Thinking about cruising? Here some notes we hope you
We have been on many cruises. We have been on 4 cruise lines; Holland
America, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Princess.
Carnival is a fine cruise line, but they have a reputation of catering to
the younger 20 something crowd. Hence you are more apt to experience while and
crazy partiers on Carnival. I've heard many stories about Carnival cruisers
experiencing the after affects of partiers who are too young and drank way too
much. My wife met a woman who was thrown up on twice during a three day
cruise. I WON'T CRUISE ON CARNIVAL. I'm 42, not 22.
We've been on 2 Holland America cruises. HA offers somewhat unique
itineraries. However, the problem with HA is that they are the opposite
of Carnival. HA caters to the older crowd. It is quite common to see MANY
people in their 60s, 70s, and older.
Our first cruise was on a HA cruise to Alaska. The cruise was
spectacular. However, we were definitely among the youngest people on
the ship. Oddly enough, Carnival owns Holland America. What we found on both
of our 2 HA cruises is that the evening entertainment is quite boring for us.
It is meant for an older crowd.
Royal Caribbean and Celebrity are both quite good. Food is good, service is
good, itineraries are good, and the average age of the passengers are more in
line with my ours. Royal Caribbean offers the largest ship called
"Voyager of the Seas" coming in at a whopping 132,000 tons.
I've mentioned a couple of times the age of the passengers. I mention this
only because I think people naturally have more in common with people of
similar age. One of the nice things about cruising is meeting people on the
ship and hanging out with them from time to time or just a dinner. We still
stay in touch with people we've met on cruise ships. They make for very fond
and lasting memories.
We LOVE Princess Cruises. We've been on 2 cruises with Princess as well
as our next 2. One cool thing that Princess offers is Personal Choice
Dining. On other cruise lines, and Princess if you choose, you are assigned a
dinner time. So you go to dinner at the same time every day. Your choice is
either 6 or 8:30. The benefit of this is you get to meet your dinner table
guests and form a bond over the duration of the cruise. Tables range in
size from 4 to 10 people. You sit at the same table for dinner every night
with the same people. You can always skip dinner and go eat at the buffet
restaurant located by the main pool. Personal Choice dining means you do not
have a set table or time for dinner. You go to one of several other
restaurants on the ship. the benefit here is you eat when you want to eat and
you can choose from several restaurants or the buffet restaurant. We like this
because we are not tied to a set dinner time. However, you do miss out on the
potential for forming friendships with your dinner table guests.
We also loved the night time entertainment on Princess. They had comedians
on multiple nights. They also had spectacular singers, pianist, guitarist,
magicians, and ventriloquist. They also offered a second theatre where
either first run movies are played or an alternative to the main theatre
Breakfast and lunch you eat where ever you want. There is also food
somewhere on the ship including room service 24 hours a day. Eat as much as
you want. It's free!
The amount of activities for kids depends on the size of the ship. The
larger ships tend to have more activities for kids. The Grand Princess
(109,000 tons, BIG ship) has an area on deck 16 dedicated for kids. Adults are
NOT allowed in this area. From what I know, kids play games, arts and
crafts, play, etc all day long. They are NOT bored. I believe you get a walkie
talkie or a pager in case your kids need you. Of course you can drop in
anytime to check up on your children.
There are multiple pools on the ship. Depending on the size of the ship.
Smaller ships may have 2. Bigger ships may have 4 or 5. Same goes for hot
tubs. The Grand Princess I believe has 4 pools and about 12 hot tubs. One of
those pools is adults only. One of the pools is under a retractable glass
ceiling. Very cool.
So you can have your kids with you at the pool as much as you want. You can
take them to the kids zone as much as you want. There are arcades on the
bigger ships. Grand Princess has an enormous arcade with virtual reality
games. The games are not free. They do take tokens.
All services, food, and entertainment are included in the cost of your
cruise. YOU PAY FOR ALCOHOL! If you are like me, you'll go through a few
drinks per day. Average price of a fruity drink is about 4 to 5 dollars.
Before you board the cruise ship, you get a card that serves are your
identification card, room card, and payment card. So you only need to carry
one card around (some older ships you may have to carry 2 cards). So if you
buy a drink, you simply show them your card and sign. At the end of the cruise
you get your lovely bill for stuff you bought on the ship. They have MANY
shops on the ship. Some things are worth buying because they don't have duty
Investigate the ports your ship will stop at. The cruise line will offer
excursions for each port. What the excursion is depends on the port. The
offers a lot of water sports - snorkeling, scuba diving, boating, etc.
Alaska offered a lot of
out door activities like canoeing, white water rafting, exploring glaciers,
We like to take advantage of the stuff to do at the ports. Some people just
like to hang
out on the ship and relax. It is your choice.
We've been to Alaska, Mexico Sea of Cortez, and 4 times to the Caribbean.
THE CARIBBEAN. Nothing like snorkeling clear blue waters, beautiful white
beaches, and Margarita. Some islands, in particular the eastern Caribbean
people that beg. If this is a problem for you, then avoid St. Martin, St.
Barbados. However, St. Lucia and Barbados are absolutely gorgeous. Western
Caribbean islands like Aruba and Grand Cayman have lots of money so no
they are gorgeous as well. We in particular loved Curacao. It was like
being in an old
Dutch village. Beautiful village with some of the nicest people I've ever
Pay the extra cost for a window. Inside cabin sucks. You never know what
time of day it
is. If you have any claustrophobia, then DO NOT get an inside cabin. It is
nice to be
able to look out and see the water and distant islands. Just seeing the sun
makes it a
Mini-suite or not? That is your choice. A mini-suite will increase the size
of your room
by about 50%. A standard ocean view (or inside ) cabin is between 170 to
feet. A mini suite is about 320. But you do pay for it. A mini suite will
run you about
50%. So if you have the money do it!
I like have a balcony. It is really nice in the morning and late evening.
The larger ships
have lots more balconies so they are more affordable. So if you go on
the Grand Princess, an ocean view cabin with balcony won't cost very much
an ocean view with no balcony. Smaller ships however will cost more. I use
balcony for coffee in the morning, a night cap in the late evening, and
maybe once in a
while if I just want to be alone.
People think that larger ships carry so many people that they are crowded.
wrong. There is so much to do on these ships that it never seems crowded to
only exception is the pool. People like to bake by the pool. I don't! I
like to be by the
pool, but in the shade so we can usually find empty tables and chairs. If
you want to lay
on a lounge chair by the pool, then go early and crab one because they do
Ship sizes do make a difference. I classify them like this;
small - 45,000 - 60,000 tons. medium - 60,000 - 90,000 tons. large - 90,000
- 120,000 tons. Ridiculous > 120,000 tons.
The bigger the ship, the more there is to do on the ship. The draw back to
a large ship
is that they are more restricted on what ports they can visit because of
the depth of the
water. So you may have to tender more often. A small ship has less
amenities, but can
go to more ports. For example, the Grand Princess, 109,000 tons cannot go
Panama Canal. It is too wide. A Panama Canal cruise is usually on a ship
70,000 tons. Good size ship nonetheless.
Let me know if you have any other questions.
A good web site for booking cruises is CruisesOnly.com. They buy cabins in
them resell them at a reduced rate.