I am a total newbie and I apologize for the length of this. My husband and I have finally decided it is time for a cruise. I have spent many, many hours online researching ships, ports, etc. Since this is our first cruise, I really want it to be something special. We are in our early thirties and are planning to go to the Caribbean. I thought we had decided on HAL's October 28 cruise to Grand Cayman, Grand Turk, Costa Maya and the private island (Half Moon Cay I think). I called a travel agent this morning, but she seemed to think we would be making a mistake. She recommended a Princess cruise instead because of the age of the passengers on HAL. I'm sure the agent knows what she is talking about, but I also see that their website is mostly based on Princess cruises and she admitted they have a strong connection with them. I'm afraid the push to Princess is based on some financial arrangement between them rather than how much we will enjoy our trip. This puts us in quite a dilemma. Grand Cayman sounded so good because of the sting rays (my sister visited them on a honeymoon cruise several years ago on Royal Caribbean). However, we want to avoid going to Mexico as much as possible which seems to be the norm if you visit Grand Cayman. We can visit Mexico anytime. Although we are young, we are not the party animal types. We would prefer to watch games, karoke, etc and not really get in there and be a part of the action. We do like movies and shows and music and such. I have so many questions. Customer service and good food are very important to us. I guess what I'm trying to ask is:
1) Will HAL have entertainment to suit our ages? We would prefer music and entertainment from the 80's to the present over Frank Sinatra, big band, broadway musicals, etc (no offense to anyone who enjoys those). Would Princess be better?
2) If we chose Princess, what ports would you recommend? My husband is into fast boats, dune buggies and anything with an engine. I am more of a nature, horseback kind of person, but we are willing to compromise. Maybe a stingray for me at one port and a really maniac boat for him at another. Those submarines for two sound pretty neat as well.
3) Customer service and food? Which line is best?
4) We are leaving our kids home, so we are not really excited about other people's kids (this is a romantic trip). That makes me sound like a monster. I just mean we are looking for more private time and less yelling, splashing, etc from kids. Which line is best?
5) Casual vs formal is not an issue. We can do either (and would give me a great excuse to go shopping). We would like a room with a balcony. How do you pick one? I don't want to be behind a big piece of metal or camped out next to a loud kitchen or anything. Is one side of the ship better than the other?
6) I have read good things about Celebrity, but October doesn't seem to be a good time to go. We chose October because it should be less crowded and the fares do seem to be better. Does anyone have any suggestions as far as Celebrity or any other cruise line we should consider?
I'm sorry for any dumb questions and for anything that has been answered on another thread. I have tried really hard to read a good chunk of what has been posted and I have found so many helpful tidbits. Thank you in advance. I hope this is the information you need to help in any way you can. We REALLY appreciate it. I feel like I'm going around in circles with all the different things to consider.
Just the other day my auntie and I were talking about their next cruise. She is 59, her husband is 71. She says they always cruise HAL, cause her husband likes the "older crowd". She goes along with it, cause she is just happy to get him on any cruise. I am 40, have only done 1 Princess, the rest RCCL. I personally would cruise Princess over HAL. The one Princess we did was to Alaska on one of there older ships. We were very happy with Princess. I wouldn't worry too much about the kids. There always seem to be private, romantic areas for couples. Good luck Lil' Lori
From everything you have written I would have to agree with your travel agent--you sound much more suited to a Princess cruise than HAL. If you think your agent is pushing too hard for Princess contact a few other agents; my guess is they will tell you the same thing.
To address you questions in order:
1. Princess would have more entertainment options to suit you; especially on the larger ships.
2. Princess has many itineraries to chose from; compromise is the key word. You and your husband need to decide this together.
3. The consensus seems to be that HAL is a notch above Princess in food and service; but so is the price. I have not heard many complaints about Princess and I have been very pleased with them for over 30 years.
4. There would probably be less children on a HAL cruise but I have never been bothered by an abundance of children on a Princess cruise. The larger ships have lots of quiet areas.
5. HAL would be a little more formal; Princess would give you more flexibility as to casual or formal. None of the balcony cabins on Princess have obstructed views--only oceanview cabins on Emerald deck. I don't know about HAL. I never hear of noise being an issue on Princess ships, and there is no advantage to one side over the other.
