First Time Cruise

Updated on January 11, 2010
J.A. asks from Newton, KS
20 answers

My husband and I have been married for 6 years now and have never taken a vacation together. Not even a honeymoon. We are finally planning a trip for this March when I am on Spring Break from school. We are thinking that a cruise to somewhere in Mexico sounds like fun. Flying is out of the question so we assume that we would need to drive to TX. We know NOTHING about cruises!!! What cruise lines would you reccomend for us? About how much should we expect to pay? I know it varys greatly so I am just looking for a ballpark figure for about 3 days. Are all cruises all inclusive for meals and drinks? I don't even know what questions to ask yet, so anything else that you think might help us with our planning would be great. Any advie on how to get the best deals. I feel kind of blind and don't want to get screwed. I have a friend who's mother is a travel agent. I was thinking that since I know nothing it might be better to have help us with the planning, but I assume that working with a travel agent GREATLY increases the cost, so I would like to do it on my own if possible. Thanks for any thoughts or wisdom that you are willing to share :) You ladies rock!!

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from Wichita on


I have no advice to offer about the cruise itself. However no one mentioned the fact that you mist have a passport inorder to get back in the US.

Hope you have fun.


More Answers



answers from Kansas City on

I'm sure you'll get a variety of responses. I'll share ours.

We've gone on 4 cruises all with Regent Seven Seas. Which are quite a bit more expensive than other cruise lines, but when they say "all inclusive" they mean it. *We only had to pay for our shore excursions. Their biggest ship is just a 700 passenger as opposed to the 2500-5000 passengers on the other cruise lines.

As I said, we've never used any other line but my brother just got back from a cruise and shared the difference from his experience.
Regent ships are almost all balcony rooms where with the larger cruise lines, if you want a balcony room you will pay a lot more.

We had little fridges in our state rooms that were refilled daily at no charge. All drinks were included. My brother's recent experience was just the first day's drinks were complementary, after that they cost you.
When we left the ship either to tour on our own or as part of an excursion we were offered a bottle of water to take with us, complementary. My brother had to pay $1.75 if he wanted to take a bottle with him.

Regent ships are very small (the largest is just 700 passengers) so there were never assigned dinner times. Again from my brother's experience and friends who have cruised other lines, they were assigned dinner times and a table. If it's just you and your husband you may be sat with another couple you don't know for all meals. And once dinner service was over it was over.
From our experience we usually had a choice of 2 different ship "restaurants" and a bar/grill area. Plus we could eat dinner in our rooms anytime. Getting a menu from any eating area and have that delivered to our room, no extra charge.

All gratuities are included on Regent ships. Most other ships either ask or even bill (so I've heard) a daily gratuity per person per day. So for example when you disembark (check out) you will be billed $5 a day per person. . . a 3 day cruise for you and your husband would be $30. Again that's just an example I don't know for sure what they charge. That was one thing I didn't ask my brother.

If you would like to have a cocktail, wine with dinner or a beer it's extra.

Now the downside with Regent is like I said, it is very small so they don't have all the stuff that the bigger ships do. Rock walls, big pools etc. But since our kids are older (19 and 15) we enjoy the older crowd. We also enjoy the smaller atmosphere because you do get to know the staff and crew and some of the other passengers. Regent does have pools, a couple hot tubs, a theatre, nightly shows, a "club" for dancing and even a very small casino.

Good Luck and have fun!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I agree with Stefani,that if flying could be an option you need to take it, b/c Miami or Ft. Lauderdale is probably your best bet for a port and that would be one looooong drive! Not to mention, as she said, that all your time would be spent driving. YOu have some good responses here for sure. We've only been one cruise and it was with Carnival. It was fun, but I've heard great things about Royal Carribean as well, and I'd be interested to try them next time. It is a super fun vacation, but I recommend a 7 day cruise, I don't think the 3 day cruises are worth it. Have fun! Oh, and I agree with everyone else about a travel agent! Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

My name is K. and we (my husband and I) use to live in the Kansas City area. Well, we have friends that own a Cruise Company. It is called Cruise Holidays. It is in the Northland area between 64th st exit and 72nd st exit off I-29 Hwy. The number should be in the phone book. I am sorry I do not remember it. Anyway, I am sure Mark and/or Mimi would help you get the right cruise to fit your needs.
Anyway, my best to you. Hope you have a great time.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

