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  #1 (permalink)  
Old March 9th, 2009, 08:19 PM
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Default Never been on a cruise =(. Need general advice and help!

Hello!

My Girlfriend (24 yrs old) and I (25) have always wanted to cruise, but have never had the chance until now. Finally we decided to break out the wallet and plan a bahamas or carribean cruise. I am absolutely terrible at planning trips and I promised her I would give her some help. I've been reading stuff online and even went to a bookstore and cracked open the Fodor's cruise book and tried to absorb as much information as possible.

Price is always a huge consideration, but from what I have come up with Carnival and Royal Carribean are the 2 most suitable cruise lines for us. I contacted a family travel agent and they gave us option to go on Royal Carribean. I don't know if I should even get in the detail of pricing, but my general question to you all is for a first time cruiser what do you recommend Royal carribean or carnival?

I'm from cali and my agent said for 976 pp (air ticket, cruise + tax) I could get Royal carribean 7 day (enchantment of the seas). Itinerary: labadee, ocho rios, grand cayman, cozumel. Is that even a good deal? Or is carnival the way to go?

I've tried to do some research and its always pretty mixed. I'm terribly confused. Thanks to anybody who is willing to take the time to read this and help.
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Old March 9th, 2009, 09:20 PM
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i think that is a pretty good deal, however, im going on my second cruise in 56 days, im not sure im ready to do a week long cruise. i think it would be fun, but i think it would be intimidating! i personally would try a shorter cruise first, to make sure you like it. maybe a 4 or 5 day cruise to start. i find that carnival is a bit cheaper than royal caribbean, but it depends on what you like to do. i have been on carnival once in the past, loved it and cruising with them again.......i dont know but once you cruise you will be addicted! its by far the best way to vacation.
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Old March 9th, 2009, 10:22 PM
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Either cruiseline is going to give you a good cruise. I've been on both, and while there are some suttle differences, overall, both cruiselines provide a fantastic cruise experience.

When looking for the cruise you are going to take, you're looking for the best value, which is not necessarily the cheapest. An inside cabin on a 3-night cruise on an older ship may be the cheapest, but you don't get much out of a cruise like that. Look at things like the length of the cruise, the kind of ship (including it's age, when it was refurbished, and what kind of activities and amenities are onboard), and the level of cabin and try to get the best combination of all to get the best value in your cruise. I can tell you from experience, I like to come home from a cruise and say "I had a great cruise for what I spent, and the value was worth what I spent", not "I got the cheapest cruise I could".
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Old March 10th, 2009, 08:19 AM
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C95 - you don't say where in Cali you live (I assume you mean California not Columbia). If so why not a Mexican Riviera cruise out of LA or San Diego? If you do mean Columbia - you might check for South American cruises.
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Old March 10th, 2009, 08:45 AM
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I think you'd love that cruise on Royal Caribbean, great itinary and you'll have a great time at Labadee, a private beach day they you don't get on Carnival. Makes the trip, IMHO. Great first cruise!
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Old March 10th, 2009, 09:54 AM
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Well, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Cruise Lines would be the three main options for a first timer. For my first cruise, I am booked on Carnival. Norwegian has the dining room only free for meals, but also does not have any formal nights. Royal Caribbean is pretty much the king of activities, especially in their Voyager Class and Freedom Class ships(I recommend the Freedom Class over the Voyager if you can afford it). Carnival is pretty much a laid back fun atmosphere as far as I am aware. Also remember that since you are in Los Angeles, you have the advantage of being near the port of departure for the Mexican Riviera itineraries so you may want to consider those. I would not consider a Bahamas cruise when you can get a Caribbean cruise for around the same price. For Caribbean cruises you have 3 choices. Eastern Caribbean can include Bahamas, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, and Sint Martin in some combination. Southern Caribbean includes the Eastern Caribbean islands and points further south, which is probably the most varied and best value in Caribbean itineraries. Your third option is the Western Caribbean, which usually includes Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and points in Mexico. The Western Caribbean itineraries sometimes include Belize, Honduras, or a private island visit as well. The main way to plan which itinerary to take is to choose by the things you and your gf enjoy doing. An explanation of the different Caribbean itineraries can be found on several travel websites like fodors.com, frommers.com, and timeout.com, amongst others. Just do a bit of research and ask your travel agent for more details. It helps if your travel agent is CLIA certified at the ACC level or above since they are required to have cruise experience in order to have that certification. The planning isn't really that difficult once you do a little research, but do keep the Mexican Riviera itineraries in mind as well. Also, expect roughly $1000-$1500 per person(including cruise, airfare, and other costs), but remember you usually only have to pay about $250 per person right away unless you are after the final payment deadline. First step, though, is to find the right itinerary for what you want to do on your vacation.
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Old March 10th, 2009, 10:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by c95cruizing
my general question to you all is for a first time cruiser what do you recommend Royal carribean or carnival?
These two cruise lines are more similar to each other than not. The differences between them are subtle and probably unimportant when it comes to your situation. If you're truly concerned about them, you could try asking for more details. Or, perhaps someone will volunteer them. I suggest that instead of focusing on the cruise line, you might instead want to decide based on itinerary, schedule, and cost. But, again, if you have specific things that you are concerned about when it comes to cruise lines, please feel free to post and ask about them.
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Old March 10th, 2009, 10:38 AM
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Cruising out of Flordia from California that is a good price. However, is it during hurricane season? It's my understanding September is the worst month for hurricanes. If so be prepared you could miss some of those ports. Grand Cayman is a tender port and they can't tender in rough seas.

