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About Tapi

  • Rank
    10,000+ Club

About Me

  • Location
    4 hours and 12 minutes from the closest cruise terminal
  • Interests
    Vacationing, specifically cruising
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Holland America, MSC
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Valletta, Malta

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  1. True. I feel for people longing to cruise again but who live nowhere near a cruise port and who need to rely on any type of mass transportation to get there. I did change a cruise that I had for Feb 2021 departing from Los Angeles to one departing from Port Canaveral. Why? Because I can drive to Port Canaveral. While the cruise out of Port Canaveral will be repetitive for me, I’m choosing to keep things as simple as possible for the time being (which includes not flying to meet my ship). Once restrictions start easing off, I’ll expand my horizons and look at cruises and destinations farther from home.
  2. We’ve taken our 8 and 10 year old kids on 5 different cruise lines. One thing that my wife and I have noticed is that, on higher tier cruise lines and accommodations, there are considerably less children but they tend to be considerably better behaved and monitored by their parents. When we’ve sailed on some more family friendly cruise lines like Carnival, not only are there more children, but at times it seems to be a free for all, with hordes of kids roaming the ship, many unattended taking over public areas (more prominent on pools, hot tubs, elevators and buffets), some terrorizing other passengers, without an adult in sign willing to curve that behavior. On the other end of the spectrum, we’ve taken our kids on more adult, less family friendly lines like Holland America (our last cruise was on them), where there have only been a handful of kids onboard. But even though the kids program is less elaborate and the kids activities are considerably more limited, the kids we did see were always with their parents, well behaved, adjusting well to the more adult atmosphere, and abiding by established protocols. With that said, I do consider that MSC provides a very good experience for the entire family, with a well developed program for children. Of all the cruise lines we’ve sailed on, we rank their kids program at the top (even better than what we’ve experienced on Disney). One thing to keep in mind is that MSC caters to a more diverse and international crowd than its Americans competitors, so you do need to sail on them with the understanding that fellow cruisers will have diverging ideas on what expected behavior should be. Do embrace the differences rather than be annoyed by them. Our last MSC Cruise was in the Mediterranean, and a big reason why it was so enjoyable was exactly because of the very diverse clientele on that sailing.
  3. The name of my chocolate lab who I had when I opened this account in 2003. She has since passed away but her name lives on here on Cruise Critic!
  4. I don’t have any issues abiding by the new protocols like the ones established on cruise lines sailing in Europe, since they have (so far) proven to be effective. I foresee my first cruise post pandemic to be close to home and following the established protocols, just to test the waters. Probably something short. Once these protocols are eased, I will expand to other regions of the world. As far as insurance goes, I always purchase insurance anyway so that won’t change. Will I choose to do a land vacation in lieu of a cruise? Probably not. From what I’ve seen so far, once cruises resume they will have more strict rules in place than what land vacations currently have. I fly and stay at hotels for a living so I haven’t stopped traveling during the entire pandemic. By now , I’m used to all the new rules. I personally feel safer traveling (by air, land, or sea), than going to a local supermarket, restaurant, or participating in any other daily activity that most people are already doing.
  5. I’m raising two small children. It truly depends on what your 4 year old kid is like. If he can be entertained, and his behavior doesn’t hinge on traditional kid activities, he’ll do well in the YC public areas. If he needs the type of stimulation that more kid friendly areas provide, then not so much. Keep in mind that you’ll still have access to the kids club even if staying in the YC, so you can always drop him off for a few hours at the club so that he can have his kind of fun while you have your kind of fun at the YC. The more you cruise with your child, the more you’ll figure out what he likes and dislikes. With my kids, I’ve learned that they don’t necessarily care about the more traditional type of kid programming found on some family friendly cruise lines, and they actually prefer a more low key, less crowded atmosphere. One thing that we did learn on our last MSC cruise is that, when traveling with small children, it’s better to get a larger stateroom or suite that may not have YC benefits. We had the choice of a smaller YC stateroom or an Aurea suite, and we went with the Aurea Suite. BEST decision. The extra space with small children was heaven sent. And while we didn’t have all the perks and exclusivity found in the YC, we thoroughly enjoyed all the perks that did come with the Aurea Suite. No matter what, have a great cruise!
  6. We’ve done the parks first (get the more exhausting part of the trip out of the way first), and do the cruise second so that we can relax and unwind. About laundry, we’ll get the laundry package on the ship and just send it out. Then we’ll send it out once again the day before debarkation . We usually come home with a suitcase packed with clean clothes. A bit pricey but SO worth it.
  7. You’re right. I should’ve said 5. I stand corrected. With several mega ships in port at the same time, we are still talking close to 20,000 cruise passengers arriving simultaneously.
  8. Last time I traveled to SJU (3 months ago), they were operating both the USDA checkpoint and TSA checkpoint at reduced capacity. USDA actually had only one machine open. The lines and wait times for both were considerably longer than usual even though a fraction of flights were operating in and out of SJU in July.
  9. I think the shore excursion restrictions will be more about maintaining a bubble aboard the cruise ship to protect cruise passengers from locals and land tourists rather than the other way around.
