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PinkSand26

Family Cruise! RCL vs Carnival Question

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Hi All!

I have went on many Carnival cruises with my husband before we had kids and am familiar with those but now we have a 3 and 6 year old and finally brave enough to take our first family cruise... 

The ones that are showing up that meet our budget/time/departure port are doing either a 7 day cruise on Rhapsody of the Seas or a 5 day cruise on the Carnival Paradise. The Carnival Paradise LOOKS more family friendly with the water slide, etc but the price on the Rhapsody is "intriguing"! lol 

 

Any thoughts on what would be better for our first cruise with kids at these ages? Or any other suggestions? Thank you!!

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11 minutes ago, PinkSand26 said:

Or any other suggestions?

Try a Voyager/Freedom class ship.

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5 minutes ago, Biker19 said:

Try a Voyager/Freedom class ship.

Which cruise line does this pertain to? (Sorry haven't cruised in a while and out of it! lol)

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Posted (edited)

Our kids were 8 and 5 when we took our first family cruise (On the Rhapsody, BTW!) and we had a great time. That being said, as Biker19 above suggested, Voyager and even more so, Freedom Class ships  (Both Royal) have a lot more to offer. The ship choice will have little effect on your 3 year old, but the 6 year old will have more to experience on Royals larger ships. 

THat said, If your older child would be happy enjoying the sunshine and splashing around in the shallow water of a pool, they will be fine on Rhapsody. Our kids both loved watching the shows in the main theater each night.

Edited by GSRDPM

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Just now, GSRDPM said:

Our kids were 8 and 5 when we took our first family cruise (On the Rhapsody, BTW!) and we had a great time. That being said, as Biker19 above suggested, Voyager and even more so, Freedom Class ships  (Both Royal) have a lot more to offer. The ship choice will have little effect on your 3 year old, but the 6 year old will have more to experience on Royals larger ships. 

Thank you so much! This is really helpful! Do you think the 6 year old would be bored on the Rhapsody? It's really a great price right now, which I'm sure has to do with it being a smaller ship! ha

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Sorry, we overlapped.  We were on Rhapsody in 2004 so I don't know how she has been updated over the years.

We enjoyed family Karaoke.  Both kids went to adventure ocean and enjoyed it. Both enjoyed eating in the Main DR where we shared a table with a senior couple who practically adopted our children. Both our kids have always been good travelers and enjoy new experiences including new foods. Cruises have been a great way to help them to build confidence around new people. What's funny is that when they were younger, we preferred larger shared tables where we could interact with others during our meals, but as the kids got older (Now 24 and 21!) we started to request smaller tables so that we would be able to interact with OUR OWN KIDS more effectively while they were still under our roof!

I remember on Rhapsody, we went rock climbing, slashed around in the pool, went to the shows, played games in the Viking Crown Lounge and played shuffleboard and ping pong.

 

What is nice on Royal's larger ships, there is the promenade which gives you a lot of  indoor space to explore should the weather topside be bad or too cool. 

 

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15 minutes ago, PinkSand26 said:

Which cruise line does this pertain to? (Sorry haven't cruised in a while and out of it! lol)

 

RC

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10 minutes ago, GSRDPM said:

Sorry, we overlapped.  We were on Rhapsody in 2004 so I don't know how she has been updated over the years.

We enjoyed family Karaoke.  Both kids went to adventure ocean and enjoyed it. Both enjoyed eating in the Main DR where we shared a table with a senior couple who practically adopted our children. Both our kids have always been good travelers and enjoy new experiences including new foods. Cruises have been a great way to help them to build confidence around new people. What's funny is that when they were younger, we preferred larger shared tables where we could interact with others during our meals, but as the kids got older (Now 24 and 21!) we started to request smaller tables so that we would be able to interact with OUR OWN KIDS more effectively while they were still under our roof!

I remember on Rhapsody, we went rock climbing, slashed around in the pool, went to the shows, played games in the Viking Crown Lounge and played shuffleboard and ping pong.

 

What is nice on Royal's larger ships, there is the promenade which gives you a lot of  indoor space to explore should the weather topside be bad or too cool. 

 

 

Thank you for this info! Very helpful. :) I love the building confidence comment as well - this is a great and my son will benefit!

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Such a fun decision!

 

first - realize that whatever you pick - your vacation is what your family makes of it!  You will have a great time as long as you know what to expect and sometimes make your own fun! 

 

As a kid - we had traveled on several vacations and cruises - including in some really small rooms on really small ships (Carnival Festival And Holiday to name a few!!)

 

my advice would be to take the longer cruise - I think 5 nights is a little short.   We are doing a 4 night on Navigator in april but it’s part of a 10 day vacation and it’s not our first cruise so everyone already knows how to get settled in and maximize the fun!  