Your cruise has a lot of ports so I don't think you will feel struck on the cruise ship. This is a good thing for a first timer. I don't feel a shorter cruise is worth it from California. You would fly over to Florida 5 hours for a 4 day won't be long enough and most of the 4 days out of the west coast leave much to be desired.

If you decide to cruise out of the West Coast to Mexican Rivieria. I would recommend Carnival they have better choices out of the West Coast. Plus the Carnival Sensation is a brand new ship crusing the Mexican Rivieria this year. Also a big consideration is what you like to do for fun. Are you a sporty outdoor type or do you like to relax with a good book? Do you like movie and TV trivia or do you find it boring?
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Old March 10th, 2009, 10:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brad813
Also remember that since you are in Los Angeles, you have the advantage of being near the port of departure for the Mexican Riviera itineraries so you may want to consider those.
Why do you think the OP is in LA? He only said Cali, this means he could be from the Bay Area or the Sacramento or someplace in between. I live in California all my life, but I have never lived in LA.
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Old March 10th, 2009, 11:30 AM
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Just misread it. In either case, the same applies that it is still close enough to consider the Mexican Riviera cruises as well. I have also noticed you pay the same amount for a Caribbean cruise as you do a Bahamas cruise.
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Old March 10th, 2009, 08:27 PM
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The price is dependent on a number of factors that you don't give us. Where you are located, when you are cruising, (Summer cruises are WAY more expensive than Spring, or Fall) what kind of cabin you're getting, etc. etc. etc. Carnival is generally considerably less expensive than Royal Caribbean, and offers more "bang for the buck" IMO. Give us more details and we can come up with a good answer for you.

