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Hi! I’m a 1st time cruiser and I know no one has been on the Carnival Mardi Gras yet, but I’m wondering if you had your choice for the same week in May 2022. Would you go on the Oasis leaving from NJ going to Orlando, Nassau, CocoCay or the Mardi Gras leaving from Orlando and going to Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Grand Turk.  The price is within $75 of each other both with balcony staterooms. We will not be flying just driving to either port to save money bc we have a family of 5. I have 3 19 year olds so I’m also considering things they can do onboard. Like I mentioned, I know no one has gone on Mardi Gras yet, but if you’ve been on both cruise lines, you could still have an insight. Thanks! 

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Itinerary is better on Mardi Gras.  No ship goes to Orlando - they go to Port Canaveral and take a very rushed excursion to the parks in Orlando, where you mostly stand in line.  Or visit the Kennedy Space Center.  Amber Cove and Grand Turk are very similar.  Grand Turk has pool and beach, Amber Cove has no beach but great pool and zipline.  EM

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After all of the cancelations, RCL finally priced us out of their cruise ships. Cancelation after cancelation, I saw their trend of drastically increasing fares with the 125% cruise credit. I watched when they canceled June 2020 for windows of a new cruise date for us. We had July 2020 booked and saw the Thanksgiving 2020 cruises go up 20% after June canceled. As I knew July was soon to come, we rebooked for Thanksgiving 2020. Once they canceled July, that same cruise went up 100%. As Thanksgiving 2020 was approaching cancelation, the March window was starting to increase. We moved again before they canceled T-day 2020. We had March 2021 for $2300-ish. I checked the price was the same right before they canceled Thanksgiving. Our cruise price went from $2,300 to $5,600. 

 

I would sail Mardi Gras. I can't trust a company that would operate as RCL has.

 

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OP, it's a tough one. We prefer Royal after only one cruise with them (but we aren't willing to spend a lot more to sail with them versus CCL or any other line) but we've taken that itinerary ad infinitum and the Mardi Gras itinerary is much more attractive. We could drive to NJ and would have to fly to FL, which would be another consideration. I want to say we'd do Oasis if only to save the air fare.

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In your situation, assuming the drive to port time is exactly the same, I would pick Oasis.  The ship is absolutely incredible with tremendous amenities and your family is likely to be very happy with it.  There were so many big hot tubs I lost count.  There are many included dining options, more than we've ever seen on any other ship. While it's not the newest ship, RC takes great care of their vessels and keeps them feeling pristine, and Oasis had a major renovation shortly before the no-sail order. Carnival also has a tendency to build in higher capacity per ton of ship and sometimes feels crowded or ends up with annoying bottlenecks in the people flow onboard.  Parking at Port Liberty is extremely safe and convenient and I think was only $20 per day when we sailed in 2019.

 

With all that in mind, please know my family actually slightly prefers Carnival - it's just a vibe we like overall and typically a little cheaper, but it's a weak preference - both lines are really good fits for us. And we have a cruise booked for Mardi Gras this year, not that it will actually go, but we will hold on until told otherwise.  So I guess I am saying both of your choices are really good ones.  

 

There are usually more factors in play, so I would ask more questions - what's the difference drive wise?  If one port is significantly closer that sways the argument.  You could be talking about the difference between getting up early and driving to port same day rather than having to stop overnight on the road. And after the cruise you will want the return trip as short as possible, believe me. A four hour drive vs. a 7 hour drive, for example, would seal the deal in our case. 

 

Do you have any reason to prefer one itinerary? We mostly cruise for the ship and I don't feel any of the ports on either of yours are spectacular enough (or undesirable enough) to impact the decision. 

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The itinerary of Mardi Gras is more appealing to me.  Mardi Gras is a significantly newer vessel than Oasis of the Seas.  Never sailed on Oasis of the Seas, but, I would expect, especially for Mardi Gras' first season, Carnival Cruise Lines will go "all out" to make their guests cruise experience the absolute best that it can possibly be.  

