I would first ask you, where have you dreamed of going? Put your destination first...is it Alaska, Europe, Hawaii, the Caribbean? Once you find your dream spot, I would ask, your age group and what you want from a cruise..Luxury to die for? A sedate calming cruise experience?A lively, fun, at every turn, kind of cruise?
Reading our site will give you tons of imput, from cruisers, the good the bad and the ugly. I may be wrong, but I tend to think most first timers jump into the Caribbean for a first cruise, we did.
Without knowing you, and your wants, at this point.I would say a safe good cruise would be: A Caribbean cruise on Royal Caribbean. A southern itinerary, is a wonderful way to experience exotic islands, with a mix of very popular ports like San Juan, St Thomas and St Martin. I hope I have helped a bit.
Trip, with her book & tea!
Chat Hostess & Board Moderator
First we need to know a few things, like approx age, likes, dislikes, length of time you want to cruise. I've been told that Carnival caters to the younger crowd, families, etc. Short cruises tend to attract the college crowd. Summer and holiday cruises usually have more children onboard.
Do you want to have a leisurely trip, or are you hoping to see and do it all? You can get on a ship and never go ashore (until you get back! ) or you can book excursions (cost extra) that will let you experience new things and/or see a part of that country.
Do you like it hot or cold? You could go to Alaska or the Carribean!
What interests do you have? Some cruises offer special activities that you "just have to do". RCL has ice skating and rock wall climbing! Carnival doesn't.
Some ships offer a cruise for people who like a quieter atmosphere.
How far do you want to travel to get to your ship?
Give us some more info and we will be glad to help!
PS If you were born in 74, you are a year older than my oldest child and I would suggest Carnival. If you are as active and crazy as she is, I'd say the short trips might be a good way to find out about cruising and the crowd probably wouldn't bother you.
If you are going to walk on thin ice, you may as well dance!
Anymore, I'm not sure you can say the shorter cruises attract the college crowd. There are certainly college students onboard, but, especially on the mass market cruiselines, it's a real mix.
I think that shorter cruises DO attract a more lively crowd, but even as I say that, the most rowdy party crowd I've ever sailed with was on a 7 day on the Glory!
Give us a bit more info, as many of the posters above have said, and we'll try and give you some good suggestions.
Enjoy this planning part - it's ALMOST as good as cruising!
Carnival Elation March 11
Carnival Imagination Sept 07
Carniival Sensation Dec 06
RCI Sovereign of the Seas Sept 06
Carnival Miracle Sept 05
Carnival Glory Sept 04
Carnival Fantasy Jan 04
some great advise has come your way!. Did you post over on the "First Timers" Board? you might get more responses over there.
I would strongly suggest that you go to a travel agency- actually sit down face to face with an agent and just talk. It doesn't cost anything to do this, get some brochures take them home and look at them, don't let the agent pressure you into making a decision on the spot.
some basic guidelines to the Caribbean:
Eastern- Gorgeous white,silky sandy beaches w/turquoise water, good snorkeling-really good shopping.
Western - more active route- swim w/Stingrays, climb waterfalls, Mayan ruins, great snorkeling.
Southern - most port intenstive route - get more local flavor on a Southern route imo - lots of diverse things to do and see.
My husband and I are planning our first cruise for this fall. We would appreciate any input as to where to go, which ship to take, and what sights to see. We are very flexible!
I agree completely with those who suggested that you follow your dreams. Where in the world would you really like to go? Start with a cruise that goes there!
As to choice of cruse lines, the reality is that every cruise line has its own unique style, standard of service, and special features, and you will have the best experience if you choose a line that's a good match for your personal style and tastes.
Overall, the guide books generally divide the market into four segments.
>> "Budget" cruise lines offer low fares on older ships that have working machinery, but that may be long overdue for cosmetic attention even in public spaces. Their food is basic, but adequate, and service covers the essentials, but don't expect any extras, and cabins are typically "compact" (that is, cramped). Overall, entertainment focuses on having a good time at low cost. These lines typically operate short cruises to the Bahamas or the Caribbean from Florida. Commodore Cruises, Dophin Cruises, Premier Cruises, and Regal Cruises are or were in this category.
