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Old June 3rd, 2009, 08:39 PM
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Default Where to start for a new cruiser?

I am looking to do a family cruise this winter. I have a 14yr old and a 9 yr old. I think we want a 5 day cruise and I am thinking Bahamas or somehwere warm. I am not even sure where to start?
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Old June 3rd, 2009, 09:11 PM
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Best place to start is by going to the cruiselines web-sites and looking at itinaries. You may want to consider a 7 day cruise, more to choose from and the price isn't that different. Once you can narrow ships down, contact a good cruise travel agent to help you do the rest.

You can always ask your questions here when you have some ideas of ships and itinaries. Consider looking at some of the Royal Caribbean's Voyager or Freedom class ships for cruising with kids, they will absolutely love it, parents too for that matter.
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Old June 3rd, 2009, 09:33 PM
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If one lives near an embarkation port, then a drive up cruise is a good first cruise. That way everyone gets an idea what it's all about.
Donna is correct....window shop online first, especially if one DOESN'T live near a port within driving distance.
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Old June 4th, 2009, 07:14 AM
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Another website tip - many lines will let you order or download brochures & DVDs. Also go to your library and look for books on cruising in the travel section. Finally, don't worry too much about making the "wrong" choice, I think you will enjoy pretty much any cruise 8)
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Old June 4th, 2009, 07:56 AM
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Hi April, I too would recommend a Caribbean cruise for your first one, (And lots of others as well. ) and the previous posters are right, do a little "shopping on line" to get an idea of what's offered. You won't go wrong with any major line, or ship, but I'd suggest at least a 5 day as well. As Donna suggested, Royal Caribbean has some spectacular ships, however their prices tend to be a bit higher than some of the others. (Yes, there are exceptions). Carnival or NCL are much better bargains, with Carnival being more suited for your younger cruisers. Therefore, depending on where you live I'd take a look at those sailings.
If you have more questions, please don't hesitate to ask. We love guiding new cruisers, and most of us have been cruising for a long, long time.

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Old June 4th, 2009, 08:09 AM
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All of your choices depend on how much you want to spend on your vacation. What's your budget? Do you need to by airfare? You already know you want to go some place warm. Check the prices to what your budget is and then you'll know what your options are. I know you'll love cruising.
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Old June 4th, 2009, 08:39 AM
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Hi, Post questions on cruisemates. They are the best source of great info I have found. We just booked my 8th cruise. i am always on here asking questions or jsut reading things I didnt really know about till i just read it. Cruising is lots of fun. You already fot some great ideas from the posts here. Good Luck and Happy cruising.
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Old June 4th, 2009, 10:45 AM
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Since you want to cruise in the winter, you will be outside of hurricane season so that should be relief right off the bat your first time out.

My first cruise was a 5 day on the Carnival Inspiration out of Tampa. I found Tampa wasn't too pricey to fly in to (Ft. Lauderdale is cheap too). The cruise went to the Grand Cayman (swam with the Sting rays) and Cozumel (went to a hoppin beach). It was a nice, first time cruise, not as big as the other ships, but it was an awesome time!

I don't know where you live, but i would agree, if you can drive to a port, that's a nice way to ease into things. If not, we can all offer suggestions if we know where you're flying from.

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Old June 4th, 2009, 07:59 PM
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Thanks for the responses. I think what you said is about right for what we want. We live in Michigan and we would have to fly somewhere. The beaches is right up my alley! I think the kids would love to swim with the sting rays and or snorkel. Heck they would love to swim in the pool on the boat! Thanks again.
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Old June 4th, 2009, 08:52 PM
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My advice would to: figure out what your favorite port would be, and then see what ships go there...Your kids would love Carnival and RCI's newer ships.....so much to do, they will always have a smile....

Use a Cruise Agency, rather than a regular agency, to get the most bang for your buck, and knowledgeable info.. if you can do a seven, go for it..those 2 extra days, make a difference, when you all realize, just how much fun you are having....

Come back to see us with any questions....look at our reviews of the ships you hone in on, and do your homework.....we will help at every turn, if you need us Enjoy the planning, it's half the fun!
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Old June 5th, 2009, 02:20 AM
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Here is my suggest find some cruises you like then go to youtube type in the name of the ship and look at the difference ships. I love doing that. RCCL has lots of things on there ships, Flowrider, Rock Climbing Wall, and Ice Skating Rink. Carnival Ships don't have all these things. However, they tend to be a little less experience and they have the large waterslide. My nephew loved that thing.
Here is the flowrider in action.
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Old June 5th, 2009, 10:47 AM
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You're pretty much in the same boat I am in the northeast...always gotta fly somewhere. I don't know how much traveling you do but keep in mind, most airlines are charging for bags now; each way. So I found most carriers had great prices, but then when I factored in what I would be paying for bags, it was too much. I know Southwest flies out of Detroit and they don't charge for bags, so maybe you'll get the cheap fares like we get out of Buffalo. Tampa, Orlando, and Ft. Lauderdale are all cheaper to fly in to. Miami is more pricey but it's close enough to Ft. Lauderdale, if you want to fly there and then take a taxi/shuttle to Port of Miami, I can give you some info on that. (I'm doing that myself and got a great deal). Flying to TX, LA, or CA always comes up way more than I want to spend right now. Maybe you'll have better luck!

