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KB Cruisin

Any advice? 50 year old couple, first time cruise....details below

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Hello!  Brief introduction, my husband and I have been married 27 years and have never had a vacation on our own.   I have wanted to go on a cruise all my life.  We finally have a chance to go and I am sooooo excited!!!

 

I have researched and researched but just get more confused and would appreciate recommendations.  Here is the budget and what we are looking at:

 

1) Budget $7500 including everything

2) 7 day cruise  or around there.

3) We are family oriented but do not want to be with tons of children but we are not seniors yet either.

4) We are active and love fun activities, but we don't drink and do not gamble. (We used to live near Branson, Missouri and LOVE the condo type activities and Branson shows, if that helps).  

5) We love to explore but also would love a beautiful beach to relax on.

6) I love to find local shopping spots that are fun and I also love a bargain (just throwing that out there in case someone knows a fun hot spot!).

7) I love a great show - especially love things like Grease, ice skating shows, illusionists, water shows, not big on "adult" entertainment. (See the part about Branson.  If you have been to Branson, we LOVE it there!)

😎 Celiac/Gluten free for me so food is not my sole reason for cruising as I am rather limited but hubby loves a good steak. 

9) We do like a good to sleep at night to prepare for active days. 

10) Hubby cannot ride long hours on a plane (over 10) due to back issues so probably leaving out of a US Port is best.

11) We need to travel before school is out so May or June (last minute cruise) is best.   

 

Based on the above, I was considering RCL or NCL as fitting our profile the best.  Thoughts?  In searching lots, it seems like the carribbean and hawaii are our best bets for the above.  I have looked at lots of itineraries but do not know which is better.  I am overwhelmed by the sheer number of ships, too, and would love recommendations, particularly on these lines.  

 

I am not keen on the idea of a travel agent mostly because locally, there are no cruise agents and, if I pick on the internet, I am just picking blind.  I have no clue who to trust so I figure I would reach out here for thoughts or suggestions.  

 

Can you give a newbie some advice/ help?  I am grateful to be here.  I have read tons of threads and appreciate all the information!!!  Think Branson and help me out, if you can!!

 

Thank you!!!

 

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Welcome to Cruise Critic.

 

If you are reasonable driving distance to Galveston, then consider Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas there.  Liberty does a couple of different 7-night Western Caribbean itineraries from Galveston.

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10 minutes ago, Host Clarea said:

Welcome to Cruise Critic.

 

If you are reasonable driving distance to Galveston, then consider Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas there.  Liberty does a couple of different 7-night Western Caribbean itineraries from Galveston.

We can get to Galveston fairly easily.   Thank you for the recommendation!

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You might also check out New Orleans as a port. Both NO and Galveston are committed to the Western Caribbean itinerary.

The Florida ports offer Eastern or Western, LA offers the west coast of Mexico, and Seattle offers Alaska. All should have 7 day itineraries that meet your budget.

RCL and NCL are good choices - you may also want to consider Celebrity and/or Princess (if you haven't already).

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Posted (edited)
15 minutes ago, BDRebel said:

You might also check out New Orleans as a port. Both NO and Galveston are committed to the Western Caribbean itinerary.

The Florida ports offer Eastern or Western, LA offers the west coast of Mexico, and Seattle offers Alaska. All should have 7 day itineraries that meet your budget.

RCL and NCL are good choices - you may also want to consider Celebrity and/or Princess (if you haven't already).

Great suggestions!  I really appreciate the options you are giving me because it narrows my search and gives me some options.  Thank you!!!'

 

I just saw you are from Laredo too.  Do you have a caribbean preference as to Eastern or Western?

 

Edited by KB Cruisin

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I'd say Galveston and Royal. Some people refer to Carnival as the Walmart of cruise lines. That affordability means kids and a generally rowdier crowd in my opinion. We had several nights of not so good rest due to the younger crowd running up and down the halls on that cruise line. Royal will have kids aboard and you never know how well behaved they will be. The kids on Royal's Harmony of the Seas seemed slightly better behaved. 

