My wife and I would like to take our 16 year old son on a cruise during Spring Break (Feb '07) and we'd like it to be fun for him. I am wondering lots of things, since we are not used to the whole cruising thing--if someone could give us some advice, we sure would appreciate it.
-What is the best way to book a cruise--online or through an agent?
-If through an agent, any recommendations in the Seattle area?
-What is the best way to get airfare-shopping online or again...through an agent?
-We'd like to go on a big boat, maybe something like the Mariner of the Seas...to the Eastern Carribean...is that a good cruise for a teen?
I've been cruising since 1992 and still use a travel agent to book my cruises. My agent only does cruises, and I strongly recommend you find someone along these lines. Booking on-line with a cruise line or one of the big travel websites can work fine, but I'd never recommend it for a new cruiser. A big reason that a seasoned cruiser like me still uses a personal agent is that they offer something that a faceless website or 1-800 order-taker can never match - personal service, attention to your needs, and someone who is your advocate if a problem develops. And in most cases these days, there is little if any price difference between a "real" agent and a website. And if the agent costs a little more, it is worth it.
Now that I've said all that, forget it when it comes to air travel.
The airlines have pretty much killed any benefits of booking air with an agent. I always do my own air and do it online. In fact, my cruise agent doesn't handle air anymore unless it is part of an air/sea package for the cruise booking.
You cannot go wrong with one of the Royal Caribbean ships. We cruised on the Mariner in 2004 and absolutely loved it. We were on the Freedom this past June and loved it even more!
One thing I must insist on is that you fly down to the cruise port at least one day prior to your cruise. Please don't take a chance on missing the ship by trying to fly down to Florida on the same day as the cruise. It is a risk not worth taking.
The Airport is Orland (MCO is the airline designation). Royal Caribbean has it's own transportation busses from the Airport to the cruise ship in Port Canaveral-cost I believe is about $64.00 each. From the airport to the ship, they handle all your bags. You'll see them again in your cabin later in the day on the ship (NEVER call it a boat-they get testy) IF you do arrive on the day your cruise leaves. HAve a small carry-on bag to get you each through the day until your bags arrive, like a small gym bag. My wife and I arrived in Orlando at 10:30am from Chicago and had no problems making the ship in time, but I'm sure there have been horror storied from others who had problems, so plan your air travel the best way for your considerations. As has been said before, book with the Air lines direct-forget the cruise line. The different airlines have travel times that will more meet your travel times.
You'll LOVE Mariner. Try and get a balcony-it's worth the extra money.
Welcome to cruise-chat. I agree with Sonny and Dave on their points. Being an ex-travel agent (one that specialized in cruises) it is best to atleast get their insight. I would choose one that has been on a few cruises especially to the Caribbean. I live in the Port Canaveral area and I suggest that like Dave said you fly in a day or two before the cruise. There are a lot of things to do here when you get here. You would hate to miss your cruise because a flight go rerouted for something. There are great hotels in this area and you are picking a great ship. A good travel agent can set everything up for you so that all you have to do is enjoy the moment. Also this is a great sight for getting info and ideas from. Just ask and you'll see everyone tries to help.
As a first time cruiser my self I have taken similar advice as these gentlemen are giving you. We leave Maine March 23 the day before we dpart from Miami, My agent did all the leg work for me/us.She lined us up in a nice hotel fairly cheap for the night before. My boys want to get down to South Beach before we leave on the ship. If you do the air with royal you will get guaranteed connection to your ship.My agent is great and I use her/them for my big vacations.
Navigator of the Seas Eastern Carribean
There are hotels in both Orlando and the port area that will pick you up and drop you off at the airport and cruise ship. You might check into that also and renting a car might be a great convience to you and your family also like Sonny recommended