Hubby has decided he would like to try a cruise and I truly want opinions of those who have been on one.
So, I'm respectfully asking how to find out what some of you have liked or disliked about various cruises? On another board, we do this all the time about many brands/services and there is never an issue. I just wanted to ask here, because not too many folks at the other board have been on cruises.
ps: I'm wanting info especially about food because if the food is 'ordinary' he will not be happy. We are also interested in a very casual cruise...no dress up for him. And, what is the entertainment really like? Also, we have heard that the in-shore excursions are mostly a rip-off.
We just really want to know what we are getting into.
We went on a cruise about 7 years ago and enjoyed it immensely. We had NO clue what to even look for so I participated in several cruise related message boards. I found the people there to be just THRILLED to help first timers, and would highly reccomend any cruise related message board.
If you want to PM me I'd be glad to chat more.
Life is GOOD!!
I've never been on a cruise, but I also suggest a forum there is a big one, you will learn more than you want to know.
Be sure to let us know what you choose. I don't like dress up dinner, that is one reason I never cruise. I'd like to know if there are many casual cruises out there. Of course I'm interested in adventure like the Lindblad Expedition.
I've been on many cruises and have always found them fun. If you don't want dress up night, there are other places on ship to eat. I have always found the food good, but we are not gourmet/ food snob type of people- my DH is a plain eater. Remember, unless you go to one of the additional restaurants ( pay extra), the kitchen is turning out meals for a couple thousand people.
We've enjoyed some of our off shore excursions- wonderful trip with good rum on Barbados, been up to a magnificent rainforest, seen banana plantations, explore Mayan ruins, plus general sightseeing. A lot of Southern Hemisphere countries/islands are close to being third world countries where you don't want to stray too far off the beaten path unless with approved guides.
First time my DH wasn't sure about cruises, we took a shorter 4 day cruise and found out he enjoyed it. Our longest has been close to 2 weeks. We have always done Carnival cruises, maybe because we enjoy a lively atmosphere.
CJO, I sent you a private message about a good website to get indoctrinated on cruising!!
I love it, we've been on many out of Florida. My sister and I are taking a 3 nighter in Nov to introduce my youngest great niece to cruising. Then DH and I are taking a 5 nighter out of Tampa in December then a 7 nighter in April out of San Juan.
1. The cabins are small. Doesn't matter if you get an inside or a balcony - they will seem small unless you are used to staying in older NYC hotels.
2. The food on the main stream cruise lines is pretty uninspiring. However, they have options and most things are good. Portions are not huge, but if you like something - they will bring you more. The buffets on Royal Caribbean are really good with many options and stations. The specialty restaurants are worth a try.
3. Get to know your waiters they will take very good care of you, same with servers in the bars and your cabin attendant.
4. Ports of call - Unless you have a walking guide most port areas are pretty boring. If you do not want to pay the markup for a ship sponsored tour - research online and use the more reputable agencies. The only concern with a non-ship sponsored tour - if you miss the ship you are on your own. We have enjoyed all the tours we've taken and highly recommend several of them.
5. It is only as formal as you want it. Just suggest your husband bring some polo shirts and khakis.This message has been edited. Last edited by: Charming,
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We have taken enough cruises (or time spent doing it) that we are world club members with Cunard.
I absolutely love cruising. But you do dress for dinner if you eat in the dining room. We like this as it is not a normal part of our lifestyle.
I came back to say that it all depends on where you are in life. Our first cruise was when we were 68. I liked the formalities as that is not our life style. We do not belong to any clubs or such. I actually found that being treated so well and having such nice experiences makes us feel more confident when we encounter "fancy" situations on land. Remember that usually the less formal meals, while the food is very good are usually self service. I do that at home.
Oh, and we would not take an interior room as we both have claustrophobia. I don't think the cabins are all that small and I am ashamed to say how many cruise we went on before we realized that the suitcases go under the beds!
The food is wonderful and the service special and considerate.
The reason we mostly have sailed with Cunard is because we want to do ocean crossings and DH will not fly. There is something for both of us to do if we do not want to be together, there are wonderful lectures, entertainments, games, movies, demonstrations (cooking etc)
You meet wonderful entertaining people. One of the nicest experiences we had was on a Celebrity cruise of the Western Caribbean. We had been put at a table for the whole 2 week cruise with just one other couple. When they found out that it was that way they complained to the maitre d'. He said "just try it one night" and they did and of course spent the whole two weeks with us!
