Besy Bang for your Buck

Jan 22nd, 2005, 01:11 PM
  #1  
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Besy Bang for your Buck

I'm planning a cruise for an extended family consisting of children as young as 1 and grandparents 60+, with four teens in the mix, and the rest of us 30 something. The reality is that we don't want to break the bank but are willing to pay for a fabulous time. We though of DIsney, but I've heard its just soooo expensive I might spend the whole time penny pinching because its all been spent. I also don't want to end up on a high end "booze cruise" with tons young adults, or honeymooners. For sure I know its going to be in June, and we'd like to go to the Western Caribbean. Of course I choose western because my thought is that all the virgin islands are going to look the same. Going western mixes in the possiblity of mexico, jamaica, and in some cases Key West (which I've never been to, and secretly and hoping to get to on this trip. But I am all opoen for suggetsions!!! So in a nut shell: Intergenerational, must be able to entertain the kids, no more than a day at sea without stopping, excursion options for the adventurers, cabins that can sleep 4, and since I'm not sure everyone will have the time of their lives, no more than 6 or 7 nights. Well advise.....
vabarone is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2005, 06:26 AM
  #2  
 
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Frankly the highpoint of Western Caribbean is Grand Cayman. Look for a full day in port there. The rest so so in my opinion. If you don't want a "booze" cruise stay away from Carnival- nothing against them, have sailed many times, but in summer can be absolutely over run with this type of passenger and kids. Shorter cruises on average can have more of this type of passenger so you only want to consider 7 day cruises. Perhaps consider Royal Caribbean?
BudgetQueen is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2005, 05:07 PM
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Hello,
Next week we are sailing on the "Explorer of the Seas" to the Western Caribbean.
Belize City, Belize - Costa Maya, Mexico -
Cozumel, Mexico - George Town, Grand Cayman. It will be our 24th Royal Caribbean cruise. We tried Carnival and NCL before we did a RCCL cruise. We've taken our 3 Grandchildern twice and they had a great time. Lots of things for Kids and Teens to do. A Western Caribbean would also be a good choice. Our travel agent is looking into a Disney cruise for us. She found the cheapest rates are in the month of September. She goes out of her way to find us the best deals. Things like dates, specials, coupons, and senior rates all play a part in the " Best Bang For Your Buck". I use to try to do it all on my own. Tried a few different travel agents then we met Ellen (our tavel agent)on a cruise in 2001. Since then I call her and she does it all. I also get the best prices from her. I belive 9 out of 10 would choose RCCL. I also recomment one of the "Mega" ships. If you have any questions please feel free to email us.

Sonny and Esther
Racine, WI

SonnyV is offline  
Jan 24th, 2005, 01:42 AM
  #4  
 
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I am always wary when posters claim they have the best agent and ALWAYS get the best prices. Statically very hard to accomplish. It pays to keep track of pricing trends YOURSELF and immediately contact your booking agent for an adjustment. I have been on 32 cruises and book with the cheapest agent- never is it the same one previously used. I need only a valid ticket and nothing more. If you need advice etc. then an agent can help you, but don't be naive thinking they will always have the best price. Most likely they won't.
BudgetQueen is offline  
Jan 24th, 2005, 01:19 PM
  #5  
 
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Echoing Budget Queen's comments: no agency always has the best price, because the best price often depends on who happens to be holding group space on the sailing you want. Always good to check CruiseCompete.com to see if anyone can beat your best offer (doesn't cost anything or take much time).

As to best bang for the buck--look into options on Carnival. You won't be a on a "booze cruise" on anything longer than a 4-5 nighter.

As to Key West, most of the time the stops there are brief. If you really want to experience KW at night (which is when it's most interesting) you probably want to plan a separate trip. (Though a tour of Hemingway's house is an entertaining way to spend an hour--especially if you like cats).

Cheers!
triathlete is offline  
Jan 24th, 2005, 02:52 PM
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I have to disagree- I have been on several Carnival 7 day "booze" cruises. All were in the summer out of Florida and New Orleans.
BudgetQueen is offline  
Jan 24th, 2005, 05:48 PM
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I agree with BudgetQueen, stay away from Carnival. There's a good reason they call themselves the fun ships. Check out some of the other boards for the horror stories. Drunks shooting silly string at the waiters at dinner, throwing up in the pool and laughing all the while and my favorite - having the unfortunate luck to be a next door neighbor to the party hosts into the wee hours of the morning.

