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MandaR

First family cruise. Except I am scared to commit.

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After 3 years of life getting in the way of vacations my family is finally ready to go again for summer 2019. I keep being drawn into a cruise, but am scared its not going to be a good fit. Hoping regular cruisers can fine tune my plans so I can finally book.

 

Family- 5 of us. 2 adults, 3 kids aged 7, 10, and 16 on trip. Past vacations have all been in Disney.

 

Budget is tight, what I'm planning is at my max, any saving tips will be great.

 

Looking at booking a 5 day Bahamas cruise through Carnival.

 

My biggest concern is at current price we can afford an Oceanview storeroom. I've heard the rooms are small. As my younger two currently wrestle around the house. Lack of space is my biggest worry.

 

One stop is Nassau and the reason I like this cruise (along with price) Atlantis has always been on my bucket list. If we do a day excursion there will there be enough time? I want to see the habitats, kids will want slides.

 

I know ships are built to keep everyone entertained, but if my kids won't go to the clubs. Is there enough without spending more onboard?

 

Any other notes about that specific boat or stops?

 

How can I determine this will be worth it. Lol my family just give me a shrug.

 

I'm sure I will think of more, but can search a bit first.

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What port are you looking to sail from?

 

I believe the one I'm looking at leaves Jacksonville. It's on the Carnival Ecstasy.

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Just a suggestion but why don’t you also check out the Mariner of the Seas out of Cape Canaveral.

 

In my opinion a much nicer ship that had been recently refurbished and that also does the shorter cruises.

 

Not trying to sway you from Carnival but in my opinion Royal will give you a better experience.

 

Whatever you choose I do hope you have a wonderful cruise!!

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Just a suggestion but why don’t you also check out the Mariner of the Seas out of Cape Canaveral.

 

In my opinion a much nicer ship that had been recently refurbished and that also does the shorter cruises.

 

Not trying to sway you from Carnival but in my opinion Royal will give you a better experience.

 

Whatever you choose I do hope you have a wonderful cruise!!

 

I'm not picky on line or ship. I have nothing to compare. Searching Royal, it won't let me book more than 4 people in my room. Carnival is the only one that offered 5 days and can squish our family of 5 in a room. Atleast when doing my own searches.

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I'm not picky on line or ship. I have nothing to compare. Searching Royal, it won't let me book more than 4 people in my room. Carnival is the only one that offered 5 days and can squish our family of 5 in a room. Atleast when doing my own searches.

 

To book more than four people you do have to call, but they have cabins that will accommodate five on the Mariner of the Seas.

 

Just take a look at some You Tube videos for each ship and see what you think.

 

I hope you have a wonderful cruise!!

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Royal has a pretty decent sale going on right now so it might turn out to be less than Carnival. For us cruising was the perfect family vacation. A couple of things to keep in mind- the vibe on a shorter cruise is going to be different than a 7 day and most cruise lines use their older ships for the sorter itineraries. If you cruise during spring break you will likely see a lot more partying going on than normal (but if you cruise during primary school vacation there will be more kids onboard increasing the likelihood of your kids making friends). You should have ample time to explore Atlantis when you are in port but it's pricey. Check out the Bahamas forum on this site and look for hotels that include a day pass to Atlantis when booking a room with them. A lot of people save a ton by doing this (and the hotel makes a ton without having to clean any rooms, a great symbiotic relationship). There may not be much for them to do if they don't do the kids club but there's always the pool and may be a slide depending on the ship. Ping pong and sports court are likely activities.

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Both Carnival and Royal Caribbean are a great fit for kids, even if they don't want to do the clubs. Please encourage them to go along and sign up on the first day so that they have the option, there is nothing lost if they decide not to join in.

 

The cabin will be small, there is no getting away from that fact. Getting everyone out of the cabin enjoying the ship is the best way to deal with that. There are always showers in the gym area and people often use these to make things easier when everyone is trying to get ready at the same time.

 

Cruising isn't for everyone but you can give yourself the best chance of an enjoyable trip by doing as you are and researching before you book.

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Royal has a pretty decent sale going on right now so it might turn out to be less than Carnival. For us cruising was the perfect family vacation. A couple of things to keep in mind- the vibe on a shorter cruise is going to be different than a 7 day and most cruise lines use their older ships for the sorter itineraries. If you cruise during spring break you will likely see a lot more partying going on than normal (but if you cruise during primary school vacation there will be more kids onboard increasing the likelihood of your kids making friends). You should have ample time to explore Atlantis when you are in port but it's pricey. Check out the Bahamas forum on this site and look for hotels that include a day pass to Atlantis when booking a room with them. A lot of people save a ton by doing this (and the hotel makes a ton without having to clean any rooms, a great symbiotic relationship). There may not be much for them to do if they don't do the kids club but there's always the pool and may be a slide depending on the ship. Ping pong and sports court are likely activities.

