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Old 07-20-2008, 11:37 AM
 
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Consider travel insurance. The last time I was scheduled for a cruise, my friend and travel partner was in a car wreck the night before...broke her ankle in multiple places and couldn't travel. Insurance got us a full refund minus the cost of the policy, which was under $100. Hopefully nothing like this would happen to you, but you just never know.
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Old 07-21-2008, 04:05 AM
 
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Check out cruisecritc.com for a huge popular forum devoted to cruising. You can ask questions about destinations, ships, almost anything you can think of.
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Old 07-24-2008, 05:56 PM
 
Location: Lake Norman, NC
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Definitely check out CruiseCritic.com. We started cruising in 2005 and we're getting ready to go on our fifth this year. I spend as much time on CC as I do on this board so I can learn all the in's and out's of cruising and getting the most bang out of our vacations!
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Old 07-28-2008, 05:31 PM
 
Location: Columbia Maryland
333 posts, read 922,670 times
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Check EBCS Travel Portal.. they got some good travel deals.
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Old 07-31-2008, 11:02 PM
 
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We love cruises--they're the perfect family vacation, in my opinion!

I always book my own air fare, and have never considered doing it through the cruise line. I have often flown to Ft. Lauderdale on the same day as the cruise departs, and never had a problem, but I always chose the first flight of the day (often leaving at 6 or 7 am, so that I could make sure to allow plenty of time just in case of flight delays, since the ships tend to all leave the dock at 4 or 5 pm on sailing day). Booking direct flights when possible also helps decrease the chance of delay. I always get cruise insurance as well. Also something to consider is that if you live on the East Coast many of the cruise lines offer Caribbean and/or Bahamas cruises out of some of the East Coast ports, such as Baltimore, Norfolk, VA, and Charleston, which could save you money rather than flying to Ft. Lauderdale or Miami. There are also some sailings from Texas to the Caribbean, if you live in that part of the country, and if you live on the West Coast, instead of the Caribbean, many cruise lines offer nice cruises to Mexico leaving from LA.

We often use cruisecompete.com, which is a service where you put in your cruise specifics and discount cruise travel agencies email you with their lowest fares. I have booked using this method a few times. I have also booked using my regular travel agent, and have also booked directly with the cruise line. The first thing I do is call the cruise line directly to get the price for the cabin level and type that I want. Then I put in my info on cruise compete to see if they can beat that price, now that I have an idea on how much the cabin/level/type I'm interested is going for.

In my experience, what type of Caribbean vacation you choose doesn't really matter, unless you have a strong desire to see particular islands. I've done Eastern and Western a bunch of times each, as well as Southern. My favorite part of the Caribbean cruises, actually, is the cruise line's private island. They're usually very nice, have a great beach, and provide a nice lunch on the island.

Finally, when you're booking your cabin, keep in mind that there are different classes for the same type of cabin. For instance, if you choose an inside cabin, not all prices are the same for this type of cabin--it varies depending on which deck you choose. The higher you go, the higher the prices tend to be for every cabin type. I always want to choose the exact cabin I'll be getting, rather than letting the travel agent just pick one for me. You also probably don't want to be at the front of the ship, which gets the brunt of the waves (and where you would feel more rocking). I prefer only the middle or back of the ship for my cabin location, where you don't feel as much rocking.

Lastly, some of the cruise lines offer different dining options. There might be a traditional style option (where you choose a seating [early or late] and sit at the same table, with the same dining companions, and have the same waitstaff for the whole cruise). Or, you can choose anytime dining (different cruise lines have different names for this). That's when you can eat at any time you want within the dinner hours, and sit wherever you want and with whomever you want. My husband and I prefer anytime dining, because that way we can eat whenever we want.

Last edited by doglover29; 07-31-2008 at 11:17 PM..
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