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Which cruise line?

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Hi, This year me and my family are thinking on going on a cruise for the first time, a western or eastern mediterranean cruise. I have short-listed 3 cruise liners that I am interested in - the Costa, Celebrity or Carnival.

Which cruise liner of the three has the best food (my family loves eating at good restaurants when we go on vacation), and also out of the three have the best level of service and entertainment, and organization?

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated, as I would really love to enjoy our first cruise.

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    cruisecritic.comdetailed reviews on each ship.
    Celebrity best for me all things considered usually
    but new ships are better than old ships check your
    SHIP review ratings. Carical is a more kid firindly line with all the good and bad of that.Carnival owns Costa not the best rep currently have done one out of Venice cheap not great.
    So generally for me Celebrity.

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    Scratch Costa and not just d/t to recent events. Their overall ratings are below the standards of other mass market lines. Now what ships R U considering? That makes a difference as well.

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    Thanks for your replies. I was considering the newest ships, the Celebrity silhouette, or Carnival Breeze or Costa Fascinosa. I also had a look at the Norwegian Epic. These all do a mediterranean cruise in Summer. I am not after the itinerary but rather want the best cruise experience, since it is the first cruise for all the family. So the Carnival cruise lines are on the same level as the Costa, or are they higher rated? I will be having two teenage kids with me, would they have plenty of things to do on the Celebrity?
    Thanks for any advice.

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    Actually you have selected two ships that are yet to be in service, the Breeze and the Costa ship so there are no reviews. The reviews for ships in their respective class give an edge to Carnival and the overall best rating is celebrity. FWIW we have cruised with CCL twice and have had good experiences. We took our 1st Celeb cruise last Oct. and it was very posiitve. I think your best bet for a cruise experience is celeb. However the kids would probably prefer the Breeze and I sort of think that as this is a brand new ship they will strive to impress. Good luck. Larry :-)

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    Cruise Critic would give you a better idea and understanding of the differences in cruise lines. Based on my own personal experience, I have sailed with Carnival twice and would never sale with them again. We experienced party type people, too many kids and terrible tasting food. We have been on 2 Princess cruises and enjoyed both of them. In the future, I would definatly go with Celebrity if I found the right iteniary. They seem to have a more mature atmosphere and they have started a pre-pay alcohol program. I really hate having to watch my intake or get slapped in the face with a huge bar bill at the end of the cruise. To me, that is not a vacation. ;)

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    Any reason why you are looking at those three cruise lines and not anyone else?

    The three you listed, Costa, Celebrity or Carnival are quite different and cater to different markets.

    Costa target market is Europeans. English will not the first language on board. You will hear ship board announcement in multiple languages, and English usually would be the last one, after Italian, German, French, and Spanish.

    Celebrity is more prestine and more resort like and their competition would be Princess. They cater to the middle age crowd. Hollands caters to much older crowd (at least that's the reputation)

    Carnival caters to the younger crowd 25-45, and tehir competition would be RCCL. (NCL is inconsistent and would fit in here)

    So, you have pick 3 completely different criuse lines with different target audenence.

    As to food, Celebrity used to have the best food around. Unfortunately, since the departure of their corporate chef a few years ago, the quality control and food quality have slided. The food is still good, but not what it used to be. You can see cost cutting all over.

    Carnival's food quality had improved over the year and they are actually pretty good, but I hate their "style". I really don't care much about the costuming and the "sing & dance" routines by the service staff in the dining room from time to time.

    If you want really good food on a cruise ship, go to the "pay extra" specailty restaurants. Some are truly amazing.

    In terms of service, I would say all of them are about the same.

    In terms of Entertainment, the Carnival is definietly more showy and more Vegas like at the main theatre. But all the cruise lines have the same stuff: shops, casinos, trivias, games, Karaoke, night club, dance bands, piano player. They are all there. (I like the library of the Princess ships but who goes to the library during a cruise other than me? It is the most quiet and relaxing palce on the whole ship.)

    Each ship tries to create their own "siganture" items but they usually don't last as everyone copy each other.

