Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Travel Topics > Cruises
Reload this Page >

Cruise Newbie Alaska or Caribbean? Which Line?

Cruise Newbie Alaska or Caribbean? Which Line?

Feb 4th, 2004, 09:54 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 369
Cruise Newbie Alaska or Caribbean? Which Line?

Hey there! I've bumped around here a little bit, as well as on the cruise line websites and on cruisemates.com and have come up with a few questions.

First of all, we are a fairly fun-loving, close-to-thirty couple from the Midwest that have out of the blue decided that we'd like to take a cruise. We never thought that it would appeal to us, but there it is, we are intrigued.

We're having a hard time deciding on where to go first of all. Either the Caribbean or Alaska. I know, pretty diverse. The thing is, we'd like to go fairly soon but have obligations that keep us landlocked until May at least. Hence, the idea of going to Alaska. I know it's beautiful, and I've always wanted to go. My concern is the demographic af the Alaskan cruise. We like to party. I haven't gotten the impression that the Alaska cruises are "party" cruises. Perhaps we should wait a few years for Alaska?

That brings me to the Caribbean. I think this is what we prefer, because we'd like it to be a break from a cold MI winter. We will probably wait for next Spring if my impressions on the Alaska cruises are correct.

Any way, on to my other questions:
1. Which cruise lines offers the most "inclusive" package? We won't mind paying a pretty penny for the cruise if when we're on the cruise they don't nickel and dime us to death.

2. Is it worth it to get a pricier cabin, i.e., a balcony cabin?

3. Planning shore excursions? Is it possible to plan our own and have it be as convenient as taking a cruise lines own excursion? How much $ can we save by planning ourselves?

4. Dining. Do always have to sit with a table of strangers? I think that some nights it would be fun to do this, it would be nice to meet new people, but at the same time I think we'd also like to have a romantic dinner just the two of us.

5. I've read various posts on bringing your own alcohol on board. I guess this wouldn't be an issue if there is a cruise line that offers the most inclusive alcohol. How much is charged for alcohol on board? Is it outrageous? Is it possible to bring our own? Like I said, we like to party. Also, we have particular tastes in wine and beer and want to make sure we can drink what we like.

I think that's it. Sorry for taking so long! I hope I gave you enough info that you can help us out! Thanks!
cassidy2002 is offline  
Feb 4th, 2004, 02:07 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 757
Very organized questions ! having said that, I might be too old (boohoo) to answer your questions-some of them.

Years ago, I always wanted to go to AK-not too worried about partying , just wanted to Be there.

But went to the Carib. many times, the party is finding the right people and ship. Most with your critera go on RC or Carnival-might be a problem with carry-on booze, to the Carib.

E. Carib. is great for snorkeling and a mix of history and water things in the W. Carib.

Balcony cabins are always preferred but any other will get you the same things.

My choice is now mixed, I like it all!
maryann is offline  
Feb 4th, 2004, 03:13 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 153
I second Maryann's recommendation for Carnival or Royal Caribbean.

I think you would like the Caribbean since you like to party.

As far as sitting with others at a table you can ask for a table for 2, but it will be for the entire cruise. You may find you like sitting with others. Many ships have alternate dining so you could do that dinner for two in one of those. Many of the alternate dining rooms have a charge somewhere from 10.00 to 25.00 pp but are very romantic and the food is always rated very high.

The nickle and diming occurs to some degree on all ships. Don't buy tons of photos since the $ can really add up.

You can do all your shore excursions on your own and save tons of $. There are plenty of beaches in the Caribbean. You can grab a cab and go on your own.

If you do the West, there is Carlos and Charlies and Senor Frogs for "party time".

Most cruise lines do not allow booze to be brought on board. Some allow wine. The brands of beer sold vary. You may not find your brand.

Starfish is offline  
Feb 5th, 2004, 05:10 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 369
Thanks for the replies! Between Carnival and RC, which one offers more inclusions? Or are they about the same?
cassidy2002 is offline  
Feb 5th, 2004, 06:50 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,898
Both Carnival and RCL offer the same freebies--ice tea,coffee and meals--
They both have restaurants that you can pay a little extra and go to IF you want-but NOT necessary....

Definitely the CARIBBEAN--more of a fun party atmosphere....Alaska is more for great sightseeing and lots of neat excursions--ie. kayaking down the water, river rafting,helicoptering to the glaciers, salmon fishing plue NORMAL sightseeing...

Alaska in May is cold--you definitely need to layer--also sometimes the galciers are fogged over and you cannot see them...July is the best month for Alaska.

Balcony or Not--depends on your budget--Start with rates for an outside cabin-MID SHIP ( for least amount of movement) and see if they will bump you up to Balcony for a small charge..SOMETIMES they (cruise lines) are having specials and this is done...

Excursions on your own are doeable and usually way cheaper- sometime 40% less -than the cruise line-BUT you have to make certain that you are back to SHIP at least 1 hr to sail time so ship does not leave you..IF you do excursions on your own and you are NOT back to ship on time, it is YOUR responsiblity to get to the NEXT port-not the cruise ship... This is just a heads up!

Princess Cruises offers PERSONAL CHOICE dining...so you are not STUCK with a crummy set of dining mates...BUT, start with Traditional dining ( ie BOOK Traditional) and if you do NOT like you dining companions or even if you want a table for 2 one nite- you can STILL do personal choice...