 

Several years ago we did Carnival out of Long Beach CA and not a ton of kids. I'm thinking cause it was an 8 day and Cabo and Puerto Vallarta just don't draw like the Caribbean so that might be a good option. One nice thing about travel from San Antonio by jet is that Florida and southern California are just a 3 hour flight. Seattle would probably be a couple hours more. An Alaskan trip would also cost more due to limited travel dates available. 

 

Every ship I've been on has had excellent shows. IMO, shopping and beaches are pretty much the same. I'm sure many will disagree but that's just me.

 

One last thing, get a balcony. IMO they are best because if the crowds become overwhelming you can escape them by sitting out there and simply watch the world go by.

 

Please ask questions, read reviews and let us know what you choose. Welcome to cruising!

 

 

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20 minutes ago, rmf11699 said:

I'd say Galveston and Royal. Some people refer to Carnival as the Walmart of cruise lines. That affordability means kids and a generally rowdier crowd in my opinion. We had several nights of not so good rest due to the younger crowd running up and down the halls on that cruise line. Royal will have kids aboard and you never know how well behaved they will be. The kids on Royal's Harmony of the Seas seemed slightly better behaved. 

 

Several years ago we did Carnival out of Long Beach CA and not a ton of kids. I'm thinking cause it was an 8 day and Cabo and Puerto Vallarta just don't draw like the Caribbean so that might be a good option. One nice thing about travel from San Antonio by jet is that Florida and southern California are just a 3 hour flight. Seattle would probably be a couple hours more. An Alaskan trip would also cost more due to limited travel dates available. 

 

Every ship I've been on has had excellent shows. IMO, shopping and beaches are pretty much the same. I'm sure many will disagree but that's just me.

 

One last thing, get a balcony. IMO they are best because if the crowds become overwhelming you can escape them by sitting out there and simply watch the world go by.

 

Please ask questions, read reviews and let us know what you choose. Welcome to cruising!

 

 

Thank you for so much helpful information!  I really appreciate it!  Especially the part about the balcony.  I do not know which upgrades are worth it and which are not.  

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31 minutes ago, KB Cruisin said:

Thank you for so much helpful information!  I really appreciate it!  Especially the part about the balcony.  I do not know which upgrades are worth it and which are not.  

Best thing is buy at a price you can afford. If you get offered an upgrade do some comparison shopping to determine if worth the extra cost. One last thing, get trip insurance. Saved my butt once!

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1 hour ago, KB Cruisin said:

Great suggestions!  I really appreciate the options you are giving me because it narrows my search and gives me some options.  Thank you!!!'

 

I just saw you are from Laredo too.  Do you have a caribbean preference as to Eastern or Western?

 

I am getting a bit tired of the Western route - have done it 4 times. It is a good itinerary, but I guess it is just too many times for now.

I like the Eastern better due to more variety, as well as longer than 7 day cruises.

My next one, though, is a transatlantic (FLL to Copenhagen) next month.

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43 minutes ago, rmf11699 said:

Best thing is buy at a price you can afford. If you get offered an upgrade do some comparison shopping to determine if worth the extra cost. One last thing, get trip insurance. Saved my butt once!

Very good to know about trip insurance!  Thank you!

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1 minute ago, BDRebel said:

I am getting a bit tired of the Western route - have done it 4 times. It is a good itinerary, but I guess it is just too many times for now.

I like the Eastern better due to more variety, as well as longer than 7 day cruises.

My next one, though, is a transatlantic (FLL to Copenhagen) next month.

I was leaning toward the Eastern route too.  You next trip to Copenhagen sounds wonderful!

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Posted (edited)

OP should be able to do a 7 night Caribbean Cruise in May or June on any of the mass market cruise lines for “ half” of that $7000 budget including airfare .

 

There must be people that you know who cruise often?

Ask them to recommend a TA . Don’t go at it alone for your first ever cruise . 

