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Author Topic: Has anyone been on a cruise? Advice from seasoned cruisers appreciated.
black roses 19
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Next year for SO's birthday (late June) I was thinking about buying a cruise. Obviously we'll talk about it beforehand and everything, but I'd like to price first.

I was thinking maybe a 5-7 day cruise. The cruise that I think we would enjoy most starts in New York then sails down to the Eastern Caribbean and spends some time in 3 or 4 of the Islands there, then back to NY. I think this cruise was around 900 dollars (US). I like it because it gives us a couple of days of just sailing the Atlantic to relax, then we visit the Islands, then we get a couple more days to sail back and relax. Oh, and we love NYC and want any excuse to go there [Wink]
If you've been on a cruise, with what company did you travel? Would you recommend them? How inclusive is the package? What should I expect to pay for outside of the cruise fees?

What's your most recommended destination package?

Any places I'd be able to get some discounts? Being the poor college students that we are, we'd like to get off as cheaply as possible [Wink] However, I do want a nice cruise.

Thanks in advance!

ETA: Is it just my computer or are the "winky" icons gigantic?

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Troberg
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It may be me that's prejudiced, but are cruises not mainly an old people thing? Nothing bad about old people, but I don't know if I'd want to be stuck on a ship with them.

I'd fly to where I'm going and spend some more time there instead, giving me time to get beyond the guided tours.

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black roses 19
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From what I understand, cruises are only "old people" things on certain lines and certain vacations. I've had a lot of friends go on cruises (I've been trying to get ahold of them, too) and they confirmed that there were plenty of people our age there.

Also, these aren't guided. AFAIK, they just port in an island/country and you have the day to explore or do whatever - you just have to be back before departure.

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RainyDaze
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What I do know is that every cruise line has a different style or personality (for lack of a better word). These range from tux and evening gown elegance to hard drinking, pounding pop music frat party. Most fall in between these extremes. Making sure you go on a cruise line that fits you will make a world of difference in how enjoyable your cruise is. What I don't know is which cruise lines are which. Anyone?
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Barbara
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There are a number of cruise-specific online travel agencies you can consult to help you narrow your choices down to the cruise you finally decide upon. cruise.com is one such site. It and a great many other such online travel agencies will help you secure the very best price possible for the cruise you choose.

Key to the price you're going to be charged is the sort of cabin you'll want. Inside cabins are by far the cheapest, but bear in mind that they have no windows. Given that you're going to be on a ship and will have access to great views from all the public areas of the vessel, you may decide to skip on having your own window in favour of saving some serious bucks.

Outside cabins have their own windows, and therefore cost more than inside cabins. More costly yet are balcony cabins, which each have their own private balconies, something you might deem that you can't live without if you're the sort that likes to have a morning cup of coffee out in the fresh air but either don't much like having to deal with other passengers at that hour or the potential for a passing seagull to drop a little present on you. However, most folks who go on cruises consider balcony cabins not worth the sharp increase in price over outside cabins and so don't bother with them.

Above those three types of cabins are the various suites, the pricing of which gets into the "arm and leg" category. Look at these when you're online, suck in your breath at the mindless extravagance of people, and go back to pricing the first three.

Another factor to consider will be the cruise line because different ones offer different levels of luxury, as will different ships within each line. As you go through sites like cruise.com, note the star ratings given various ships. As a quick rule of thumb, don't book onto anything lower than a 4, try to get at least a 4.5, and if there's a 5 to be had in the price range you have in mind, grab it.

quote:
Troberg said:
It may be me that's prejudiced, but are cruises not mainly an old people thing? Nothing bad about old people, but I don't know if I'd want to be stuck on a ship with them.

snopes and I are mid-to-late forties, and at times it does seem we are the youngest people onboard. (snopes dubbed one such vacation the voyage of the damned old fogies.) However, some lines (like Carnival) do succeed in attracting a younger clientele. The trade-off, however, is that the younger clientele generally wants only to get drunk and rowdy, which may not be the ship environment for you if you had something more romantic and elegant in mind. As a rule of thumb, the lower the ship's star rating (and therefore price), the more of the "Let's go down to the islands, get pissed, and stay that way!" crowd it will be carrying.
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Mickey is a Hanukkah Bush
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Royal Caribbean was a great one when I went on a cruise for my grandparents' 50th anniversary when I was...11? I think?

