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#1
4 Posts
Joined Jul 2017
I want to plan a family vacation next year after my oldest graduates from HS. My kids will be 18 and 13 at the time, it will be both boys and me and hubby.

I'm a bit claustrophobic and so far I've shied away from cruising because I am not sure if I'll be petrified or if I'll love it. I've heard so many great things though, so I'd like to give it a try. Also, it seems like a very economical way to travel and see other places.

I'm not sure where to start. We've never traveled outside of the US with the kids and typically our yearly summer vacations are within driving distance so this would be a special treat for us.

Some things I think I've figured out, I need a room with a balcony and I want to cruise the Caribbean. I'd prefer late June of 2018. It would be great to cruise out of Baltimore because we can drive there but I'm not opposed to flying to Florida either.

What cruise line/ship would you recommend? Also, which ones should we be sure to avoid? I especially want to make sure it's something that my teens will enjoy - lots of fun activities for them.

Also, do you typically book a cruise and make a full payment, or is this something you make payments on? I remember a few years a back a co-worker was going on a cruise and she said she was making payments - maybe she went through a travel agent??

I should also mention, a few years back we did whale watching boat trip in Boston. My youngest got sea sick and was miserable the entire trip. My oldest had done whale watching and already knew he wouldnt get sea sick so he was fine without the pill. Me and hubby both took the sea sick pill beforehand and we were fine. How do people avoid getting sea sick on long cruises?


I'm just now starting to research for this trip so I appreciate any advice or tips that you can share.
#2
Greenville, SC, USA
52,137 Posts
Joined Apr 2000
Generally, Disney, Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian cater more to families than other lines. They all have children's programs for kids up to 17. Yes, 18 is too old for the programs. From what I have heard, teenagers tend to use the program the first day or two to hook up with other teens. After that they plan to meet at a pool, or basketball court, etc.

When you book, you will be asked to put down a deposit. The amount depends on the line and the cost of the trip. Final payment (that is the rest of the price) is due about 60 to 90 days before sailing. Again it varies by cruise line. You may make payments along the way, but they are not required.

I would suggest talking to a travel agent that specializes in cruises for help getting started on the planning.
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Paul
#3
Western North Carolina
1,463 Posts
Joined Oct 2005
Originally posted by EastCoastlove
I want to plan a family vacation next year after my oldest graduates from HS. My kids will be 18 and 13 at the time, it will be both boys and me and hubby.

I'm a bit claustrophobic and so far I've shied away from cruising because I am not sure if I'll be petrified or if I'll love it. I've heard so many great things though, so I'd like to give it a try. Also, it seems like a very economical way to travel and see other places.

I'm not sure where to start. We've never traveled outside of the US with the kids and typically our yearly summer vacations are within driving distance so this would be a special treat for us.

Some things I think I've figured out, I need a room with a balcony and I want to cruise the Caribbean. I'd prefer late June of 2018. It would be great to cruise out of Baltimore because we can drive there but I'm not opposed to flying to Florida either.

What cruise line/ship would you recommend? Also, which ones should we be sure to avoid? I especially want to make sure it's something that my teens will enjoy - lots of fun activities for them.

Also, do you typically book a cruise and make a full payment, or is this something you make payments on? I remember a few years a back a co-worker was going on a cruise and she said she was making payments - maybe she went through a travel agent??

I should also mention, a few years back we did whale watching boat trip in Boston. My youngest got sea sick and was miserable the entire trip. My oldest had done whale watching and already knew he wouldnt get sea sick so he was fine without the pill. Me and hubby both took the sea sick pill beforehand and we were fine. How do people avoid getting sea sick on long cruises?


I'm just now starting to research for this trip so I appreciate any advice or tips that you can share.
In late June 2018 there is only one ship sailing south out of Baltimore, the Carnival Pride, sailing to Freeport, Bahamas; Half Moon Cay, Bahamas; and Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos Islands.

