Advice for a First Cruise

Old Dec 30th, 2007, 05:00 PM
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Advice for a First Cruise

Although my son and daughter have cruised Carnival several times, my husband and I have always avoided cruises, preferring to be on land and go where we want.

Our kids have finally talked us into trying a 4 or 5 day cruise, and both of them recommended Carnival.

We live in north central Florida so leaving from Tampa would be easiest. We don't care for the Bahamas or Key West (used to live there). Mexico is okay, my sister lives in San Juan, and the Caribbean sounds okay too.

I appreciate any advice. Also, should I deal directly with the cruiseline or use a travel agent?
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Old Dec 30th, 2007, 06:23 PM
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I would highly recommend trying Holland America for your first cruise. There are some very good prices on the Veendam out of Tampa on 7 day cruises. If you check out a website like cruise.com you can see the ports and prices. If you don't want to do the Bahamas I would certainly go for the 7 days.
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Old Dec 30th, 2007, 09:31 PM
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Travelocity has a cruise selector page that is a good place to start. You can ask it to show cruises for certain dates, lengths, and departure ports.

It is possible to do the entire booking on-line with either cruiseline or on-line agent. Also shop your cruise for price with cruisecompete website.

Some cruiselines allow agents to discount, some do not. Therefore some can get you deals and some not. Some posters here swear by agents, and go a long way towards "recommending" theirs. Your choice.
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Old Dec 31st, 2007, 01:08 AM
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I used to tell folks they should never pay the cruise line "brochure price" for a cruise as there always seemed to be some discounter out there from whom you could get it for less.

That may have changed as many cruise lines now allow you to book directly.

I know there are, as has been mentioned, cruise lines which will not allow agents to discount.

I have some personal experience with Carnival which would make me NOT recommend them but everyone's experience is different.

There is definitely a difference in ambience AND IMO the "presentation" of the cruise itself (once you are aboard) between one cruise line and another.

And remember this so-called "rule of thumb"...the longer the cruise, the higher the average age although ror a three or four-night it may not be valid.

I would also go to sites such as cruisecritic.com and cruise-addicts.com and READ the reviews of various ships with one word of caution: some of these "reviewers" MUST BE from another planet since the expectations and comments seem to be a bit other-worldly and the usual weasel words such as "tired" "small" "rude" "snooty" and you name it.

Pick an itinerary that sounds interesting and just GO for it. What have you got to lose? At least you'll have some first-hand idea of what it can be like.
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Old Dec 31st, 2007, 02:58 AM
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Agree w/Traveller69 re Hal's Veendem
cruise which I found very nice.

For a recent cruise I chose
www.cruisecompete.com & 8 agencies
e-mailed me quotes, first on inside
& then outside cabins.

From that I widdled it down to one
I chose to go with. As a single
traveler, I knew I would be paying
150% more but found an acceptable
rate for an outside which I booked.
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Old Dec 31st, 2007, 06:50 AM
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I would recommend a 7 day cruise and NOT on Carnival!! There are much better choices of cruise lines for you.
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Old Dec 31st, 2007, 11:14 AM
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We have cruised NCL, Celebrity, RCCL. Celebrity would win my vote. Did Western Carribean cruise from Miami last Feb. Good mix of ages. Everything worked - from on/off, food, cabin. I think they also sail from Tampa. Seriously consider getting a bacony if you can afford it - it makes all the difference in feeling like a person in a nice hotel versus cattle.
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Old Dec 31st, 2007, 11:49 AM
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My parents and I just returned from our very first cruise ever - 7 nights in Western Caribbean on Royal Carribean's Freedom of the Seas. What a great ship - very new, huge, and tons to do...my favorites being the casino and the FlowRider where I surfed and went boogie boarding. If you don't surf or boogie board, it's also really fun to people watch. The food was okay, not great...think good banquet food. The service everywhere, however, was fantastic. Also tons of stuff going on at all times and great evening shows. I thought it was an excellent first cruise experience...I would cruise this line again!
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Old Dec 31st, 2007, 12:37 PM
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I find the shorter Carnival cruises to be a bit too much of a "party" atmoshere for me. When I was in my 20's (about 30 years ago) it was fine.

Longer Carnival cruises are OK, but I prefer other cruise lines (NCL, RCI, HAL, Celebrity).

Check out the sites Dukey suggested. They have a wealth of info on all the cruise lines.

I love land vacations, but there is something about having breakfast on your balcony as you watch the dolphins and sea turtles.
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Old Jan 1st, 2008, 02:31 PM
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Thanks for all your advice. I think for our practice run we'll stick to a short cruise that we can do on a long weekend out of Tampa. My husband is adamant on trying a short cruise before we keep considering a 2009 Alaska cruise. We're not very young but we enjoy loud music and happy, partying people, so for our "test drive" me'll probably try Carnival.

I was amazed to see cruises on Hotwire - anyone ever used them? The prices are pretty good!
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Old Jan 1st, 2008, 04:11 PM
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Understand your reasons for selecting cruise as you did - but just remember the warnings above about length and line. Our first cruise was a business obligation on RCCL for 3 nights. We finished that cruise thinking we were definitely not "cruise people" - but have since totally changed our minds based on line, length, and destinations.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2008, 04:11 AM
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I agree with the those that say a short cruise on Carnival will likely turn off the experience altogether.

Royal Caribbean has a Tampa based ship and that would be a step up.

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Old Jan 2nd, 2008, 07:23 AM
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I also urge you to take a 7 day not on Carnival to get the real feel of a cruise. There is plenty of activity and you will find the music etc that you like. The shorter Carnival cruises are just really for partying. Thats ok if thats what people want to do but do try to get the real experience.
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