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Brad from Georgia
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I once found a perfect cruise on a windjammer, and I nearly had Mrs. from Georgia talked into it when she noticed it was "clothing optional." Oh, well.

We've cruised the Caribbean on the Disney cruise line. Lots of young folks there! The kids are pretty much separate from the grownups, though. We've also cruised up to Prince Edward Island, on an excursion with mainly older folks. We had fun with both venues.

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AdmiralDinty
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We spent our honeymoon aboard a Royal Carribean cruise to Bermuda. My feelings about it were somewhat mixed.

The level of relaxation that one can experience on a cruise is almost unmatched. I spent many an afternoon on the deck reading a book and drinking fruity exotic drinks that I'll probably never drink again.

I also loved the idea of finishing dinner, and then strolling through the atrium to go to a "Broadway-style" show. Of course, more drinking was involved.

On the other hand, the food was only mediocre and steadily worsened over the course of the trip. It was almost as if they didn't plan things correctly. Thus, they ran out of different items, and in general, the quality of the items of the menu decreased.

Plus, you have to put up with the other passengers. While the vast majority of the people are well-behaved, I realized that there are a lot of rude people out there. Maybe I was just sheltered.

One final note: you say your cruise is leaving from New York? That might not actually be the case, since many "New York" ships leave from Bayonne, NJ, which isn't exactly a scenic destination.

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Morgaine La Raq Star
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My parents have done Princess several times & loved it. There's a nice mix of young & old on that ship & its not a 'party ship' like Carnival. I've known people who had a good experience on Carnival but personally, from what I've heard from people who know cruise lines & do a lot of cruising, I'd almost rather stay home & clean out my fridge than go on a Carnival ship.

I've been told that Royal Caribbeans 'Freedom of the Seas' is awesome but I've not done that one before.

Troberg: Check out the Disney cruise website. Lots of 'young people' cruising there. We did one last summer & while there were 'old people', they tended to be the grandparents of the little kids on-board.

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RangerDog
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Good topic. My wife and I would like to go on a cruise but we have always heard mixed reviews as well.

And as for Mr. Troberg: you are getting there yourself, young Troberg. Hold him still Barbara so I can whack him with my cane!

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Minstrel gone caroling
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I went on a cruise on Carnival a few years ago. I had a blast. It left from Miami and went to Belize and Key West before going back to Miami. What I liked best was getting to do somewhat adventurous shore excursions, like a tour of the ruins of a Mayan city and a bicycle tour of Key West. Oh, and the food was beyond excellent.

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bassjohn
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You asked about what extras there are to pay, and shore excursions can mount up the fee if you go on a lot of them. However if you are even a bit adventurous you can probably hire a car for the day for less than one of the bus tickets available on the cruise ship.

We have done this on St Martin with no problem - and I suspect that as Americans you would find it even easier on places like St Thomas, which is an american island.

Also take care if drinks are extra and you can charge them. Mrs Bass and I managed to rack up a £400 ($600)bar bill on a one week cruise (and didn't throw up once!)

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mrs.hi-c clown fishies
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We did a 5-day Carnival Cruise for our honeymoon. The price that we got from AAA wasn't too bad--it included airfare, and the cost of the cruise itself. However, be aware of all the little "extras". Anything you buy on-ship (this includes the excursions), and all alcoholic beverages are charged; and the staff likes to sneak it under your door while you sleep. DH and I woke up the last day of the cruise to an extra $900 charge to our cabin. Ouch.

Our cruise sailed out of Galveston, TX and went to Cozumel and Calica. Both very nice places to visit--Cozumel is more "westernized" and Calica is more primitive.

One last word of advice--don't go drinking before snorkeling. It's not a fun experience.

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nurple
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I went on a Carnival cruise and I loved it. It was aboard the Carnival Destiny. From Miami we went to Cozumel/Playa Del Carmen, Ochos Rios, Jamaica and Grand Caymen and back to Miami. My friends and I had so much fun. There were cruisers of all ages on the ship. The food was phenomenal! Even though Carnival is considered the "party ship" we found a lot of places on the boat where we could just sit and relax and quietly read a book.