I don't know about everyone else here, but I didn't know to care about where my ship was going on my first cruise. I didn't know any better. Most of the islands offer the same excursions and all have beaches So, really, for me it was just about price price price. After a couple cruises to different ports, you start to care a little more about where you want to go, what you liked and didn't like etc...at least that is how I felt.

I cannot offer anything about RCI cruises because i've only cruised Carnival. RCI was always a lot more pricey though I have seen on TV and heard their ships are fabulous.
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Old June 5th, 2009, 09:10 PM
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Thanks all for the advice. I do appreciate it. I think the thing that sucks is the air cost added into the other costs of the cruise. I mean I had no clue you had to pay other fees and really no clue about the tipping is like it is. I am starting to do some research and really seewhere we want to go. Like the last poster I really just want to be warm and on a beach when its freezing here in Michigan!!!!
april
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Old June 5th, 2009, 11:16 PM
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I thought the same thing the first time I booked a cruise. My mom wanted to do a mother daughter cruise with her friends. Every time I talked to her about it, I felt the price was going up and up with all these added fees.

HOWEVER, I have found that out the door, a cruise with airfare and booze and a few excursions is still cheaper than most land vacations. On the cruise, your cost includes a TON of built in entertainment and unlimited food, a comfy room and beautiful scenery. Your only expenses after you pay the cruise/airfare/transportation to the port from the airport is whatever drinks and excursions/shopping you wnat to do. Those costs are ones you can control and limit.

Anyway, keep pricing it out. It's nice to be able to pay for the cruise monthly and really, you could do nothing more than hang on the beach on port days and you would still have a blast adn not spend a lot more.

My recs:

1. Western cruises tend to be cheaper than Eastern; not always
2. Florida ports will probably be cheapest for you from Michigan (probably not Miami though)
3. Southwest won't charge you for bags (should be able to fly for $200 RT give or take a few)
4. Carnival tends to be cheapest
5. See if a Travel Agent can book you under an existing group (nice discounts and perks)

Happy Hunting!
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Old June 6th, 2009, 02:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by april_4_us
Thanks all for the advice. I do appreciate it. I think the thing that sucks is the air cost added into the other costs of the cruise. I mean I had no clue you had to pay other fees and really no clue about the tipping is like it is. I am starting to do some research and really seewhere we want to go. Like the last poster I really just want to be warm and on a beach when its freezing here in Michigan!!!!
april
Don't cruise out of California. If for some reason the ship can't go into Mexico there are no other beaches out here. You will end up in Vancouver, Seattle, and San Francisco with no beaches. Instead, go out of Florida, because you have the Caribbean and the Bahamas.
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Old June 6th, 2009, 06:00 AM
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Couple of Carnival suggestions for nice 5 day itineraries....

Somebody already mentioned the Inspiration out of Tampa.

We have that one booked for January, as we have been to Cozumel and Grand Cayman and LOVE both ports.

On that particular cruise, the time you get to spend in each port is pretty decent. (something you don't learn to look at until a few cruises in.)

Cozumel has great shopping and fantastic beaches.
There are beaches available for whatever you want. Plenty of water toys for kids, to a more couples, quiet experience.
Here are a few names that you can google and read about on this and other cruise message boards.
Paradise Beach, Chankanabb, Mr. Sanchos, San Fransisco, Nachi Cocum, Playa Uvas off the top of my head. All a 10-20 minute drive from the pier.

Grand Cayman has the gorgeous, 7 Mile beach, just north of where the ship anchor in the harbor. (it is a tender port, which sometimes, due to weather, you can't stop at. Only negative in Grand Cayman)

Sting Ray City is the main attraction, which is a 3 foot deep sandbar, in the center of the mouth of the bay to the north.
The Sting rays have been fed since the fisherman fed them 70+ years ago, so they are completely used to people and very friendly.
The experience of literally 10-20 constantly swimming around you while there is amazing. (I was 42 my first time and it is by far my favorite excursion I have ever been on in the 15 countries I have traveled to so far)
There is also a Turtle Farm on the island which is popular with kids.


Another great 5 day itinerary which we are trying in September, is the Fascination out of Jacksonville.
It runs 3 or 4 different itineraries.
The best one is the one to Nassau, Bahamas and then the private HAL island, Half Moon Cay.
We haven't been to Half Moon Cay yet, but it is the island that I have read the most reviews of "being a slice of heaven".
It is mostly a beach day, but there are lots of water toys for kids, and a water park there for them.
The water is crystal clear (people's pictures online, you can see the fish swimming from above the ater, clear as day) and the sand is supposed to be extremely fine white powder with no shells.

