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morgan94

First Time Cruiser

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Hi all! This is my first post, and I am planning my first cruise. To say I'm overwhelmed is an understatement, but I love planning vacations so I know everything will be fine. 

I have a couple questions, mainly related to the cruise I plan to take. I'm planning on going on the Adventure of the Seas on a 6 night Western Caribbean cruise April 5-11, leaving from Fort Lauderdale. First off, I've never travelled to a "vacation spot" during spring break, so when should I book flights? Currently I'm looking at $914 for 2 people to fly roundtrip from my location (JetBlue is the only direct flight for me), and I feel like I should wait, but I know y'all are probably the experts on when to book flights. My other question would be what are the best things to do on Adventure of the Seas? I do plan to head to the spa, but are there any hidden gems that people don't often talk about? 

And lastly, do you have any advice for a first time cruiser? Thanks!

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8 minutes ago, morgan94 said:

Hi all! This is my first post, and I am planning my first cruise. To say I'm overwhelmed is an understatement, but I love planning vacations so I know everything will be fine. 

I have a couple questions, mainly related to the cruise I plan to take. I'm planning on going on the Adventure of the Seas on a 6 night Western Caribbean cruise April 5-11, leaving from Fort Lauderdale. First off, I've never travelled to a "vacation spot" during spring break, so when should I book flights? Currently I'm looking at $914 for 2 people to fly roundtrip from my location (JetBlue is the only direct flight for me), and I feel like I should wait, but I know y'all are probably the experts on when to book flights. My other question would be what are the best things to do on Adventure of the Seas? I do plan to head to the spa, but are there any hidden gems that people don't often talk about? 

And lastly, do you have any advice for a first time cruiser? Thanks!

Allow me to be the first one to say "Welcome to the forums!!!!"   I won't give flight advice - I use an app called "Hopper" which gives advice on when to wait and when to book (so far it's been pretty useful), but I've never flown during Spring Break.  On Adventure, make sure you check out the helipad - go down to the deck just under the lifeboats (I believe it's deck 4) and walk all of the way forward to a short flight of stairs - walk up them and you're on the helipad! Awesome views.  I know others will have lots of specific advice.

If you haven't checked out this link yet, it's full of great advice for first-time cruisers as well:  https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/getting-started

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3 hours ago, morgan94 said:

I do plan to head to the spa, but are there any hidden gems that people don't often talk about? 

And lastly, do you have any advice for a first time cruiser? Thanks!

As a first time cruiser.... I would just say - Don't get a preconceived idea in your head about what you are going to do BEFORE the cruise.  Go through the cruise compass and try a heap of the activities available at least once. It gives you an idea of what you do and dont like!

As for flights.... what other airports are nearby? Miami is relatively close isnt it?  Why not fly to there if it gives you more choice on flights and costs?

 

note: I am not in the US, so i havent been to florida _yet_  so i have no idea about the airport/transfer nonsense that goes on. 🙂

 

 

 

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Welcome to the addiction! 

Lots of great advice to be had from this and other sites like it.  

For flights,  typically prices start to fall around the 120 day mark.  (120 days from proposed travel day)  This is not set in stone,  but a general guideline.  Don't limit yourself to non stop flights or your closest airport.  We live in Colombia,  SC and have the airport here that is literally 3 mins from my house... rarely do we fly from here.  Lol

We have two other airports about 1 hour away that gives us more options at cheaper rates.  But typically means we have to make at least one connection.  

I use Google flights,  where I can check multiple airports and different variables, such as stops and layover times, and then save those flights to track the prices.  

As far as cruising... it's a great time.  You can do as Much or as little as you want.  Just make sure to mentally prepare yourself to be around a variety of people. I enjoy people watching and chatting with new people,  so its fun for me.  

 

Do your research,  have a plan,  but also be flexible to adjust that plan as needed.  

Cheers

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11 hours ago, morgan94 said:

And lastly, do you have any advice for a first time cruiser? Thanks!

Well, I'm definitely not a veteran cruise like a lot of others on this message board  but my wife and I just returned from a 7-night Eastern Caribbean on Allure of the Seas last night and it was wonderful!  This was only my 2nd cruise (first was a 5-Night on Carnival) so I'm still a newbie myself.

The best advice I can give you is to ask questions on this message board and use this resource as much as possible.  The people here are so friendly and will answer almost anything...it really is so much more than just a message board;  Matt has built a wonderful community!

