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-   -   First timer - which ship to choose (http://www.cruisereviews.com/forum/royal-caribbean-cruise-line/37588-first-timer-ship-choose.html)

jayasesh 10-28-2011 08:53 AM

First timer - which ship to choose
 
Hello,
I am planning for a cruise for this Decemeber vacation.
This is the first time I am planning a cruise and I am overwhelmed by the number of ship options available.
We are 2 families with 4 adults and 3 kids.

Can you please recommend which ships are good to start looking at..

Also, are there specific websites I should use to book the cruise or can i call the cruise line directly and book with them.

Please give me a headstart for planning my vacation.

Thanks in advance,
Jay.

ron_who 10-28-2011 09:03 AM

First time
 
First time,

Depends on what you want out of this cruise. What is the age group of the two families? You want more relaxation or upbeat partying? Here are some of the many choices to look at:


For the fun loving kids/family oriented cruiseline:
- Carnival (Fun ship, Average Food and Service, good entertainment)
- Royal Caribbean (Good Service, food, entertainment)
-Celebrity (Good Service, Food, Entertainment)

For quiet relaxing read a book cruiselines:
- Holland America (Great service, good food, average entertainment)
- Norweigen "NCL" (Average Service, and food, good entertainment)

My experienced is based on cruises with Carnival, Norweigen and Holland America. All the other cruiselines are based on opinions from my sister who is a cruise consultant for Expedia and have been on literally every cruiseline.

Again, if you don't care too much about your rooms, pick an inside cabin to save a few bucks and spend more on things to do on the ship and off the ship. If you are doing a cruise where you want to see scenery, etc, then pick a balcony. You do get what you pay for, and if you are lucky, they might upgrade you prior to your trip. Which I have had... (from inside cabin to Balcony for an Alaska cruise - which was AMAZING).

Happy sailing

Ron

jayasesh 10-28-2011 09:15 AM

Thanks for your immediate response Ron.

The adults are in our late 30's/early 40s and kids are 6,8 and 9. We like to relax and do activities mainly for kids. We are not partying types. We would love to get a balcony seat if it is not way too expensive. from your review above and from other reviews, i see royal caribbean is good. But again, there are lots of ship options in there. which one would you recommend for us.. or shd i ask, which one should I not even consider?

Please help.

Thanks,
Jay.

pink845 10-28-2011 10:35 AM

Dear first timer,

If I had to do it all over again, and they existed back in the day, I would jump onto the mega ships - Oasis and Allure by RCCL (220,000 tons). The only thing is I end up cruising twice a year in the caribbean with my teenagers and once per year in the mediterranean and I have to spread the wealth as they say. I am still waiting for a sale on those supernovas where a balcony can be had for less than $1000 per person so here I stay with the lesser dreams of Freedom of the Seas, Independence of the Seas or Liberty of the Seas, not too shabby at 160,000 tons each. Balconies are great for my husband and I enjoying a glass of bubbly but we stayed away from those when the kids were under 10 - just one less thing to have to worry about. Insides were great. Truly, you spend so little time in your cabin with little ones in tow. If you are planning a December vacation cruise wise over the holidays, a lot of the cheaper cabins are long gone. Good luck with your deliberations (I am also very partial to Princess's Ruby, Emerald and Crown at 110,000 each).

jayasesh 10-28-2011 12:51 PM

Thanks Pink! As much as i would love to do Allure or oasis, as you correctly mentioned, the prices are pretty high now.. I am also thinking if I should do a 4 night cruise now and then if I like it, pre book the oasis/allure for next year and do the grand one for next year.. I am all confused...

Sonny V 10-30-2011 07:14 AM

If you go to the Royal Caribbean and look at the December 10th sailing on the Navigator of the Seas, you will find a great deal on a D-1 balcony stateroom for $839 pp. This if for a 8 night cruise! The Navigator is a 140,000 ton ship and it has a lot of things for kids in the "Adventure Ocean" program. It's one of my favorite ships. I booked the Nov. 26th and Dec. 4th sailing on the Navigator and when I saw this price for the Dec 10th sailing I booked it also. You have to love a ship to stay in it for 22 days. http://www.getsmile.com/emoticons/sm.../wrysmiley.gif

Jim1012 10-30-2011 07:41 AM

First Timer
 
I'm going to have to follow Sonny on this one and agree. Any of the Voyager Class Ships(Voyager, Adventure, Mariner (our favorite), and Explorer are great first time ships, and Sonny's advise on timing is spot on. Radience Class would be my #2 choice. We usually cruise in Sept since we find that the rates seem to decrease during those later months. Voyager class ships have ALMOST everything that the larger ships have, and can give you a great vacation with many options for things to do, places to go and see, etc. Assuming that the kids are split between the two families, I'd say you'd almost have to get a balcony cabin, just for space (a running theme here is DO NOT OVER PACK). An exterior ocean view cabin (port hole viewing) may have the same or close space (Sonny or Dave would know more about that). OUR first cruise on the Mariner was in a balcony cabin on deck nine, and we quickly became spoiled and now always book a balcony, or a Jr. Suite (slightly larger cabin with a tub in the bath, as opposed to just a shower in a balcony). Also, where do you want to go on your first cruise, Eastern or western or Southern Caribbean, Alaska, etc, and for how long? For my wife and I, the ship is the destination, so we prefer longer cruises with many "sea days" instead of many port days. Once you all decide where to go, based on what you like to do, let us know again, and we can help you move towards a cruise and ship you may prefer. And as always, we say that if you do one, you WILL be hooked!! Have a great Cruise!!

