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cpgecko

Trying to pick a cruise...

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Our family was thinking about a Disney cruise in 2020. Then we started our research in earnest and found out about this community and the price difference between Disney and RC.

Now, we're swamped trying to pick what we want to do and could use some guidance from the awesome folks here who know a lot more than we do.

We're planning a summer 2020 cruise. It'll be two adults, a 6 year-old, and a 3 year-old. We live in Seattle, which makes an Alaska cruise super convenient, but we're not big outdoors people and are worried that the kids are too young to really get into an Alaska cruise.

We'd appreciate any advice. I've been reading the blog and boards while listening to the podcast, so I'm starting to sell my partner on getting two rooms and using a travel agent, but I'd really appreciate guidance on itineraries that could work well for us. I'd also love to know if this WOW sale is something I should be moving on or just the kind of thing that comes up. 

Any other tips would be greatly appreciated!

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Don't worry about the sale ending, Royal Caribbean has continuous sales.

If I were you, for your first cruise I'd fly to Florida and do a more "traditional" cruise, to the Caribbean, and save Alaska for the future.  Though it is a bit of a long flight to Florida from the west coast for a 3 year old.

There are other cruise lines that may do sailings from California to Mexico, but since this is a Royal Caribbean message board might not be the best place to discuss that.

I recommend finding a good travel agent.  They can help you pick the right cruise for you and your family.

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Thanks for the tip!

The kids have been to Hawaii, so the flight time isn't an issue. It just adds to the overall price of the cruise.

I appreciate the sale advice and the travel agent makes a bunch of sense.

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We are a family of three

Me, Husband and our 20 year old daughter.

We have sailed on three different cruise line, in 11 days RCC will be our fourth.

We have sailed Disney, Holland and Norwegian.  Our daughter was 8 on Disney, 12 on Holland and 16 on Norwegian.

Hands down Disney was the best, the best at everything but price.

We will report back on how RCC rates. compare to the other three.

If you have any questions on the three lines we've salied ask away.

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Since you are so close, Alaska is a good way to see if you like cruising.   It is truly beautiful and you can find out if your kids enjoy the children’s activities.   Honestly on our first two cruises all our kids wanted to do was go to the kids programs in both the Caribbean and Alaska.  They were true “clock watchers” and wanted to spend every possible minute in the kids club.   This was on Disney and princess.    Disney is known for kids programs but princess is not.   Not sure if we’re such bad parents our kids will do anything to escape but both were great vacations for our family.   Our “kids” are all now adults and we have  found that a cruise is an ideal vacation.   Enough time together; enough time apart.   

You will have a great time whichever you decide.  

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@cpgecko, welcome to the boards!

The current sale includes Kids Sail Free, which can definitely save you a decent amount of money (though I think you need to have everyone in a single cabin). Can’t say if it’ll be enough to offset the cost of a flight from the west coast, and blackout periods do apply, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask a travel agent about it.

Pinging @Lovetocruise2002, as she’s taken advantage of that a bunch of times.

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30 minutes ago, JLMoran said:

@cpgecko, welcome to the boards!

The current sale includes Kids Sail Free, which can definitely save you a decent amount of money (though I think you need to have everyone in a single cabin). Can’t say if it’ll be enough to offset the cost of a flight from the west coast, and blackout periods do apply, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask a travel agent about it.

Pinging @Lovetocruise2002, as she’s taken advantage of that a bunch of times.

Unfortunately there is no Kids Sale Free during the summer (or other times kids are out of school).

 

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@cpgecko

Welcome to the message boards!  Some background info on us...we have two girls, 10 & 12 and they have been cruising with us since they were 5 & 7. We have done RCL, DCL, MSC, and Carnival. With our kids, we have done RCL and DCL. Truthfully, and not because I am biased, I firmly believe that RCL offers the best over all package and value for families, especially if you choose an OA class ship. The only thing the DCL does better, IMO, is the shows. But that becomes less of a factor if you sail Oasis class because even the Fantasy and Dream cannot beat OA class. And I won’t even get started on the price comparison. 

As far as itineraries, I personally would go with the Caribbean, especially if the flight isn’t really an issue. If you cruise Alaska, you will likely pick an older, smaller, ship and while there is nothing wrong with that, as a first time RCL cruisers with young kids, those ships simply don’t offer all the amenities that a newer/revitalized ship will have for the kids. I would also pick OA class if you are looking for the WOW factor  because honestly that class appeals to all ages. Feel free to ask anything else. Lots of helpful and knowledgeable people here 😊

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Thanks y'all.

I'm impressed. 

I know DCL would be a draw for the girls, but we can get the high parts of that experience much more reasonably at Aulani or Disneyland.

I think the next step is to call a travel agent and have a chat about what makes sense. 

I suspect our girls will be in a mix of things. They both love pools though, which makes me think warm weather may be a good idea...

