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Old January 16th, 2011, 07:22 PM
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Default HELP!! Newbies: family of 6 taking FIRST cruise!

We are OVERWHELMED!

My husband and I are taking our four kids (15, 15, 12 & 10) on a cruise (our first) this summer. We are leaning towards RCCL's Allure, not because it's the biggest ship, but because it really wasn't much more than the other options for the week that we wanted to go. Is Allure too big for the first time?

We have booked adjoining ocean view balcony rooms (double for us, quad for the kiddos), so we are hoping that we won't be too cramped.

I've heard that "there is so much to do on the ship" and "there's no way the kids will be bored" but I'm still leery. Has anyone traveled with several teens and tweenies on RCCL? Someone reviewing Allure claimed that "all the teens were bored by day 3 of the cruise" and that really made me nervous.

This trip will cost a minimum of $11K before our excursions and other nickel and dime costs involved and the last thing I want is bored children.

I have NO idea how much the excursions are, because we have not actually placed our $250/pp deposit yet, so we can't even view the costs. Everything is expensive when it's for 6 people, so we may just have to choose 1 excursion at one of the stops (Western Caribbean: Labadee, Haita, Falmouth, Jamaica, Cozumel, MX). Any advice on an excursion or 2 that are "not to be missed" during our trip.

Any advice for a first time cruising family of 6??? Any and all help would be greatly appreciated.
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Old January 16th, 2011, 08:20 PM
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Busymom1-

A cruise is a great cost effective family vacation. We are heading out on our 8th with our two teens (currently 15 and 17). Our first six were on another line that offered many activities. However, lacked in teen programs.

Last year was a our first with RCCL and our teens loved it! We sailed Freedom of the Seas and with the rock climbing wall, wave pool, putt putt and teen floor, the kids had a blast. And as a parent, it was nice to know that RCCL had a 1a curfew for the kids.

As for excursions, we pick one in one port and that is it. We have found many wonderful beaches/restaurants on our own and have been very lucky.

I think with the 2 rooms you will not be too cramped. We book 2 rooms ourselves - it's nice to have the 2nd bathroom. Adjoining rooms are nice.

One thing we do with our teens is to bring a white board or post it notes. The kids are to leave us a note on the mirror as to where they are going and we do the same. This eliminates bringing walkie-talkies - which everyone has and you can't get a signal anyways.

We also pack a highlighter so everyone can highlight what they would like to do the next day - this also helps with checking in with the kids. Another thing we do is set check in times and locations.

Feel free to drop me a note if you have any further questions. Would be happy to chat more specifics.

Enjoy and safe sailing
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Old January 18th, 2011, 08:57 PM
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Busymom1, I will be on Allure this weekend; I will post a review with pics when I return. I am not traveling with kids this time; but I can find out info for you. Let me know what you are curious or leery about and I will ask questions. I will be on Freedom in December with 5 grandkids; so I have already started planning what activities they will do by their ages.
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Old January 19th, 2011, 09:22 AM
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Chefkel22, Thank you so much for all of your tips. You have some fabulous ideas (wipe boards and set check-ins) that I never would have thought of.

AF1, I look forward to hearing about your trip! One of my concerns is the size of the ship and not knowing how to deal with tweenies and teens. Like, can our two boys play at the H2O zone while my husband and I hang by the regular pool? I know they have kids' programs, but if they don't want to do that, do they still have some freedom on the ship?

We are planning to choose one excursion for the entire trip (because EVERYTHING is expensive when there are 6 people to pay for). Are there any can't miss excursions that you know of for the western Caribbean? (Labadee, Falmouth, and Cozumel)

We are still trying to figure out how we should set up the rooms: 2 ocean view balconies, or 3 interior staterooms with no window/view. The price is about the same. Not sure if the space would be better or the balcony and fresh air. Any thoughts?

