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nickh
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Going On A Cruise

Thu May 02, 2013 8:05 am

My friend has decided* that she and I will be taking a sea cruise from Galveston Bay to the Caribbean, this summer.
Sigh, there is no way of talking her out of this.

Neither of us have ever taken an ocean-going cruise before, and while I have visited some of the travel web sites, I would like to hear from those of you who have done this before, perhaps some "Do's and Don'ts" and some 'insider tips' if you will.

Personally, I think that cruise ships are a major rip off -- much like Las Vegas -- nothing is as "free" as they claim to be.

If you have any tips or ideas, please do let us know. You know, I wouldn't mind just renting a large RV and just trekking across the States, rather than this cruise nonsense.

-Nick
*Or better yet -- spend the money on a wet rental on a Cessna 182 or a Mooney 201 and fly cross country, but she would not go for that....
 
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OA260
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Going On A Cruise

Thu May 02, 2013 8:28 am

I think you will actually love it if you choose the right cruise line/ship. Try to look at Royal Caribbean or NCL. They do offer most things free with just cover charges for speciality restaurants and spa etc..

There is no reason why if you dont want to you can avoid most of the fees. Plenty of free meal choices. Free coffee and juices at breakfast. Some things like still lemonade tea/coffee free from self service machines in the cafe at lunch and dinner. You just pay for your soda/beer etc... Both do soda packages which are quite reasonable for unlimited during the cruise. Try to get gratuities pre paid as part of the cruise cost.

Try to get an outside cabin at minimum. Balcony if you can justify the cost would be ideal.
 
KFLLCFII
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Going On A Cruise

Thu May 02, 2013 10:44 am

Planning a Gulf / Caribbean cruise during the summer and fall can be risky due to the hurricane season, so definitely consider trip insurance.

I just stepped off my fourth cruise last week, third on Carnival, and can tell you that your preconception about cruises being a ripoff is unfounded in almost all circumstances. While you're paying an upfront fee so technically nothing is "free", consider the conventional cost of traveling to the same (foreign) destinations, staying the same number of nights, and eating the same amount of quality *unlimited food as virtually any overnight cruise offers, and you'll easily find that a cruise is far the better bang for the buck. Just the food alone...Where else can you can have all the lobster tails and prime rib, or other served main courses you can stuff your face with, no questions asked, all included in that fee? You just can't beat it.

Amenities: Interior stateroom is not for the faint of stomach at sea (best to have a view of the horizon to prevent/overcome seasickness if you're not sure), balcony stateroom if you can afford it for peace and relaxation when you're not in the mood to go up on deck (even more helpful on longer cruises). "Choose your own dinnertime" seating allows flexibility versus a set early or late seating, and still offers the same menu (at least on Carnival). Ask for seconds, thirds...fifths...if you so choose. They don't care. Some ships and lines also have extra-pay gourmet restaurants onboard if you so choose. Use room service often...also included at no additional cost (except for a few select options). Laundry service is available for a fee if necessary. Don't forget to bring proper attire for "formal night" to be allowed to dine on the best cuisine of the trip. For a late-night snack, there are always options available.

Shore excursions: Take advantage. Cruise line-sanctioned activities that can range from mild, relaxing fun to thrill-seeking bliss. Pay attention to the details...some might sound similar at close prices while offering different levels of service (ie lunch/drinks included versus not). Read the reviews. Don't forget your passport.

Misc: Explore the ship early. Get to know the decks and elevator locations, and if possible, do this before embarkation. If you or her smoke, find out where the smoking sections are beforehand. A power outlet splitter for things like battery chargers helps because they tend to be limited in the rooms. Take advantage of the carry-on alcohol policy if they allow any. And on this trip I purchased a set of GMRS walkie-talkies which worked PHENOMENALLY in keeping base with my guest, which isn't so easy to do on a 900-foot ship when you want to prevent making set-times for everything and unnecessarily cutting current activities short. You can set a privacy code to only receive calls from the matching code (while technically not "private" over open air), and they even have a vibrate mode so the calling feature doesnt disturb others. Cobra model CXT545 to be exact, sold as a pair, water-resistant. It's dual FRS (low power)/GMRS (high power) banded, and you don't need an FCC license on the GMRS side when it's used out of the country. In-country you do, or just stick to your cellphones while in port. (The lower-power FRS band doesn't have much use on a steel ship, and even the GMRS band had a little difficulty reaching clear across the ship through multiple decks.)