You will have a much better selection for Caribbean cruises if you look for ships sailing out of Florida. With teenagers I would suggest Royal Caribbean ships.
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Larry and my wife Nan

Equinox - S. Caribbean - 9/25/17

Millennium - B2B - Japan/China & SE Asia - 10/16&30/16
Silhouette - E. Caribbean - 12/6/15
Infinity - Iceland/Norway - 6/23/14
Brilliance of the Seas - Baltic - 7/14/13
Caribbean Princess - British Isles - 8/1/12
Infinity - South America - 1/18/09
Constellation - S. Caribbean - 1/18/08
Millennium - Mediterranean - 5/25/07
Explorer of the Seas - Bermuda - 10/15/06
Summit - Panama Canal - 11/6/05
Jewel of the Seas - W. Caribbean - 11/14/04
Sun - Alaska - 9/7/03

#4
Coastal GA USA
21,379 Posts
Joined Nov 2007
Carnival Pride is a perfectly acceptable ship for a first cruise. There will be lots of activities for the boys, three beach ports. There is not much at Freeport, most people take a taxi to the beach. Half Moon Cay is a Private Island, a beach day with barbecue. Best beach! Grand Turk is a small island, you could rent golf carts and tour it, then relax at the beach or the wonderful pool at Margaritaville. Being able to drive to the port would be a bonus. EM
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Booked: Carnival Magic 8/26/17; Carnival Splendor 1/14/18
Carnival Pride B2B 21 nites 2/19/17 Caribbean
Carnival Glory 8/27/16
MSC Divina 5/7/16
Carnival Fascination 22 Feb 2016 Bahamas
MSC Divina 11/20-23/2013 Bahamas
Coral Princess 17 July 2013 Alaska
Celebrity Silhouette 22 May 2013 Adriatic & Italy
Queen Elizabeth 15 May 2013 4 nights
Celebrity Infinity 16 April 2013 B2B San Diego to Harwich
Nieuw Amsterdam Mediterranean 4/30 - 5/24/2012
Millennium B2B2B 2/6-20/2012 Caribbean
Caribbean Princess 10/29/2011 Caribbean Islander NY to FLL
Celebrity Solstice 5/1/2011 FLL to Barcelona
Carnival Fascination 2/28/11 Bahamas
QM 2 12/8/2010 Caribbean Delights
Celebrity Summit 10/24/10 B2B NY to San Juan
Emerald Princess 8/29/10 Western Caribbean
Diamond Princess 5/29/10 B2B Alaska
Westerdam 2/7/10 Eastern & Southern Caribbean
Carnival Dream 10/27/09 Transatlantic
Carnival Sensation 6/18/09 Bahamas
Carnival Splendor 5/17/09 B2B Mexi-not to Canada
Oosterdam 2/28/09 San Diego to Rome 32 nights
Carnival Fascination 12/13/08 Bahamas
QE 2 7/31/08 Lands of Fire and Ice
Celebration 3/27/08 Bahamas
Celebration 1/26/08 Bahamas
Norwegian Spirit 10/20/07 CTN
Elation 4/23/07 B2B Bahamas
Zenith 8/2006 Bermuda
Calypso 7/2005 Greek Isles
Star Princess Inaugural 2/2002 Pacific Rim Singapore to LA 26 nights
Millennium 8/2000 Baltic
Fantasy 6/1999 Bahamas
Royal Princess 1/1999 Buenos Aires to Manaus
Home Lines Oceanic x 2 1973 NYC to Nassau 7 nights
Homes Lines Homeric x2 Eastern Caribbean 1972 10 nights
#5
Henderson, Nevada
270 Posts
Joined May 2016
Big difference in a whale watching boat and cruise ship. You won't notice the movement as much, you can get a small patch that you wear behind your ear to keep sea sickness at bay. Enjoy!!!
#6
Western PA
1,019 Posts
Joined Oct 2010
Grandeur of the Seas - Royal Caribbean - also sails out of Baltimore at that time. A variety of itineraries. Climbing wall and other kid activities onboard.
Baltimore is a good port to sail from.
#7
South Carolina
28,287 Posts
Joined Dec 2001
Originally posted by paul929207
Generally, Disney, Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian cater more to families than other lines. They all have children's programs for kids up to 17. Yes, 18 is too old for the programs. From what I have heard, teenagers tend to use the program the first day or two to hook up with other teens. After that they plan to meet at a pool, or basketball court, etc.

When you book, you will be asked to put down a deposit. The amount depends on the line and the cost of the trip. Final payment (that is the rest of the price) is due about 60 to 90 days before sailing. Again it varies by cruise line. You may make payments along the way, but they are not required.

I would suggest talking to a travel agent that specializes in cruises for help getting started on the planning.
Per above .... You will be required to put down a deposit when you book and pay the rest when the remainder of the balance is due. Has nothing to do with booking with a travel agent.
You really would find a good travel agent to be a huge help to you!
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Happy Sailing! OCruisers (LuLu & Roundman)
80+ Cruises .... Princess, Celebrity, RCCL, HAL, Carnival, NCL, Costa, etc. (Still miss Sitmar)
#8
Virginia
1,055 Posts
Joined Feb 2016
Originally posted by EastCoastlove
I want to plan a family vacation next year after my oldest graduates from HS. My kids will be 18 and 13 at the time, it will be both boys and me and hubby.

