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  #1  
Old December 10th, 2012, 03:28 PM
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jesron1269 jesron1269 is offline
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Default Please Give Opinion on Family Cruising Options...

Did the Disney Wonder this past January and Carnival Valor this past Thanksgiving. Looking at another family cruise between Thanksgiving and the New Year 2013. I do not see myself ever cruising Carnival again (at least not with kids) and after plenty of research the following are what I narrowed it down to:

Disney Dream
Disney Fantasy
Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas
Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas
Norwegian Epic

Obviously I know the pros and cons of each ship at it relates to the features, costs, itinerary, etc. What I am asking is for anyone who has been on these ships (multiple of the above ships would be great) what their impressions were. We like just relaxing on the cruise and taking part of its activities (swimming, movies, entertainment, reading, sunbathing, etc). What we didn't like about Carnival was how load and obnoxious it was to be on the lido deck. The food was horrible compared to Disney.

Love to hear everyones thoughts or suggestions if I am missing some really good family ships.
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  #2  
Old December 10th, 2012, 09:06 PM
Gatrcruzer Gatrcruzer is offline
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What are the ages of your children? That can make a big difference. Your budget could also make a difference.

All families are different, and depending on the desires and needs of the family, as well as the ages of the children, some ships might be a better fit than others. Your individual experience on any of these ships will also vary depending on the weather, who your shipmates are, your assigned waiter and cabin steward, counselors at the kids club, cruise director, etc.

I think that all of the ships you mentioned have a lot of family focused facilities and activities and could make for a good cruise. You might also want to consider the Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas - those are nice family-friendly ships, but a tad smaller than Oasis or Allure. Depending on your location you might also want to consider the classic Disney ships. However, I will say that you can also have good family cruises on some of the other lines, like Princess, Celebrity or even Holland America. Given that you like to relax and be mellow, maybe you don't need family deck parties, rock climbing walls, etc.? It's hard to know what would be a good fit for your family. You might want to check out the reviews on this site for each of the ships to get a better sense of what might work well for your family. For example, would the weird bathroom set-up and small cabin size (unless you get a suite) on Epic work for you? Will the large numbers of children and relentless Disney theming drive you crazy on the Disney ships? Do you want a really large ship with a lot going on all over the place?

Crusinmama06 recently did a semi-live review of her Epic cruise and the link is available here:
http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1743132

I recently posted my review of the Dream and a quick comparison to Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas, and it is here:
http://www.cruisecritic.com/memberre...EntryID=111255

There are many people who have written comparisons between Oasis/Allure and the Disney ships, and so on. Maybe do some reading. I think just asking vaguely how people felt about the ships doesn't tell you much - you need to know who they are, and the experiences that fed into their impressions. For example, some of my best cruises have been on the crappiest ships. That is because I met some great people, or had friends along with me. That is what made those trips fun. And no matter how wonderful the ship, if you get norovirus, get robbed, get injured, hit a hurricane, etc. it can really ruin your cruise.

Good luck with your decision-making!
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  #3  
Old December 11th, 2012, 12:58 AM
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jesron1269 jesron1269 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatrcruzer View Post
What are the ages of your children? That can make a big difference. Your budget could also make a difference.

All families are different, and depending on the desires and needs of the family, as well as the ages of the children, some ships might be a better fit than others. Your individual experience on any of these ships will also vary depending on the weather, who your shipmates are, your assigned waiter and cabin steward, counselors at the kids club, cruise director, etc.

I think that all of the ships you mentioned have a lot of family focused facilities and activities and could make for a good cruise. You might also want to consider the Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas - those are nice family-friendly ships, but a tad smaller than Oasis or Allure. Depending on your location you might also want to consider the classic Disney ships. However, I will say that you can also have good family cruises on some of the other lines, like Princess, Celebrity or even Holland America. Given that you like to relax and be mellow, maybe you don't need family deck parties, rock climbing walls, etc.? It's hard to know what would be a good fit for your family. You might want to check out the reviews on this site for each of the ships to get a better sense of what might work well for your family. For example, would the weird bathroom set-up and small cabin size (unless you get a suite) on Epic work for you? Will the large numbers of children and relentless Disney theming drive you crazy on the Disney ships? Do you want a really large ship with a lot going on all over the place?

Crusinmama06 recently did a semi-live review of her Epic cruise and the link is available here:
http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1743132

I recently posted my review of the Dream and a quick comparison to Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas, and it is here:
http://www.cruisecritic.com/memberre...EntryID=111255

There are many people who have written comparisons between Oasis/Allure and the Disney ships, and so on. Maybe do some reading. I think just asking vaguely how people felt about the ships doesn't tell you much - you need to know who they are, and the experiences that fed into their impressions. For example, some of my best cruises have been on the crappiest ships. That is because I met some great people, or had friends along with me. That is what made those trips fun. And no matter how wonderful the ship, if you get norovirus, get robbed, get injured, hit a hurricane, etc. it can really ruin your cruise.