6. Reviews of Celebrity seem to be mixed at best. Your choices seem to come down to HAL, Princess and RCCL; and I wouldn't rule out Carnival either--I hear lots of good things about Carnival. But they seem to be more family oriented, hence more children; same for RCCL.
So, we seem to come back to HAL or Princess; and my suggestion would be----Princess!
And rest assured, I have no connection or financial arrangement with them, contrary to what some around here may think.
Thank you both. You have no idea how helpful it is to talk to people that have actually been on cruises. It sounds to me like it would be really difficult to have a bad cruise. They all sound so wonderful. Can I ask what some favorite ports are? If we go with Princess, I need to start over from scratch in picking an itinerary. I was pretty sold on the HAL until this morning. Thank you again!
I would think the 7 day Western Caribbean on Grand or Caribbean Princess would be good for a couple that wants a combination of nature and fast boats; you said you want to avoid Mexico but Cozumel and Grand Cayman seem to go together. Cozumel is a fun place with lots of different activities. If you want to sail round trip from Ft. Lauderdale this would be your best bet.
If you are willing to sail from San Juan this would open up other possibilities for you.
If we can help you in any other way, please ask.
Hi, I haven't sailed on Princess or HAL. I have been on 33 Royal Caribbean cruises after one with Carnival and one with NCL. I have been to all the Caribbean ports. The Thriller excursion is a fast boat ride you husband and you would enjoy. Those are at many ports. The stingray tour is about 3 hours long, so you could probably do both excursions in Grand Caymen. If I had a choice of cruise lines I would choose Princess if I couldn't sail on a Royal Caribbean ship. The Voyager class ships that RCCL has are AWESOME! Being your first cruise, what ever you decide will be great. I can assure you it won't be you last cruise. If you would like to look a pictures of some of our cruises CLICK HERE
Well, after a very long and very in depth discussion with my travel agent this morning, she agreed that we would probably be better suited for the Holland America line in this case. It looks like we will be sailing October 28. I'm so excited I can barely sit still!!! Thank you all again for your help in making this decision. Hopefully our cruise will be as wonderful as it sounds and we will be able take another one soon to try out Princess (maybe Hawaii?). I'm sure I will have many more questions as this whole process unfolds, so get ready. Thanks again!
Now that you have made your decision, here are some reassurances for you. First, as a first timer you and your husband should know that the age of the passengers is not going to affect your cruise experience. If the dinner companions you meet on the first night are not to your liking you request a change. At breakfast and lunch you can select a table for two. And remember you see people on a cruise maybe once or twice as you and others are involved with their own activities. Also, many persons who go on cruises are very interesting because of their successful careers,finances, travel, family , and so on, and they have a lot to say that you may find interesting.
Secondly, remember you are going on a cruise for the magical moments that only a cruise can bring to you. Remember in "Titanic" where Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet are standing in the very front of the ship, experiencing the wind as the sun sets. You and your husband are going to do the same thing. And one morning while at sea, both of you watch the sun rise. And participate in the formal nights because a ship becomes a stylish fun place to be, with music, food, drink, laughter and of course, love.
I can't wait!!!!!! Fred, you make it sound even more wonderful that I had envisioned. Can I go NOW?!!!!!!!
I never meant to imply I had any issue personally with the age of the other passengers. I am looking forward to meeting interesting new people. My concern was mainly with the entertainment aspect, but my husband and I figure if it isn't for us, we will just enjoy our balcony that much more and maybe some in room movies. I was just looking at pictures of the Westerdam on the internet this morning and admiring all the formal attire. I was going to ask about renting a tux on board. Has anyone done that and is it worth it? Would my husband be better off to just find himself a nice black suit?
My husband and I enjoy the formal nights and he likes to rent a tux. He doesn't want to mess with packing a suit, shirts, shoes, etc. We rent it from www.cruiselineformal.com. It is so simple to order it online, they deliver it to your room, etc.
I know you will absolutely love cruising! The balcony is WONDERFUL. On our first two cruises, we had windows, but no balcony. We didn't know what we were missing! I doubt that we will ever go back to a non-balcony cabin. We like the fresh air and wide open spaces too much.
Have fun planning your fun-filled, romantic cruise!