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Old 07-20-2018, 06:27 AM
 
1,518 posts, read 2,450,308 times
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We did an Alaskan cruise in 2014. Didn't want to do Caribbean since we can do that anytime - this was the pre-kid cruise. Doing my homework beforehand, I knew right away we weren't even going to bother with Carnival, I didn't even look at them to compare prices or itineraries. We wound up doing Celebrity, on the Solstice out of Seattle. Loved it. Plenty big enough to not feel crowded, decent excursions (our favorite was taking a helicopter flight out and walking around on a glacier). Food was top notch in both the cafe and the main dining room for dinner, we also did dinner one night in one of the specialty restaurants - great steak. Not too many kids on board, but a good mix of age ranges too - some younger like us (early/mid 30's) and some older folks too with great stories to tell. Things I'd recommend, based on experience:

1. Get a room with a balcony. Great views. For us, standing out there as we went through Tracy Arm was breathtaking.
2. Eat at a specialty place at least once. The dining room was great though, made a few friends along the way.
3. Take a GOOD camera, not a cell phone. You'll appreciate it. I carried a bag full of camera gear on board and used every bit of it - I took 3 cameras with me (DSLR with a few lenses, a waterproof/shockproof camera and a normal point and shoot).
4. Get the drink package if you're a drinker. We're not big drinkers at all so we didn't. I had a couple bottles of beer a night with dinner and the Mrs. went through a half bottle of wine every couple days. At least on our ship, if you bought the bottle and didn't finish it, they'd cork and store it for you.
5. Check with concierge and see if they do a ships tour. It's cool to see the inner workings of the ship and visit the bridge. I think it was a hundred bucks or so for us and included lunch with a few officers at the end. Meeting the Captain was fun, hearing some of the stories the officers had was fun as well.
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Old 07-20-2018, 07:07 AM
 
Location: Coastal Georgia
37,090 posts, read 45,584,713 times
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I have not been on Carnival. Iíve avoided it because it seem like the McDonaldís of cruise lines. This may be unfair. I donít want to be on a cheap cruise, I want a more elegant experience, so Iíd choose Royal Caribbean.

If I were in your shoes, Iíd just chose one that has the active tours at the ports, and next year, try the other and see how you feel about them.
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Old 07-20-2018, 08:00 AM
 
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Not that much difference between Carnival and Royal Carribean, with Carnival being the slightly more "party, children running around everwhere" boat...but only slightly.

These carribean cruises are really meant and marketed for the poor masses that want to travel but can't afford to do real travel, are too scared to go on there own, or have kids that need a controlled space. Generic ships, generic food, generic "fake plastic" port stops in the Carribean. I saw "McDonald's" mentioned and that's a good description - the "McDonald's" of the travel industry and I would apply it to any of these standard carribean cruise lines, not only Carnival. I am going to be frank with you - from your description of what you like I suspect you will end up hating the cruise, or at least going once and never to return. But if nothing else you can avoid the circus that is the ship itself by finding a quite place just to relax, or get a balcony room and just relax on your private balcony. Don't expect any adventure or genuine culture or history in those tired old port stops, but again just relax and take it for what it is.
For myself, I do like cruises, but I deplore and hate with a passion Carribean cruises. If you really want a great cruise take one leaving from Europe or Asia, or take one of those smaller (and much more expensive) cruise ships.
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Old 07-20-2018, 08:06 AM
 
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We've been sailing on both Carnival and Royal Caribbean for the last 20 years. My husband and I cruised a lot in our late 20's before we had kids. We sailed both lines and found that both of them were comparable to each other. If you're not sure you'll like cruising going on a shorter one is a great idea. We just returned from a Carnival cruise that left out of Miami. It was a 5 day that went to Key West and Cozumel. We swam with dolphins in Cozumel and it was a highlight of the trip.

