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.