First timer with many questions

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#1
NYC
21 Posts
Joined Jul 2012
Hi everyone! I'm a first time cruiser and need some advice. I originally wanted to go back in October, but plans fell through so now I'm aiming for May 2014. I'm in my upper 20s and I just have a couple of questions:

  • I'll be porting from NYC and I'm torn between Norwegian Gem VS Carnival Splendor heading to East Caribbeans. Both are around the same in cost. How do the ship services compare? As in extra fees? 24/hr room service? Treatment of customers?
  • My girlfriend gets car sick easily, so I'll assume she'll get seasick as well. What room locations are best? Back, middle, front? We are definitely getting a balcony room in the upper levels.
  • Silly question, but I enjoy sleeping outdoors but hate being bitten by mosquitoes. I'm assuming there are none when we are out at sea, so is it safe for me to sleep on my balcony at night without encountering the blood suckers?
  • Is everything in my room's fridge free?
  • Is there internet in my room and is it included? I assume my phone will charge me a ton while at sea.
  • How much extra charges do you usually incur after a 7-8 day cruise? I'm budgeting for an additional $600 for 2 people. Is that reasonable?
Thank you everyone!
#2
We live on a small lake in rural Nebr.
7,010 Posts
Joined Oct 2003
Although I have cruised both NCL and Carnival, I have not been on those particular ships. We have always had good service. NCL has more extra-pay restaurants, but we found the main dining room food just fine. We seldom use room service; I think it's 24 hours, but can't be sure.

For someone who gets seasick, the best rooms are middle of the ship and lower down. Be prepared, though, and bring motion meds, patch, or ginger.
I have never seen a bug of any kind on a cruise, including mosquitos. I can't imagine it would be very comfy sleeping on the balcony--they are tiny and only suites have lounge chairs--but doable, I guess.

Nothing in the fridge is free--in fact, it's very expensive. We always ask our room steward to clear everything out and use it for water bottles.

There probably will be wi-fi internet in your room, but you need to research the particular ship to be sure. It will be slow, doesn't always work, and is expensive. You definitely need to turn your phone off if you don't want very high charges. There is an internet cafe with the same slow speeds and high prices (there are packages of minutes available that cost a little less) or you can find hot spots on the ship, if your cabin wi-fi doesn't work.

We don't incur many extra charges at all, but we don't drink, gamble or do much shopping anymore--we have more than enough souvenirs already. We pay the gratuities, might buy a photo or two, that's about it. Tours can cost a lot, but many places can be done without a tour at all. We almost always find private tours rather than ship tours because they are cheaper and (usually) of better quality.

There are many, many ways to spend lots of money, it just depends on what you want to do. Examples: Drinks, including soft drinks, specialty coffees, smoothies, special ice creams, specialty restaurants, casino, photos, some classes, ship tours, spa appointments, hair styling, some exercise classes, shopping in the ship's boutiques and on shore, excursions, food and drink on shore, bingo, art auction, etc.

If you think you will be tempted by a lot of this, $600 is not going to go far. Our only significant expenses are gratuities and tours--for seven days we probably average about $300, including tips, more if we are taking several lengthy excursions.

We manage to have a great time without a lot of the above, but we often talk to people whose on board bill is in the thousands.
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SciFi
#3
104,828 Posts
Joined Jul 2001
Welcome to Cruise Critic.

Have your girl friend check with her doctor to determine what sea sickness medication will be the best for her.

Remember that the cruise line will put a hold of $60 per day per person on your credit card. This hold won't take affect until you actually check in at the pier.

The Internet is slow like Dial-Up service. And you need to remember to use a code to sign off or you will lose a lot of minutes. Check with the Internet manager on the various plans that are available. There will also be a small activation fee -- usually around $4.

Best cabins for people who get sea sick are low and in the middle of the ship. Unfortunately most ships don't have balconies that low.

