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Everything posted by cbaker1974

  1. OP, if you are "go with the flow" types of people, try the Carnival cruise. Newer ship, great ports...variety is the spice of life, you might really like the Carnival vibe. I like all cruises and it's healthy to change it up between lines to get different types of sailing experiences.
  2. I think you are going to see this across the board on most cruise lines up front - they all lost a ton of money and were walking a tightrope to avoid bankruptcy so they had to go into a ton of debt since they didn't get government bailout help - that is going to make it tougher than normal to turn a profit or break even due to the debt costs. Raising prices helps fix that if people are willing to pay - ultimately competition will bring these prices down (people are only willing to pay so much, and if the packages don't sell, or if the ships are sailing with empty berths because of high costs then they will adjust). But for now with so much pent up demand, they are going to try and get as much as they can. If they can help offset some of those losses then they can resume ship upgrades and new builds/features, which is what ultimately makes the experience better...I don't really fault them for trying. We can always vote with our feet if we as customers don't like it...there's tons of other vacation options available
  3. Yeah, Explorer has a significant savings over Harmony that equalizes the increase in airfare which makes it a wash overall for cost...so it's really down to content!
  4. I know this is very subjective, but always like to hear others' opinions! I have a group of 12 (bridal party) looking to take a cruise in February 2022 - a mix of adults (oldest in mid 40s so no mobility issues, etc) - 4 of those are young adults ages 14, 16, 20, 20 - they are not highly active / adventurous, just normal kids. This will be the first cruise for 6 of the 12 people. I'm looking at either a cruise on either of these routes: Harmony (from Port Canaveral): St Thomas, Antigua, Coco Cay Explorer (from San Juan): St Thomas, St. Croix, St. Lucia, St. Martin, St. Kitts Barbados I personally love the Southern route and have been on it 3 times - it will always be my preferred Caribbean route. On the other hand, I think the young adults will probably love the Oasis-class ship with all of its activities and amenities. Even though the Harmony only has 3 port days, I like these ports quite a bit better than other options on the Symphony (western w/ Coco Cay - we have been to Cozumel a lot!) or Oasis (eastern w/ Labadee - I don't like San Juan as a standalone port and not a big fan of Labadee over Coco Cay) for the same week. I'm really split between where to go...I do think the Southern route gives a huge amount of opportunities to see some unique places, but how does that weigh vs. all of the options and entertainment on an Oasis class ship, especially for newer and younger cruisers? They also have vanilla preferences in terms of food, so wonderland and some of the fancier specialty dining won't be a huge difference - they are "all american kids" in terms of their food preferences. I don't think they will be all over the rock wall or zip line either, but will go for the waterslides, ultimate abyss, pools, laser tag, and shows. I guess the ultimate question is - is a sea day on an Oasis class ship better than a beach day in a unique Southern port? So hard for me to decide.
  5. Had soggy fried fish a couple of weeks ago on the Breeze. It looked great when served up, but the batter is a really odd consistency and it's kind of difficult to eat (the fish separates from the coating, so you end up with a fish fillet in a "glove" of batter that is unwieldy by hand, fork or any other utensil. If it was Captain D's or Long Johns quality then I would have been fine with it, but this was worse than public school fish triangles. I did enjoy the peel and eat shrimp...pretty good deal and makes the shrimp cocktail in the MDR (or even the steakhouse) look silly. I liked taking it and eating it while watching movies by the pool. I think having it as a "stand" that you have to pay for is a big weakness...all the other "open deck" restaurants (pizza, bbq, guy's, blue iguana) are free, so its confusing for a lot of people. I'd move the BBQ upstairs to this location and put the seafood shack down on 5 or roll it into the Red Frog pub somehow...perhaps place it closer to the other paid casual options like the Sushi place with some indoor/outdoor seating that's dedicated to the restaurant.
  6. Longtime RCL cruiser here, I've been on both itineraries in the past year on the same 2 ships (Breeze eastern a couple of weeks ago and 8 day Horizon southern last July). I enjoyed the Horizon quite a bit better, as well as the itinerary. Aruba and Curacao and absolutely beautiful and unlike a lot of other islands in the Caribbean that you may have been to. On the surface the ships are similar, but the added features to the Horizon (Jiji's, Imax, Skyride, Indoor Sport Square area, Guy's Pig and Anchor full-size venue, Havana Bar, Ocean Plaza Bar) win out IMO, and the newness of the ship was noticeable to me. I also preferred the layout on the Horizon, as the smoke from the Casino on the Breeze drifted into some of the ship's common areas occasionally and was a drawback. There's less activities of course compared to an Oasis class ship, but I felt the "fun" vibe (and food) helped cancel out the ship differences a bit on Carnival to the degree that I thought I was a "Carnival person" after sailing on the Horizon. After sailing the Breeze which has fewer features, I found myself longing a bit for Oasis class RCL or a newly amplified ship, or perhaps even something like the Norwegian Bliss. I see a lot of folks who have been with Carnival for awhile tend to prefer the Breeze more, those coming from RCL will probably prefer the Vista class more. With kids especially, I would give the Horizon the edge due to the extra features.
  7. I think this is a great perspective...at the end of the day, what we may be looking for is "something new" or "something different". I admire all of the folks who are diamond or platinum or whatever top loyalty statuses are for different lines - some of the perks are really nice. However that also comes with having to eat a lot of Guys Burgers or Chops steakhouse, or Cagney's ... I'm sure it gets old after awhile. I'm eager to check out NCL next and will probably try to rotate lines to keep things fresh...some people like consistency, but I want to be careful not to fall into too much of a routine while on vacation.
  8. Former RCL fan here...sailed the Horizon last summer and absolutely loved it, preferred it over RCL Oasis class. Just a more "fun" cruise all around, yet still having the conveniences of a modern ship.
  9. I really liked Mambo beach when we went on the Horizon last summer. It's by the Seaquarium...lots of shops, restaurants, and bars in that area, along with free Wifi. Chairs and cabanas to rent with plenty of shade. They have a man-made lagoon that provides calm water in front of the beach and it's filled with fish for some very nice snorkelling and lots of people swim out to the rocks/breakwater to jump off. Had a great time there, something for everyone...I'd check out some youtube vids to see if its appealing. We took a taxi from the pier, no need to prebook reservations...tons of cruise passengers go there.
  10. Unless you are a diver, I'd recommend Curacao, one of our favorite ports. They have a great beach setup around the Mambo beach complex with its protected artificial reef that is great for swimming and snorkeling, plus the downtown near the port is great.
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