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Old June 23rd, 2008, 12:51 AM
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Default First-time cruiser, and I have questions!

Hey everyone! I have been reading these boards for days, getting as much info as I can. My first cruise will be in Jan. '09, on Carnival Destiny (I think it's the Western Caribbean route - Grand Cayman and Jamaica). We leave from Miami.

Anyway, as a total cruising noob, I have questions that I haven't found the answers to yet here:

-- I'm starting to get nervous about the amount of chaos, especially on Carnival (so it seems). Is there anywhere you can go for some peace and quiet? I won't have a balcony room, just the ocean view Am I going to be forced to go to the topless deck just to get away from the crowds?

-- How much are drinks? I'm not planning to getting loaded or anything, but I don't want sticker shock either at the end of the cruise.

-- I'm going with a pre-registered group. We will be attending a couple of seminars by the guest speaker and having a private cocktail party. Will the cruise line seat us together in the dining room, or is that random arrangement?

-- I really can't afford to fly in to Miami a day early and stay at a motel. Is flying in the day of embarkation just a stupid idea and should I just suck it up and fly in early? I really, really don't want to...

-- And finally (for now), a general cruising question: are there smaller cruise lines than Carnival, where you're not on a ship with 3,000 people? I need my downtime, and I'm afraid I'm going to freak out a bit if I have to associate with people 24/7.

I'm sure I'll have more questions later!
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Old June 23rd, 2008, 08:28 AM
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Have no fear,,,you're going to have a GREAT time aboard Destiny.
#1 You'll find lots and lots of quiet spots aboard Destiny, where you can just unwind. The only place where you'll find constant chaos is around the main pool area. If you climb just one deck up from that area, it's very nice, or one of my favorites is the area on Lobby deck, outside, or better yet, the aft pool area. (Also, there is a free ice cream/yogurt machine in the aft pool area as well.....)

#2 I don't drink much aboard either, so I'm certainly not up on prices, but I'd guess a beer to be about $3 or $4, and a normal mixed drink $5 or $6. Of course, they have their specials, and also the fancy drinks that will go up, or perhaps down from there.

#3 Your travel agent should have "linked" all your reservations together, so that you'll be seated in the same area of the dining room.

#4 To avoid STRESS, and perhaps worse,,,,I'd suck it up and fly into Miami a day early if at all possible. With the airlines running so late on a majority of flights, I think you'll be much happier to spend a bit more money, and have your stress level drop. Get up on embarkation day, have a nice breakfast, and head for the port,,,relaxed.

#5 The ship, "Destiny" that you're sailing isn't, by any means, the largest sailing, or even the largest in the Carnival fleet. Actually, it's a really nice size, and I think you'll enjoy it a lot. There are smaller ships in the Carnival fleet, and some of them are really, really nice, as they've just been refitted. I LOVE the "Inspiration" out of Tampa. It's smaller, more intimate, and just like new. I'd highly recommend it, but once again, I have no doubt that you'll love "Destiny".

Have a GREAT cruise.

Ken
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Old June 23rd, 2008, 08:48 AM
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Thank you so much for your answers! That's good to know that there are quiet spots to escape to if needed. I love the people I'm going with and all, but sometimes you just need to decompress, ya know?

The drink prices are about what I was expecting, so that's good.

That makes sense about the travel agent linking us together. That makes me feel better knowing I'll probably have my friends close by during meals. And if not, well, I guess I'll just make new friends!

Dang, I thought you might say that about flying in early. Guess I will have to look into finding a Motel 6 or something...

I am very excited about this trip!!
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Old June 23rd, 2008, 09:34 AM
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Glad to help Noob. Where are you flying in from, and what are the current plans, as far as arrival time in Miami? I would guess that the ship sails at around 4 P.M., but you need to be at the port for embarkation at LEAST by 3, and better yet, by 2. I live in Florida, and we generally arrive at the port at 11:30 or a little after. I'd just hate for your first glimpse of the "Destiny" to be as it slips away from the pier, and you're in a taxi driving up to the port? I'm not from the Miami area, so don't know of any hotel/motels to recommend, but if you will post that question, I'm sure you'll get good advise. Have a GREAT cruise, and perhaps we'll see you aboard one of these days.

Ken
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Old June 23rd, 2008, 04:09 PM
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I know you will enjoy cruising and as for a motel you might want to try Hotwire or Priceline i have used both, and have been very happy. I would never fly in the the day of the cruise to many stories that do not have happy endings.

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Old June 23rd, 2008, 11:14 PM
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Yeah, I've decided I'm going to have to fly in the day before. The brochure given to the group I'm going with says that embarkation is between noon and 2:00, so I don't feel comfortable flying in the same day.