I personally LOVE Princess--esp the GOLDEN PRINCESS --Awesome ship-lots of couples in their 30's to 40's for you all to link up with...great casino--wonderful pool and whirlpool areas..AWESOME food-good entertainment..AND they have TERRIFIC SALES on their cabins...

SEABOURN and CRYSTAL cruises offer all LIQUOR and wine included- but you definitely pay the price- they are horrendously expensive and the age of the clientele is way older as the prices are about DOUBLE of the normal cruise...So, since you are young, I would NOT suggest either of these cruises...

You can get just about any beer or wine on board most ships and if you have specific wine that you love-you can BRING them to the dining room and they will charge a corkage fee...But you will have to carry on you wine in your carry on luggage--Cruise lines frown on bringing your own liquor as it cuts into their profits...

Hope I have helped...

andy is offline  
Feb 5th, 2004, 07:26 AM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 4,469
You don't sound like Alaska people, no party ships yet- (I've sail 3 times on Carnival there and passengers were the norm of Alaska travelers- middle aged and above. ) You go to Alaska for scenery. I think the Caribbean would be more your "style" and Carnival is a FUN ship- I greatly prefer Western as it includes Cayman- look for a full day there and not a 1pm departure. I never take ship excursions and always book direct (don't use any middle men either). I go with a cheap inside cabin myself- book a balcony if that is your preference. Look at several agencies and compare pricing. There can be excellent deals for the "over supplied" Caribbean.
BudgetQueen is offline  
Feb 5th, 2004, 01:06 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 890
I have to agree....the ships cruising Alaska are not as party oriented as the Caribbean BUT, it is a wonderful cruise that you should do some day!

I'd recommend the Radisson Cruiseline (www.rssc.com). To me they are the most all inclusive since it includes dinner wine, (actually any liquor ordered at dinner), bar set up in your cabin (and is restocked during the week), soda's, water, and it also includes tips...which can really add up. I've cruised on most all the cruiselines and it still amazes me that many ships charge for a bottle of water. Also, there are alternative restaurants that don't charge (on some cruiselines they do)

I just returned from the Diamond cruiseship in the Caribbean and it was a 2 for 1 promotion which really made it nice! If you should choose the Radisson Voyager all the cabins are over 300 sq. ft. and have balconies. Actually, all the ships within the Radisson fleet are spacious and nice. You could get the cheapest category cabin and it would be comprable to a cabin that would require a major upgrade on other ships. There are fewer passengers which is a huge plus. Also, the space ratio is such that you never have to hurry to try and get a lounge chair by the pool, no lines for buffets, embarkation takes all of about 5 minutes whereas other cruiselines we've waited for more than an hour.

On the Diamond there is a marina which is lowered in some ports. This is really fun because they provide jet skis, water skiing, kayaking, snorkling (again they provide any equiptment needed and there is no charge to do these activities). One of our most fun days was jet skiing in St. Barts!

On the Caribbean sailings there will be many passengers that are 30ish. As an introduction to cruising, I think you would enjoy a Radisson cruise in the Caribbean very much.
petlover is offline  
Feb 5th, 2004, 01:07 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 890
Forgot to add that the Radisson ships all have open seating!
petlover is offline  
Feb 5th, 2004, 02:27 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 369
Thanks a lot! The Radisson sounds right up our alley!! I had never even considered it before. I will definately check it out.

I think we will wait and do Caribbean. It's a lot of money to spend, so we might as well do what we really want! Any particular area of the Carribbean better than another? Budgetqueen, you said that you prefer the West because of Cayman? Any other reason? Thanks a lot guys, you're really making me feel like this might be great for us. I was wondering if it would be!
cassidy2002 is offline  
Feb 5th, 2004, 08:02 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 277
I guess it's unanimous...we all agree that the Caribbean might be best for you. I've sailed on RCI, Princess, HAL, Carnival, NCL, Radisson and Renaissance (no longer in existance). I cruised NCL in Alaska and the scenery is amazing.

I must agree that Radisson would be my first choice as well. I'm just jealous because I was almost 40 before I took my first Radisson cruise! Once you cruise on a smaller ship with more personalized, priority service, you will most likely be disappointed in the mass market ships where there may be as many as 1,800+ passengers. I have come to the point in my life that I'd rather pay more upfront and be done with it...., I hate signing chex right and left. I hate the nickel and diming that most cruise ships have come to. JMHO

Whatever you decide, welcome to a fun world of cruising.
traveller333 is offline  
Feb 6th, 2004, 05:46 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 369
Wow! The more my questions are answered, the more questions that pop up!

I checked out Radisson's web site last night, and it looks like the one we would prefer. I was confused however by reading that it was an $100 charge to personalize flight plans. Does that mean that airfare is included in the cost? Doesn't seem so because they offer airfare deals, but I'm confused as to why they would charge more to personalize flight plans if it was up to me to make the arrangements?
cassidy2002 is offline  
Feb 6th, 2004, 12:50 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 1
I have to agree with cassidy - lots of great info. here. Doing a last minute cruise myself - any info. about traveling alone??
missamy is offline  
Feb 7th, 2004, 06:23 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 890
Cassidy2002, If you email me personally I'd be happy to refer you to an individual TA that books more Radisson cruises than any other TA in North America. This person could answer any of your question and is very accessible via email or telephone. (also has excellent pricing with all prices listed on her website).

I always do my own flights and have never paid any extra??
[email protected]
petlover is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 10:30 PM.