Planning (or trying my best) a group cruise out of NYC to the caribbean for July 2010. Everyone but myself, my husband and two 20-something sons have cruised before; therefore everyone has an opionon about Carnival ("I don't know any better"), except me. Also, the age range of the would-be cruisers run the age span between 10y-80y. I understand the more mature cruisers may like the elegance of a fancy ship, but then my kids are looking to party. Can everyone be happy? lol.
Unfortunately, in the summer the only cruises out of the NYC area are either Carnival Miracle, NCL Dawn, and RCL's Explorer. The price difference increases greatly between ships and cost is always a factor, especially in these economic times.
Is cruising on Carnival so bottom of the barrel? I get this from anyone I mention this too, even people not in our group.
No, Carnival isn't bottom of the barrel. Too often Carnival gets a bad rap from people that haven't even sailed on Carnival. Also, too often people judge Carnival based on one cruise, and that one cruise may not have been a good fit for them. For example; short 3/4 day cruises are cheaper by nature and will naturally draw a variety of clientele looking for a cheap get-a-way. This may mean the affordability of a short cruise may draw a much younger, drinking, partying crowd. This is true on any cruise line offering the 3/4 day itineraries, not just Carnival. The person who may have wanted a quieter, relaxed cruise may not fit well on a 3/4 day cruise. They then turn around and bad mouth the cruise line based on that one cruise. When in fact it may have been a totally pleasant experience on a longer 7day cruise which draws a different crowd. Carnival carries more Senior citizens than any cruise line.
The three cruise lines sailing out of NYC each have a different experience. The three ships you named are all great ships. But again; they are each different experiences. First, your cruise should never be based on price alone. I would recommend you find a cruise oriented Travel Agent and let them help you on which one of these ships will meet the needs of your whole group. All three ships will have activities for the young and old. But a mega ship may be too much walking for the older people, unless they are very agile, then it might be just fine. These are some of the things to consider when planning for the whole group. The NCL ship offers Freestyle cruising which means you have total flexibility for dining times. However; if your whole group wants to dine together every night, it may be easier on Carnival or RCI with the assigned dining. Again, I recommend you find a cruise oriented Travel Agent to help you with this group.
No, Carnival is not bottom of the barrel. We've cruised with them 5 times and had a perfectly good cruise. We've sailed with NCL, RCL, HAL, Princess, and Costa too (soon with Celebrity). They all have their strengths and their weaknesses. Carnival is no longer the "party" ships they once were, they are more family oriented now. These are just my impressions: NCL is more relaxed. RCL is more "gimmicky". HAL is typically more sedate. Princess is more elegant. Costa is more Italian. What I mean by "gimmicky" is more of a Vegas type atmosphere. What I mean by Italian is more of a huge Italian family on board, loads of children, but with it a lot of laughter and fun. I don't know what your friends mean by "bottom of the barrel". Do they mean that you can experience a great cruise for less money? Does it mean that you get good food not 5 star (which you'd only get on upscale lines)? Does it mean that their ships are clean with good ammenities? What were the complaints from your family members that have cruised Carnival? Do you have a good travel agent that specializes in cruises? If so, use their knowledge to help you make a decision. They have more than likely been on most every cruise line there is. They will also be able to match your expectations to the best possible ship. Since price is a consideration for all of us, they can compare the fares and come up with the best solution for you. Carnival is a very reputable line, and definitely not bottom of the barrel.
On our recent Royal Caribbean cruise I ran into a rather boorish person who bashed Carnival solely because he cruised with them 20 years ago and it was a 4 night party boat full of drunk college kids. That was then, and it was often true - back then. Carnival changed their focus in a big way in the late 1990s. They really had a culture change and went after mom and dad and their 2.5 kids, along with grandma and grandpa too. It wasn't so much out of sense of altruism as it was a motive to increase profits. Families spend more money than college kids and they don't break the furniture or vomit on the decks.
Carnival led the way in raising the drinking age to 21, refusing to book anyone under 21 unless they had someone 25 or older cruising with them, and other policy changes.
I love cruises with Carnival. I think they give more value per cruise dollar than any other mainstream line.
Carnival is definately not the bottom of the barrel. As Dave said a great value, excellant bang for the buck.. NOW as for the Miacle it is a wonderfull ship. All of the spirit class ships are great. They are my favorites of any cruise line, and I have been on a few.. You will not be disapointed..
Thank you, thank you, one and all. So happy to find FOUR responses to my question. I'm going to encourage the other planners in the group to log on to this website; it's been extremely informative on many topics. I received my Carnival vacation planner DVD today and can't wait to view it.
We hope you can get your planners to log in, we really will try to answer any questions. I do want to add a little. If everyone wants a 5 star cruise, don't go with a mainstream line. You need to check Crystal, Seabourn, maybe Azumara, Cunard, and Regent (I'm sure there are others, too). Your very best bet is to find a good travel agent that specializes in cruises. They will be able to match your requirements to the perfect fit. However, if you want a good value cruise, the mainsteam lines will be a good fit. Best wishes!
I passed on all the info and suggestions you've given me. I feel badly if I gave the impression that I was attempting to travel with a bunch of cruise-snobs; that's so not true. Everyone in the group has cruised before, with the exception of my immediate family, so they have more insight than I do. We can all agree that it's the Caribbean we want, but we're limited with choices leaving out of NYC in July. In fact the only 2 Caribbean choices are Carnival, and RCL with leaves from Port Liberty in NJ. NCL's Dawn goes to Bermuda only. So our options are slim, and the price difference between them considerable. We're not looking for a big luxury cruise, just a good time on a nice ship.
I have encouraged one and all to take advantage of this terrific site. The amount of info here is incredible. Thanks again!
The Miracle is a great ship too... You should find exactly what you are looking for in either the Miracle or the Royal Caribbean ship... Pick the ones that suits your budget, you won't go wrong either way.
================================================== ========== Carnival Cruise Lines:
Fantasy 90, Celebration 95, Victory 05, Conquest 05, Spirit 6/06, Freedom 6/08, Holiday 7/08, Victory 6/09, Valor 9/09, Dream 6/10, Splendor 8/10,Conquest 8/11,Magic 11/11,Triumph 4/12,Spirit 7/12,Freedom 11/12, Triumph 2/13 - The fire cruise
NCL Dream October 2006, RCCL Mariner OTS June 2007
VickiD59, unless we live in south Florida, the pickings are pretty slim. We only have 1 ship that sails out of Mobile, and doesn't offer a whole bunch of itineraries either. I was hoping more would go out of Mobile, New Orleans, or Charleston, but doesn't seem like that will happen anytime soon. New York surprises me, though, with all the people in the surrounding area. I guess it's because of the weather. South Florida, you're almost assured of decent weather. Like Jim said, both Royal and Carnival are good lines.