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  #1 (permalink)  
Old October 15th, 2008, 01:20 PM
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Default First Timer - Nervous, help please

Hello Everybody. I know this question has been asked a million times and searching the threads did answer some of my questions but i'd like to ask for my personal situation.

I am a (potential) first time cruiser. I'm not even sure where to begin to start the process. But, I am looking for an affordable approx. 7 day to the Caribbean. I live in Central Florida so that is one plus of traveling to the port and saving money on that to hopefully extend to 7 days. I have 7 days vacation and any less would sort of seem like we wouldnt be able to get settled in and experience a good amount of the ship and things to do.

So, I have questions. And if as many as possible could be answered i'd be so thankful.

Anyway, I have found 7 day cruises for about $1,200 on the Carnival and Norwegian, including taxes. Is this the FINAL cost? Is this realistic??? ..or are there better deals even??

$1200 is a little steep for a vacation for a person such as me. But I havent had a vacation in years. I mean if compared to $800 or $900, to manage the extra 300-400 extra, these kind of things don't happen all the time and it might prove to be worth it. I mean, we're there on the boat anyway right? So might as well try and get the most of it.

Is there a "best site" or a couple that offer and have the best deals. Some of them claim as much as 80% off regular price! Is this true?? Are there websites you guys go to most frequently with the best last minute and special offers??
I tried to look at the skyaution site too. But it looks a little sketchy and after the fees and stuff it doesn't seem to be that much less.

Would I be better to use a travel agent or would I find my best price online?

How much money do you spend on average on the ship. I drink a fair amount and probably will want to enjoy my share and she probably would too, but probably not as much as me

What do the drinks average on price on these ships? Such as Vodka mix drinks and such?

What other expenses are very common and how much total should we expect to pay on the ship?

I'm kinda lost about the cabin selections and the categories. From what I get the categories have a letter and number. And the number means what type room (1-bunk, 4 inside, 6 oceanview, 8 balcony). And the letter mean the level (A-lowest and upwards).

Is this right?

7b But what does OV mean?

I guess the inside staterooms and outside (oceanview) are the same but if its not much more I think Ill go for outside I guess..

And if I get a Guarantee room will I regret it? And are the lower level rooms much worse for the view?

I might get a little motion sick, so I think I've learned that the middle is less pitch and the lower is less rocking.

Wow, this turned out to be a long thread but i just feel like I need human answers and guidance from experienced cruisers like yourselves. I'm scared of reading something online and misunderstanding or being mislead and regretting it. Like I said, I can hardly afford this in the first place so i'd like to do all I can to reduce unpleasant surprises.

Thank You So Much!! And please help a poor, working guy find the best deal to make a dream come true on a much deserved vacation.
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old October 15th, 2008, 02:22 PM
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Hi there, working guy!
First...take a deep breath. This is not as scary as you might think.
When shopping for cruises, never take the price you see as the final bottom line. EVen if I find a great deal, I call and make sure that there are no extra add-ons. You need to shop around like you would for a car or anything else that is outside your normal spending. And, it can get wierd. I've seen unbelievable sounding deals then found out that the extras had to be added on. These can be: port charges (they are supposed to be included, but some agents have found a way to move them), government taxes and fees, fuel surcharges, and even sometimes processing fees from the travel agent. ALWAYS ask if everything is included. Some will also automatically add in travel insurance. And their prices are a lot higher than what you can find on your own. So, ask them to remove that from the final price for you. You can get that on your own.

Second, cabin selection may or may not be terribly important. It depends on your priorities. Inside cabins mean no porthole/window. But, the cabin size is pretty much the same. Since we both get seasick, we book the cheapest, which is the inside cabins on the bottom decks, in the middle of the ship. Other people "have to have" a balcony or a suite, or whatever. We just "have" to be on the ship. Only you can decide that. And there can be a huge difference in prices between inside, outside, balcony, etc. OV means Ocean View, aka outside cabin.

$1200 is not a bad price if it includes everything as mentioned above. I've occasionally stumbled on even better deals, but that is not something we count on. You need to also budget for tips, around $10 per person per day. Not bad when you consider how much you would spend on tips eating out 3 times a day on another kind of vacation. I actually think of it as helping to cost justify part of the cruise. I can't help with drink prices, as the occasional free ones are more than enough for me!

I totally agree with going for a 7 day cruise. Shorter ones just aren't as much fun, especially for a big vacation. Living in central Fl, you can probably easily drive to Canaveral or Tampa. You also need to as add in the cost of parking at the pier, $12-15 a day.

If you go on NCL, many of their restaraunts charge extra, but you don't have to do this. The food is fine in the free main dining rooms. You also don't "need" to spend money in the gift shops, or the spa, or make donations to the casino. You might want to allow some for excursions in ports. Depending on where the ship goes, some islands are planty safe enough to just walk around, others are 3rd world countries, so require a bit more caution. Just so you don't stress more...follow some basic safety rules and you'll be fine. I prefer the 3rd world islands. Travel should be fun, but learning about other cultures is good, too.

