We will be traveling as a family with two small children (3 years old) to the Mediterranean in June. We have been looking at Norwegian, and have friends who enjoyed a Norwegian cruise in the Mediterranean last summer.
I have lots of questions and concerns, mainly about what ship, cabin, and booking provider to use. I would be really grateful if anyone has input on any of these areas.
I have been looking at both Epic and Jade, as their routes and pricing are attractive to us. From my understanding many people really seem to like Epic, but I am not sure it would be our best bet. We would prefer smaller crowds, and are wary of too many teenagers/20-somethings running wild at night. We would like a cabin that is quiet at night. It would be nice with some activities for our children, but we are not going to leave them in a club and go off on our own. We are not too keen on activities and entertainment ourselves, other than sunbathing, doing some workouts and visiting the spa, and of course restaurant visits. We prefer nice restaurants where the waiters are knowledgeable about wine and food, and know what goes in the food (my husband is allergic to gluten).
It seems as though NCL offer good options for families with children. We would prefer a (non-enclosed) balcony cabin. It is rather difficult to understand the cabin layouts from the information I can gather, when it comes to additional bedding. Some simply state "additional bedding to accommodate two more" - I am not really sure what this means? Others state a sofa bed. We would like to avoid bunk beds, as our children are small and we don't want them falling down on the floor, so a sofa bed that can sleep two would be best. As for the size of the cabin, many people seem to think that the family balcony cabins on the Epic are very cramped. In that case I suppose Jade would be better. Does anyone know if it is possible to walk past a folded out sofa bed to access the balcony? I am not sure whether a mini/junior suite would be better? As for the position in the ship, I understand that certain decks/places are better avoided (Norwegian Jade Best Cabins). We would prefer the perfect combination of a quiet cabin and not having to walk too far to the lifts. From the deck plans it seems as though some of the lifts and stairs are only accessible from inside staterooms? We also need to take into consideration that our children have been suffering from motion sickness during travels by car, and are hoping to avoid rough seas, or at least the parts of the ship where it can be felt the most. To me it seems as though a non-enclosed balcony would be the most desirable, as my husband and I both love the sun, but I understand it can be quite difficult to figure out which balconies are enclosed.
I have been looking at booking with seascanner.com, does anyone have any experience of them? What concerns me is that when I start the booking process, the price including the children is quoted, but in the next step it says "Due to technical limitations on the side of NCL, only the cabin prices for 4 adults can be shown here. The lower price for children will be taken into account when you make an optional booking." Can anyone confirm that this is true?
I have to agree with Donna...you really do need a cruise specialist,to help you along with your very specific questions, pertaining to your family getting the most out of you cruise experience. I was on the Magic in the Med in May, and there were not alot of kids, but a month later would change the statistics a bit.
I have sailed the Epic twice and really never felt I was really crowded onboard, except maybe going to the main show. The bathroom set up on the Epic is unique, as, the sink is not in the bathroom, it's in the cabin itself, and the bathroom is not the usual set up one sees onboard, but is opaque acrylic.
Just a note ..take a look at the excursions..so many offered are 8-10 hours long, so think about what you might need extra to help the little ones be comfortable on the buses,and once you get to your destinations.
Let us know you make out, so, we can help you more, once you book.
Trip, with her book & tea!
Chat Hostess & Board Moderator
Last edited by Trip; February 4th, 2014 at 08:20 PM.
I'm obviously very prejudice on the matter, but I totally agree with both Donna and Trip; find a reputable agent, preferably a cruise specialist, and let them help you will all this. Booking it through a website, like the one you mentioned, is never a good idea because you'll not be talking to an agent. And most likely, the person has never even been on a ship, so they have no personal knowledge that can be useful to you.
It's always best to find the best ship, cabin, and itinerary to meet your needs, lifestyle, and budget. And the best way to do this is to work with a good agent. Their help can be invaluable and save you alot of hassle and problems.
__________________ Travel Agent/Cruise Specialist w/13 yrs exp and 48 Cruises on 11 cruise lines! Favorites: Paul Gauguin - Tahiti: Uniworld River Cruises - Europe; Celebrity Solstice-class ships; Holland America - 12-nights Baltics & Russia; RCCL - 14-nights Greek Isles, Turkey, & Croatia; Holland America - 14-day Alaskan cruisetour; 10-night Canada/New England cruise; 21 days Hawaii w/7-night NCL cruise; Oceania - 25 days in Asia; more than 3 months touring Europe by train. And many all-inclusive resorts!
Norwegian Epic, was voted "Best Cruise Ship" by Travel Weekly in 2011 & 2012 (an industry magazine); Norwegian Epic is the ship of choice for those sailing to Europe. In fact, it literally changed the face of cruise line entertainment with the introduction of Blue Man Group at sea (Caribbean Cruises), and that's just the beginning. Norwegian Epic is offering world-class performers and a new wave of accommodations - from Studios, designed and priced for the solo traveler, to the private Haven, more than 20 different dining options and you'll understand why this is Freestyle Cruising on a truly grand scale. The best entertainment at sea with Blue Man Group, Cirque Dreams & Dinner, and more Norwegian Epic Culinary Dining Options Experience more than 20 extraordinary culinary dining options, complimentary dining options, from three-course dining to endless buffets with action stations. Entertainment day & night. Blue Man Group, Legends in Concert, live comedy, jazz club, dueling piano bar, and a wealth of clubs and lounges. Fitness center, sports court, climbing and rappelling wall, aqua park, pools, and hot tubs. Youth programs for children ages 3-17.
. Norwegian Epic completely unique accommodations I recommend Cat B3 Conveniently located near the kids' area, some of our Family Balcony Staterooms come with two lower beds that convert to a queen, one upper bed and a sofa bed, for a maximum capacity of four guests. Many are connecting staterooms, making it easier to bring the whole family. Triples feature two lower beds and a sofa bed. All of these staterooms feature curved walls, a unique bathroom treatment where every area is separate, including the shower and a modern vanity sink, plus a private balcony where the whole family can take in the beautiful views on Decks 13 and 14 mid ship to avoid sea sickness. To each their own on letting your kids enjoy the value of the Kids Club.
I guess that also rules out any Europe sailings on Disney Cruise line a little more but personally an adult I would rather lock myself in the kids Club - Adventure Club .
I don't think you can go wrong with any NCL ship. Have never sailed on the Jade, but we were on the Epic in December for a Caribbean cruise. The Epic will definitely have more bells and whistles when it comes to entertainment, but since this is a Mediterranean cruise which may be very port intensive, I don't know if you will be up to seeing any of the shows, music, etc.
We really enjoyed the Epic, and as far as teens and twenty somethings running "wild" at night, we saw none of that. It is definitely a family atmosphere, but of course their are lounges, parties late night in specific venues, but it is a huge ship. You would never know they were going on. Not that they are wild by any means, (from the disappointed comments of some young cruisers who thought they were much too sedate).
I would check out the Youth Programming available on both ships. I know Epic has the Nickelodian programming, not sure about the Jade. Your 3 year olds would probably love the Pajama Jam character breakfast, Dora's Dance Party, etc., and the family group activities.
I definitely recommend speaking with someone knowledgeable about cruising before booking. We usually book through some sort of TA, usually web based, but I NEVER would just input my info and hit send to make a booking. Call their 800 number and speak to someone. They can answer specific questions, help you pick the appropriate cabin, etc. and make the booking for you.