>> "Mainstream" cruise lines generally offer relatively low fares on modern ships. Their cusine is generally decent and service is reasonable, but does not have many frills and with limited capability to handle special requests. Their cabins are functional but not especially spacious. Entertainment is lavish, but often planned to generate profit for the cruise line (for example, by drawing passengers into lounges where they will buy beverages). These lines historically operated predominantly cruises of seven nights or less from North America (to the Caribbean, the Mexican Riviera, Bermuda, Canada/New England, and Alaska), though they are starting to deploy some ships to Europe and, in at least one case, to Australia and New Zealand. Carnival Cruises, Costa Crociere, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Royal Caribbean International are in this category.
>> "Premium" cruise lines command fares somewhat higher than those of "mainstream" cruise lines on ships that are somewhat smaller but still quite large. Their cuisine and service generally rise to a higher standard than that of "mainstream" lines, and their cabins tend to be more spacious even if not huge. Entertainment is similar to that of "mainstream" lines, but activities are promoted less aggressively (no public address announcements, and members of the cruise activities staff do NOT try to cajole unwilling passengers into participating), and these lines also tend to offer classy special events in the evening. These lines traditionally operated itineraries of seven nights and longer with many exotic destinations (Europe, South America, Australia/New Zealand, the South Pacific, the Pacific Rim, Africa and India, etc.), except for Disney Cruises, which historically offered a specialty product but is now beginning to deploy ships to some of these destinations. Celebrity Cruises, Disney Cruises, Holland America Line, Oceana Cruises, and Princess Cruises are in this category.
>> "Luxury" cruise lines command the highest fares, but most of their ships are smaller and more intimate than the "mainstream" and "premium" lines. They also offer the highest standards of cuisine, impeccable service, and the most spacious cabins (some ships in this segment are all suites) at sea. Their destinations tend to be global, with many cruises of ten nights or more, and entertainment is more intimate than on other lines. Crystal Cruises, Cunard Lines Ltd., Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Seabourn, Seadream Yacht Club, and Silversea Cruises).
But the generalities end there. There's considerable variation in each tier with regard to evening dress, styles of cuisine, and other factors that may affect your enjoyment of a cruise.
Before you book anything, it's best to stop into your local bookstore, buy a guidebook to cruise lines and cruise ships, and read about the various lines to figure out which line seems to be the best match for your style and preferences. If you can narrow it down to two or three choices, a reputable travel agent can help you to refine your choice. I recommend booking through a reputable travel agent in any case, as a travel agent can match the fares that the cruise line offers over the Internet but will personally take responsibility for your booking.
I have something to add and that is you plan on a cruise in Fall be careful that it isn't during hurricane season. You may see great prices between Aug- Oct however, first a first cruise you don't want to be in a hurricane. also check out the group cruises on this site. http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/CMcruise/ maybe something there will sound good. They do have a thanksgiving cruise. I just booked my first Cruisemates cruise "Caribbiterranean Cruise" you will see it called 3CCCs. I booked that cruise because the interinary jumped off the webpage at me. My Dad was born in Madiera Island and this cruise goes there as a result me and hubby booked, sister and nephew booked and mom and dad have booked. Be aware prices don't include airfare it needed. But you want something that jumps off the page at you for whatever reason. Keep us posted on what you decide.
Just a note to Norm's comment the line is blurry bewteen Premium and Mainstream. I traveled Carnival and Celebrity in my personal experience and everyone is different. Carnival had better food. Because Premium is used it does make the cruiser expect something above Mainstream in terms of service. I didn't see it. However the interinaries were quite different Celebirty was a 12 day Alaskan Cruise and Carvnial was a 4 day Baja California cruise. I like something to do all day lots of activities and games so Carnival is a better fit to me personally. However, if I liked restful sea days Celebrity would have suited me better. I enjoyed the entainment on both.
__________________ One part age; three parts liquor!
Freedom of the Seas 2012
Carnival Splendor 2010
Carnival Freedom 2008
Carnival Elation 2007
Celebrity Infinity 2006
Carnival Ecstasy 2005
Carnival Paradise 2004
Star Princess 2002
Viking Serenade 1994
Thanks to all for commenting! Everyone was so helpful. We have decided to take the Carnival Miracle Southern Cruise on 10/22/07 at the persuasion of some friends of ours. Hope it was a good decision. Any suggestions for shore excursions?
By the way, the "74" was the year I graduated from high school! My husband and I are going to be first-time cruisers in our early 50s!