    Princess has big 100 foot screen "Movie under the stars". Everyone has big outdoor screens now but Princess is the only one who offers milk and cookie, popcron etc at the movirs, at elast for now. Carnival was the first to have water slides. Everyone has them now. RCCL has rock climbing walls, but otehrs has them as well. Celebrity has real grass putting greens. Princess has adults only area, NCL has skating rinks, Disney is the only one that has unique things that people can't copy: Disney characters. :D

    Well, you get the idea ... you may want to identify your list of "likes" and "dislikes" and go from there. We don't pick ships. We go by itenary and destinations. All things being equal, then we pick ships.

    We have been on many cruise lines and hoenstly, the differences are not all that staggering. Obviously, there are premium ships and they charge a premium for it (example: Winestar and some smaller ships cruises.)

    On the other hand, if you ask my wife, she will tell you which one she likes and which one she doesn't like, but it is strictly a personal choice, or a one time thing that triggered her "likes" or "dislikes".

    It took me a while to convice her to go back to a certain cruise line becasue she felt the ship was "dirty" and had poor housekeeping practices. (She found the bed spread folded and stored under the bed daily after the turn down service without any plastic bag or otehr protective covering). In reality, I believe it was only one lazy employee that she came across that gave her that bad impression.

    She wouldn't stop saying how great a cruise line was after a service staff go out of the way to get her freshly grounded ginger when she wasn't feeling 100%. Again, it is one employee, one time, made her feel great. But, she insisted that the ervice on that cruise line is better than everuyone else when the fact is really one employee.

    Good luck in picking!

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    I think the key here is that this is your first cruise - Carnival is by far the most popular and affordable options. They have excellent food, large staterooms by industry standards and entertainment that many enjoy. I went on my first dozen or so cruises on them and never realized that there was more out there and, frankly, didn't care.

    Now that I have been on other lines, like Celebrity, I never want to step foot on another CCL cruise again. However, when I was offered an opportunity to cruise on the inaugural cruise of the Carnival Magic (the Breeze will be much like the Magic) I was delighted by the new innovations they included. You and your family will have a great time.

    When you've got one sailing under your belt I'd set my sights on other experiences such as those mentioned above - Princess, Celebrity, The Norwegian Epic or the Breakaway coming soon ....

    Costa caters the a European crowd which is fine if you are used to traveling to Europe, but if not, I'd wait on that - although they do have two new ships coming out this year!!

    Bon Voyage!!

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    Thanks for all the advice, I have now shortlisted to Carnival Breeze, or Celebrity Silhouette, they have different itineraries, one is a western mediterranean cruise and one an eastern mediterranean. I have been to most of the western mediterranean cities, but not to some of the eastern ones. But as I said, itinerary does not really bother me, as we can easily do the other option the some other time. I am giving in to my husband's wish this time to go on a cruise, so I am focusing more on my cruise ship experience, since we are first-time cruisers. We usually always hire a car and tour around a few countries around Europe, or focus on one country, like italy, and travel literally from its north to its south. We live in Europe, and we do know how to speak Italian. I also had a look at the Norwegian Epic, which roughly has the same itinerary as the Carnival Breeze, it says it has a freestyle type of cruising, I do not know if that is better, and whether their food is of a higher standard than the Celebrity and Carnival. We would for sure go one or twice to a speciality restaurant, but as we are a family it would be too expensive to go every night, so I guess I would choose the cruise that has the best food in their main dining rooms. I also think that it is not fair that we have to pay extra, as the food in the main dining room should be just as good. But I guess that is business to make more money. I read reviews that said that food is terrible in both cruise lines, and others say that it is good, and that baffles me, as usually when a restaurant in Europe, any country, is good, then you read good reviews everywhere. I still would like anyone who went on NCL to also share their experience. I tried to find the newest ships, as even when we go on holiday, I always love to stay in brand new hotels, or B&Bs. I love the new feel. Thanks again for all your posts and suggestions

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    We travel with two teenage kids, and a 12 year old girl who is both menatally and physically disabled. She does not need a wheelchair yet, as she still fits in a special needs buggy. She cannot walk and has to stay on her pushchair or on a bed during the time we are in a cabin. Do you think I should request a room for the disabled, or should we stay in a normal cabin. I would much prefer that we have priority embarkation and debarkation, especially because of our daughter, and if this is only possible if we take the cabin for the disabled, then we shall do so. Also, we would like a separate cabin for our boys, should we take an adjoining one, one opposite another or next to each other? A seaview one would be fine for us, and an interior cabin fine for the boys. Also, is it true that it is better to book rooms mid ship, and in what level woul be the best for the ship so that it would not be rocking too much if the sea is rough. I can see that all of you that answered to my reply are experienced cruisers, so I do have a lot of questions to ask!! Thanks again.

