Cruises....who's been there done that?

Discussion in 'The Fire Hydrant' started by ACooper, Jan 6, 2013.

  1. ACooper

    ACooper Moderator

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    I am seriously considering booking a family cruise. Looks like booking a year in advance gets the best deals, on the other hand it's hard to say what can happen in a year!

    ATM I'm thinking 5 day Bahamas......so tell me about your cruise experience. Likes, dislikes, unexpected surprises (good or bad)

    How bad was your 'running tab' aboard the ship?

    How fancy did you have to dress for dinners? (2 teen boys ya know, LOL)

    What kind of shows/activities did you do? Enjoyable or not so much?
     
  2. Dizzy

    Dizzy Sit! Good dog.

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    Nothing to input except cruises don't appeal to me at all... We were having this convo literally last night lol!

    We decided you'd end up spending a ton more than you think you will.

    If I was offered a cruise though, or someone wanted to go on one, I'd still go, but it wouldn't be my holiday of choice.

    That doesn't help you at all :D
     
  3. ACooper

    ACooper Moderator

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    :p Thanks a bundle, LOL

    I'm not 100% sure about the cruise thing just yet......gathering opinions and intel for now, LOL
     
  4. Tortilla

    Tortilla Blonde Raccoon

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    I've only ever been on a Mediterranean cruise and meh, it was alright. It wasn't really all that fancy and the meals were pretty much all buffet style. Got to see some really cool places though (the Greek islands and Ephesus, Turkey), which was neat. Wasn't my top holiday but it was still a cool experience.
     
  5. Fran101

    Fran101 Resident fainting goat

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    I've been on two.
    One was a carnival cruise I went with a few friends. It was cheap (I don't mean price wise although it was.. just in like..everything lol) the food, the people, just ehh. I mean, it was fun at 19 going to the beach and getting trashed but for a family, I wouldn't suggest it.

    I went on a royal Caribbean cruise (5 days) with my family and it was lovely. The food was great, we stopped in some lovely places (just the typical kind of beachy roundabouts.. ) and the food on board was excellent, as were the activities and the other people on board.

    I would highly suggest http://www.cruises.com/promotion/crudotcom/best-ships/best-cruise-ships.asp for reviews and such

    Personally.. my family (and I really) are not what one would call "cruise people" we found it restricting, even with RC..things were lavish, everything was NICE but still.. you are stuck on a boat a lot and not really allowed the freedom of regular travel. Even when you stop at a port, it's restricting, we couldn't do a lot of what we wanted. The cruise thing is not something we would do again.

    Not to mention being on a boat with only your family/the same other people, day in, day out. We love to travel together and do things as a family.. but regular travel does allow a lot more freedom, which we all appreciate.

    LIKES? the beaches, you don't have to worry about finding hotels/leaving hotels/moving all your stuff, RC dining was really good, having a pool on deck was nice

    DISLIKES? Restricting (when you eat, who you eat with a lot of the time), being stuck on a boat, not much freedom as to where you go even when you do port (because you have to be back at a certain time), you don't get the "feel" of the places you travel honestly, the pool is sometimes crowded and drinks are expensive on board.

    Then again, we are a family of weird travelers. We like weird little hotels, and finding interesting things to do, and unique restaurants, and digging into the culture, and doing our own thing sometimes, new people etc.. the comforts of the cruise thing was lost on us because we were all kind of stir crazy lol
     
  6. GoingNowhere

    GoingNowhere Active Member

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    I went on a mini cruise (5 days) to the Caribbean with my family as a teenager several years ago. It was a ton of fun and a very unique vacation. My family and I agreed that it wasn't the kind of vacation that we'd want to take over and over again, but for a one time experience it was extremely cool, different and fun.

    LIKES:

    We went on the Norwegian cruise line (Norwegian Dawn, I think). The way our cruise was set up was perfect for a family with teenagers, because a lot of the food on board was set up as a free (well included at least) all you can eat any time of day buffet. There were several "free" restaurants as well (so you got the whole sit down experience without the extra charge, but you could sit with just your family rather than assigned seats with strangers). There were also a handful of restaurants with an extra charge that were a little more upscale. Drinks were an extra charge.