We had one of the cheapest staterooms available: it was on one of the lowest levels of the ship and in the middle, so no windows, of course. We spent so little time in our room that it would have been silly get a more expensive one. It was small, sure, but there was plenty of room for the four of us.

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CSGirl
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Oooh I love cruises! Since you mentioned leaving from New York, look into Norweigan cruise line. The one we did last year left from NYC, and we stopped at Orlando (shore excursions to Disney!), Miami (shore excursion we did was airboat rides to the everglades), then we stopped at Nassau, and their private island (where I got the WORST sunburn of my life!).

It's an all-inclusive freestyle cruise, which means you pay for everything up front except beverages (and you can get unlimited soda for $30). Also, you can eat whereever/whenever you want. And I seem to remember that the interior rooms were about $800.

My mom and step-dad also just did a cruise with Norweigan for the honeymoon, which left from Boston, (forget where they went though) and I think that was about 4 days. They went this past October, and I think for only about $450 a person, but they booked sort of last minute too.

Link for Norweigan: http://www.ncl.com/nclweb/home.html

ETA: fix things and add link

Here's a link: http://www.ncl.com/nclweb/home.html

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erinker74
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Here is a site that may help you. It is a site dedicated to single cruisers. I realize you are not single; however, the entire boat is not single. This company simply organizes the singles in the group and facilitates activities. Booking one of these cruises through the cruise line may guarantee a bit younger crowd.

My friend and I are going on the Halloween one.

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Brad from Georgia
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Oh--don't forget to take plenty of cash along so you can tip everyone on the last day. The Disney cruise line even suggests the range of tips (your servers in the restaurants follow you on the DCL--though you're in different restaurants each night, you have the same waitstaff).

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CSGirl
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quote:
Originally posted by Brad from Georgia:
Oh--don't forget to take plenty of cash along so you can tip everyone on the last day. The Disney cruise line even suggests the range of tips (your servers in the restaurants follow you on the DCL--though you're in different restaurants each night, you have the same waitstaff).

Actually, if I remember right from the Disney cruise we did not too long ago- don't they automatically add the tips to your bill? I think you can add more, but I'm pretty sure they put some in automatically. It is nice that you have the same people every time- you get to know them. My sisters and I even had our picture taken with them at the end of the week. [lol]

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RangerDog
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Can you bring your own booze to have in your stateroom? Do they all require a Tux for dinner? What if a person or couple, oh what the heck: my wife and I are kind of introverts. Is there opportunity for down time after all the social interaction?

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Barbara
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quote:
Originally posted by RangerDog:
Can you bring your own booze to have in your stateroom? Do they all require a Tux for dinner? What if a person or couple, oh what the heck: my wife and I are kind of introverts. Is there opportunity for down time after all the social interaction?

You're not supposed to bring your own booze, but everybody does.

On all the lines I've been on, gentlemen who plan to eat in the dining room every night will need to wear a tux or a dark suit on formal and semi-formal nights. Those who don't have such get-ups or who won't be forced into them always have the following options:
  • Dining in their cabins. In addition to the regular room service menu, you can always order whatever is being served that night in the main dining room.
  • Dining at the alternative dining venue on the ship. There is always at least one non-dress code restaurant available.
  • Showing up in dress pants and a decent shirt because after all it's your vacation.

As for preferring the quiet life, RangerDog, you just described snopes and me. We spend a great deal of time in our cabin, are rarely found drinking in any of the bars on board, and go to the ship's evening show only if there's going to be a magician or a comedian. The first things he checks out on any new ship are its library and Internet centre. (For me, it's the casino and the spa pool.) And only very rarely do we engage in any of the organized activities aboard, preferring instead to do our own thing, be it DVDs in the cabin or midnight raids on the buffet's pizza station.

You will get to socialize as much or as little as suits you. Going on a cruise is a highly individualized vacation - no two couples on the same ship seem to do it the same way, yet almost every one of them appears to have a great time.

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bthyb
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I went on a Royal Caribbean cruise 2 years ago, and thought the food was good the whole time. We had an inside room and it was fine - as was said, we weren't in there very often.

As was also said, the extra charges were mainly drinks and excursions at the various ports. Depending on the port and the exursions you'd like to try, it is possible to get the excursion at the port for a whole lot less.

