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Old October 5th, 2011, 11:01 AM
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Thumbs up It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like the Carribean!

Hello all!

So our first cruise is looking more and more like a done deal. I booked way back in February, but $$ difficulties and minor disasters and so on made it look for a while like we might not be able to pull it off. Thankfully, however, my mom is basically going to let me put the airline tickets (flying out of Dallas) on her credit card as soon as I can decide that they're as low as they might get, and pay them out. Right now looking at American but waiting for Spirit to release their schedule for late May/early June so I can see if they will be any cheaper. (They (spirit) were a steal a few months back but they have gone WAAAAY up lately.) Then when I get my tax return back in mid February, I'll book the hotel and pay the balance of the cruise. Controversial note: we are probably going to be using birth certs and IDs to cruise because odds are we will never go anywhere again and I am feeling too stubborn to add another $600 on this deal for passports for the 4 of us! I am still nervous about this, but so far, that's the plan. (I'm trying to get a better job, and if I get it, I will think about getting the passports with the extra.)


So here's where we are: Me, two 18 year old girls and an 11 year old boy, May 27-June 3, Allure of the Seas, Eastern Carribean: Nassau, St. Thomas, St. Martin. A customer at my work was on the same ship, same itinerary a couple weeks ago and brought me ALL the cruise compasses and information they stuck in her room for the whole week and I am just having a ball looking all that over and trying to rough-sketch a plan for all the things we want to do. My kids are looking forward to the characters, the chocolate breakfast, the carousel, the giant cupcakes, a little Latin and Jazz clubbing, and the pools. I am looking forward to Chicago, trying fancy new foods, getting an airbrush tattoo if it's not ridiculously expensive, singles mixers and Umbrella Drinks (not in souvenier glasses)! And the memory of the biggest adventure I've ever taken my kids on by myself!


A few port questions: My friend who gave me the Cruise Compasses told me Nassau was awful and stinky and not to even bother getting off the ship, and so did another friend, but I'm thinking "No way did I come all this way to not even set foot on it! I don't care if it IS stinky, we're checking it out!" Nassau is a short stop, only 7:30 to 2:30, but I planned to get off the ship, take a quick walking tour around the near sights, take The Boy to the pirate museum, veg out on the beach for an hour or two, (Western Esplanade or ferry to Paradise Beach), eat lunch on Arawak Cay and get back to the ship. Experienced folks, is that do-able in the amount of time we'll have?


On St. Thomas and St. Martin, I don't know exactly what we're doing, except it's going to be pretty similar to Nassau- get off the ship, check out a few sights, beach it, then ship it! Except I really would kind of like to try parasailing, and I was wondering, out of the three ports, anyone know which would be the best/cheapest/easiest to parasail? And on St. Thomas, everybody talks about Magens Bay, but I was wanting to check out Sapphire. Anybody have an opinion on that one?

Are there any really special or interesting (and inexpensive) attractions that are must-do's on St. Martin? Think me a prude if you want, but I'd like to avoid the "Naturist" beaches, what with having an 11-year old boy in tow and all.



So. Sorry to be all ramble-y and stuff. Thanks for listening!
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Old October 5th, 2011, 11:26 AM
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Oh yeah, new question: insurance. Should it have been purchased immediately upon booking, and if I didn't do that (some reason, I thought the TA added it on or something) is it too late now, and if I bought it now, would I still be covered if something happens and we don't end up getting to go? Yikes!
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Second Mate- Daughter Jasmine- 18

and The Swab- Little Man Adam- 11
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Old October 5th, 2011, 11:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OklaCruiserMom View Post
Oh yeah, new question: insurance. Should it have been purchased immediately upon booking, and if I didn't do that (some reason, I thought the TA added it on or something) is it too late now, and if I bought it now, would I still be covered if something happens and we don't end up getting to go? Yikes!
You can purchase private insurance up to week before sailing. Won't work for cancellation that late though. Usually have to purchase b4 final pmt is due.
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Old October 5th, 2011, 12:20 PM
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I will be sailing on Allure of the Seas, a week from this Sunday and just purchased the insurance through CSA Travel Protection, not a problem. I kept thinking, I had plenty of time, but that is running out. I actually got all my documents, luggage tags ready to go, got the passports ready too....This time next week, I'll be packing some things. We are actually in an Indian summer here in the midwest, so will be still wearing some of the vacation clothes, but I can still get most of it done next week....
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Old October 5th, 2011, 12:28 PM
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You should have bought the insurance at the time you made the deposit. Most insurance policies waive the "pre-existing conditions" clause if purchased within 7 - 14 days of initial deposit. There are plans that waive the pre-existing conditions clause if you purchase before final payment.

You still have plenty of time to purchase medical and cancelation insurance. Check with your TA and see if they offer plans that cover pre-existing conditions if you purchase before final payment.

If the pre-existing conditions clause isn't an issue then you can buy anytime up to final payment.

Take care,
Mike
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Old October 5th, 2011, 12:47 PM
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I can touch on a few points. I booked Spirit Air, last fall,and, joined their Spirit Air Club, to get lower deals etc. Even with all they charge. w/ add ons, it was still less than Southwest, with their free baggage... so you should investigate that.

As far as Nassau...do get off the ship. I don't understand all the negatives, honestly, as it is so similar to many other ports, in the Caribbean.

Megans Bay, gets the hype and the tourists, Saphire with \the most glorious water I have ever seen, would get my vote.

For us, we don't purchase the insurance when we book..you have time.
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Old October 5th, 2011, 01:48 PM
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Awesome, awesome, awesome! That's why I love this board. You guys are friendly and you know stuff! Can't wait to hear more. Thank you!