I'm a bit claustrophobic and so far I've shied away from cruising because I am not sure if I'll be petrified or if I'll love it. I've heard so many great things though, so I'd like to give it a try. Also, it seems like a very economical way to travel and see other places.

I'm not sure where to start. We've never traveled outside of the US with the kids and typically our yearly summer vacations are within driving distance so this would be a special treat for us.

Some things I think I've figured out, I need a room with a balcony and I want to cruise the Caribbean. I'd prefer late June of 2018. It would be great to cruise out of Baltimore because we can drive there but I'm not opposed to flying to Florida either.
You're going to have more time in the Caribbean and have much better ports to pick from if you go out of Florida. It may be worth it to go out of there. That way you can enjoy your cruise more.

What cruise line/ship would you recommend? Also, which ones should we be sure to avoid? I especially want to make sure it's something that my teens will enjoy - lots of fun activities for them.
Everyone on here is going to post their favorite line and advocate for it the most. It's just what people do on Internet forums. There's no right or wrong answer. Personally we prefer Carnival. They are "The fun ships" and have a ton of activities and are priced fairly cheap. We looked at other lines but none of them really offered that catered to our family.

Also, do you typically book a cruise and make a full payment, or is this something you make payments on? I remember a few years a back a co-worker was going on a cruise and she said she was making payments - maybe she went through a travel agent??
This is personal preference. Regardless of what you do, you will need to put a deposit down. You can pay all at once or you can make payments. (At least with Carnival). We always plan our own vacations and book everything ourselves.

I should also mention, a few years back we did whale watching boat trip in Boston. My youngest got sea sick and was miserable the entire trip. My oldest had done whale watching and already knew he wouldnt get sea sick so he was fine without the pill. Me and hubby both took the sea sick pill beforehand and we were fine. How do people avoid getting sea sick on long cruises?
Remember, a cruise ship is MUCH larger than a whale watching boat. You should be fine without being sea sick. You can always get sea sickness meds. Also when booking your cruise, mid-ship, lower is the best place to help not feel any motion.

I'm just now starting to research for this trip so I appreciate any advice or tips that you can share.
Here ya go..
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#9
Western North Carolina
1,463 Posts
Joined Oct 2005
Originally posted by shipgeeks
Grandeur of the Seas - Royal Caribbean - also sails out of Baltimore at that time. A variety of itineraries. Climbing wall and other kid activities onboard.
Baltimore is a good port to sail from.
The OP said she wished to sail to the Caribbean in late June 2018. In June and July the Grandeur of the Seas sails primarily to Bermuda (with an occasional side trip to the Bahamas) and a few trips to Canada/New England.
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Larry and my wife Nan

Equinox - S. Caribbean - 9/25/17

Millennium - B2B - Japan/China & SE Asia - 10/16&30/16
Silhouette - E. Caribbean - 12/6/15
Infinity - Iceland/Norway - 6/23/14
Brilliance of the Seas - Baltic - 7/14/13
Caribbean Princess - British Isles - 8/1/12
Infinity - South America - 1/18/09
Constellation - S. Caribbean - 1/18/08
Millennium - Mediterranean - 5/25/07
Explorer of the Seas - Bermuda - 10/15/06
Summit - Panama Canal - 11/6/05
Jewel of the Seas - W. Caribbean - 11/14/04
Sun - Alaska - 9/7/03

#10
South Carolina
28,287 Posts
Joined Dec 2001
Originally posted by EastCoastlove
How do people avoid getting sea sick on long cruises?
.
Please don't just assume you will be seasick.
Honestly, so very people don't without using anything to prevent it.
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Happy Sailing! OCruisers (LuLu & Roundman)
80+ Cruises .... Princess, Celebrity, RCCL, HAL, Carnival, NCL, Costa, etc. (Still miss Sitmar)
#11
Charlotte, NC
2,643 Posts
Joined Jan 2007
Depending on your degree of claustrophobia, the type of room you choose will be important. You will definitely want to avoid an interior room but even an oceanview or balcony room might be rough if you try to fit four people in them.

