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My husband and I have been thinking about taking a cruise vacation. Is there anyone who has taken a cruise and can give us any hints as to what to look for as far as the ship itself, where it's registered, what we should ask about, scams, best time of the year to go, websites, etc.?
He's 63 and we were thinking about going to the Caribbean.
Thanks in advance!
By metroplex from Houston, TX
If you are using an Agent, I would go somewhere reputable like AAA or BJs Travel. I would never just walk into an individual business. You can also shop around on the internet and book directly with the cruise line.
Book as far out as you can, prices go up when you get closer to the date, just like hotels and airlines. I would suggest a shorter cruise for your first one like 4-5 days. You may not like it and 7 days will be very long if you don't.
I'd like to save you a lot of grief, and I hope that you or anyone else NEVER has to go through want we've gone through. My husband and I lost $8,552 in 2009 all over a lie from a travel agent. My husband and I booked a South China Sea cruise with Princess Cruise Lines. We have already paid $150.00 to our family attorney and he drafted a letter to the travel agency who is in the state of Arizona. Since we reside in NY, our lawyer's hands were tied and he was unable to help us. He suggested that we hire a lawyer in AZ. We did just that and we paid a $2,000 retainer fee. Our total loss is now up to $10,702.00.
My husband repeatedly asked the travel agent if we needed visas. We already had our passports, so that wasn't the problem. She told us over the phone that she would contact Princess Cruise Lines. She called them and she got back to us in a few days. She reassured us that we did not need visas, since we were being sponsored by Princess Cruise Lines.
My husband and I drove to the Buffalo Airport and we soon discovered that we were in deep doo-doo. A United Airlines representative asked to see our visas. We repeated what the travel agent told us, that we were being sponsored on the ship. The airlines let us fly any way and we flew all the way to Shanghai, China in December 2009. We were treated like criminals since we didn't have the proper visas. Try to speak to someone in a foreign country, good luck! We were quickly ushered into an office and our passports were taken from us. There was a Chinese man who was supposed to pick us up and take us to the ship. This Chinese man said that he would call the ship. He used his cell phone, but we wouldn't know if he told us the truth or not since we don't know any Chinese. My husband asked him if he would call the ship for us so my husband could talk with them and straighten out this problem. The Chinese man refused our request. We were held until the ship left the port. And to add salt in our wounds we were forced out of China and had to pay for 2 plane tickets to Hong Kong. The plane to Hong Kong was held up until we could board. A female police officer held onto our passports until we set foot on the plane, then she gave them back to us. The one way trip to Hong Kong cost us $770.00.
We paid for travel insurance and that is also a lost cause. The travel insurance company lays the blame on the customer for not having the proper documents.
When we finally arrived home, we received a call from the travel agency. They told us that Princess Cruise Lines wanted to know where we were? DAH! My husband and I weren't going to spend any more money to try and pick up the ship at another port. If we couldn't board in Shanghai, we couldn't board the ship any where.
The travel agency refunded $300 on the transfers that we never used, since they never picked us up. This is a government travel agency so it's impossible to sue them. So now the AZ attorney is negotiating to work out a deal to compensate us for the monetary loss by giving us one or two cruises. They have our money and we never took the cruise.
A word to the wise, but who ever listens to us anyway. People will make up their own mind. I strongly advise you or anyone else to join AAA in your home state and have them take care of the cruise lines, airlines, etc.
Wait until you get on the ship before paying for any land excursions you would like to go on.
MCW, that sounds like a nightmare! I would hesitate going on a cruise now anyway with the pirates out in full force!
Thousands of people are cruising every day. I wouldn't worry about pirates. There are many different types of cruises. For your first one, I suggest you go to a travel agent and see what is available. Years ago my husband and I went on a Caribbean cruise, and it was lovely. There is a lot of variety, different ports, different number of stops, amenities on the ship, and so on. Think about what you want. Do you like a lot of land excursions? Do you want to spend your time around the pool? Are you interested in shows and onboard entertainment? Dancing in the evening? Also, check out the archived advice on here. There is tons of it.