If I could afford it I would go on at least one or two cruises each year. You have it all in one package; room, food, entertainment, sightseeing. there is nothing like coming back to your home ship after a hot dusty day of sightseeing and being handed a glass of champagne by a row of uniformed crew and then being handed a hot washcloth to wipe your face off!This message has been edited. Last edited by: lady of shallot,
CJO, So glad to hear your dh is thinking about cruising now that you have moved and your life-style is changing ~ good for both of you!
Now, have to say dh and I have cruised extensively (lost track after the 33rd/34th one) but we did love the atmosphere for many years - not so much now that the major seven lines are all owned by one parent company....
But, if your dh wants food outside of the ordinary, he needs to re-think his refusal to "dress up." Basically, it's one or the other; good food in a casual atmosphere OR great culinary experiences in a more dressy arena. I know, for us, we are willing to dress to the max (and dh hates Formal Wear on vacation but is the first to don it in anticipation of the meal) to enjoy a 2 hour fine dining experience - maybe your dh might feel the same when he thinks it through.
Good food throughout the ship BUT, if you really want extraordinary food where the chefs' work very hard along with the rest of the waitstaff to prepare it ~ well that comes only in the dining room. COME ON AND THINK ABOUT IT. They work for hours to create a beautiful appetizer and then serve it to passengers wearing shorts and Tourist T-shirts in a Congo line outside in a buffet? Not happening....
NO - either mass food for those who don't want to "dress" (no problem as every ship nowdays caters to that market) or, if one likes the extraordinary, then one dresses accordingly. I don't mean to be rude but you can't have it both ways ~ if you want "extraordinary," then plan to dress for it. Otherwise, you will find great food wherever you choose to eat on a ship so your dh can be just as casual as he would like....
PS. As passionate as I am about cruising, I can't recommend a cruise line anymore as all seven are now controlled by one parent company altho each line does retain a "little bit" of personal identity ~ do check out cruise chat/message boards to find the one that best fits you.
IR - Royal Caribbean, NCL, and I believe Holland America are not owned by Carnival's parent company.
As for dining on Caribbean sailings on Royal and from what I've heard about NCL you are safe most nights in a polo shirt, khakis and dress shoes. No need for suit or tux. A huge debate on the cruise forums about this but a suit or tux is appreciated on formal nights (2 on a 7 day cruise on Royal) but not enforced. If you would be uncomfortable not going formal those 2 nights they have a really good buffet with good service and food choices or the specialty restaurants.
On Royal's larger ships they have a wide variety of dining options and some people never set foot in the main dining room. Even better for cruisers like my sister they have flexible dining options (like NCL's Freestyle) where you do not have a regimented dining time.
All of the above is what I love about cruising. I can dress up, dress down or order room service.
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Charming, Actually Holland America is now (been a couple of years) owned by Carnival's parent company but think you are right about Royal and NCL. From my viewpoint, I have just about given up on finding a cruise line that isn't a clone of the others now days.
BUT I still think that cruising is a wonderful way to travel and encourage everyone to give it a try!
Thanks for the update. I wasn't sure about Holland. RCCL, NCL and Disney are all separate corporations. There was a book out several years ago about the huge battle between Carnival and Royal.
We've only been on Royal. I know each has their strong points but so far we've been pleased.
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I received an email yesterday from a friend who is mid Atlantic on Cunard.
"Emily, it is quite a while since we were on Q. M. 2 and it has I'm sorry to say deteriorated. Yesterday, for the first time, Ron and I went to the afternoon tea dance. no one seemed to have made any effort to be tidy - lots of trainers and sports gear. During the dancing a toddler wondered on to the floor. at first we though it amusing but after t trying to avoid her several times it ceased to be. Whilst they were playing a rumba, the floor was empty except for two eight year olds throwing each other about and the toddler complete with nappy and dummy! The parents on board seem to be very laid back. One lunch time in the restaurant, the next table to us had five children ranging in ages from 3 to 7 with plates of chips and the parents of the children were at the next table chatting away and ignoring their off springs!"
These are English friends and more "proper" than we Americans. Also the trip they were on was specially priced so maybe people who wouldn't normally cruise were aboard!
LOS - Summer trans Atlantic cruises are often discounted to fill up the berths. Your friend's concerns are huge topics over on the cruise forum board I visit regularly.