As to sleeping outside -- many cabins have only chairs on the balconies.
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#4
North in summer/Texas winter, but a Texan forever!!!
6,852 Posts
Joined Oct 2010
Sleeping outside, two weeks ago, temps in the 80's and 100% humidity! And don't forget, they wash the decks etc every night. You will find it kinda wet an sticky I think.
We don't spend a huge amount, last cruise was the cheapest and ran about $900 for two in extra's, it has gone as high as $1800 depending on excursions and dining extra's. I think NCL is great for first timers, Freestyle dining and the entertainment is great.
Whatever you chose, have a great trip!
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#5
Sandy Springs, GA
6,533 Posts
Joined Jun 2006
You'll need cash for gratuities (plan on about $15 per person per day), plus for any additional items you have such as:
- soft drinks (about $2 each)
- specialty coffees (about $3 each)
- alcohol (anywhere from $4 for a beer to $10 for a martini, depending on the liquor and cruise line)
- photos (the ships photographers will take photos of you - you are under no obligation to buy and will be able to view before purchasing. If you buy some, they are about $20 each)
- casino

If you're not drinkers then you'll be fine with $600 ... but if you like to have a few drinks a day you could probably plan to double or triple that.
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Janine

“Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick, and pull yourself together.” Elizabeth Taylor

21 cruises (and counting!) on Royal Caribbean & Celebrity
#6
Nebraska
2,506 Posts
Joined Jul 2004
Originally posted by Nudetypist
Hi everyone! I'm a first time cruiser and need some advice. I originally wanted to go back in October, but plans fell through so now I'm aiming for May 2014. I'm in my upper 20s and I just have a couple of questions:

  • I'll be porting from NYC and I'm torn between Norwegian Gem VS Carnival Splendor heading to East Caribbeans. Both are around the same in cost. How do the ship services compare? As in extra fees? 24/hr room service? Treatment of customers?
  • My girlfriend gets car sick easily, so I'll assume she'll get seasick as well. What room locations are best? Back, middle, front? We are definitely getting a balcony room in the upper levels. Balcony on upper levels will have the most motion; low mid rooms have the least. You can get a motion patch from your doc, or bring some dramamine. Huge ships tend to have little motion; few are seriously bothered by it, but always good to be prepared.
  • Silly question, but I enjoy sleeping outdoors but hate being bitten by mosquitoes. I'm assuming there are none when we are out at sea, so is it safe for me to sleep on my balcony at night without encountering the blood suckers? You can try; none at sea
  • Is everything in my room's fridge free? NO
  • Is there internet in my room and is it included? I assume my phone will charge me a ton while at sea. Yes, wifi, no, not included, that is an extra fee. We have found internet to be decent at sea in recent years, but can be a bit slow or sketchy. Not cheap, but we buy the smallest package to at least check email daily.
  • How much extra charges do you usually incur after a 7-8 day cruise? I'm budgeting for an additional $600 for 2 people. Is that reasonable? Depends what you buy; we charge about $1500 (drinks, couple photos, tips, bingo); we bring another $1K for ports/gambling. If you don't drink (much) or gamble, $600 might be enough. We rarely shop.
Thank you everyone!
I think either line is a good choice. Have not sailed either line. If it were me, I guess I'd try NCL, although I do think Carnival is a good choice for a first cruise. But honestly, we have found the 3 lines we have sailed to be more alike than different, so don't fret too much.
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Kris
10/04 Star Princess W. Caribbean OV, 12/24/05 Disney Magic E. Caribbean FBalcony (family), 3/07 Star Princess W. Caribbean INT, 10/08 Crown Princess E. Caribbean INT, 11/08 Crown Princess E. Caribbean OV, 10/10 Mariner of the Seas MX Riviera OV (family), 12/11 Allure of the Seas E. Caribbean BAL, 12/12 Caribbean Princess S. Caribbeann INT (family), 03/14 Celebrity Constellation W. Carribean AQ, 03/15 Celebrity Constellation W. Carribean Sweet 16 balcony (family), 03/16 Celebrity Silhouette W. Carribean Concierge
#7
Fredericksburg, va. USA
80,534 Posts
Joined May 2001
Be careful sleeping on the balcony...they sometimes wash the outside of the ship in the early morning hours...you could get wet!
#8
Moon Township, Pa
23,132 Posts
Joined Oct 2000
Either line is fine for first timers. Personally, I'd choose Carnival as NCL isn't my cup of tea for many reasons.