Hope this helps. You won't be disappointed.
 
garnetpalmetto
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Going On A Cruise

Thu May 02, 2013 1:48 pm

Quoting nickh (Thread starter):

Neither of us have ever taken an ocean-going cruise before, and while I have visited some of the travel web sites, I would like to hear from those of you who have done this before, perhaps some "Do's and Don'ts" and some 'insider tips' if you will.

It'd be helpful here to identify a few things to help the cruise fans out here better give you insider tips.

1) What cruise line are you booked on?
2) What ship?
3) How many nights?
4) What are your ports of call?

Quoting nickh (Thread starter):

Personally, I think that cruise ships are a major rip off -- much like Las Vegas -- nothing is as "free" as they claim to be.

I can see it's easy to think that, but stack it up to an "all-inclusive" resort and it's very even. My wife and I have only cruise on Royal Caribbean but included in the cruise fare (or "complementary") are:

1) Meals in the Main Dining Room and other non-tariff venues (these differ between ship classes)
2) Water, coffee, tea, milk, orange juice
3) Activities onboard (again these differ between ship classes, but on RCI can include their climbing wall, the ice rink on Voyager, Freedom, and Oasis class ships, the surf simulator on Freedom and Oasis class ships, billiards, pools, gym, steamroom, etc)
4) Shows

Again, if you identify which cruise line and which ship it'll be easier to spell out what's tariff and what's non-tariff.

Quoting OA260 (Reply 1):


There is no reason why if you dont want to you can avoid most of the fees. Plenty of free meal choices. Free coffee and juices at breakfast. Some things like still lemonade tea/coffee free from self service machines in the cafe at lunch and dinner. You just pay for your soda/beer etc... Both do soda packages which are quite reasonable for unlimited during the cruise. Try to get gratuities pre paid as part of the cruise cost.

Agreed with everything here, although as a RCI tip/trick - they'll sometimes offer both "regular" orange juice and fresh squeezed. Fresh squeezed is an extra charge whereas regular is included in your fare. In general though, you don't have to pay anything (gratuities aside) if you don't want to and still be perfectly happy. There are loads of complementary activities to keep you entertained!

Quoting KFLLCFII (Reply 2):
"Choose your own dinnertime" seating allows flexibility versus a set early or late seating, and still offers the same menu (at least on Carnival).

I'll disagree here. At least on RCI, My Time Dining hamstrings you in that you don't get to interact with other people. To me, at least, part of what makes a cruise fun is getting to know your tablemates. Our last cruise, on Freedom of the Seas we loved our table and keep in touch with several of our tablemates. Beyond that, I think the traditional seatings give you the best opportunity to see the shows and entertainment as they're timed to accommodate the traditional seatings, not the my time seatings.

Quoting KFLLCFII (Reply 2):


Shore excursions: Take advantage. Cruise line-sanctioned activities that can range from mild, relaxing fun to thrill-seeking bliss. Pay attention to the details...some might sound similar at close prices while offering different levels of service (ie lunch/drinks included versus not). Read the reviews. Don't forget your passport.

Definitely agree. You may also want to check out Cruise Critic's forums for reviews of the non line-sanctioned activities. Our first cruise we did line-sanctioned activities while on our second we went with independent guides and had a much better time. The catch is that if something were to happen to you while on a line-sanctioned activity the ship will wait for you. They have no such obligation on a non-sanctioned activity/tour. At the same time, though, the independent guides know that their reputations live and die based on what people say online about them and will absolutely get you back in time and, from my experience, are more flexible. Our last cruise, for instance, one of our ports of call was SXM. Our itinerary called for beach time at Orient Beach. However a storm had blown through the previous day and the beach was pretty littered with detritus. We also had a few people not entirely comfortable with part of Orient being a nude beach. No problem - our guide went with it on the fly and changed our beach time to Maho - rougher water, but I was in heaven to sit there for a few hours and watch the planes coming in. I could see a sanctioned guide not being as flexible in this instance.

I also agree with the recommendation that you go for a oceanview, at minimum. If you're sailing on Navigator of the Seas out of Galveston, though, she is scheduled to be upgraded and get virtual balconies in her interior staterooms. I'd be interested to see how these work out and they seem like a great idea to get a reference for what's going on while also saving a little money!
 
sw733
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Going On A Cruise

Thu May 02, 2013 2:11 pm

People usually either love or hate cruising. The people who do it many, many times a year obviously adore it. Others will take one and never do it again. The problem is, you won't know until you do it. My wife and I have done one, and we MIGHT do another, but weren't completely sold. That being said, we still had a nice week of vacation and were never bored (we were on Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas, junior suite).

