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Old 12-22-2007, 09:56 PM
 
Location: Hampton Roads, VA
673 posts, read 2,918,810 times
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My husband and I are thinking about taking a cruise in 2009 (probably with our daughter who will be 3 years old by then). First off, do you recommend booking the flight with the cruise or is it possible to find chepaer flights doing them both separate? I just want to make sure we dont have any problems if our flights get delayed, etc.

Also, what cruise lines do you recommend for families? Any certain islands that people can recommend? Also, is there a big difference between going to the Bahamas or the Caribbean?

This would be our first cruise so any information is extremely helpful.
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Old 12-23-2007, 12:07 PM
 
1,501 posts, read 5,189,869 times
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www.cruisemates.com
www.cruisecritic.com
GREAT message forums & info on these.

Do avoid hurricane season, particularly August. The prices will be much cheaper (and tempting), but there's a reason.

Book own airfare, and just get there a day early. With what you save booking your own air, you can enjoy the night at a hotel and already be there to board relaxed and unhurried. Hopefully SouthWest services your area. They can NOT be beat. The cruises book you when they want to, and you don't find out until almost the last week or so before cruising. We always get cruise insurance, too.
I'd definately recommend Disney first. They have their own Island where you'll spend one of your port days. (If memory serves, I think they are Bahamas.)

Then Royal Carribbean (although we've never sailed RCCL ourselves.) RCCL will be not as expensive, but Disney is top notch and certainly more than worth the few extra $!
As far as Bahamas vs. Carrib., there are so many different itineraries with the cruise lines. You can spend forever scouring the message boards for reviews for more insight, which can be the funnest aspect of a cruise -- the planning and anticipation! :>)
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Old 12-23-2007, 12:15 PM
 
Location: Papillion
2,585 posts, read 9,544,524 times
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We took our first one a few years ago... just since it was the first experience we opt'd to go with the full package including airline - until I was experienced cruiser I would probably do that again.

We went with Royal Carribbean and were not disappointed. We did the Eastern Carribean and a 7 day trip (5 ports of call). Again, for first time, that was great - got to experience 5 totally different islands/cultures.

We also opted to upgrade so had a slightly larger room with sliding window to a balcony. That was great - both in the morn and eve we could sit on our private deck and sip coffee, read, and just enjoy the ocean. We slid between two peak periods and went on what was considered a week of down time (just after New Years), so the cost of the upgrade was balanced by the off peak travel time. That way this upgrade kept us in our budget of a normal room during peak time.
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Old 12-23-2007, 03:31 PM
 
Location: In the sunshine on a ship with a plank
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I just booked a Carnival Cruise for June 08 last week. The airfare that the cruise quoted was over $400 per person. I checked the low cost airlines (Air Tran, Southwest, Jet Blue) and got fares for under $200.

Use the websites to check prices- you can get cost with and without air. Check travel clearing houses like travelocity, expedia, priceline and the direct websites of the airlines- you'll probably save money booking the flights direct.

I take my son on a cruise every two years we've gone to the Bahamas, Caribbean and Alaska- we've done Carnival and Royal Caribbean- and Although Royal is a little bit nicer for adults, I really like the laid back atmosphere at Carnival for kids. Again, check the websites.

And as for the differences between Bahamas and Caribbean- there is a difference. The Bahamas ports are overly commercialized and everything is expensive in port. The Caribbean includes the West Indies, Virgin Islands, etc. Much prettier and less exploitative. The negatives of Caribbean Cruises from Florida is the time at sea- sometimes it's 2-3 days on a seven day cruise. If you fly to San Juan PR you will be in a port every day.

And Air Tran flies to San Juan very inexpensively.

Also, booking with Carnival allows you to make payments if you need to- it's $250 at time of booking and balance is due 90 day prior to travel. I'm not sure if the other cruise lines offer this.
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Old 12-23-2007, 03:40 PM
 
Location: Hampton Roads, VA
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Wow thanks everyone for the GREAT information so far! I very much appreciate it. We do have Southwest Airlines and Airtran that fly out of areas near us and both airlines offer GREAT fares. Thanks again everyone's response has been very helpful!
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Old 12-27-2007, 12:00 PM
 
Location: Hampton Roads, Virginia
1,123 posts, read 4,806,104 times
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I would definitely book my own air - it is SOO much cheaper. If you can, fly in a day early - however I have never followed that advice myself, but making sure you get there on time can be nerve wracking for a new cruiser. I have always cruised during hurricane season, but if you cruise in the winter - definitely go a day early because of the possible weather delays.

Also, flying into Ft Lauderdale is usually cheaper. A cab to the port in Miami is around $75 (sounds expensive), but usually the price difference in the tickets pays for that. Then, when you come back at the end of your cruise, you can take a multiperson van back to FLL (instead of a cab) for around $30. They are waiting at the port and you just find one - no reservations needed.

