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 10 Year Anniversary - First Cruise Ever!

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UtahCouple
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PostSubject: 10 Year Anniversary - First Cruise Ever!   Sun Dec 07, 2008 4:55 pm

Hey Everyone,

I happened to stumble across this forum and am hoping you all can help my wife and I in figuring out everything we need to know about taking our first cruise ever to celebrate our 10 year anniversary.

First, about us? We're both 28 years old (Yes married at 18, high school sweethearts) Anyway, we now have 2 kids (1 girl 1 boy) that are 7 and 5, and are freaking AWESOME. We live in Northern Utah in the mountains (small town about 800 people population or so). On January 1st we will be married for 10 years now. Smile Now we both came from families that have had a hard time in life and haven't traveled much before. Then of course getting married at 18 and having children at 21 we had too many financial responsibilities at a young age to do anything big.

Well we've worked our way through and I now have a decent job and we finally have some savings we stored up just for this trip. We don't have a ton, but we want to see if we can make a nice cruise happen with what we have. But not having family or friends that have cruised, and never cruised ourselves. We're completely lost!!

So I could use help in EVERYTHING, I know I still have a lot of web browsing to do, but so far this is what I got.

Winter is the best months for cruising. Does this apply for all cruises? We're planning on cruising anytime in 2009, but obviously need some time to plan. I don't handle really hot weather well myself, so the summer is out of the question with most locations from what I understand.

I've read a few comments that the Caribbean is the best cruise for first timers. Is this agreed upon by others?

Supposedly Carnival is more of a party cruise line and Royal is more of a relaxed? Being 28 we're a little in between I guess, especially since we're somewhat conservative. We like to party and have a good time, but also like our time to relax and enjoy our surroundings and each other. So we're not going to want a cruise full of college kids drunk and crazy and all, but also don't want one with just sitting around and ballroom dancing or such.

I have 10,000 questions, but I guess I should tie up this post so it's not TOO long and get some general information from you all first. I think this website is great, because websites and brochures and everything can never stand up to personal experience, and to hear from all of these real life people should be outstanding!

I'm also going to be checking out the travel agent links. (I heard there's a section for them at least, there's a LOT of sections on here, somewhat overwhelming) I think we need one for this cruise if we can do it, and then we're also needing to look for an agent to get us started on our trip to Scotland in a few years (hopefully).

I know the economy is weird right now, and it's affecting everyone. How has it affected travel?


Last edited by UtahCouple on Sun Dec 07, 2008 5:20 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: 10 Year Anniversary - First Cruise Ever!   Sun Dec 07, 2008 5:10 pm

Congratulations on your Anniversary! And welcome to Cruise Freeks!

While I haven't been to the caribbean yet, I think that would be a wonderful anniversary cruise. And Royal Caribbean is a perfect mix of people. My married neice, about your age, just went on RC and they loved it!

Will you be bringing your kids?

Spring is also a nice time to cruise, besides winter.
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PostSubject: Re: 10 Year Anniversary - First Cruise Ever!   Sun Dec 07, 2008 5:18 pm

Hey JJ,

No we won't be bringing the kids on this trip. We need some time together for once without them for a few days. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: 10 Year Anniversary - First Cruise Ever!   Sun Dec 07, 2008 5:28 pm

Welcome to Cruise Freeks! Very Happy You've come to the right forum for questions.

I love to cruise in winter as well. I would say Caribbean (East or West) is great for first timers as well. For me, it's not too hot, and I can escape hurricane season and the cold weather here!

Carnival is not the party cruise you may think it would be...if you go a week or longer. I'm not big on Carnival...but they offer a good cruise at a great price. Some people love them, I don't. I just think they are ok.

Royal Caribbean is for everyone. I love this line. It's for active people, old people, young people, kids, and everything in between. You can party the night away, or relax. Plenty to do for young and old. Their ships are much more impressive than any line I've been on so far. (I'm sure QM2 will change my mind) Sometimes prices are a little higher...but worth it in your enjoyment.

Princess is the line I take to relax. I have only sailed them on 10 day or longer cruises. Much of the demographic is older than age 50 on longer cruises...older folks have earned retirement, have some money, and love to travel. I'm only 44...and I don't mind sharing the ship with older folks. In fact...it's fun to meet them for interesting conversation. You will still find younger folks on these cruises...just not as many partying away until 3am.
(hey, some of those oldsters outlast me!)