  10. Your plans sound great! Can I come along?? Harmony of the Seas will be a wonderful choice no matter which itinerary you take. I do recommend that you choose at least an ocean view balcony over a boardwalk or Central Park balcony. The interior facing view gets old after a few days. And because there are many venues on the ship that don’t have ocean views, it will be nice to come back to your cabin and enjoy the ocean. We had a Boardwalk cabin, and I felt completely disconnected from the ocean during the entire cruise. I’ll get an ocean view next time unless the price difference is substantial. Oasis class ships are PACKED with activities (more than what you can do in a week) so you may find yourself spending little time in your cabin. Consider that if you’re torn about upgrading to a suite. About Western vs Eastern: Not all ports are the same, so its worth it to research each one. For example, Nassau usually gets lumped in Eastern Caribbean itineraries even though its technically not in the Caribbean, and it provides a less than enjoyable experience (usually 6-7 ships in port with thousands of day trippers dumped in an overly commercialized and crowded area, with lots of Americanized bars and shops). Still, you can find beautiful beaches and great things to do. You just need to explore beyond the port area and the more obvious selections. Eastern ports of call like St Kitts, San Juan, St Thomas, St. Maarten or Antigua will give you more of a feel of what the Caribbean is truly about. Islands tend to be more lush, mountainous, and visually appealing, with post card perfect beaches. Each island has its own flavor influenced by their European heritage. Places like San Juan are filled with centuries worth of history, charming architecture, and wonderful restaurants and shops. But that may not necessarily translate into a more enjoyable or appealing experience for your teenage son. The Western ports may not be as visually attractive, but they may be more appealing to your son. Places like Cozumel and Costa Maya are pretty flat, featureless and overly commercialized, but they pack tons of activities as well as an opportunity to visit Mayan Ruins and other archaeological sites. About Coco Cay and Labadee: I haven’t been to Coco Cay since it’s transformation, but I can only imagine that it will be a hit with people who enjoy more of an amusement park type of atmosphere. Personally when I think of a “private island”, I prefer more of a laid back, unspoiled, rustic, and uncrowded scene, which is why I’m not overly excited about the new Coco Cay. But my kids are dying to go, so I’m sure that at some point in time I’ll take one for the time and check it out! I truly enjoyed Labadee. I loved the lush scenery with beaches in little coves. For your son, the zip line there will probably be a “must do” activity. Even though cruise passengers aren’t allowed to explore beyond the limits of Labadee, I also like the fact that Royal Caribbean has committed so much to help this oppressively impoverished region and country. I hope that my visit helps create a positive impact. Finally, I know that you specifically asked about Harmony of the Seas and Port Canaveral, but do consider other options. - Carnival’s newest ship, the Mardi Gras, will be sailing from Port Canaveral when she launches in 2021, and she will be one amazing, innovative ship, including the first roller coaster at sea. - Needless to say, Disney Cruise Lines calls Port Canaveral home, and they do offer a truly superior product (although at much more expensive prices). Their private island is Castaway Cay (awesome) and they are in the process of developing a second private destination in the Bahamas. Even though expensive, I think that Disney Cruise Lines should be checked out at least once in a lifetime. - MSC will also be calling Port Canaveral home when cruising resumes, first with MSC Seaside and later on with MSC Divina. They have beautiful, fun filled ships with a European flare providing itineraries usually at more affordable prices. In addition to Port Canaveral, another alternative from Orlando is to cruise out of Tampa. Some itineraries tend to be more attractive and unique (we are booked on a Panama Canal and Costa Rica itinerary from there in 2022), but keep in mind that ships that sail from Tampa tend to be smaller since their size is limited because they have to sail under a bridge. Whatever you choose, have a great time! Seems like you have a great plan in place.
  11. I hear ya. Who in their right mind would take an infant on a cruise, right?? I used to think that way....until I had kids of my own. Then I couldn’t wait to take them on a cruise! I got them started at 13 and 15 months old respectively. So much for that way of thinking! 😂 It’s definitely a different way of cruising, not for everyone, and challenging at times. The same thing could be said about cruising with any family member that poses additional challenges based on their age, mobility, or health. I get that some people may prefer to leave behind anybody who may restrict their enjoyment, but for people like me, the extra hassle is worth every minute of it, and every memory made. One of the most common things that people like to say is that “an infant will not remember the cruise”. That’s absolutely true. But the parents will definitely will, and that’s what it’s all about.
  12. We have sailed MSC a few times in part because they consistently offer kids sail free promotions. It makes the total cost of the cruise substantially cheaper. We’ve taken advantage of similar promotions on Holland America as well. It has made sailing on this premium cruise line cheaper than on mainstream cruise lines. Our last cruise was on Holland America in big part because the total cost of the cruise for our family of 4 was cheaper than on Carnival, NCL or Royal Caribbean which most families would most likely consider to be more budget friendly for a family vacation. Cruise lines like Royal Caribbean will offer kids sail free promotions several times a year, but we’ve learned that normally they do so off season and the total savings may not be as substantial because they will jack up the 1st/2nd fare in order to take advantage of this promotion. To answer your first question, cruise lines have to count every passenger regardless of age. One extra passenger in your cabin (even if he/she is an infant) means one less adult passenger on the ship generating revenue. So the cruise line needs to recoup that lost revenue somehow. I know that it may seem unfair to have to pay for an infant, but keep in mind that sailing on a cruise ship isn’t the same as staying at a hotel where capacity isn’t as strictly regulated. If you have flexibility with your dates, you may find more generous kids sail free or reduced 3rd/4th guest fare promotions if you’re sailing off season when the 3rd/4th berth occupancy isn’t expected to be as high.
  13. Tapi