Quoting garnetpalmetto (Reply 3):
My Time Dining hamstrings you in that you don't get to interact with other people

That's definitely another one of those "everyone is different" type things. My wife and I have absolutely ZERO desire to meet new people on vacation. We wanted to be with each other and enjoy each others company only, so My Time Dining was perfect since we didn't have to share our time or dinner with anyone. Other people LOVE meeting people on cruises. To each their own with provolone.

[Edited 2013-05-02 07:13:15]
 
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northstardc4m
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Going On A Cruise

Thu May 02, 2013 2:15 pm

I'm leaving on a cruise in 10 days... I'm on the Carnival Valor out of San Juan... and I've previously and booked again in January on Princess as well.

A few sentiments of my own...

If you are looking to take it easy and relax, pay the extra for a room with a balcony.

On carnival room service is free for food 24/7 so if you don't want to go to the MDR feel free to choose that option... eating a meal while on your balcony clipping along on the open sea is something to experience.

If tendering in to a port, in anything but calm seas stay away from any openings, easy to get drenched, or if available sit on the upper deck.

Quoting KFLLCFII (Reply 2):
Shore excursions: Take advantage. Cruise line-sanctioned activities that can range from mild, relaxing fun to thrill-seeking bliss. Pay attention to the details...some might sound similar at close prices while offering different levels of service (ie lunch/drinks included versus not). Read the reviews. Don't forget your passport.

Absolutely... but be aware that on some ports it is actually cheaper to book directly with the tour operators. You shouldn't need your passport honestly, you cruise card will be sufficient but if you are going off on your own take your passport just in case you miss the ship on your return... and on that line don't trust local transport to get you back to the ship on short notice.

For example, if you are planning to do the Maho thing if going to St Maarten, the trip back to the port can take over an hour in the afternoon due to heavy traffic, construction and twisting hill roads. This really sucks if you ship is sailing at 6pm as you miss the heavies coming in, but better safe than stranded!
 
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OA260
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Going On A Cruise

Thu May 02, 2013 3:47 pm

Quoting northstardc4m (Reply 5):
For example, if you are planning to do the Maho thing if going to St Maarten, the trip back to the port can take over an hour in the afternoon due to heavy traffic, construction and twisting hill roads. This really sucks if you ship is sailing at 6pm as you miss the heavies coming in, but better safe than stranded!

Very true I did that myself and knew to allow extra time and all went well but the traffic was unreal ! Well worth it though for a day at SXM .  

Regards passports I always carry it with me for ID . We dont have photo ID cards here sadly . Never go ashore without government issued ID . Just in case.
 
Ken777
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Going On A Cruise

Thu May 02, 2013 7:24 pm

We just spent half of yesterday changing a cruise that we had to delay for medical reasons. Now we leave in mid September from Venice for an Eastern Med cruise on RCCL. This is an "extension" of our first cruise - the Western Med.

That first cruise was FAR better than my previous cruises - but they were on Navy ships. With guns & missiles.

On the last cruise we had formal dining, but we spent a lot of time at The Windjammer. A free buffet on an upper level with an aft view through lots of windows. As there is a 180 degree view I liked it as much as our balcony - enough so that we only got an "ocean view" this time - and I enjoyed it when leaving a port.

Best advice I can give is to go for it and let the trip exceed your expectations. You can wake up in the morning, eat a pretty good breakfast and then enjoy a new place during the day. At night you get to see some pretty good shows (free) and then stroll to your room, or get a late snack.

Since we don't gamble or drink the extra costs were pretty minimal for us. We used that money in ports, much more enjoyable.
 
flymia
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Going On A Cruise

Thu May 02, 2013 9:41 pm

Quoting KFLLCFII (Reply 2):
balcony stateroom if you can afford it for peace and relaxation when you're not in the mood to go up on deck (even more helpful on longer cruises).


Definitely. Especially on longer cruises its nice to be able to go outside without having to deal with all the people.

Quoting KFLLCFII (Reply 2):
Ask for seconds, thirds...fifths...if you so choose.


A lot of people don't know this. You can have three meals if they want all the meals are made already to begin with.

Quoting KFLLCFII (Reply 2):
Use room service often


The best room service IMO is the breakfast service. They will leave a breakfast menu card in your room and before a certain time, usually 2am or something all you do is leave the card on your door with what you want to breakfast and at what time. What a great way to wake up. Knock on the door and breakfast is there ready for you. It really is great when you can take it out to the balcony.
I think getting breakfast delivered to my room every morning is my favorite thing about cruises.
 
