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Old 10-03-2004, 02:37 PM
von von is offline
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I am looking to take a western caribbean cruise early next summer with my family. (kids are 7 and 9) This will be our first cruise and I am looking for help in finding a nice family friendly ship. Which ships are the best?
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Old 10-03-2004, 02:37 PM
von von is offline
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I am looking to take a western caribbean cruise early next summer with my family. (kids are 7 and 9) This will be our first cruise and I am looking for help in finding a nice family friendly ship. Which ships are the best?
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Old 10-03-2004, 03:08 PM
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Hi and welcome to cruise-chat. I know you posted this in the Carnival forum, but I would strongly recommend Royal Caribbean, particularly one the Voyager class ships (Voyager, Explorer, Adventure, Navigator and Mariner of the Seas). They are definitely family friendly, their youth program is one of the most best at sea and the Voyager class ships are extremely popular with first-timers, as well as seasoned cruisers.
Nancy
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Old 10-31-2004, 06:20 AM
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we did an e. caribbean cruise with a 9(girl) and 11(boy)year old on carnival triumph and here is what I will paste on for your review. hope it helps...
I would like to supply a review for families going on their first cruise. My husband and I searched all the cruise sites for reviews to read and prepare us for our first trip and while we do understand that everything is not going to satisfy everybody, we felt that most of the reviews were only about what people didn't like and not really about the whole experience...thus, we didn't know what to expect at all. Now that we have gone on the cruise, I would like to give my version in hopes that it might help some of you who can't find the info you've been hoping for. First of all, we booked our flight into Miami 2 days prior to sail, which worked out perfectly, so we could pick up last minute items we did not want to take on the plane with us (such as sun screen, it's $10.00 a bottle on the ship, reading material (it's limited in the gift shop on the ship, although there is a library as well). Anyway, it worked out great, we then had the Thrifty car rental bus drop us off at the port when we returned the rental car(all the car rental buses go right to the ships at no charge.) We were told that cabs cost $45 one way (for those of you who were wondering) and there seemed to be plenty of them. We arrived at the cruise ship terminal and dropped the bags with the color coded deck tags completed and attached(if you don't want to be held up, it pays to have this done ahead) at he baggage crates, they're right in front of the ship so you can't miss them. You will be surrounded by baggage handlers, which do expect to get tipped so have some small bills on hand cause they " don't have any change" .We then took our carry ons and went to check in at the terminal, it's quite a bit of walking up and down escalators, at the desk, we had our FunPass completed online before we came and it went quick, we just had to hand it to the clerk with our birth certificates and photo ID and put a credit card down for the Sail and Sign card, which she then issued to us and we were on our way. The Sail and Sign card is your room key, credit card and ID card while on the ship. They do not accept cash on the boat at all. The kids(we had 2, ages 9&11) also get their own cards which are linked to the master account, you are able to give charging privileges to whoever you want by initialing next to that persons name. We just did the adults, but you can do the kids as well. At the gangway you are photographed and this picture is directly linked to your card. Another picture is taken of the family as you enter the ship (you can view and buy this picture later in the photo gallery). The Triumph has 12 decks and we booked the family stateroom, which is the 220 sq. ft. room with floor to ceiling windows on the Spa deck. There are only 15 rooms on this deck vs. 50+ rooms on some of the lower decks. Our room was on the Starboard side of the ship and while we didn't have a balcony, we had a perfect view of each port and of the ocean.