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I like to 'bundle'. That is .. if I am going to spend all this time and money going all the way to [fill in the blank] I'm going to spend as much time and do as much as I can.

That being said I would consider the following.

Orlando has a ton of things kids would enjoy.

Port Canaveral is only 2 hours or less away by car.

That being said, perhaps combine them by spending 3 or 4 nights in Orlando and follow it up with a cruise.

Since it is your first cruise, consider a shorter, 3 or 4 night, just to test the water so to speak and see if you like it. Out of Port Canaveral there are a number of cruises that go to Bermuda and back. You have a good choice of cruise lines and ships to choose from. I am a RCCL fan and Royal has certainly upped the ante with being child friendly.

A shorter cruise will cost less and allow you the time (an money perhaps) to spend some time at one of the Orlando parks.

Don't overlook the Disney Springs area. You can spend an entire day there with no admission with a lot of things adults and kids both would enjoy.

The last time we were there we used Uber quiet a bit. It was reasonable, quick and convenient.

Hope you find the perfect vacation and build lasting memories with the kids.

Take care.

 

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I would recommend a 7 day cruise on an Oasis class ship, anything less would be inconceivable, due to the longer flight and money spent for airfare. Since i mention airfare cost, if time permits and pricing.  i would look at doing a B2B cruise, so you could get a eastern & western itinerary.  if it were me, i would price out the differenced starting from interior rooms and up...  to get them most bang for my buck and compare 2 rooms vs 1 Family balcony or Spacious ocean view rooms that sleep more than 4 just to get that extra space. Good luck in your quest.

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If I can throw an alternative departure port out there, see what flights to Houston / Galveston cost vs. flights to Orlando / Miami / Fort Lauderdale. If the cost is a lot more reasonable, then you could look at sailing out of Galveston on Liberty of the Seas. She's recently refurbished, has the pools and waterslides to keep your kids happy, can take you to the western Caribbean, and IIRC has pretty good rates compared to the Oasis class ships that are newer and carry a sometimes significantly higher price tag.

This would let you try out Royal on a decent length cruise, have a ship that still gives a good number of modern amenities including things like the Broadway shows, see some good ports that have some nice excursion options (and beaches if you decide that's all you want to do), and maybe help save some money while you decide if cruising and Royal Caribbean are a good fit for you.

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2 hours ago, Ditchdoc said:

I like to 'bundle'. That is .. if I am going to spend all this time and money going all the way to [fill in the blank] I'm going to spend as much time and do as much as I can.

That being said I would consider the following.

Orlando has a ton of things kids would enjoy.

Port Canaveral is only 2 hours or less away by car.

That being said, perhaps combine them by spending 3 or 4 nights in Orlando and follow it up with a cruise.

Since it is your first cruise, consider a shorter, 3 or 4 night, just to test the water so to speak and see if you like it. Out of Port Canaveral there are a number of cruises that go to Bermuda and back. You have a good choice of cruise lines and ships to choose from. I am a RCCL fan and Royal has certainly upped the ante with being child friendly.

A shorter cruise will cost less and allow you the time (an money perhaps) to spend some time at one of the Orlando parks.

Don't overlook the Disney Springs area. You can spend an entire day there with no admission with a lot of things adults and kids both would enjoy.

The last time we were there we used Uber quiet a bit. It was reasonable, quick and convenient.

Hope you find the perfect vacation and build lasting memories with the kids.

Take care.

 

Just a quick correction here ..... you mentioned cruises going out of Canaveral go to Bermuda ..... in regards to RCL, Bermuda cruises go out of Baltimore, Newark &, on occasion, Boston.  The ones out of Canaveral go to the Bahamas.

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Kids Sail Free is a great way to cut the price and if you aren't against pulling the older one out of school for the trip you will find prices can be very reasonable during the off season.  This also makes the cost of airfare more reasonable.  

Considering a travel agent doesn't cost anything and you can get them do all the legwork of finding the prices and availability for what exactly you are looking for.  MEI Travel (http://mei-travel.com) is the sponsor of this blog and they specialize in Royal cruises and could help you if you wanted to do a Disney land portion as mentioned in above posts.

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I would second most of the recommendations including the travel agent to advise you on your cruise plans.  A 5 night,  a week long or longer cruise,  or even some back to back cruises are recommended since you are investing in airfare.  The kids sail free promotion would probably not apply for a summer cruise so booking two adjoining rooms is a great idea to have the kids nearby but have some separation all the same time.  I would expect the kids would really enjoy the adventure ocean supervised kids program to give the two of you some adult time.  A Caribbean cruise with kid friendly excursions or trips to beaches would be ideal.  Save Alaska for when they are a little older and will be able to appreciate it and remember it.  I would recommend a refurbished Freedom class or Voyager class ship and also any Oasis class ship.  Enjoy planning your cruise.