For example, we went snorkeling on Grand Cayman for at least $20 less than it would have cost us to go with the tour group. For other excursions, I don't know if we could have made the same arrangments that the cruise ship made, though it's possible. I wouldn't have wanted to try to find an excursion in Belize on my own, though.

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Brad from Georgia
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quote:
Originally posted by CSGirl:
quote:
Originally posted by Brad from Georgia:
Oh--don't forget to take plenty of cash along so you can tip everyone on the last day. The Disney cruise line even suggests the range of tips (your servers in the restaurants follow you on the DCL--though you're in different restaurants each night, you have the same waitstaff).

Actually, if I remember right from the Disney cruise we did not too long ago- don't they automatically add the tips to your bill? I think you can add more, but I'm pretty sure they put some in automatically. It is nice that you have the same people every time- you get to know them. My sisters and I even had our picture taken with them at the end of the week. [lol]
Aye, ye be right there. I'd forgotten--but we tipped extra anyway, because we got excellent service (our cruise btw began four days after 9/11, 2001). On our Canadian cruise, we had to figure out a tip for everyone. IIRC, we went for about five bucks a day for the waiters and wine stewards who attended our evening meals and about ten bucks a day for the custodial team that cleaned our room....probably a couple of others that I can't remember, but it all came to two hundred dollars or so in tips.

BTW, you'll have table mates. Hope you can get along with them! Just once we got stuck with a very crabby, irritating table mate who wasn't satisfied with ANYthing and not only constantly harassed the waiters and others, but also proselytized, trying to convert them to some off-brand version of evangelical Christianity. One of the waiters protested, "But I'm already Catholic!" only to be informed that that meant he was doomed to an eternity in a fiery he-ull.

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Mad Jay
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We went on a Royal Carribean cruise last year. It was great!!. We are in our early 30's and it seemed to me that we were right in the middle age-wise.
Most of the cruisers were a mix of

a) The largest demographic was couples in their late 30's and early 40's with kids, however, they were not the majority
b) Groups of young singles mixed with young couples
c) Retired folks
d) Couples in the late 20's early 30's without kids

If this is your first time cruise, try a shorter one. You know, if you don't enjoy it (and most probably you will enjoy it), there's no way you can cut the trip short

THe food was great. We were eating most of the time while we were on the ship. If you like food and you like socializing, sign up for the formal dinner. They usually try to pair you up with people who are close to your age. And the wait staff was excellent. My wife prefers Indian Vegetarian, and as soon as the wait staff at the formal dinner found that out, they started making Indian food specially for her. They told her "Don't order from the menu. We have food prepared specially for you"

THe drinks and the excursions were not cheap. We ended up spending as much as we spent on cruise tickets for the drinks and the excursions.

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Rhiandmoi
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I went on a cruise for my honeymoon and it was fantastic. We did spring for the balcony cabin, but on the cruise we were taking it was like $150 more than an exterior cabin. It was totally and completely worth it IMO. Room-service would deliver breakfast (aka as first breakfast to El Marido, he also went to the restaurant and ate a second breakfast) and I could lay around in my pjs drinking my tea and watching news in a strange language. We went on an international cruise and English was the minority language on board so we missed a lot of on board entertainment, but we were so exhausted from our day trips that it didn't really matter.

The cruise we went on the food was only mediocre, but El Marido had been on a Norwegian Freestyle cruise and he said the food on that cruise was excellent. Also, on the Norwegian cruise all the entertainment was in English.

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NorthernLite
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We went on a Carnival Cruise in the Caribbean three years ago and had an absolutely great time. We met some really nice folks from New England and Texas and took a bunch of fun excursions.

The tips were automatically charged to our rooms so we knew how much we would need and though the alcoholic drinks were not included we kept that cost down to about $20 per day. Our biggest expenses were pictures and excursions.There were a lot of younger folks who liked to party a lot but because there are excursions specifically designed for that crowd, we didn't run into very much rowdiness.

We are going on a cruise down the Mexican Riviera in about three weeks. This time we're travelling on Princess Lines and making all the stops that the Love Boat did. DW is quite giddy about that. Because we are going to be at sea on New years Eve, I have to have a dark suit or tux in order to eat in the main dining that evening and for the Captain's Dinner. Fortunately, I needed one for the play that I am currently in and was able to get a very nice one just my size on eBay. Only cost me $50

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You've got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know... morons. -Blazing Saddles

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Hero_Mike
Happy Holly Days


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My cousin spent about 5 months working on a cruise ship earlier this year. PM me if you want any details about his experience.

