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  #1  
Old July 3rd, 2013, 10:18 AM
SnowBird Cruzer SnowBird Cruzer is online now
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Default What type of cruise for newbies is best?

Hi, I'm an experienced cruiser, as you can see by my signature. Apparently I developed a whole in my head which can be the only explanation for why I would volunteer to organize a family cruise!

I have one brother and his wife who have also cruised a lot but no-one else in the family has. (I've got 11 other brothers and sisters, BTW).

I'm trying to organize the aforementioned family cruise in Spring 2015. My brother and I were discussing what type of Caribbean cruise to go on.

Our own cruise requirements:
  • 7 day cruise
  • Eastern/Southern Caribbean cruise only
  • Must not have 2 consecutive days at sea, especially at start*
  • Specific Islands not important
  • Will be either RCCL or Celebrity (due to prior cruising by me or brother)
*to avoid any complaints of "what am I going to do onboard a ship all day?"
I've heard this from every cruise virgin I've ever talked to about cruising.

We are also concerned by having "too many" stops. I don't want them feeling rushed, or feeling that they have to do something at every port. I don't want them complaining afterwards that the trip was too hectic. I want them to want to cruise again!

With that said, I have picked out 1 ship from each which has itineraries that we think will meet the above conditions:
  1. Adventure of the Seas out of San Juan
    1. 4 stops with two Days at Sea (stop, stop, Day at Sea, repeat)
    2. 5 stops with one Day at Sea at the beginning
  2. Celebrity Summit out of San Juan
    1. Various itineraries
    2. Either Day at sea first and then 5 stops, or
    3. 5 stops with Day at Sea before final stop
I've not sailed Celebrity, and I have been on AOS. I'm trying to control my bias, but prefer the AOS with 2 days at sea, since they are spaced out. Plus, I like the climbing wall (I'm 50)

More details:
  • Siblings range from 45 to 65
  • 2 siblings will have high school age children, otherwise the rest of us would be just husband/wife
  • We are all in the Midwest (MN/WI)
  • Organizing these people is like herding cats
I'll be presenting a PowerPoint to them in a couple of weeks (I'm not really that anal, but the backstory is too complicated. Suffice to say, I got a new laptop and want to play with it)

I'm interested in opinions. For you well seasoned cruisers, who know all the ins and outs, you'll have to think back to some of your first cruises.
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"Original" Star Princess, Jan. 1990 (FLL to Nassau, ST. Thomas and San Juan)
Splendour of the Seas, April 2007 (Galveston to Cozumel and Costa Maya)
Adventure of the Seas, March 2009 (San Juan to Aruba, Curacao, St. Maarten, St. Thomas)
Voyager of the Seas, February 2012 (NO to Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Cozumel)
Liberty of the Seas, February 2013 (FLL to Labadee and Jamaica)
Rhapsody of the Seas, Aug 2013 (Alaska)
Adventure of the Seas, March 2015 (San Juan to St. Thomas, St. Kitts, Aruba and Curacao)







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  #2  
Old July 3rd, 2013, 11:09 AM
FLWDWFreak FLWDWFreak is offline
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I would say that in the end, your choice is going to be based on what size ship you want. Adventure OTS is 137,000 tons. Summit is 91,000. I would personally go with the Adventure, because when we do family cruises we like to do a lot of activities that aren't offered on the Summit. I looked up what I am guessing are the itineraries of your 2 cruises, I don't know if your doing the one that goes to Oranjestad for the Adventure. If it is, then I would go with Royal Caribbean. If not, do Celebrity because I found it for a lot cheeper. Either way good luck, and have fun.
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  #3  
Old July 3rd, 2013, 11:13 AM
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Gunner22aa Gunner22aa is offline
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Default Spot On!

Either of the cruises you have picked will work. I would not be concerned about too many port days unless the group is expected to all participate in the same activity all the time which in my opinion is a recipie for disaster. Good call on reduced sea days. I love them and picked our next cruise because it has 18 of them. Others find them much to their dislike even though the ship has way more things to do in a day than you could ever partake in. I have done cruises with larger family groups the last being Bermuda to celebrate a 50th wedding anniversary. We all did the group thing one day ashore and quickly found out the varying interests or lack there of and naturally gravitated to small groups for the remainder of the cruise. The smallest of which was my uncle (one of the 50yr married couple) and I and a favourite ship board pub while the ladies did the shop till you drop routine. We did however have breakfast and dinner together every day before going our separate ways. I'm sure it will all work out just fine. Enjoy your family time. None of us ever seem to get as much of it as we should.
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  #4  
Old July 3rd, 2013, 12:48 PM
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I think the first Adventure of the Seas choice would be the best. Having two ports then a sea day would break up the cruise and give them a good feel for cruising (let them see how many things there are to do on a sea day - or that they can do nothing and just relax). Having 5 ports in a row might be rather hectic especially for first time cruisers.
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  #5  
Old July 3rd, 2013, 01:01 PM
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slidergirl slidergirl is offline
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SnowBird Cruzer said:
"I'll be presenting a PowerPoint to them in a couple of weeks (I'm not really that anal, but the backstory is too complicated. Suffice to say, I got a new laptop and want to play with it)."