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I originally was planning on sailing DCL summer 2020 (even booked a placeholder on our sailing last summer) but changed my plans after seeing the disappointing DCL itineraries and prices for then. I’m now booked on 2 rooms on RC for less than what I would have paid for 1 room on DCL. 

To throw another option out there for you - check out the sailings from NJ. There are some including Orlando, so maybe you can get a Disney fix there. 

Good luck in your decision!  

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I took my teens for our first cruise on 2015 and they loved Royal.  I know they are older than your kids but the teen center was amazing and I've heard nothing but good on ocean adventure.  I would totally go a warm cruise of at least 5 and probably 7 days.  I think that time gives you a true feel for cruising.  Like others have said, I would save Alaska as the ships will be smaller and older and it's just a different (amazing) trip.  I'm a super super huge Disney fan but I just can't justify the money we'd spend on the cruise.  You could totally fly into Orlando, spend a few days at Disney, and then head to port Canaveral!  

   I love Mei and having someone check sales and handle issues has been awesome (shout out to @Sharla). 

   Hope whatever you do you have a great time!! Jane

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@Lovetocruise2002

Could use a bit of guidance...

Have been emailing with MEI and they've been great. Based on some prices and other things we're thinking about moving from a June 2020 date to December 2020. The extra lead time means cheaper cruise and we're able to spend June in Seattle when the weather is awesome and bail for the Caribbean when it's not.

So, we're looking at one of the sailings that leaves 20 December 2020, which means we'd be on the boat over Christmas. Some questions...

-are the ultraspacious rooms workable for a family? It seems like they're bigger and the bunk beds are likely to be a hit with the girls. Also seems cheaper to go that way than two cabins.

-how important is the balcony? Figure it's a judgement call, but y'all have all kinds of info, so I might as well ask 😉

-Eastern (Harmony/Canaveral) or Western (Oasis/Ft. Lauderdale)?

Thanks for all of the helps so far!

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For a 3 and 6 yo the extra bathroom you get with two cabins may not have the appeal that it would with older kids.

Balcony is a personal thing.  With younger kids there is some comfort not having to worry about them on a balcony, not that you would ever leave them alone, but still.  

I often cruise in interior to save money.  Plenty of opportunity to get out and explore the ship.  Having said that when my kids were younger it was nice to put the kids down at bed time and sneak out to the balcony with a glass of wine to enjoy some adult time and conservation without whispering.  

Many Eastern itineraries have been updated with a stop at CocoCay or "Perfect Day".  If your family is beach or pool oriented this could be a huge plus.  On the Western itineraries Labadee is a common stop which is also beautiful but is beach without pools.  There is some variety to Eastern itineraries now so without knowing the exact ports of call it's hard to say.  Both have pros and cons so seasoned cruisers might have a preference but for a first cruise both are compelling.

Is it easier to fly to Orlando versus Fort Lauderdale?  I'm in Denver and fly to both ports but do find Ft. Lauderdale just a little easier since the port is right there versus an hour away in Orlando.

Harmony is a beautiful ship and second newest Oasis class ship.  Oasis is getting refreshed later this year but no one really knows what she will gain in her update.  Harmony does have water and dry slides if those are a big draw for your family.  Oasis may get these in the update but we just don't know yet.  In that sense Harmony is the safe bet but we all expect Oasis to look pretty close after her updates.

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@cpgecko We tried the Ultra spacious ocean view cabins (1K) on Independence. See my Indy blog (link in signature below) for pics and how I felt about that cabin. It is great for a family, however, careful which deck you pick as not all the rooms in that category are laid out the same. Make sure you take a look at the specific cabin as some have more privacy than others (door vs curtain) to split the bunk area. Not sure about the layout on Oasis class ships. But overall, you cannot lose with that cabin as it has way more space than the typical. You’re basically getting suite square footage for a fraction of the the cost of a suite.

As far as which ship, I agree with @twangster on this one. Which port is it easier for you to get to? Oasis will be amped by then so her amenities will likely come really close to Harmony. You can’t really go wrong with either ship so I would let departure port and itinerary decide for me in this case:

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So, we're booked. 20 December 2020 on the Oasis out of FLL.

Room 11100. Watched a video and I'm a bit sketch on it, but we shall see. I figure this is a taster cruise more than anything. Got to get used to that suite life later 😉

I really appreciate everyone's help. This is a lovely community!

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16 minutes ago, cpgecko said:

So, we're booked. 20 December 2020 on the Oasis out of FLL.

Room 11100. Watched a video and I'm a bit sketch on it, but we shall see. I figure this is a taster cruise more than anything. Got to get used to that suite life later 😉

I really appreciate everyone's help. This is a lovely community!

Wow !  Oasis for Christmas.  Doesn't get much better'n that !  Congratulations

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