Okay... I am cruising in October with a friend and I will have no problem there.
I am also going to cruise again with four of my kids next August. Many of you are familiar with my "requirements," but the list has grown much longer. I will attempt to list them and hopefully you can all help.
1. I have to be able to have a quad cabin WITH a rollaway OR two cabins that will let me put my 16 year old in one WITH a younger child. I know that HAL and NCL are out of the running. CCL has quads with a rollaway but will not allow two rooms (have to be over 25). RCCL has quads with a rollaway on every ship except Empress. Princess says a 16 yo in a cabin is fine, but then one of their reps said no- I have to double check. I think the savings of having five in a room will be substantial.
2. Although our last cruise on CCL was loved by all, the older kids remarked several times on the over the top gaudiness. I have no problem with it, but it does get to be a bit much. Is there a more refined/understated line or ship that I should know about? Money is a nice thing to have in my bank account, but as long as I am spending such a huge chunk I don't mind shelling out another few hundred for each pax if it is worth it.
3. Stuff for kids... It doesn't have to be too much stuff. Camp Carnival was great, but it didn't look to be more than NCL has and my 11 yo was already too old for it. He went to CC here and there, and so did the 13yo, but they weren't bowled over. The 7yo loved it for a few days and then lost the thrill of it. My kids are all boys and reasonably close in age, so they all play with each other/hang with each other, anyway. But I like a casual, fun vibe. They spent FAR more time watching a classical trio and playing scrabble than they did watching Carnival Idol or hairy chest stuff, which just shows that your children will grow to disappoint you on so many levels.
4. 7-10 day Caribbean or Bahamas, preferably leaving out of NYC, Bayonne, Philly, Baltimore, Boston, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, Tampa- in that order. Galveston ONLY if it is the best deal on Earth and not the Elation (just did it).
5. I guess I would like either a) smaller ship, high pax/crew ratio, understated decor, a little more upscale OR b) new ship, kick *** environment with all the bells and whistles- climbing wall, skating rink, waterslide, rodeo, igloos, elephants. I just don't want another older ship with aging gaudiness... M/V Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.
Now, once you have all solved my problems there, which way to book? Book early or late? through the cruise line directly? What if I do that and it comes down in price- do they guarantee the lowest price? What if I do Expedia- do I have to pay it all at once? What about a travel agency? Do they still have those or did they go the way of airplane dinners and S&H Green Stamps?
How can I do it the cheapest, with the most spread out payments? Or should I wait til the last minute, knowing that all the Northeast ports are driving distance for me?
Sorry to burden you all, but if you all offer one suggestion it will help!
I thought your avatar looked like a street crew worker holding a jackhammer. I was questioning how it would fit an attorney with kids and decided it must have some sort of deep meaning.
Have you considered the family room cabins on RCCL? I think they're category F. They look large and seem to have a lot of places to sleep.
I would try one of RCCL's voyager class ships. We went on Explorer twice and were really impressed. There's so much to do and so many places to hang out. Lots of stuff I'd think boys would enjoy, perhaps even a classical trio.
I've just booked a cruise on Mariner for my husband and me and friends who have never cruised before. I couldn't think of a more shazam ship than Explorer but Mariner is newer.
RCCL might just be your ticket. If you can get adjoining cabins, you can put the kids together in one. You'll need to book it with one adult per cabin, I think, but if you are going as a single parent you may still be able to do the 16yo with the younger child bit, as long as they are adjoining. The Voyager class ships, at least the newer ones, have such cabins. Have heard good things about their kids' programs too. If you go during vacation times, there will be more kids onboard for your kids to meet and hang with.
Karen, I think you are right. That or a brand new CCL ship. Is RCCL more... subtle than CCL? Again- not my problem, just want to find the best ship for my kids.
RCCL says I can have a 16 yo in the cabin with a sib as long *** it is on my account, doesn't have to be next door. How civilized. Considering that CCL lets 9 year olds sign themselves in and out of Camp Carnival, even while the parents are ashore, it only makes sense to let older teens have their own cabin. They can get to muster stations faster than we can for SURE.
Karen, I think I need a TA. This is ridiculous to keep matching up itineraries with $$ with ship age with amenities with departure ports with cabin requirements with availability yadda yadda yadda. My question is this: do TA's get the best deals or are they trying to ratchet up their numbers with a particular line?
PS: notice how much time I have to fool around on this site, and yet my Elation review is still gestating.
BTW, as re CCL: I just got an email from the waiter in the buffet restaurant. He was unbelievable. The fact that he sent me an email shows how great the crew that served me was- I felt like they were friends.
Is there any way to post pictures with a review? I have seen them in the mega reviews but don't know if "we" can...
First, you may change your avatar - the same way you added it - go to your preferences, click "view/edit" and then scroll down to your avatar. There will be a link to "edit" your avatar and then you can remove it completely or change to another one.
As for Radisson, it would probably be great fro you and your friend, but it is definitely NOT a kid-friendly cruise line. It is also on the "high end" of the market - so it might be more appreciated when you are in adult company.
With all your "requirements" I would agree that you would best be served by a good cruise specialist TA. I would book as early as possible through a TA - they will be able to monitor prices and if prices drop - in most cases they will be able to make adjustments. You will not get that service if you book through Expedia (or similar) or through the cruise lines directly. Also, if yu book well in advance with a TA - you will have the most flexibility of making payments periodically until the balance due date.
I am eagerly awaiting that review, so get going girl!!! Since Tom is in Europe, I suggest you submit your review (without pictures) and Andy will be able to post it to the site. When Tom returns home - you may be able to send the pictures separately and he can attach them to the review - but not positive. You can, however, always submit your review and post your pictures on cruise-chat, using our photo album. That way you could include a link within your review that would send people here to see the pictures. (Just a thought).
Also had another thought - since Tom is away we have been unable to finalize details for any Cruise Review group cruises, but I do know that we are considering an October cruise as one of the options - you might want to "hold" a decision on the trip with your friend until he can finalize the group offerings.