    As a newly turned 18 year old at the time, I liked that I was allowed to drink. However, although you only had to be 18 to drink, you couldn't buy drinks at 18, which might be a perk as a parent of an older teen.

    There was a ton of stuff to do on board. There was a pool, hot tubs, a game room, a movie theater, lots and lots of food, and entertainment every day.

    It was extremely easy to figure out what to do on the days while the ship was docked. Lots of fun options that were well advertised.

    Most of the on board entertainment was included. Exceptions were the spa and possibly a few other things.

    There was a teen hangout area/(dry) "nightclub". Not sure how old your teens are, as my younger brother and I felt a bit old for it (at 17 and 18), but a younger teen (14 or 15) might think it was pretty cool.

    Our off board experiences were a lot of fun, even if they were quite touristy.

    Dislikes:

    It was very much a tourist trap. While I loved what we did while we were docked (swimming with dolphins, snorkeling, swimming with stingrays, and hanging out on the beach), if you want an even remotely cultural experience, a cruise is not for you.

    We were only off ship for two days in two different locations (daylight hours), so the majority of the time was on board. Granted, there was a lot to do on board, but don't plan to spend most of your time on a beach.

    Tiny cramped rooms. To be expected (and we paid for what we got), so it didn't bother us at all, but it was tight with my siblings and I all sharing a room and a small bathroom.

    It was busy busy busy. There was always something to do which was both a positive and a negative. Fortunately, the cruise did most of the planning. I can't tell you what my parents opinion was, but I thought that it was pretty low stress, however, there really was very little serene "down time." You could hang on the busy pool deck or alone in your tiny room, but don't expect silence and tranquility unless you pay to go to the spa on board.


    I honestly don't know, because like I said, I had this experience as the child of a family, rather than the paying adult.

    depends. Any buffet style cafeteria outings could be taken in a bathing suit if you wanted. The sit down dinners, we dressed presentably, but certainly not black tie formal. Think no jeans and a nice shirt. I'd wear khakis or black pants and a conservative, nice shirt.

    We went to see Second City (comedy improv) - hilarious, but meant for the adult/older teen crowd

    A magician - pretty fun

    A man presenting on how to improve your memory - really interesting

    A dance group of some sort - I don't really remember it, so clearly it didn't make any real impression.

    Hope that helped! I had a great time and it was a fun experience. I think it's definitely something that should be done once if you have the means to do it! I would recommend our cruise line/style for teenagers.
     
  7. milos_mommy

    milos_mommy Active Member

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    I've never been on a cruise, and personally, I think there would be much better choices for a vacation for myself - and probably much more affordable ones for most families.

    If you don't decide to do a cruise, but still want to some kind of inclusive/resort type vacation, I'd recommend going to Atlantis in the Bahamas. I'm not a fan of resort type vacations at all whatsoever, and even I thought Atlantis was a ton of fun. It wasn't outrageously expensive, you can get good deals...we got our room upgraded for some reason (I don't exactly remember why. There wasn't anything wrong with the original room....it was maybe not exactly what we had booked, so instead of switching to what we did book, they moved us to a nicer room without any extra cost)...and aside from the resort (which has TONS to do, great marine exhibits, lovely relaxing pools and hot tubs, exciting water slides for teen boys, inclusive buffet style meals, nightclubs for both teens and adults, casino, spa, beaches, stuff like hair braiding/wrapping/airbrush tattoos/etc. for teen girls) we also got to see a little of the culture on a day trip to a market (where you can haggle lots and buy neat stuff) and went snorkeling out on a pontoon. You can pay extra for stuff like parasailing, banana boating, jet skis, etc. I REALLY want my family to take a trip there (I went with a friend's family as a teenager).
     
