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Singledadof3

Help for this single dad!

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My three kids (16, 15, 13) and I will be sailing on the Carnival Freedom on January 5, 2019 for 7 days. I am needing some advice on several things...

1. Are excursions worth it? Could we just find our way to a beach on the ports?

2. Is the soda package worth buying?

3. What are some of the hidden fees I need to be aware of before sailing?

4. What are the don't miss activities for my kids and me?

 

Thanks SO much!!

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Hopefully my responses can be of some help... :D

 

1. It really depends on what ports are on your itinerary; some are certainly easier to wing it than others. I always like to have at least one formal excursion.. something fun and new while off the ship. I think snorkeling excursions are always a good mix of being fun, but not a budget buster.

 

2. Bubbles really depends on how much soda and juice your crew drinks. If you’re the one soda a day type of people, it probably isn’t. You may also want to consider pre-ordering some soda for your stateroom or you can bring a 12pk of cans on board.

 

3. Hidden charges... none really that I can think of. Drinks, the sushi restaurant, and any upcharge restaurants. But I wouldn’t really consider these “hidden fees”. Just remember about gratuities if you haven’t pre-paid them but again it’s not really “hidden,” just something to remember.

 

4. Anything on the lido deck is usually fun, and the dive in movies, comedy shows, and trivia are some of my favorite activities.

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If you're going to have plenty of time in port, then I would absolutely not go through Carnival for the excursions. I'd check online for great, consistent reviews though. For example, today I was able to book this VIP dolphin experience for 50% off with a special restaurant & drink & beach pass w/free entrance fee. The basic package was available for around $50 and also 50% off. Carnival was offering the same package at the same location, but for around $120! The only difference is that Carnival provided taxi service. Guess what...we checked and taxis are only $10 each way. So, the point is that we got the exact same thing for 50% less than Carnival wanted to charge us even after accounting for transportation. They also probably won't honor the cheaper price since the packages are technically not identical.

 

That being said, if I was only in port for a short period of time and was going to be traveling pretty far (vs 10 minutes in my example) then I would consider going through Carnival. Flat tires happen. Vehicles get into accidents or break down. It happens even if rarely. Carnival will make sure that you get to the next port on their dime. I wouldn't bother with the soda package. I think you can still bring a 6 pack in per person and you can get cold ones in port.

 

The only "hidden" fees are the gratuities which some people don't realize automatically get added on at the end. If you aren't satisfied with the service you can have those fees adjusted and on the flip side, if service is a 10+, you can increase your tip. Also, be watchful if you allow your kids to charge to their card. One of my teens was around 16 or 17 the last time we cruised and she got caught up in the arcade room and charged a good $150 to it. It was so out of character, but she had met other teenagers on board and they were all just caught up in the moment. They had a blast all week though. The outdoor movies with popcorn was another big hit with them. They have scavenger hunts and so many things available for all of the different age groups. You can also sign up for the online app to text with them for free.

 

I think you're going to all have a great time!

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Post your ports. Others here will give advice on cheap things to do if any.

Also, a single can of soda is about $2.80 ( with tip included-automatic). You are allowed to bring a 12 pack of canned soda per person on to the ship.

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My three kids (16, 15, 13) and I will be sailing on the Carnival Freedom on January 5, 2019 for 7 days. I am needing some advice on several things...

1. Are excursions worth it? Could we just find our way to a beach on the ports?

2. Is the soda package worth buying?

3. What are some of the hidden fees I need to be aware of before sailing?

4. What are the don't miss activities for my kids and me?

 

Thanks SO much!!

 

You can have a great time without an excursion at many ports. I have found booking an excursion for at least one port to be well worth the price if the kids agree on something such as snorkeling, zip lining, etc.

 

The soda package hasn't been attractive to my 15-23 year old grandchildren. Buying a la carte has worked better.

 

Not a hidden fee, but sometimes overlooked by new cruisers, has been daily gratuities of about $13 per person per day, This can be pre-paid so it isn't a surprise at the end.

 

The clubs for kids are generally really fun. Enroll them ahead of time and make certain they go the first night when the kids form groups. A schedule for the duration of your cruise is available the first night. Each night at dinner your family can agree on a loose schedule for the next day.

 

Use post-it notes for changes in plans.