On the RCI board when the issue comes up there are many who claim that - RCI is a mainstream cruise line that is focused on families so get used to it and btw it is my vacation and I will dress as I choose.
Interesting that it has now spread to a more upscale cruiseline.This message has been edited. Last edited by: Charming,
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The crossings my friends are on (back to back) were very inexpensive . . . $799 per passenger per trip. And that was for ocean view. In my experience all the crossings I have been on have been sold out and not this way at all.
Maybe the economy? Maybe because there was no overstay costs?
we've cruised quite a bit and LOVE it! I do like good food and for the most part I think the food aboard ship is really good considering that they ARE preparing food for around 2000 people for every meal.
We've cruised on: Princess, Celebrity, Carnival, Holland America, Royal Carribean (we are price loyal not brand loyal although on some of the companies we do have preferred status).
Carnival is the cheapest and you will find younger, families, and I don't think the quality of the food is as good as some of the other lines.
As to dress up, Holland America was the most dressed up -- Carnival the least. LOTS of tuxes on formal nights on HA, hardly any on Carnival. Most evenings church clothes suffice for dinner (i.e. I wore black pants and a non sparkly top most nights while husband wore a sport shirt and slacks). Dress up nights he can get by with a jacket and tie and the same black pants and a little dressier top for me -- you don't NEED formals!!!
The cabins are small but adequate and usually if you are in the cabin you're either getting ready to leave or sleeping so size doesn't really matter (or at least it doesn't to us!)
I adore cruising -- if you have any questions, feel free to ask.
As to shore excursions, they are more expensive sometimes than what you can do yourself BUT . . . if there is a breakdown, a delay because of road repair, etc., the ship will be held for you when you book through them. If you don't, "sorry, Charlie"!
We usually do half excursions and half on our own and that works for us. Obviously on our own, we don't go as far as if they take us but sometimes it's just nice to walk around the town you're docked in!
On our last trip (A transatlantic in Feb) -- we stopped at Malaga, Spain (walked to town, shopped, had lunch and walked back), Barcelona, Spain (did the same thing), Italy (where we took the city bus to Pisa, saw the tower, had lunch and bussed back (and we paid $5 per person while the ship's excursion was many more dollars and basically, that was for a guide a bus -- we didn't have the guide!); and Rome (where we did do a ship's excursion to get into the vatacan, and other sites in Rome and WORTH EVERY PENNY -- the port is miles from Rome!)
If you have any questions, feel free to ask. We're planning another transatlantic in November and we find that we like 14 day or longer cruises the best!
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Transatlantics "sounds" like fun, but I don't know if I can handle multiple sea days. I've been on about 12 cruises and will be graduating to my first 7 day in April and it is port intensive.
I get for lack of a better term - stir crazy when I have to stay in one place too long. When attending multiple day conferences I have a strong need to get outside the conference hotel. Especially if the conference and hotel are the same.
Many people cruise for the ship and will do the same itinerary over and over. We go for the ports. I love learning the history and something special about the area. Also we sometimes do stuff just for fun - 4 wheeling in Costa Maya Mexico.
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Those are my favorite. The excursions are fun but hectic and crowded esp if there are many ships in the same port.
Sea days are for relaxing, reading, playing the many activities scheduled, watching a movie, having a nice leasurily (sp?) lunch and most important to me, meeting many more of my fellow passengers.
After you've cruised awhile and seen alot of ports, I loved staying on board when in port- very quiet and restful- while everyone is on land.
So fun to read all the different posts ~ and find myself agreeing with all of them!
About shore excursions? Don't turn your nose up at them right off the bat - read the criteria, cost and number of participants and then make your decision. Many times the ship is only in port for X number of hours and, if you spend your time trying to "wheel and deal" with local guides you just might find yourself left behind when the ship sails.
Old joke: What do they call the passenger who insists on doing his own thing?" Answer - A fast swimmer if he is lucky!
So, if you haven't traveled a lot and, especially if it's somewhere you have never been, do think about taking some of the ship's excursions. As for sea days, I love them too!
PS, CJO,you were the OP here - have we lost you?This message has been edited. Last edited by: Idaho Resident,
CJO is off on a cruise.
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Not yet, Charming, not yet Have just been busy trying to keep flowers watered in this FL heat/sun ...whew!
Thanks for all the good advice...I'm keeping notes
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