Okay, my fingers hurt....but keep asking questions and we will keep answering them. AGAIN...take a few deep breaths. You're about to discover a wonderful way to really relax!
Welcome to our group!
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  #3 (permalink)  
Old October 15th, 2008, 03:03 PM
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You will be charged for automatic tips for the people who service your cabin. Standard is $10 per day per person. You can adjust this but thats usually what everyone goes with.

Drinks are pretty much cost the same as if you go to a nice bar (TGI Fridays) Expect to pay between 5.50 and $7 per drink and 15% tip on each. Depending on how much you drink in a day, this could run up quite a tab. There are specials but don't be surprised. A great night at a nice bar would cost you the same per day.

Go with a Travel Agent. I think you will get more personal service and they will be able to help you with any questions.

Life is too short to let the ship of your dreams sail without you.

Carnival Destiny Feb. 2006
Carnival Fascination Feb. 2007
Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas Feb. 2008 The DTW & MsBJ tour
Carnival Valor MsBJ and Dina Feb. 2009
Carnival Glory MsBJ and Dina Feb. 2010
Carnival Dream MsBJ and Dina Feb. 2011
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  #4 (permalink)  
Old October 15th, 2008, 05:04 PM
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Location: Houston aka Space City, Texas, USA
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A good t/a will help immensely.

Good people sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.

Courage and perserverance have a magical talisman; before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into the air.

Pick your company wisely! Hang around people who are going to help you become all God created you to be.
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Old October 15th, 2008, 05:24 PM
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While I think it's very positive for a prospective first time cruiser to research on the net, as you are doing here in CruiseMates, I think it's IMPERATIVE that you start off with a well trained Cruise Travel Agent.
Try to find one with a MCC (Master Cruise Consultant) designation, and start asking questions. Once a TA helps you narrow down your choices, then come back here for help with more questions specific to the ships and cruises you're considering.

You mention a $1200 fare you found, but you don't specify if that is for solo travel, or two people; of if in fact you are traveling on your own, or with someone, and that fare is $1200 per person, with 2 traveling. Those things make a big difference.

There's no agent or "site" that is always going to have the best price. It does take some work to shop to find the best deal. At the same time the best price isn't always the best deal. As a first time cruiser finding an agent who will give you service and help answer your questions is very important.

The cabin category thing can be very confusing, and the various cruise lines all use different systems. The very basics are....
inside cabin - OV -ocean view cabins (means they have a window) - cabins with private balconies ( going up from there to mini-suites), and then suites.
As you move up that scale from Inside cabin to Suite, the prices rises as well.

How much to spend on the ship is entirely up to you. You CAN get away with spending very little if you choose to. But if you drink, shop, gamble, etc. the extra costs DO add up.

Hope this helps a bit.
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  #6 (permalink)  
Old October 15th, 2008, 06:18 PM
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One more thing.. The excursions are not free. You can do many free things on your cruise in port and they can be just as enjoyable. It just depends on your budget.

Life is too short to let the ship of your dreams sail without you.

Carnival Destiny Feb. 2006
Carnival Fascination Feb. 2007
Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas Feb. 2008 The DTW & MsBJ tour
Carnival Valor MsBJ and Dina Feb. 2009
Carnival Glory MsBJ and Dina Feb. 2010
Carnival Dream MsBJ and Dina Feb. 2011
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  #7 (permalink)  
Old October 15th, 2008, 08:35 PM
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It all depends on what you want. TA, online, or PVP--whatever makes you feel the most comfortable.

Price, sorry, $1200 to me is a bargain!!! I typically pay closer to $3000 USD because I have to fly from Canada.

Drink costs-$7 for the DOD drink/cup, refulls are $6 I believe.....Get one or two glasses and just get refills instead.....

Shopping onboard--I tend to spend lots.....

Cabn choice--B A L C O N Y ! ! ! ! ! ! Do not believe what others say that you don't spend lots of time in the cabin....you spend more than you think and it is a nice place to escape and be quiet......mornings and prebed are ideal times to spend on the balcony...same with sailaways...balcony!!!!!! Watch out for location--Deck 6 cabins especially!!!!!!

\Seasick--a cabin midship near central atrium is good (and 10 elevators at your beck and call...)

Money--I budget $1000 cash and usually have none left when the cruise is over...S&S is usually $1200+...I like the spa and shopping.....

1991 Holiday
2007 Victory & Triumph
2008 Conquest & Liberty
2009 Valor, Freedom, and Splendor
2010 Glory and Liberty
2011 Glory

I gotta go where it's warm.....

Over 40 victim of fate.....
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  #8 (permalink)  
Old October 16th, 2008, 02:19 PM
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First Mate
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 390

hi, strungout911. don't let your pre-cruise anxiety ruin the experience; in fact the months prior to a cruise can really enhance your time -- looking at guidebooks, shopping for clothes, sharing the time with friends. step back. take kuki's advice, and seek out at qualified travel agent. i've taken 29 cruises, and i would NEVER go without my travel agent being involved. if you have problems a good ta will help you, advise you, and be there for you if there are emergencies. you won't pay more, usually, and you can take the stress out of your experience. you will be just fine. and enjoy. cruising is the greatest of vacations. hombre
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