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
Add your voice! Click below to answer. ThriftyFun is powered by your wisdom!
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.
Add your voice! Click below to answer. ThriftyFun is powered by your wisdom!
I need some info on taking a cruise. The prices right now are as low as I have seen. My concerns are many. I get carsick, so the thought of being stuck out at sea while violently ill with no way off scares me. How bad is the motion on a cruise?
Secondly, I have seen a few TV shows where they show the cruise and it seems horribly crowded at all the pools, on the private islands where they take you for a day at the beach, and while dining. I do not want to spend my vacation or my money on something that is the equal to the mall right before Christmas. I do not find that atmosphere at all enjoyable. If you have cruised, please give me your honest perception of the experience.
I have not taken a cruise, but my parents have. My father commented that with the size of the cruise ship nowadays it was like when he was on a carrier in the Navy. You hardly know your on water. And cruise ships today are as big if not bigger than carriers back in the 50s.
You can check out:
http://www.ehow.com/video_2201182_begin-planning-vacation-cruise.html and see if it helps. (10/14/2010)
I suggest an inside room with no window, also don't look out over the side at the sea or for sure you will lose it. When inside you will not even know you are moving. Our cruise was the best trip we ever took, do all of the activities they offer. This it the time to try new foods, and if you don't like it just ask for something different. They are more than happy to do just about anything for you. Eat dinner at the table they assign to you, we met 8 other people at our table and had a blast with them. (10/16/2010)
Hi, first about the motion sickness. I would take Gravol or whatever you normally use, I think it is better to be over prepared than to take a chance on being sick. Believe me, lots of people on the ship will be taking motion sickness medicine. Why not? What is the down side? Then you can enjoy the whole process without worry. And if you can't look out over the sea, why go?
I was a bit surprised by the wind on the deck. It isn't like the Love Boat! Some days had little or no motion, but most days we knew we were on a ship, and one night was quite swingy. I went on a cruise once, a long time ago, and maybe a bigger ship would be smoother, but if you go on a bigger ship, you will certainly have more people. The dining room was full, of course, because everyone eats! Just like a fancy restaurant.
Some people go on the cruise for the pools and sunbathing, so those will likely be crowded. I only went swimming once, but it is like a public pool or a public popular beach. If you want to be the only one there, you are going to have to go to some wilderness location or in the off season (when the weather is likely terrible, which is why it is the off season!)
I found it the equivalent of popular holiday spots, local beaches that are great on a long weekend or going to a public pool on a hot day. Of course it is crowded, but you can still have fun. (10/16/2010)
I have been on four cruises and have another one booked for April of 2011. The ships now days are huge and being on one of these ships is just like sitting in your living room, do not worry about getting sea sick. Just make sure that you don't go on The MS Westerdam, Holland America Line, as that ship is a piece of junk, and you could very well get sea sick on that one. We went on that ship, and it was bad. We now sail with Princess Cruise line and have never, ever had a problem. You need not worry about being crowded, we have never had a problem with that either. You can go to your Dr. and get a sea sick patch, if you really think that you need it. We got them and we never used them. Book that cruise and have the time of your life! I am counting down the months till I can get on my next one. There is nothing like it. Hope this has been helpful.
I cruised with Celebrity Cruises and it was fantastic! Your every need is attended, the food is plentiful and wonderful, and even though we visited multiple ports of call, the ship was the best place to be, around the clock. Go for it. (10/16/2010)
Don't cruise. The gigantic ships have little or no motion, but you seem like you will be expecting turbulence, let's say if it rains. Yes, it's crowded. The elevators are jammed, dining rooms can be noisy, or you can dine at an odd time or in their more expensive restaurants (not included in the fare). Swimming pools are small and very crowded.
Tour buses run on curvy and twisting roads. When fares are so cheap it attracts more passengers which means more crowds. This doesn't bother me, since I grew up in New York City, but your attitude precludes trying out cruising. Camping in one of the state or national parks in a cabin or lodge can be economical and certainly not crowded. (10/16/2010)
They make Dramamine and other motion sickness pills. Pop one before you board and as suggested or needed. They do work. You might even ask your doctor if you should start a regimen of treatment a couple of days before the cruise.
One website I recommend is www.tripadvisor.com.
You will find people on there that cruise all the time, have been on the ship you are investigating, know the ports, excursions, etc. It is a lovely travel website! Look up the port of call on this website and click the "things to do" section. Most of these things are the same ones you will find offered on the ship. We booked Carnival cruise line's Celebrity, 6 years ago. It was a fabulous trip! My mother, in her wheel chair, was supported by friendly staff, food was good and plentiful, price was good.