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    If you live in Europe, you will be more comforatbel with what Costa has to offer. If you are down to Carnival Breeze, or Celebrity Silhouette, both are fine choices.

    As I haev said earlier, it is 2 different style of cruising between Carnival & Celbrity. One is more "ritzy, showy, Vegas like" and the other one is more pristine and relaxed. It really depends on what you enjoy.

    Yes, you should ask for a cabin for disabled person. They have wider doors and no raised step to the bathroom. Both cruise lines offer kids program to keep kids busy and you should take advantahge of that.

    Adjoining cabins usually are balcony cabins so if you want to save some money, across the hall interior and an outside would be good.

    The teenage boys would probably likes the Carnival style better.

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    E is correct in that you can request a cabin for the disabled. We got one by chance once and it is bigger but we were told that by law if a handicapped person requested one we would have to move so you should be able to get one.

    I have heard several times that NCL seems to have a lower quality of food in the MDR as if to steer people to the speciality places. I dunno as I've never taken them.

    An amidships cabin is best in terms of feeling the least amt. of motion and the lower the better for that purpose.

    Based on my two cruises on CCL and the one we had on Celebrity the food for me in he MDR was close with a sl. edge to Celeb. You will find that cruisers seem to differ the most on food quality as it is so subjective. Hey, I've never gone hungry so unless your are a gourmand you will be fine on either one.

    For the ship experience I will say that we've never felt so welcomed on a ship like we were when we embarked on Celebrity.

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    Thanks Eschew and jacketwatch and all others for your replies. I will most probably select a cabin for the disabled, as it would be easier to move the buggy around and more space for us if it is roomier and bigger. Would you know if they are located in a specific level? A step would not make much difference as we still would have to carry her to the bathroom, she is not heavy at all, but I am sure a little more room would help. Also, it wouold help greatly that we would have priority embarkation and debarkation, and not to stay in queues it sure helps. We always get priorty entrances to museums, etc. My only little concern might be that we might not be able to take some excursions, like those that have stairs. Usually we always take her everywhere and we just lift her up the stairs with her in the buggy, or lift her up the stairs and the buggy separately. It it not too much of a problem since I have three men to help me in the family, as the boys are in their late teens, one sixteen and the other nineteen, and till now they always come with us on holidays. From some reviews I read, I see that the celebrity is just a little bit of a higher class than the Carnival, but then, as you both say, it might be more fun for my teenagers to go on Carnival. Maybe celebrity caters for the older generation (like me and my husband, lol, we are in our late forties). If it were between Costa and Carnival, I would choose Carnival, as I would love to experience the American feel. We are not that fussy on food, as long as it is good, but I read so many revies that said that one cruiship or the other had really bad or cold food, etc, but maybe it might be that particular cruise and not the cruiseline in general. From your reviews I am sensing that Celebrity is a bit on the higher class, and Carnival is a more relaxing and fun. I think I will omit NCL for now, but if we enjoy this cruise, I shall certainly be interested in going again on a cruise. We always like to travel around, and I always used to think that it is boring to be stuck in a ship for so many days, but I have had a change of heart, and now I think I would like a relaxing holiday for once. We alwa;ys do hundreds of kilometres by car when we go abroad, we do see a lot on the way, but it is now time for my husband to relax and let others take him around!!! Another question, would the lowest levels have more noice from the engines, and would they be submerged in waters when the sea is rough, especially in the lowest two or three? I am literally new to cruising, and do not have friends that have cruised. Thanks again

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    I wouldn't say one is higher class than the other (as they are all mass market) but Celebrity is definitely more resort like and relaxed, cateriing to, yes, your age group. If you want an American feel, you should be able to get it from both.(Carnival has more action, party like atmosphere)

    There are lots of things to do and places (on board) to visit on sea day. My favorite past time on sea day is to attend lectures, go to the library (and some ships have great library, and quiet too!) or go to a social function like an informal "bridge" (card game) gathering. Some ships would have a piano player or a string trio/Quartet playing light classical music at the Attrium, we would sit there and have a coffee and enjoyed the music. We got to do all the things that we normally don't do, or can't do at home, for whatever reason.