From my experience, I'd say a 7 day cruise on Royal Caribbean, or Princess would be a good fit. I would suggest for you to look over the GROUP CRUISES offered here at CRUISE FREEKS. They have great prices, you can meet and get aquainted with others that are sailing that cruise right here. You can get all your questions answered, and will have some guidance every step of the way when you get there. Nothing like knowing you'll have a friend onboard to let you know what to do and when to do it!

Cruising is really a great vacation. But give good thought to booking a group cruise here at Cruise Freeks. We will be sailing 2 of those group cruises ourselves in 2009!

Good luck! Don't hesitate to ask more questions. We love to help, and we won't tell you to 'go hit the search button' like other sites do!

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PostSubject: Re: 10 Year Anniversary - First Cruise Ever!   Mon Dec 08, 2008 3:31 pm

UtahCouple wrote:
I happened to stumble across this forum and am hoping you all can help my wife and I in figuring out everything we need to know about taking our first cruise ever to celebrate our 10 year anniversary.
Welcome! We're glad you found us.
Quote :
Winter is the best months for cruising. Does this apply for all cruises?
Obviously not, as you can generally cruise to Alaska only between May and September. So, the "best" time to cruise really depends on your cruise destination.
Quote :
I've read a few comments that the Caribbean is the best cruise for first timers. Is this agreed upon by others?
The Caribbean is a good first destination. Being from Utah, you might also consider the Mexican Riviera, since it is a bit closer to you.
Quote :
Supposedly Carnival is more of a party cruise line and Royal is more of a relaxed? Being 28 we're a little in between I guess, especially since we're somewhat conservative. We like to party and have a good time, but also like our time to relax and enjoy our surroundings and each other. So we're not going to want a cruise full of college kids drunk and crazy and all, but also don't want one with just sitting around and ballroom dancing or such.
The Carnival reputation as a "party boat" is a bit exaggerated. This is particularly true for the longer (7 days and up) cruises. That's not to say that you won't find party people on board, but you'll find plenty of places to relax as well. My wife and I have been on 6 Carnival cruises, 5 without the kids and 1 with. We're nearing 50 now (didn't get married until both 28 ), so we are not the get drunk and party type. We find the entertainment, food, and other features of Carnival to be very good. Royal Caribbean is also very good. Both have good programs for the kids if you should change your mind and decide to bring them. Princess and Celebrity are a bit more upscale and tend to have a slightly older crowd, but nothing I would worry about. Holland America Line has the reputation for being a much older crowd. In fact an old joke said that HAL actually stood for "Highly Aged Line." However, the actual average age skews much lower than you would think, and they really have been doing a lot to attract families. They even have a decent kids program now. Norwegian Cruise Line, in my opinion, is the bottom end of cruises, though I have some clients that absolutely love NCL. Just goes to prove that everyone has different tastes. Other cruise lines would probably not be a good choice for a first cruise. Those would include Costa, Cunard, MSC, Crystal, Oceania, Regent and others.
Quote :
I have 10,000 questions, but I guess I should tie up this post so it's not TOO long and get some general information from you all first. I think this website is great, because websites and brochures and everything can never stand up to personal experience, and to hear from all of these real life people should be outstanding!
Feel free to ask all your questions. Just limit each post to 100 or so at a time! Laughing
Quote :
I'm also going to be checking out the travel agent links. (I heard there's a section for them at least, there's a LOT of sections on here, somewhat overwhelming) I think we need one for this cruise if we can do it, and then we're also needing to look for an agent to get us started on our trip to Scotland in a few years (hopefully).
There is a travel agent section. A direct link to that directory is here. The first person in that list is no longer associated with Cruise Freeks. I think the rest of the list is up to date.
Quote :
I know the economy is weird right now, and it's affecting everyone. How has it affected travel?
Actually, the prices of cruises and other travel have come down as a result. There are some great deals available right now.
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PostSubject: Re: 10 Year Anniversary - First Cruise Ever!   Tue Dec 09, 2008 12:07 am

Hey guys, thanks for the welcoming and responses! Smile

I did a little more poking around last night as did the wife, and being in Utah it seems the closest departing location for the Caribbean would be Texas, but the majority of all the cruises I found leave from FL, some from LA and even one or two from AL. We decided if we agreed on the Caribbean we'd do an overall check on pricing of flights vs cruises. I know a friend that flew to FL for much cheaper than my wife flew to TX a few years back, so if it's cheaper to fly down to FL we could live with a little longer flight.