She won't necessarily get seasick. I've known people who get very car sick, but felt nothing on a ship. Come prepared with Bonine or have her visit her doctor for other medications, just in case. Best cabins for those who get sea sick are down lower in the middle of the ship. The higher up, or far front or back are the worst for those who don't like the movement.

Balconies are very small and only have chairs. Plus, you could wake up feeling like a pretzel because you'll most likely be covered in sea salt. Not really a good idea to sleep outside.

The things in room refrigerators are insanely expensive.

Internet is expensive and slow--it can take over a minute or two just to download one page. You can count on around $.75 a minute unless you purchase a block of minutes, which lowers the per minute price. If you use the phone in your cabin to call home, the cost varies but it's around $7.50 a minute. Depending on your provider, most calls will run around $2.49 a minute.

A budget is difficult. A lot depends on your spending habits. But if you drink, be it soft drinks, bottled water or alcohol, those things add up. Beer is $4 to $5, cocktails run $6 to $8, wine is $8 and up per glass, martinis usually start at $10. Soft drinks are $1.75 to $2 per can and bottled water is $3.50 and up, plus all beverage purchases have 15% added to the bill. If you want to hit the casino, that's more money you'll need. Then you have tours, anything purchased in the on board shops and any photos that the ship's photographers take of you, which you don't have to purchase. Then you have the daily gratuities. You can pre-pay your gratuities, which will be anywhere from $12 to $15 a day, depending on what cruise line. Oh, and you don't use cash on a cruise ship. You back your on board purchases with a credit card and all your purchases are charged to your account. You can put cash down for your account, and most cruise lines will ask for $300 per person at the time you check in. But it's really just easier to use a credit card.

Good Luck.
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Darcie
#9
Kentucky
13,192 Posts
Joined Feb 2004
Originally posted by Nudetypist
Hi everyone! I'm a first time cruiser and need some advice. I originally wanted to go back in October, but plans fell through so now I'm aiming for May 2014. I'm in my upper 20s and I just have a couple of questions:

  • I'll be porting from NYC and I'm torn between Norwegian Gem VS Carnival Splendor heading to East Caribbeans. Both are around the same in cost. How do the ship services compare? As in extra fees? 24/hr room service? Treatment of customers?
  • My girlfriend gets car sick easily, so I'll assume she'll get seasick as well. What room locations are best? Back, middle, front? We are definitely getting a balcony room in the upper levels.
  • Silly question, but I enjoy sleeping outdoors but hate being bitten by mosquitoes. I'm assuming there are none when we are out at sea, so is it safe for me to sleep on my balcony at night without encountering the blood suckers?
  • Is everything in my room's fridge free?
  • Is there internet in my room and is it included? I assume my phone will charge me a ton while at sea.
  • How much extra charges do you usually incur after a 7-8 day cruise? I'm budgeting for an additional $600 for 2 people. Is that reasonable?
Thank you everyone!
Welcome to Cruise Critic! Let's see if we can answer some of those questions. I would vote for NCL's Gem because it is a beautiful ship with lots of entertainment. There is even a bowling alley onboard. Think service is better on NCL than Carnival. Have nine cruises with NCL and Ccl, most recently on the Carnival Liberty and I cannot wait to get back to NCL. Room service is 24 hours a day on both lines. If ordering from midnight to 5 a.m., NCL charges a $3.95 service fee.

Nothing in the cabin's mini fridge is free. On NCL, you can bring unlimited bottles of water as well as soft drinks. On Carnival, you are limited to 12, 20-ounce bottles of water or soda.
If you sleep with your balcony open on CCL, the air conditioning automatically shuts off. By doing so, you are interrupting the efficiency to the other cabins sharing the same grid.