Personally, I don't think you could go wrong with the Western cruise from Tampa for a 1st. (it will actually be hard to top, probably)

The eastern itineraries are always easier to book, with Jacksonville, Port Canaveral (Orlando), Fort Lauderdale and Miami, all running cruises east.


Basically just decide which itinerary looks best for you.

Check which of the Florida ports has the best rates for you to fly into.

Then compare similar cruises between the lines for price. (which for us has always left Carnival being by far, cheaper than RCCL and it has only gotten better in the past year.)

Best of luck to you.
No matter which you choose, the first cruise is pretty overwhwemling, just learning the ship and everything to do on board.
So where you go the first time, isn't always, THAT important.

Have a great cruise.

Bill
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Old June 6th, 2009, 08:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by april_4_us
Thanks all for the advice. I do appreciate it. I think the thing that sucks is the air cost added into the other costs of the cruise. I mean I had no clue you had to pay other fees and really no clue about the tipping is like it is. I am starting to do some research and really seewhere we want to go. Like the last poster I really just want to be warm and on a beach when its freezing here in Michigan!!!!
april
I feel your pain. I'm a Michigander as well. Thats why I take a cruise every February to break up the winter.
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Carnival Fascination Feb. 2007
Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas Feb. 2008 The DTW & MsBJ tour
Carnival Valor MsBJ and Dina Feb. 2009
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Old June 7th, 2009, 04:14 PM
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I found one I am interested in what do you all think? It's a Carnival cruise on Conquest. Its a 7 day Western Caribbean Galveston Tx, Montego Bay, Jamica, Grand Cayman, Cayman Island and Cozumel. For all of us not inculding air for early booking is $1599.76. Does that sound average? Or High? That was 499 for each adult and 209 for each child with taxes and port charges. Please let me know what you think???
april
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Old June 7th, 2009, 05:12 PM
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you might want to see if the parents of friends of your children might want to go along, which means you can split some of your expenses and your kids will have someone to hang out with it..after their first cruise you won't have to worry about them being bored..matter of fact, you will never see them
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Old June 7th, 2009, 06:59 PM
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Hi April,

I had my eye on that same cruise for my trip this Aug because it was quite inexpesive compared to others. However, when I factored airfare and transport to the ship, the trip price quickly escalated. Galveston doesn't have an airport. Houston is the closest airport. I think of Houston's airports, the closest is about 30 miles. Anyway, it just wasn't cheap to fly there so do check that out before you commit. Maybe from Michigan, you'll have better luck!
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Old June 7th, 2009, 10:00 PM
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Hi April,
The only issue with cruising from Galveston is the commute from the airport. You would have to fly into Houston, there are 2 main airports. Which one your flight went to would determine how long the commute to Galveston would be. Plan on no less then an hour & half. (maybe longer) you would have to be very careful to watch arrival times of the plane, commute time to Galveston, and departure time of the ship. ~ OR ~ you could fly in a day early and enjoy an over-nighter in Galveston! (That is my plan when I cruise from Galveston in January 2010)

~ OR ~ Cruise from New Orleans, beginning November of 2009 the Triumph will alternate 7 day sailings to Cozumel, Jamacia, Grand Caymen one trip - and then Key West, Nassau, Freeport the next. The New Orleans airport is about a 30 to 45 minute drive from the cruise terminal.

Too many choices huh? What ever you decide, you will be addicted before the cruise is over!
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Old June 8th, 2009, 07:44 PM
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Thanks all I checked the flight info on this as suggested and man it was alot more than to FL. I have been searching online and I seem to keep wanting the Western Caribbean.

Can someone tell me if once you book and the price lowers can you get an adjustment?

I am pretty sure were going to have an inside room for cost purposes but are there any that are better located and why?

I think thats it for now.
april
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Old June 8th, 2009, 07:52 PM
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Yes, if you haven't paid the cruise in full yet, and you find a cheaper price for same cruise and the same room category, you can get an adjustment. If you have paid the cruise in full, you will get the discount as a ship board credit. If you don't spend it, you will then get a refund at the end of your cruise.

FYI, I booked the Early Saver oceanview cat 6C via my travel agent as it was by far the cheapest way to go. I noticed a month later the price under the Past Guest bracket for an oceanview cat 6A with free upgrade to cat 6C was $30 less. I contacted my TA and she submitted the request to Carnival to adjust my bill...they did.

Just remember, the Early Saver is by far the cheapest, but your deposit is non-refundable. Also, the Early Saver pricing disappears about 5 months prior to your sail date.

Lastly, as mentioned in a previous post, I'm also doing a western out of Miami but flying into Ft Lauderdale. The cruise was $559, the airfare was $200 (Southwest) and the ride to the port is $15. It was a great deal! You shoudl do even better if you are doing as inside room.
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