I did notice the cruises departing from CA were generally Mexico cruises with the exception of a few Alaska cruises (which if the economy has effected the pricing on these cruises... it's still not enough for me! LoL)

I noticed most the cruises for the Mexico from CA were a good deal cheaper than the Caribbean. But looking through satellite maps it looks like the Eastern side of Mexico is much clearer blue water... is this just the maps? I was wondering if the Eastern Mexico was so much cheaper if it was because the area wasn't as appealing?

I also browsed a little and found Bahamas pretty much in between Mexico and Caribbean. It's pretty much between Mexico (cheapest, and closest departing location to us), Bahamas (mid price range) and Caribbean. Any personal suggestions, pros/cons etc for these three?

While I knocked out the logistics, geographical and financial side of it all (you know how us men are) the wife worked hard on the more difficult side of it all. Going through all the different ships to see what entertainment they all had and trying to find one she thought we'd have the most fun on. She found one that had a hot tub that actually hung off the side of the boat or something that she loved that idea. But can't remember which one it was now. Any personal suggestions here as well?

Have I reached my 100 question minimum yet?

Do we have to get passports?
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PostSubject: Re: 10 Year Anniversary - First Cruise Ever!   Tue Dec 09, 2008 12:29 am

UtahCouple wrote:

I noticed most the cruises for the Mexico from CA were a good deal cheaper than the Caribbean. But looking through satellite maps it looks like the Eastern side of Mexico is much clearer blue water... is this just the maps? I was wondering if the Eastern Mexico was so much cheaper if it was because the area wasn't as appealing?
The Eastern side of Mexico has either the Gulf of Mexico or Caribbean, both of which tend to have warmer water than the Pacfic. That can affect the color seen in satellite photos. There are many more cruises in the Caribbean, hence the lower prices.

Quote :
I also browsed a little and found Bahamas pretty much in between Mexico and Caribbean. It's pretty much between Mexico (cheapest, and closest departing location to us), Bahamas (mid price range) and Caribbean. Any personal suggestions, pros/cons etc for these three?
I've been to the Bahamas and most of the Caribbean islands as well as Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico. I personally don't care for the Bahamas. I think a great first cruise is one that leaves from Ft. Lauderdale or Miami and goes to Cozumel, Grand Cayman, and Ocho Rios or Montego Bay. I have not yet visited the Western side of Mexico, though I hope to correct that situation soon.

Quote :
While I knocked out the logistics, geographical and financial side of it all (you know how us men are) the wife worked hard on the more difficult side of it all. Going through all the different ships to see what entertainment they all had and trying to find one she thought we'd have the most fun on. She found one that had a hot tub that actually hung off the side of the boat or something that she loved that idea. But can't remember which one it was now. Any personal suggestions here as well?
The ships that you are referring to are either the Freedom or Liberty of the Seas from Royal Caribbean. As for a suggestion for first cruise, go with Carnival or Royal Caribbean and any of their ships built in the last 10 years. Don't worry about if it is the latest and greatest. It will dazzle you no matter what. If it isn't the latest and greatest you'll be itching to go again and see what you might have missed. I've been on 8 different ships, and haven't found one I didn't like yet. Those range from the fairly small and old Carnival Celebration to the mostly new and huge Cunard Queen Mary 2.

Quote :
Have I reached my 100 question minimum yet?
Nope. You've got quite a few to go.

Quote :
Do we have to get passports?
Unless the State Department changes its mind yet again, if you cruise on or after June 1st of next year, you will need a passport or the new passport card. Until then you can cruise with birth certificate and drivers license. However, I encourage you to apply for your passports now. They are good for 10 years. If for some reason you were forced to leave a cruise early due to injury or illness, you would need a passport to fly home. So it is best to have a passport. The cost between the passport and the passport card is not that great, so you should go for the real thing. The passport card is only good in certain areas. The real passport is valid anywhere.
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PostSubject: Re: 10 Year Anniversary - First Cruise Ever!   Tue Dec 09, 2008 1:05 pm

Hi Utahcouple,

Welcome to the Cruise Freek boards. You'll find a lot of great answers here (Steve had already provided some great info). Wink

I've cruised the Caribbean as well as the Mexican Riviera. From the view point of a diver and snorkeler, I prefer the Caribbean over the Pacific side of Mexico. My husband is more interested in history, so he's really enjoyed visiting the Mayan ruins while on Western Caribbean cruises (stopping in Belize, Guatemala, Costa Maya, Cancun, Progresso, etc.). He enjoyed western Mexico more than I did, visiting old historic forts, etc. So of course some of the decision has to be based on your personal likes and what you want to see/do while in port.

