Cruise newbie - family-related ?'s

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Apr 5th, 2009, 05:58 PM
  #1
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Cruise newbie - family-related ?'s

We are looking into cruises for Dec. 09 and are overwhelmed by the choices! Our family consists of DH, DD who will be 5.5 and DS who will be 1.5. The southern and western Caribbean itineraries look the most enticing and we'd porbably go for 7 nights. We are considering Norwegian, Royal Caribbean and Holland America. Disney would be great, but seems to be out of our price range (under $600 per person).

Here are our questions -
Does NCL always waive charges for infants under 2 (with the exception of taxes)?

Are kids clubs free on most cruise lines, or would we pay an hourly/daily rate?

Can kids stay in the kids club while we go on a day trip? I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable doing this, but I thought I'd ask.

Do most cabins have just a queen bed?

Any other info pertaining to having little ones aboard would be appreciated!
kcapuani is offline  
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Apr 5th, 2009, 06:20 PM
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I would suggest to check out Disney again. 3rd and 4th persosn don't pay the same rate. Should ask what are the charges for 3rd and 4th person. If you average it out, the 4 of you may be less than $2400.
If you move your schedule up by 2 weeks, the rate would be cheaper. WIth the kids not in school yet, you have that option. December is the most expensive month for Caribbean. Mid November would be good prices, and the hurricane season is over.
Almost all the mass amrket lines have something for the kids although the 1.5 may be a problem as some crusie line may want to charge you for baby sitting!
Ask the question. Better safe thn sorry.
Other considerations: (1) not everything is included, (2) tipping would cost you $280 for the week at $10 per person per day.
Eschew is offline  
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Apr 6th, 2009, 05:24 AM
  #3
 
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We don't have kids anymore (just grankids) but just about all kids programs are free except for actual babysitting which is generally NOT in your cabin. Some evenings have a slumber party so parents can enjoy an evening out. But, some kids programs don't start until the child is 2 years old. So check this out before you book. You most likely will get a beeper to come change diapers.
December is NOT the most expensive month, the spring and summer is. Prices are lower in November, December before the holiday prices and the begining of January. (In mid January we got a balcony cabin, 7 days, for $299!)
The queen beds are two beds pushed together. You can ask for a crib for the baby and it will be in your cabin but takes up space and there's not much space in any cabin. A lot of balcony cabins have sofa with a twin bed pull out.
On NCL you eat whenever you want. Holland America caters to a lot of older people, does not have as many kids on board. Royal Caribean would be my 1st choice.
Two suggestions: Go to each lines web site and see what they have about your questions. Also go to and join cruisecritic.com. This is the MOST comprehensive cruise site there is. It is very safe to join and they have so much info on cruising. Go to their 'boards' to have questiu\ons answered and to their 'families' board.
My suggestion would be to leave the kids at home so you can really enjoy the cruise and don't have to worry about them or get them to bed and then have to stay with them!
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Apr 6th, 2009, 10:36 AM
  #4
 
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I'm not sure you have a realistic budget for a cruise in mind. This is a bare-bones budget that will certainly get you a cruise fare (inside cabin only, sharing with 2 adults and 2 kids), but a cruise is just not all-inclusive, so you have to budget for tips (about $75 or $80 per adult, less per child), drinks (if you drink alcohol or soda or bottled water), shore excursions or anything off the ship (even to rent a snorkel at the private island stop), and anything else. There will be many opportunities to pay for things, and the cheaper the cruise, the more the line nickles and dimes you for extras. Most of the cheaper cruise lines charge extra for many of their restaurants, but there will always be a place you can eat with no surcharge.

Be sure to budget for the trip to the embarkation port or for parking (about $12 a day depending on the pier).

You will definitely NOT be able to afford a balcony cabin.

Now, as bonniejns points out, you can sometimes (but not always) get a really cheap fare for a cruise. I just don't think you should count on a $299 fare for a 7-night cruise. That just doesn't happen all time time, even though cruises right now are discounted heavily.

You should not have to pay for kids to use the kids club, but almost all lines require you to be on board the ship while the kids are in the club, and most of the lines (with the exception of Carnival) require kids to be toilet-trained. Almost all lines do charge for baby-sitting after-hours, but there are also some nighttime programs.
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Apr 6th, 2009, 11:15 AM
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Before you proceed - your younger kid will likely be too young for kids club type programs - most require child to be toilet trained. Also, no diapers in pools - so you s/he will not even be able to use pool.

Cabins have a variety of bedding options. Usual is 2 beds that can be pushed together to make a double/queen bed plus possible one-person sofa bed. It is a rare cabin that would accomodate 3 beds plus a porta-crib/pack-and-play type thing. And how comfortable would you all be crammed in that space?

Think about kids' nap schedules, eating in a restaurant (even the casual buffet) 3 meals/day X 7 days. Is that your style?
gail is offline  
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Apr 6th, 2009, 02:13 PM
  #6
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Thanks a million for all of your advice. You have certainly given me much to think about, like whether a cruise is even worth it! In terms of our budget, I was basing it off of fares that I saw on cruises.com - $549 for an interior cabin on Norwegian. I know there will be hefty taxes and tips on top of any fare I'm quoted. But, perhaps I still grossly underestimating the cost!
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Apr 7th, 2009, 01:39 PM
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Cabins are rarely quoted per cabin - they usually are listed per person and the 3rd and/or 4th person is at a much discounted rate. Most cruiselines will charge close to what an adult would pay for your daughter but son should be free.
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