Seeking Cruising Moms

Updated on January 04, 2010
M.P. asks from Midland, TX
11 answers

Good Morning Moms,
My husband and I are planning our first cruise and our first cruise with all the kids. At our time of travel we will have a 17 yr old boy, 13 yr old boy, and a 3 year old girl. We are wondering: is it best to book through a travel agent or through the cruise line. And, in your opinion which one is better Carnival or Royal Caribbean? Any words of advice will be appreciated.

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So What Happened?

Thank you all moms. That was a lot of information and help. I am pretty sure we are going to go with Carnival as they are the closest (no extra expense of flying somewhere). I think for our first trip it will be wonderful no matter which cruise line we go on. I think the cruise will be what we make of it. We are so excited we are going to do the 7 day Western Caribbean cruise! YEAH! Now its work out time for me!

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A.A.

answers from Waco on

You've received lots of advice suggesting you should look into Disney. I personally have not been on a disney cruise, but I've heard great things about them. I've been on both Royal and Carnival and I would pick Royal a thousand times over Carnival. Carnival is for the party crowd and I would not recommend it for families.

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B.B.

answers from Salt Lake City on

I would suggest two things... First, seriously consider a Disney Cruise. We went a year ago specifically because our oldest was 17. We didn't want to wait until he was 18 because Disney has a great teen program for kids 13-17. He LOVED the teen activities, dances, karaoke,scavenger hunts, wii tournaments, playstation marathons... My 12 year old daughter loved the shows, movies, and Disney's private island. Our 5 year old triplets cried when we picked them up from the playhouse. They would have stayed until midnight had we let them! As for the adults, the food was better than a lot of the other cruise ships we've been on... The entertainment was top-notch, and because of all the youth and child programs, we were able to do lots of "adult" activites (jet skiing, snorkeling, etc.).

If you are set on Carnival or Royal, I'd pick Royal. Carnival has a very drunken-party atmosphere...

For booking, I think you may get the best deals through somewhere like Vacations-to-go. They currently have cruises (including Disney) with discounts up to 70%!

Good luck and have TONS of fun! I wish I were going with you!!!

www.thosecrazybeans.blogspot.com

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L.M.

answers from Houston on

First off, I must say book through a travel agent, especially if you are not sure what cruise line or where you want to sail. I do group travel for a travel agency, and I know travel agents can steer you in the right direction.

I see many responders have advised you to check with Disney Cruise Line. They are great, nobody does it like Disney. But, they are also very expensive. This coming summer they are not offering a 7 day Caribbean sailing, on 3 and 4 day cruises.

Pros and cons of Carnival versus Royal Caribbean (RCCL).

Carnival Pro - Carnival's cabins are much larger on average than any other cruise line. This is talking about the staterooms, not the jr. suites or larger categories. So, if you are looking for the least expensive route, the least expensive cabin on Carnival is going to be a lot bigger than the least expensive cabin on RCCL. You can even fit all 5 of you in the cabin. Granted it's a bit tight, but it's doable and you're not in the cabin for a great amount of time anyway.

Carnival Con - Carnival does not offer adjoining cabins, RCCL does on a limited basis. So, if you want a separate cabin for the teens, on Carnival you would not be able to have an interior door between the cabins. If this does not matter to you but you want separate cabins, consider getting yourself an outside (or balcony) cabin and booking them in an inside cabin across the hall to save money. No matter the cruise line, you would have to book it with one adult in each room, then you can sleep how you want once on board.

Both cruise lines offer Kids Clubs for all of your children (RCCL they must be potty trained). Kids Clubs are great. And I practically guarantee that your teenagers will want to spend almost every waking hour there. Even the shyest kids love going there. Carnival also offers Teen Only shore excursions, they are supervised of course.

Carnival Pro- Carnival offers year round 4, 5, and 7 day cruises from Galveston. RCCL only offers 7 day cruises seasonally (Dec-Apr). From Midland you could drive to Galveston instead of the extra expense of flying somewhere.

Carnival is a lesser expensive cruise line than RCCL. They do cater more to the "fun loving" crowd. If you are going during the "out-of-school" months, you are going to find just as many families on both cruise lines. RCCL can be a bit more of a "refined" crowd.

I hope this bit of advice helps in your decision.

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S.S.

answers from Santa Barbara on

M.-
About a year and a half ago, I took my son on a 4 day Mexican cruise. It was a Carnival cruise. My son, who was 9 at the time, loved, loved, loved the cruise. He would get up early and go check himself in to the kids club, find some friends he wanted to hang out with, check himself out (you would have to comfortable with your boys being independent) and stop by the room or walkie-talkie me with where he was going and who he was with. I would stop and check in on him and his buddies (sometimes observe from afar) and go off to do whatever I wanted to do. I found the cruise rather boring, because I did not plan to have my child away all day long. The "camp" workers were all female, so the activities were too girl oriented for my very active, sports loving, video junky boy. He and his buddies played mini golf, went to the arcade, swam, jacuzzi, ate pizza, ate ice cream, got lunch for himself, did water slide. He keeps asking when we get to go again. One downside item was the shore excursions were age restrictive for my son, so he had the choice of shopping with old people or going to an artisan community to shop with old people. We went back to the ship after hitting the beach for a couple hours and had the pool and waterslide to ourselves. It was the best part of the cruise for me. Ohhh, yeah, my son also loved the dinners. He could order 12 shrimp cocktails for dinner and no one said anything to him. I would bet he ate 200 shrimps during those 4 days. We enjoyed all the shows. We had early seating at dinner, this I would reconsider. We were seated with a family that had two really young and poorly behaved children. It drove me and my son crazy. No matter what you choose, I highly recommend that you take the alcohol that they allow you to bring on board: drinks are quite pricey. Bring walkie talkies so your boys can have freedom and yet you can be in constant contact. Cell phones are very expensive onboard, so are computers. You might want to confiscate your boy's phones before the trip, because they can't use them without great expense. I made one call and spent 30 minutes online and it cost a bundle. Sorry for the long answer.