  8. PlottMom

    PlottMom The Littlest Hound

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    I have nothing to add as I have never been on a cruise, but recently people have been getting the norovirus on cruises & I HAVE had the norovirus... so I wouldn't go until they stop making people sick ;) lol
     
  9. ~Jessie~

    ~Jessie~ Chihuahua Power!

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    I've never been on a cruise, and it's something I never want to do. I LOVE to travel and we pick a different international destination every year... cruises WOULD allow us to easily see more places in a short period of time, but the idea of being on a boat for most of the vacation kills it for me. I like to immerse myself in the place I'm at... eat all of my meals there, stay in local hotels/b&bs, be closer to the culture... not sleep and eat on a boat with thousands of other people.

    We knew a couple who went on 3-5 cruises a year, and the wife would come home sick after every single cruise. They loved cruising so much that it was worth it to them... but the idea of being around so many people in tight quarters getting me sick is so scary.

    I like Milo's Mommy's idea- if you all want to go somewhere where you find things that would interest the entire family, I would choose a resort. Atlantis in the Bahamas is really, really nice for the cruise type atmosphere without a cruise. Lots of things for kids, teens, AND adults.

    I'm just not into cruises so obviously you can take or leave my opinion on them. lol.

    Oh yeah- not sure if you know this or not, but you need passports for the Bahamas now. I think the laws changed on it about 10 years ago, but a lot of people assume that you can get in just by being a US citizen.
     
  10. Renee750il

    Renee750il Felurian

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    My friend -- the one whose animals I take care of -- goes on them a couple of times a year. They pick up last-minute, late booking type deals. This last one was 7 or 8 days and they went for just under $650 per person -- all inclusive, except for whatever they spent when they were in port. And the bar, of course.
     
  11. Laurelin

    Laurelin I'm All Ears

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    I've only been on one cruise- it was Royal Caribbean to Alaska (which is kind of funny in itself). It's... fun, but not my favorite vacation. On the other hand my aunt and uncle go several times a year and love them.

    The Alaskan boats are smaller, I think. There wasn't as much to do (imo) as I'd have liked. So the days at sea were pretty dull.

    We had one really rough sea day too, which was kind of miserable.

    The food was great and the scenery great.

    Everything was a little rushed.

    We did alaska before on foot/car and it was much nicer. Just not as rushed and got to see more inland. But we didn't have good food at all and also did not get to see much coast at all.

    I think my ideal alaska would be to cruise in then stay for a while and do inland and kenai penns. We ended up cruising this one because it was for my grandma's 75th and there was no way she was going to be up for hiking Denali like we did the year before.
     
  12. LindaJD

    LindaJD New Member

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    I've been on quite a few cruises, with and without my kids. I like them. One bit of advice it to definitely up grade your room. Makes a huge difference. Also with kids it is worth the money to buy the soft drink wrist band, can save a lot of money in the long run. Make sure you put plenty of money aside for the tips at the end of the trip. The tips really really add up. Any off shore excursions are expensive and sometime they are cheaper if you just book them yourself. The food has always been awesome. The only cruise line I didn't like was carnival, dumpy and not nearly as nice as the others. The cruises have become a lot less more formal in the last few years. You really don't have to dress up for dinner if you don't want to but I do suggest you bring at least 1 set of nice close for the captains dinner. When off the boat, the islands are usually really expensive to eat or take a cab and they will try to take advantage of you so keep an eye out.
     
  13. ACooper

    ACooper Moderator

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    Wow! Plenty of responses, thanks guys!

    Looks like plenty of food for thought to weigh out, I'll share these thoughts with the other 3 people involved and see what we come up with, LOL
     
  14. Samantha's pet

    Samantha's pet New Member

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    We LOVE cruises! We are cruise fanatics! JUST did a big family cruise in November. It was great. We have only ever cruised Royal Caribbean. Next time we wanna try a different line. I love the food, love eating in the dining hall, love everything about it. I love talking to all the different people on the ship and its really fun to be with them all week and see them around the boat. I love the spa, usually always get a massage, pedi and mani on board. I also like to sing karaoke nearly every night and the game shows are hilarious! I always try to participate as a contestant at least once. Cruises are really fun if you like to meet people on vacay and participate in group activities. You can play games, drink, dance, and see awesome shows! I forgot to tell you about the shows! Dancing, live plays, ice skating, they have outstanding performers! Think Vegas quality.