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"The fate of *billions* depends on you! Hahahahaha....sorry." Lord Raiden - Mortal Kombat

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Errata
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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quote:
Originally posted by black roses 19:
Being the poor college students that we are, we'd like to get off as cheaply as possible [Wink] However, I do want a nice cruise.

Since you're still college students, you should do Semester at Sea. You spend months cruising around the world while taking college classes, visiting several countries and most of the continents. Its the best. My little brother met Fidel Castro in Cuba, went on Safari in Africa (and an otherwise abandoned water park for a dollar a person), got lost with friends on a train in Japan (and guided back by friendly citizens), experienced crushing poverty in India (not fun, but a valuable life experience), got to sample real chinese food in China made out of a zoo full of highly dubious creatures, ritually shaved his head when crossing the international date line, and made good friends with other students from around the country.

And its not that much more than regular tuition + room&board. Do it now before you graduate and its too late.

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Dropbear
Angels from the Realms so Glurgy


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On a complete hijack but appropos of the thread title - are experienced sailors called 'salty' because they are well seasoned?

Sorry... I'll go now.

Dropbear

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" The villagers had said justice had been done, and she'd lost patience and told them to go home, then, and pray to whatever gods they believed in that it was never done to them. -- (Terry Pratchett)

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TurquoiseGirl
The "Was on Sale" Song


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I went on a cruise to Alaska (highly recommended) on Princess a couple of years ago.

An inside cabin was a real cost saver. I cannot see anything without glasses/contacts and so it would have been silly to expect a good view. The other advantage is that if you need a nap in the middle of the day, it's nice and dark.

Princess adds the suggested gratuity to your bill at the end of your cruise (you have a chance to increase or decrease as you wish).

The only thing I didn't like was the constant upselling from some of the crew members.

You can also rent eveningwear if you don't have it.

I would go on a cruise again in a heartbeat. I would bring more money for onboard spa-things though (although you can get good deals on in port days).

I would go to Alaska again quite happily, but I would like to go to the Caribbean and perhaps Mexico. Or the Mediterranian. Or Scandanavia. Or Australia. I would really like to do a repositioning cruise and go through the Panama Canal.

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There are people who drive really nice cars who feel that [those] cars won't be as special if other people drive them too. Where I come from, we call those people "selfish self-satisfied gits." -Chloe

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Hero_Mike
Happy Holly Days


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quote:
Originally posted by TurquoiseGirl:
I went on a cruise to Alaska (highly recommended) on Princess a couple of years ago.

An inside cabin was a real cost saver. I cannot see anything without glasses/contacts and so it would have been silly to expect a good view.

Pity, because then you might have seen a walrus.

They are native to that part of the world, you know. [Smile]

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"The fate of *billions* depends on you! Hahahahaha....sorry." Lord Raiden - Mortal Kombat

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TurquoiseGirl
The "Was on Sale" Song


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Actually, I did see many walruses. Whole colonies. Up close and personal. We took a catamaran one day and went close to them. They were cool. Loud but cool.

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There are people who drive really nice cars who feel that [those] cars won't be as special if other people drive them too. Where I come from, we call those people "selfish self-satisfied gits." -Chloe

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Special Tinsel
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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I have only been on one cruise. Last January I went on a 7-day Hawaiian cruise on Norwegian's Pride of America.

It's a very casual cruise with a lot of different dining options. There's a free buffet-style restaurant with no dress code (or at least no one enforced it) that basically serves food 24/7, and about half a dozen restaurants that serve only dinner and/or lunch. Even in the fancier restaurants dress pants and shirt will get you by.

The ship had an absolutely amazing sushi bar. On the last day of the cruise myself and three other people ate what must have been a few hundred dollars worth of sushi for $10 per person. (Some of the restaurants have a flat rate per meal for whatever you order.)

Everyone boarding the ship had their bags checked for alcohol and other contraband, so I'm not sure how other people manage to sneak booze on board a cruise, but they weren't having any of that. But you could go ashore and buy your own non-alcoholic drinks to avoid paying $2 on the ship for a can of Coke.

