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.
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).
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?
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).
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...
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.
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!!
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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.
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.
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!
2002 Adventure, Explorer
2003 Navigator, Serenade
2004 Voyager, Adventure
2009 Liberty, Enchantment
2010 Independence, Liberty
2011 Liberty, Freedom
2012 Freedom, Freedom, Independence
Feb 2013 Liberty
Mar 2013 Liberty
Nov 2013 Independence