No internet is included. Yes, it will cost a bunch to use your phone at sea. Check with your provider for actual cost.
#10
Here I am
3,320 Posts
Joined Dec 2009
Originally posted by Nudetypist
  • My girlfriend gets car sick easily, so I'll assume she'll get seasick as well. What room locations are best? Back, middle, front? We are definitely getting a balcony room in the upper levels.
The best bet is the lower middle of the ship with a window. Balconies are usually in the upper levels - reserve at your own risk.
  • Is everything in my room's fridge free?
Depends. Will you use your own credit card? If yes, not free
  • Is there internet in my room and is it included? I assume my phone will charge me a ton while at sea.
Don't know if Wi-Fi is in your room, PCs are expensive. There are usually internet cafes in ports. Your cell phone may work on land - inquire with your provider.

Thank you everyone!

Replying, assuming it's not a troll post.
#11
Kentucky
13,192 Posts
Joined Feb 2004
Originally posted by Nudetypist
Hi everyone! I'm a first time cruiser and need some advice. I originally wanted to go back in October, but plans fell through so now I'm aiming for May 2014. I'm in my upper 20s and I just have a couple of questions:

  • I'll be porting from NYC and I'm torn between Norwegian Gem VS Carnival Splendor heading to East Caribbeans. Both are around the same in cost. How do the ship services compare? As in extra fees? 24/hr room service? Treatment of customers?
  • My girlfriend gets car sick easily, so I'll assume she'll get seasick as well. What room locations are best? Back, middle, front? We are definitely getting a balcony room in the upper levels.
  • Silly question, but I enjoy sleeping outdoors but hate being bitten by mosquitoes. I'm assuming there are none when we are out at sea, so is it safe for me to sleep on my balcony at night without encountering the blood suckers?
  • Is everything in my room's fridge free?
  • Is there internet in my room and is it included? I assume my phone will charge me a ton while at sea.
  • How much extra charges do you usually incur after a 7-8 day cruise? I'm budgeting for an additional $600 for 2 people. Is that reasonable?
Thank you everyone!
Forgot to add in my earlier post, you want to be midship and on a lower floor, not higher.
#12
NJ
7,255 Posts
Joined Jan 2004
I'll be porting from NYC and I'm torn between Norwegian Gem VS Carnival Splendor heading to East Caribbeans. Both are around the same in cost. How do the ship services compare? As in extra fees? 24/hr room service? Treatment of customers?
They are similar. Flip a coin. They both have extra fees for automatic tips (~ $12 per per per day or an extra $168 per week for 2 people) They both have room service.

My girlfriend gets car sick easily, so I'll assume she'll get seasick as well. What room locations are best? Back, middle, front? We are definitely getting a balcony room in the upper levels.
A balcony on an upper level will be horrible for her seasickness. If you don't want her to be green & barfing you should book a cabin on a low deck midship. Most of those are ocean view. There are no balcony cabins on the low decks. The stabalizers are great but . . .the ship will still be moving. She can take non-drowsy dramamine but it's not fool proof. Don't take more than the recommended dose or the meds will make her sicker than the motion of the ship.

Silly question, but I enjoy sleeping outdoors but hate being bitten by mosquitoes. I'm assuming there are none when we are out at sea, so is it safe for me to sleep on my balcony at night without encountering the blood suckers?
There really isn't room to sleep on the balcony. Most regular non suite balconys have chairs where you can sit upright. A lounger won't fit. Sleeping on a concrete deck doesn't sound comfy. But there won't be mosquitos.

Is everything in my room's fridge free?
Nothing in your fridge is free. We have them empty ot the fridge then stock our own soda & wine which pay corkage for. DH might buy a bucket of beer & stick them in the fridge. I'll usually pilfer some yogurt at breakfast & stick it in the room 'fridge because I can never find any when I want it for an afternoon snack.