One thing I would recommend, since this is your first cruise - do not relegate yourself to an inside stateroom (no windows, no natural sunlight). At the very least, book an ocean view room. Some destinations, like Alaska, almost demand a balcony stateroom. But an ocean view would work for most itineraries.
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PostSubject: Re: 10 Year Anniversary - First Cruise Ever!   Tue Dec 09, 2008 4:02 pm

Hey Ivanova,

Yeah my wife has kindly, and gently told me already that there is no choice in the matter, it will be a balcony or better room. Smile

See that's the thing, I hear a lot of people talking about the fun of the Caribbean and how much cool things there are. History is cool and stuff, but don't think that's a huge thing we're looking for on this trip. Sparkling crystal clear water, drinking, dancing, romantic views, swimming and relaxing are a lot of what we're looking for.

The more I read the more it seems like the Caribbean is what we're leaning to. In all honesty I think the Alaskan cruise would be the coolest thing ever, but this is more for her than me, and she has no interest at all in the Alaskan cruise (yet) she's the warm weather fun girl.

So how does this work with a travel agent btw? Can you even book these cruises without a travel agent? Do they have access to better discounts then I can get on my own? Is it more of a convenience thing? Where an agent takes care of my flights, hotels, cruise etc etc, so I don't have to go shopping for all of these on my own? Now that we're figuring out what we want and where we want to go, what do we do now? I don't want to keep looking around at all these prices online if I'm just going to be going through an agent and they all won't matter anyway.
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PostSubject: Re: 10 Year Anniversary - First Cruise Ever!   Tue Dec 09, 2008 4:12 pm

UtahCouple wrote:
So how does this work with a travel agent btw? Can you even book these cruises without a travel agent? Do they have access to better discounts then I can get on my own? Is it more of a convenience thing? Where an agent takes care of my flights, hotels, cruise etc etc, so I don't have to go shopping for all of these on my own? Now that we're figuring out what we want and where we want to go, what do we do now? I don't want to keep looking around at all these prices online if I'm just going to be going through an agent and they all won't matter anyway.

Some cruise lines require you book through a travel agent, but not all. There are several advantages to working with a travel agent though.

1. They'll help you find the perfect cruise line, ship and itinerary for YOU. Of course the Carnival rep would never tell you if there was an RCCL cruise that better met your needs. Wink

2. Travel agents do have access to group space, which sometimes includes lower prices and special amenities.

3. In the unlikely event of any snafus, your travel agent would work as your advocate.

A travel agent can definitely help you with the "extras" (transfers, hotels, airfare, excursions, etc.).

Cruise Freeks offers an opportunity to submit a quote request, and it's forwarded to all of the CF official travel agents that can then turn around and give you a quote.
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PostSubject: Re: 10 Year Anniversary - First Cruise Ever!   Tue Dec 09, 2008 4:40 pm

snafus? Question
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PostSubject: Re: 10 Year Anniversary - First Cruise Ever!   Tue Dec 09, 2008 4:54 pm

SNAFU = Situation Normal, All Fouled Up

It is a word that originated in the U.S. Military. Legend has it that the F used to stand for something else. Twisted Evil

Generally it is used to mean something unexpected that happens that causes problems. As these are unexpected, it is impossible to identify them in advance. However, your Travel Agent is there to help you, if such a need should arise.
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PostSubject: Re: 10 Year Anniversary - First Cruise Ever!   Tue Dec 09, 2008 5:17 pm

UtahCouple wrote:
snafus? Question

Yup, snafus, glitches, hiccups, boo-boos, uh ohs, anything covered by Murphy's Laws. Wink
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PostSubject: Re: 10 Year Anniversary - First Cruise Ever!   Tue Dec 09, 2008 6:57 pm

Hey UtahCouple,

My dh & I were going on our first cruise around the time you guys were getting married! My dh is the son of an alcoholic & has chosen to not drink anything alcoholic. I have a 2 drink limit as I don't like being really drunk and all of our cruises have been on Carnival. (8 and counting). I think that lets you know that the Carnival line isn't all about going crazy. To avoid the crazy college kids, avoid most cruise lines for Spring Break.

I think you should look at the places you want to visit first. Then look for ships that go to those ports of call. After that compare the ships.

I'm sure you will enjoy the trip no matter what. Everyone here loves cruising & will give you all the help we can.

Towanda
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PostSubject: Re: 10 Year Anniversary - First Cruise Ever!   Wed Dec 10, 2008 3:06 pm

Hey all, another quick question here.