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Mortyman
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Going On A Cruise

Thu May 02, 2013 10:23 pm

Royal Caribbean have very populare and innovative ships. Especially their newest ones ...
 
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DeltaMD90
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Going On A Cruise

Thu May 02, 2013 10:57 pm

Idk, besides ripoff alcoholic beverages, I think cruises are pretty cheap. If you don't drink, you can easily have free food and drink the whole time. Lodging isn't that much compared to getting a hotel, and the airline tickets getting you to all those ports would be a ton. Shore excursions can be expensive and gimmicky, but you can also just explore the area pretty cheaply.

I'd say look at Carnival, I've always had a good time with them. With their recent problems, they've been giving huge discounts. Some people think they're trashier but honestly, they're fine IMO, I don't have low standards but to be fair, they're not as high as others.

Have fun!
 
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DocLightning
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Going On A Cruise

Fri May 03, 2013 12:15 am

Quoting Ken777 (Reply 7):
Best advice I can give is to go for it and let the trip exceed your expectations. You can wake up in the morning, eat a pretty good breakfast and then enjoy a new place during the day. At night you get to see some pretty good shows (free) and then stroll to your room, or get a late snack.

The best part about it is the bit where you get there, unpack, settle into your room, and then don't have to pack up again until the end of the trip. And yet you get to see a lot of places.

The downside is that in a lot of the smaller places, all there really is is the cruise ship entertainment industry and there isn't much to them. That depends, of course, on the route.

We're looking into a cruise ourselves. Our dilemma goes like this: on the one hand, we don't want to be one of the only gay couples on the ship. On the other hand, all the gay cruises are run by this company called Atlantis and it sounds like a massive circuit party complete with skeezy men old enough to be my dad squeezing my butt.

And so... we're stuck. Advice?
 
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OA260
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Going On A Cruise

Fri May 03, 2013 12:33 am

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 11):

On the 30 plus ships Ive been on there are loads of Gays onboard if thats your thing. Personally I dont care either way. People are people.

Atlantis would most certainly not be my thing. In fact I couldnt think of anything worse.
 
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DeltaMD90
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Going On A Cruise

Fri May 03, 2013 1:17 am

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 11):
We're looking into a cruise ourselves. Our dilemma goes like this: on the one hand, we don't want to be one of the only gay couples on the ship. On the other hand, all the gay cruises are run by this company called Atlantis and it sounds like a massive circuit party complete with skeezy men old enough to be my dad squeezing my butt.

I'd just go on a normal cruise... I've seen a few on all my cruises, even shared some coconut juice with a couple when I was drunk (wow that sounded dirty) but my point is no one was harassing them. May sound like a small boat but it's really not... if you see some bigots you may go all cruise without seeing them again. You'll be spending most of your time on excursions and having fun, little time for people to judge yall  
 
adh214
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Going On A Cruise

Fri May 03, 2013 3:31 am

I have been a number of cruises as part of a gay couple and never had a problem. On vacation everyone is having a good time without worrying about other people. My advice is to organize a group of friends. Cruises are a lot more fun with a whole group of folks.

Andrew
 
Ken777
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Going On A Cruise

Fri May 03, 2013 3:35 am

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 11):
And so... we're stuck. Advice?

Personally I'd avoid a "lifestyle cruise" - unless, of course, you can get on a "medical cruise" where you get continuing education credits as well as a tax deduction.

Look for places that might be of interest to the two of you. Don't be afraid of getting on a plane to Europe or Asia. While I love Hong Kong I'm more into cruising on the Med.

I'd also look at spending some time before or after a cruise just looking around your departure/arrival port. On our first cruise the port was Rome. This time it's Venice, but we have padded both sides of the cruise for Florence/Pisa and then Rome for flying out of Italy.

Spend some time looking at various cruises, pulling up the route maps to see places might be of interest.

Don't be concerned about being with your partner on the cruise - go and enjoy the cruise & places visited. Those cruises are for singles and couples to enjoy. Go enjoy!
 
flymia
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Going On A Cruise

Fri May 03, 2013 4:04 am

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 11):

I have also been on plenty of cruises where I have seen gay couples. I was on one in Europe where we shared a table with a very nice couple. I would say maybe your port of departure could have something to do with it. Leaving put of Miami or Ft. Lauderdale the ships have all sorts of people and are usually the newer more expensive ships. Leaving out of Gavelston or New Orleans not as much. I do think Carnival has some newer ships in Gavelston though. Not their newest.
 
garnetpalmetto
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Going On A Cruise

Fri May 03, 2013 4:19 am

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 11):

We're looking into a cruise ourselves. Our dilemma goes like this: on the one hand, we don't want to be one of the only gay couples on the ship. On the other hand, all the gay cruises are run by this company called Atlantis and it sounds like a massive circuit party complete with skeezy men old enough to be my dad squeezing my butt.