I also recommend speaking with agents of the cruise line. That is what they are there for. Excursions are the chance to experience something outside of the norm. Lower your expectancies a bit and choose something all involved will like. You will be pleasantly surprised! But book early! if not ahead of the sail date. Pools on ships are for kids. Period. They are saltwater pumped in from the ocean, rocky when in motion, and when the ship is not sailing you are off and running to port anyway. I am willing to bet you never get in one. I am a "water lover" and never found the setting appealing, or even had the time to bother.
Big ships are just that, big! Crowds can be expected at dinner time, but the agenda is set for you by the crew to avoid this instance. Attend the shows, they're lots of fun! Read the paper work in the cabin, there are hidden charges, bottles of water are not free. Be prepared to get your picture taken at every turn by the ship's photographer. They sell them to you at the end of the cruise.
My ultimate suggestion is get excited, lower your expectancies, do your homework and have some fun! The crew on cruise ships are there for you, experienced at every problem or concern and once you board you will find time flies, regrettably! (11/03/2010)
I'd like to address only the issue of motion sickness. The rest is subject to individual preference. On my last cruise I followed some advice that I obtained online. To avoid getting sick, put a cotton ball in the ear opposite your dominant hand. So, If you are right handed, the cotton ball goes in the left ear and vice versa.This was the most effective motion sickness method I've ever used. My friend also started to get sick and following my recommendation, obtained immediate relief. It is inexpensive and effective, and I can now throw away my pills and wristbands. (11/10/2010)
I would love to take a cruise but don't have any idea how to get started. I need advice on how to find cheap cruises and what to expect when I get there. Are all the food and restaurants free?
By Robby from Jacksonville, NC
Just found this website which will answer all of your questions. It is a series of videos.
I suggest to consult with a travel agent. Usually their services are free (their fee is paid by the cruise line). You pay for the food when you get the ticket, they have gambling on some. I got sea sick. I will never go on another cruise, but good luck. (12/08/2009)
Here is a site you can check out for ideas of cruises. You can also join their email list and get offers sent to you each week of specials going on. http://www.travelnotes.org/
Another site to get info about cruises and places is http://www.tripadvisor.com/ (12/08/2009)
We loved our cruise, but we went in November and rarely saw the sun. It was very cloudy. The swimming pools are also salt water. I didn't know that until after we boarded. We went with Royal Caribbean and had prepaid for our shore excursions. We would go down past the desk to find out our excursion had been canceled. No reason was given, and it happened 3 times. I was a bit disappointed by that, and I don't know if it happens on other cruise lines, but I wouldn't go with RC again. Food was average, unless you want to pay extra for the specialty restaurants. Our room was an over sized closet.
Overall, I think it was a good value for the money, but an all-inclusive at a resort will probably be our next vacation. I didn't feel safe in the foreign ports we visited. Certainly not enough to venture out on our own. Jamaica was the worst, but we did go with a large group to swim with dolphins. If you get the chance, definitely do that. We got the seasick ear patches from the doctor, but we didn't use them. My overall advice, check the weather for your ports ahead of time, and be watchful of your surroundings in port. (12/10/2009)
The Travel Channel has a show on every now and then about what to expect on a cruise. I took an Alaskan cruise on Princess and highly recommend that trip to everybody. However, every cruise line is different and what you can expect on one may not be the same on another. (12/11/2009)
I love cruises! AAA has info as do all travel agencies, as well as many sites online. Generally all food and on board entertainment are included. You pay for alcohol and soft drinks, and tips (which are given at the end of the cruise) to your cabin attendant, waiter and busboy, a least. I usually drink iced tea with meals and there is no extra charge for that. You pay for any gift shop purchases, shore excursions, spa services, laundry or dry cleaning, etc. Most cruise fees are based on "double occupancy" so it is good to have someone to travel with. (12/12/2009)
My husband and I have been on four cruises so far, and we're real penny pinchers. We belong to a vacation club, but have never found any better deals anywhere than at vacationstogo.com. I've spent a LOT of time on the internet making comparisons and have found it to be the best.
As to your question about restaurants, most cruises have a couple of restaurants that have a cover charge but we never use those. The dining rooms are great, but there are lots of other choices. The food is included in the price. Coffee, tea, fruit juices are too. Alcoholic beverages and soft drinks and bottled water are extra, but the water on the ships is fine for drinking. I usually get water from one of the coffee stations.
I would suggest that you go to cruisecritics.com. You'll find lots of information there, but you might get so involved with the site you'll lose all track of time. We're shipping out again on Jan. 30th. Good luck, and I hope you find what you're looking for. I don't think you'll be sorry. (12/13/2009)
Consult with a travel agent when planning a cruise.