bilge Rat Bargers. This is a white water rapid themed ride that has thrills, chills and is sure to leave you hysterically laughing and soaking wet.
At this point the park was closing, so we called it a day, happy and satisfied with the 6 rides and 8 go’s we got in the 6 hour time period. My brother and his wife did us a tremendous help by taking E back with them so P and I could enjoy dinner and a drink at Planet Hollywood. What a pleasant and happy experience it was. If you have never dined here, I highly recommended it. They have an incredible atmosphere, with the best classic rock music playing, dancing servers and happily shouting guests. We both ordered Hurricanes to drink, which were top notch and strong, just how I like it. The food was incredibly tasty as well, we ordered the appetizer sampler and the chicken tenders were the best tenders I have ever had in my life- irresistible breading and perfectly cooked, these tenders were drool worthy and I will return just for these if anything.
After a super long and entertaining day, my P and I called it quits and called our final Uber of the night. After an enjoyable ride home with a sweet, hard of hearing driver, we made our way to our room, climbed into our big, comfy, perfectly made bed and lights out.
Day two of our trip started off with lots of anticipation and excitement. My brother, sister in law and their 3 boys had arrived from Boston and were right next door us in the hotel. The kids woke up early and played, while we got ready for breakfast. We had a reservation at Chef Mickey’s located in the beautiful Polynesian Resort. It is the only breakfast that has all the characters, and the kids had a blast taking pictures with and meeting all the different friends. The food was normal breakfast buffet food, nothing great but not terrible. For the high price ($50 per adult) you really are paying for the experience versus the food and it doesn’t fail to disappoint.
After breakfast, we milled around the Polynesian, browsing through the boutiques and wandering around the beautiful resort. We headed back to the hotel after a bit and spent the afternoon relaxing by the pool.
For dinner, we had a reservation at Sanaa, located at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. It is our favorite restaurant in Disney World and we visit each time we come. Not only is the food amazing (you must order their famous Indian bread sampler), you get to watch wild safari animals roam the preserve while you enjoy your food. After dinner we roamed around the outdoor viewing area and then headed back to the hotel.
I took my exhausted boys back to the hotel room for bed while the family took a stroll through Disney Springs. When everyone returned, my husband and I headed down to the lobby. We relaxed at the lobby bar and had a cocktail, chatting with the bartenders and fellow patrons. There was a conference going on so the lobby was quite busy. We enjoyed ourselves for an hour or so before heading back to the room for the night.