It has been years since I took a cruise, but I would recommend to use a travel agency, they know the best deals, and specials, how to insure your investment, and making arrangements, they do it all. As a novice, I would not think a good idea to try to do this on your own, using an agency will give you recourse in case things don't go as planned.
My experience was fabulous with Royal Carribean, but since you are looking for short three day cruise, that would limit some of your options. My son and daughter in law took a 7 day Mexican Riviera cruise for their belated honeymoon and was well pun intended, but had a baby 9 months later..ha ha.
Have fun!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Lawrence on

We went on a cruise with Royal Carribian, it was great. All meals were included unless you wanted to eat on the island. My parents did all the reservations because we went with them. They always use a travel agent, for their cruises. A travel agent will know how to get the best rate. Remember to ask how much is expected for tips because you are expected to tip the room steward and your wait staff.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Definately get on a bigger boat for sea sickness problems. Factor in alcohol (we aren't big drinkers and we spent about $250 in 7 days) and look at the excursions. If you can afford it, I would go for 5 days because the 3 day ones are just not long enough... you will spend more time at sea then anywhere else! We took Carnival and it was ok... nothing too intersting, but we also really like to travel to get some place... not to be super pampered etc. Celebrity is a much better cruiseline to get pampered on.

Don't get a 'room with a view' unless you plan on spending time in the room... even when you are on the boat, you won't hardly be in your room except to sleep so I would suggest not wasting the $$

Have fun!!



answers from Wichita on is a great place to go shop for your cruise, I know because I'm shopping for one too! They have a list when you look at the cruise as to what is included. I know many have told you but just remember, you have to tip everyone! We went on one a few years back to the Bahamas, that one included everything, even our tips! From what I am seeing though, food, non-alcoholic beverages are included. Alcohol, and tips are not included! And YES a PASSPORT to get back in the US is a must!!!

This is the other website I have been looking at a lot too:

Have fun:)




answers from Kansas City on

My husband and I have done several cruises. If you're looking at a 3-day cruise, you're probably only going to get to go to one port.

We lived in Houston and we did take a cruise out of Galveston when some friends came down. It was fun but very short. Your drive to Galveston will take at least 13 hours (if you drive pretty fast and straight through). There are places to park for the cruise.

You'll need passports so if you're thinking of doing it in March, and if you don't already have passports, you may have to pay extra to expedite them now.

Sodas, water and food are included, but bar drinks usually are not. You'll have to tip at the end of the cruise. You'll tip everyone. You'll tip your waiters, wine stewards, cabin attendants, etc. For a 3-day cruise, I think it'll probably be about $75 - $100 each for the tips, but you can check on the cruiseline's website and they usually give you an estimate.

If you're driving, I would suggest taking some bottled water and possibly even a bottle of something (liquor) to keep in your room (if you're drinkers) as you can "pre-game" in your room before you go out. My husband likes to drink a little before going out because the drinks on the cruise are usually pretty expensive.

At the end of the cruise, they will drop a bill under your door for everything you've purchased and charged to your room during the cruise. This can be unexpected because it adds up fast.

One thing that is very expensive on a cruise is also the excursions. When you get to a port of call, they'll offer things to do. They are usually quite expensive and, if you're comfortable with the location of the language they speak, you can usually get around on your own. When we were in Belfast, IRE and in Scotland we just got a group together that was on our cruise and we planed our own excursions rather than paying the cruiselines for theirs.

Look for newer ships. Out of Galveston there aren't a lot of newer ships, but the older ships don't have any many things to do.

I looked about 6 months ago at the prices of cruises and I was able to find things that were less than $100/day/person. We usually thought we were getting a good deal if we got at or below $100/day/person.

BTW, if you're taking your daughter, her price will be close to that of yours and you husband's. I tried taking a nursing 3-month-old when I lived in Houston and they were going to discount her ticket by (I think) 10% compared to mine and my husband's.

There are things for kids to do, but with a 2 1/2 year old, there aren't as many things. They have a lot for older kids.

