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chick April 23rd, 2004 10:12 AM

first time cruisers
Any Morris County N.J. natives traveling on the Dawn 6/20/04? We are a family of 4 consisting of a 13 and 16 year old. I am interested in Port excursions and was wondering if I should book in advance. Anyone know where I can find the most for my money concerning port excursions?

newmexico Nita April 23rd, 2004 05:15 PM

Re: first time cruisers
Chick, we always book our excursions privately. One way is to go to Cruise Critics website and look under ports a call. You will get all kinds of ideas from those who have been to the various ports or who are planning on the future. We email several tour companies and check to see who is offering what and the cost. I will admit, the first couple of times we cruised we did use the ships excusions but they are much more expensive and not as personal. The one time I would still stick with the cruise line would be if you are looking at a tour that will last several hours and you may be pushing to get back to the ship on time. If you book on your own and you don't get back, you can wave good bye to the ship as it pulls out; if you book through the ship this will not happen. Hope this helps a little.


cruisenagain April 24th, 2004 06:47 AM

Re: first time cruisers
If you're interested in any of the parks (Disney, Universal, etc.) then I would book with the cruise line. Transportation is waiting for you when you get into port and you will have a good amount of time in the park. If you have to deal with a rental car then you will waste time with that and won't really save that much.

chick April 26th, 2004 09:53 AM

Re: Re: first time cruisers
NEWMEXICO NITA, thanks so much i'll look up cruise critic today.

chick April 26th, 2004 09:57 AM

Re: first time cruisers
cruisnagain, thanks so much i will probably use NCL for the Parks.

Dan P April 26th, 2004 10:16 AM

Re: first time cruisers
If you are going to the space center,we rented a car from Avis .They pick you up from the dock and transport you to the office.You can leave when you want,the tour is there for about 5 hours and cost a lot more.The van[we had four adults and two children 6 8]we rented cost us $69.

bob823 April 26th, 2004 02:51 PM

Re: first time cruisers
Your 13 and 16 year olds will love Universal! If they are roller coaster types, take them to Islands of Adventure. If they are more into the movie attractions, take them to Universal Studios. You don't have enough time to do both. Either way, they are the perfect age for this excursion. My boys are 13 and 15, and they loved Universal Studios! The Express Pass is a big help to get past the long lines, but if economy is important, don't buy the Express Pass from the cruise line, buy it at the park for a $25 upgrade from the Standard Pass.
In Nassau, my family loved the Sea Island Adventure (I think it was about $35 per person). They took us on a boat ride to an island where they had activities and games (unlimited rum punch for the adults!). The snorkeling there was amazing, and the beach is something right out of a Bahamas post card. We never snorkeled before, and the boys are still talking about the fish that they saw.
Have a great cruise!

chick April 27th, 2004 12:04 PM

Re: Re: first time cruisers
Bob823: Thanks for your reply. We did Universal and Islands of Adventure once before. Loved it, and are considering it again. The sea Island adventure in Nassau sounds perfect. the rum punch sounds even better. Thanks, Chick

newmexico Nita April 27th, 2004 01:43 PM

Re: first time cruisers
Univerasal has to be one of the best tourist attracations in the Florida area or anywhere else for that matter.


td April 28th, 2004 07:49 AM

Re: first time cruisers
Look on the Destinations board here too.

Eve April 28th, 2004 05:13 PM

Re: first time cruisers
Hi -

We just got back from our cruise on the Dawn on 4/25/04. We had a fabulous time and it was the best vacation we've ever had! (Yes, we've cruised before with another line) Here's some tips:

The Venetian, Aqua and Impressions are the only restaurants where reservations are not required. It's literally first come, first serve. The service in all three were excellent!

LaTrattoria's food was marginal and it took us 4 days to get a reservation there. The service was also nothing to write home about.

Salsa was very good too. However as with La Trattoria, go the Deck 7 midship and stand in line at 8:00 a.m. the day before you wish to make your reservation. If you try calling on the phone, it is close to impossible to get through.

The Garden Cafe has buffet style breakfasts, lunches and dinners. The food at all three times was very good! If your hungry after the restaurants close, The Blue Lagoon is open 24 hrs. It has a limited menu, but the food is still pretty good if you're hungry.

If you like playing Bingo, wait until the last two days. The prices for playing Bingo are considerably cheaper than the begining of the cruise.

Juice, Tap Water and Ice Tea is free. Soda, alcoholic beverages are extra. A tip: if you like the speciality drinks, order the first one with the souvenir class. Keep the glass, washing out in your room and the next time you want a speciality drink hand them your glass, which they'll also wash out and refill for a smaller price.

A must: Go to the entertainment shows - the Jean Ryan company is WONDERFUL!!!!! We normally only go to one show on cruises - we hit every show they had and thoroughly enjoyed them. On the last night, they have one show only at 7:45 p.m. - it is a riot!

The cruise director, Ricky Matthews is hysterical - he makes the cruise fun!!!!!

The cruise excursions were okay. We went to NASA and loved it. In Miami we took the B & B Hopper and to be truthful, we could have skipped it. There is not much to do during the day at South Beach and Miami Beach as all of the action takes place at night and you are long gone by then!

Grand Stirrup Cay is a nice, relaxing day in the sun. The have a huge bbq, clean bathrooms and a Straw Market, which unfortunately, I should have gone to.

Nassau is an extremely short trip. We took the City and Pirate Tour which was nice, but cut into our time at Nassau. We got off of the ship at 9:15 and had to be back on board at 1:30 p.m. Our tour ran an hour late ending at 12:20 p.m. instead of 11:15 a.m. There was no time for browsing or shopping. We hit the Straw Market across from the Pirate Museum and only had time to do two rows. It is amazing. Another tip: negotiate your prices. They are willing to move on prices to sell their items as the other vendors carry pretty close to the same items. We could have easily spent a few more hours there.

I'm not sure if you are traveling with children or not. We have an eight year old daughter who had an even better time than us. They have a kids buffet which is scrumptous and she never stopped eating from the time we got on until the time we got off. Every single restaurant has chicken nuggets, etc. The camp was great too! The counselors are fun and they have plenty of family oriented games planned.

The pools are heated which makes life nice. The week we went was Spring vacation, so it was rather difficult to use the hot tubs, which were occupied by teenagers. Another tip: The El Dorado Spa (at no charge) has a hot tub, spa and lap pool for adults only to use.

If you're looking for souvenirs that say Norweigan Dawn, the last day of the cruise they have $5.00 t-shirts on Deck 7 (atrium), along with some really nice watches for $79.99.

Hope you enjoy your trip and happy cruising!


chick April 29th, 2004 10:09 AM

Re: Re: first time cruisers
Eve: Great tips - thanks so much - I'm really looking forward to our cruise in June.

marilynd May 9th, 2004 07:33 PM

Re: first time cruisers
Great review !!!

After all of the complaints about the Kids Club it was nice to see that your daughter had a good time. Family oriented activities are great idea.

I was on the Dawn last June (and I leave with my daughters on the Dawn again next month). I loved the El Dorado Spa. I went swimming every other day. Didn't you just love the hot tubs? The "stars" above the pool was the best.

I am getting excited!!!!!!!!!


Krissy June 15th, 2004 01:10 PM

Re: first time cruisers
I was looking for people going on the Dawn June 20, 2004. I am 23 years old and going with a large group. This is my first cruise. Hope to see you there:)

6 days and counting!!!

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