    You can choose to be where the actions are, or choose to stay away from the action. The ship is big enough and have enough things going on to do both.

    Make sure when you ask for a disabled cabin, the cabin can accomdate more than 2 people in that cabin. They may or may not have the convertable bed built in.

    On a modern cruise ships, all passenger decks are way above the water line, and you can hardly feel the ship moves, except for really rough water which I don't belief you will come across at the Caribbean sea.

    You may (and I doubt it if anyone can) feel a bit of virbration if you cabin is located close to the smoke stack. We try to book our cabin away from the public access passage way, and that's people noise that we want to get away from.

    Most ship has their disabled cabins located closed to the "main" deck and close to elevators. That would be typically deck 6 or 7 (plus or minus 1 depending on ship).

    If you are new to cruising, you may want to take a look at some of these articles.

    Cruise holidays are quite different from a land holiday. You can be travelling together for days but yet everyone has their own space and activities, except at your own pre-determined time.

    We travelled with friends from time to time and we don't see each other at the ship at the time, except at dinner, which was pre-arrnaged. Sometimes, we will go to a show together, or an excursion together, but it is at our choice. (us and them)

    Your boys will love the freedom on the ship and not having to be tied to the family 24/7.

    If you have more questions, please feel free to ask. I am quiet sure someone will answer.

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    Thanks soooo much Eschew for your real useful information. That is another problem that I am contemplating on whether or not to take a disabled cabin, as we might be restricted on the number of passengers and position of cabin, as we need to take two cabins, and most probably it would be impossible for us to take two interconnecting cabins, one of which would be for the disabled. But if reviewers think it would be worth it, especially if they are more spacious, then I guess it would be worth asking for them. So the public access passageways are found near the internal cabins only, or also near the ones with seaview. I feel such a fool asking these questions, but I literally have never been on a cruise ship before, except on some very small cruise ships that go for a day tour, like in Venice or Greece. We are going on a Mediterranen cruise, not a Caribean one, although we sure would like to do that one day. I am absolutely sure that I am going to start loving going on cruise ships, I feel that this is the time to start experiencing them, it must be my middle age crisis, lol, but as you said, cruises nowdayas cater for the very young ones as well, and I am sure I am going to be pleasantly surprised by the whole experience. I kept putting off going to cruises for a few years now, despite my husband always hinting that he would like to go on a cruise, so this time we shall give him a rest from all the driving we always do on holiday. Plus, you are so right, it will give the boys more freedom to do what they want on holiday since they are now getting older. So the main passagways are wide passageways you see on the plans of the cruise ships, and do outside cabins not have main passageways? Another question, would it be better to take the early dinner slot time or the later one? We do not like to eat early, and do take some time to get all of us ready, especially myself since I also have to take care of my disabled child to wash etc. But if we take the late dinner slot, would we still have time to see the shows etc? One last question, is i worthwhile taking the ship's excursions or would we easily manage by ourselves, or get a private excursion that we might find on the shores? The ship's excursions are very expensive, especially since there are five of us. If it is possible, we might even rent a car from the harbour and drive around ourselves. My only fear is that we might not arrive back in time before the ship leaves, especially if we take a private excursion from near the shore. All advice will really help. Thanks again.

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    There are usually to shows, one after each dinner seating so it should be fine. As fro the excursions I still say go private. Just plan well so you are back in time. People do this all the time so it should be no issue at all.

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    Cruisecritic is a huge website devoted to cruising. There is an entire section on cruises for people with disabilities. Go to>Boards, then scroll down to Special Interest Cruising and click on Disabled Cruise Travel.

    After you book your cruise you can join your ship's "roll call" and "meet" your fellow passengers and even plan shore excursions with them prio t. Private excursions cost about 50% less than those provided by the cruise line.

    Bon Voyage!

