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First cruise for Mother and Teenage Daughter

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Mar 10th, 2012, 01:50 PM
  #1
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First cruise for Mother and Teenage Daughter

Hi,
My daughter and I just had the idea to go for a Caribbean cruise during spring break (mid April) of this year. It is kind of short notice, but we hope we will be able to find something available even with only a few weeks to go.

None of us have ever been to on a cruise before. Any tips for a first time mother-daughter cruise trip would be appreciated. We are looking for some relaxing and fun times together.
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Mar 10th, 2012, 01:53 PM
  #2
 
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What port are you thinking of going out of, and how many days do you plan to go? I'm sure there is still time to book for mid-April.
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Mar 10th, 2012, 02:41 PM
  #3
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No restrictions really on port, we're in New England, so we would have to fly to a port City. (I just started to check flights, They are expensive for the restricted time we have)
We're looking for 3-4 or 5 day trip
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Mar 10th, 2012, 03:14 PM
  #4
KVR
 
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Most cruises go out of Miami or Ft. Lauderdale and do the Western Caribbean or Bahamas for that short of time period.

How old is your daughter? Is she a child, teen, adult? Makes a difference at to what cruise line to recommend.

I would suggest to get a travel agent that specializes in cruises if you have never cruise before.
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Mar 10th, 2012, 04:09 PM
  #5
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My daughter is a teenager, (16).

For people who fly into the Port City, do you normally stay at a hotel before/after cruise?
What are typical departure and arrival times of the ship, (can they be relied upon?).
I would not want to miss my home-flight due to a delayed arrival (or miss the cruise due to a delayed flight...)
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Mar 10th, 2012, 04:17 PM
  #6
 
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I personally do not think you need an agent. There are plenty of people on Fodors who can answer your questions. When I booked my first crusie, I got lots of help and support here.

If you can stretch your cruise to seven days, I would do it. With three or four, you barely get settled in and it is time to leave. Since you have the expense of flying anyway, you are getting more for your money with the longer cruise. Also, your choices of where to go are more limited with the shorter cruise. If you can't add those days, it will still be fun.
If you cruise from Florida to the Caribbean, you have more days at sea. If you cruise from San Juan, you visit more islands.

You probably already know that different ships and different lines have reputations for being for kids, or party/drinking people or an older crowd. While that is true, destination, time of year and length of time is also a factor. Shorter cruises during Spring and Summer to Islands will have a younger crowd. Longer cruises in winter to lots of archeological sites will have fewer young people. It makes sense: besides interests, younger people are working and can't take so much time off.

Most cruises to the Caribbean are 7+days. There are a couple of Carnival cruises from Miami that do 4. The price starts at around $209.00 for inside cabin for the 4 days. Go to the vacationstogo web site to get a start on what is available during your time frame and the prices. I booked my first, 2nd and 4th cruise through them and was really happy with them and the price. If you are trying to save a bit, take an inside cabin because you will probably be outside, in the pool, etc. most of the day anyway.

I don't have the vast experience that many posters here do, but I loved the Caribbean Princess ship - beautiful ship, lovely pools, etc. but I know their cruises are longer. Perhaps someone else can tell you about Carnival.

For reviews of both ships and itineraries, join Cruisecritc. It is also a good place to hook up with other people to take tours of different ports.
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Mar 10th, 2012, 04:26 PM
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Except for one time, we have always arrived at the port a day early and spent the night in a hotel. The time we didn't was nerve racking and we'll never do same day departure again. Except for one departure delay, our ships have always departed and arrived right on time. Don't cut the time too close for the trip home: it takes awhile to get off the ship, get to the airport, etc.

BTW, don't worry that you are booking so last minute. We booked our first cruise less than two weeks out, but enjoyed it so much, we got home and booked another cruise for just three weeks later.
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Mar 10th, 2012, 04:55 PM
  #8
 
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Use a personal Travel Agent. Since you have so many concerns, they will be a great help.
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Mar 10th, 2012, 06:12 PM
  #9
 
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Definitely fly in a day ahead of time. The ship will NOT wait for you!! I'd either fly into Tampa, Port Canaveral or Miami and cruise from there. Carnival and Royal Caribbean will both offer good choices from those spots.
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Mar 10th, 2012, 10:22 PM
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Since you are in New England, you can probably drive to New York and board the ship there. The crusie terminal is right on Manhatten.

You will have to look at 7 day cruise as a minimum. Anything less than that (other than Disney) would have lots of younger people, with fair amount of partying and drinking, things you don't want for your 16 year old.

If you fly to Florida, you will have a lot more choice. However, the airfare would be a factor.

For your first cruise, with 16 year old, most mass market line would be fine, except NCL where their reputation is spotty (as in inconsistence). I would say RCL, Celebrity, Princess, Carnival are all good choices.
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Mar 10th, 2012, 10:39 PM
  #11
 
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Additional info: Mega ships may sail from the Brooklyn facility. RCL and Celebrity sail from Cape Liberty, NJ.
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Mar 11th, 2012, 03:04 AM
  #12
 
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I just went on my first cruise. Don't freak out with everyone offering tips saying that you behave a certain way. Don't worry. Just use your common sense. It's just like a bit floating hotel complex.
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Mar 11th, 2012, 12:06 PM
  #13
KVR
 
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I would go with RCL, one of the mega ships. They will offer lots of activities for your teen. I despise Carnival. Our experience twice has been nothing but singles on a drunken party fest. I love Princess, but feel it might be a little too stuffy for your teen.

If flying to a departure point, it is really best to fly in the day before. Many hotels offer shuttles to the port for a small or even no fee. Sometimes just a taxi to the port is the way to go.

When booking a flight back, it is recommended flights for after 12 noon. If you have a later departing flight you can always take a ship's sponsored tour to take up time and then they will drop you off at the airport.

Even as an experienced traveler like myself, I have not booked cruises without a TA. Land vacations yes, but not cruises. Yes, it can be done with lots of research, but I like the personal service, knowledge and the little perks my TA gives me with cruises.

You might also want to check out www.cruisecritic.com
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Mar 11th, 2012, 03:26 PM
  #14
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Thanks to everyone who replied!

We have booked a cruise and air travel. I scheduled our arrival at the port city for the evening before day of departure. (Finding reasonable flights during spring break at this late stage turned out to be the hardest).

The cruisecritic website was helpful. I also looked at vacationstogo.com
By the way, I found the prices on vacationstogo.com be identical to the prices on the Carneval website (although vacationstogo claimed they were specials or discounted.)

I will continue to read this forum to get some additional ideas for excursions/trips on land.
Thanks to all who replied!
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Mar 11th, 2012, 10:35 PM
  #15
 
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Sometimes prices on vacationstogo are better, sometimes not. Twice with Princess they were much cheaper than the quote from the cruise line. Another time the cruise line had the best price. What I like about VTG is how easy their web site is to navigate. I find the cruise I want, then shop for price. I also got quotes a few times from cruisecompete.com, but never got as good a price as VTG then.

For excursions and land tours, join the roll call for your ship and your cruise on cruisecritic. Many people get together that way to form groups and take tours - usually cheaper and you do want you want. In the Caribbean, DH and I just walked off the ship and looked for taxis or mini-vans with people from the ship forming tour groups. It was cheap and fun.
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