Cruise ships are definitely different than small whale watching boats - rather than sailing on top of the waves they will sail through it. Cruise ships also have stabilizer to help minimize motion. And as previously posted, your room location is key - the lower deck in the middle of the ship will experience less motion. The Caribbean tends to be much smoother than the open ocean aw well - sailing out of Florida means less sea days where you do nothing but sail to your ports of call.

While scopolamine patches behind your ears work, they are on the extreme end of treatment as many, myself included, experience cotton mouth, become extremely tired and feel loopy on it. Meclizine (trade name Bonine or Less Drowsy Dramamine) taken once a day is generally sufficient for most people.
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9/2012 - Carnival Victory
5/2012 - Carnival Elation
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#12
Philadelphia area
2,247 Posts
Joined Sep 2010
Check out RCI Allure and Oasis.
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Up next, Bermuda:

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#13
New Jersey
44 Posts
Joined Apr 2016
I am highly prone to motion sickness and I always get a room in the middle of the ship , in the lower decks and never felt a thing. I also avoid looking out at the water. It would make me so sick. The first cruise I was on Dramamine... I wanted to make sure I felt 0 sickness. The second one I got a little more comfortable and went on without anything. As long as I didn't look out and didn't hang out in the front of the ship, I was okay.


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Celebrity Summit November 2014 -- Eastern Caribbean Cruise
Celebrity Constellation July 2016 -- Mediterranian Cruise
Celebrity Summit August 2017 -- Bermuda Cruise
Celebrity Millennium April 15, 2018 -- Japan Cruise

#14
Fredericksburg, va. USA
83,448 Posts
Joined May 2001
It's true...a cruise ship is nothing like a "boat"...unless seas are over 10-12 ft, you probably won't even KNOW you're on a ship! The medical center has medications if you need them.
#15
Long Beach, CA
372 Posts
Joined Jun 2003
I would also recommend Royal for good balance of family, kids and adult options. I also am very prone to seasickness on fishing boats and small tour boats and have never had an issue on any of the larger RCCL ships. A balcony is also a great option to get away from the closed in feeling. One point to consider, and I speak from long experience, be careful because once you go there is a strong possibility that you're will be hooked for life. Have fun and check back in and let us all know how it went.


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#16
In the Valley, CA
22,994 Posts
Joined Nov 2004
I recommend going in to a "cruise specialist," a TA who is knowledgeable about cruise vacations. Ask friends, family members, co-workers for recommendations (you'll be surprised at how many people have cruising experience).

A good TA can advise you on which ships will be a good fit for your family, based on desired itinerary, month you want to go, budget...
But be aware that the summer is prime hurricane time for the Caribbean, so many cruiselines go elsewhere during this time (eg. many have ships in Alaska during the summer...which, if you were willing to travel to the west coast, and didn't necessarily want a beach vacation, would be an excellent choice for many families). Not a worry as if you do book a cruise during the summer and a hurricane is possible, the captain will change the itinerary.

I'm the one in this family who tends to get motion sickness (I can't read in a moving vehicle without getting sick, but not a problem for my daughter and hubby). So I bring along a lot of ginger, as I find candied ginger works best for me as some OTC make me drowsy. Our last three cruises were the Hawaiian ones between LA and Hawaii, which tend to get rough seas, so we aim for mid-ship cabins, either inside or oceanview. One thing to know about motion sickness remedies is that what works for one person might not for another. If you are on prescription medication, ask your doctor for recommendations (if you are on blood thinners, you want to avoid ginger). Some people do well with the patches, while others do not. I suggest trying a few different ones before your cruise on land and see what doesn't give you side effects and take whatever works with you (more than one....just in case one doesn't work on the water).

As for kid programs, the 18-year-old won't be allowed in the teen center. The 13-year-old will be in a teen program. But at that age, many teens eschew the established program. On our last two cruises, my daughter was 13 & 15. She went to the teen center on the first night and met the other teens. She found two girls her age that she ended up paling around with on sea days (and we had about 10 sea days). The teens on that cruise had started a facebook group page before the cruise and apparently some kept posting after the cruise. One of her new friends, she kept in touch with, and two years later we had booked the same cruise (same time of year, ship, itinerary) and it turned out this girl's family did too. So they made plans to meet up at the teen center, and they added another girl and three boys who were the same year, and they would hang out, seeing MUTS while in the pool or hot tub, paying ping pong, etc. I don't think they went to the Remix room very much, if at all, as, according to our girl, the activities were lame.

