I have spent many an hour looking over reviews, roll calls, conversations and plans here on CC. I’ve been quite the forum “lurker”. This site is a HUGE source of information! Even after all the searching and browsing, I still find myself slightly rudderless in the direction I want to go. All of you are a wonderful source of information, experience and in some cases confusion. Thank you all!
I’m going to classify myself as a first time cruiser but I have been on a cruise before. It was 1991 on the then 8 year old Nieuw Amsterdam out of Tampa. Ports were in Key West, Cozumel, Cancun, Jamaica and Grand Cayman. It was a honeymoon cruise and we were in our late 20’s. Now, being that young on any cruise in the early 90’s on HAL you can imagine the demographic! We were an extreme minority. We met the other honeymooners (4 additional couples) on the cruise and we were lucky to find one couple in our approximate age range. We ended up hanging together for the entire cruise! Thank goodness for that because it would have been a rather strange 7 days onboard for a young couple. It was a wonderful cruise on a beautiful ship with top notch food, incredible service, and accommodations that has left me with an impression of cruising that sticks with me to this day. It sounds as if HAL has strayed just a bit from what I remember. That is probably why I’m in the quandary I’m in!
Now in my late 40’s I’m looking to start making a habit out of cruising. For reference, I have only words, pictures and video of what cruising is like today on the various lines that I am looking into. I have no axe to grind with any of the major cruise lines, but I have my impressions. As for other cruisers opinions and perceptions….they are exactly that but I respect everybody’s opinion whether I agree or disagree. And because of those varied opinions, it has left me with more questions than answers for everything I have looked to decide on and move forward!
I like the style of Celebrity and HAL. Something about the mid-sized ships of HAL seems even more appealing but it may be the past experience. I’m not a big drinker and I want to stay away from hoards of kids but you can’t beat the flexibility, ports and pricing of the big three. I have a kid of my own and have no issues with anybody’s kids, it’s just a preference in this case. I do have a suspicion that you get what you pay for applies more to contemporary lines than others though. So, I’m not sure of what to think about Carnival, NCL or RCI. They look like nice, affordable middle of the road options but I am not interested in floating cities larger than aircraft carriers with 3500+ passengers. I’m looking for elbow room and a quiet area to take my mind off of everything. (I think I’m narrowing this down myself as I type on) For some reason Princess doesn’t come up much in my searching due to departure ports for this upcoming trip but I will definitely want to keep them in mind.
I would like to use my airline mileage (Alaska Airlines) so that narrows my departure ports – San Diego, Galveston or New Orleans. I can do a Florida departures but the airfare is outrageous with spring break coming up. I don’t want to burn ALL my miles at once. With all of this being said I really think I want to do the Mexican Riviera on the 2nd with HAL on the Zaandam. First off, I have never been there. The ship while older and smaller (I’ve read many reviews and they are all over the board) has to be decent. I do have the patience and capability to put up with many things most would find irritating. I will enjoy it! It is all about attitude, right?
With all of that being said I graciously ask directly for opinions. Remember, I respect them all and thank you in advance! The only thing holding me back is being a solo on this cruise. I’m prepared for it but what you do you think about HAL being a right or wrong choice for cruising solo? I’m not looking for hooking up, if I was I would already be booked!