I have been learning all kinds of useful information on this forum for a few days just browsing as a guest so I decided it was time to register and say hello.
Basically we are a married couple in our late 30s and eary 40s. We have three children 18, 16 and 12 years of age. A spoiled parrot and a yorkie that doesn't know he is a dog.
We never took a honey moon or really have been anywhere longer than a weekend without kids. I am currently trying to lose weight and decided it would be a way to reward myself for getting to a healthier size as well as that romantic getaway we never took if we went on our first cruise!
Honestly other than some road trips in the US and day trips in our state and ones nearby we have never really been on trip like we are planning now. It is a big adventure to say the least!
We have narrowed it down to this:
Leaving Sept 6, 2014
5 Day Western Caribbean from Miami FL
on the Carnival Victory
with port of calls Ocho Rios, Jamaica and Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
This was after looking over a couple ships leaving that port around the same time, and choose our port based on some of the shore excursions we want to do like horseback riding on the beach and sting ray city :).
I have also read the very helpful first time cruises guide that is a sticky in this section and various links I can find on the internet for cruises.
I am currently planning without a travel agent though I am considering getting one after all I have read. I guess I thought if I did enough research, and I love to research lol that I wouldn't need one but now I am not quite as certain.
Planning on making my deposit in the next few weeks, and after what I have read I will just put money away til the final payment date instead of paying it off in advance like I was originally thinking I would do.
The only question I have right now is about the re-boarding at the ports of call, we are getting passports and will have our sail cards from the ship, do we need to carry any additional ID to get back on the ship?
Sorry for the novel :) Thanks for all the tips and look forward to getting to know this group!
Hello SciFiGeeks, and welcome to CruiseMates!
You have picked a good cruise for a first time, since it is long enough to give you an idea if you like cruising, and Carnival is a great choice for a family.
As to your question about ID: you do not have to carry passports with you off the ship in those ports. However photo IDs will be needed in addition to your ship's cruise cards in order to reboard. This is for the adults, meaning you, your wife, and the 18 year old. The other two kids will not need a photo ID, but if the 16 year-old has a driver permit or license I'd recommend he/she bring it ashore. Any sort of government issued photo ID will suffice. And by the way, kudos about getting the passports. You'll be glad you did it and not make the rookie mistake so many cruisers do, by avoiding the passport issue.
thanks for reading and replying :) Actually its just us we are leaving the kids home :P . They can come with us next time but since we never got that honey moon we are going alone first.
poppadock age 101
Welcome to the Cruisemate family! I urge you to do two things....absolutely book with a travel agent...you have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. in case of any issues that might arise, the ta can help you, the line cannot.
Two...get travel insurance for your crusie....go to insuremytrip.com and plug in your pertinent info, and you can get side by side comparisons of the plans. Medical evac is what you need to put at the top of the list for coverage. Take it from someone who used it last year.
Anytime you need help along the wait, jump in, and, ask us anything you need help with.
To clarify about the ID requirements...
Local port security wants to see a photo ID plus the cruise card. It depends on the port as to whether this happens, but it will happen in most Caribbean stops. The ship itself will only need the cruise card which you use to 'card in' and 'card out' of the ship at a security station that shows your photo when your card is scanned. This photo will be taken on embarkation day, either at check-in or as your board the ship for the first time. It is tied to your cruise card electronically.
The usual scenario is port security will have people stationed at the pier to check guests returning to the ship. In Jamaica the local police are more intrusive than in Grand Cayman. They may also want to search all packages, bags, and even pat down passengers. Drugs are the big issue. You then move on to the ship where you get further screening by ship's security where they scan your cruise card and x-ray all packages, backpacks, etc., and each guest goes through a metal detector. It is quick and usually only takes a minute.
The ship will tell guests what the local requirements are prior to your leaving the ship. Bottom line is that even if a photo ID isn't required, it is foolish to go ashore without one.
Thank you all for your informative responses! It is definitely a lot to learn. We have decided after all the reading and tips on the forums here to go with a TA. There is a Martin Travel & Sea Cruise in the next town so we plan on saving for the deposit and calling there for an appointment.
I honestly don't have anyone to ask for a recommend. I work at home so no co-workers, my family doesn't travel and neither does my husband's family that often and I do not have a wide circle of friends. We tend to pal around with the same people over and over again.
So I figured we would just go in there informed as we can and ask plenty of questions to determine whether or not the TA is a good one. I guess it is a better idea than booking it online myself.
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