Is there internet in my room and is it included? I assume my phone will charge me a ton while at sea.
You can get wifi but it's the same expensive price between $0.55 - $0.75 per minute depending on the package you buy. It's very slow. Your phone charges will be high (~ $2.49 per minute) but still cheaper than the $8.95 per minute you will be charged to use the ship's phone.

How much extra charges do you usually incur after a 7-8 day cruise? I'm budgeting for an additional $600 for 2 people. Is that reasonable?
Does your $600 budget include tips? If not after the autotipping you are down to less than $450. You know your own spending & drinking habits. Drinking aboard ship costs about what cheap drinks cost in Manhatten. Plus an 18% gratuity will be added to every drink so your $5 beer is really $5.90. We usually budget $100 per person per day & have always come home with money.
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Trish
#13
NYC
21 Posts
Joined Jul 2012
Thanks everyone! I'm most likely going to go with Norwegian Gem due to their better departure dates. Not sure why Carnival is departing on a Wednesday.

Now where can I find the best deal? I got a quote through NCL's website but I'm hoping I could find a better deal elsewhere?
#14
NJ
7,255 Posts
Joined Jan 2004
Originally posted by Nudetypist
Now where can I find the best deal? I got a quote through NCL's website but I'm hoping I could find a better deal elsewhere?
Cruising deals aren't what you think. It's very rare that the prices vary by more than a few dollars but some TAs offer extras: wine, OBC, upgrades, etc.

It's against CC policy for us to recommend a TA in a post. Some advertise on the site so you can click their links. Otherwise Google or your local phone book can help.
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Trish
#15
1 Posts
Joined Dec 2012
I've really enjoyed this post! My husband and I are first time cruisers, cruising NCL on Sunday. I get motion sick something awful, so we booked an inside on the 8th deck. I am taking a motion sickness arsenal! lol I have a wrist band that administers little electric pulses. I can adjust the strength due to how sick I am. My mom found it at a drug store for $15 years ago. I looked it up to by another one for my grandmother who will be joining us, and they are now over $200! (Go Mom!) It does work wonders though. I have spent all day riding roller coasters and not got the first bit queasy. However, I will throw some dramamine and motion sickness patches in my bag too...just in case. =)
Cruise line prices seem to correlate with how fast the cruise ship is filling up. It can vary from week to week, so its almost a game of roulette.
We have budgeted $1000 for the two of us, but are hoping to spend less than that. We do not gamble or drink, but my husband drinks soda like it is going out of style. I'm pretty sure NCL offers an unlimited (non alcoholic) drink package. Im not sure how much it is though. We do not have any excursions planned, but I am sure we will take a couple. (My grandpa wants to go cave tubing! )

Best of luck, and enjoy your cruise with whichever line you choose!
#16
Philadelphia, PA
3 Posts
Joined Nov 2012
Most of the cruises allow you to bring some wine or other alcohol aboard that you can have in the cabin. For Princess and Celebrity, I think the maximum for wine is 2 bottles. This is something we didn't know when we first started cruising. You can save a lot of money over wine you would buy on the ship!
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#17
Oroville CA
2,739 Posts
Joined Sep 2006
You may be in for a pleasant surprise on the seasickness thing. I get carsick, but never get seasick. You probably should go prepared, but it may not be a problem after all.
#18
Kentucky
13,192 Posts
Joined Feb 2004
Originally posted by AvidSwimmer
Most of the cruises allow you to bring some wine or other alcohol aboard that you can have in the cabin. For Princess and Celebrity, I think the maximum for wine is 2 bottles. This is something we didn't know when we first started cruising. You can save a lot of money over wine you would buy on the ship!
OP has decided on NCL, which allows unlimited bottles of wine to be brought onboard provided you pay a $15 per 750-ml bottle corkage fee. The wine can be consumed anywhere on the ship including the dining rooms, specialty restaurants, bars/lounges AND you cabin/balcony.
#19
Queesland, Australia
151 Posts
Joined Sep 2012
Originally posted by Nebr.cruiser
Although I have cruised both NCL and Carnival, I have not been on those particular ships. We have always had good service. NCL has more extra-pay restaurants, but we found the main dining room food just fine. We seldom use room service; I think it's 24 hours, but can't be sure.