We found the room to be comfortable , clean and quiet. 2 bathrobes are provided during the cruise, there were ample towels, toiletries(disposable razors, shampoo packets, toothpaste, Rolaids, floss, lotion, etc.)We had a nice shower with hot water and great water pressure! There is a king bed(2 doubles made up as one) a convertible couch and a bunk that pulls down from the ceiling. The room is air conditioned, as are all indoor places on the ship. I was able to get 3 extra blankets without a problem. Our room steward, Antoine, was great, he brought us anything we needed promptly. My husband had his formal wear pressed and Antoine took care of it so we didn't have to worry, he hung the clothes in our cabin while we were out exploring the ship. They also made cute little animals, like elephants and monkeys out of bath towels, a different one every night, which the kids adored. Our steward even taught the kids how to do it when we requested it. The television has a few complimentary channels. There is a cartoon channel, news, and movie channel that shows a different newer movie each day (The Punisher and Dodgeball are the 2 I remember, we really didn't have much time to watch T.V. with all the exciting activities on board). There is also a channel that lets you view your purchases and total on your Sail&Sign card and book shore excursions, it's user friendly. The other channel is videos of the days events, it shows the passengers in the contests and relaxing on deck throughout the day. You can buy a copy of this video in the photo gallery. There is 24 hour room service from the menu in the room, it is excellent and prompt. There is no charge but you do have to sign a receipt. Sail away is great, we stood on the deck watching Miami behind us. More pictures are taken to buy later during this time. The bags are delivered to the cabin throughout the evening, so if your bag isn't there right away, don't worry, it will be there while you're enjoying dinner or one of the evenings activities. The first night is a casually dressed dinner, since some of the 3000+ guests don't have all their bags yet. There are 2 dining rooms. The Paris dining room is located AFT (back of the ship), the London dining room is located FORWARD ( front of the ship) and there is an upper and lower seating arrangement. We only ate in the Paris dining room once (the London is closed while in port so everyone eats in the Paris, it's open seating as well.) On the Sail & Sign card it will tell you which dining room , table and time you are. There are 2 dinner times Main 6:15 pm and Late 8:30 pm. We had the main seating and it worked great because the kids dinner is at 5:45pm.(with Camp Carnival in the South Beach Club). We had our own table and sat at this table every night the entire 7 days. Remember these are assigned seats, so nobody will take your seat if you happen to be a little late, but don't be too late or you will miss your assigned eating times. There were others that shared a table (maybe 2 different cabins) and they were the lower priced cabins. The menu for the dining rooms is exactly the same and is posted daily outside the dining room door. Our servers, Weston and Cornelia, were great, they were very quick. The food is prepared exactly how you order it (I ordered my beef medium rare and that's exactly how I got it). You can order as many as you want of the appetizers, salads, entrees, desserts. We had lobster one night and ordered 3 plates of it. The food was excellent. The kids can order in the dining room from the kids menu or they can order from the regular menu. Again, they can order as many as they want. We had a spa appointment one night and we told our waiters and they brought our food out quickly so we could make it. The maitre d and staff put on a show every night in the dining rooms, it's very entertaining. The Cruise Director goes over team points also. What I mean by this is, on the first night in the dining room there will be a colored piece of paper on the table, that is your team color, it will be either red, white or blue. Points are given out at the various activities for teams and tallied at the end of the cruise and the winners are announced, prizes of various sorts are given for teams with the highest points. If you don't like fancy cuisine, there are other options, the buffet, located in the South Beach restaurant, Aft, is served breakfast, lunch and dinner (as are the dining rooms, but we only ate dinner in the dining room) and is different every day. There are salads, fish, various hot entrees, bread , fruit, desserts, carved meat, and pasta at this buffet. There are also 2 smaller buffets, Lido deck, around the main pool, these serve hamburgers, hot dogs, fries, and a couple of entrees. In the Lido deck, Aft, there is a Grill and a Pizzeria. The Pizzeria is open 24/7. I didn't have anything there, but all my son ate the whole trip was pizza and he said it was great!! It also has a salad or two and calzone. Just inside the door to the South Beach buffet, Lido deck, Aft, is the Chinese restaurant(port side), my husband and daughter ate there for lunch several times and said it was great(they serve different entrees, eggrolls every day), on the Starboard side, Lido deck, Aft, at the South Beach buffet is the New York Deli, my husband had sushi for lunch and said it was okay, we didn't get any custom deli sandwiches there, but I saw a lot of passengers with them and they looked good. Overall, we had plenty to eat and the food was great. They