As for Cruising advice, The first day is a long one.  Usually you have traveled in the night before (or the morning of, if you're brave!), you've got to get to the terminal, board the ship....then once you are on the ship it can be overwhelming for first-timers.  Your staterooms are usually not ready for a couple of hours so you're going to be walking around the ship with your carry-on bags, not having a clue what's going on.  Before the ship departs you have to attend a mandatory muster drill, then there are a slew of activities (sail away parties, dinner, shows, etc.).  The first day on a cruise can be very overwhelming and even stressful, but it is NOT indicative of the rest of the experience.  My advice would be to not plan anything for the first day...usually by the time the muster drill is over everyone is ready for dinner and a little relaxation.  Just take it all in, enjoy it and know that this will most likely be the busiest day of your cruise.  After that, you can put your brain in "cruise mode" and just enjoy everything!

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You didn't mention where you are flying from so it's a big difficult to judge whether $914 PP is a reasonable or unreasonable fare during spring break.  I'm going to go against the majority here and say that you should book your airfare as soon as possible.  Personally, I have never found that the airfare drops much - certainly not enough to justify waiting and maybe finding it hard to book at the "last minute" (and to me, 90 days prior to a cruise is last minute).

I love Jet Blue.  If I weren't a status customer of American Airlines I would choose Jet Blue every time.

Spring break is a very pricey time to both cruise and fly...so you're going to pay top price for both.  The holidays are the same situation.  

Good luck with finding an airfare and itinerary that you are comfortable with and as others have already said, Welcome to the Blog !!

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Hi @morgan94, welcome to the forums!

If you're looking to fly on Jet Blue, I would recommend buying the tickets now rather than waiting, especially when you'll be traveling on Spring Break week. Others here have correctly noted that prices often take a dip in the 90-120 days from departure range, but Spring Break week doesn't tend to follow this rule; at least not based on what those of us here have observed over the last couple of years.

In addition, Jet Blue tends to sell out quickly and have prices steadily rise as available seats sell out. It's not as low-cost a "low cost carrier" as, say, Southwest; but it's still in that low-cost carrier bracket and doesn't follow the price dips of the big airlines.

I haven't sailed on Adventure (yet), so can't give any ship-specific tips. But having been a first-time cruiser just last year, I can give you some general tips that I found really helpful.

  • As others noted, for sure you want to arrive in FLL at least one day before cruise departure. A freak storm or other issue that delays your flight is not something you want to deal with on embarkation day
  • On embarkation day, try to arrive at the port around 10:30 so you can board as early as possible; any "assigned" boarding time is just a suggestion and not required
  • Make sure to bring small bills to give tips for the porters (both embarking and disembarking) and, if you wish, for the bartenders; a dollar or two wrapped around the Sea Pass card when you hand it over is much appreciated by them, and you'll get better drinks / better service
  • Take the first day to just explore the ship, find the features you're interested in (e.g., the spa), and get familiar with her
  • Be ready to be amazed at the sheer size of Adventure when you first see her
  • Bring a highlighter or pen to mark items in the daily Cruise Compass that you think you want to take part in the next day; then expect to have some conflicts. 😉
  • This kind of conflicts with the prior tip, but... If you're an "alpha planner" like many of us here are ("Hi, I'm Joe, and I'm a spreadsheet addict."), be OK with having no plans on a sea day and just winging it; I'm still trying to get this one down solid, but figured I'd relay it 😅

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I fly 125,000 BIS miles a year, and book flights for others totaling close to 500,000 miles a year. So, I look at flights just about every day...sometimes months out, sometimes just a few days (or day) out. I've been doing this for about 13 years. I have never, ever been able to find a reliable trend, and that's even more the case for something like a vacation destination during a spring break period. The only certainty there is that it won't be cheap, even more so now than later (for reasons I'll explain below).

You could wait until 30, 60, 90, 120 days out...but it may not do a darn thing. Can you afford it now? More importantly, can you afford it if you wait a few months and it goes up by hundreds? What if that one nonstop (which is, technically, different than "direct") fills up, or any remotely low fare bucket sells out...are you willing to connect somewhere, or would you rather get the exact flight you want? The US economy is very strong now, meaning there's a lot of demand for vacations AND business travel, and of course higher demand = higher prices due to a mostly fixed number of seats and aircraft.

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Thank you all for all of your suggestions and tips!! To answer a few people, the closest airports to me are either Charlottesville (CHO) or Richmond (RIC) in Virginia, and Richmond is the only one with a direct flight. I don't mind layovers, but I would prefer not to go through Atlanta, which is where I would have to go through for Southwest if they have the cheapest flights. 

 

Again, thank you for all of your help so far, I feel very welcomed and I can't wait to begin this journey!

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12 hours ago, morgan94 said:

Thank you all for all of your suggestions and tips!! To answer a few people, the closest airports to me are either Charlottesville (CHO) or Richmond (RIC) in Virginia, and Richmond is the only one with a direct flight. I don't mind layovers, but I would prefer not to go through Atlanta, which is where I would have to go through for Southwest if they have the cheapest flights. 

