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Caribbean Cruise first time cruiser

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There are so many cruise lines. It is difficult to know where to begin. I am looking for a Christmas time Caribbean cruise for my family. Our kids will be 20 and 17. I am sure that they will love the big, loud, bold atmosphere of most of the mid range cruise lines. I am just concerned all the lining up, PA announcements, and noise will drive me crazy. Please recommend a cruise line that might appeal to both or perhaps adivse if it is possible to appeal to both! If not, perhaps suggestions of the best cruise lines for families with almost adult aged kids would be good. All suggestions and advice are very much appreciated.
Thank you.

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    I went on Carnival during spring break and thought I would have that problem also, noise, loud and bold atmosphere but was surprise that didn't happen. It was Carnival, the fun ship, filled with lots of children. My family with children loved it and I did too. Everyone found entertainment and there were quiet spots for adults. The only lines were checking in and considering there were over two thousand people went smoothly and fast, I checked in with my three grandsons, 14, 14, and 10. The buffets had small lines, they were always moving. There were never lines at the pizza and deli section and when we went to dinner in the dining rooms. I will be going on Royal Caribbean in 2012 only because of destinations. I did a lot of reading on cruisecritic.com. Overall, I felt the cruise was the best bang for our bucks because of what was offered. From reading the various forums and boards most people can find a cruise to enjoy for all ages.

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    Ships are particularly crowded during the holidays.

    You might want to look at Royal Caribbean (especially Oasis of the Seas or its sister ship Allure of the Seas that will be launching around Christmas time). Reports from both ships are that the ships are built to handle the crowds, and they have a lot of activities that will be of interest to older teens and young adults, not to mention excellent facilities. They also tend to draw a younger crowd, though the prices are pretty high. As an alternative, Royal Caribbean's Freedom-class ships, while not as big, are offering very good deals because these newer, larger ships are cannibalizing their markets.

    Finally, NCL offers a nice product. I was recently on Norwegian Epic, and it has really excellent facilities for teens (though the 20-year-old will not be able to go there). And one of the shows is skewed younger (like Blue Man Group). But the ship can definitely feel crowded, and there are issues with cabin size and bathrooms (you'd probably need an want two cabins, perhaps one outside and one inside for the kids). Another option is one of the other NCL Jewel-class ships. These have good facilities and slightly larger cabins, but I find the activities to be not as good as on Royal Caribbean (just too many art auctions, bingo games, etc. that will not appeal to your kids).

    I hesitate a bit to recommend HAL, but I really liked my cruise, and while the atmosphere is a bit sedate, there were a fairly large number of younger people on board my Caribbean cruise. The line also has one of the best private island experiences out there, and their itineraries sometimes include stops at Grand Turk, which will appeal to your kids because of the beach and other activities.

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    A few years ago Celebrity was advertising (and it was our experience on board) that they greatly reduced overhead announcements, and in cabins they only were broadcast in emergencies. I do not know if this is still the case - but it greatly improved the noise factor on board.

    If you can afford a balcony, get one. It becomes your own private refuge - and wonderful place to sit and relax. Also, I have always been able to find a number of quiet places on board during any cruise - certainly not the pool deck on an at-sea day, but in front of the long windows at a bar during the day, and a number of different decks, inside and out, where I hardly saw anyone.

    Your kids will have fun, but they are a somewhat more difficult age for cruise activities (having cruised with our kids at various teen/young adult ages). Your 17 year old may feel too old for teen activities and will not be allowed into certain nightclub/disco places after a certain hour (and for some reason, many cruise ships still have places they call discos!). Your 20 year old may be restricted from some bars, casino at certain hours - but on some cruiselines will be able to drink wine/beer with your permission - and age info is recorded on cruisecard, either electronically or by sticker/color.

    Those are the things to look out for - but our kids always had a good time. There will be lots of families with assorted age kids at Christmas and they will likely meet up with many others their age, all trying to avoid their parents. Which is great, since you don't need to worry about drinking and driving, whose house they are at, where they are. While at sea there is a more limited amount of trouble they can get into, so you may feel comfortable with a longer leash than at home. And the ability of them to get food at virtually any hour with a number of choices is a big hit with teens.

    I would make a big part of your decision the ports. While I am not a Bahamas fan, we did a cruise with freshman-college daughter and 2 of her friends - they loved being able to get off ship, take a shuttle to beach, (drink on the beach - but I am ignoring that part) - all without Mommy checking up on them.

    At age 16 same dtr loved Key West since she and her father went parasailing. Son at similar age loved Grand Caymen and the stingrays. So consider which are ports.

    Shorter cruises are, in general, rowdier (as in 3-4 night cruises from Florida to Bahamas) and are often on smaller, older ships with fewer activities and amenities. But they are also cheaper.

    I dislike crowds, noise, herds of people being forced in the same direction, drunks, and am not really into late-night activity - and have been happily on about 6 cruises. It varies a lot by ship, especially with the newer mega-ships. I like Princess and Celebrity, was less happy with RCCL and NCL. But it might be worth considering price and saving some money for shore activities.

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    A couple of years ago, we took a multi-generational cruise on RCL with 80 yr old grandma, parents and 4 kids in the late teen/early 20s. We did the Jewel of the Seas which the kids really enjoyed as it had a climbing area and disco. We felt comfortable letting the kids roam on excusions on their own and they were very responsible and were always on time. As they tended to want to sleep till noon, and party till late, the only time we really saw them was at our dinner table (we did late seating). Worked out really well for us.

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    A Celebrity ship at Xmas time will be filled with kids of all ages... There are FEW announcements onboard and paper ads have been condensed to one large slip..Alot of messages are sent by phone/message.. Never felt crowded on the Soltice if that's the one yur thinking of.. and if your really looking for a rest..there is an inside solarium with soft music and nobody under 16 allowed..

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    With the 17 and 20 year old, RCL is probably a better fit than Princess adn Celebrity. But then if you are cosnidering your peace and relaxation first and foremost, then Princess and Celbrity would be the choice.

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