do offer a small late night snack bar at different eateries on the lido deck, your daily ship newspaper (your cabin steward will lay it on your bed each night) will tell you where it is for that day. The Grand Buffet is open late one night and it is great. You definitely will not go hungry on this ship. The drink stations(self service tea, coffee, juice, lemonade, water) are available 24/7. If you want soda or alcohol, you have to get them at the bars. We bought soda cards for the kids $30 for unlimited soda and it worked out great. There are daily special cocktails (again, posted in the ship's daily newspaper), beer and mixed drinks at any of the various bars (there are so many bars, I don't know if I could name them all). I will tell you that they make them with a heavy hand. 2 Vodka-Cranberries and I was feeling it!! The drinks are great however you have to remember that that is how they make their $$, it is not outrageous just a little more than a normal bar. On the Lido deck, there are 3 bars, 3 pools and 6 hot tubs. The water slide comes down from Deck 12 to Deck 9. My daughter went on the water slide and said it was fun, so fun she did it all afternoon one day. On Deck 11 is Children's World, a playroom for the young ones Ages 2-8, they may take them younger, but I didn't see any that young. The Spa/Beauty Shop/ Gym are also located on this floor. We had the "Couples Massage" while in port(port days are cheaper by about $20) and I was very pleased. It was about $220, tips extra. They will announce the Spa specials in the ship's newspaper each day. I also had the foot massage and pedicure ($55), the staff was great. We toured the gym and it was well outfitted, but didn't make it there to work out due to the various activities (there is so much to do, you can't possibly do it in one day).Besides, we were on vacation. There are Ladies locker rooms and Menís locker rooms with key lock lockers, robes, sauna and steam (I did go in both of these and there were only 2 of us in there). Above the Spa deck is Deck 12, it houses Tech World, which is where most of the activities for the 9-11 year olds are. There is a big screen T.V., board games and Playstation 2 as well as some computers. The kids will be given a list of all the activities on the first night when you go to the Camp Carnival orientation. This is where you will meet the counselors and register the kids. My kids had an absolute blast. They had organized activities and made new friends. There was a movie night, pizza pig out, deck games, playstation, ice cream social, bingo, dancing, talent show, face painting, swimming, free play, etc. Camp Carnival program is over at 10 pm (allowing plenty of couple time) and then they start babysitting from 10pm-3 am at the rate of $6/hr for the first child and $4/hr for the second child (which is about the same as you would pay a babysitter at home). The kids went to this a couple of times and didn't want to leave. There are also 2 nights that "Ultimate Overnighter" is offered, it's all night till 8 am and is $32 for the first child and $25 for the second. They enjoyed this one too. Our camp counselors were Justine (Canada) and Andrea (Romania) and they were excellent with the kids. There appeared to be plenty of 9-11 year old kids on the ship and they quickly learned cabin phone numbers and called constantly,( thank goodness we were out ), just like at home!!! There are also phones all around the ship that they can call from to tell you where they are or where they want you to pick them up or are going. The 9-11 year olds can also check themselves in and out of "camp carnival" so remember you do not need to be there to check them in or out, but remember to hand them their sail and sign cards for them to get into their cabins. For the younger than 9-11's don't worry that they cannot sign themselves in or out. If you happen to be late to pick them up on the days or nights they are closing they will send your kids to the cabin or if you request it they will walk them there. You can also request that your kids or kid not be able to sign themselves out if you are not sure of them getting lost or not, or if you have a 9 year old daughter like ours who will walk off with her friends and hang out in their cabins. You may also rent a two way radio to keep track of where your kids are at, but before you do that, find out how many folks have rented them because if you remember one of those radios goes to your kids who love to talk on them with other kids on the same channel. I didn't find one channel out of 32 channels that was empty or without kids chatting on them. Simply don't get them, just tell your kids to tell you where they are going and if they decide to change their little minds which will happen, tell them to call you on the phones. Oh yeah and the radios are $40.00 for the entire trip to rent. On all of the outside decks there are deck chairs, I read that there were problems getting a deck chair to sunbathe, I even had a friend tell me this as well, we had absolutely no problem finding a chair. On the Lido deck, which is where the pools and band are during the day, as well as the team activities (Survivor, hairy chest contest,etc.) it can get a little crowded, but we still were able to find chairs close to where we had wanted to sit. Beach towels are provided in your cabin, just don't lose them or you'll get charged $22 each. We had excellent weather and it was relaxing out on the deck. The pools are saltwater as are the hot tubs and