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Old 11-05-2015, 07:37 AM
 
Location: NC
6,394 posts, read 4,475,598 times
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Want to ask this locally, because my strong preference is to DRIVE to the port, not have to fly. It means Charleston, Virginia Beach, Wilmington would be ideal, and Florida is "doable".

Looking to test the waters (pun intended) with my first cruise, my 16-year daughter will be with me.

Looking for 3-4 nights, Caribbean, Kid Friendly, Easy to book, and fairly cost effective.

Not catching some form of airborne virus would be nice too.

Does anyone have experience they can share with regards to cruiselines that fit the bill, and how to book them? If it matters, I'm a Costco member.
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Old 11-05-2015, 08:03 AM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
8,359 posts, read 12,065,288 times
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I'm not an expert on cruises, but cruises out of Florida tend to be much cheaper and more plentiful than out of the other ports. Jacksonville, Florida has a lot of choices and is still driveable. Also, Florida tends to have the shorter cruises to the Caribbean because it is closer.

Carnival Cruise tend to be among the cheapest. With a 16-year old, it might fit the bill. Some people complain about them because they are not as "refined" as other cruise lines - and perhaps if it were for a honeymoon, it might not be the best choice, but with kids, it is fun. We took a Carnival cruise with my kids and whole extended family a few years back and it was perfect. We booked directly with the cruise line, I believe, but there are also a lot of online sites like cruises.com that you can book through or you can seek out a local travel agent.
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Old 11-05-2015, 08:10 AM
 
Location: Apex, NC
404 posts, read 461,966 times
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Never booked one myself but my parents have used AAA to book.
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Old 11-05-2015, 08:21 AM
 
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I typically use an online travel agent - Crucon is my preferred agent and we can usually get some extras/incentives when we book through them (onboard credit, free dinner at one of the specialty venues, etc).

In terms of the ports you're looking at, you won't have much luck. There are no cruiselines that cruise out of Wilmington or Virginia Beach. Carnival cruises out of Charleston but the ships they place there, the Carnival Fantasy and Carnival Ecstasy are their oldest and least nice and the itineraries they run out of Charleston are little more than 3-5 day booze cruises. My wife cruised on Ecstasy out of Miami earlier this year and just didn't have much fun. We're fans of Royal Caribbean and feel like they have the most bang for your buck, especially cruising with a teen. Within driving distance they have Grandeur of the Seas out of Baltimore and Freedom of the Seas out of Port Canaveral. Freedom is something else - great shows (including an ice show), a surf simulator, a rock wall - definitely can't get bored on that ship! She does cruises to the Caribbean and we love those itineraries, especially the Eastern Caribbean one that includes a stop at Royal's private island, Coco Cay. We've also been on Grandeur - little less to do, and an older ship (built in the mid '90s, but overhauled and refurbished a couple years ago) - she mainly cruises to Bermuda and Canada/New England. If you don't mind the drive to Port Canaveral, Freedom of the Seas would be my choice.
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Old 11-05-2015, 08:47 AM
 
Location: Raleigh, NC
3,154 posts, read 3,822,226 times
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Cruise Critic (Cruise Reviews, Cruise Deals and Cruises - Cruise Critic) is a good source of info, reviews, etc.
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Old 11-05-2015, 09:16 AM
 
282 posts, read 208,694 times
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All good advice above, particularly about short, inexpensive "booze cruises" that either cruise to nowhere or just go back and forth to Bahamas. It's where old cruise ships go to die.

Cruise critic is always my go-to resource for cruise advice, there are both general and cruise-line specific forums. All of which are very active.

We always use an online agent as well. It's typically about the same price as booking direct with the cruise-line, but we have usually gotten an on-board credit. When we have wanted to change rooms, change dates, etc even outside the normal date ranges, they were able to call and get things done based upon the volume of bookings they do and relationships they have.

We have done Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Disney, and one Carnival cruise (wasn't at all a fit for us). For a 16 year old, I'd recommend Royal Caribbean, the Oasis or Allure of the Seas would be my personal choice for the range of activities and size.
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Old 11-05-2015, 09:46 AM
 
1,477 posts, read 1,879,943 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wake74 View Post
All good advice above, particularly about short, inexpensive "booze cruises" that either cruise to nowhere or just go back and forth to Bahamas. It's where old cruise ships go to die.

Cruise critic is always my go-to resource for cruise advice, there are both general and cruise-line specific forums. All of which are very active.

We always use an online agent as well. It's typically about the same price as booking direct with the cruise-line, but we have usually gotten an on-board credit. When we have wanted to change rooms, change dates, etc even outside the normal date ranges, they were able to call and get things done based upon the volume of bookings they do and relationships they have.

We have done Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Disney, and one Carnival cruise (wasn't at all a fit for us). For a 16 year old, I'd recommend Royal Caribbean, the Oasis or Allure of the Seas would be my personal choice for the range of activities and size.
Oasis and Allure are wonderful, unfortunately they both cruise out of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, FL right now. Oasis is scheduled to move to Port Canaveral, although I'm not sure when that repositioning is scheduled to take place.
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Old 11-05-2015, 10:09 AM
 
Location: Phoenix, AZ > Raleigh, NC
14,310 posts, read 17,519,551 times
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I'll send you a PM with the contact information for the cruise agent I've used and recommended several times. In fact, I 'met' her through another CD poster who recommended her!

While I understand your concerns about getting sick on an airplane flight (it's happened to me too often), the same risk exists on cruise ships. There's still a lot of people in an enclosed area with recirculated air. Worst case of bronchitis I ever had was on a cruise ship. Awful.

Does that stop us from going? No. Nor have we stopped flying in airplanes. Personally, if I'm going to devote my time and money on a vacation, I want it to be a great one. Hence, I'll skip the older, crummy ships that sail out from Baltimore and Charleston.
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Old 11-05-2015, 12:46 PM
 
Location: Raleigh, NC
772 posts, read 1,015,053 times
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Default Cruise Critic

Quote:
Originally Posted by don6170 View Post
Cruise Critic (Cruise Reviews, Cruise Deals and Cruises - Cruise Critic) is a good source of info, reviews, etc.
No matter who you book with, I will absolutely second Cruise Critic as a wonderful resource. Once you decide on a cruise, join the Roll Call for your cruise and start "talking" with others who will be on your boat.
Many groups will have a meet and great on the first or second day on board which is a great way to meet people and socialize. Many times the officers will attend and you can ask questions, or even get a tour of normally restricted crew areas. We got a tour of the Bridge with the Captain on one cruise.

One of my best cruises was a two week Mediterranean cruise with a friend about 10 years ago. We joined the Roll Call and met so many great people, shared excursions, met for dinner or activities on board. SO much fun!
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