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    Having had the opportunity of using a disabled cabin on I believe it was the Celebrity Soltice, I can highly recommend them,because the bathroom is much, much bigger, the shower area is huge and the buggy can be wheeled right in.. and there is a stool and several shower heads if I remember. There is a ramp to go out on the balcony and instead of using a key to open the cabin door there is a large push button. I can't remember if it is only in a Handicapped cabin, but the clothes rack in the closet came down. My husband was disabled and was put in a separate area for embarking and disembarking. I will tell you the staff on Celebrity is incredible, they helped him on and off the ramps. Oh yes, there is also a automated sling that will enable your child to get in the jacuzzi and/or the pool.

    Frankly, as for advice for almost 20 years if that is possible, I've received wonderful, wonderful advice from THIS FORUM, especially Eschew and others like him. I've have found on the Cruise Critic site many very strongly opinionated cruisers especially where the discussion comes to Celebrity/Princess. Through the years I've tried to "play it forward"and the best advice is finding private tours which can be indivdualized for your group.

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    Thanks everyone for all the advice, it is greatly appreciated. ParrotMan, I see that you have experience regarding disability concessions. So the priority embarkation and debarkation was also for the persons accompanying the disabled person, as we would surely have to accompany her. The shower stool would surely be helpful for her to sit down, but ramps, or close rack or door push button are not necessary as we would have to do everything for her as she is both physically and mentally disabled. Regarding taking her to the pool, she is not heavy at all, and we can easily take her down and up ourselves, as I am certainly sure she would be afraid in the sling. But thanks a lot for the suggestions anyway. I would prefer a cabin for the disabled especially for the extra room space and stool, and I would particularly look forward to her not having to stay too long in queus to embark and disembark. I will have a good look at cruisecritics site and read reviews. A couple of other questions I have is whether we should prebook beverages, like wine or soda for the kids, or better pay for what we consume, and about the tipping - is it compulsory to pay beforehand to the cruise liner, or is it better to tip them ourselves individually whevever we are served?

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    Your whole party can disembark or embark together. We are not heavy drinkers and perhaps for the children you might want to pre-book soda for the kids... otherwise there is lemonade and iced tea for free all over the ships. It is not compulsory to pay beforehand to the cruise liner, but we usually have and if from our cabin steward or somebody special we often add an extra tip at the end of the cruise.. On the other hand, I know and cruised with a couple who received such poor service that they cancelled all their tips and tipped only their Room Steward. Sadly, Europeans have difficulty understanding the cruise tipping policy and there are guests they tell me who avoid tipping at all. Considering the long hours, demands of guests I just consider tipping for the main part as part of the cruise.. BTW if you manage to book a "handicapped" cabin or the Aqua Class...check out there is a small sofa in the cabin that doubles and pulls out as a bed. Oh yes...another the Celebrity theatres there is a secret elevator that takes you down to the floor level. Any other questions or concerns I'll be delighted to answer

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    Thanks so much ParrotMom for answering my latest questions. I do not think it is really necessary then to prebook soda, since there are iced tea and lemonade for free around the ship. If we do take the drinks package, would the drinks then also be free in the dining rooms, even in the evenings? We are still not sure whether to go on the Carnival Breeze or the Celebrity Silhouette, would there also be free drinks on Carnival cruises? We would not mind paying beforehand for the tipping, as long as we know for sure that the money is going directly to the employees and not the cruise company. Would the steward etc know that we payed for the tipping beforehand? We would not mind either tipping a bit extra for room service or the steward either. If we prepay the tipping, then would we have to tip extra again at the dining table in the evenings? By asking for a small sofa bed in the room you mean that I make sure that the room for the disabled is a cabin for three people? About the Celebrity theatre elvator, is there also one on the Carnival cruise lines, and by secret elevator do you mean one that is reserved for staff or for disabled persons, like one usually finds in museums, palaces etc in Europe, and would any of the staff escort you to these special elevators? Also, would having a handicapped person give you concession to skip queus in dining rooms, theatre etc - maybe even have a reserved seat at the theatre? This always applies in Europe, like for the Eiffel tower etc. One other important question for me is, when they say the ship is berthed, would one have to jump on the boats, or would there be a few easy steps? We always take our daughter with us when we go on short boat trips in Europe, like at the port in Barcelona, or in Bruges. We do not find it a hassle at all to lift her to the boats, as she is very light. We would for sure all of us to go to the countries where the cruise ship is berthed. So do you think we would manage? I would not like to miss embarkation because we list our child as disabled, as we can manage to take her with us for sure, unless there is a high jump to the boat. Thanks again for all advice and suggestions. I feel so stupid as we are literally new to cruising, but if we enjoy it, it will not be our last for sure.