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Old March 11th, 2009, 02:29 PM
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I would suggest looking at what airfare would cost you if you booked it separately, without the travel agent. That can (not always) be cheaper. Then, go to online websites, including the cruise lines' sites and price cruises that way. Make sure that the price you get includes all the same stuff...i.e. taxes and fees, then compare to what your agent said. Usually Carnival is cheaper, but RCCL is a competitor, so this may be your best deal already. EVen if you book cruise directly online, you can always transfer the booking back to your agent. I depend on a good travel agent more for unforeseen problems than for pricing.
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Old March 12th, 2009, 10:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by katlady
Quote:
Originally Posted by brad813
Why do you think the OP is in LA? He only said Cali, this means he could be from the Bay Area or the Sacramento or someplace in between. I live in California all my life, but I have never lived in LA.
Yeah, but even from those areas, it might be possible to take a bus to the port, or drive ... thus saving airfare (which can be pretty expensive these days).
I too would advise the OP to look into cruises departing from the west coast. If it is possible to save on the airfare that would have to be spent taking a Caribbean cruise out of an East Coast port, he could probably do a longer cruise in a better cabin category with the savings.

It would be a shame to have a crappy cruise when it was the first one. That could turn someone off to cruising for life. I'd rather that first time cruise be one of the better ones, so that I could make a more educated determination as to whether cruising was for me or not. I would want to be on a reasonably new ship, and sailing an itinerary that offered some variety. I would also not want my first cruise to be in an area affected by hurricanes during the height of hurricane season. That could result in my cruise experience being dimished because the ship couldn't get into some of the places that I had really had my heart set on seeing. Also, if you are the type of person who loves port time, yet another day spent at sea is not going to cut it.

So, I would check on Mexico/Mexican Rivera cruises leaving out of the west coast first. Once you know which cruise lines/ships are doing those itineraries, pick the one with the ship that seems to offer the most things you like. Simple internet research will readily provide the information on individual ships. Then I wouldn't do anything short of a seven-day cruise so that I could really get a feel for the whole cruising experience. That will let me determine whether a cruise is something I want to do again in the future, or whether I would be better off focusing my time and money on land vacations.

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Old May 10th, 2009, 10:47 PM
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Our first cruise was the same one! And we loved it! We had late seating for dinner and asked for a table with two other couples. We had time to talk after dinner every night and became good friends.
We did most of our shore excursion with independent companies that we researched online and through cruise reviews.
We booked an inside cabin; it was cheapest and really DARK! We went to bed around 2 AM and got up around 6 or 7 AM to explore.
WORD OF WARNING! You will become addicted to cruising!

I wrote a couple of articles on our experiences if you want to read them:
(I can't figure out how to link so you will have to copy and paste)

Your First Cruise
http://www.trifter.com/Practical-Tra...-Cruise.469127

Ocho Rios
http://www.trifter.com/Caribbean-&-L...Jamiaca.499185

Tulum, Mexico

http://www.trifter.com/Caribbean-&-L...-Mexico.612493[/code]
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Old May 11th, 2009, 08:52 PM
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Yehaw, good for you. You will love crusing. This is my advice

Do your homework on the ports and ship--know the ships layout beforehand to prevent a sense of being lost or confused. Ports--check out what there is to do and see so you can decide for sure what you want to do...PS, I highly recommend Jamaica Bobsled at Mystic Mountain, it is thrilling...goto you tube and type in jamaica bobsled and watch a few of the clips and you'll know if you wanna try it! You might find a tour taht combines Dunn's River and Jamaica bobsled so you can do two at the same time.

DO not have any preconceived notions of what cruisng is or willbe like--discover it for yourself and see if you are a cruiser or not

Do not listen to all the bad posts and think you'll have a bad time--take them with a grain of salt and wait to see what it is like for yourself

Explore the ship when you get to port, and do get to port early enough to take everything in on embarkation--food, booze, and the exploring where everything is located.

Digital camera/video camera--always have extras of batteries and memory cards. I travel with three video camera batteries, EIGHT AA batteries and two rechargable AA batteries for my camera, and FOUR 4GB SD cards in case one fails......Always bring more just in case cuz you never know when you'll want to snap more. Also, set the pixel size to max to take the best, most clear shots possible. They will take more memory, but when printed they will be amazing!

Go, have fun and enjoy!!!!!
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Old May 11th, 2009, 11:23 PM
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That reminds me, I need to pick up an extra battery for my video camera.
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