Plenty of gay couples on the mainstream cruise lines, Doc. Most passengers don't care and neither does the crew - hell a fair number of crew members are, too. One of the couples we sat with at a lunch seating our first cruise was a lovely lesbian couple who gave us tons of tips on future cruises. There are usually meet and greets and the like - there's little message boards near guest services usually where groups can advertise meetings and meet and greets. If you and your partner are interested, keep an eye out for Friends of Dorothy meetings. I'd say go for it - if you'd like any tips or suggestions (destinations, ships, and the like) feel free to drop me a PM.
 
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Jetsgo
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Going On A Cruise

Fri May 03, 2013 4:24 am

Cruising is definitely a love hate adventure. I had never tried it until I met my wife, and now that I know how much I love it, I kick myself for not starting earlier. We had our honeymoon on Ruby Princess, have been on Carnival Dream and Breeze in the last year, and are currently booked on Carnival Victory and Oasis of the Seas.

First thing I can recommend to you is, GET ON CRUISE CRITIC NOW. Simply put, it's the A.net equivalent for cruisers. There is just so much information on there regarding ships, ports, excursions, hotels, transportation, ect. It can seem overwhelming at first if you're like me and not used to larger forums as A.net is really your only one. In addition to the forums, they have a fantastic review process and trip report section.

Cruising is what you make of it. If you go on there sighing, you will of course pick out all the little things and have a bad time. My mother was like that and it drove me crazy... never again. Remember, a vast majority of Americans have NEVER cruised, so all those hateful CNN and MSNBC comments regarding break downs are just by idiots with no idea what they're talking about. The reality of it is you are on a giant mobile resort with above average food, service, and entertainment. Depending on what exactly it is you want/like, you can then narrow down a cruise line and itinerary.

With regards to what's "free" and what costs extra, it's really no different than other hotels, all inclusive or not. Carnival does the best job in my opinion at keeping most of their food options included. RCI and NCL, while offering more extensive options, do tend to charge cover fees though they are completely reasonable. Booze is of course expensive on all of them, however ordering the "drink of the day" or sneaking some on board in shampoo bottles can greatly reduce the cost. What I do NOT recommend is purchasing trip insurance or excursions through the cruise line. Both are necessary, however better options can be found via third parties which do extensive work with cruisers and know all the policies. Cruise lines charge for the convenience and sense of security you get by booking through them, however the reality of it is what they offer is average at best. Some of the best excursions I have ever experience were booked independently, most notably our Belize experience.

And as for gays on board, most people are too drunk and/or having a good time to give any consideration as to which way you swing. They are more interested in knowing if you've cruised before, if so where, ect.
 
Ken777
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Going On A Cruise

Fri May 03, 2013 4:49 am

Quoting Jetsgo (Reply 18):
And as for gays on board, most people are too drunk and/or having a good time to give any consideration as to which way you swing.

Got that right.

I believe that most people on a cruise want to enjoy themselves and wish the same for you.
 
garnetpalmetto
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Going On A Cruise

Fri May 03, 2013 5:19 am

Quoting Jetsgo (Reply 18):
or sneaking some on board in shampoo bottles can greatly reduce the cost.

I'd advise against this one unless you want an all expenses paid trip to the "naughty room." RCI does let you carry on two bottles of wine in your carry on but they take a rather dim view of people smuggling liquor on board and from what I've read on Cruise Critic are becoming more stringent in terms of checks into whether or not something is liquor.
 
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Jetsgo
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Going On A Cruise

Fri May 03, 2013 5:30 am

Quoting garnetpalmetto (Reply 20):

Meh. The cruise lines are no different than movie theaters in this aspect, IMO. An empty shampoo bottle full of rum and an empty bottle of conditioner full of vodka, both in your checked bag, are virtually impossible for them to catch. Combine that with a soda card... Life is good  
 
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northstardc4m
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RE: Going On A Cruise

Fri May 03, 2013 2:31 pm

Quoting Jetsgo (Reply 21):
An empty shampoo bottle full of rum and an empty bottle of conditioner full of vodka, both in your checked bag, are virtually impossible for them to catch. Combine that with a soda card... Life is good

Another option I've known people to have success with:
http://www.rumrunnerflasks.com/
all plastic, collapsible, reusable... they don't show up on the x-ray for the checked bags and 99% of the time get on. I only know of 1 person who got caught with them and they made the mistake of putting it in an outside pocket.