they do drain and clean them nightly. Up on the top deck, Aft, is a jogging track and where some of the deck games are played. It does get breezy up there at night. Floors 6-8 were all rooms. On floor 5, more entertainment, the gift shop was on the Starboard, forward side and the Jewelry shop was on the Port ,forward side, there are daily specials announced in the ship's daily newspaper for both, as well as drawings and raffles for merchandise. Floor 5, Aft, houses all of the clubs, casino, espresso stand, arcade and many different photographers with different backgrounds for formal night. There is also a formal shop for tuxedo rental and special occasion cakes, champagne, roses and candy. The casino is diversified and is always jam packed. It closes when in port, as do the shops. The casino was good fun. I forgot to mention that smoking is allowed on the port side of the ship only. I have heard that people "could not get away from the smoke", we did not find this to be true at all. The casino, of course, is a smoking room. There were several bars that are smoke free. In the various bars on this floor, were activities such as wine tasting, dancing, karaoke, the casino also had several tournaments going on. There is a golf simulator and internet cafe and they charge you accordingly. We danced in the Hollywood Disco one night and the music was varied (60's-present), as was the crowd. It was allot of fun. The games in the Casino take cash or a Sail&Sign card. The games in the Arcade take quarters or tokens (you can get change in the casino) and they are $1 a piece. There seemed to be plenty of games in the arcade and it was my kids favorite place on the ship when Camp Carnival was closed between 4:45-5:45pm. The photo gallery is located on deck 4 forward, the pictures are placed on display and you find your own and take it to the counter for purchase or place the ones you don't want in the bins for disposal. There are 4 long staircases where you can take your own photos or have them professionally done, we did this and it turned out great! There are also side decks on this floor and they have lounge chairs on them. The piano bar has violinists and a chex mix type snack as well as drinks. The information desk and shore excursion desk are also on this floor. The Rome Lounge is located forward and is where all the shows are. We attended the Vegas style show (excellent) and the Magic show (excellent). The kids attend all the shows with Camp Carnival and they have reserved seating. The adults are on their own for seating, so I suggest you get there early if it's something you really want to see. We showed up about 20 min prior and didn't have a problem. There are drinks available at every show. During the day, they had Bingo and game shows such as the Newlywed game and Name that show, tune, person. Bingo gave out prizes up to $1000. You do have to buy the bingo cards, they are $10 for 1, $20 for 3, etc. This is another place where you can use cash or your S&S card. There are 2 ATMs on board, one outside the jewelry store and one in the casino, the ATM fee is $5.50. The excursions are well planned. We booked our St.Thomas snorkel & beach the night before on the T.V. ($39 each) and our tickets were delivered to our cabin along with where to meet in the morning. We all then got off at 9 am and into the open safari bus, to the dive shop for gear (which was included in the price) and to the beach, this excursion was 3 hours and was great. It gave us time to play on the ship in the afternoon.St. Thomas was gorgeous and we had a great time. Wait to shop until St. Maarten, it's cheaper. They do Island braids at the beauty shop on board, however, we were approached by a local woman at the beach in St. Thomas and my daughter got beads and braids done for 1/2 the price. St. Maarten is shopping. Take the water boat across the other harbor, it's $5 per adult, kids 12 and under are free. There are little shops everywhere and they will bargain with you. Liquor is cheaper here too. We went to beach here. It is crushed seashells and they are everywhere, we collect some of the whole ones to take home. Very beautiful. We didn't get off the ship in San Juan, we were only there for a few hours. The view into San Juan port is impressive with the castles and forts. There was a huge deck party on board this night. Overall, I would say this was an excellent trip for the money and for families. We will definitely cruise again!!!!
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Old 10-31-2004, 07:20 AM
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We did a 7 day Royal Carribean cruise with three children aged 9, 7 & 5. We had adjoining cabins with a doorway between the cabins. This was very convenient. Our children absolutely loved the kids program. Some of the nights our children took advantage of the option to dine with the children's counselors. There were also activities that involved the children and the parents. We take a big trip with our children every two years and this was the best trip we have taken together. I would definately take the children on Royal Carribean again.
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Old 10-31-2004, 09:51 AM
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Wow, mrn - what a thorough answer to the question. I hope you have submitted this review to CruiseReviews.com for posting with the other Carnival reviews. Thanks for the detailed information.
Nancy
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