 

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On 4/6/2021 at 6:41 PM, gcbranscome said:

Hi! I’m a 1st time cruiser and I know no one has been on the Carnival Mardi Gras yet, but I’m wondering if you had your choice for the same week in May 2022. Would you go on the Oasis leaving from NJ going to Orlando, Nassau, CocoCay or the Mardi Gras leaving from Orlando and going to Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Grand Turk.  The price is within $75 of each other both with balcony staterooms. We will not be flying just driving to either port to save money bc we have a family of 5. I have 3 19 year olds so I’m also considering things they can do onboard. Like I mentioned, I know no one has gone on Mardi Gras yet, but if you’ve been on both cruise lines, you could still have an insight. Thanks! 

I would choose the Mardi Gras. Old San Juan is fun to walk around, but have your walking shoes on, it’s up and down hills. If you like lounging around the pool or beach, Grand Turk and Amber Cove are for you. Grand Turk is a small island, its attraction is Margarettville and the beach.The only attraction to Oasis  itinerary is if you have kids or like an amusement styled island, Coco Cay is for you. We are not Nassau fans either, we avoid it at all costs. Have not been there in 10 years.

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2 hours ago, skrufy said:

Old San Juan is fun to walk around, but have your walking shoes on, it’s up and down hills. If you like lounging around the pool or beach, Grand Turk and Amber Cove are for you. Grand Turk is a small island, its attraction is Margarettville and the beach.

 

Well stated.  Not sure if it would still be available, when I visited there was a golf cart tour of Grand Turk that was interesting.  We visited a conservation facility for the Queen Conch which was very interesting to me as a retired science teacher.  No idea if that is still there, but, if it is, and one is so interested, it's worth a visit.  

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36 minutes ago, rkacruiser said:

 

Well stated.  Not sure if it would still be available, when I visited there was a golf cart tour of Grand Turk that was interesting.  We visited a conservation facility for the Queen Conch which was very interesting to me as a retired science teacher.  No idea if that is still there, but, if it is, and one is so interested, it's worth a visit.  

Last time to GT we took a tour of the island, saw all the donkeys and the lighthouse. Had a good time

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Just now, skrufy said:

Last time to GT we took a tour of the island, saw all the donkeys and the lighthouse. Had a good time

Jacks Shack is a good place for drinks and eats on Grand Turk

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On 4/7/2021 at 12:11 AM, Essiesmom said:

Itinerary is better on Mardi Gras.  No ship goes to Orlando - they go to Port Canaveral and take a very rushed excursion to the parks in Orlando, where you mostly stand in line.  Or visit the Kennedy Space Center.  Amber Cove and Grand Turk are very similar.  Grand Turk has pool and beach, Amber Cove has no beach but great pool and zipline.  EM

Thanks!

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On 4/7/2021 at 12:11 AM, Essiesmom said:

Itinerary is better on Mardi Gras.  No ship goes to Orlando - they go to Port Canaveral and take a very rushed excursion to the parks in Orlando, where you mostly stand in line.  Or visit the Kennedy Space Center.  Amber Cove and Grand Turk are very similar.  Grand Turk has pool and beach, Amber Cove has no beach but great pool and zipline.  EM

Thank you! I did mean Port Canaveral, I just had Universal on my mind!

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On 4/7/2021 at 6:43 AM, sparks1093 said:

OP, it's a tough one. We prefer Royal after only one cruise with them (but we aren't willing to spend a lot more to sail with them versus CCL or any other line) but we've taken that itinerary ad infinitum and the Mardi Gras itinerary is much more attractive. We could drive to NJ and would have to fly to FL, which would be another consideration. I want to say we'd do Oasis if only to save the air fare.

