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Family Cruising Discuss family cruising - kids programs, babysitting, infant care, etc.

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Old February 23rd, 2004, 02:38 PM
mamacate
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Default Where to begin? Cost-concious and twin two-year-olds.

I've never cruised (used to be one of those independent backpack types but then I had kids, ), and we're thinking about a beach/tropical vacation for this April or May, and a cruise might be a fun new experience.

We have twin two-year-olds and from the reading I've done it sounds like Disney or Carnival might be good choices. We live in Mass. and I'm concerned about the cost of airfare in addition to the price of the cruise. I read a post here about trips leaving out of NYC--we could totally do that. Any good toddler-friendly ships leaving from the NYC area? The advice was to find a good travel agent--any advice on that?

Any general advice? We don't necessarily plan to use daycare, but kids' facilities (pool, playspaces) and kid-friendly dining would be important.

We also cosleep--can you ever get a king-sized bed or is that impossible/prohbitively expensive? We're a non-traditional family too, so to the extent that cruises have "cultural norms" I'd like advice on cruises that aren't too conservative.

I'm a cheapskate (all those days of backpack travel!) so I'd love to know how to do this for what it would cost to do a comparable trip on land.

Have I asked for enough!?

Thanks in advance!

Cate
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Old February 23rd, 2004, 03:03 PM
Luisa
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Default Re: Where to begin? Cost-concious and twin two-year-olds.

Cate:
Yes, I too was one of those backpack through Europe types but now have fallen in love with family cruising! My 2 year old has been on 4 cruises and my 10 year old on 15!
I suggest Norwegian Cruise Line since they have the Norwegian Dawn leaving year round from NYC to Florida/Bahamas; their youth program starts for those 2 years and older (most other than Carnival and Disney's nursery program start at 3 years); and the ship has great outdoor play facilities for kids. My kids loved the many kids' waterslides, splash pools, and playground equipment on the ship.
Why don't you read the article I wrote, "Bringing the Baby" for some tips on cruising with infants and toddlers.
Smooth sailing,
Luisa Frey Gaynor
Family Cruise Editor
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Old February 23rd, 2004, 03:14 PM
christinefischer
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Default Re: Where to begin? Cost-concious and twin two-year-olds.

To my knowlege, Carnival and Norweigan are the only cruise lines that have kids programs for kids under three. Keep that in mind if you plan to use the kids program at all. Even if you really enjoy time with your kids, a break can be nice for kids and grown ups once in awhile. We took our daughter into the main dining room on Carnival when she was two and they were very nice to her. We did not have table mates which made this easier (we didn't have to worry about bothering others as much). However, dinner can be long and it can be heard for little ones to make it through. There are casual buffet style restaurants on all cruiselines that are very kid-friendly, as well as room service.

I use travel websites like travelocity to get general ideas about cruises. You can go to that site and, with their advanced search feature, search for cruises out of specific ports. There are a number that go out of east coast ports, not just NYC but also Virginia, Maryland and maybe even Massachusettes (not sure). They would be a great way to save on airfare. However, you may not find the tropical itinerary you're looking for.

As for price breaks, stay away from any time kids are out of school and you'll find better prices. The cruise lines raise the 3d and 4th passenger rates quite a bit during those periods. When you do your searches and find a cruise or two that you're interested in, price them out from week to week to see which time offers the best price.

I'm not aware of any cruiseline that offers king beds in their regular cabins. However, you might find them in suites - this is probably not the price range you're looking for though.... I think you'd have a tough time co-sleeping together. You might find a quad room where there is a pull couch (rather than pull down bunks) so that you could split up w/ one adult per kid. That's tough.
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Old February 23rd, 2004, 03:26 PM
Luisa
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Default Re: Where to begin? Cost-concious and twin two-year-olds.

P.S. I'm pretty sure NCL also has a ship leaving Boston in the summer for Bermuda. While Bermuda is a great family destination, the ship is older and smaller than the Dawn out of NYC and thus won't have the extensive outdoor pool/play area for little ones.
Best,
Luisa
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Old February 23rd, 2004, 03:38 PM
ElationismyShip
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Default Re: Where to begin? Cost-concious and twin two-year-olds.

Cut costs while on the ship - I'm a cheapsake too :-)

We pack a collapsable cooler and pack it with food from room service (free) and take that on shore with us, cuts down on those costs. We also stop on our way to the ship at a convenient store or grocery store and pick up soda so we don't have to buy it.
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Old February 25th, 2004, 08:58 AM
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Default Re: Where to begin? Cost-concious and twin two-year-olds.

I'm a cost cutter, too and no other cruiseline could match Carnival when we sailed in January. You can get the 2 twin beds in the room pushed together to the family bed. the kids program is great and you and your husband will enjoy Carnival, as well.

For the price, you can't beat Carnival. I would look on this site under cruise shopping to get some ideas of prices, then see if you can find a local TA who might be able to match the prices.

dorothy

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Old February 25th, 2004, 09:32 AM
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Default Re: Where to begin? Cost-concious and twin two-year-olds.

Hi Cate. Cruising is the way to go. First thing -since you are looking for an inexpensive way to cruise i would steer you away from Disney - more expensive than other major mainstream cruise lines. Secondly since you are a first-timer i would definatley take the time to sit down with a travel agent and pick their brains - you don't have to book anything with them just tell them you are looking - have them get some fares for you -let them do all the leg-work. As for airfare - get away from Boston - consider Bradley (CT) Manchester, NH or TF Greene in Rhode Island - its worth the ride to save $$ with Southwest, Delta/Song or JetBlue.(if available). Don't cruise during school breaks - cruise and airfares jet jacked-up.
As for your sleeping arrangements - unfortunatley the only way to get a king size bed is to book into a high priced suite.
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Old February 26th, 2004, 10:50 PM
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Default Re: Where to begin? Cost-concious and twin two-year-olds.

As for airfare check every available airport within reasonable driving time. Sometimes Boston in cheaper than the others but that changes very often. You may have to drive 100 miles to an airport but it may save you a lot of money.

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Old March 10th, 2004, 12:28 PM
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Default Re: Where to begin? Cost-concious and twin two-year-olds.

Cate-

I live on the NH/Mass border and am going on a Carinval cruise in April with my children. We were able to get a great fare on JetBlue out of Logan ($65 each way). I opted for this rather than NYC because I wanted a Western Carribean cruise and after factoring the cost and time to drive to NYC and pay to park, etc. the airfare wasn't that big a difference. Also, check going out of Hartford. I did that once and saved about $100/pp.

Darcy
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