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    We did find when we privately toured handicapped elevators in places that surprised the Colusseum in Rome, Cinque Terre and of course the the private guides we have used with others have been very helpful..My husband even with his rollator with the guides help was able to get to the Pyramids and Sphinx the last trip. As for the cabin we have always had a balcony on any ship that we have sailed and there is always a "love seat" that opens up.. There really aren't any lines in the dining room and if there is at an "open seating" I'm sure with your family you would have no trouble.. As for the set dining room can just walk in and go to your table. Getting off the cruise ship if the ship is berthed is no just take the elevator to the correct floor and you go through security and I can guarantee that there will be more than enough staff to take your daughter down the ramp... BTW one of the things I just adore about Celebrity is that when you return from your tour/excursion there are tents/tables set up serving punch and water not to mention cold towels...any time or day or night..As for ports which you have to be tendered you and the officers could lift your daughter into the boat. Now, sadly, as to having a special reserved seat in the theatre.. this is a sore point.. We found that there are people who enter after the first show and grab all the first few row seats..There is "handicapped" seating on the top level which I find insulting because able bodied people take up that space.. What you could do is carry her down a few steps at the top of the balcony and leave her chair folded up at the top, the staff will be only too willing to help you.. Oh yes... when you embark and sign in you will be taken to a special waiting area where when the ship is ready to be embarked the stewards will take you personally to your cabin or to the upstairs cafe. If you have been to Barcelona by ship you know there is a handicapped elevator under the stairs.BTW you haven't mentioned what ports or itinerary your looking at. For more info please write me at [email protected]

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    Thanks again Parrotmom for the useful information. I guess then it would not be such a big problem to take our child with us when ship is tendered, as long as boat or platform is stable, as we always take her with us on short boat excursions around harbours like in Amsterdam and Barcelona, my husband and two sons who are in their late teens help me carry her to the boat. We have never been on a cruise ship, as we always go on holiday by driving around different places, stopping every two or three days, using a rented car, as we did whist visiting Barcelona, we travelled around France and Spain, but we did not stop at Marseilles or Monaco, and both ships, the Carnival Breeze or Celebrity silhouette do either of them. We visited many of the ports that both of them go to, but they still have a couple of stops which we never visited like Croatia or Santorini. We would not really mind either visiting again the lovely Amalfi Coast or even Bari. Maybe we can still hire a car from the harbour and drive around, although we would fear that we get stuck in traffic, like in the Amalfi coast, he traffic jams are terrible in Summer. We will probably only take one or two shore excursions of the cruise, they are just too expensive, especially for the five of us. Would there be private drivers near the shore? Since there would be five of us it would prove to be cheaper. No, it would be no problem to carry her some steps, she weighs only 22kgs, that would be about 50 pounds. We are still unsure whether to go on the Breeze or Silhouette, roughly they both have the same destinations, travelling east and west Mediterranean, with quite a few stops in Italy, we visited most of them. But we want to go for the cruise experience, maybe next time we will go on a cruise to Alaska, and another time to the Carribean if we get a cruise deal, but it is more convenient for us to embark anywhere in Europe since we are Europeons. I am unsure whether the boys, rather, young men would enjoy it more on the Carnival, personally for myself, I think I would enjoy it more on Celebrity, they seem more relaxed, but it is the boys that I want to make sure they would enjoy cruise most. It is not that much of an issue for my daughter, she is both mentally and physically disabled, and she will be with me all the time, I would not trust her at a kids club without me, but she would enjoy it for sure whichever cruise we go to. I am certain this will be a much more relaxing holiday for the first time, as we always have a hectic one travelling from one place to the other, like when we travelled by hired car from Trento northern Italy, right to the very south to Amalfi coast. We do see a lot, but we end up getting more tired than when we started off our holiday. The carnival cruise is also a lot cheaper than the celebrity, for the whole family it comes to nearly half the price, so there is also that to consider, especially since they roughly go to the same places. I would also though like to see the outcome of the concordia shipwreck, since carnival owns costa. So I will probably book around May. Maybe if we do carnival this year we will try celebrity next year, as I would still like to try out this cruise line for sure. That is if we enjoy our cruising experience They seem particulary attentive and everything to detail, but maybe carnival is more fun for the boys.I will surely email you using your email address once we have booked, I really appreciate that you gave it to me, as most probably I will have more questions to ask for sure. Thanks again.