The paradise is a smaller ship. It used to be Carnival's only non smoking ship. It didn't do well so they had to discontinue the non smoking part of it. I think I would suggest you go Royal Caribbean. I don't think Carnival ships are the party ships. We noticed on our cruise in July that it was a pretty low key trip. Our kids were with us so we spent a lot of time in the main pool area (We were on the Victory and they have a main pool and then an adult pool/hot tubs in the back of the ship). We played bingo and we also enjoyed almost all of the dive in movies in the evenings. They have a huge movie screen above the main pool and played Tomb Raider, Jumangi, Star Wars, Black Panther, Captain America (3 maybe), Peter Rabbit and Coco. They change movies monthly.

We are taking the kids on another cruise at Christmas and we are going to go Royal Caribbean. We want more kid friendly things and they have a cruise with a good price on one of the bigger ships. We looked into Carnival's bigger ships but you have to do 7 days and I think that would be to many for the kids at this point.

We've always booked ourselves. You can check out the Cru Con website, Expedia, Travelocity and the Cruise websites themselves. I've read that people have also booked through Costco as well. I think if you really wanted something port intensive maybe the travel agent route would be good but for a 5 day see if we like this trip I wouldn't go the TA route.
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Old 07-20-2018, 08:21 AM
 
Location: Phoenix, AZ > Raleigh, NC
15,060 posts, read 18,985,577 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bUU View Post
.

I've cruised on Sonesta, Royal Caribbean, Holland America, and Carnival. They are all offering a product commensurate with their price.

Having said that, it is important to understand how the pricing of cruise lines is structured. While you can always find anecdotal examples contrary to the general cases, the general cases are such:

- Economy cruise lines: Carnival, Royal Caribbean, NCL, MSC
- Premium cruise lines: Holland America, Princess, Celebrity
- Luxury cruise lines: Azmara, Seven Seas, Silversea

.
With due respect, I disagree with you classification. We've sailed on Carnival, RCCL, NCL, MSC, Holland America, Princess, and Celebrity. (I've never heard of Sonesta. A Google search shows that they sail only the Nile.). There is A LOT of elasticity in these classifications, mostly related to specific ships and maybe itinerary.

-Economy cruise lines, Carnival. Maybe NCL. Maybe Costa.
-Mass market, middle market cruise lines - HAL, Princess, Celebrity (who is striving to move into a higher level market), MSC. Maybe NFL. Maybe Costa.
- More Luxurious mass market, upper middle market - Azmara, Viking Ocean, Oceana.
- True luxury cruise lines - Regent Seven Seas, Silver Sea, Crystal, Cunard, Paul Gauigan, Seabourn.

Disney falls into its own category, as does Windstar, imo (though some would put it in True Luxury.)

BTW - out of the 7 lines we've cruised, the only one we would not go on again is RCCL. Too many kids for us, but PERFECT for families. We would be very hesitant to return to Carnival - we might be grandparents to the other passengers.

I'm interested in what our resident ex-travel agent, nmmita, has to say on this topic.

ETA: Dd714's criticism is WAY over the top. I agree with him/her about certain ports (Freeport, Nassau, and some others), but there are plenty of places in the Caribbean that are pleasant, can be a bit adventurous, and certainly don't resemble s circus unless one flocks to the endless row of jewelry shops.
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Old 07-20-2018, 08:46 AM
 
3,412 posts, read 3,218,643 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jkgourmet View Post
With due respect, I disagree with you classification. We've sailed on Carnival, RCCL, NCL, MSC, Holland America, Princess, and Celebrity. (I've never heard of Sonesta. A Google search shows that they sail only the Nile.). There is A LOT of elasticity in these classifications, mostly related to specific ships and maybe itinerary.

- Maybe Costa.
-Mass market, middle market cruise lines - HAL, Princess, Celebrity (who is striving to move into a higher level market), MSC. Maybe NFL. Maybe Costa.
- More Luxurious mass market, upper middle market - Azmara, Viking Ocean, Oceana.
- True luxury cruise lines - Regent Seven Seas, Silver Sea, Crystal, Cunard, Paul Gauigan, Seabourn.