Peter
PumpkinEater is offline  
Feb 16th, 2005, 04:55 AM
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I have a special word of warning....don't book any cruise based on one port of call, especially Grand Cayman. I have missed my Grand Cayman port on the last two cruises that sail there. The last time was just a couple weeks ago. Any time a port of call is tendered (using small boats to shuttle you to shore) there is a decent chance you won't make the port if there are strong currents or high seas. Also, I think although Carnival really does have a party atmosphere I should mention that I have seen a group of seniors from my church go on Carnival and loved it(in January) and I have taken my family on Carnival with ages ranging from 2-84 and everyone loved it. Just choose a newer ship and don't go spring break! Of course, Royal Caribbean is even more of a "mass market" cruise line than Carnvival, but it is a misconception that only major party types will enjoy it!
wtggirl is offline  
Feb 17th, 2005, 12:32 PM
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I've been on four Carnival cruises and have never witnessed any of the behavior described above. Sure, there are drunk people in the disco at 3:00AM--but a booze cruise? No.

If you put 2,000 people on a ship on vacation, are some of them going to mis-behave? Sure. But that's a pretty small part of the overall story here.

If you look on the Cruise Critic or CruiseMates Carnival/RCL boards (while each , you'll find that most of the people writing who have been on both Carnival and RCL find little difference in the experience--and Carnival is generally (not always, but generally) about 20% cheaper for similar-sized accomodations on similar-aged ships.

One step up from Carnival/RCL would be Princess. I found the food and service to be much better, but they "rolled up the decks" at 9:00. (There was minimal live music and comparatively little entertainment). I'm assuming that as you go up in class (i.e., lines that primarily cater to even older crowds like HAL & Celebrity) your 30-somethings will be increasingly bored and your teens will get more dirty looks from the older folks.

Carnival and RCL will be your best choices to make everybody in your party happy.

Cheers!





triathlete is offline  
Feb 17th, 2005, 06:33 PM
  #10  
 
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There are enough people that echo the same sentiments about Carnival as BudgetQueen and myself that why would anyone take a chance. Sure, maybe the odds are you won't be on a booze cruise. But what if you are? Don't take a chance of ruining your vacation because you can't sleep at night. You can distance yourself from them on the pool deck, in the restaurants and bars, but you don't get to choose your next door neighbors.

Peter
PumpkinEater is offline  
Feb 18th, 2005, 05:35 AM
  #11  
 
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Bad luck with bad neighbors is just as likely on RCCL as Carnival. Thin walls seems to be the issue. Some ships actually have better insulation than others and cruisecritic or tripadvisor may be a good place to go to check on complaints with this issue. If you don't want to take a chance with a party atmosphere I have to go one step further than pumpkineater (how many carnival cruises have you been on?) and say only go on a high end or classic cruise style ship such as Holland America, Radisson, Crystal, Seabourn, Oceania....etc. OR, make sure you go off season when the crowd is older. Carnival and RCCL will show a huge difference mid winter (Jan-Feb) from spring break, summer and Christmas holiday time. I am sorry, but I have to stand up for Carnival. For price, quality (overall I have actually had better food on Carnival, 6 times versus RCCL 5 times) and various activities to fit a wide range of ages I think they try really hard to please everyone.
wtggirl is offline  
Feb 18th, 2005, 05:42 AM
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I know vabarone may not want to pay for the high end cruise- I was just making a valid point. Not everyone wants a sedate cruise experience. My grandma age 84 loves carnival. But, she is still young at heart. She loves to dance and gets a kick out of watching the younger set have fun.
wtggirl is offline  
Feb 18th, 2005, 06:47 AM
  #13  
 
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Carnival claims it will carry 3.3 million passengers in 2005. The median passenger age is 35-40.

If the "they're all drunks" posts describe typical Carnival experiences, can someone tell me why all of these people are sailing on this line?

I also want to pledge--right here, anonymously in public--that the day I hit the lottery I will invite you, Peter (and a companion of your choice) on an all-expenses-paid Carnival cruise--which would be your first on Carnival, if I'm not mistaken?

It might change your mind, might not--but I know few people who can be as entertaining as you are even when they're complaining...

Cheers!
triathlete is offline  
Feb 18th, 2005, 09:55 AM
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triathlete, your funny! "anonymously, in public"? Good going! I'm gonna use that!
wtggirl is offline  
Feb 19th, 2005, 02:52 PM
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Some folks have an axe to grind about Carnival and what disturbs me is they have never been on the line before. We have used them and had no problems at all and know others who have used them w/o any problems. Actually it was on a RCCL Med trip where several female passengers c/o of guys groping them and being half toasted. I think you'll be fine with Carnival. Don't listen to those who have never been and spout stereotyped rhetoric. Listen to those who have used them. And for Gods sake don't eat pumpkins! JM2C.
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