Thanks! It is a difficult decision.  I think my daughters would have more to do on the Oasis, but they want to go to the islands that the Mardi Gras goes to.  I am dying to go on an Oasis class ship, but I'm a little nervous about leaving out of Cape Liberty because I hear most of the time it's a pretty rough ride down the coast.  Decisions, decisions...We'll probably do the Mardi Gras.

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On 4/7/2021 at 7:02 AM, KmomChicago said:

In your situation, assuming the drive to port time is exactly the same, I would pick Oasis.  The ship is absolutely incredible with tremendous amenities and your family is likely to be very happy with it.  There were so many big hot tubs I lost count.  There are many included dining options, more than we've ever seen on any other ship. While it's not the newest ship, RC takes great care of their vessels and keeps them feeling pristine, and Oasis had a major renovation shortly before the no-sail order. Carnival also has a tendency to build in higher capacity per ton of ship and sometimes feels crowded or ends up with annoying bottlenecks in the people flow onboard.  Parking at Port Liberty is extremely safe and convenient and I think was only $20 per day when we sailed in 2019.

 

With all that in mind, please know my family actually slightly prefers Carnival - it's just a vibe we like overall and typically a little cheaper, but it's a weak preference - both lines are really good fits for us. And we have a cruise booked for Mardi Gras this year, not that it will actually go, but we will hold on until told otherwise.  So I guess I am saying both of your choices are really good ones.  

 

There are usually more factors in play, so I would ask more questions - what's the difference drive wise?  If one port is significantly closer that sways the argument.  You could be talking about the difference between getting up early and driving to port same day rather than having to stop overnight on the road. And after the cruise you will want the return trip as short as possible, believe me. A four hour drive vs. a 7 hour drive, for example, would seal the deal in our case. 

 

Do you have any reason to prefer one itinerary? We mostly cruise for the ship and I don't feel any of the ports on either of yours are spectacular enough (or undesirable enough) to impact the decision. 

Thanks!  We are about 3 hours away from Cape Liberty and 15 from Port Canaveral, but we always drive down to Florida to see my parents, so we are ok with the ride.  I'm not sure what we will do.  I'm swaying more toward the Oasis and the rest of the family is swaying towards the Mardi Gras. I will probably lose! LOL!

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On 4/7/2021 at 7:32 PM, navybankerteacher said:

Orlando and Nassau are two of the "must avoid" ports on my list. The other itinerary is not particularly thrilling, but San Juan is certainly worth a visit.

This is exactly what I have heard from others.  It stinks because the price is right, but the destinations aren't great!

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On 4/7/2021 at 8:26 PM, rkacruiser said:

The itinerary of Mardi Gras is more appealing to me.  Mardi Gras is a significantly newer vessel than Oasis of the Seas.  Never sailed on Oasis of the Seas, but, I would expect, especially for Mardi Gras' first season, Carnival Cruise Lines will go "all out" to make their guests cruise experience the absolute best that it can possibly be.  

 

Thanks!! I think the Mardi Gras will win out!

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22 hours ago, skrufy said:

I would choose the Mardi Gras. Old San Juan is fun to walk around, but have your walking shoes on, it’s up and down hills. If you like lounging around the pool or beach, Grand Turk and Amber Cove are for you. Grand Turk is a small island, its attraction is Margarettville and the beach.The only attraction to Oasis  itinerary is if you have kids or like an amusement styled island, Coco Cay is for you. We are not Nassau fans either, we avoid it at all costs. Have not been there in 10 years.

Thanks so much for this information! Lounging on the beach is exactly what I want to do and the kids and my husband want to zipline, so the Mardi Gras sounds better!

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16 hours ago, gcbranscome said:

This is exactly what I have heard from others.  It stinks because the price is right, but the destinations aren't great!

 So here is my take on destinations on a cruise. First off, if you specifically have a desire to visit some particular port, fine, great, NOW you have a decision point that you can work around. 