Booking at comfort suites usually saves some money, not tons after taxes and fees. Since 4 is the max in a room, they’d have to book a pass elsewhere, I’d suggest directly from Atlantis. It’s still going to cost $100+ pp, and I think only worth it if the ship is in port for a full day, during the summer lines will be long.

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Lack of space in your cabin isn't a big deal, even with 5 of you. Folk spend very little time in their cabin other than for sleeping or mebbe for you and/or your other half to escape for a quiet nap.

 

More important is the one & only :eek: bathroom/WC.

With 5 of you it needs everyone to keep to a bathroom regime - try using just the one facility at home for a bit, to see the first-thing-in-the-morning difficulties and to figure the answers.

And heed Slugsta's words about the public showers / toilets in the gym or elsewhere - mebbe try to book a cabin convenient to a public facility.

 

Budget-wise, try to avoid ship's excursions. They tend to be over-priced (all cruise lines) and can be a bit like herding cats. I don't know your ports, but I doubt you'll need any ship-sponsored excursions unless mebbe for a specialised group activity.

Regular meals (main dining rooms and buffet) and snacks (various outlets) are free - there are premium-pay outlets but no need to use them, we've only ever treated ourselves for the odd special occasion. You will certainly not go hungry - in fact you'll need a degree of self-control to avoid piling on the pounds.

Tea & coffee (but not premium blends) are free 24/7 on both RCI and Carnival, ditto iced tap water (fine for drinking), and fruit juices are free around breakfast-time. RCI also offer free fountain lemonade (rather sickly) and ice-cream, I don't recall if it's the same with Carnival.

Soda cards for the kids are probably a wise investment, but all-you-can-drink alcohol packages only if you plan to drink your money's-worth.

 

All first cruises are great, no need to panic :)

 

JB :)

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Carnival has some of the LARGER standard cabins. You'll have sufficient space.

 

You can save a bundle by NOT doing excursions....but it requires some research as to what to do in port. It's very easy to have a DIY day! Get a guidebook from your library...tons of good info on beaches, food/drink, transportation, shopping, etc.... The more you can do on your own, the more you will save.

 

The kids will have a BLAST...not worries about that!

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Only stops I see are Princess Cays and Nassau. Princess Cays is just going to be a beach day, pretty much herd everyone off the ship and find a place on the beach to set up for the day.

Kids will find other kids and will keep themselves entertained on the ship. Ping pong, soccer or basketball on the basketball court, wondering, exploring, swimming, game room. The kids will be just fine, it is the parents that need to make sure they relax and enjoy themselves and not worry too much if the kids are having fun.

There are lots of websites and sales that go on, I wouldnt just book whatever the cruise line has on its site but wouldnt avoid booking direct either after I have done enough research and figured out what I consider a good deal.

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My kids at those ages loved to cruise. You will get a lot of answers on what lines to look at because it is all subjective. My kids loved Carnival at that age, but none of us are Royal fans so... it all depends!

 

Two things to think about when deciding if it is "worth it" for you. Since this isn't land based, you don't have to buy food. I don't know if this was put in your budget since you said you were at your max. Feeding 5 people out for 2-3 meals a day isn't cheap, so that might factor into your worth it if you haven't already.

 

Another note with 5 people and this would all depend on where you are at since you don't have a location mentioned. If you were planning on flying, if you are with-in a 1-2 days drive to the port and have the time and patience I would suggest looking into that option. Always with my crunching of numbers, and only having 4 of us not 5, every time we sailed from Florida, it would actually save me about $1200 by spending 2 1/2 days driving instead of flying. After factoring in gas, 2 nights hotels, food and parking it was a killer savings IMO. Also consider if flying it is highly suggested you fly a day before and get a hotel room for the night anyways because you never know what might happen anyways and with 5 people, I would throw that into your budget also if you are not with-in 5 hours of your port.

 

Also as another tip before deciding to book something, if you have the vacation time, don't just look at 4-5 day cruises that go the Nassau, look at 7 days also! I have found that the prices are very comparable in general between the two, and have seen some 7 days cheaper than 5 days at least for 4 people.