I'll be coming from Dallas, and in Jan. that could mean anything from a snowstorm to 75 degrees! Better not risk it...

Is it January yet???
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Old June 24th, 2008, 08:06 AM
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Noob, that's an excellent decision, and I'm sure that on embarkation day, you'll be very, very happy that you are already in Miami, and ready to rock-n-roll. Once again, you might want to post the question about where to stay in Miami for a night, or perhaps some of the others in your group have already figured out a place, and it might be fun to stay at the same hotel.
Have a wonderful cruise....I have no doubt you will.

Ken
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Old June 24th, 2008, 01:15 PM
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We like to stay at the Miami airport Comfort Inn. We started off at a Day's Inn (rated 3 * on-line) and it was awful....door didn't lock, safe was unuseable, lobby smelled moldy. We moved a couple blocks to the Comfort Inn the following day. It was rated 2* on-line but was immensely nicer, cleaner, they spoke English!, in-room iron and ironning board, complimentary safe, and included a very nice breakfast, shuttle to pier. So you can't trust the * system on some of the travel websites, unfortunately. I think they were counting the very moldy smelling 'under repair' (closed) restaurant at the Days Inn as on-site restaurant, which Comfort Inn did not have.
Have a great cruise.
As far as arriving a day early, it is imperative for us as snow and ice delays are to be expected in January. I'm not so sure that I wouldn't fly the same day from your location if you can get an early flight. By the time you pay for a decent motel room, a meal or two, taxis etc. you have paid for half a cruise!
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Old June 24th, 2008, 01:36 PM
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kd,
If a motel room and a couple of meals equals half a cruise, I so want to know who your travel agent is!
In any case, still better than risking missing the boat..um, ship, I mean.
Marty
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Old June 24th, 2008, 06:23 PM
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One thing you might want to think about (since budgeting is a concern) is how much it will cost you to get to your hotel and then to the ship.

There is a hotel right in the Miami airport, Miami International Airport Hotel, and you can get a transfer to the ship from the airport as well for a fee from Carnival. Right now the hotel is $186.

There are cheaper hotels, but you have to figure in taxi fares.

A taxi to the pier from the airport is about $30 with tip (someone probably has an exact price, I am getting too senile to remember details like that).

Many of the airport hotels have free shuttles from the airport, and some do not, so you need to add transfer costs to your budget. It is even possible to take the airport shuttle to your hotel & back to the airport the next morning if the cruise line ship transfer is cheap enough it is worth it.

If you pick a hotel with no shuttle figure $20+ to get to it, and then $30 to get to the port, plus that return trip taxi costs. Might be a good idea to coordinate with people in your group to share costs of taxis.

Just suggestions - trying to help you plan... you will have a great cruise.
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Old June 24th, 2008, 08:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colorcrazie
kd,
If a motel room and a couple of meals equals half a cruise, I so want to know who your travel agent is!
In any case, still better than risking missing the boat..um, ship, I mean.
Marty
I am my own travel agent! However, I book through ie Vacations to Go or whoever will give me the best deal. One year we did back to back on two separate lines, and our two days in Miami definitely cost us as much as half a cruise (cheapest stateroom). Taxis, meals out etc. eat the cash away very quickly.
As far as missing the ship. We flew same day only once before, Calgary to Houston direct in January...a bit of a risk. This is our first summer cruise and we will fly direct flight to Vancouver and head straight to the ship and return likewise on disembrkation. Pretty sure we are safe from snowstorms in July so it should be fine.
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Old June 25th, 2008, 09:19 AM
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Wow, thanks for all the great advice!! You guys are so friendly; I'm glad I registered and posted my question.

Right now I'm looking at a Best Western that is supposedly near the pier, but I haven't checked into it all the way. The girl I'm rooming with on the ship said she will come in a day early too and room with me in the motel, so that will cut the cost quite a bit.

So many nickel-and-dimey things to worry about! Maybe I should get a 2nd job for a few months to pay the extra costs!
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Old June 25th, 2008, 03:06 PM
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Noob, I think Paul's suggestion re the hotel makes a lot of sense. It really gives you an added bit of peace of mind and a layer of safety to get there the night before you sail.

As for the crowding, You can almost always find a quiet nook, just look around a bit. I doubt if it will be as bad as you imagine anyway.

And yes of course there are smaller ships that are less crowded. And large ones that really don't seem all that crowded. For example we just cruised on the Crown princess which is a huge ship but it is designed so that we never really felt crowded. In truth, some older smaller ships feel more crowded.

The price of drinks? generally 3 to 6 bucks depending on what you drink.

I'm sure you are going to have a wonderful time
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