BTW, I've heard the Disney Cruises are amazing, but really pricey.

Have fun!
S. S.

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C.H.

answers from San Antonio on

Hi M.,
We have been on two Carnival cruises in the past year & had a blast. Our son was 16 when we went on the last one this past summer & after he made some friends at the teen club, he was with them everyday playing basketball, volleyball, etc. Don't let the ones who are telling you that Carnival is a party ship make you not look into it. On both of our cruises, there were lots of families with kids of all ages. I didn't see either of our cruises as being mostly young, drunk singles. I think it also depends on how long you will be on the cruise. I have heard that the short 3 or 4 day cruises are more party cruises than the longer ones since those are usually over the weekend. Both of ours were 7 days.

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M.G.

answers from San Antonio on

My husband and I took a Disney cruise with our 9 month old and it was fabulous. It was a little more expensive, but it was 5 star quality. For family cruise, Disney is the way to go.

As for booking a cruise, I would try both. Check with the Agent first and then with the cruise line and see which one can give you a better deal. You can also try cruise websites because you can get really good deals that way also.

If you don't want to spend the money for Disney, may I suggest Holland America. They have been around a lot longer and I only hear great things about them. I have heard bad things about both Carnival and also Royal Caribbean. Although you should probably do your homework before you go on any cruise.

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M.S.

answers from Houston on

We enjoyed a cruise with Norwegan cruise line last year and loved it. We would stay away from Carnival as it has a rep of having lots of singles and caters to the singles more than families.

We also went through a travel agent and got a better deal than we found on-line...plus she sent us some goodies and even got us an up-grade on our room.

Have fun and be sure to spend some time alone with your hubby. There are tons of activities for kids!

M. in Pearland

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L.P.

answers from Sherman on

I have not been on the Carnival or the Royal cruise lines....but I have been on the Disney Cruise and it was a blast. I hear the Carmival cruise is a very good one. Check out www.disneycruise.com and there is many places you can go.....when I went on the Disney Cruise we went the Bahamas and disney's private island Castaway Cay....we loved both islands.

L.

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M.P.

answers from Houston on

I agreed other mothers to pick out Disney Cruise over both cruised you pick!! We went there last year!! My girls LOVE there every bit of it!! Meet all the Princesses, WONDERFUL Broadway shows, awesome kids friendly foods as Mickey Mouse ice cream, Mickey Mouse Pasta, Mickey Mouse Pancakes and more!!!

Your daughter will LOVE to meet all the Disney Princesses in cruise!! You can bring her disney dress up. She can wear them all day in cruise and take pictures with all the princesses. They have awesome video rooms for your boys!! I think they have night club and social for teens or so.

I heard lot of disappointed about Carnival. Royal Carribean isnt that bad, but Disney is CHAMP!!!! We will go back again in 2 more years. I booked our cruise under Vacationto go.com... GREAT deal!!

Good luck!!:)

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W.W.

answers from Houston on

We loved Disney too. The food is great and the kids program was very, very good. Included in the program is pantomimes that are interactive, games, snacks, clean bathrooms, safe check in to the kids club and check outs too. Parents are allowed to come in and spend time with their kids. Not all ships allow you in with the kids. Star Cruises in Asia are one of those.
The rooms are nice. The dining room cater to many diets. There is no casino if you want to gamble, but there is other fun things. The staff on the whole ship are fantastic!
Royal Carribean is beautiful and I have been on "Adventure of The Seas" and one of their smaller ships too. I like the bigger ships better. They are less prepared for smaller children.

Find out from the cruise line offer for kids, and don't be afraid to ask for what you want. Have a great cruise. It is a wonderful holiday.
W.

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J.E.

answers from Houston on

I've done both Royal and Carnival. Royal was about 10 years ago, but without kids. LOVED that cruise. It is a bit nicer that Carnival and the service was top notch. I would recommend that to anyone. However, since it was before I had a daughter, I can't tell you how good they are with kids.

Last year, we did a Carnival cruise for my mom's 60th birthday and this time I had my daughter along. Yeah, it was a little more run down than the Royal ship, and the service and shows weren't as good, but we still had a blast. And my daughter, who's 7, insists on going back SOON. She had the best of all worlds. Their kids camp was excellent for her, and she was in and out of there all day. You just have to be careful about their off hours during the day. Plus we were able to find several on shore excursions that she was old enough to participate in (you might have a little trouble finding something the 3 year old can do with you).

With Carnival, I contacted one of their trip planners and he worked with me in getting everything organized and was wonderful in answering all my questions. I booked through him and he was able to let me know of current discounts and upgrades and even came back later with some rebates as more specials became available.

I hope y'all have a blast! Cruises are so much fun!

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