We've done a few cruises. The most recent, my two children (12 and 15) and myself, NLC Spirit from NYC, returned last Sunday. Not a high point in our lives.
An 8 day Costa a year ago, nice. Sailed from Fort Lauderdale.
An 8 day on Carnival Destiny a couple years ago. We sailed from San Juan with about 1900 locals. Also not a particularly great time; I don't think I'll ever want to sail from San Juan again.
Another couple of Carnivals and Costa prior to these.
Our room of choice is a suite. With the exception of the Spirit, we always get suites. Spirit just didn't have one for us, and since my husband didn't come along for this trip the kids and I decided to rough it. OK, so we're spoiled. The room was depressing. Worse than sardines. I threatened to sleep on the balcony. I would have if it hadn't been so cold, and if it was long enough to fit on.
I've booked through TA's 3 times. The cruise line itself once. The internet twice. I don't care who I book through as long as the service is good and the price fair.
What I want: a nice cruise. A good sized suite without having to sell a child to pay for it. I don't need a garden villa or owners suite, although I would not object at the right price... Someplace warm; I'd like to plan for March 2007 for this particular request. Spring break for the kids. Their schools frown on missing days for vacations, and with the cost per day of school we want our money's worth. Minimum of 8 days; longer would be nice. 8 days is really only 6 anyway - 11 or more sounds good. I don't care about stopping in Nassau. I've memorized the darn place. I don't want to have to fly for hours and hours to get to a ship. In fact, when we're leaving from a Florida port we take an extra couple of days to drive down there instead of flying. (We come from CT) We don't want a ship full of seniors, nor do we want a ship that is full of drunk college students. There has to be enough on board to keep kids entertained. They don't necessarily need a "camp", but it helps to meet other kids. Good food. Buffets are the choice for the kids, hubby and I enjoy nice dining rooms and formal nights as well as buffets. I also don't want a ship that nickels and dimes you to death. I don't want to be told what I am leaving for gratuities. Suggestions are fine, but the final decision should rest with me, not them. If the service is good I will tip accordingly. If it is bad I don't want to get off grumbling about being charged for service I didn't get and having no real say in the matter. Easy on/off. Should come with the suite. Fun places to visit; but not so many ports that there is no time to relax on board. We enjoy sea days just as much as islands.
I guess what we want is a BMW/Mercedes cruise, not a Kia or Hyundai. And I don't meant to sound like a snob; I'd rather pay a little more for quality.
TA's are welcome to help me out here! I have no objections to booking through you; I tried for this last trip, and am still waiting for her to call back with pricing.... Let's see, that's been how many weeks now? We've already sailed.
I'd also like another cruise or two in between, most likely without hubby (work). Probably in November, perhaps a get away in August before school starts as well. Since those will be just the kids and myself I imagine they'll be easier to find on short notice. We could also do the "good" cruise over Christmas/New Years. They have a long vacation then as well.
Any takers? Any suggestions? I tried calling a TA, again, for this. (Different agency, gave up on the first one) I don't want to be told that I don't want this or don't want that. Or feel like I'm being pushed into whatever their current contest is promoting. I want a trip that meets our needs, not one that the agent is making the most money from or winning a prize for booking. And I don't mean to sound insulting either. I hate the "no, that's not what you want" attitude. If they would suggest something rather than tell me what I want it would be different...
Hi, Just want you to know, I signed up just to answer your questions.
I also am from CT.
You have a lot of requirements. Have you considered buying a boat?
I will be taking my second cruise next week from New York. Leaving on the Noordam on the 25th for 11 days.
Although I haven't done many cruises I think Holland America would fit most if not all of your requirements. The ships are upscale with great food. Holland has started to bring more of the younger set (teens and famalies) into the fold. If you go for an 11 day cruise, you can expect the passengers to be of the type that have the money and the time for a longer cruise. You could read this as Older, but on my last 11 day trip, we had a good mix. We sat with a couple on honeymoon - mid 20's.
I share many of your concerns, and have found Holland to be a good value.
Please let me know if I can answer anything elso for you.
Naw, buying a boat won't do it. I'd have to cook! And there most likely wouldn't be much in the way of entertainment.
I have thought about Crystal, Princess, Celebrity and HAL. Radisson sounds promising as well. If it were just the hubby and myself it would be easy. I want to make sure the kids enjoy themselves too, and that there are enough activities on board to keep them happy and amused. I don't want to board a ship to find out that it's everything us old folks want - and no kids onboard.
Mr. TP - Noordam sounds great. I'll have to check out the itinerary. While we don't need anything totally exotic, I don't think I can handle the same islands over and over again. My son won't even get off in Nassau anymore. The length sounds much better; 11 days is more like it. And being able to drive to the port is always a plus. One thing that my kids liked about leaving from NYC is that a lot of the kids were 'local'. Closer to us. The morning we were leaving my 15 yr old was online chatting with some school friends. He came running upstairs where I was finishing up the packing to inform me a buddy of his had just told him that he had to get offline soon - the family was heading out for a cruise. Yup, same ship as us! They spend 8 hours a day together in a small private school - you'd think they might have mentioned their vacation plans to each other earlier!
Farmerjohn, your suggestions are great too! My only objection to leaving from LA or San Juan is the time involved in getting there. I suppose for the right trip we'd have to bite the bullet and do the flying again. That just seems to waste so much time and add more headache and hassles. Will the plane be delayed? Do we need to leave a day early? What if our luggage doesn't show up in the baggage carousel?
Carol, I'll check it out...
Thanks guys! Keep the suggestions coming! Looks like Celebrity, Princess or HAL are the winners so far.
Good point, Heidi528. I guess the not too many of the locals will kick in 10 grand for that trip.
This is going to be a long week waiting for next Sat. Last cruise was on the Rotterdam. Can't wait to try out the newest of the Holland America fleet.