Good luck with your decision-making!
Great input and you are right. I will read the threads you suggested and see if I can narrow down my inquiry some more. What I was concerned about is that perhaps I might be missing some ships and you did mention a couple. Thanks again for your valuable input as it is greatly appreciated!
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  #4  
Old December 11th, 2012, 01:00 AM
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You comparison of the dream with the Liberty of the Seas did not work. If you have a better link I would love to read you review.
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  #5  
Old December 11th, 2012, 07:28 AM
Gatrcruzer Gatrcruzer is offline
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So sorry - hope this works better!

http://www.cruisecritic.com/memberre...EntryID=111255

It is a review of the Dream, but I do make a brief comparison with RCI Liberty. Both are great family ships, and we enjoyed both. They are just different experiences.
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  #6  
Old December 11th, 2012, 12:59 PM
Keith1010 Keith1010 is offline
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I do want to highlight that the age of the kids is key.

If the are say 15 and above I would go with these RCI ships but if they are younger I would stay with Disney.

Keith
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  #7  
Old December 11th, 2012, 08:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Keith1010 View Post
I do want to highlight that the age of the kids is key.

If the are say 15 and above I would go with these RCI ships but if they are younger I would stay with Disney.

Keith
And my girls are 8 and 12 and would NEVER choose a Disney ship over Oasis or Epic

So I wouldn't go by that age either.
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RCI Allure of the Seas 5/4/14
Norwegian Getaway PreInaugural 1/27/14
NCL Breakaway PreInaugural 5/8/13
NCL EPIC 11/24/12 - Ewes Baby!
RCI Enchantment 8/3/12 - Addicted to BERMUDA!
NCL Gem 10/2/11 - Back to Bermuda!
RCI Enchantment of the Seas 5/28/11 - Bermuda
RCI Grandeur of the Seas 9/11/10
Carnival Triumph 6/7/09
RCI Independence of the Seas 2/1/09
Disney Wonder 09/11/08
Carnival Sensation 08/07
RCI Freedom of the Seas 5/07
Carnival Elation 11/06
Disney Magic 2/05
NCL Norway 6/02
RCI Sovereign of the Seas 9/98
RCI Sovereign of the Seas 9/97
Kids club schedules and children's menus including RCCL Adventure Ocean, Camp Carnival,
Disney, NCL, Princess, HAL and Celebrity posted here....
http://photobucket.com/cruisekidpages

Last edited by crusinmama06; December 11th, 2012 at 08:12 PM.
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  #8  
Old December 11th, 2012, 08:39 PM
mum24grlz mum24grlz is offline
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I've taken my two youngest on two HAL cruises both on the Noordam. We are doing another one in 10 days - again HAL but on the Maasdam. They are now 11 and 9. They love the Kids Club! We are pretty mellow and like to sit by the pool, relax, swim, etc on sea days. The girls love to sit in the hot tub

When we are in port, we do excursions as a family. The kids will go to the kids club after dinner and hang out for a few hours while I have some me-time which basically consists of either watching a show, reading a book or even watching a movie in the cabin.

For the most part, the food is decent. I wasn't impressed by food offerings on the first HAL cruise we took but on our most recent cruise in Nov 2012 the food was much better. We seem to have decent room and dining stewards as well.

We have three more HAL cruises coming up, all on different ships. I can't wait to compare the 3 and see what differences there may be. I think one of the reasons the kids love the kids club is that there haven't been tons of kids in the clubs so they're not overwhelmed. Its easier to make friends and really bond when its smaller club IMO.
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  #9  
Old December 11th, 2012, 10:07 PM
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crusinmama06 crusinmama06 is offline
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I agree with mum24 about not looking past the true value of a smaller ship. The kids receive some real attention on smaller ships. Although we loved Epic - the girls agreed they missed "knowing everyone onboard"