 

Establish ground rules before embarking according to maturity levels (such as don't go to anyone else's cabin).

 

Then stay loose and flexible and everyone will have a great time.

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I just wanted to agree with u/bury me at sea. Post it notes are a huge help in case your schedule or theirs change which is just going to happen. Many activities pop up in the teen rooms that won't be advertised on your Fun Times sheet. I didn't do this last time, but I would see if there's also an emergency number that they can contact on board in case of a true emergency. Off port, I would require that they do activities with you vs going off on their own. If they make friends with other teens, then maybe you guys can spend some time as a group outside of the boat, but I would not let them wander off on their own in port even though they are older teens.

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My kids are the same ages! (At the time of the cruise they'll be 18, 16, 15, 13, 12, 11)

When all else fails, they could live in a pool so I figure if even if they aren't into the Hasbro challenge or the comedy shows etc, there's always swimming.

(And also a single parent, so them being old enough to be independent is a huge relief. It makes it easier to split up if there are different interests.)

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Chankanaab State Park in Cozumel was nice, but the beach is kind of inaccessible except in the kiddie area. If you do the snorkeling though, that won’t matter. The sea lion show was good as was the lunch.

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My three kids (16, 15, 13) and I will be sailing on the Carnival Freedom on January 5, 2019 for 7 days. I am needing some advice on several things...

1. Are excursions worth it? Could we just find our way to a beach on the ports?

2. Is the soda package worth buying?

3. What are some of the hidden fees I need to be aware of before sailing?

4. What are the don't miss activities for my kids and me?

 

Thanks SO much!!

 

1) Yes - excursions are worth it. My kids have learned so much by going ashore from meeting locals, to trying new foods to interacting with wildlife to doing island tours. Look on the ports of call boards for suggestions within your budget. You will save money booking with independent operators. Shore excursions make great holiday gifts. - a dolphin encounter (book direct) at Chankanaab is fantastic. Plus they have some reconstructed historical sites, reptiles and good snorkeling. Ocho Rios would be worth getting a private guide for the day and touring to see what interests you. Local food here is fantastic. Grand Cayman is famous for the sting ray encounter and shouldn't be missed. You can craft your own tour and have some beach time as well.

2) For us, No. My oldest doesn't drink soda and the youngest doesn't need any extra sugar from what I know he is consuming in ice cream. You can get juice from room service 24/7 for free (unless 10 p-7a). Having breakfast in MDR is great way to start the day and they have all kinds of juice. At lunch, they can drink tea, lemonade or water. If you really want some soda, carry on your favorites.

3) If you pre-pay your gratuities, unless you are going to drink or gamble or play bingo, go to the spa etc. pretty much everything is included.

4) Play putt-putt, do the waterslide(s), watch the ice carving, go to comedy and shows, enjoy tea time on sea days and most of all send the kids to their groups (Circle C and Club O2) on the first night and have them make friends. Enjoy some down time for yourself - there is plenty of family time with meals and shore excursions.

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I have 2 sons (18 & 15). Both have been on several cruises. We always get taxi in Cozumel and go on our own. We have gone to Chankanaab and Paradise Beach a couple of times. In Ocho Rios we’ve use Pete Taylor after reading reviews on here. Always been very happy. I don’t think you have to use Carnival here but definitely have an excursjon booked. Cayman we used a private company a couple of times recommended here.

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My three kids (16, 15, 13) and I will be sailing on the Carnival Freedom on January 5, 2019 for 7 days. I am needing some advice on several things...

1. Are excursions worth it? Could we just find our way to a beach on the ports?

2. Is the soda package worth buying?

3. What are some of the hidden fees I need to be aware of before sailing?

4. What are the don't miss activities for my kids and me?

 

Thanks SO much!!

 

1. In most cases you should have no problem finding your way to the beach by grabbing a taxi cab but research the port ahead of time to find the best beach location so you can tell the driver where you want to go

 

2. If you drink more than 3-4 glasses of soda per day then yes it's worth it

 

3. There really are not hidden fees - There are extra fees for specialty restaurants, gambling, spa services, excursions, alcohol, sodas, and speciality drinks and those are all optional so you don't have to get them

 

4. It really depends on what you and your kids like to do the hubby and I NEVER miss the piano bar, we also never miss elegant night on the 7 nighters because we love getting our lobster, my daughter loves the slides and will spend forever on them

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I have 2 sons (18 & 15). Both have been on several cruises. We always get taxi in Cozumel and go on our own. We have gone to Chankanaab and Paradise Beach a couple of times. In Ocho Rios we’ve use Pete Taylor after reading reviews on here. Always been very happy. I don’t think you have to use Carnival here but definitely have an excursjon booked. Cayman we used a private company a couple of times recommended here.

