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Old April 27th, 2009, 10:39 AM
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Default Second time cruiser looking for booking advice

I am planning on booking a cruise to give to my family as a Christmas gift this year(2009). I did the same thing several years ago and it was a huge hit. I have several questions, I know the answers will depend on what I'm looking for so I'll tell you exactly what it is I want. I am looking for a 7-9 day cruise in the Caribbean anywhere other than Ocho Rios and Key West, which was our last cruise. I want a balcony since we did not have one last time. We are a family of my wife and myself, two kids 8 and 17. So a cruise line with organized activities for the kids, especially the 8 year old, would be great. I would like to leave out of Florida since our in-laws live in Tampa. I will be making my own travel arrangements,airlines. We last cruised on Carnival and found the ship, service and food to be great. Like everyone else the tough economic times mean I have taken a cut in hours and am looking to get as much of a cruise as I can for my money.
I have several questions.
1. Is it worth while doing a last minute deal?
2. Are staterooms with balconies usually available when booking last minute?
3. Do all cruise lines offer discounts for 3rd or 4th persons in the cabin? Carnival did on my last cruise.
4. Are there any dates or times that are significantly cheaper than others?
5. Would I be better off booking with a travel agent or doing it myself via the web.
Those are my questions but I would be extremely grateful for advice on any part of the booking process I haven't asked about as well. Thanks in advance.

I just want to clear one thing up. I am looking to give this cruise as a gift at Christmas, but am not looking to go until Feb, March or April of 2010.
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Old April 27th, 2009, 11:25 AM
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I think the newer,larger RCI ships would fit the bill for your family....ice skating rock climbing..flow rider,parades in the Promenade, great kids pool and activities, is right up your alley....


1. Is it worth while doing a last minute deal?
Not for the Holiday season....

2. Are staterooms with balconies usually available when booking last minute? Again, for the holiday sailings, I think the cream of the crop is gone...

3. Do all cruise lines offer discounts for 3rd or 4th persons in the cabin? Carnival did on my last cruise. Yes you will get a lower rate for 3/4th

4. Are there any dates or times that are significantly cheaper than others? After Thanksgiving till mid Dec, and after NY Eve till mid Jan the rates are usually fabulous.

5. Would I be better off booking with a travel agent or doing it myself via the web. Book with Ta..and have an advocate in your corner..ask for perks and onboard credits...
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Old April 27th, 2009, 02:34 PM
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Sailing out of Tampa, the Carnival Legend is a great ship. I don't think that RCL has any out of Tampa. Definitely not any of their newer mega ships. The Sunshine Bridge does not have enough clearance for the mega ships. Which is okay by me!
The Legend goes to Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Belize and Roatan (Honduras). It is a fun itinerary.
I would do some preliminary pricing directly on Carnival's website, then call a TA. I've gotten some much better deals that way, since I know what the price should be. Just my 2 cents.
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Old April 27th, 2009, 02:54 PM
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Carnival Legend out of Tampa would be a great choice. Check out the Early Saver fares. You will be price protected if the cost goes down. Deposit is non refundable but changes are allowed at a cost. Do your homework on the rules and see if this fare is for you.
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Old April 27th, 2009, 03:09 PM
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1. Is it worth while doing a last minute deal?

As stated definately not for the holidays and not if you do not want your family to be disapointed.

2. Are staterooms with balconies usually available when booking last minute? I doubt it but thats just my feelings.

3. Do all cruise lines offer discounts for 3rd or 4th persons in the cabin? Carnival did on my last cruise. Carnival Does not sure about others
4. Are there any dates or times that are significantly cheaper than others?
If you can go in November (avoiding thanksgiving weekend) or december before the holidays you should be able to get a decent deal while avoiding hurricane season.

5. Would I be better off booking with a travel agent or doing it myself via the web. Use a travel agent.

Those are my questions but I would be extremely grateful for advice on any part of the booking process I haven't asked about as well. Thanks in advance.

I just want to clear one thing up. I am looking to give this cruise as a gift at Christmas, but am not looking to go until Feb, March or April of 2010.

Be careful you it doesn't sound like you want to run into the spring break crowd especially with an 8 year old. Plus if school is out there could be like a zillion kids on the cruise. Its your choice lots of Kids and therefore less indivdual attention by the Camp Carnival counselors or the reverse.
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Old April 27th, 2009, 03:32 PM
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Chris, thanks for your email....my confusion, not yours...Springbreak and in the summer months the rates will be higher.....Do your due dililigance and I know you will find the right ship at the right price...enjoy the search, it's half the fun!
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