 

Without that specific desire to visit one particular place, I don't really feel like any ports are all that much better or worse than others. Nassau is not a port I love, and yet I have been there several times - there is an unfortunate gauntlet of "greetings" as you get off the ship, a lot of aggressive vendors trying to force their wares upon you. But once you get past that, we have enjoyed the shopping, the Pirate and Pompey museums, and Port Charlotte - all on our own.  There are paid shore excursions at just about any port and they might be required in the future anyway, precluding the ability to just walk around places you might not enjoy.

 

There are almost always beach options, as well as things like bus tours, boat tours of varying types, and active things like kayaking, cycling, ATVs, jet ski rentals, ziplines, etc. If you are planning to do these kinds of activities, the line will provide very similar options at each port and it won't really matter where you are doing them. 

 

Another option that I always enjoy is: staying on the ship. The morning of a port day is glorious on a huge vessel with most other passengers onshore. Finally you can get that lounger in the Solarium/adults only pool deck which will be nearly empty. For free.  All the same sunny warm weather you wanted, without paying extra for sand in your swimsuit, a bus ride to somewhere, and the possibility of extra charges once you get there like photo packages or gratuities, etc.

 

You can walk around the ship (after your tanning time) and take photos of every deserted space and have it all to yourself, because, you deserve to be one of the few occupants of a massive floating pleasure palace.  I have a pic of such a situation on Adventure of the Seas in August 2019 in Bar Harbour Maine, while my husband and kiddo took a haunted walking tour and I, well, didn't. It was just me and the lifeguard in the Serenity area.  It may seem crazy to some but I actually hope for one such port stop on every cruise. 

 

A port day that doesn't interest you can be a good day to sleep in and do just about nothing before or after sea days packed with onboard activities, or an exhausting excursion at some other port. If you buy a drink package it's a great day to get your money's worth without long waits at the bars or for the cocktail servers. Our nonalcoholic package on Oasis included smoothies whipped up at the spa snack counter. 

 

I give all this detail only because you are a first timer and regardless of which ship you choose, you'll learn a lot about what you and the family enjoy about this kind of travel. Too bad Canada is not letting us get near their pristine shores this year, because I would say the northern ports actually ARE quite different from anything in the Caribbean area. 

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10 hours ago, KmomChicago said:

Another option that I always enjoy is: staying on the ship. 

 As do I.  Your next three paragraphs are very descriptive of all of the reasons that I enjoy remaining aboard my ship if we are docked at a port where I "have been there, and done that" or have no/little interest.

 

10 hours ago, KmomChicago said:

Too bad Canada is not letting us get near their pristine shores this year, because I would say the northern ports actually ARE quite different from anything in the Caribbean area. 

 

Absolutely true!  Halifax, Charlottetown, Victoria, etc. so much to experience; so little time to do so.  

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I’d pick Mardi Gras for the better itinerary and the “new ship” factor. But I do feel that Royal provides an overall better cruise experience than Carnival. 
 

With that said, we’ve done the Oasis class (on the Allure). It is something that must be tried at least once. These ships are truly like nothing out there. They have the biggest “wow” factor I’ve ever experienced on any cruise ship. There’s SO much to do onboard, that the itinerary comes in a distant second place. There was so much to do that we actually had to cut back on what we wanted to do because, simply stated, we didn’t have enough time. 
 

About Nassau: It’s true, it’s not the best port, but there’s still a lot to do and many ways to get away from the tourist trap crap. A lot of the negative reviews that you may read reflects “port fatigue” from seasoned cruisers who are more annoyed at the countless times they’ve been there than anything else.

 

With a little bit of research you can have an awesome day in Nassau. Last time we were there, we spent the day on a private boat that we reserved just for our family. The captain took us snorkeling, to a secluded spot where we swam surrounded by huge turtles, and then he took us to a secluded beach with pristine, white sand where there wasn’t a sign of civilization in sight. Truly an amazing day. 

