My husband and I have never been on a cruise and truthfully, we have no idea where to even start. There are sooooo many websites out there, that its easy to feel completely overwhelmed.
We are basically looking for relaxation, great food, some gambling and a beautiful environment. We will probably go on a few shore excursions but we're not looking to go all the time, lol. My husband is 57 and I will be 50 sooner than I'd like
We live in NC, so a carribean cruise is what we are looking at but we have no idea which islands we should go to. We are neither heavy drinkers or big partiers anymore and since we have rarely ever been able to go on vacations due to work and finances, we are willing to pay a little bit more.
If anyone could recommend a cruise line or point me in the right direction, I would greatly appreciate it! Oh...I don't know how important this is but my hubby is 6'3" tall, so some room in a shower might be a good thing, .
I look forward to your replies!!!
Two cruise lines that stand out to me using your criteria are Princess and Celebrity, and perhaps Holland America. Since it will be your first cruise, no matter which ship you choose it will dazzle you. These cruise lines are more reserved than some others, both in ship decor and how the cruise experience is presented. Celebrity's Solstice-class ships are like floating spas.
Now, if you want to really be bowled over you might want to consider one of the Oasis-class ships of Royal Caribbean. They cost more than cruises on other ships but these are both amazing ships that will let you do as much or as little as you want. I've been on both the Oasis and the Allure and am headed back to the Oasis next June. I
A lot of the cruise experience these days involves extra fees for certain things on the ship, and thus it is important to realize cruising on the major lines is not 'all-inclusive'. To do that you need to look at ultra-lux lines and that is often, but not always, out of reach of the average working person.
Welcome!! As we say here, once you do one cruise, you will be hooked. MY suggestion would be one of Royal Caribbean's Voyager Class ships as a starting off point. The price point for a first timer isn't too bad, and will give you a "middle of the class" size view for a first trip. There are larger ships, as Dave stated above, and smaller ships. In MY case, to me, the ship IS the cruise. However we have done some excursions, and have repeated a few in the past, but we like to relax and NOT have our day planned for us, or by us, too much. RCL has three dining time options, 6pm and 8:30pm each evening, and a thing called "My Time Dining", where you can select whatever time you wish to eat. Also. this class ship usually has two speciality restaurants, Chops and Portifinos (steak dining and Itialian dining) for a small extra cost, a great buffet for breakfast and lunch and dinner (if you wish). Our first cruise was on Mariner of The Seas (Voyager class) and we went on a 7 day Eastern Caribbean cruise which went to Nassau, St. Thomas and St. Maarten. A Western cruise usually goes to Labadee (a private RCL beach in Haiti), Jamica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel, Mex. We started out in a balcony cabin, which has a stand-up shower which was large enough for me (6', 285#), but we quickly moved up to a Jr. Suite, which is basically a Balcony Cabin on steriods; slightly wider, a tub & shower bathroom like home, slightly larger closet and a slightly larger balcony. There is SO much to do on the ship, things to do and spas and workout rooms, swimming pools, hot tubs, bars, lounges, ice skating, rock climbing, etc. We sailed from Port Canaveral then, but now that port has Freedom OTS, a slightly larger version of Mariner, quite nice and comfortable, with a similiar price point. Look over this web site, use the info you find here and ask as many questions as you need. You'll find that we all have a passion for cruising, and are happy to pass along to someone new whatever we can.
The drive from NC to Port Canaveral is reasonable, and the Freedom Of The Seas would be a good choice. As Jim said, they are a larger version of the Voyager class ships - essentially stretched so it could accomodate the flowrider and the water park for the kids.
I had a Junior Suite on both of my Liberty Of The Seas cruises earlier this month and they are a great choice. When I return to the Liberty in 3 weeks I have an inside cabin with the clamshell shower. The best way to describe these showers for larger people is: soap up the walls and just start spinning around. You'll have an easier time getting clean.