LisaP 10-30-2011 08:30 AM

Welcome to cruisereviews.com, Jay. Couple of questions for you. Are you considering Royal Caribbean only (as your post is in the Royal Caribbean section)? Also, what is it about cruising that appeals to you?

You asked for a head start in planning as the number of ships is overwhelming. I always recommend that a first-time cruiser book with a travel agent who is certified by CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association), as these TAs have the knowledge and experience to help you out. They know the questions to ask to help narrow down the choices and to help find the best fit for you and your family. You can find a TA by going to their Cruise Expert Finder, located HERE. You'll find it on the right side of the screen.

I agree that Royal Caribbean has something for everyone. No matter what line you choose, be prepared for some sticker shock during vacation week, though.

Sonny V 10-30-2011 12:08 PM

If you're looking for a good price for the month of December I don't think you can do better than what I posted before. A D-1 category is the best cabin you can buy before going to a Junior Suite. The third person in a cabin is discounted. If you have two people in a cabin the price is $839 pp. The third person would only be $300. Usually when price are lower the cabins book fast so I would recommend checking into if ASAP. If you go to RCCL's website you'll see the prices which are the same as a travel agent would quote. You don't have to book directly with RCCL, but going to their site is a quick way to see prices. I do it all the time and have seen prices drop and go back up in just a couple of days.

Midwest Cruiser 10-30-2011 12:21 PM

Hi Jayasesh

We are in our mid 30’s with two kids younger than yours and we’ve enjoyed every one of our RCCL cruises.

We took our kids on their first cruise last year on the Liberty of the Seas and we all had a great time. So much that we are going to take them along again January. They had a great experience at Adventure Ocean in the evening and spent the days with us exploring or just playing at the beaches while in port.

I would recommend the Voyager or Freedom class as there is plenty for families to do and the Royal Promenade makes for a great meeting place for groups traveling together.

I’m in the same climate as Jim and Sonny so all of this cruise talk is making me anxious for our November cruise…

Best of luck on your cruise research!

Cruise Fanatic 10-30-2011 12:26 PM

The $839 is a special weekend promotion so you would need to book quickly as it could disappear at anytime. There is an additional $97.49 per person taxes on top of that. The third person is $300 plus that additional tax also.

LisaP 10-30-2011 12:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ron_who
For the fun loving kids/family oriented cruiseline:
- Carnival (Fun ship, Average Food and Service, good entertainment)
- Royal Caribbean (Good Service, food, entertainment)
-Celebrity (Good Service, Food, Entertainment)

For quiet relaxing read a book cruiselines:
- Holland America (Great service, good food, average entertainment)
- Norweigen "NCL" (Average Service, and food, good entertainment)

Welcome to cruisereviews. Just my two cents based on cruising multiple times on each of the lines mentioned--I'd flip Celebrity and NCL as far as being kids-oriented. A lot also depends on the destinations and length of the itinerary. I think you'd be OK in the Caribbean no matter which line.

Sonny V 10-31-2011 06:16 AM

I see the price already jump up $90pp. The $839 price was there for a week. With Royal Caribbean's double point special for the month of December the ships are nearly filled. Prices really go up when there aren't many cabin left.

jayasesh 10-31-2011 09:34 AM

Thanks a lot to all of you who took time to respond toi my qn..
I looked in the RCCl website as you recommended. I also talked to a local cruise agency and came up with this itenary..
Cruise Details - Royal Caribbean International

This leave on Dec 17th for a week and costs 1679 for 3 of us including taxes.
This is in Serenade of the seas.

Can you please advise if this is a good itenary and if it is a good ship? I dont want to spend huge money on huge ships yet since this is our first. We thought we'll do that next time if we like it this time.

I have blocked this package for now(got cabin 3604 and 3606); but am planning to confirm it once I get some nods from you guys.. I need to finalize this by tomorrow. So, please advise.

Thanks a lot.

Jim1012 10-31-2011 10:17 AM

First Timer
 
I believe that you'll like the ship, as it is our second favorite class of ship, the Radience class. We have been to two of your stops before; San Juan is very interesting, and we also like St. Maarten. We have not done a Southern Caribbean cruise, and have not sailed out of San Juan. If, like many, your cabin is mearly a place to store your things and sleep, then cabins low on the ship (deck #3 in your case-I think) will be fine. There is some shopping onboard the ship, but not a Royal Prominade type area. We felt that this size ship seems to have a little more "classy" feel, and we liked her very much. Exept for your cabin choice (I prefer higher up and with a balcony), I think you'll enjoy your first time!!

jayasesh 10-31-2011 10:32 AM

Thanks for youe response Jim. In our group we have 3 kids in total in the age rnge of 6 to 9. So, I am a lil scared to get a balcony room; need to keep an eye on them all the time.. Thats the reason we picked the ocean view cabins.. Balcony, may be next time..