    I wouldn’t do it. Almost every time I take an excursion purchased through the cruise line, it goes longer than expected.
  14. The only solo cruise I’ve ever done was on Carnival (4 night to Cozumel and Key West). It was an impulse buy and I dreaded the decision from the moment I booked it. I kept thinking “what have I done??”. I still went ahead with it, but I decided that I would lay low, avoid the main dining room or most public places, and just do my own thing. But I gathered enough courage to go to the MDR that first night to see what would happen. To my pleasant surprise, I was accommodated at a table for 10, everybody traveling solo. We all got along great from the first moment. From that point forward, I really enjoyed this cruise! I’d get together with my new found friends at night, but during the day I’d do my own thing. I went snorkeling in Cozumel and explored Key West on my own. I created my own fun at my own pace and it worked out great. From the cruises that you mention, my least favorite ship would be the Elation (oldest and smallest). Radiance will probably be the most updated of the 3 ships listed (having gone through a major renovation recently). Miracle would be my 2nd choice. As far as the ports go, I’d place the private island (first by a long shot), Nassau second and Ensenada third. If a west coast sailing would be easier for you, that’s what I’d do. I’d most likely go with the Radiance to Ensenada. I don’t find enough reason to track across the country to go on a short cruise to Nassau.
  15. We had the choice of a smaller YC stateroom or an Aurea Suite when we sailed aboard the Meraviglia in the Mediterranean. We went with the Aurea Suite. Absolutely LOVED it. Very satisfied with our decision. Even though we didn’t have as many perks or the exclusivity of the YC, we thoroughly enjoyed the perks that did come with our Aurea suite. I believe that I would’ve been miserable traveling in an inside stateroom for the sake of extra perks.
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