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  #1  
Old February 5th, 2013, 09:39 AM
shibes372 shibes372 is offline
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Default More important? Ship or itinerary?

Hi there! I'm a first-time cruiser, trying to schedule our December 2013 honeymoon adventure. We've settled on Norwegian as having the most offerings in the style and price range we'd prefer. We're childless 31-year-olds who want some romance, adventure, fun, and good food on our own time table.

The problem is, I'm totally stuck on three different cruises. The first is on NCLs newest ship, the Epic. We're inclined towards that one b/c of the myriad options for food and entertainment. However, I'm not that thrilled with the itinerary (St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Nassau). There are two other trips (New Orleans to Montego Bay, George Town, Cozumel on the Jewel and Tampa to Mahogany Bay, Belize City, Costa Maya on the Dawn) that sound so much more interesting to me, but the ships are older and less grandiose.

So my question is: What's more important about the cruise? The ship b/c that's where you'll spend the most time, or the islands b/c that's where you get to adventure?

Last edited by shibes372; February 5th, 2013 at 09:41 AM.
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Old February 5th, 2013, 09:48 AM
tak81288 tak81288 is offline
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That is strictly a personal choice and just depends on your priorities. Some people could care less where they go, as long as they are on a ship. Others care more about the itinerary.

For me, the itinerary is the most important. I figure out where I want to visit and then choose the best ship for me that will take me there. Others do the exact opposite.

However, I do find that the more sea days I have, the more weight I put on the ship. If I just have 1-2 sea days during a 6-7 shorter cruise, I don't really care so much about the ship, since I won't be spending a great deal of time on it. Once I start to hit 3 or more sea days with fewer ports, then I examine the ships a little more closely.

Good luck and have a great first cruise!
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  #3  
Old February 5th, 2013, 09:50 AM
Hlitner Hlitner is offline
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For us, a Caribbean cruise is a Caribbean cruise and we really do not care all that much about where it goes since most (not all) of the various islands have sun and sand (which is what we seek in the Caribbean). However, when we cruise in Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, etc.. the itinerary is the most important factor.

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  #4  
Old February 5th, 2013, 09:56 AM
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Everyone chooses their cruise for different reasons. We tend to pick the itinerary first. Just because the Jewel and the Dawn are older ships doesn't make them bad choices. Take each of the three and list what each has to offer in the way of on board amenities and their itineraries, and decide what appeals to you the most. You may have to do a little compromising if you can't get everything you want in one cruise. But that will give you a good excuse to go on another one.
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  #5  
Old February 5th, 2013, 09:58 AM
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Itinerary tops the list for us. Definitely. We prefer, at this stage of the game, to go to as many new ports as possible. Someday, when we've run out of ports, perhaps we'll worry about the ship, or even, the cruise line.
We just care that they can get us where we want to go for the most reasonable cost for our preferred cabin type and location.
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  #6  
Old February 5th, 2013, 10:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shibes372 View Post
Hi there! I'm a first-time cruiser, trying to schedule our December 2013 honeymoon adventure. We've settled on Norwegian as having the most offerings in the style and price range we'd prefer. We're childless 31-year-olds who want some romance, adventure, fun, and good food on our own time table.

The problem is, I'm totally stuck on three different cruises. The first is on NCLs newest ship, the Epic. We're inclined towards that one b/c of the myriad options for food and entertainment. However, I'm not that thrilled with the itinerary (St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Nassau). There are two other trips (New Orleans to Montego Bay, George Town, Cozumel on the Jewel and Tampa to Mahogany Bay, Belize City, Costa Maya on the Dawn) that sound so much more interesting to me, but the ships are older and less grandiose.

