Calling All Cruisers!!!

Updated on November 02, 2009
J.R. asks from La Porte, TX
10 answers

My husband and I are getting ready to book a cruise for our 10 year anniversary. We have the cruise picked (May 2010) already so I'm looking for some advice on booking. What are the pros/cons of booking yourself via the cruise line or booking via a travel agency? Not sure which way to go.

Also any other advice/tips to help us plan the cruise will be great too!

THANKS SO MUCH!

3 moms found this helpful

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So What Happened?

We are booked! Our cruise will leave from Galveston on 5/2/2010! I ended up booking on-line via the Carnival website because they were having a money back sale and it was ending that night so I wanted to take advantage of it. We are really excited!

I am still looking for advice/tips to help us as this is our first cruise.....

Thanks for all of your imput it really helped!!!!!

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B.J.

answers from College Station on

J.,

We cruise every year. I always shop the cruise line's website first, call the cruise line, then call Vacations to Go. (call, not book online) I have always gotten the better deal with VtG. It may be the timing of when we book/travel, it may not. I like being able to pick my cabin, as on one ship, we have a favorite. I can even refer you to my favorite rep if you're interested.

Either way, have a wonderful trip!

B.

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M.V.

answers from Houston on

Some people just feel safer booking through an agency and that the agency knows what meal time they like and what type of room they like. Personally, I can do that all on my own and not have to pay their fee. I booked tickets for a Disney Cruise a few years back and was the coordinator for my family. It was rather easy just searching thse ship's website and finding out what was available.

Guess the advice I have would be:

1) Make sure you all have VALID PASSPORTS

2) Peak around on the ship, see what levels are what and where you would like to stay

3) If anyone tends to get sea sick, book a lower floor and stay as close to the middle of the ship as possible.

4) If bringing the kids, they need passports as well

5) Find out if you have to book the children's club ahead of time

6) With the baby, what options do you have for him

7) Find out if water, soda, tea, coffee is available on the ship, somewhere, 24/7 and free. Disney had this available on the 9th deck but if you went to a lounge or bar of some sort, there was a fee.

8) When you see soda and water in your room...don't touch it, unless you want to pay almost $4 for that one can or bottle.

9) If you are heavy water drinkers, consider bringing a case with you or ordering it during booking (if able).

10) Find out if there is a formal night and how much you want to dress up. It's fun to do but sometimes a pain to pack.

l1) Find out if gratuity is able to be added directly to your charge card for the ship staff. There is a breakdown somewhere of how much per person, per day is customery. Most of the time you have to make sure you can make change for all of the envelopes but more and more cruiselines are deciding to allow you to dictate how much will be charged to your credit card instead of cash on hand.

12) Look into the excursions available and see if they have to be booked ahead of time or if they have to be booked once on board the ship.

13) You will be offered travel insurance for the trip. It is up to you if you wish to take it. If traveling with children, it's a no-brainer...cough up the extra dough. Depending on where you are looking to cruise and when, it may be a good idea as well. We cruised the Carribean during hurricane season...with kids...we spent the few hundred extra to ensure we had options if something happened.

14) If you will be on a cruise that spends multiple days at sea, the ship will be crowded, obviously, on those days. If you want a bit more privacy, book a room with a balcony so you have your very own piece of sun and fun all to yourselves.

15) If you are NOT taking the kids: whomever you will have watching them would benefit nicely by having a signed and notarized document that gives them authorization to make medical decisions while you are away. We always used to do 3 originals per child. 1 for the doctor to keep, 1 for the caregiver to keep and an extra in the event that further help was needed and the had to keep an original for themselves. We did a basic statement that I'd be more then happy to send off to you if you would like it. Just give a shout.

Enjoy yourselves and relax...cell phones don't work well in the ocean! At least that is what my husband says he likes about cruising and why I'm trying to tell him we need to go on one badly!

6 moms found this helpful
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S.M.

answers from Sherman on

I have been on 5 cruises so far and they are a blast. We have always booked through a travel agency. It helps to talk to them and let them know exactly what you are looking for on a cruise. As for packing, you will never wear everything that you pack. TO this day, we still over pack. Will you be traveling alone with your husband or are you taking your kids also? If the kids are going, all cruise lines have good programs to entertain the children. My kids love going on cruises with us. If you are wanting some tips of what to do or not do you can go to cruisecritic.com and find your cruise on there. The chat boards for the cruises are really interesting to read and you can get a lot of helpful hints about your cruise. Hope you have a marvelous time on your cruise!!