 

We're headed to Chankanaab soon. Is it around $10 - $12 each way as we've read online? We're going to do the dolphin VIP excursion, but booked outside of the boat as it was 50% off. I just read that Ubers aren't common there, but am hoping that taxis are easy to flag down.

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That soda package is going to get expensive with all those kids. I’d have each of them carry on a 12pk of what they like...and you carry on what you like. Then you can restock at a port if you need to. They have refrigerators in the room and if you ask for ice on the first day, your steward will refill the bucket every day.

 

As others have mentioned the gratuities are the main “hidden” fee. I met a single mother of three on my last cruise who said she didn’t know about the gratuities until they were added. So be prepared for that.

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Definitely download the new carnival hub app. It’s free and has daily events listed, an interactive ships map, you can view your account, you can view and buy your pictures, you can buy internet packages, it just has so much we can’t live without it. And for $5 a week per person you can message each other via the app. It’s a whole lot better than the old post it notes we used to use to keep up with each other. :)

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We're headed to Chankanaab soon. Is it around $10 - $12 each way as we've read online? We're going to do the dolphin VIP excursion, but booked outside of the boat as it was 50% off. I just read that Ubers aren't common there, but am hoping that taxis are easy to flag down.

 

 

Taxis are super easy to use in Cozumel. Walk through the shopping area at the port and you will find a long line of taxis. Prices for specific destinations are posted so there is no question. I don’t remember how much but that sounds about right. Just as easy when leaving Chankanaab.

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I think it is so great you are doing this with your kids! You'll have a great time.

 

You didn't ask, but I will comment that we got a great deal at the Quality Inn & Suites in Galveston a few years ago. January is off season so you should be able to get a good price. Are you planning to drive down from Abilene the day before? I would most definitely recommend it. Makes such a more relaxed, pleasant start to your trip. I mean, if you got a very early start you could make it by driving down the day of embarkation, but all it takes is one wreck in Houston and you could be held up for hours. Who needs that stress?

 

We use Galveston Park and Cruise to park our car. They have indoor and outdoor secure parking and are very conveniently located to the cruise terminal, and reasonably priced. Make reservations in advance online.

 

We did a dolphin encounter in Cozumel and it was wonderful! Your kids would love it. We have also done a beginner's scuba excursion there. Walking off the ship, it's mostly just shopping and some restaurants/bars. I haven't been to your other ports so can't comment on those.

 

In general, we prefer to do excursions that we book on our own, outside of the cruise line. It is always cheaper to do it that way. However if you are a first time cruiser, you may just want to go with the convenience of a Carnival excursion. If you have cruised before and are comfortable doing the research to find a reputable outside provider, then you could save a lot of money booking your excursions outside of the cruise line.

 

I agree with others who suggest carrying on soda for your kids. Each one of you can carry on a 12 pack of cans. That should be enough, unless your kids are just soda monsters, in which case you could get the soda package.

 

The early comedy shows are great. They do two shows a night. The first one is family friendly. The later show is very adult oriented. We love the comedy shows and you could definitely do the early one with your kids. Arrive about half an hour before the posted time in order to get a good seat.

 

Keep reading and posting here on Cruise Critic. You will learn so much and it will make your trip so much better!

 

Have fun!

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With kids that age your biggest "extra" could be the arcade, once they discover it. Set a spending limit per day for each kid on their S&S accts (you can give charging permissions for each person under your S&S acct at the kiosks or at GS, then set a limit for the week, once they hit the limit their card will not charge any longer). Also, Cherry on Top (candy store) could show up on your S&S acct as well if they make a few trips to that ship store. The coffee cafe shop on board has specialty items like milk shakes, cookies and other goodies that cost extra if they like that type of stuff.

 

My 15 yr (been cruising since toddler age) does not drink a lot of soda (home or cruising) so we do not purchase the bottomless bubbles, so if your kids can do with what you each bring with you when you board, then dont bother with the soda package.