What's the average costs we need to consider? I understand most the cruises include so much while on the ship. But if you want to do extra things like snorkeling and such, and while on land what would you suggest to approx for these extra things?
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PostSubject: Re: 10 Year Anniversary - First Cruise Ever!   Wed Dec 10, 2008 3:32 pm

some of the extras you'll have to consider are:

souvenirs
onboard alcohol & soda purchases
excursions
onboard photo purchases (taken by the ship's photographer)

most of the costs will be driven by personal preferences (i.e. how much soda or alcohol you think you'll consume each day). Plan on $3/soda and $8/drink (tip included). Most cruise lines do of a soda card program (unlimited sodas) which vary in price (assume $10/day).

excursions can be as little as $35/person and up to a couple of hundred dollars per person. you can get an idea of what private excursions might cost at www.shoretrips.com or by checking out the excursion section of each cruise line's website.
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PostSubject: Re: 10 Year Anniversary - First Cruise Ever!   Wed Dec 10, 2008 4:11 pm

UtahCouple wrote:

What's the average costs we need to consider? I understand most the cruises include so much while on the ship. But if you want to do extra things like snorkeling and such, and while on land what would you suggest to approx for these extra things?

Your base cruise cost covers your cabin, all meals (see my "12 Pounds of Cruising" in the song contest thread), entertainment and some soft drinks (iced tea, lemonade, coffee).

Sodas, alcohol, and spa services are extra. You can get an unlimited soda card on most cruises for about $5 per person per day. Alcohol prices are similar to a big city bar.

Shore excursions will vary by destination, duration, and activity. Figure on a minimum of $35 to $40 per person for a basic sightseeing or minimal snorkeling tour, on up to tours of over $200 per person for deep-sea fishing and helicopter sightseeing. Most will be under $100 per person. You can also look into tours offered by companies other than the cruise line. Most travel agents have favorites they recommend. They are generally cheaper and more personal than the one's offered by the cruise. You can also fend for yourself and not book any tour. I've sometimes just gotten a taxi driver to give me a tour.

The place I generally spend the most extra money is in the casino or when my wife goes jewelry shopping! Laughing

Also expect gratuities for the cabin steward, waiter and assistant waiter added to your onboard bill. They will be about $11 - $13 per person per day.
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PostSubject: Re: 10 Year Anniversary - First Cruise Ever!   Wed Dec 10, 2008 4:19 pm

Steve brings up a good point about the spa - which is rather expensive onboard versus "back home" Wink So I tend to avoid it.

thevacationstop wrote:
The place I generally spend the most extra money is in the casino or when my wife goes jewelry shopping! Laughing.

Ah yes, the casino. My favorite (when I can find Let it Ride tables!!!!) Wink Hence why I avoid the spa - so I can afford to lose money in the casino.
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PostSubject: Re: 10 Year Anniversary - First Cruise Ever!   Thu Dec 11, 2008 2:47 pm

I think your anniversary cruise dilema is solve. Congratulations on your win! I'm sure your wife is excited
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PostSubject: Re: 10 Year Anniversary - First Cruise Ever!   Thu Dec 11, 2008 2:56 pm

mnmomof4 wrote:
I think your anniversary cruise dilema is solve. Congratulations on your win! I'm sure your wife is excited

Oh so true - who could beat being on the Celebrity Solstice!!!
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PostSubject: Re: 10 Year Anniversary - First Cruise Ever!   Thu Dec 11, 2008 3:02 pm

Hey Susan, we're still waiting for your review/photos of Solstice on the TA preview Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: 10 Year Anniversary - First Cruise Ever!   Thu Dec 11, 2008 3:08 pm

yeah, yeah, I know. Sorry about the delay - the holidays have been more time consuming than I expected. Promise I'll get to it soon. Wink
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PostSubject: Re: 10 Year Anniversary - First Cruise Ever!   Thu Dec 11, 2008 3:10 pm

Fair enough. Now, how do I talk you into joining the 2010 EOS Christmas sailing?
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PostSubject: Re: 10 Year Anniversary - First Cruise Ever!   Thu Dec 11, 2008 3:13 pm

Yea Susan...get crackin'! :-)

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PostSubject: Re: 10 Year Anniversary - First Cruise Ever!   Thu Dec 11, 2008 3:15 pm

Nick Needs To Know wrote:
Now, how do I talk you into joining the 2010 EOS Christmas sailing?

The single biggest hang up is my brother in law. He works in retail, which means NO vacation time is approved between Nov 1 and Jan 1. So, we either have to blackmail his boss into approving vacation, or get the bro in law out of retail.
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