Put the small ones inside shoes and they are literally invisible unless they open the bag, and trust me that's really not worth their time unless they suspect something!
 
Ken777
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RE: Going On A Cruise

Fri May 03, 2013 5:11 pm

Quoting garnetpalmetto (Reply 20):
RCI does let you carry on two bottles of wine in your carry on

That's not bad. Buy 2 bottles of the local wine in each port and you'd be in pretty good shape.

I guess that the secret is to pick cruise where you don't want a hangover any morning because of the ports you pull into.
 
nickh
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RE: Going On A Cruise

Fri May 03, 2013 7:35 pm

Quoting garnetpalmetto (Reply 3):
1) What cruise line are you booked on?
2) What ship?
3) How many nights?
4) What are your ports of call?

#1: My travel agent with Triple-A is giving us a quote on Royal Caribbean, and I also have a sister-in-law who runs a travel agency who might be able to get us a fair deal on RCS or Carnival*.
#2: Do not know yet.
#3: 6-7 nights.
#4: Galveston and points south -- Yes I know that, that is vague but we are still in the planning stage.

I know that I have a slightly jaded view of this cruise thing - I am sure that it will not be as bad as I make it out to be.

-Nick

*Carnival --I have heard some bad stories about these people and I do realize that they own several other smaller cruise lines, but the name 'Carnival' leaves a sour note with us.
 
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OA260
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RE: Going On A Cruise

Fri May 03, 2013 7:37 pm

Quoting nickh (Reply 24):
I also have a sister-in-law who runs a travel agency who might be able to get us a fair deal on RCS or Carnival*.

See if she can get you Family and friends rates. That could save you quite a bit.
 
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northstardc4m
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RE: Going On A Cruise

Fri May 03, 2013 7:39 pm

Quoting nickh (Reply 24):
*Carnival --I have heard some bad stories about these people and I do realize that they own several other smaller cruise lines, but the name 'Carnival' leaves a sour note with us.

Stop listening to those stories, it's like the bad stories you hear about every airline... and they are discounting BIG right now.
They own about half of the worlds large cruise ships via multiple lines: Cunard, Princess, P&O, Costa and more...

That said, I know Royal Caribbean is great, and if you don't have kids it's probably better choice than Carnival.
 
garnetpalmetto
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RE: Going On A Cruise

Fri May 03, 2013 7:52 pm

Quoting nickh (Reply 24):

#1: My travel agent with Triple-A is giving us a quote on Royal Caribbean, and I also have a sister-in-law who runs a travel agency who might be able to get us a fair deal on RCS or Carnival*.
#2: Do not know yet.
#3: 6-7 nights.
#4: Galveston and points south -- Yes I know that, that is vague but we are still in the planning stage.

OK if you leave from Galveston on RCI you'd be on Navigator of the Seas. Navigator is a Voyager class ship and represents RCI's third-largest class in terms of size. http://beyondships.com/RCI-NOS-tour.html provides a good photo tour although somewhat outdated now. Onboard Navigator the only tariff dining venues are Ben & Jerry's, Johnny Rocket's ('50s style diner), Portofino's (Upscale Italian), and Chop's (Steakhouse). The other dining venues - Windjammer, Promenade Cafe, the Main Dining Room, as well as room service are included in your cruise fare. There's plenty to do on a Voyager in terms of activities - they have a rock wall, minigolf, rollerblade track, ice rink, and a sports court. There's also a golf simulator, but that does cost extra. Other venues onboard include the theatre, casino, a pub, a wine bar, a champagne bar, a small movie theatre, and several other bar/entertainment venues worth checking out.

If I could make one suggestion at all it may be to try to delay this until *next* summer as Navigator is supposed to be refit this year and by next summer would have those upgrades in place, including virtual balconies in the interior staterooms and additional dining options. Taking a look at the usual ports of call they make, I've been to Grand Cayman and Cozumel. If I can answer any specific questions about RCI in particular, I'd gladly welcome them.
 
rfields5421
Posts: 6374
Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2007 12:45 am

RE: Going On A Cruise

Fri May 03, 2013 8:12 pm

Quoting nickh (Thread starter):
You know, I wouldn't mind just renting a large RV and just trekking across the States, rather than this cruise nonsense.