So my question is: What's more important about the cruise? The ship b/c that's where you'll spend the most time, or the islands b/c that's where you get to adventure?
Since my husband and I are seasoned travelers, we prefer the Eastern or Southern Caribbean. However, most important to us is the ship. We love new ships. We check out the size and location of the cabin It really does matter. Cabins above and below is our rule and mid ship if possible. Be sure you check the square footage. For example, some ships a balcony cabin can be 170 Square feet- another for a balcony cabin 195 square feet. We also like larger ships as they typically have many more activities and venues. As far as we are concerned, adventure is available at all ports if you view the shore excursions available. We also prefer to sail out of Ft Lauderdale as opposed to Miami, Tampa or Cape Canaveral.

At the end of the day it is personal choice. Look at the reviews on cruise critic and see how the ship stacks up. Enjoy your cruise
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  #7  
Old February 5th, 2013, 10:32 AM
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I also prefer Eastern or Southern itineraries in the Caribbean but the itinerary is most important to me. I look for a good balance of port calls and sea days and the ship is secondary. Maybe write down a pros/cons list of the ships and itineraries and see which combination best meets your cruise needs? Bon Voyage.

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  #8  
Old February 5th, 2013, 12:01 PM
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Choose the itinerary that tempts you the most. You have never cruised before, you will be totally wowed by any ship and spend mush of your time onboard just exploring. The Jewel and Dawn are likely less expensive than Epic, so use that money to upgrade your cabin. And remember, of the half of your time being spent on the ship, half of that will be sleeping.
Don't do the big bells and whistles first. EM
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  #9  
Old February 5th, 2013, 12:11 PM
shibes372 shibes372 is offline
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Wow! How great to come here and get all of this awesome feedback! Thanks guys!

Ok, so maybe all of you experienced cruisers can tell me if you think any of these itineraries are really more exotic/exciting than the others? I like the idea of sailing out of New Orleans, b/c we just love New Orleans. And Jamaica sounds like fun (although I'm torn about some human rights issues there, but anyway). The Western Caribbean trip on the Dawn is the one that sounds the most exotic to me - Central America with monkeys and rain forests ... or am I terribly wrong? Are these places all virtually the same with minor differences in cultures? I swear I'm making this into the biggest decision of my life.

Last edited by shibes372; February 5th, 2013 at 12:16 PM.
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  #10  
Old February 5th, 2013, 12:33 PM
johneeo johneeo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shibes372 View Post

So my question is: What's more important about the cruise? The ship b/c that's where you'll spend the most time, or the islands b/c that's where you get to adventure?
As mentioned, it is strictly a personal preference.

To me, the ship is just about everything.

I do not shop, do island tours, care about culture, etc.

When we get to any of the ports, I either hop on a sailboat, or find a nice beach with beer.

BTW, the great majority of the time you will be on the ship.
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  #11  
Old February 5th, 2013, 12:36 PM
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It comes down to a personal preference. Since me and my husband have ben to many of the Caribbean islands, we now look at the features of the ship. I like finding a balance where i can enjoy the destinations and the ship. I would prefer a ship that is not too busy, because you really miss out on experiencing everything. Write down what your dream cruise vacation would look like and then start modifying from there. Do not feel like you have to get everything done in one vacation.
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  #12  
Old February 5th, 2013, 01:11 PM
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Being that it's your first cruise I say go with the itinerary that is most appealing. Just remember cruising is not for everyone, but everyone should give cruising at least 1 try. You just don't know until you've gone what a cruise does for you, it could either be your best vacation ever because of the choices offered or it could be the worst because of how you body reacts to being on board. So go with what you do know, which is what ports interest you. With an appealing goal in mind sometimes that notion can help the the brain over ride the body.
As for features of the newer ship's more being expansive since you've never experienced them before you won't real realize what your missing. It's a little like those that have always traveled in an Ocean View or Interior cabin experiencing a Balcony or Suite for the first time, and for most once you've done that the lessor cabin option is no longer even a thought. So save the lessor desired itinerary on what you think is currently the better ship for a later cruise once you've discovered what cruising does for you.
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  #13  
Old February 5th, 2013, 01:40 PM
mikehn mikehn is offline
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Money talks, so that is the first consideration and sets the course. After that, I tend to favor ship over itinerary. After all, caribbean itineraries are not all that different, a caribbean island is a caribbean island.
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  #14  
Old February 5th, 2013, 02:37 PM
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double post. Computer acting up. Sorry
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Last edited by kitty9; February 5th, 2013 at 02:41 PM.
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  #15  
Old February 5th, 2013, 02:40 PM
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For those who've not cruised much at all, itinerary is probably the most important. For those of us who've been on a lot of cruises, the ship is usually the destination and the ports are secondary.