Disney falls into its own category, as does Windstar, imo (though some would put it in True Luxury.)

BTW - out of the 7 lines we've cruised, the only one we would not go on again is RCCL. Too many kids for us, but PERFECT for families. We would be very hesitant to return to Carnival - we might be grandparents to the other passengers.

I'm interested in what our resident ex-travel agent, nmmita, has to say on this topic.

ETA: Dd714's criticism is WAY over the top. I agree with him/her about certain ports (Freeport, Nassau, and some others), but there are plenty of places in the Caribbean that are pleasant, can be a bit adventurous, and certainly don't resemble s circus unless one flocks to the endless row of jewelry shops.
That's not true. We went parasailing in Key West and one of the other pairs parasailing were in their early 60's - mid 60's. There were a lot of older passengers. We tried out a suite for the first time and our next door neighbors were older (50's/60's) and were token it up!

I do agree with the poster about most of his classifications. The economy are Carnival, Royal and NCL. I've never cruised Costa so not sure about that one. I'm not sure that I would put Celebrity in the middle market.
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Old 07-20-2018, 09:39 AM
 
Location: Denver CO
21,152 posts, read 11,754,604 times
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Are there differences within the lines too? Like the newer or newly revamped ships will be more expensive than a smaller, older, non-refurbished one? Or is that not the case?
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Old 07-20-2018, 10:04 AM
 
3,412 posts, read 3,218,643 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emm74 View Post
Are there differences within the lines too? Like the newer or newly revamped ships will be more expensive than a smaller, older, non-refurbished one? Or is that not the case?
The older ships are usually less expensive but that's because the smaller ships do shorter routes and fewer days than the bigger ships. We were going to take a 4 day cruise on the Carnival Liberty at Christmas. It goes to two ports (Carnival's private island and Freeport Bahamas). It was around $2900 for a spa balcony on the 11th deck. When we returned from our cruise in July, I told my husband we need to go on a different bigger ship. He agreed. I looked up the bigger Carnival ships and found the Carnival Breeze. It was an 8 day and a balcony on the 2nd deck was $4300. Keep in mind it's Christmas week.

I'm not sure that there are any ships that haven't been refurbished. They all go in to dry dock at some point to get repairs or updates. Carnival's are called the 2.0 where some of their ships got Guy's burgers, Red Frog Rum Bar, The Blue Iguana (burrito place) and a slide and splash area.
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Old 07-20-2018, 03:06 PM
bUU
 
Location: Georgia
11,879 posts, read 8,653,891 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jkgourmet View Post
With due respect, I disagree with you classification.
That's inevitable, but my classification is an average of the opinions out there. Regardless, your leaving out Royal Caribbean entirely (even though you've cruised on the line), and shifting MSC up to a level that, quite frankly, it doesn't deserve according to many who have cruised on her, is too small of a difference to be concerned about.

I don't have a major problem with you separating luxury into two sub-levels, because it's not relevant to this OP's question. Regardless, I think that division is unnecessary: Azamara isn't long for this earth imho. And Oceania and Viking Ocean aren't really luxury - just very high quality mass market.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jkgourmet View Post
(I've never heard of Sonesta. A Google search shows that they sail only the Nile.)
It was an incredible cruise.
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Old 07-20-2018, 03:09 PM
bUU
 
Location: Georgia
11,879 posts, read 8,653,891 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emm74 View Post
Are there differences within the lines too? Like the newer or newly revamped ships will be more expensive than a smaller, older, non-refurbished one? Or is that not the case?
It is absolutely the case. Big differences within some of the lines, but to be honest they correlate very strongly to what I alluded to earlier: Big differences between cruises of different lengths: 3-5 days cruises are in one category; 6-14 day cruises in another category; and the cruises longer than two weeks in a category of their own.
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