Edited by MCC retired

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33 minutes ago, MCC retired said:

OP should be able to do a 7 night Caribbean Cruise in May or June on any of the mass market cruise lines for “ half” of that $7000 budget including airfare .

 

There must be people that you know who cruise often?

Ask them to recommend a TA . Don’t go at it alone for your first ever cruise . 

Thank you! I appreciate your help. I will have to check around. 

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I guess if I had to recommend a cruise ship to a couple who want some peace and quiet from kids, I would go with Celebrity.  They cater mainly to an adult crowd.  HAL is good too - but they do seem to attract an older adult crowd.  I'd definitely go for a balcony room if it is in the budget.  It's great to escape to your balcony to read or just watch the ocean.  The big production shows usually mean a much larger ship and more people.  That being said our cruise on the Oasis of the Seas (a huge ship) was one of my favourites.  The choices of entertainment and restaurants was amazing and although it carried over 3000 people, it's so big that it never felt crowded. 

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I highly recommend a balcony and, since you want a quiet cabin, be sure to check the decks above and below you to make sure there are cabins above and below. You don't want to end up with the galley or night club keeping you up all night.

 

I would also consider an itinerary with a private island (Half Moon Cay, CoCo Cay, etc.), since they will have lots of activities in a walkable environment and usually an awesome beach.

 

If you go with Royal or NCL out of one of the Gulf Coast or Florida ports, you should be able to get everything for well under your budget, including any shore excursions you decide to do. Royal is a good first-cruise experience--not too much crazy partying, but not the senior home either. 

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4 hours ago, Winnigirl said:

I guess if I had to recommend a cruise ship to a couple who want some peace and quiet from kids, I would go with Celebrity.  They cater mainly to an adult crowd.  HAL is good too - but they do seem to attract an older adult crowd.  I'd definitely go for a balcony room if it is in the budget.  It's great to escape to your balcony to read or just watch the ocean.  The big production shows usually mean a much larger ship and more people.  That being said our cruise on the Oasis of the Seas (a huge ship) was one of my favourites.  The choices of entertainment and restaurants was amazing and although it carried over 3000 people, it's so big that it never felt crowded. 

Thank you for this information!  It helps me alot!

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1 hour ago, SRQbeachgirl said:

I highly recommend a balcony and, since you want a quiet cabin, be sure to check the decks above and below you to make sure there are cabins above and below. You don't want to end up with the galley or night club keeping you up all night.

 

I would also consider an itinerary with a private island (Half Moon Cay, CoCo Cay, etc.), since they will have lots of activities in a walkable environment and usually an awesome beach.

 

If you go with Royal or NCL out of one of the Gulf Coast or Florida ports, you should be able to get everything for well under your budget, including any shore excursions you decide to do. Royal is a good first-cruise experience--not too much crazy partying, but not the senior home either. 

Thank you very much. I am grateful for all the tips you offered!

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Great advice so far.  I heartily agree with choosing a port you can drive to in a half day or less; why add in the additional costs and complication of a flight if you don't need it.  Since it's your first cruise, I personally don't think the ports matter terribly.  They are all new to you and in my opinion there are not drastic differences between ports in the Caribbean.  They generally all have shore excursions ranging from a beach resort to a cultural immersion. 

 

It's true that Carnival is known as catering more to a low-end family crowd, but there are ways to upgrade this.  For instance, Carnival Vista has the Havana area which is a higher class experience than we peasants endure down in steerage (LOL).  

 

I would use an online travel agent site to compare costs out of Galveston or New Orleans and find the cheapest dates possible.  Typically after spring break dwindles down sometime in April, there is a shoulder season until late May that is well-priced.  This means the ships may be less full, even if all cabins are occupied, because fewer extra berths are booked in the cabins, which also means likely fewer kids on board any cruise ship during those sailings.  Also rock-bottom pricing means you can upgrade to a better room, possibly even a suite, and stay within your budget.

 

I would not necessarily rule out any cruise line.   Liberty of the Seas would be a good option as noted above, but I am a fiend for value and would need to comparison shop to make that decision, so I did so based on your info.  I assume you want to go this year.