    I love the food, I have never known of a cruise line that had all buffet style dining. Most all have a formal dining room where you are fully waited on and served a four course meal. We love it.

    I second the upgrading your room! This time we got the owners suite and we are never looking back! Lol. Although the junior suite on a budget is still worth the extra $$ over a balcony room.

    It's a totally different kind of travel than like what Jessie is talking about where you get a true local experience. Personally, I enjoy both types of vacations. Cruises are for when you want a relaxing vacation where you don't have to plan anything but want lots of fun activities and good food available to you. I definitely think its the way to go for families cause they cater to every age! Not sure why anyone would recommend against it for a family.

    Again, I love it. We always book super fun excursions, too but I like to reserve one port to just roam and do whatever and not plan anything.
     
  15. noludoru

    noludoru Bored Now.

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    The BF and I have been talking about going on a cruise for nearly 2 years now. We are going on my birthday for 5 days. Caribbean - not outside of the US. It's nearly all-inclusive, and about $650 per person including airfare. We're setting aside a big chunk of spending money, however - jet skiing is a must and we will probably spend the daytime alternating between the bar and the pool, so I doubt the rest of it will be cheap.

    What I meant to add is that I will tell you how it went next month. :p
     
  16. Sweet72947

    Sweet72947 Squishy face

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    When I was 20, my family and I went on a Disney Cruise. If you like food, you'll like Disney Cruiseline. HUGE breakfast buffet. HUGE lunch Buffet. Chicken tenders and sodas all day on deck by the pool. Dinners were in different restaurants on the ship. We had to dress up all nice and what restaurant we went to was alternated each night. Also, they paired you with another couple or family on the ship and you ate with them each night. And late at night near the clubs they served hor d'ourves.

    I have one complaint about Disney Cruiseline though. If you are 18-20something, there is NOTHING to do. They have two clubs, one is a quiet club with booths and piano music. The others is a club where they play "I will survive" EVERY NIGHT. My God I got so sick of that song. I ended up having to hang out with the teenagers and do some activities with them (which was ok, I met a cool girl from Egypt and we chatted; you meet people from everywhere with Disney stuff), or just stand there watching the ocean. But yeah, if you're not a kid or a 50yr old, Disney Cruiseline was kind of boring. Although, Disney's private island in the Bahamas was nice. My parents and I went to the "50 and older" beach where nobody was and I put on a mask and looked at all the pretty fish in the shallow water. That was peaceful.
     
  17. CaliTerp07

    CaliTerp07 New Member

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    Go to www.cruisecritic.com and start reading the forums for ideas of what to expect. They have boards for the various cruise lines, ports, regions, cruising with kids, etc. A great wealth of information!

    I have cruised to Alaska, twice in the Western Carribbean/Mexico, once in the Eastern Med and Egypt, and this past summer we went through Scandanavia and Russia. 2x Royal Caribbean (love them!), 2x Holland America (also awesome), and once with Norwegian (gross, stay away).

    I LOVE cruises as a method of seeing a ton of stuff in a short period of time.

    I would never be able to justify or budget 2 weeks to travel to Egypt. I don't want to. It kind of freaked me out. Same with Russia. A cruise was a safe, economical way to see those countries (and a lot of other ones) in a jam packed few days.

    I always choose itineraries where there are at most 1-2 sea days. On our 12 day Med cruise, there were 2 days at sea (and they were much needed recovery days after such a busy time in ports). I also make sure the port times are conducive to what I want to do. Some of them are stupid and only leave you 6 hours to explore town, which is really limiting. A little effort will find you 12+ hours in the cooler places (often overnights that you can stay off the ship for if you want--we stayed in a hotel in Cairo instead of going back to the ship).