So you have to decide if your family wants non-stop action - which is what all of those above names ships will bring. Or if you want your children to have more of "close-knit family" experience which is what we experience when we go on the smaller ships (Enchantment, Grandeur, Gem, etc)
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RCI Allure of the Seas 5/4/14
Norwegian Getaway PreInaugural 1/27/14
NCL Breakaway PreInaugural 5/8/13
NCL EPIC 11/24/12 - Ewes Baby!
RCI Enchantment 8/3/12 - Addicted to BERMUDA!
NCL Gem 10/2/11 - Back to Bermuda!
RCI Enchantment of the Seas 5/28/11 - Bermuda
RCI Grandeur of the Seas 9/11/10
Carnival Triumph 6/7/09
RCI Independence of the Seas 2/1/09
Disney Wonder 09/11/08
Carnival Sensation 08/07
RCI Freedom of the Seas 5/07
Carnival Elation 11/06
Disney Magic 2/05
NCL Norway 6/02
RCI Sovereign of the Seas 9/98
RCI Sovereign of the Seas 9/97
Kids club schedules and children's menus including RCCL Adventure Ocean, Camp Carnival,
Disney, NCL, Princess, HAL and Celebrity posted here....
http://photobucket.com/cruisekidpages
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  #10  
Old December 12th, 2012, 02:53 PM
Onessa Onessa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crusinmama06 View Post
And my girls are 8 and 12 and would NEVER choose a Disney ship over Oasis or Epic

So I wouldn't go by that age either.
We ranked our cruises from favorite to least favorite. All of us had a problem with most favorite, none of us (DD included) had a problem with least favorite cruises -- both Disney - "family" cruises (so we had no choice). DD claims one of her ealiest memories was being completely freaked out over chip (or dale? whichever has the red nose) on a Disney cruise when she was right around 3YO. Another when she was 9ish. She said that the kid's program was "chaotic" (her word) and she got the feeling that she should feel "special" just because it was a Disney cruise -- she obviously did not drink the koolaid !

She watched Disney shows and movies (and even now she is totally psyched about going to see "Newsies" on Broadway on her band trip), but never really got to the point where she idolized any of the Disney stuff.
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  #11  
Old December 13th, 2012, 11:21 AM
Essiesmom Essiesmom is offline
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Crusinmama06....I did not want to start a new thread, so hope you check back in...There is a thread on Carnival about a toddler cruiser, and she has links to the Camp Carnival programs. You might be able to pirate them...EM

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1751134
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Carnival Splendor 5/17/09 B2B Mexi-not to Canada 14 nights 4J inside
Oosterdam 2/28/09 San Diego to Rome 32 nights OV
Carnival Fascination 12/13/08 Bahamas 5 nights Inside
Queen Elizabeth 2 7/31/08 Lands of Fire and Ice 12 nights OV
Celebration 3/27/08 Bahamas 4 nights Porthole
Celebration 1/26/08 Bahamas 5 nights Inside
Norwegian Spirit 10/20/07 CTN 1 night Inside
Elation 4/23/07 B2B Bahamas 10 nights Inside
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  #12  
Old December 14th, 2012, 07:46 AM
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crusinmama06 crusinmama06 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Essiesmom View Post
Crusinmama06....I did not want to start a new thread, so hope you check back in...There is a thread on Carnival about a toddler cruiser, and she has links to the Camp Carnival programs. You might be able to pirate them...EM

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1751134
Thanks for the heads up. I usually don't like to swipe them so I will reply on the thread when I am not on mobile
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RCI Allure of the Seas 5/4/14
Norwegian Getaway PreInaugural 1/27/14
NCL Breakaway PreInaugural 5/8/13
NCL EPIC 11/24/12 - Ewes Baby!
RCI Enchantment 8/3/12 - Addicted to BERMUDA!
NCL Gem 10/2/11 - Back to Bermuda!
RCI Enchantment of the Seas 5/28/11 - Bermuda
RCI Grandeur of the Seas 9/11/10
Carnival Triumph 6/7/09
RCI Independence of the Seas 2/1/09
Disney Wonder 09/11/08
Carnival Sensation 08/07
RCI Freedom of the Seas 5/07
Carnival Elation 11/06
Disney Magic 2/05
NCL Norway 6/02
RCI Sovereign of the Seas 9/98
RCI Sovereign of the Seas 9/97
Kids club schedules and children's menus including RCCL Adventure Ocean, Camp Carnival,
Disney, NCL, Princess, HAL and Celebrity posted here....
http://photobucket.com/cruisekidpages
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  #13  
Old December 14th, 2012, 09:35 AM
boulders boulders is online now
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OP, I would add NCL's Breakaway to your list. She will be a new ship next year homeported out of NYC.
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  #14  
Old December 17th, 2012, 03:50 PM
dgadale dgadale is offline
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We just got back from Liberty of the Seas, my kids are 3 and 5. They LOVED the ship. The kids program was excellent for their age with well trained staff, the kid's pool area was very age appropriate. My daughter loves to meet characters, she is not picky who they are, and it had 2 character breakfasts and also tons of other opportunities to meet them, as well as a parade. There was also a blacklight puppet show just for the kids, a pirate parade that the kids were part of one night, family bingo, so much stuff. They have ice skating (smallest size is a children's 9), mini golf, Johnny Rockets, movies like Madagascar 3 and Brave. We have also been to Disney last year and this year and the kids enjoyed the cruise just as much as going to Disney World.
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