Anybody else who have been to South caribbean?

Cruise Fanatic 10-31-2011 10:42 AM

The Radiance is indeed a nice ship and the Southern Caribbean is a great itinerary. Have you priced the cost of airfare to Puerto Rico though, and weighed the difference between flying into and cruising from a Florida port?

jayasesh 10-31-2011 10:54 AM

Thanks CruiseFanatic. That's encouraging :-)
I checked the price to fly to Puerto Rico. It comes to around 600 pp. Comparing the total price between Florida and SanJuan, San juan still comes at a better price...

I am opening a new thread to speciafically address this qn of finalizing my itenary..

Sonny V 10-31-2011 11:48 AM

This is your first cruise so no matter where you go, or what you do will be an amazing new experience. It's like the first love of your life - you'll never forget it. Saying that, I want to let you know that the Southern Caribbean itinerary is my favorite. The Radiance Class ships are beautiful. I love the open back dining in the Windjammer (the buffet) and the elevator with a view of the ocean as you're going up or down. I think you made a very good choice. Make sure you see the Crown and Anchor Loyalty ambassador and sign up to the Crown and Anchor Society. It's free and you will get a coupon book if you sail with Royal Caribbean again.

Midwest Cruiser 10-31-2011 01:06 PM

Looks like a nice choice. We enjoy the southern caribbean and always stay at least one night before so that we can explore and not be rushed the day of the cruise. You have selected a busy itinerary so you shouldn't have a problem finding exciting things to do.

Enjoy your cruise!

jayasesh 11-01-2011 06:29 AM

Thanks a lot Sonny and Midwest Cruiser! It feels so good to know that I have chosen a good one.. Thanks a lot for your help.

Jim1012 11-01-2011 10:22 AM

First Timer
 
Hey Sonny, now I have a question. You stated earlier in this posting that a balcony cabin D-1 was the highest you could get before a Jr. Suite. What is the difference between cabins D-1, D-2, E-1 and E-2? Does one have something the others do not, or does it relate to deck location, or fore and aft on the ship? The web site appears to lump them together as listing them the same.

Sonny V 11-01-2011 11:52 AM

Hi Jim!

There is a difference between a D and E category. The D's are a little larger than the E's - depending on the ship. On the Navigator there's only a 4 sq. ft. difference. The numbers 1 - 2 - 3 are in reference to the location. On some ships you would notice about a foot more space between the bed and the wall. I'm in an E-1 on my first cruise this month, a junior suite my second, and another E-1 on my third. I bought an E-2 guarantee on my third cruise and was given a D-1. I called RCCL and changed it to an E-1 because the location was more to my liking.

poormom 11-01-2011 12:07 PM

Sonny
I know this is the wrong thread for this question, but what did you think of Falmouth Jamaica? And what did you do there if anything?

Jim1012 11-01-2011 12:12 PM

First Timer
 
Sonny;
We have now moved up to, and really like Jr. Suites, just for the extra room between the end of the bed and the dresser area. (I'm not the smallest guy). I often wondered about the differences between D's and E's, but 4 sq feet doesn't seem like much to worry about. Thanks for the info tho.

Sonny V 11-01-2011 07:35 PM

On the Freedom Class the difference between a D and E is about 15 sq. ft. I agree with you about a JS. It's a perfect size.

Sonny V 11-01-2011 08:15 PM

Marsha,

We didn't do anything in Falmouth except for getting off and doing some shopping on the dock. The area was very clean.

http://sonnyv.smugmug.com/Vacation/H...P1070821-S.jpg
http://sonnyv.smugmug.com/Vacation/H...1070838-Th.jpg http://sonnyv.smugmug.com/Vacation/H...1070837-Th.jpg

Candice R 11-02-2011 02:37 AM

I have to agree with Jim... For husband and I ship is the "excursion" for us. We are planning a cruise on Freedom in December 2012 (1st sun of Dec.) To be quiet honest I can NOT remember where we are going.. Look at cruise ticker..we are going there again(if it shows). We did a 4 night cruise through Disney. It was great but for your 1st cruise I would recommend min. Of a week. Pretty much all ships are pretty big and 4 days may not be long enough to do everything that is offered on ship (activities for kids and adults, and places to eat). We have only done Freedom through RCCL so I am no help when it comes to other ships.

What we do before every cruise(next year will be our 3rd) is we do a park before hand..RCCL works with Universal Studios. All transportation will be taken care of. And for us our RCCL reservation # was our reservation # for universal. just thought I would throw that out there for the kids ( and for those adults who are still kids, like us).

Wheels87 11-05-2011 06:40 AM

To the OP...I would also highly recommend flying to San Juan at least one day before the ship departs or you may end up finding yourself flying to your first port-of-call.

In January, through no fault of our own, my wife and I missed our connecting flight in Charlotte and would not have made it to the ship on time if we had been flying in on the day of departure.

Good luck,

Brad


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