Immediately, the movie "Couples Retreat" sprang in to my brain!!! If you haven't already watched this Vince Vaughn movie, do it! You'd get a chuckle out of it

Just my experience: I stuck my little toe in the cruise pool. I did two of the Pacific Coastal repo cruises, one each direction. I did NOT care for the at sea days - not enough "intellectual" stimulation to choose from. I ended up walking around the Promenade deck quite a bit and spent time at the Spa pool. I did enjoy my port stops, but then I love the Pacific Northwest and Northern California. After those cruises, I figured out that sea days were not for me, so if I wanted to cruise, I had to choose cruises where I'd put my feet on land often.

Once you get everyone onboard your idea of a cruise, I would just let it grow on it's own. Let everyone make their own choices - if they want to spend every moment on land, do it. If some want to do regimented excursions/tours, do it. If some just want off the ship to do their own thing do it. If some get tired of getting off the ship, let them stay on the ship. They won't really decide if they like the cruise or not if they aren't the ones in charge of their own destiny. If they ask for your guidance and opinions and maybe some tour help, by all means, do it. But, don't sign everyone up for the "Pelican Package" without full disclosure
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  #6  
Old July 3rd, 2013, 02:14 PM
Keith1010 Keith1010 is offline
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I think both ships and cruise lines are perfect choices. I would read some of the member cruise reviews.

Keith
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  #7  
Old July 3rd, 2013, 03:53 PM
cb at sea cb at sea is offline
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I agree with Slidergirl....pick the ship and date, and let everyone else do their own arrangements! Not everyone is going to want to be "herded"....someone, guaranteed, will be unhappy with something...and you don't want them to be unhappy with YOU! So...give them the info, then it's up to them!

And...don't "talk it up" too much...that's pretty much guaranteed to leave folks feeling cheated....people LIKE to discover stuff on their own! Leave them something to discover!!!

Last edited by cb at sea; July 3rd, 2013 at 03:54 PM.
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  #8  
Old July 3rd, 2013, 04:53 PM
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Krazy Kruizers Krazy Kruizers is offline
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JMO -- RCI

But I do have a concern -- is everyone able to get to San Juan? Have you checked air fares -- mock booking for any date? Have you considered that some people may have to stay in a hotel pre-cruise? Lots of things to consider.
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  #9  
Old July 3rd, 2013, 06:39 PM
SnowBird Cruzer SnowBird Cruzer is online now
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Default they are on their own for excursions

Quote:
Originally Posted by cb at sea View Post
I agree with Slidergirl....pick the ship and date, and let everyone else do their own arrangements! Not everyone is going to want to be "herded"....someone, guaranteed, will be unhappy with something...and you don't want them to be unhappy with YOU! So...give them the info, then it's up to them!

And...don't "talk it up" too much...that's pretty much guaranteed to leave folks feeling cheated....people LIKE to discover stuff on their own! Leave them something to discover!!!
Oh, I'm not planning all their excursions! No way! But getting them to agree on anything is the real challenge. I read somewhere that doing a dinner together was a good idea, otherwise every family unit should be on their own.

I appreciate the comments.
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"Original" Star Princess, Jan. 1990 (FLL to Nassau, ST. Thomas and San Juan)
Splendour of the Seas, April 2007 (Galveston to Cozumel and Costa Maya)
Adventure of the Seas, March 2009 (San Juan to Aruba, Curacao, St. Maarten, St. Thomas)
Voyager of the Seas, February 2012 (NO to Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Cozumel)
Liberty of the Seas, February 2013 (FLL to Labadee and Jamaica)
Rhapsody of the Seas, Aug 2013 (Alaska)
Adventure of the Seas, March 2015 (San Juan to St. Thomas, St. Kitts, Aruba and Curacao)







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  #10  
Old July 3rd, 2013, 06:42 PM
SnowBird Cruzer SnowBird Cruzer is online now
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Default Of course I have

Quote:
Originally Posted by Krazy Kruizers View Post
JMO -- RCI

But I do have a concern -- is everyone able to get to San Juan? Have you checked air fares -- mock booking for any date? Have you considered that some people may have to stay in a hotel pre-cruise? Lots of things to consider.
Didn't I make it clear that I really am kind of anal retentive? LOL

Yes, I did look at airfares and they are pretty good out of ORD. Certainly much better than the flights I found when I did a similar cruise in 2009.
I have one brother in Colorado Springs and his airfare is the cheapest of all.
And I would definitely recommend they all fly in a day early. Winter weather in the Midwest is so unpredictable that it you have to give yourself a buffer.