As for booking, it's standard to put down a deposit at the time of booking, and then pay the rest at final payment time. Just make sure to note down that last date, and touch base with your TA a few days before that to make sure the payment is made in time (so your booking doesn't get cancelled). You should get an receipt emailed to you both times. And I think most cruiselines have a section on their websites that allow you to keep tabs on your booking info (Princess calls it the cruise personalizer, not sure about other lines).

My other advice: always get to your departure city at least a day ahead unless you live within a short drive there. We live an hour's drive from the port of Los Angeles, so we feel confident about leaving around 9 or 10 to get to the port the same day. Any other port, we go at least a day ahead.

Also, don't try to plan out every day of the cruise...or try to keep every day filled with activities. Especially when you're in port.
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Patty the Cruisin' Chick (may all your cruises be smooth sailin')

Hoping for another trip to the land of Aloha!

Carnival Jubilee - Mex. Riv.; Sensation - W. Caribb.; Holiday (2Xs) - Baja; Paradise - E Caribb; Ecstasy - Baja; Star Princess - Mex. Riv.; Sapphire Princess - Alaska; Island Princess - Hawaii; Golden Princess - Hawaii (one of the best cruises ever!!!!); another Golden Princess -- Hawaii

Read about my most recent cruise at
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#17
Charlotte, NC
2,643 Posts
Joined Jan 2007
Originally posted by Cruisin' Chick
But be aware that the summer is prime hurricane time for the Caribbean, so many cruiselines go elsewhere during this time (eg. many have ships in Alaska during the summer...which, if you were willing to travel to the west coast, and didn't necessarily want a beach vacation, would be an excellent choice for many families). Not a worry as if you do book a cruise during the summer and a hurricane is possible, the captain will change the itinerary.
I see people say this all the time - it really should not be a factor in your decision making. Keep in mind that 'Hurricane Season' lasts half the year, from June 1st thru November 30th and peaks in early September. Trip Insurance will cover most issues that may arise......
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9/2012 - Carnival Victory
5/2012 - Carnival Elation
6/2011 - Carnival Fascination
#18
Pennsylvania
5,568 Posts
Joined Jul 2010
If you decide to cruise out of Baltimore you'll save airfare * 4 which you can use toward the balcony cabin which I agree you may prefer. The Pride is a good first choice for a cruise with family. I thought the interior spaces were a little dark, but that can be a minor issue with the right frame of mind. I don't have experience with Royal Caribbean especially out of Baltimore but I think the Pride's itinerary is a little more like a typical cruise where you'll visit several ports, one per day with some sea days at each end. A Bermuda cruise will have several days in one port with (I think) more sea days than a Bahamas itinerary.

On our Pride trip we were experimenting so we booked a "French Role Interior" room (or whatever they call it). It didn't have enough of the advantages of a true balcony room (i expected enough natural light to be able to tell night from day but the lifeboats had spotlights on them so there was some degree of artificial light shining in regardless of time of day) so I think it was priced fairly as an inside room but we wouldn't choose one again.

If you cruise again with or without your kids you might find that you'll be interested in a different ship or different line but Carnival Pride is a good first taste, in my opinion.
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Past:
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ms Amsterdam: 1 cruise
Caribbean Princess: 1 cruise
Carnival Pride: 1 cruise
#19
California, SF east bay
815 Posts
Joined Apr 2009
Originally posted by OCruisers
Please don't just assume you will be seasick.
Honestly, so very people don't without using anything to prevent it.
Yep, OP may be perfectly OK. However if subject to motion sickness I think it is wise to take some precautions on a first cruise. Hopefully they will find the motion isn't a problem.
#20
Maryland
8 Posts
Joined Jul 2016
The newer ships with all of the bells and whistles -- particularly ones that appeal to teenagers -- are going to sail out of Florida. The biggest factor favoring Baltimore is saving money on air fare (which adds up for 4 people), but if that is not an obstacle, your kids will likely have more fun on one of the big ships out of Florida (e.g., Oasis Class ships). Compare the amenities and activities side by side and see which are more appealing.

We also live close enough to Baltimore to drive, but we end up flying to Florida. And, I echo the comments about not being too worried about hurricane season - particularly if you leave out of Florida. We have sailed the Caribbean many summers and a few times there have been last minute itinerary changes, but nothing that took away from the cruise. I do think in that respect that there are more options available for favorable changes when sailing from Florida than from Baltimore. The ship is pretty locked in on the calendar as to when it has to return to port (because there will be an entirely new set of cruisers expecting to start their cruise). So there are less days that can be flexible when trying to get from any Caribbean port back to Baltimore than any Caribbean port back to Fort Lauderdale/Miami/etc.
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