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Hello all, my family and I are trying to plan a cruise for October ‘22. We are looking at two different cruises… a 4 day sailing out of LA to Catalina Island and Ensenada Mexico, OR a 4 day out of Port Canaveral to Bahamas including Coco Cay. Our kids are older, 14 and 21 and we’ve never done anything like this. Looking for recommendations on which cruise you would recommend for a family with older kids?

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Answering the question you put forth first:

 - I agree with the others and would recommend option 2 with a caveat that the all of the slides for non-toddlers and many of the great advertised features at Coco Cay are an additional cost and could run pricey (depending on what your view of pricey is).

 

Now...additional thoughts.

Judging by the fact that you are looking at literal opposite sides of the country, I have to assume you'd be flying to one or both ports and if that's the case, I would strongly encourage you to book at least a 6-night cruise instead.

Why? Well, the mom and I fly from Chicago and we did a 4-nighter for our second cruise. We thought it was a good way to try to enjoy this newfound appreciation for cruising without spending 2-3k every year. But once we actually did we realized we hadn't factored in the pre-cruising stuff (flying in the day before, lodging, boarding stress, unpacking, muster etc.) and the post cruising stuff (packing mainly). After all that, the cruise really felt closer to 3 days rather than 4 (days are counted by days aboard so day 1 is embarkation day, day 2, 3 and 4 are actual days cruising/at ports and you'll see a "day 5" which the return day).

For us, day 3 is when we really settle in and get our relaxation on full tilt, so with a 4-day cruise it was over just as we were getting settled. It was a fun enough time but definitely not long enough to really enjoy our only vacation for the year.

 

Obviously you may be in an entirely different boat than us and none of this may apply, but I wanted to put it out there.

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8 minutes ago, FrenchieMama79 said:

There are two choices for the Bahamas/CocoCay trip.. either the Mariner or the Independence 

I would definitely opt for Mariner over Independence out of these two choices.  CocoCay is an amazing destination, basically a free beach day that you all should enjoy.  But if the Navigator sailing would be an easier travel day to get to the ship it may be worth doing that as a first cruise.

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I like @CrimsonCruiseram from Chicago. I cannot fathom flying out for just 4-night cruise. 

The children will make their fun on either ship with either itinerary. That being said I think logistics and desire will be important. Going to Mexico might be a better time that going to the Bahamas/CocoCay for you and your spouse. MCO and LAX are both horrible airports. Price may also be a factor. A rideshare from LAX to the port should be under $50 put will be closer to $90 from MCO to the port. Also, hotels and food cost, etc. I personally prefer Independence to Mariner, which is sad because I loved her, but you can easily compare the ships and their amenities.

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As a first cruise I think you will have an amazing time on any of those ships.  

While Coco Cay has a lot to offer a family with kids of any age, a cruise from LA to Catalina and Ensenada can also offer some great family time type activities. 

CocoCay is a beach themed destination.  Catalina and Ensenada are not so much beach themed but offer other cultural experiences.  Depending on your family travel history that can be equal or more impressive for young minds.  You know your family and we don't.  Does a beach day in the Caribbean sound like something your family would love, or does exploring a different culture and experiencing a different country sound like something they would love?

In truth both will offer you an amazing first cruise experience.  

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We are going on our 1st cruise in October, 4 nights on Navigator to Catalina and Ensenada.  The hubby is worried he won't like cruising so I picked a short one.  We are flying down from AK for and going to spend a few days in LA before the cruise.  I researched a while before deciding which one we wanted to try our sea legs on!  

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17 minutes ago, FrHoffard said:

We are going on our 1st cruise in October, 4 nights on Navigator to Catalina and Ensenada.  The hubby is worried he won't like cruising so I picked a short one.  We are flying down from AK for and going to spend a few days in LA before the cruise.  I researched a while before deciding which one we wanted to try our sea legs on!  

You picked a great one.  Catalina is a beautiful spot, and Ensenada has a lot to offer as well. Plenty to do on the ship, so you won't be bored!  Enjoy your trip.

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