Plus, those of us that live locally can, perhaps, rent a bus to take us all down to ORD. That would be a hoot and a half!!
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"Original" Star Princess, Jan. 1990 (FLL to Nassau, ST. Thomas and San Juan)
Splendour of the Seas, April 2007 (Galveston to Cozumel and Costa Maya)
Adventure of the Seas, March 2009 (San Juan to Aruba, Curacao, St. Maarten, St. Thomas)
Voyager of the Seas, February 2012 (NO to Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Cozumel)
Liberty of the Seas, February 2013 (FLL to Labadee and Jamaica)
Rhapsody of the Seas, Aug 2013 (Alaska)
Adventure of the Seas, March 2015 (San Juan to St. Thomas, St. Kitts, Aruba and Curacao)







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  #11  
Old July 3rd, 2013, 07:25 PM
SeagoingMom SeagoingMom is offline
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I agree with ScrapNana -- the cruise with the interspersed sea days is what I would choose. Your newbies will find out how much fun and, perhaps, how restful, sea days can be. I think the thing about port days, especially with newbies, is that these pax feel they cannot not get off the ship -- they fear they will be missing something -- they've "paid for all these ports, after all", haven't they? So 5 ports in a row would be a lot.

Obviously this opinion is predicated on my assumption that you have considered that the "culture" on board each ship will be equally acceptable to those in your party -- as I do think the cultures may be different.

The port-intensity of the Summit itinerary is the reason I have not chosen this cruise for
myself, although I have considered it. I did not know there was the other type -- with the sea days -- out of S.J. -- just did not check RCCL-- I have never cruised with them, but maybe this one will be my first!
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  #12  
Old July 3rd, 2013, 07:53 PM
SnowBird Cruzer SnowBird Cruzer is online now
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Default Exactly

Quote:
Originally Posted by SeagoingMom View Post
I agree with ScrapNana -- the cruise with the interspersed sea days is what I would choose. Your newbies will find out how much fun and, perhaps, how restful, sea days can be. I think the thing about port days, especially with newbies, is that these pax feel they cannot not get off the ship -- they fear they will be missing something -- they've "paid for all these ports, after all", haven't they? So 5 ports in a row would be a lot.

Obviously this opinion is predicated on my assumption that you have considered that the "culture" on board each ship will be equally acceptable to those in your party -- as I do think the cultures may be different.

The port-intensity of the Summit itinerary is the reason I have not chosen this cruise for myself, although I have considered it. I did not know there was the other type -- with the sea days -- out of S.J. -- just did not check RCCL-- I have never cruised with them, but maybe this one will be my first!
You hit my ideas right on the head! They don't have to get off the ship, but they might feel that they do.
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Splendour of the Seas, April 2007 (Galveston to Cozumel and Costa Maya)
Adventure of the Seas, March 2009 (San Juan to Aruba, Curacao, St. Maarten, St. Thomas)
Voyager of the Seas, February 2012 (NO to Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Cozumel)
Liberty of the Seas, February 2013 (FLL to Labadee and Jamaica)
Rhapsody of the Seas, Aug 2013 (Alaska)
Adventure of the Seas, March 2015 (San Juan to St. Thomas, St. Kitts, Aruba and Curacao)







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  #13  
Old July 3rd, 2013, 08:16 PM
Hlitner Hlitner is offline
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Interesting post and it sounds like the OP has done his/her homework. We have done that AOS cruise (RCI has had that ship cruising out of San Juan for many years) and it does sound like the best fit for what the OP desires.

Hank
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  #14  
Old July 3rd, 2013, 09:35 PM
travlnblueberries travlnblueberries is offline
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I suppose I'm the only one here that would suggest the Summit. That would be my vote. Love that ship
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  #15  
Old July 4th, 2013, 12:05 PM
SeagoingMom SeagoingMom is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SnowBird Cruzer View Post
You hit my ideas right on the head! They don't have to get off the ship, but they might feel that they do.
I am not exactly a newbie (though not very experienced, either) and I still have that feeling -- I very much would like to skip a port and just stay on board, but I haven't yet been willing to test my resolve to do that by booking a cruise with too few sea days (or too many ports!)
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Old July 4th, 2013, 12:29 PM
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Seems you've done an excellent job of narrowing it down to the two that would work for you.

While AdventureOTS would offer more activities, I'd still pick Summit because it really is a nice ship.

