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Old 01-30-2007, 04:43 PM
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Hello all!

This site is a great resource for prospective cruisers, and I've been reading through it for some ideas. However, I have a few questions I'd like to ask you experienced cruisers, and as a first-timer, I'd appreciate any and all feedback!

My trip won't take place until next year, 2008, as a group 30th birthday celebration for me and several of my friends of the same age. Here are the details:

We'll be leaving from Los Angeles, or the closest southern California exit point.
Most of us are, as I mentioned, around 30 years old.
We have a group consisting of three married couples and about 4 singles. One of the couples will have a one-year-old by then.
We're planning for a weeklong trip, or thereabouts.
We'd prefer not to travel too luxuriously, but we don't want to be inconveniently uncomfortable either.
It will be the first cruise for all of us.
Oh, and we are planning for June 2008 or sometime thereabouts.

Taking these variables into consideration, what trips and cruise lines would you recommend for us? How far in advance would you suggest we book our trips? Any other helpful tips?

We are still in the early EARLY stages of planning, but I'd like to get a head start so we don't have to worry as much as the time draws nearer. Thanks so much for your input!

Ryan
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Old 01-30-2007, 04:59 PM
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Ryan, welcome to cruise-chat.

By limiting your group to a cruise leaving from California, you are also severely limiting your options. Royal Caribbean and Carnival are "it" and we are then talking about two Carnival ships and one RCI ship (I think this is correct). A 7-day is always a better idea than a shorter cruise (to me) and so if the Paradise is still doing the Mexico cruises in June 2008 I'd say go with it. Carnival offers a good first cruise experience, especially for 30-somethings.

It is usually best to book early since this gives you a wider selection of cabins and you can get cabins adjacent to each other if you prefer. Pricing may flucuate after you book but if you use a good cruise travel specialist they will monitor the price and if it goes down, they will get you that price reduction.
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Old 01-30-2007, 05:51 PM
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Hello,

As usual Dave is correct that the selection of cruises from Los Angeles and San Diego in June are slim. I would see what is available from San Francisco in June as Princess has some nice cruises to Alaska.

Another idea is to cruise out of Galveston Texas. Southwest flies into Houston Hobby from Oakland and it is about an hour ride to Galveston from the Houston Hobby airport. You can rent cars from Enterprise both ways at a very reasonable cost.

Another idea is a cruise to Alaska from Seattle (this would be my first choice). Airfare from the Bay area to Seattle is reasonable and in May and early June there are some good deals on cruises.

Do your research thoroughly including travel related websites and cruise line websites but book as soon as you can using a knowledgeable travel agent who works primairly in the cruise field.

A one year old baby is a little young to go cruising but all of you can take turns having fun/babysitting the baby.

Hope that this helps.

Fred
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Old 01-30-2007, 05:55 PM
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Thank you both. Your tips are very helpful to know. I didn't realize that we'd be so limited in leaving from LA.

My friends and I haven't begun any serious planning discussions about the trip yet, but I will bring these issues up with them. The cruise from Seattle to Alaska sounds particularly wonderful to me, but I have this sneaky suspicion that a good number of them would prefer someplace tropical. I don't know how feasible it will be to fly to Texas or Seattle, but it's good to know such options exist.
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Old 01-30-2007, 06:50 PM
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Hi Ryan,
If you are locked into a June departure I would strongly recommend something other than Mexico--man, it's HOT!
If you are all first time cruisers and not use to high heat and humidity you might be pretty uncomfortable.
I would push for Alaska instead.
If, on the other hand, you can push foreword to April, Mexico would be an option; it's still hot but a little more agreeable.
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Old 01-30-2007, 07:02 PM
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Hello (again)

My approach to your friends would include the following...you can always go to the beach from the Bay Area as it is two hours to the beach in Carmel and another hour or so to Pismo Beach. But Alaska has things to see and do that are very special such as a hike up the East Loop trail to where you are overlooking the Mendenhall Glacier outside of Juneau or a car ride up into the Canadian Yukon out of Skagway.
And if you want to save money it is a long ride to Seattle from the Bay area but this is a very pleasant drive.

Hope this helps.

Fred
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Old 01-31-2007, 11:59 AM
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F-Mattox:
Unfortuately, we won't be able to go any earlier than June because our one friend who actually came up with this idea and is helping to plan it will be embarking on a yearlong round-the-world trek this June, and she won't be back until late June of next year. Our plan was to wait for her to come back and then all go on a cruise together.

fruby:
Thanks again. You make Alaska sound better and better! But yes, the drive is a long one for so many of us to take (5.5-6 hours from LA to SF, and another 15+ hours from SF to Seattle). Unfortunately, only a couple of us have traveled very much, so the others carry more of the mindset that says "Hey, it's a vacation, so let's go someplace warm, lie out on a beach, and drink cocktails."

We'll just have to see how flexible everyone can be.


By the way, I really appreciate the input, as I know I must be asking the kinds of questions that you guys answer on a daily basis. Thank you.
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Old 01-31-2007, 09:04 PM
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O.K. Ryan, let's reason this through;
you are locked into June and it sounds as if you want to keep it simple; so let's take another look at the Mexican Riviera.

First, the ships are air-conditioned and there is plenty of shade on deck and pools to jump into when you start to boil--so we're cool there (pun intended). So the heat dosen't become an issure 'till you get off the ship. Do you and most of your group like water sports? If you confine most of your off-ship time to activities in or near the water, you'll be o.k..

The three usual ports on a 7 day, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas abound with water activities. Avoid hiking, mountain biking and long bus tours into the interior.

As Dave says, Carnival would be an ideal first cruise for a group of 30-somethings.

There. Problem solved!
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Old 02-01-2007, 03:44 PM
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f-mattox:
Thanks, that was an awesome answer. Yes, we're mostly all very active people, so water sports is right up our alley. I'll definitely bring this up as one of the viable options. Alaska still sounds a lot more interesting to me, though, so I'm gonna try and sell that one to my friends first!
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Old 02-01-2007, 04:42 PM
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Hmm... I tried to edit my last post to add another question, but I guess I don't have the proper permissions to do that.

Anyway, I was wondering, if I am indeed considering going on the Mexico cruise listed just above me, or even the Alaskan one, how much should I save up realistically for the trip? I'm talking specifically for the cruise itself and related costs (not including, for example, the cost of driving from LA to Seattle for the Alaskan one). My group and I will probably do a couple of things off-ship, but we'll more than likely try to be conservative in our spending. I'd just like to get a decent ballpark figure, if possible. Thanks!
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