 

A quick peek on my favorite online TA site and I found Carnival Freedom out of Galveston on May 12 in an Ocean Suite for $3,000 with free prepaid gratuities.   Of course there are other expenses like paid parking at the port, and many ways to buy more stuff onboard, but it would take some effort to top out your budget with this as your base.

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If you happen to be in Dallas the weekend of the 30th there is a Travel expedition being held at Market Hall. We went last year and met several cruise only travel agents.

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7 hours ago, KmomChicago said:

   Of course there are other expenses like paid parking at the port, and many ways to buy more stuff onboard, but it would take some effort to top out your budget with this as your base.

One of the good things about Galveston is that parking is only about $10 per day.

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Thank you everyone for all of your help!  We appreciate it so much!  We read all your wonderful suggestions and took them to heart.  Thank you!

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FOR YOU? I'd recommend Galveston and Royal as many other have.

 

Also for you, on this trip only,,,, let's educate you a little bit on the Travel Insurance

1. Travel Insurance is not end all be all. 

2. Insurance covers cancellation (for covered reasons only) and covers medical and evacuation if necessary. Your medical insurance from work may or may not cover you outside the US. Medicare will not in most cases.

3. Travel insurance is "reimbursement" only. You pay up front, then file for reimbursement when you return. (except evac and maybe major medical)

4. If you cruise with RCCL, their insurance includes what is called "Cancel For Any Reason". If you cancel for a "Covered" reason, you get all your non refundable money back. If you cancel for a non covered reason (car breaks down on way to Galveston), you would be issued a credit of 75% to be used for a future RCCL cruise.

5. You can also not purchase Travel Insurance from RCCL and go a 3rd party route. A couple of places would be www.tripinsurancestore.com  or www.insuremytrip.com      These places have better medical coverages at a cheaper price but the Cancel For Any Reason clause is a separate add-on.

 

Travel Insurance is tricky, has lots of layers, has lots of definitions and clauses and not every policy is the same. Read, Read, Read,, then buy what fits your needs. I think what I've written so far can confuse anyone.

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I think your idea about RCI or NCL is great...RCI has slightly better entertainment on their BIGGER, NEWER ships....on the older ships, you get "production" shows....which are entertaining, too...just not "plotted" shows!

 

Just bite the bullet, and book something.  Then, research your ports...libraries have guidebooks and are quite informative...or google can be helpful, too.  The more you know, the more fun you will have in ports!  In most Caribbean ports, DIY is easy and cheap if you do your research!

 

There is no need to drink or gamble on ANY ship, if that's not your thing!  Keeps your bill low, too!

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We went on our first cruise 5 years ago when we were 50 also 🙂 Our well-cruised friends gave us great advice: your first cruise will be so amazing, it won't matter which ship you're on or what ports you go to. They were so right! We've only ever cruised NCL, which our travel agent (TA) recommended after chatting with us about our lifestyle and preferences. We've done 3 more cruises with them since then. From what I've read, RCL is very similar. 

 

We did a 10-day Eastern Caribbean as our first cruise, and it's still one of my favorites. I prefer the Eastern over the Western Caribbean because I find there are several less "touristy" ports on the eastern side. Not to say that I don't love the western side too! 

 

NCL sails to the Caribbean out of several ports in Florida, so not sure if that works with your travel limitations. We sailed from Tampa on the Dawn and from Miami on the Sun, both smaller ships, which meant very few children on board. We went on the Getaway out of Miami in May 2015, and it was wonderful - very few children as school was not out yet. The entertainment on the larger ships (we've done the Getaway and the Bliss) is definitely better than on the smaller ships if you like Broadway-type shows. We found that the Dawn and the Sun had a quieter feel to them, geared a bit more toward a more mature crowd. We enjoyed listening to live music in various places around the ship in the evening on the smaller ships. 

 

I'm excited for you that you get to experience your first cruise! No matter where you go or which ship you sail on, you will love it!

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