I own a mid-sized travel trailer and use it a lot. We love the RV lifestyle. I'd like to go full-time. But my wife and I love cruises and try to take one or two a year.

1) There are places you cannot go in an RV, and vice versa places you cannot go on a cruise.

2) In an RV, if I don't want to cook - I have to drive somewhere and buy a meal.

3) On a cruise I never have to hook up a sewer hose to a smelly dump station to get rid of my poop. If I don't want to do that I have to share a public toilet all the time.

4) On a cruise, they never ask me to pay for $200 for 50 gallons of fuel after traveling about 400 miles.

5) On a cruise, I don't have to fight high winds behind a wheel for several hours per day.

6) On a cruise, I don't have to fuss with a satellite TV dish at night, trying to get a signal through trees and other RVs. I can go see a free show.

7) On a cruise I can go to sleep as we leave one place and wake up fresh at the next stop.

We view a cruise as a vacation from the work part of traveling by RV.
 
Ken777
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RE: Going On A Cruise

Fri May 03, 2013 8:15 pm

Quoting garnetpalmetto (Reply 27):
if you leave from Galveston on RCI you'd be on Navigator of the Seas

Navigator is the ship we sailed on out of Rome and we were pretty comfortable with the ship. We would definitely pay to sail on her again.

Just read a news story ( http://www.usatoday.com/story/cruise...-caribbean-europe-cruises/2132747/ ) that the Navigator is being cur from European cruises, staying Galveston for the summer in 2014 due to soft Med bookings.
 
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OA260
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Joined: Thu Nov 30, 2006 8:50 pm

RE: Going On A Cruise

Fri May 03, 2013 8:37 pm

Quoting garnetpalmetto (Reply 27):
Navigator is a Voyager class ship and represents RCI's third-largest class in terms of size.

I did TATL on the Voyager of the Seas and its a lovely sized ship with good amenities. I wouldnt hesitate to sail again on this class of ship.
 
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DeltaMD90
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RE: Going On A Cruise

Fri May 03, 2013 9:58 pm

Quoting nickh (Reply 24):
*Carnival --I have heard some bad stories about these people and I do realize that they own several other smaller cruise lines, but the name 'Carnival' leaves a sour note with us.

I have too and I honestly haven't seen anything bad with them at all unless you so happen to get stuck on a broken ship (they had a few recent cases but it's still extremely rare) or if you have very (very) high standards. Otherwise, they're just as great as everyone else except they're WAYYY cheaper (the majority of the time.) Just do a quick search
 
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Mortyman
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Joined: Sat Aug 12, 2006 8:26 pm

RE: Going On A Cruise

Fri May 03, 2013 9:58 pm

I recomend Royal Caribbean. It has great ships and innovative designs. Royal Caribbean was originally founded by 3 Norwegian shipping Companies in Norway in the late 60's. Today it's the second largest cruisecompany in the world and owns several other cruisecompanies. Royal Caribbean is today a Norwegian / American Company, noted on both the New York Stock excange in the USA and the Oslo Stock Exchange in Norway and has it's operations headquarter in Miami. I would say it has a great mix of European and American atmosphere. Many of the officers are Norwegian, including very often the captain. It operates it's ships all over the world: USA / Canada / Mexico / Caribbean / Europe / Middle East / Asia / Australia / South Pacific / South America.
 
nickh
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RE: Going On A Cruise

Fri May 03, 2013 11:04 pm

Quoting DeltaMD90 (Reply 31):
or if you have very (very) high standards

Well it's not as much an issue of being overly frugal or having too high of standards, but the Carnival cruise line, proper, seems to have a larger share of problems and customer complaints (I did reference the Better Business Bureau and some other cruise reference sites) -- than the rest of the cruise operators out there.

Among popular complaints, their (Carnival) staff seems to be unresponsive to customer service needs (one of the major complaints filed against them) and a few web sites that I visited also mentioned that their attention to mechanical maintenance and cleanliness is very lacking. Bathrooms are smelly, hallways and carpets have moldy trim along the bottom edges, little things like that.
So that also makes me wonder about the quality of the food that they serve -- the many reports of incidents of people passengers getting sick with salmonella or other G.I. issues has been written about often.

As a lot of you have suggested, I think that we are going to go with Royal Caribbean/RCI -- I found the post about the ship refit interesting -- maybe I could use that as an excuse to delay this cruise this year and to rent the Recreational Vehicle this year and convince my friend to do the cruise next year -- errr, who am I kidding, her mind is already made up. [smile].