    We also NEVER do ship excursions. Too big, too crowded, too expensive, too boring. Cruisecritic.com has forums that are a wealth of outside vendors and 3rd party tour companies that will give you a much better experience for half price. It's allowed us to see 3x as much on a strict budget. In Athens, we hired a private taxi driver/tour guide for the day for the same price it would have cost to go on the cruise line's bus tour.

    Cruise lines are really starting to
    Pros:
    -SO EASY TO PLAN. No fumbling finding different hotels each night, figuring out transportation between cities, etc. You wake up, walk off the ship, and do whatever you desire
    -Easy to budget for. Our tab at the end of our recent 9 day Baltics cruise was $14. All your meals are included, all the entertainment is free, so unless you drink a ton or gamble a lot, there are no unexpected charges. We paid all the excursions up front, and we booked with a travel agent who paid our gratuities for us.
    -Great for a family that wants to do different things. You're on a ship--the kids can't get lost/kidnapped/into trouble. Send 'em off during the day to watch a movie or climb the rock wall while you go play trivia or take dance lessons. They can go to the teen club while you go to the night entertainment. Meet up for dinner and share what you did during the day.

    Cons:
    -If you really want to immerse yourself in a place, it's not the vacation for you. I am very GO GO GO GO so I'd rather see 8 places in 10 days than 1 place for that same period of time. Cruises work for me.
    -The rooms are small. Some cruise lines have larger rooms than others, and obviously if you're willing to spring for a nicer room they are definitely bigger. The only time we're in the room is when we're changing for dinner or taking naps, so it's not a huge deal. If you are expecting a hotel room though, it's not that.

    The cruise lines have become very good about giving their guests options about the type of experience they want. People complain about fixed dining times with the same awkward conversations the whole time, so they have implemented open seating dining, where you can go at any time and ask to sit by yourself or with other people. They have numerous activities going on at any given moment on sea days, or you can choose to avoid it all and read on the balcony on your own. It's very much a make your own vacation experience.

    I -hate- land resorts. We went to one on our honeymoon and I was bored and miserable and had cabin fever within 2 days. Cruises always have something new to look forward to the next day, so I don't have the same negative experiences.

    Our next cruise is going to be through Asia--China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, etc. Excited!
     
  18. CaliTerp07

    CaliTerp07 New Member

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    Oh...also, for any non-caribbean cruising, we've always spent a few days before/after in the embarkation/debarkation ports. In the Med, we got 3-4 days in Rome before getting on the ship, and in the Baltics we had a few days before/after in Copenhagen. Same in Alaska. They usually leave from cool cities, so it's worth spending time there.
     
  19. ACooper

    ACooper Moderator

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    I look forward to hearing about it Nolu....I'm going to hold you to it! LOL

    Sweet, we would be taking 2 boys ages 13 and 16....I can't see us using Disney cruise, LOL, but I did enjoy reading your experience and I wouldn't mind taking my grandchild (if I ever get any!) on one someday! Esp if it's a little girl :p I think little girls enjoy disney way more than little boys.

    Wow Cali.........that is a LOT of info! Thank you so much for taking all that time, and for that link! I'm going to book mark it and snoop around it :)
     
  20. milos_mommy

    milos_mommy Active Member

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    Coop, keep in a mind a Disney Cruise is not at all the same as Disney world. I've never done one, but I know plenty of Disney vacations are not "Disney themed" with anything like characters, etc. As far as I know (which is not very far :p) Disney cruises are the same waterslides, rock climbing, exercise classes, food, kid's clubs, snorkeling, day trips as most other cruises. I've never seen a picture of a Disney Cruise with mickey ears or something on it.

    ETA: ok just kidding I just went to the website to see if I was right and...I was not. Unless your boys are into Disney Villians on Stage, maybe go with Carnival :p
     

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