Last edited by busymom1; January 19th, 2011 at 09:30 AM. Reason: Wasn't finished yet! =)
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Old January 19th, 2011, 10:27 AM
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first thing, relax, take a deep breath, we are here for you. We havent cruised on the Allure but we did cruise on the Freedom with a group of our friends and kids that ranged from 10-18 and trust me none of them were bored, they were all friends so they banned together and we knew where they were, we had meet times, and we basically saw them when it was time to change for dinner, at dinner and on our excursions. If you want to save some additional money, opt out of the balcony for the kids, put them into an inside quad across the hall, trust me they won't care if they have a balcony or not, you can get keys for their room, and they are only a step or a phone call away. As for your excursions, Labadee Haiti is a beach party thrown by the cruise line the only thing that would cost would be if you wanted to play with any of the water toys, alcohol or soda if you didn't have soda cards. Cozumel is an amazing place to snorkel if you are into that or want to give it a try, if you can only book one excursion for your cruise my suggestion would be to book a ships snorkeling tour in Cozumel to the Palencaar Reef, if thats out of budget then a great family day in Cozumel would be to grab a cab at the pier and head over to Channunkaab National Park, you can swm, do a little snorkeling, they have an aquarium, mini ruins, they do offer the Dolphin Swims, they are great fun but a bit costly. If snorkeling doesn't appeal to you then pick an excursion in Jamaica, there is so much to do there, Dunns River Falls is great fun for all ages, there is lazy river tubing thats a blast, or you could do an all -inclusive beach day at one of the resorts.
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Old January 19th, 2011, 11:08 AM
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When we first started cruising in 2006 we were taking four kids ranging in age from 10-18 and they have never been bored. We are now down to taking two kids with us 15 and 17, we were on Oasis in October and the kids said it was the by far the best cruise, they loved the flowrider and mini golf. One of them did the zip line with me and it was a blast. Don't worry about the kids they will have plenty of fun. If you are looking at only purchasing one excursion I would suggest booking one in Jamaica, it is not the safest port to go on your own. The rest of your stops you can just find a nice beach or grab a taxi and explore on your own. Relax and enjoy but be warned that cruising can become very addicting...
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Old January 19th, 2011, 12:29 PM
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Are you sure that Allure will go into Falmouth?

Excursions- they are all pretty expensive when booking thru the ship, but in Jamaica it is safest to go with an organized group, not alone. If you are going into Ocho Rios then do the Dunn's River Falls trip, you will need water shoes as you are climbing a waterfall so the rocks are slippery.
If I could only do one excursion it would be the Royal Swim with dolphins at Chankanaab Park on Cozumel. We booked directly with Swim with Dolphins at Dolphin Discovery Cancun, Vallarta, Riviera Maya, Cozumel, Costa Maya, Mexico and the Caribbean it is an expensive day but one that you and your children will never forget. You can get a taxi-van to Chankanaab Park for $10.
As for freedom to do what they want on the ship, yes your kids will have lots of choices- there are some places they are not allowed obviously, the Solarium pool is for over 16's and the teen clubs are segregated by age groups, but you won't have any problem with them being bored. There are age-appropriate organized events but also so many sports that they will stay busy.
Take long pants for them to ice skate. Do not miss the Ice show, they will announce where to pick up tickets, Don't miss the Parade down the Promenade on the first night, get a place early, by the Pub for the best views.. If they want to try the Flowrider you will need to be present to sign a permission waiver each time. Meet up for meals or you won't see them.. Try Johnny Rockets, they will love the burgers and shakes.
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Old January 19th, 2011, 01:32 PM
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My very first cruise was with my parents and 3 brothers. My parents had developed a love for cruising and they wanted us to experience it.

My parents had a double and we had the cabin next door (don't think it was adjoining). At the time I was 21 (I think!) and my brothers would have been 18, 15, and 12.

We all had a blast. We did some things together and some things on our own. We did not do a lot of planned activities (I'm not sure the had those back then?).

Will your kids be bored? You know your kids best. I think some children are just selfish and ungrateful and are complainers. That being said, cruising is not for everyone, but I can't imagine how anyone could be bored on a cruiseship. THere is so much to do, but your vaction is what you make of it. You can be as active or as inactive as you chose to be. Are your kids excited about the trip? Are they looking forward to it? If your kids glued to their cell phones or playstations or xboxs? Will they be complaining about nto being able to text at sea? You're talking about a lot of money, and if your kids aren't excited about doing ..... then I'd save your money. On the other hand, if your kids are excited, I'm sure they will have a great time! Just make sure they understand that they understand they need to be "off-line" while at sea.

I never truly appreciated how hard and expensive it was for my father to give our family of 6 the lifestyle that he did.
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Old January 19th, 2011, 02:28 PM
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Default First cruise for newbies

Well just remember before you book. There are two types of people. People who love cruising or hate it. First timers should try a shorter cruise like Majesty Of the seas, 3 or 4 nights out of Miami. Radiance out of Tampa 4 or 5 nights. If your family are cruisers you'll love it. But if you are on the Allure and even one of your family members hate it or get sea sick 7 days is a really long time to be stuck on any ship. Keep in mind also a family of 6 on one of the short cruises would drop the cost way down. I have gone on 15 Cruises since 1994 and I will never go on a ship that big. Too many stories of people standing against a wall to eat lunch because the buffet area only has 2,600 seats with 6,000 people on the ship where do the other 3,400 people eat? At the other "PAY" resturants like Johnny Rockets etc. What ever cruise you pick have a wonderful time. Ed
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Old January 19th, 2011, 02:39 PM
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It sounds to me as if you have done virtually everything right.

Forget that post about there being a large number pf people who "hate cruising." That's just not so in my experience.

There is no chance that your teenagers will be bored unless they are of the very most sullen and unappreciative variety.

the chances of you having a bad experience are very remote!

As for the excursions, just pick some you like or some you think the kids would like.

Do not allow negative nellies to deter you even for one moment. You are going to have the time of your life!

Bon Voyage
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