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Here's a link to my family's review of Vision (same class ship as Rhapsody)   We absolutely loved it, even though we expected not to. 

 

 

That being said, coming from several carnival ships and "trying royal caribbean"  rhapsody isn't the ship to give you a sense of what Royal Caribbean is.  It's older and just caters to the non family crowd. 

 

  I'm assuming you're close to Tampa....   make the quick drive to Orlando or FLL and try one of the newer ships.    You'll love it.

 

But check out my review it's heavy photos and gives you a parent with kids perspective.

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For me price wins out and Embarkation port, because flight prices can make a huge difference when you are paying for 4 people.  Unless you are on a newer ship with all the bells and whistles it doesn't matter much which ship you are on.  I did the Vision like the other poster and my kids were fine.  We did an NCL one recently with all the bells and whistles and my complaint was you needed reservations for everything which is not conducive to kids.  I say go for the seven day though I wouldn't discount Carnival as my kids, at nine months, did their first ever cruise on Carnival.  

 

FYI- the three year old needs to be potty trained to enjoy any of the kids club and pools, so make sure he/she is before the trip.  Also, just look through the family boards on cruise critic to get ideas and tips for cruising with kids.  The biggest tip I'll give you is it is different than cruising as a couple since you need to cater to the kids more, if they are tired or hungry and you don't take care of that, you will have a tantrum story to tell later... But watching them enjoy themselves will be the best memories you ever have.

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Our grandchildren definitely prefer Oasis class ships.

We've only taken them on seven night Vision class once and they were sometimes bored and asking where the carousel is.

Each to there own but I’d only consider a Freedom Voyager or Oasis class when sailing with them.

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With a 6 and 3 yr old I think your choice of the Rhapsody would be great. Longer, better ports, and crew know for service (at least in the past). Please come back and tell us what you have planed!

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So we decided on the Brilliance for 5 nights actually! However I’m debating doing another 4 day b2b on it! Am I crazy with 2 kids to do this? Lol

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30 minutes ago, PinkSand26 said:

So we decided on the Brilliance for 5 nights actually! However I’m debating doing another 4 day b2b on it! Am I crazy with 2 kids to do this? Lol

 

I don't think you are crazy, but I think I would stick with the 5 night cruise and see how it goes before doing a longer cruise or a b2b. Where is your cruise leaving from? If I was looking to extend the vacation a little I would add time pre or post cruise (or both).

 

I agree with the posters that said your cruise will be what you make of it. Your kids don't know about the big ships with all the bells and whistles so they don't know that they are missing anything. Ocean Adventure and the pool may be enough to keep them occupied. When my kids were younger we always traveled with a easily packable game or two,  a couple of easy activities to do and a few movies that I knew would keep their attention on a laptop (or ipad) if they needed a little downtime.

 

I'm sure you'll have a great time. 

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18 minutes ago, 3monkeys4me said:

 

I don't think you are crazy, but I think I would stick with the 5 night cruise and see how it goes before doing a longer cruise or a b2b. Where is your cruise leaving from? If I was looking to extend the vacation a little I would add time pre or post cruise (or both).

 

I agree with the posters that said your cruise will be what you make of it. Your kids don't know about the big ships with all the bells and whistles so they don't know that they are missing anything. Ocean Adventure and the pool may be enough to keep them occupied. When my kids were younger we always traveled with a easily packable game or two,  a couple of easy activities to do and a few movies that I knew would keep their attention on a laptop (or ipad) if they needed a little downtime.

 

I'm sure you'll have a great time. 

Thanks! We leave out of Tampa and are 45 min from home there. I think we will stick with the 5 day and I’m sure we will have plenty to occupy them for this short time. With them being so young i kind of think it’s awesome to start small like this so we don’t wow them with a huge ship and then they are just over it for when they are older lol since we are so close to home we can pack some toys too! My 6 year old is really into games right now so I’ll that’s an easy pack/idea. 🙂 

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36 minutes ago, PinkSand26 said:

Thanks! We leave out of Tampa and are 45 min from home there. I think we will stick with the 5 day and I’m sure we will have plenty to occupy them for this short time. With them being so young i kind of think it’s awesome to start small like this so we don’t wow them with a huge ship and then they are just over it for when they are older lol since we are so close to home we can pack some toys too! My 6 year old is really into games right now so I’ll that’s an easy pack/idea. 🙂 