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W.T.

answers from Austin on

Okay, I am usually the youngest one on the cruises (at 42) but my Mom and I just love to cruise. I try to stick to RCI b/c I think the overall value is best. Our family has used http://www.vacationstogo.com/?source=google&npm=c
to book most all of our cruises. They have really pleasant representatives and good customer support. I book the least expensive inside cabin b/c I am not in there much but I have had a suite with large balcony and that is really posh but you pay for it! I would definitely rec. at least a window for your first cruise and with your hubby you may be in your room more. Shore excursions are very pricey and you can do all of it on your own for less. There are always passengers doing their own planning for on shore activities. I think AAA also books cruises and they would be a good one to go through. I find the best deals are on the internet ~ and you can take that info to the travel agency if you choose that route and ask them to find that.

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J.T.

answers from College Station on

If you book through the cruise line, they often offer you discounts and upgrades the travel agencies cannot (or do not) offer. It also puts you into their system for future travel as many cruise lines offer BIG incentives for frequent cruisers.

Have Fun! and Happy Anniversary!

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L.G.

answers from Austin on

Congratulations. Cruising is our favorite vacation!

Google "cruising tips and tricks" as there are too many things to list. Most are common sense but you might not think of them if you have never cruised.

For longer cruises, make sure you use a travel agent as they can match you with the perfect cruise to fit your personality and vacation style. Our third cruise was part of a conference and although it was on our favorite cruise line, the people on board were different than we had expected from our two prior cruises. A lot of things were not as nice as our prior cruises. Good thing we didn't pay for it. It would have been frustrating to pay for a great time and then have to settle for mediocre.

Have fun!

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L.G.

answers from Houston on

Go buy: THE ESSENTIAL LITTLE CRUISE BOOK
Author: Jim West.

Probably can get it on Amazon.com for cheap.

Tells you everything. We used it for a cruise and it was dead on for advice. Even the couple seated next to us for dinner every night had purchased the same book.

Uhhh...Cruises are the best, service like you've NEVER seen!

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M.T.

answers from Austin on

I have ONLY been on ONE and I just LOVED it and plan another one in the near future. They are VERY VERY ORGANIZED and let your Cruise line set your reservations and take care of everything for you.

Here are my tips:

1. If you organize it with every 16 people or more (one person per 16 people only pays the Taxes.). I gathered 30 people first time goers and they just LOVE it. Make sure to get more details on this too.

2. I would NOT GET a WINDOW because you are NEVER in your cabin to enjoy the VIEW you are BUSY taking part in the activities or eating.

3. Make sure to get a prescription for that PATCH to place behind you ear for SEASICKNESS. Directions say to change every 3 days, I have mine only for whole 5 days and NEVER got sick.

4. DO NOT PUT your luggage outside cabin the evening before or early in the morning for deboarding BECAUSE you will be the LAST one to DEBOARD. Carry your luggage with you and you will be the FIRST ones out of the ship.

5. CAUTION: They take VERY PROFESSIONAL photos at $10 or $20 for 5x7 so be cautious because you will LOVE how they come out and you will want to purchase several and this is where ALOT of your MONEY will go to.

6. Familiarize yourself where you are going/see and hire a TAXI to take you to your destination(s). I was VERY VERY DISAPPOINTED in the excursions I was taken on and I paid $40 and a waste of my MONEY.

You will LOVE it and ENJOY !

M.

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A.B.

answers from San Antonio on

We usually don't book anything through a travel agency when we're not traveling for work, but when we took our cruise earlier this year, it was from a fundraiser auction, so it was automatically through an agency. We did learn of one advantage: Our cruise was cancelled due to swine flu. It was our travel agent, not us, who had to do all the legwork to get us scheduled on another one. :)

Have a wonderful time!! We can't wait to go again. Save up because you'll spend money on board.

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C.G.

answers from San Antonio on

My family and I just went on a Disney cruise in September and it was great. Highly recommend it. Try to avoid the on land excursions if you can because I think for us they were a waste of money. It may be better to do just go off on your own. Pack light because you will have more clothes than you need if you don't. If you run out of clothes, they have laundry rooms on board for a minimal cost. Check with your cruise line. Eat as much as you can because its all free, depending on who your cruise is with. Have a great time is the most important thing.