I've done Royal Caribbean and Carnival (a couple others I can't remember the names of) and I'd suggest RC over Carnival, but that's just from my experiences.

Good luck!


answers from Kansas City on

Hello J.,
You will have a blast on a cruise. My husband and I have been on one and so have my parents (several times)...most cruises the meals are all inclusive, unless you go to one of their specialty will have to pay for any alcoholic beverages you drink. Excursions do cost extra too, but don't not do them, they can be really fun. I would suggest a travel agent, cuz they can get you cheaper rates with a little more included too. My parents went to Mexico but shipped out of New Orleans, so you may want to check on that also. Can't recommend an agent here for you, since when we went we still lived in LA. I do hope this helps some...Good luck and God Bless.



answers from Springfield on

We took the Carnival Cruise line from from Los Angeles to Ensenada during the spring also and unfortunately hit very turbulent seas!! Come to find out, Spring is not a good time to go to Mexico on the ocean!! We hit 20 foot swells and almost all the people were sick on it! It was a nice boat, but as the lady who took the Regent said, alcohol was extra and you paid your gratuity at the last dinner. There was alot to do, but I definately wouldn't take the cruise to that location at that time again! I would definately ask a travel agent questions even if you don't end up using them in the end, you need to shop around for the best deals and have all the info you can get. Good luck!!



answers from Kansas City on

Royal Caribbean is our line of choice. We have been on many others, but love RCL. We take at least one cruise a year. Why is flying out of the question?? You will waste a lot of your vacation time driving, and that will limit the types of cruises you can take. There are many ports in FL and CA. Since you seem very unfamiliar with travel, you really should use a travel agent. They don't cost that much, and you will save money in the long run as they can help you avoid costly mistakes. I always do all of our travel myself, but I was raised traveling and do the travel for my office, so I know the ins & outs. Get a good cruise agent to guide you on this journey. Cruises are the very best bargain for your travel dollar.



answers from Kansas City on

My husband and I took our first cruise a year and a half ago and took another over the New Year's Holiday this year. We went to the Southern Caribbean on Royal Caribbean and the Easter Caribbean on Carnival. Both were very nice, but we went out of Puerto Rico and then out of Miami for the second one. A friend of mine is a travel agent and she helped us find the right trip for us and the best price. I would really suggest using a travel agent. It doesn't cost anymore and they can give you all the advice you need. There was a lot we didn't know about taking a cruise. You will need a passport if the cruise takes you out of the states. The cruise includes all meals. You will need to pay for any alcoholic beverages.



answers from Kansas City on

We have been on two Carnival cruises, and they are very kid friendly, if you are taking your child. You can go directly to their website and see about prices, but you might be better off calling their 800 number before you book to see if there are any other options.

My parents have also done Royal Carribean but didn't like it as well.

There are 5 day cruises out of Galveston, and my friend just booked 5 people on a 5 day cruise (3 kids) for a little over $2,000 for our spring break. Her cruise goes to Cozumel and another port. And, yes, they are all inclusive, exclusive of alcohol or pop. There are lots of specials for cruises right now, so I would check on line to see what it available.

Have fun!



answers from St. Joseph on

Not all cruises are all fact, many are not. The meals, of course are figured in but drinks (except at meals...i.e. soft drinks, tea, coffee) are not. If you are looking for an all inclusive cruise where you drink A LOT then expect to pay a hefty upcharge. If however, you don't plan on drinking excessively then I wouldn't worry about an all inclusive. Even all inclusive cruises have exclusions (including some trips asshore and tips).

Tips are a HUGE factor on the cruises. And YES, you ARE expected to tip everyone! But you only do it at the END of the trip. You tip the maid, the guy who gets your luggage to your room and back to the dockside, your waiter, etc. Last I checked (but I'm sure there is plenty online about it...) they were around 15% which can add up to A LOT in a short amount of time.

Cruise lines are as varied as their customers but they also have a loyal cliental. Last I knew Royal Carribean and Norwegian were for middle age to older folks, Carnival for the younger folks (expect all night parties on this one!!! and I'm NOT kidding...there WILL be running up and down the halls at all hours of the night!), and Disney for the family oriented.