 

Again, thank you for all of your help so far, I feel very welcomed and I can't wait to begin this journey!

 

Not sure where exactly you are, but would you consider driving to DCA or IAD for a lower fare and/or more nonstops?

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On 9/17/2019 at 9:10 AM, Zacharius said:

 

Not sure where exactly you are, but would you consider driving to DCA or IAD for a lower fare and/or more nonstops?

So I'm about an hour and a half south of Charlottesville, and my companion on the cruise is in Charlottesville. Right now, DCA and IAD are more expensive than Richmond. 

Has anyone flown into West Palm Beach and gotten an Uber to Fort Lauderdale? Is that reasonable to do, financially? We are already planning on flying down the day before so we would have plenty of time. 

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Hi! 

Jet blue has flash sales. Join trueblue. Subscribe for emails, on Facebook and Twitter and watch them like a hawk. 

I'll just be obnoxious and brag... I just got fligh5s from NY to Orlando for 3400 points each way. I think it was a slightly better deal than cash, which was $59 each way. I agree about Hopper. Also Skyscanner and Google Flights will track prices on a specific flight. 

 

Oh! Travel Pirates. They send notifications about travel deals. 

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On 9/15/2019 at 10:58 PM, mk-ultra said:

The #1 tip I can give you is to fly out and stay in a hotel the day before your ship sails unless you live near your departure port.  You don't want an airline/airport problem causing you to miss boarding the ship.

 

This. Also it gives you the leeway to choose the cheapest flight of the day. 

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16 hours ago, morgan94 said:

So I'm about an hour and a half south of Charlottesville, and my companion on the cruise is in Charlottesville. Right now, DCA and IAD are more expensive than Richmond. 

Has anyone flown into West Palm Beach and gotten an Uber to Fort Lauderdale? Is that reasonable to do, financially? We are already planning on flying down the day before so we would have plenty of time. 

Uber and Lyft have fair estimater sites:

https://www.uber.com/us/en/price-estimate/

https://www.lyft.com/rider/fare-estimate

It looks like it's going to run $50-$70ish for a rideshare from WPB.  Just make sure you factor that into your cost.  You could also look into a one-way car rental which gives you the ability to explore more of the area.  I just pulled up an estimate on Priceline for a one-way car rental and it appears Budget is very reasonable and isn't charging a drop-off fee for the one-way.  I would look into that over being subject to taking rideshares everywhere.  Keep in mind you may have to pay for parking at your hotel accommodations if you have a vehicle..but having a vehicle can also allow you to stay further out at a hotel that has free parking.

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Ive been on 5....3 RCCL and 2 Carnival. I have one booked for April, with RCCL.  I would advise you, now that youve chosen your 1st on RCCL, to stick with them for all future cruises. I havent cruised them all, but I can say for what you get, what you pay, and what the others offer...RCCL seems to be the one I like best. Ive shopped them all, at one point or another, and kept coming back to Royal Caribbean. I feel like if I had it to do over again, might as well stick with one and rack up loyalty points.  Make sure you sign up for CROWN AND ANCHOR program. 

 https://www.royalcaribbean.com/faq/questions/crown-anchor-society-loyalty-program-enrollment

As far as transportation, flying, etc.....I always drive to ports. Im in SC, so its not as easy as those that live in Florida, but not so bad I mind doing it.  Id rather have some control than leaving it up to the airlines. 

Once on the boat....dont get wrapped up in trying to do too much.  Pick a couple things that you REALLY want to do, and just fly by the seat of your pants the rest of the time. Choose things spontaneously. There is so much to offer, youll never do it all, and if you get wrapped up in trying, youll fail and it may negatively impact your opinion of cruising in general. Just be in the moment, on the boat, and enjoy the freedom of cruising (my favorite aspect). 

JUST MY TWO CENTS. 

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Welcome @morgan94

When we went on our first cruise (Oasis), it was expensive since we live in Canada, and it was a special vacation.  We tried to squeeze in everything, and I mean all of it.  We actually lost weight even though we ate more than normal.  We went to bed late, woke up super early for all our excursions, walked the entire ship and rushed to every show.  Everything was hurry, hurry, hurry.  We loved the ship, but we were completely exhausted!  I would suggest limiting the shows and activities so you can truly enjoy the ship, there isn't a need to see every single show, unless you want to 😊  For our next cruise, I'm being very selective about which shows to see and will definitely build in more R&R!

BTW, our cruise is in Feb 2020, and I'm still tracking flights via Google flights ... still very pricey, but I do have a cut off date in mind.

Enjoy 😁

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