Need advice for first time cruise

May 30th, 2019, 11:19 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: May 2019
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Need advice for first time cruise

We have never cruised before. We want to go to Cuba in September. Can anyone advise how the month of September is, at sea? Also, we are looking into NCL as they offer open bar. Is that a benefit worth messing with vs paying for drinks on ship? Is it best to book online or speak with an agent? As we will need to purchase airfare to Florida. Open to any advice for first timers!! Thank you!
Rhiannon927 is offline  
May 30th, 2019, 04:39 PM
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>> We want to go to Cuba in September. Can anyone advise how the month of September is, at sea?<<

I've not been to Cuba -- but I personally would never book a cruise in September - that is the absolute worst month for hurricanes.
janisj is online now  
May 31st, 2019, 12:35 PM
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Hurricane season from August into the fall. Do not consider going to the Caribbean then.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
May 31st, 2019, 12:39 PM
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I haven’t used the “free drinks” on NCL, but friends who cruised recently did. They said do the math, especially since everyone in your cabin must purchase the beverage package.You will be charged a prepaid gratuity (something like 18-20%) for each drink. Decide how much you usually drink each day and ask yourself if it’s worth it because you are pre-paying for it without any reimbursement.Also, how many days are you at sea vs on land? On those sea days, you will likely forego refreshments for breakfast or lunch since you’ll be off the ship.

Check Cruise Critic’s comparison list https://www.cruisecritic.com/articles.cfm?ID=1470 and https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topi...ited-open-bar/

Like others have said, September is hurricane season.
gbelle1 is offline  
May 31st, 2019, 03:42 PM
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September in Caribbean not good month to go; look on Cruise Critic for advice; Azamara has free beverages too, and their 3 ships are alot smaller than NCL, we love this line.
aliced is online now  
May 31st, 2019, 05:52 PM
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You might try to get quote from various travel agents. One way to do this is cruisecompete.com that will get you competing offers from various discounters. We have used this successfully a couple of times.

In the last two years, cruise lines have significantly hiked their prices, and many are throwing in perks like open bars, as their new method of discounting (since you can't just double rates and not expect a decline in customers). The cruise lines for some time have been trying to figure out a way to keep prices up, and not diminish the perceived value of a cruise vacation. But as more and larger ships were rolled out by all the cruise lines, competition kept prices low. Those, like us, who had cruised a lot, saw a decline in food quality as one of the results of the inevitable price cutting. In the 1990’s, cruise lines had massive kitchens that cooked a lot from scratch, with flour covered bakeries and the like; they often purchased such things as local fish from a visited port.

To avoid further reductions in quality, cruise lines have now opted for a strategy to raise prices, and, until the public accepts them, they are throwing in such perks as open bars (with former retail prices as high as $65 per day per person), free gratuities (worth more as the per day price for tips has also increased), and free internet (since they know that the expensive prices they now charge for internet have never been liked by the public and especially since most hotels have learned that you can no longer charge for this service.

At today’s prices, they still discount discreetly, but often through travel agencies that are given special pricing, sometimes they are not allowed to advertise. One time, we asked Princess to match or come close to a travel agent price (Princess could have saved the commission), and they wouldn’t budge one penny on a $1299 price. The online agency sold it for $631.

If you are getting the open bar, you need to be a big drinker because you are paying for it. We have traveled with five or six cruise lines. Norwegian’s food, for us, was among the worst. In addition, their up-selling on board was annoying. Constant loudspeakers from the social director yelling about such things as the next bingo. That was several years ago; maybe they have improved.

With regard to Cuba, we did it on our own under Obama rules. It was cheap, easy, and we walked all over Havana. Took two suitcases of stuff for an orphanage in the spirit of the Obama rules; had a private driver for three days with a 50/s Chevy. Under Trump rules, I think some places we enjoyed like the Hotel Nacional might now be off limits. Locals get more of your money if you go on your own than if you are on a cruise ship, since you will eat out and engage locals more (we did an airbnb). Either way, since Trump is also squeezing the people there, your visit will be appreciated.
whitehall is offline  
Jun 5th, 2019, 05:20 AM
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I hope you did not book that cruise to Cuba, if you are from the US or planning to cruise from the US, now that the Trump adm. has apparently banned cruise ships there. Cruise line small print can change to another Caribbean port without any compensation to you.
whitehall is offline  
Jun 5th, 2019, 07:57 AM
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Trump just stopped American cruise ship visits to Cuba.
Honestly, there are so many better destination than Cuba for a cruise.
For a first cruise, pick a destination that is "established".
Eschew is offline  
Jun 6th, 2019, 01:09 AM
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I went last year in the end of September to Cuba and everything was more than fine, but it's quite a risk until the last sec.
ddesoran9 is offline  
Jun 6th, 2019, 03:36 PM
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I heard that ships en route to Cuba are being rerouted to other ports.
jacketwatch is online now  
Jun 12th, 2019, 08:43 AM
  #11  
 
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Hurricane season actually begins on June 1st; there has been a peak in September in the past and then a slightly smaller second one in October over time. Cuba? You know the political drill now; the routes may be restored in the future depending on national election results.
Dukey1 is offline  

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