Now for the meat and potatoes...the smaller the boat the greater your chance for sea sickness because they have less mass for the stabilizers. HOWEVER, smaller ships do generally mean BETTER service including better food. When I sailed Royal Carrib it was on their largest ship at the time. It was beautiful, service was fantastic, entertainment was good, food was plentiful but sometimes spotty which means it all LOOKED great but sometimes the taste didn't match with the looks. Smaller ships also afford for the staff to intermingle with you better and get to know you and what your like/prefer.

There are TONS of stuff to do on board but mind you most ships only have the pool open during the day (because otherwise drunks will drown at night) if you want to swim but you are going ashore for a day trip, know that you WON'T be swimming when you get back unless your trip ashore is really short. Any trips you make ashore are at your expense. Taxies into town are on you as are any tours you may take. Every cruise offers travel packages ashore that may be tours, or water sports, helicopter rides, etc. ALL of these MUST be purchased once you board the ship and ALL of these are on a FIRST COME FIRST SERVED BASIS...which means if you are late getting on the ship, expect most things to be sold out. You also need to pay for them when you book so take your credit card with you.

I will say that a 3 day cruise is merely getting your feet wet. It will be a whirlwind of activity. I would recommend finding a cruise with an even distribution of time management...3 day and 2 stops...that gives you at least one day at sea, which TRUST ME, you will enjoy the down time...and there are still PLENTY of things to do onboard. Games, casinos, shopping, movie theater, auditorium, and various lounges (all with different themes) can and WILL take up a good portion of your time. Pack minimalistically as you will be living in cramped quarters. Make sure you pack an empty duffle bag if you plan on making purchases at any of your stops so that you aren't having to buy a bag on your trip.

Also, another thing...if you do drink you CAN buy more alcohol at port than what you are planning on declaring (as long as you drink the rest)...buying on land vs. paying on the ship is a HUGE money saver!!!

You didn't mention why flying was out but frankly, I think it's one of the easiest ways of doing it...most airlines just shuffle your baggage directly to the cruiseline so you don't even have to collect it. AND they provide free shuttle service from the airport to the ship.

Frankly, I think cruising is one of the BEST forms of taking a vacation. It's relaxing AND you get 5 star treatment no matter what cabin you book. Oh, the further down you get the greater chances of your seasickness I would go mid-range on levels in chosing your cabin. Inside cabins will cost less as well. I would recommend getting some Dramamine for the trip, take it before you get onboard and make sure to spend as much time on deck as opposed to your room if you are feeling seasick. Good luck & have fun!



answers from Springfield on

Have a great time - I wish I was going with you..!!! My husband and I have been on several cruises with our first one being on Carnival ( out of Galvaston. Go for at least 5 days - trust me. Make sure you get an outside room, mid level and towards the back of the ship (less rock and roll when you are trying to sleep. Everything is included except your booze but you can bring some in your luggage. They will tell you what tip is expected. There is a ton of stuff to do on the ship and for the shore excursions you can take one of the ship's or make your own. Everyday you will receive a news update in your room about what is going on for that day.

I noticed that no one told you about the pictures - they take pictures of you everywhere and you can buy them or not. But the really fun one is the dress up night (2 nights for a 7 day cruise) It is really formal (or as formal as you want to get) and fun - they have 2 dinner seating times and the early one usually sells out first so when you book ask for it if you don't like to eat late. Before your dinner they have places all over the ship where they take really nice portraits. On our last cruise to Alaska we couldn't get the early dinner so we just got all dolled up and stood in line with the early crowd and then ate at one of the other many, many restraunts on the ship.

Take advantage of the tour of the ship on the first day - it will help you navigate for the rest of your trip. And last - don't drink the water in Mexico or anything with ice in it. Stick to bottled soda, water, & beer.

In my opinion a cruise is the only "real vacation" that there is. Have a great time..!!!



answers from St. Louis on

We've been on several cruises - both before kids and after, with our 4 kids. We have used Cruises Only - see They were helpful and I called often for all of the questions I had. If you are a AAA member they also offer free travel agency services and they seemed very knowledgeable about cruises, but I ended up with a better deal with Cruises Only. There's also, and And, of course, going direct to the cruise line.