As far as I know, there aren't any pre-existing conditions that could cause us to cancel, except a grandma and an aunt who are sickly. They're not part of the traveling group though.

Donna- have a great time! Looking forward to your review!
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New to Cruising- UNTIL...

Allure of the Seas- 2012!

The Crew:

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First Mate- Daughter Shannon- 18
Second Mate- Daughter Jasmine- 18

and The Swab- Little Man Adam- 11
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Old October 5th, 2011, 01:55 PM
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My original posting went into la la land, and when I reposted I forgot to add: If you see people around the ports,posing with, say, a donkey[ I think her name was Madonna] or a parrot, these are picture taking opportunities for you..just know these people expect to be paid by you,and could get a bit testy.

There used to be a man, nicknamed Treeman, [he had tree bark and branches, tied around him]who once ran after someone after they refused to pay...my girlfriend looked on in shock!
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Old October 5th, 2011, 03:33 PM
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Nassau is not "stinky". The Straw Market is a main tourist attraction there. If you see something you like, don't be afraid to haggle. We've been to Nassau three times, and the last time we went, we ended up just going to a beach (don't remember which one) and soaking up the sun and swimming. If you or anyone in your group is into snorkling, St. Maarten is a great place for that! Do make sure you get your traveler's insurance before your final payment ( like Donna, we always use CSA). Hope you have a great cruise!
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Old October 5th, 2011, 05:15 PM
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Yep, used Csa as well. As for Nassau, thinking about going over to Atlantis and shop around town, since we leave there at 3:00....
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Old October 6th, 2011, 09:43 AM
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Thanks, Trip- definitely a 'good to know' thing. So if you take their picture, they want some cash. How much do they expect?

RT- just wanted to tell you I didn't mean stinky as in a childish euphemism for no fun or whatever. They said there was literally an unpleasant smell there, as well as that they didn't think there was anything that compelling to do. But as I said, I'm definitely going to check it out anyway. Thanks for the information!

I checked out a comparison website for travel insurance (not sure if I'm supposed to mention it here) but I didn't really know which one to pick. I don't want to just get the cheapest thing and have it end up not being of any real value if something were to happen, but I don't want to spend too much on it when the greatest likelihood is that nothing will happen anyway.

Another question re: air. If I check out ChoiceAir and it shows me a very similar price to what I'm seeing on that same airline's website, it makes sense to use ChoiceAir, doesn't it, since they also take care of transfers?
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New to Cruising- UNTIL...

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The Crew:

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First Mate- Daughter Shannon- 18
Second Mate- Daughter Jasmine- 18

and The Swab- Little Man Adam- 11
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Old October 6th, 2011, 10:24 AM
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There are a lot of issues being addressed in this post!
Atlantis is worth taking a ferry to see in Nassua.
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Old October 6th, 2011, 07:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OklaCruiserMom View Post
Thanks, Trip- definitely a 'good to know' thing. So if you take their picture, they want some cash. How much do they expect?

RT- just wanted to tell you I didn't mean stinky as in a childish euphemism for no fun or whatever. They said there was literally an unpleasant smell there, as well as that they didn't think there was anything that compelling to do. But as I said, I'm definitely going to check it out anyway. Thanks for the information!

I checked out a comparison website for travel insurance (not sure if I'm supposed to mention it here) but I didn't really know which one to pick. I don't want to just get the cheapest thing and have it end up not being of any real value if something were to happen, but I don't want to spend too much on it when the greatest likelihood is that nothing will happen anyway.

Another question re: air. If I check out ChoiceAir and it shows me a very similar price to what I'm seeing on that same airline's website, it makes sense to use ChoiceAir, doesn't it, since they also take care of transfers?
I don't recall any unpleasant smells while in Nassau, but I suppose it's possible if you happen to walk behind a restaurant or some other establishment and happen to pass by the garbage cans. As for travelers' insurance, there's no harm in shopping around. I suspect nearly every first-time cruiser has done the same thing. However, I think you'll find that CSA provides very good coverage at a reasonable price (and no, I don't work for them). BTW, when you dock at St. Thomas, as soon as you step off the ship, you'll see an open shopping mall with many duty free shops. If you browse around, you can find some good deals on a lot of things. My wife loves to shop for earrings and necklaces there, especially white gold. But shop carefully to make sure you're getting a good deal. Since you're on a budget, the St. Thomas Skyride to Paradise Point might be worth considering (if you're not scared of heights). The view from the top is beautiful!
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Old October 8th, 2011, 09:49 AM
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Ok, friends. I need help with this. I've got a 24 hour hold on a really good American airline rate booking online with the airline's website. I don't know if I can get any better as the deadline gets closer, even with a cheaper line like Spirit. I'm getting antsy and I want to book. Should I go ahead and do it through the airline's site or should I go with ChoiceAir? I've tried to research it, but I'd like some voices of experience to weigh in. Please give me some pros and cons. Thank you!
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New to Cruising- UNTIL...

Allure of the Seas- 2012!

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and The Swab- Little Man Adam- 11
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Old October 8th, 2011, 07:18 PM
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What is the flight you have on hold, good times for you, prices???
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Old October 9th, 2011, 11:21 AM
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Flying out of Dallas on Sat. May 26, midday. Three adults, one child. Total cost 909.60. Comes out to about 227 pp. I went ahead and booked them today (about 30 minutes ago) through American's website. I decided it was worth it to know it was a definite thing. Another poster on another board pointed out to me that if they drop, it wouldn't likely be by very much, whereas if they go up, it would probably be by quite a lot. I didn't use choice air, which maybe I should have, but it's too late now. I'm still excited, though! We're definitely going!
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Second Mate- Daughter Jasmine- 18

and The Swab- Little Man Adam- 11
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