For someone who gets seasick, the best rooms are middle of the ship and lower down. Be prepared, though, and bring motion meds, patch, or ginger.
I have never seen a bug of any kind on a cruise, including mosquitos. I can't imagine it would be very comfy sleeping on the balcony--they are tiny and only suites have lounge chairs--but doable, I guess.

Nothing in the fridge is free--in fact, it's very expensive. We always ask our room steward to clear everything out and use it for water bottles.

There probably will be wi-fi internet in your room, but you need to research the particular ship to be sure. It will be slow, doesn't always work, and is expensive. You definitely need to turn your phone off if you don't want very high charges. There is an internet cafe with the same slow speeds and high prices (there are packages of minutes available that cost a little less) or you can find hot spots on the ship, if your cabin wi-fi doesn't work.

We don't incur many extra charges at all, but we don't drink, gamble or do much shopping anymore--we have more than enough souvenirs already. We pay the gratuities, might buy a photo or two, that's about it. Tours can cost a lot, but many places can be done without a tour at all. We almost always find private tours rather than ship tours because they are cheaper and (usually) of better quality.

There are many, many ways to spend lots of money, it just depends on what you want to do. Examples: Drinks, including soft drinks, specialty coffees, smoothies, special ice creams, specialty restaurants, casino, photos, some classes, ship tours, spa appointments, hair styling, some exercise classes, shopping in the ship's boutiques and on shore, excursions, food and drink on shore, bingo, art auction, etc.

If you think you will be tempted by a lot of this, $600 is not going to go far. Our only significant expenses are gratuities and tours--for seven days we probably average about $300, including tips, more if we are taking several lengthy excursions.

We manage to have a great time without a lot of the above, but we often talk to people whose on board bill is in the thousands.
Hope I can pop a question in here regarding on board bills. Can you tell me if we get actual paper receipts when 'buying' things on board ship with our ship card? I've been told by a cousin of mine that he had a 'major dispute' about the price of his bill, but he hadn't proof of what he'd spent. I believe he was wrong about it, but it's made me wonder if we get receipts that we can match up with our bill at the end of the cruise. Thanks in advance if you can advise me. It's been 40 years since our last cruise on our honeymoon
#20
Queesland, Australia
151 Posts
Joined Sep 2012
Originally posted by Wills0704
I've really enjoyed this post! My husband and I are first time cruisers, cruising NCL on Sunday. I get motion sick something awful, so we booked an inside on the 8th deck. I am taking a motion sickness arsenal! lol I have a wrist band that administers little electric pulses. I can adjust the strength due to how sick I am. My mom found it at a drug store for $15 years ago. I looked it up to by another one for my grandmother who will be joining us, and they are now over $200! (Go Mom!) It does work wonders though. I have spent all day riding roller coasters and not got the first bit queasy. However, I will throw some dramamine and motion sickness patches in my bag too...just in case. =)
Cruise line prices seem to correlate with how fast the cruise ship is filling up. It can vary from week to week, so its almost a game of roulette.
We have budgeted $1000 for the two of us, but are hoping to spend less than that. We do not gamble or drink, but my husband drinks soda like it is going out of style. I'm pretty sure NCL offers an unlimited (non alcoholic) drink package. Im not sure how much it is though. We do not have any excursions planned, but I am sure we will take a couple. (My grandpa wants to go cave tubing! )

Best of luck, and enjoy your cruise with whichever line you choose!
Good luck with the possible sea sickness. I would very much like to hear from you on your return. We sail for Hawaii from Sydney on April 24th and I also get badly motion sick. I am also preparing to go with an arsenal of prevention methods. I tried to get the wrist bands you mention, but it seems impossible to buy them any more, at least in Australia. I've had 'Kwell' tablets highly recommended to me, and I have ordinary wrist bands along with naturopathic drops that have helped on very twist and turn car trips .... so here's hoping, but again, I'd love to hear how you get on.