The excursions organized by the cruise line tended to be pretty expensive. Some of them were worth it, some of them not. $50 a head for snorkeling on the beach was a bit of highway robbery when you can just rent the gear yourself for ten bucks. But $50 for a historical tour of Kona coffee plantations was well worth it.

I had an amazing time and liked the laid-back atmosphere on the ship. Some of the older passengers that were cruise veterans complained relentlessly, so obviously some people prefer to be more pampered on a cruise.

ETA some more info on what was included in the cabin price:

All food at the buffet restaurant was free, as was coffee, tea, milk, and water. Soda and alcohol was extra.

Two of the more casual restaurants (a burger joint and an italian restaurant) were free as well, but still required reservations.

As mentioned, some of the other restaurants were a la carte and some charged a flat fee per plate. (And I think which as which depended on what night of the cruise you were on.)

All shore excursions were extra.

Tips were added to the bill at a flat $10/day. You could tip extra to individual employees, and I did a few times, but I never felt any pressure to do so.

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MissEltoe
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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Black roses, thanks for starting this thread!

I've been wanting to go on a cruise forever, and back when the ex and I were still together we were going to plan one. We didn't go, but I've recently been invited on one by a friend of mine, so all of this information is very helpful!

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Licorice of the Lord! This is classy stuff...Should I be wearing a tie? Or, at least, pants?
~I'mNotDedalus

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black roses 19
Xboxing Day


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Wow, thanks for the info, everyone! This is great stuff I'm getting. Are alcoholic drinks pretty expensive? I assume they are (because they can be).

I finally got ahold of a couple of my friends who have been on cruises. I was told that they went on 5 day cruises to the Caribbean and they got out of it for under 500 dollars *after* the flight. This was during spring break (their senior year of high school) and they booked it really early.

Apparently, they went with Royal Caribbean and they told me they wouldn't trade their experiences for the world.

As for excursions - I'm honestly not planning on paying for any unless there happened to be something we absolutely couldn't pass up. I figured we could either rent snorkelilng gear or buy it before we go and just wander the islands for the rest of the time we're there. I'm not a big fan of guided type things anyway.

Thanks again SO MUCH! [Big Grin] I'm so excited now!

Oh, and Errata, that sounds amazing. I don't think our school offers anything like that, but I'll definitely have to check up on it. I would love to do something like that.

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"I find them to be in contradiction of the basic principles of YOUR MOM!!!" -We've Got Mail

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Cervus
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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When I was 12 my parents decided it would be fun to go on a cruise to the Bahamas. I don't recall what cruise line we went on - either Carnival or Royal Caribbean. I was bored out of my mind. Granted, I was 12 and there wasn't a whole lot for me to do...the main highlights of the ship were a casino I wasn't allowed in, and public swimming pools (ew!). I spent most of my time inside the cabin, reading, but I also got extremely claustrophobic. Not just in the cabin, but on the ship itself. I just get extreme anxiety and claustrophobia when using forms of transportation I can't control (like airplanes, trains, ships, etc.) To me, it felt very much like being in a giant airplane, trapped in a confined space with a bunch of strangers. The food was horrible and the people we had to sit with at meals were annoying. But I'm an introvert and my idea of a vacation is to be miles away from anyone, doing things at my own pace.

The Bahamas were extremely boring. The port cities were filthy and unpleasant. As I recall, we had very little time off the ship - one day in Freeport and one day in Nassau, then back to Florida. Outside the tourist traps there was nothing appealing about the cities. We live in Florida and I have no idea why my parents thought visiting the Bahamas on a cruise ship would be interesting.

I won't ever take a cruise again. (I didn't have any desire to in the first place.) Too many people, not enough things to interest me, too much time in a confined space, and just a flat-out boring time. We were often herded around like cattle. A lot of things on the ship seemed very corny, like karaoke, hokey entertainment, bad "tropical" music piped over the loudspeakers, and photographers trying to make several bucks by selling pictures of us on our "dream" vacation. [Roll Eyes]

Honestly, I'd rather spend 24 hours on an airplane than another weekend on a cruise ship. They're not much different to me, but at least you get to your destination faster in a plane.

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"There is no constitutional right to sleep with endangered reptiles." -- Carl Hiaasen
Won't somebody please think of the adults!

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