Is there any reason why you seem tied to NCL? There are a lot of other lines out there that might be more conducive to your needs. NCL is an OK line, but you'll find lots of kids on board, like you would on Royal Caribbean and Carnival. Have you looked at Princess or Celebrity? They are a bit more upscale and are known for a more refined cruise experience with what many feel is better food and service.

If you take the time to read a lot of threads, you'll see one of the least popular ports is Jamaica. Most consider it a dangerous place for many reasons and a lot of people tend to stay on the ship if it's part of an itinerary.

Can you manage a cruise longer than 7 days? The reason I ask is, we just returned from an 11 day cruise on Celebrity Equinox that might be of interest to you. On that itinerary they had things like cave tubing, arial trams through the rainforest, a trip through the Panama Canal, ziplining, kayaking and a lot of other active tours.

I would suggest finding a good local travel agent and just talking to them about what you need/want from a cruise. Pick up some brochures----it doesn't cost a thing and a good TA might provide some perks for your cruise like on board credit or wine or whatever.
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Old February 5th, 2013, 02:56 PM
shibes372 shibes372 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kitty9 View Post
Is there any reason why you seem tied to NCL? There are a lot of other lines out there that might be more conducive to your needs. NCL is an OK line, but you'll find lots of kids on board, like you would on Royal Caribbean and Carnival. Have you looked at Princess or Celebrity? They are a bit more upscale and are known for a more refined cruise experience with what many feel is better food and service.
I would prefer a cruise on Celebrity or Princess, but money is definitely a factor for us right now. Wedding planning is expensive! Through my research I thought NCL might be a better bet among the popular lines, and FH has cruised with them before. I think I will consult a TA though.
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Old February 5th, 2013, 03:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shibes372 View Post
I would prefer a cruise on Celebrity or Princess, but money is definitely a factor for us right now. Wedding planning is expensive! Through my research I thought NCL might be a better bet among the popular lines, and FH has cruised with them before. I think I will consult a TA though.
While you might think NCL is cheaper- check out Celebrity Millineum Class- the ships are beautiful and might be cost effective- nice for a honeymoon.
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  #18  
Old February 5th, 2013, 04:32 PM
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Itinerary is important to us.
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Old February 5th, 2013, 04:34 PM
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OP

Have you checked flights from Pittsburgh to the various ports?
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  #20  
Old February 5th, 2013, 06:24 PM
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Hello fellow Pittsburgher!

We are still cruising for the ports. Until we hit our 2nd Southern set of islands, and I get to go to Alaska and Canada/NE I will keep that way. We have 2 boys so air fair to Europe/Australia is kinda of out of the questions for us at the moment.

On the other hand, my mother has gone to everywhere she "wants" to go out of the US and now picks by the ship. Her last was an Epic cruise, though she is now looking into a 31 day South America from Princess because it's the only cruise that makes one specific stop.

I will say it really is personal experience also. Do you hate going into a Walmart here in the Pittsburgh area? If so, a big ship might not be for you. Even though there is less to do, I love the small ships! If you want romance, I wouldn't book anything less than a balcony though. Nothing is better than getting to watch a sunset alone out there with your new husband and no one else!

What I will say from personal experience from Pittsburgh is even though it seems long, it is generally more economical to drive if you have the time and a decently fuel efficient car. If money is a factor that is something to consider also. I figure right now, round trip to Miami, including 3 hotels (2 down, 1 back) food, gas, random things needed, will cost us less than $850. Yes it does add 3 days to our trip, but to us it is worth it and makes for a more rounded vacation. I also like to do things on our own time and HATE waiting in airports!
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