I don't know what you mean by 'middle of the sea'. The 'best' cruise line is purely subjective. What is good for me may not fit your tastes or expectations. I like Royal Caribbean and Celebrity because they are a good fit for me. Carnival offers a great product at a good price, and don't think that Carnival is a party line. They are as mainstream as Royal Caribbean or Norwegian Cruise Line, but the latter two lines spend a lot more money on innovative cruise ships.
I prefer the western Caribbean over the eastern runs. Again, this depends on what you want to do while ashore. The western stops have better snorkeling and diving. The eastern ports are more focused on shopping and typical touristy things in my view.
My favorite is Royal Caribbean. Each line has similiar items, and different at the same time. I am 65, and my wife is 58, and as such, we do as much or as little as we wish, both on and off the ship. Neither of us drink much, and in our opinion the food is very good. Fancy, but not too fancy. I would say that price really depends on two things; cabin design, and time of the year (i.i balcony vs Jr. Suite or inside cabin, and May or June vs September or Oct. We usually cruise in early fall (Sept) and would expect to pay in the neighborhood of $1500 to $1900 each for a Jr. Suite, $1000 to $$1300 for a balcony on Freedom. If you go on Royal Caribbean's web Site, you can search by several items; where to, where from, which ship, and time of year. After search button, several will appear. Surf the web page and most of the things you wish to know will be answered. Also, you can contact a travel agent who deals in cruises and learn a ton. Or, just keep asking here, and we'll all try to help. My favorite cruise so far will be a Western Caribbean Cruise; but I have a repositioning cruise coming up for 13 days next year that I can hardly wait for. Southern caribbean ports we've not been to before, and almost 6 days at sea (my favorite).
An important thing as a first time cruiser....please do not book it on your own at a website, whether a cruise line site or a travel seller. You need to find a travel agent who specializes in cruises. There are many things to consider and you need a trained agent to guide you. This forum is littered with posts and reviews from disappointed first-time cruisers who decided to 'do it on their own' and they chose the wrong line, the wrong time of year, the wrong cabin, etc.
Please do research on the websites, but when booking time comes use an agent. At least for the first cruise. You'll be glad you did and it doesn't cost you anymore than it would doing it online by yourself.
For perspective - I have been cruising for over 20 years, am editor of this website, have all the press contacts at the cruise lines, yada yada yada, yet I still use a cruise agent to book my cruises. They are an advocate for you.
Dave's point about using a travel agent for your first cruise is excellent info. There is nothing wrong with your own research as to what you basiclly want, where you want to go, and what you want to do, etc. Take your first choices then to an agent, present them to the agent, and let them give you advice on what you have picked, pros and cons. We did for our first time, and they directed us to Royal Caribbean as being the best cruise for our dollar and preferences. Then, unlike Dave, I buy our cruises with the cruise line vacation specialist via telephone. One other thing you may want to consider for the future; should you really like RCL and cruising, meet with the onboard RCL travel specialist, and START your next cruise vacation with what is called a "Next Cruise Booking" (I
honostly cannot remember the exact name). You basically pay $200, and get a reservation number. The number does NOT expire, and can be used when you choose to book your next cruise. By doing this, you also receive an "on board credit" when you next cruise; the amount can be used to defray some of your expenses on the ship, and the amount depends on how many days your next cruise will be. It is both a great promo for the cruise line, and a good deal for you too. Everything on the ship is included in your base fare, but there are things which are considered extra (alcohol, spa treatments, excursions, soda, speciality restaurants, PHOTOS, souviners, etc.), and the credit you receive will be applied to your onboard expenses. Our first 7 day cruise we spent about $800. The following cruises, we knew what we DIDN'T need to buy, and our costs dropped to under $400 or so,
and some of that would be in the casino, where I usually drop $200 into the ship's fuel fund (as I call loosing). I remember Captain Johnnie once saying the ship gets 600 feet per gallon, so it needs all my help.