 

There are many ports that you can stay right there when you get off the ship and just depends where you are going. Places like Turks or Amber Cove have pools and beaches as soon as you get off the ship (free). Plenty of fun for the kids right there, your food and drinks you order in port would be your only expenses. You can bring a cooler off in those ports with drinks and can avoid that expense. If the ship is docked right at port it's is easy to go back to ship for lunch. As we have been cruising for years, and have been to most of the Caribbean islands, there are a couple that we just stay on the ship when we port. The ship is very nice when everyone else is in port, the water slides, pools and hot tubs are empty and some times it is nice to just take advantage of that. It is up to you and you really do not NEED to spend a lot of extra money. Have a blast!!!

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That's cayman, cozumel, and ocho Rios.

Ocho Rios stick with carnival

 

 

 

Cayman - many places you can go to see large turtles or sting rays. Or just hit 7 mike beach

 

Cozumel - they would love Paradise Beach

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

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I do get the Bubbled for my kids. We also bring some for the cabin but only to have our preferred drinks. My guys don’t spend much time at the cabin and it would be a hassle to have to go back every time they want a drink. Plus their favorite thing on the cruise is to get the fruit punch (made with real juuice) from the bars. It’s quite yummy!

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You did not ask about this and I have not seen it addressed in the replies, but having been a single dad of three myself you either need to have a court order allowing you to travel out of the country with the kids, a notarized statement from bio-mom granting permission for the travel (to include all of the travel specifics - dates, locationa), or a death certificate for bio-mom. Even if you have full- legal custody, you can be denied boarding. I am in and I similar situation and got a court order allowing for travel. Easiest/least expensive solution in my case. Enjoy the cruise!

 

 

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Cruised last year for the first time with just my 14 year old. I researched EVERYTHING ahead of time and this place gave me everything I needed to know!

 

In cozumel we booked Nachi Cocum and grabbed a taxi right in the port. They requested one for us on the way back with no issues. Taxi was a set price so no surprises. Nachi was nice as it was all inclusive and i didn't have to worry about anything however it was a slow day there and had i not added on extra excursions through them i wonder if my son would have been bored?

 

My son is not normally a big soda drinker however I did get him the bubbles package and it seemed to work out. When he was off on his own he didn't have to worry about running back to the room for a drink but i did order a case of water for the room and it was there from the start for us when we needed it. Nothing went to waste.

 

Hidden charges.... HaHa. We visited the arcade early on and i gave him the speech about not going overboard. I wasn't paying close enough attention (knowing i was not really spending anything and he kept saying he only played a few games here and there) those few games were $150. He was upset when I told him the amount. I wasn't angry and i laughed that it was a good lesson for the casino one day, I knew he felt bad enough and as this was our first cruise together alone I'm glad it wasn't worse and that we enjoyed ourselves.

 

He wasn't sure about the ocean club at first but he ended up finding some kids to hang out with and it worked out for both of us. The first night they had a meet a greet. My rule was that we ate our meals together. It was funny how many times we still ran into each other on the ship throughout the day.

 

If you have the hub app on your phone you can keep up with all the activities that are happening (and if you like them it gives you a reminder). We coordinated ours and knew what we wanted to do together each day and where to be.

 

I don't plan on changing much with our cruise this Aug. Have fun!

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Re Cozumel: Our first time there our son was 11 and Nacchi was a hit. This last trip (he's now 17) Paradise Beach was the choice. Lots to do and see. Water toys and pool.

JMHO

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I have 2 sons (18 & 15). Both have been on several cruises. We always get taxi in Cozumel and go on our own. We have gone to Chankanaab and Paradise Beach a couple of times. In Ocho Rios we’ve use Pete Taylor after reading reviews on here. Always been very happy. I don’t think you have to use Carnival here but definitely have an excursjon booked. Cayman we used a private company a couple of times recommended here.

 

 

 

Yes! Will second Peat Taylor. It’s was $35 for the Blue Hole tour, such a great time. He dropped us off at the shopping area after that and we walked back to the ship. We took a cab to Paradise Beach in Cozumel then shopping after that and walked back to ship. Cayman we did Acquarius Tours to stingray city, snorkeling and starfish beach. Fabulous!!

 

 

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