 

Norwegian also has 5 person rooms, so you might wanna check them out also..

 

Good luck!

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We are a family of 5, which is a huge challenge when booking vacations.  When we have cruised, it has always been two cabins.  The additional cost is worth it for a second bathroom.  

 

To save on money, we have driven to the port.  Airfare for five is just too much!

 

Atlantis is AMAZING, but really expensive.  (My hubby qualified for a couples trip their with his employer many years ago.)  Make sure you compare your in-port hours to the waterslide hours.

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Original post was back in September, just wondering if OP has made a decision and if so what did they decide to book?

Just being curious (or nosey, whichever)

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On ‎9‎/‎30‎/‎2018 at 4:07 PM, MandaR said:

My biggest concern is at current price we can afford an Oceanview storeroom. I've heard the rooms are small. As my younger two currently wrestle around the house. Lack of space is my biggest worry.

 

As vacations go cruises are some the most stress-free so I think it sounds like the perfect option.

 

Here's a look at what an Ocean View Stateroom is like and some general tips...

 

 

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On 12/20/2018 at 10:18 AM, jwcruise1 said:

Original post was back in September, just wondering if OP has made a decision and if so what did they decide to book?

Just being curious (or nosey, whichever)

We are booked for August 2019. Five of us on the Carnival Ecstasy (one room) going to the Bahamas for a five day cruise.

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On 9/30/2018 at 5:07 PM, MandaR said:

After 3 years of life getting in the way of vacations my family is finally ready to go again for summer 2019. I keep being drawn into a cruise, but am scared its not going to be a good fit. Hoping regular cruisers can fine tune my plans so I can finally book.

 

Family- 5 of us. 2 adults, 3 kids aged 7, 10, and 16 on trip. Past vacations have all been in Disney.

 

Budget is tight, what I'm planning is at my max, any saving tips will be great.

 

Looking at booking a 5 day Bahamas cruise through Carnival.

 

My biggest concern is at current price we can afford an Oceanview storeroom. I've heard the rooms are small. As my younger two currently wrestle around the house. Lack of space is my biggest worry.

 

One stop is Nassau and the reason I like this cruise (along with price) Atlantis has always been on my bucket list. If we do a day excursion there will there be enough time? I want to see the habitats, kids will want slides.

 

I know ships are built to keep everyone entertained, but if my kids won't go to the clubs. Is there enough without spending more onboard?

 

Any other notes about that specific boat or stops?

 

How can I determine this will be worth it. Lol my family just give me a shrug.

 

I'm sure I will think of more, but can search a bit first.

My first cruise was on the Ecstasy.  It was a great ship to have as the first cruise.  It's not too big that I felt overwhelmed and the cheap price was a great inducement.  One suggestion is to check out the excursions offered by Carnival.  They will get you back to the ship on time, which is often a real concern for newbies.  But without knowing how much port time you have, it's hard to know how much time is enough.  

 

Five in a room will be tight.  We had three women in one room but we made it work. You can too.  Cheap is cheap.  You might not spend as much time in the room as you think you might.  One thing is that the pulldown beds were very comfy.  We had two bunks and allowed my mom to sleep on the twin bed.  They are very wide so they don't feel confining.  I found them very cozy.  

 

There should be plenty of activities.  Pool time, dance lessons, karaoke, trivia, etc.  HTH.

 

 

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One other thing, you need to book soon, since those larger rooms might be gone later.  I love the deposit system for the cruise lines.  You can always cancel at a specific time before final payment and get all your money back.  Pay attention to Early Saver fares, you forfeit a part of your deposit upon cancellation.  If you have doubts about going, always book the full refund deposit.  As always, read the details.  

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21 minutes ago, LuckyStar said:

One other thing, you need to book soon, since those larger rooms might be gone later.  I love the deposit system for the cruise lines.  You can always cancel at a specific time before final payment and get all your money back.  Pay attention to Early Saver fares, you forfeit a part of your deposit upon cancellation.  If you have doubts about going, always book the full refund deposit.  As always, read the details.  

 

 

Did you read the posts above you?  In post #17, she says they are booked.  EM

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We used to take a lot of weekend cruises on the little ships (Carnival).  There was nothing better to me than seeing families with children on board.  Kids are excited, parents relax because the kids are in kids clubs, the whole family gets dressed up for photos on elegant night.  It's a kick in the pants and I'm really excited for you.  Have a great time!

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