I like Royal Carribean. Carnival is more of a party cruise and tends to be younger folks. And unless you want to be around mega-kids, don't do a Disney cruise. Lots of books, articles and websites abound.
Five years ago our grown children convinced us to go on a cruise. My husband is the thriftiest person I've ever known and he went "kicking and screaming". When we got off the ship after 7 days his first words to me were "Where do you want to go next year?" We've cruised each January or February, and I'm already working on the next one. There are a lot of bargains out there, you just have to do your homework. Try vacationstogo.com or cruise411.com. Another place I'd suggest would be cruisecritic.com message boards. There's a lot of information about the cruise lines, ships, ports. It'll take some time, but worth it. You could also visit the cruise lines websites. Even if you decide to hire a travel agent it's a good idea to get some background first. Good luck and enjoy your cruise!
The one and only (I'd love to go on more) cruise I've done is to the western Caribean on Royal Caribean Cruise lines. It was the most fun I've ever had! I would highly recommend it. We had no problems as far as booking the cruise. You couldn't imagine all the wonderful, fun stuff there is to do and if you just want to relax by the pool, you can just do that and not join in the other things. There are shows, (even an ice show) pool contests, dancing classes, rock climbing, inline skating, basketball/volleyball tournaments, a gym and more! We enjoyed the ship more than the ports we stopped at.
My husband and I talked with the attorney who is handling our case regarding the money we lost on a cruise that we never went on. Our lawyer paid a visit to the travel agency and he found out that the woman who sold us the cruise is no longer working for them. Gee, I wonder why she was let go? He did some investigating and he found out that the travel agency is not at all affiliated with the government, so therefore they can be brought to trial. The travel agency breached the contract, they have all our money and we received nothing in return.
So again I stress that if you are ever planning a cruise have AAA set up the cruise and the airlines for you in your home area. So a word to the wise, don't get ripped off by these travel agencies on the internet. If you aren't an AAA member it is worth the money to join and pay the yearly dues.
My family has taken numerous cruises over the years. I highly advise you to steer clear and don't book a cruise on the internet. As one person mentioned it's best to book with AAA. Call one of the local AAA offices. We've been on several Princess Cruises, and the food is some of the worse. Holland America is very nice and they cater to mostly retirees. Their food is delicious. One of the things that we like about Holland America is that they provide religious services. We were able to go to Catholic Mass everyday. Holland America also has Protestant and Jewish services. Norwegian Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean are also nice cruise lines. Carnival Cruise Lines is more of a party ship if you're the partying type. You can spend a ton of money if you decide to take the ship's shore excursions. We don't bother with shore excursions, it's much cheaper to disembark the ship at a port and walk around.
The most important thing to buy is travel insurance, I can't stress that enough. I personally experienced it when I had a medical emergency on Nov. 12, 2014 and had to be taken off the ship and flown home with my family members. I had to fax in all the medical reports from the ship's doctor to the insurance company. But we were all reimbursed for the days that we missed on the ship since the three of us had travel insurance.
I have been on 15 cruises and enjoyed everyone, I have sailed out of Galveston twice, so I would suggest you drive to Galveston from Houston, saves air fare and you can park close to port. I also suggest for your first cruise, go with the smaller ships 2200-3000 people. do your research or go with a travel agent. I have done it both ways. I have a cruise in Aug this year and another one booked in Jan 2017.
I'm helping plan a class cruise. It is planned that we will be going in early June and it is at night. We were thinking semi-formal. What should we do on the cruise though?
Emily from Seattle, WA
I'd recommend you consult with a travel agent -- usually their services are free (their fee is paid by the cruise line)
ALL people do on cruises is gain weight! The food is so good!
Cruises always have pools and often parties for teens. Cruises are a blast. There is free movie theaters on board some times. Theres tons to do. At ports of calls, you can buy excursion packages and do several things from 4x4ing, beach hang out, horse rides, dolphin sighting, etc. Dont spend all your ports of calls by shopping though. Why go on vacation to just shop? LOL