We have never been on a cruise and plan on taking our family of 5 on one this next March. There are 5 of us...kids are 21, 21 & 17. Trying to get a family vacation in before all are moved away. We have no idea where to begin. There are so many crusie lines.
We would like to go on a western caribbean cruise...only a 3-5 day.
Would be nice to be all in the same room or we can be in seperate ones also...unless it is to pricey.
Just so you know us a bit....we are casual so really not into having to dress up to go out to dinner but that is not that important. We love the outdoors and sports. My wife loves shopping (go figure).
Tough question....everyone has their preferences as far as cruise lines are concerned. I would start by reading cruise ship reviews on this web site. Some cruise lines are geared towards an older crowd, younger crowd, party people, etc. All the cruise lines visit the same ports and offer basically the same shore excursions. Be aware that the cruise lines generally use the older ships for the shorter cruises. Not that there is anything wrong with them, they just don't have all the bells and whistles as the newer ships. Five adults in one room is really pushing it. I've been in a room with four and that was very challenging. As far as the Caribbean is concerned, if you like water activities, the western and eastern itineraries both have lots to offer. After many cruises, our family prefers the eastern itinerary. We all love to snorkel, enjoy water sports, etc. There is shopping available at every port, some a lot better than others.
First of all, go for a seven day and not a three-five day because you don't get tthe full expereinece. Book a balcony cabin, for you and the hubby and an inside for the kids (heck, you're paying, they got to stay where you tell em!). Asd for which cruise line, based on their ages go with Royal Caribbean, Carnival, or Norwegian--check their websites out to find out which is right for you and your kin.
I agree with MGA go for the 7 day first. We've done 13 with Royal Car. and a few with Carnival and both are good choices. You say you don't care for dressing for dinner? Go with Carnival. Their 'Formal' nights are more lax than Royal. My personal advice is to book early. Pick a ship & see what cabins are available and pick the ones you want. I suggest 2 cabins as to you will have more bathrooms (2 as opposed to 1 for all of you and is generally cheaper). If you book early enough, try to find cabins near the elevator and near the middle of the ship. You will do enough walking around the ship and if there happens to be rough seas you'll appreciate being centered. Keep us posted in your choice! Chances are some of us have been on the ship you choose!
I will go out on a limb here - judging by the comments and the ages of the kids - Freedom Of The Seas on a 7 night cruise to the Western Caribbean. Just keep an eye on them in Jamaica ! This ship has it all as I have said for a multi-generational group like no other.
Freedom Of The Seas -07
Radiance Of The Seas-07
Adventure Of The Seas-05
Navigator Of The Seas-04
Soverign Of The Seas-02
Big Red Boat-93
Dave, you have come to the right place with your questions!
I would also recommend Carnival, NCL, and Royal Caribbean, and stay away from Holland America and Celebrity who tend to be a tad "older".
Your young people will find lots to do on the 1st three I mentioned. Royal Caribbean especially, with their rock climbing wall, skating rink, and the new Flow Rider (surfing onboard!) Note: check your brochures or the company website to find which ships have all these amenities. The older ones may not.
Another suggestion, book at least 7 days, if you can afford it. You will have so much fun you will regret having only 3-5 days!
And book 2 cabins, one for you and your wife (you deserve a break after all!) and one for the kids. Cabins tend to be a little claustrophobic, and with 5 adults, it can get squishy. Especially if everyone is trying to get ready for dinner, or an excursion, all at the same time!
Meanwhile, do some more research, check out all the board topics here on CruiseMates to find answers to any of your questions.
Let us know what you decide on, and tell us all about it when you get back!
NCL, Carnival, and RCI would be good recommendations for your family.
A 7 day cruise would give you a better feeling of a cruise. I'm thinking that a 3 day cruise would seem too hectic for a first timer especially with kids the ages of yours. By the time you board and get settled, it seems like it is time to leave. Even a 5 day could seem a little short for your first time.
Two cabins is a good suggestion, just for the extra bathroom alone.
I have to agree with Sub, go for a 7 on one of the Voyager or Freedom class ship with Royal Caribbean. They do have Easterns that stop in St. Thomas and St. Maarten, so your wife can get all the shopping in she needs.
if the budget is tight; the Enchantment 5 night is great (it may not have an ice skating rink or flow rider) but the kids on board still seemed to enjoy all the other activities; awesome pool area IMHO; it is a good ship for a first cruise; not toooo big and easy to keep track of the amily.
Carnival Victory March 9, 2013
*carnival dream *
Glory 2/28/2010: Dina & Marty
Valor Feb 2009: Dina & Marty - again
Grandeur Feb 2008: DTW, Dina & Marty
Inspiration May 26, 2007
Fascination: Feb 2007
Enchantment of Seas: Sept 2006
Radiance of the Seas
Majesty of the Seas
The Big Red Boat
If budget is tight, why not consider 2 inside cabins? My DH is spoiled and now won't book anything less than a balcony cabin. But, if it meant going on 2 cruises each year....I'd definitely switch to inside cabins!
The smaller ships on Carnival (Imagination, Holiday) do wonderful Western itineraries. A 7 day is good too and with five of you you should get a great deal. 5 in a room would be very very crowded, so you may want to see what kind of deal you can get with two rooms.
I'd say with a family your size, do a 5-7 day cruise. I wouldn't get hung up on finding the perfect ship as much as the right price, itinerary etc.
Five days is actually enough to have a really good time. Most will probably disagree but I don't have alot of urge to do one over 5 days. I LOVE cruising, but it's just so much excess everything, especially food. Only you know what your budget is but if you're footing the whole bill for everything, you might find a 7 dayer to start getting pretty pricy with a family your size. It's not so much the price of the cruise itself but excursions, drinks, gambling, souveniers, shopping etc usually give alot of people "sticker shock" when they get that bill summary under the door the last day. They make it so easy to spend with the scan cards they give you. I think people get a little excursion crazy considering there is so much to do for free onboard....They really add up. I can only imagine the final bill on some of these cruises folks do for longer than 7 days...Good Lord! I would guess that your 2 oldest are probably at least chipping in some at their age but I don't think you mentioned it.
Carnival Holiday (1999 ?)
RCI Sovereign of the Seas 2007
RCI Enchantment of the Seas 2009
I would suggest you take the air/sea package the cruise line offers. I always come in the day before ( I am from Arizona so there is no charge for the hotel, but even if there was a charge, I would do it.) They meet you at the airport and see to it you get to the hotel and to the ship with ease. I'ts also fun to get to unwind before the next days excitement!