We've done Carnival and Royal Carribean and liked both. For us, it was a matter of which cruises did we have to choose from for the one and only week of vacation time we had blocked off. We had several to choose from but the time frame narrowed it down. Once, we also were going to drive to New Orleans and then leave on Carnival but it turned out that we did end up flying to Miami for a better ship (bigger with more to do) and a longer itinerary.

We love cruises - it's easy and you get to do lots of different things, more than you would do on a land only vacation. Enjoy!



answers from Kansas City on

We just took our first cruis in Sept and so cheap due to it being the low season AKA Hurrican season which was not problem for us, it was great. SO prices in March I can't help with but here are just a couple little things I learned.
1.To save, we didn't buy drinks on ship- YIKES$$$!We did see in the agreement that each person can bring on one bottle of alcohol... double check that but that was great for us. We brought a bottle of wine each. Then out on excursions, we would buy a little bottle of this or that which we stored in our carry bag and when they checked us back in they did not say anything. From what I understand, the bigger bottles they will take and store for you until the end of the cruise so you don't stop buying their drinks!

2. A friend who goes on many cruises taught us to clear tape over our laggage tags. This way, they won't get torn off during the move to your cabin. Even the crew thanked us for doing so saying they have a lot of luggage get MIA for a while because the tag get torn off.

3.You get to eat all you want! We mostly enjoyed the meals in the dinning room vs buffet... but they all usually have a midnight buffet too! YOU EAT A LOT!!! Then, did anyone tell you you have FREE room service too!!! SO NICE!

4. If you are a coffee drinker like us, you can call in the night before and give them a time you want it delivered to your room the next morning... this way, you get it when you want it, not when the line of orders called in that same morning! This was a great tip for us!!! We need our coffee plus there was nothing better than just laying around and having breakfast & coffee in bed!!!

I will leave you with that. Good luck on the search but DON'T GIVE UP! This is a wonderful thing to do! My hubby was so not wanting to go on a cruise, now he can hardly wait to go again... but it will be a few years considering we got prego during the cruise-HA! Beware! Althought this was all our plan! :-)



answers from Wichita on

Good Morning J., What fun!! We went on a Cruise with friends a few years ago to the Bahama's. Was a one day cruise over then 4 days on the island, night cruise back, we had a small room just to be able to sit down, most of the time we stayed up top or watched the stage shows.

Then we Celebrated our 35th Anniversary with a 7 day Hawaiian Cruise. Fabulous. Most cruise lines have buffets for breakfast & lunch, some times evening also. These are included. Drinks ( alcohol etc ) are charged to your room. The one we went on we had like an account in our name with cash in it, so if we bought a drink it was deducted from that, you didn't have to carry cash with you. When the cruise was over we received the remaining funds in the account. We had a awesome cabin with a small deck, queen bed, tv, frig, bathroom etc. Was awesome

They have nice restaurants on board you can make reservations for. There is entertainment nightly you can attend free.

We used a travel agent to book our cruise and the things we wanted to do and see. LESS hassle and they can help you stay with in a budget. I think it was AAA Travel? in Wichita J., at Douglas and Oliver beside the Healing Waters Spa. I'm not sure how much the charged us it was just so simple to have them do it as if there are problems with schedules they take care of it. I just asked Hubby, The Cruise Lines pays the agents they book for. Not you!!!
So who ever you use there is NO charge for you to use their services. They will tell you where the Cruise leaves port from that is where you need to go. It may not be TX, but closer to the Border.

I've never taken a cruise to Mexico so I can't help with sights to see or whatever. My brother and Sis in law have done the Alaskan Cruise 3 times they love it.

Have a great time Planning J. and Let an Agent help you.
God Bless you and yours
K. Nana of 5
PS I would never go on a cruise where meal assignments are a Must. I think it's called Free Style Cruise is the Best, eat where and when you want.
We did it on our Bahamas Cruise and did meet some sweet people we kind of Adopted, But the Free Style is So much nicer.



answers from Joplin on

Hi J.,
I would suggest you use a Travel Agent and not a part time one. Travel Agents can find good deals that you will not find and this could save you a lot of money. Make sure she knows that you really do not want to spend a lot of money. Good luck and have GREAT VACATION.

Madge H

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions

Related Searches