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    Hi Anna, I ahve been away and was unable to answer your questions but I believe tat between ParrotMom and Larry, they have pretty much cover everything.

    I would like to add that an experienced travel agnet would bbe very hehpful to you. My suggestion is to look at the deck plan when you book, make sure the cabins are cloae to each othwr. You can also see where the "public access" passage ways are.

    Adjoining cabins are not like adjoining hotel rooms where there are actual doors conencting 2 cabins (at least I have not seen them myself) More typical is they have common access between the 2 cabins, sometimes, via the balconies.

    Although Carnival owns Ccosta, they are 2 separate companies and runs separately. There is a "Carnival" that owns Carnival cruise, Princess Cruiase, Costa Cruise etc ...

    We will be waiting for your trip report!

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    Thanks for the info Eschew. You were right in guessing that I was imagining that connecting cabins had a common door inside cabins, but a common balcony would be fine. Even adjoining cabins or cabins facing each other would be ok, as long as the cruise company allows it as I do know that by American law you have to be 21 years of age to be considered an adult, unlike Europe which is 18, my sons would be 17 and 20 years of age at time of sailing.

    There should not be any difficulties whatsoever then if Costa and Carnival are two separate companies. I am more leaned towards doing a carnival cruise, since it comes much cheaper than a Celebrity especially since there would be five of us, as long as the service etc are roughly the same. I would prefer that we spend a few days in Italy or Barcelona with the difference in price. Maybe we will do a Celebrity cruise next year if we enjoy it.

    The thing that put me off cruising mostly always was that I thought that they would be too crowdy in decks, and there would be no privacy, but maybe having a cabin with balcony might help and also the library, as you mentioned, might be a haven, I do love reading and browsing through books. But then my sons would enjoy all activities for sure. Also I used to think it would be a big hassle having to stay in long queues, as a family we always do individual travels for privacy.

    We plan to go late August or September, are there any specific months when the cruises are more crowdy - like in Europe the main tourist months are July and August, September is always a bit quieter, as in many countries school starts in September. We have no problem with that as my sons both start high school and college again in October.

    As I mentioned, we plan to go end of August or September, jacketwach. I thought of waiting until May to book as I did read - I think it was on the Celebrity - in a review that last year they made very good special offers in May.

    I will certainly write a report on my experience when we come back, that's for sure. Going on a cruise for the first time feels like going on my first holiday, I have put it on hold for so long!!!!

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    Hi Anna, the typically rule is anyone under the age of 21 must be accompanied by a parent, grandparent or guardian 25 years or older in the same cabin so an adjoining cabin may do it.

    If they don;t allow you to do that, then just tell them that you and your husband are in 2 separate cabins to "supervise" the kids. Once you are on board, just switch around, but make sure you keep your own sail card though for ID purposes especailly if you are going off the ship. Since you will be travelling as a group anyway so it shouldn't be a problem.

    You will find the service and food on Carnival acceptable and they may surprise you. Carnival is debuting a new "library/wine bar" concept on the Breeze so it would be different from the Princess or Celebrity libraries. I would imagine that it will be more quiet than other part of the ship. I heard the plan was for the wine to be self-serve (?).

    Other than boarding and disembarking, you may not notice the "crowd" as the ship is quite large. Make sure you allow lots of time on the first day to explore the ship. You will find the dining room, the main stage and the buffet "busy" but certainly no worst than going to see a show or going for dinenr at a busy restaurant on a weekend at home.

    BTW, make sure you ask for a child size life jacket for your daughter as soon as you baord. They typically do not have child size life jacket in the cabins.

    September would be a good time to go but you really shoudl book now for cabin choices.

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    We did Western Europe on the Carnival Magic last October (sister ship of the Breeze) and the food was subpar and that's being generous. If food quality is a big issue for you, go with Celebrity. We sailed the Caribbean on the Eclipse (sister ship of the Silhouette) last February, the difference in food quality and elegance of the ship are night and day.