I would definitely wait until the little one is at least 3, but I did not take my children with me until they were 6. DH and I went alone before that and had a mini honeymoon. Once the kids are older, they remember it better and it is just plain easier to travel with them at that age - they have some manners and can entertain themselves without you watching their every move.

As far as where to go - that really depends on your budget. Shorter cruises go to the Bahamas and the 7 day cruises take you to more interesting ports. I have told many a friend to do a 4 night cruise as their first one just to get used to it. This might be a better solution if you take your 3 year old too. RCL, Majesty of the Seas was a short trip for us and really affordable.
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Old 12-27-2007, 02:15 PM
 
Location: Papillion
2,585 posts, read 9,544,524 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pirate girl View Post
The negatives of Caribbean Cruises from Florida is the time at sea- sometimes it's 2-3 days on a seven day cruise. If you fly to San Juan PR you will be in a port every day.
Quote:
Originally Posted by stacylee926 View Post
Also, flying into Ft Lauderdale is usually cheaper.
We did the 7-day Carribean from Fort Lauderdale for our first cruise and we are actually glad we did that. 5 days in port; however, those 2 days at sea were very relaxing too... a unique time to relax just watching/listening to the ocean.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stacylee926 View Post
I have told many a friend to do a 4 night cruise as their first one just to get used to it.
4 days you are just getting used to everything, the extra 3 days you can totally relax - plus you get a full 5 days in ports to see/enjoy.

I'd do 7-day again in a heartbeat.
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Old 12-27-2007, 11:47 PM
 
Location: Out there somewhere...a traveling man.
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We've been on 8 cruises. Most with the Princess Cruise Line. We always book with a travel agent. The reason: if you book everything, flight, cruise, transfers, etal with the travel agent, they guarantee you get there on time and if there is a plane delay or problem, the agency and the cruise line will get you there or you get a full refund. If you book air yourself and arrange a cab or ? to get to the seaport and a problem arises and you miss your ship departure, you're outta luck. Your insurance won't cover your mistakes or problems. Yes, if you can get in a day early and eveything goes as scheduled then you lucked out. To us it's not worth the gamble.
We find it takes the worry out of everything if you have a good travel agent that works with you. Our tavel agent has always got us the best deal on air travel, better than what we could do on our own.
Carnival is primarily a kid/family oriented cruise line. Lots of activities geared to kids as well as adults. Princess, RC, NCL generally have older people traveling and gear most of their entertainment and activities to them.
The Carribbean cruises are split into 2 areas of cruising, the Eastern Carribbean itenerary and the Western Carribean itenerary.
Yes you fare better on 7 day and 10 day cruises. The activites on the cruise ships will keep you busy 20 hours a day. You'll enjoy the few days at sea since many activities on board are swimming, golf, basketball, gambling casino, movies, bingo, various games like The Newlywed Game, Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy and others plus fantastic broadway show entertainment, cocktail lounge entertainment, discos and many many other activitives.
The food is always first class and you have many choices from buffets to formal dining, pizza parlors, ice cream parlors, steakhouses etc. You'll never go hungry, and will probably gain at least 5 lbs. They have great room service if you want to dine alone.
We always get an outside cabin with a balcony. The inside rooms seem crowded/small and there is no view.
We've cruised the Carribean twice, the Panama canal, NE seaboard, Hawaii twce, Alaska twice. We recently did a river cruise on a paddle wheeler out of Portland OR up to the Snake River for 7 days.
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Old 12-28-2007, 06:23 AM
 
5,002 posts, read 4,255,813 times
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We have done two cruises with Carnival. It is a great way to have a vacation while it is still a family vacation.
Next year we may try doing a local cruise ; sailing out of ny. The airfare to Miami is so expensive.
d
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Old 07-20-2008, 11:30 AM
 
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We decided this last May to book a 4 day Cruise out of Orlando to the Bahama's. At first, we looked at 3 day Cruises, but I ended up wanting the extra day. I have never been on a Cruise let alone to Florida. We are 59/60 yrs old and my wife wanted to take me on this Cruise before we got to much older. This will be my first and her second. I spent years in the Navy, so I know what being on a "ship" is like on the ocean. We did book the Cruise and our flight to Orlando separately. Due to my wife's accummulating hours of vacation time from a new job, we have to take this Cruise in August. We are also going on two Excursions (Beach Party's) one in each Port. The total cost of: Cruise, Passports and Flight wasn't that cheap, BUT, hey........it's our vacation and to somewhere I've never been before!! The extra bonus of this vacations is, my wife's brother is driving up from Miami to meet us for a couple of days. So, add on a motel room for 2 days and meals, "oh well, fun can/does cost money!!" But will have the video camera and camera ready for this vacation.
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