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davephillyj 03-15-2013 05:18 AM

New to cruising, where do I start??
Been reading all sots of sites, but you guys seem to be experienced---so I trust you guys more, lol. I would love to afford some of the better cruise lines, but we have 5 and Carnival seems to be the only one that offers 5 passenger cruising (in our budget) . What is the first thing you look for in a cruise? How do you decide where to go? I only drink water--so do you need to buy bottled water while on board or does the "tap" taste fine? I have read about "fine dining" but we are more of the eat and go type people, and have no desire to go sit in a nice place to eat (at least while we have the kids with us this trip)

Dave 03-15-2013 07:26 AM

Hi davephillyj,

Welcome to Cruise Reviews forum and thanks so much for your trust in us.

As you alluded to, there are cruise lines other than Carnival that will accomodate 5 guests in a cabin but they are usually the family suites such as those on Royal Caribbean. Also, note that Carnival is restricted as to how many cabins on a particular cruise they can offer with 5 berths. The Coast Guard has rules about passenger loading. I think only certain ships can handle it too. The Fantasy-class ships can, and that might be a good choice for you since cruises on those ships also tend to be less expensive (older ships, but still very nice ships).

How to choose a cruise really depends on you. If you've never done it before then it is vital that you don't do this on your own by booking online or directly with the cruise line. Find an agent who specializes in cruises, and who preferably has CLIA credentials. You can find one near you here.

The water on a ship is fine. No need to buy bottled water. I don't.

You can of course eat in the buffet, even for dinner, but the main dining rooms do a great job and they know that a family with kids doesn't want to linger. Go for early dinner seating and you'll probably be done in an hour or so. On our last Carnival cruise I think the average dinner time for us was 1 hour and 15 minutes (I keep track of these things). Or, you can opt for my time dining which has no set time. You can arrange a different time for each day if you want.

peter l 03-19-2013 03:33 AM

Hi davephillyJ, I'm sure, if you move around in the various threads and topics, you will get so much info you will be prepared when you do decide to cruise. My daughter and fiance just got back from a cruise; they may be a little older, but traveled with 8 teens and with a group of nearly 27 total. Like Dave said, you can go to the main dining room and get in and out fast. One nice thing about the dining room for breakfast - dinner is that you go in and sit and don't have to go thru the buffet line to get your food. If this is your first cruise, you may also want to consider a shorter duration to see how you like it. You can also get adjoining rooms on some of the ships as opposed to a cabin that accomodates the entire family. Many options depending on the ages of the children. Don't necessarily rule out other cruise lines without checking them for prices. If you are traveling during school break times, some of the lines cater to the families more than others and some can be very busy, nosier than others. Check out all there is on the Cruise Forum and you will learn lots of great tips. Enjoy...


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