    I assume the Carnival cruise is less expensive, if the cost isn't a big issue I wouldn't hesitate to go with Celebrity.

    Had you said the ports where the most important criteria I would tell you to save some money and go with Carnival. We found we spent our entire day on land and were so tired at the end of the day that we went back to our cabin directly after dinner. Basically used the ship as a floating hotel and really focused on the ports as opposed to the cruise experience.

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    I just got back from a weeklong cruise on the newly renovated Celebrity Summit out of San Juan, and I have to say it was excellent. The ship was beautiful. The food ranged from good to outstanding, and the staff was extremely friendly. It was like being in a nice, new big-city hotel. Celebrity is in the process of renovating its Millenium class ships, so if you can get one that's been overhauled, that might be a good deal for you. One thing, though, is the age range was mostly from about the 30s to senior citizens on our sailing. I'm not sure if that's just because kids were in school or if the line simply caters more to an older crowd. I'm in my late 30s and it was my first cruise since I was a kid, so I can't compare it to other lines.

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    Thanks Frank and andrews. I am definitely after the cruise ship experience, as I have been to many of the ports that both the celebrity and carnival would be visiting. I did imagine that celebrity was of a higher level, understandable as it is more expensive, but I think I would be willing to spend a bit more on the cruise and omit staying a few days in the departure port. One of the main issues for me was whether my teenage sons would still enjoy it on the celebrity as much as they would on carnival, andrew remarked that age range is from the 30s to senior citizens, although even that might be to their advantage regarding certain games and activities.

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    Anna: Although we had also done several of the ports previously, we found that there was always something new to explore. Example, we had been to Naples twice before and had visited Pompei and the Amalfi drive but this time we spent the day on Capri, we had visited Monaco before but this time we took a tour of Nice. Also in Marseille, we did a tour of Aix en Provence in the afternoon after a city tour of Marseille in the morning. We had previously covered the major attractions in Rome and Florence so we did an "On Your Own" ship tour for both and just enjoyed strolling, having lunch and taking in a couple of lesser sights if there are lesser sights in either of those two cities.

    You might be suprised to find that you'll ultimately spend more time on land than you initially thought on a European cruise.

    On the other hand, for ports in Bermuda, the Bahamas, Mexico, and the Caribbean I wouldn't consider Carnival. Our personal favorite is Princess, but Celebrity and HAL are close seconds.

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    That was my first cruise since I was a kid (I'm in my late 30s), so I don't have a basis of comparison with the other lines. My understanding is Celebrity caters to an older crowd in general. There were only a handful of kids on my trip. Keep in mind, that schools were in session when I sailed. I'm guessing the crowd might be a bit younger in the summer, but I'm not sure. I'm also guessing that no matter what time of year, the crowd will generally be older than on, say, Carnival or Royal Caribbean or NCL. The question for you is do your kids need to be on one of those lines or will they be happy enough on what might be a more upscale ship even if the crowd overall is a bit older? And, do you want to be on a ship that might be overrun by kids?
    As for price, Celebrity was in line with the other companies at least for the week that I booked.

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    Thanks for your replies. Yes, I am sure I would still enjoy my days on land, you are rigt there would always be a new place to visit. Even I had gone to Naples and all the Amalfi coastal towns, Pompei etc, but I didn't visit Capri yet either. But I would really like to make the most of my cruise experience, as I am not sure whether we will go on one again for some time, so I want to enjoy the cruise experience at its best. Since I live in Europe, I can easily visit an EU country, especially since low cost airlines are nowadays so affordable. In fact, we were planning a holiday on the French riviera overland, visiting other towns and cities besides Monaco, and maybe keep on driving to Cinque Terre in Liguria etc. these last Christmas holidays, but then again fell for the Dolomites and Tuscany in Italy. I would not look forward to a full crowdy ship at all, that is the reason we kept putting off a cruise holiday, you just can't escape them on a ship, and I do not think that my kids would really mind a slightly older crowd as long as they have activities on the ship to pass the time and for them to enjoy. They are in their late teens. I would certainly prefer an upscale cruise, especially since it is going to be the first one, and as I am not sure whether we will sail on one again soon as we just love having holidays in europe overland. So a cruise for us would definitely be for the cruise experience, of course we would still love to visit some ports or coastal towns. Thanks again.

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