My friend and I are both without children, so no worries there. We did ask the travel agent and the sis-in-law about an external balcony suite and whatever upgrades that some of my premium credit cards might provide for us, along with my longevity with the triple-A membership. So we shall see. Thank you all for the information so far - we should finalize our plans in about a month or so.

They say that you usually gain at least 10-15 pounds when you go on a cruise, because the food (esp. the buffets) is free/cheap/plentiful. True?

-Nick
 
rfields5421
Posts: 6374
Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2007 12:45 am

RE: Going On A Cruise

Fri May 03, 2013 11:21 pm

Quoting nickh (Reply 33):
They say that you usually gain at least 10-15 pounds when you go on a cruise, because the food (esp. the buffets) is free/cheap/plentiful. True?

My wife and I don't. But we see people who appear to gain 10-15 lbs, a day.

Eat sensibly.

Do some exercise. Use the stairs when you can. Use the treadmills and machines in the gym. Walk when ashore for a while.
 
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Jetsgo
Posts: 2795
Joined: Thu Jul 17, 2003 6:31 am

RE: Going On A Cruise

Fri May 03, 2013 11:23 pm

Quoting nickh (Reply 33):
As a lot of you have suggested, I think that we are going to go with Royal Caribbean/RCI

Be sure to check out Carnival Magic as well. It is Carnival's second newest ship which debuted in 2011 and is full of their newest offerings. As I said earlier, the complaints are mostly bogus - we've been on several Carnival cruises and found them to be no better or worse than RCI or Princess.

Quoting nickh (Reply 33):
my premium credit cards might provide for us, along with my longevity with the triple-A membership.

Neither of which will do you any good, I'm afraid to say.
 
garnetpalmetto
Posts: 5352
Joined: Tue Oct 21, 2003 1:38 am

RE: Going On A Cruise

Sat May 04, 2013 12:01 am

Quoting nickh (Reply 33):

They say that you usually gain at least 10-15 pounds when you go on a cruise, because the food (esp. the buffets) is free/cheap/plentiful. True?

Neither my wife nor I have done that but it's definitely plentiful. My wife and I figured out that you could literally eat 24 hours a day if you so desired between the dining venues and room service. Again, not all dining venues are free - there's about four venues on Navigator where you'd have to pay. Going through venues and concepts:

Main Dining Room - Traditional dining. RCI tends to go for gourmet and international inspired dishes here - usually an Indian dish every night but plenty to choose from.

Windjammer - Buffet style dining. Food here is also excellent and it's something of a tradition to binge on the Honey Stung Chicken offered at embarkation

Cafe Promenade - Offers small sandwiches, pizzas, and pasteries as well as gourmet coffee. The food is free, the upscale coffee isn't.

Johnny Rockets - '50s style burger diner. Waiters and waitresses will dance from time to time. You have to pay a $5.00 cover here, which I believe covers everything but milkshakes which are a'la carte.

Chop's - Steakhouse. You have to pay a $25 cover here but that covers your meal.

Portofino's - Upscale Italian. You also have to pay a $25 cover here but that also covers your meal

I do recommend trying one of the specialty restaurants (Chops or Portofno's) for the experience. In terms of the MDR, our last cruise some of our tablemates would order 2 appetizers and 2 entrees each. Like somebody else said - take advantage of the offerings onboard and keep in shape. Hit up the jogging track or gym, one of the pools (they're usually marked for exercise swimmers at certain times), or strap on a pair of ice skates or roller blades! I'd also say the food is pretty good. Our last cruise I was only disappointed with my entree one night (I chose pork medallions and I think I just got a bad cut). If you'd like more info let me know - I have old menus stashed away somewhere  
 
darthluke12694
Posts: 185
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 12:47 am

RE: Going On A Cruise

Sat May 04, 2013 4:18 am

If you can, try and book excursions through the excursion company directly, NOT the cruise line. You save 20 or 30 percent that way. In fact, I went on an excursion on my Alaskan cruise that involved a train. The people who booked directly through the excursion company were all grouped together in our own train coach. The tour guides flat out told us we were separated so the people who booked through the cruise would not find out they paid 20 or 30 percent more for the excursion.

I love to cruise, and you can see so many places easier than by visiting each place individually on your own. I know you only have limited time, but I don't mind that. Or you can think of it this way. You can explore all of the ports you stop at, and you might find a future place to vacation at for a longer period of time. I fell in love with Puerto Rico. I want to go back so bad!

I've only been on Carnival, and I know Carnival has had a bit of bad luck, but I do think they are an excellent cruise line. They do have a lot of activities, of course that's why they call it the fun ship.

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