We just did a Christmas Cruise on Brilliance and we saw lots of families with small children.  I asked several of them what they thought of the ship. Most seemed to like it.  They said they thought 5 nights with a good length cruise and they thought the time to try a smaller ship with a friendlier budget was a good choice while the children were small and didn't know about all of the bells and whistles of the mega ships. So many of the kids on the Brilliance seemed to think they were in heaven on a grand adventure anyhow.  Little ones tend to think being a ship sailing in the ocean is a good enough adventure even if on a smaller ship if they have not already done something big.  
We played trivia with a family traveling with a 13 year old, 10 year old and 7 year old. The 7 year old was tuned out on his iPad or tablet most of the time.  The other two kids were enjoying playing trivia and having that down time to do something with their parents.  We talked about whether they had been on a larger ship. They had- the Allure.  The two kids actually said they didn't think it would have felt like a "Christmas" vacation on a large ship because they would have been running all over the place doing different things and wouldn't have seen mom and dad very much.   Both seemed to very much enjoy the "Team" aspect of their family adventure. They even did the "amazing race" themed excursion in Cozumel. They were so excited to tell me about it when we were sailing on Friday.  
I asked them what they thought about all of it.   They said they liked both things but they really did enjoy having a "family" vacation on the Brilliance.   
Since your kids are not old enough to really get away on their own anyway, and they haven't cruised before.  I feel certain Rhapsody will be a huge adventure even if it's a small ship. 

 

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52 minutes ago, legaljen1969 said:

We just did a Christmas Cruise on Brilliance and we saw lots of families with small children.  I asked several of them what they thought of the ship. Most seemed to like it.  They said they thought 5 nights with a good length cruise and they thought the time to try a smaller ship with a friendlier budget was a good choice while the children were small and didn't know about all of the bells and whistles of the mega ships. So many of the kids on the Brilliance seemed to think they were in heaven on a grand adventure anyhow.  Little ones tend to think being a ship sailing in the ocean is a good enough adventure even if on a smaller ship if they have not already done something big.  
We played trivia with a family traveling with a 13 year old, 10 year old and 7 year old. The 7 year old was tuned out on his iPad or tablet most of the time.  The other two kids were enjoying playing trivia and having that down time to do something with their parents.  We talked about whether they had been on a larger ship. They had- the Allure.  The two kids actually said they didn't think it would have felt like a "Christmas" vacation on a large ship because they would have been running all over the place doing different things and wouldn't have seen mom and dad very much.   Both seemed to very much enjoy the "Team" aspect of their family adventure. They even did the "amazing race" themed excursion in Cozumel. They were so excited to tell me about it when we were sailing on Friday.  
I asked them what they thought about all of it.   They said they liked both things but they really did enjoy having a "family" vacation on the Brilliance.   
Since your kids are not old enough to really get away on their own anyway, and they haven't cruised before.  I feel certain Rhapsody will be a huge adventure even if it's a small ship. 

 

Ah!! I love this, thank you so much! I think you are right - they are young and have never been on a ship and will be very excited! 

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Let me just say that my first cruise was on S/S Majestic- the old Premier Cruise Line which is no longer in existence. I was 14 and my brother was 12. We thought we had just sailed away into the great beyond.  It was one of the coolest vacations our parents ever took us on and we thought were on a "big ship." Now, to look back it is possible that some of today's private yachts that could use that ship for a boarding vessel.  LOL  
I just turned 50 and there are still two friends I keep up with from that ship.  We had so much fun.  They used to offer cruise/Disney packages.  Of course that is no more now that Disney has its own cruise line.  But it was an amazing experience back then.  
Let me say too that Tampa was the easiest embarkation and disembarkation experience I have ever had.  We accidentally parked across the street from "Terminal 2" but the "extra" walk was just a few extra yards really.  
I see you are from Sarasota, so you may just drive in on cruise day.  If you choose to stay overnight before the cruise, I highly recommend the Hampton Inn/Home2Suites on East Kennedy. It's just a couple of blocks from the pier and the rooms were great.  They don't currently offer a Park & Cruise package, but with terminal parking being so close, it's super easy.  
I would not hesitate to cruise out of Tampa again.  Very easy processes there. 

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I took my boys, ages 12 & 9, on the Paradise last March (5 day Western from Tampa).  They previously had been on the newer Carnival Vista & have yet to go on a RCCL cruise.  I've been on Voyager, Freedom, & Oasis class ships, so not one like the Rhapsody.  I do prefer the bigger RCCL ships for the extra activities available, but at the ages your kids are I don't think they'd notice the difference.  When we sailed on the Carnival Vista (kids ages 10 & 7) I thought they'd love the bells & whistles, but they had even more fun just playing in the pool.  Carnival has more itineraries that work with our schedules so that's greatly figures into my decision.  Like others have said, a vacation is what you make of it so I think you'd have fun on either of these ships so I'd pick the longer one.   

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