Confession. I take the inter-island ferry between my beautiful twin island republic. Given my admittedly “stushy”, organic baby food making and baby jogger owning self, I understand this may be shocking.
Call me crazy. I think it is practical. Why? 6 reasons.
- It’s free for infants under 3 = Baby riding for free.
- Free for T&T national adults over 60 = Granny/ grandpa riding for free!
- 100TT return for adults = It’s cheap to go with friends
- Its $50 return for children >12 years old
- $244Tt for an adult with car – RETURN = the coche (car) going = cheap getting around
- You can take as much crap as your car can hold
- No airport drama
Compared to taking a return trip between our lovely islands by plane, the choice to take the boat appears to really be a financial no brainer to take the boat.
- Boat: $444 for group of 2 adults and 2 children with car
- Flights: $1200 for group of 2 adults and 2 children with NO car which ads another $400ish per day for car rental
But the math can convenience can be a lie. Set your mind straight. The sea passage between our twin island Republic is not always easy.
High tides and rough waters can make the strongest tummy churn.
The chairs are not always that clean.
The occasional smell of salted fish can waft through the air.
Your baby can vomit. The vomit can get on you, your husband, your bags, the person in the next row.
That last sentence is a testimonial but I’m still taking the boat. Here are my top 10 tips for family friendly boat travel.
- Take your car and get there early: Passengers can board the boat either from the terminal or from the car decks. Passengers who go through the check points in the car will have no lines to wait in when it’s time to board the boat. As you see people boarding from the terminal safely have all the children accompanied by one adult exit (I.E. BUSS IT) from your car and head for the boat to board early and get seats together.
- Choose your seats carefully: No matter the vessel name or type, the boat has three sections:
- The front aka FOR SURE VOMIT: Theatre styled seating
with beautiful views or the water can woo the novice traveler. Seats are easiest to find here – for a reason. You hit the waves first and really feel the boat move here. Choose this section only if you have near overdosed on Gravol (not recommended) or have really study sea legs.
- The middle aka SAFE BUT FULL OF FOOD: This is my favourite section. Bathrooms are never far away but far enough away to not necessarily see or smell. There are the most windows here. Loads of seating for groups or 2,4. 6 and even a few 8 seater areas. This section also has the most “walking space” for toddlers and young ones that need to move around for the 3 hour ride.
- The back SAFE WITH A WHIFF OF Diesel: Though the calmest section by way of wave action, from time to time the smell of the diesel engines can be difficult for weary tummies. Proceed with caution.
- The front aka FOR SURE VOMIT: Theatre styled seating
- Walk with a sheet: In line with airplane seats, the seats on the boat recline and can be dirty. Bringing an old sheet to cover each chair gives not only a bit of comfort (admittedly false) that you are sitting on something clean, but gives your child something else to put their mouths on besides the chair itself.
- Bring the Car Seat and Baby Carrier: There are no seatbelts on the boat. If you want your child to sit still, I suggest the infant car seat. If your baby will want movement, bring the carriers that attach to you so you can use up to both hands to hold on to railings. Be safe. Know your child. Make the choice that’s right for you.
- Bring your own snacks: Why buy junk when you can pack healthy and family favourite snacks for your group. The boat does carry snacks and drinks for sale but they are not exactly healthy baby/ child friendly. Those that like salt fish and Vienna sausages are in luck. I’ve had and regurgitated both in my lifetime.
- Be Patient: The loading and unloading of cars follows a unique and intricate process that can be difficult to understand and even more difficult to predict. Be patient. Follow the often yelled instructions and for goodness sake keep your window down when they instruct you to.
- Enjoy the movie or bring headphones: Ok. Entertainment in the form of movies is shown. The movies are usually child friendly and, well, loud. Headphones and personal electronics can make the ride more enjoyable if you are picky.
- Take Gravol and stay hydrated: I have mentioned that at times, generally November to March, the crossing between islands can be, well, choppy. I don’t mean giggly choppy. I mean fall down walking to the bathroom while vomiting choppy (for some, who will not be named). Take gravol or Dramamine and find the children’s versions if your little ones, like mine, get motion sickness. Good news is that both of these products make you sleepy. This is good as the chairs are comfy and there is really not that much room to run about. Whether you choose to medicate yourself or not, drink LOADS of water when on the boat to stay hydrated.
- DO NOT RUSH TO YOUR CAR: About 15 minutes before planned docking, there will be an announcement for drivers to go to their cars. The entire boat seems to stand at that point. The cue to the car decks can be lengthy and warm. When you do arrive at your car, you then have to squeeze into same between cars (they are parked meare inches away from each other at points), with no engines on, until its time to disembark – which can be about 40 minutes from the announcement. A better plan is to wait for the cues to die down, use the rest room and then head to your car.
- Avoid Oily Foods before travel: Grease plus rough waters = vomit. No further comment needed.
So maybe you have read this and are not unsure about your decision to take the boat to or from Tobago/ Trinidad. Don’t be. Hold on to your over $800 in savings. Hold it and wok it. #carnival #babyjammingstill