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  #17  
Old July 4th, 2013, 02:29 PM
SnowBird Cruzer SnowBird Cruzer is online now
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Default Thanks for the Summit votes

Having never sailed the Summit, I appreciate the comments regarding what a nice ship it is. I believe it's been through its' Solstice update, and AOS has been through its' Allure updates.

And those who posted that the ships have a different feel/culture/atmosphere are correct on that too.
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"Original" Star Princess, Jan. 1990 (FLL to Nassau, ST. Thomas and San Juan)
Splendour of the Seas, April 2007 (Galveston to Cozumel and Costa Maya)
Adventure of the Seas, March 2009 (San Juan to Aruba, Curacao, St. Maarten, St. Thomas)
Voyager of the Seas, February 2012 (NO to Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Cozumel)
Liberty of the Seas, February 2013 (FLL to Labadee and Jamaica)
Rhapsody of the Seas, Aug 2013 (Alaska)
Adventure of the Seas, March 2015 (San Juan to St. Thomas, St. Kitts, Aruba and Curacao)







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  #18  
Old July 5th, 2013, 04:09 PM
SLOduck SLOduck is offline
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You have selected two VERY nice options for your family. I think the deciding factor would be to really take a look at the things that are important to those going - if they are more into an active lifestyle, then go the the Adventure. If they are more into relaxing and food, then go with the Summit.

Both ships will provide them with a nice 'first cruise' and, as you say, you WANT them to WANT more!

You SHOULD let them know that just because there ARE things to do, that they do not HAVE to try to do everything (My first cruise I tried to do everything and I was EXHAUSTED when I returned, so I purposely try to book itineraries with 'at sea' days now).

GOOD JOB for taking on this project, but DO keep in mind that you will NOT please everyone, so just keep that in mind when 'the votes are in' after the cruise.

Smitty ;-)
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  #19  
Old July 5th, 2013, 10:36 PM
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If some of the group are reluctant to go on the cruise, you might want to suggest they go on a shorter cruise. My hubby (bf at the time) had already gone on his first cruise when he met me. And I was a bit reluctant (had been on the boat going to Catalina Island out of Long Beach plus a "three-hour" dinner cruise scheduled for our workplace, but turned down a free cruise before -- the cruiseline was our client and had some open cabins if one was willing to fly one way back to LA back in the 80s). So he took me on an one-day "gambler's special" that went round trip from SD to Ensenada. I was okay, so we booked a week-long cruise after that on Carnival, and that's how I got hooked on cruising.

I would certainly agree about not planning on-board or port activities for your family. Let them know that they would not have to be joined at the hip with anyone else from the group (would cut down on hurt feelings if said ahead of time).

Definitely advise them to get to their embarkation city a day ahead of time. If someone is reluctant about that, remind them about weather, labor, mechanical reasons why a flight might get delayed. Maybe everyone can meet up at a restaurant to kick off the party a day ahead of time, but again, not make it mandatory as maybe a couple have a romantic dinner for two in mind.

One thing to decide is if you all want to have dinner onboard together (couldn't figure out what the group size will be, but maybe not everyone will come). If that's the case (and if asking for assigned seating), you'll eventually need a TA who will link all the bookings together (I'm hoping that you won't try to book everyone's cabins yourself).

I'm not sure why you would need a Powerpoint presentation. You can put together a fact sheet with the name of the TA to contact, possible pricing (make sure to tell them that it's always possible that by the time they book, some categories might not be still available), possible flights, a hotel or two with contact info for booking. Maybe websites for them to look at (for example, if your family selects the RC ship, encourage everyone to look at the RC website to see what the deck plans look like, photos of the ship,etc.).

Don't tell them what cabins to book, but give them suggestions for places to avoid (under the disco, etc.). Some may want to get an inside to save $, others might want a suite...if they're paying for it, they need to be comfortable.

Give them ideas of items they'll pay for in addition to the fare (gratuities) and what is optional (prices for drinks, photos, specialty restaurants). This way they won't get on board and be unhappy campers about having to pay for a cola.

Then give them suggestions for things to do in each port. Hopefully some will research on their own, but some will need the help.

And give them an idea of some of the sea day activities. Some may find sea days to be fun (my family loves them...our last three cruises had several in a row).

They can look over the fact sheet and feel they are in control of what they do on the cruise.
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  #20  
Old July 6th, 2013, 01:00 AM
MississippiMom MississippiMom is offline
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I apologize if this was in the thread, but why a 7-nighter out of San Juan as a first cruise? That sounds like a tremendously expensive option to take for folks who might not be certain about cruising.

Any chance there are some shorter - 5 or 6 night - options available that might work for your group? We introduced my parents and our kids to cruising by taking them on 5-nighters. That made them wish they could go on a 7-nighter the next time.
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