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On 4/10/2021 at 6:45 AM, KmomChicago said:

 So here is my take on destinations on a cruise. First off, if you specifically have a desire to visit some particular port, fine, great, NOW you have a decision point that you can work around. 

 

Without that specific desire to visit one particular place, I don't really feel like any ports are all that much better or worse than others. Nassau is not a port I love, and yet I have been there several times - there is an unfortunate gauntlet of "greetings" as you get off the ship, a lot of aggressive vendors trying to force their wares upon you. But once you get past that, we have enjoyed the shopping, the Pirate and Pompey museums, and Port Charlotte - all on our own.  There are paid shore excursions at just about any port and they might be required in the future anyway, precluding the ability to just walk around places you might not enjoy.

 

There are almost always beach options, as well as things like bus tours, boat tours of varying types, and active things like kayaking, cycling, ATVs, jet ski rentals, ziplines, etc. If you are planning to do these kinds of activities, the line will provide very similar options at each port and it won't really matter where you are doing them. 

 

Another option that I always enjoy is: staying on the ship. The morning of a port day is glorious on a huge vessel with most other passengers onshore. Finally you can get that lounger in the Solarium/adults only pool deck which will be nearly empty. For free.  All the same sunny warm weather you wanted, without paying extra for sand in your swimsuit, a bus ride to somewhere, and the possibility of extra charges once you get there like photo packages or gratuities, etc.

 

You can walk around the ship (after your tanning time) and take photos of every deserted space and have it all to yourself, because, you deserve to be one of the few occupants of a massive floating pleasure palace.  I have a pic of such a situation on Adventure of the Seas in August 2019 in Bar Harbour Maine, while my husband and kiddo took a haunted walking tour and I, well, didn't. It was just me and the lifeguard in the Serenity area.  It may seem crazy to some but I actually hope for one such port stop on every cruise. 

 

A port day that doesn't interest you can be a good day to sleep in and do just about nothing before or after sea days packed with onboard activities, or an exhausting excursion at some other port. If you buy a drink package it's a great day to get your money's worth without long waits at the bars or for the cocktail servers. Our nonalcoholic package on Oasis included smoothies whipped up at the spa snack counter. 

 

I give all this detail only because you are a first timer and regardless of which ship you choose, you'll learn a lot about what you and the family enjoy about this kind of travel. Too bad Canada is not letting us get near their pristine shores this year, because I would say the northern ports actually ARE quite different from anything in the Caribbean area. 

Wow....thanks so much for all this information!! As I said earlier I thought the Mardi Gras was going to win out, but as of last night our family decided that because my kids and husband are so active and I’ve been dying to go on this class, we have chosen the Oasis! We are booked and ready for next May! 

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On 4/10/2021 at 5:19 PM, Tapi said:

I’d pick Mardi Gras for the better itinerary and the “new ship” factor. But I do feel that Royal provides an overall better cruise experience than Carnival. 
 

With that said, we’ve done the Oasis class (on the Allure). It is something that must be tried at least once. These ships are truly like nothing out there. They have the biggest “wow” factor I’ve ever experienced on any cruise ship. There’s SO much to do onboard, that the itinerary comes in a distant second place. There was so much to do that we actually had to cut back on what we wanted to do because, simply stated, we didn’t have enough time. 
 

About Nassau: It’s true, it’s not the best port, but there’s still a lot to do and many ways to get away from the tourist trap crap. A lot of the negative reviews that you may read reflects “port fatigue” from seasoned cruisers who are more annoyed at the countless times they’ve been there than anything else.

 

With a little bit of research you can have an awesome day in Nassau. Last time we were there, we spent the day on a private boat that we reserved just for our family. The captain took us snorkeling, to a secluded spot where we swam surrounded by huge turtles, and then he took us to a secluded beach with pristine, white sand where there wasn’t a sign of civilization in sight. Truly an amazing day. 

Thanks for you help! We have decided to go on the Oasis! 

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