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Cruise options from Orlando


BecAus
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We have been tentatively planning a trip for last week of November 2022 thru end of December.  At this stage it will be myself and my (then) 16yr old son - husband is out I believe, too far to travel and too much Disney for his liking : )

We will fly into LA/Anaheim for about a week then fly across to Orlando.  ~ 8n at WDW and then a 7n cruise.  Another 4 days in Orlando / Universal after cruise before heading up to NY for a week, likely over Christmas before flying back to Australia.

 

I know next to nothing about cruising out of Florida so thought I might check if I am on the right track. I've been doing a lot of research here and on RCI over the last few days.  We most likely won't have a car, will probably stay onsite at WDW.  Obviously all of this is C19 dependent but hoping we might have some normality by then.

 

From Orlando it would make the most sense to sail out of Port Canaveral?  We would want to go on a Oasis class ship as we don't have the opportunity to do that down here (yet!).  It seems, based on 20/21/22 that Harmony usually sails out of P.C.?

It seems they do the Eastern or Western Caribbean that I've heard about here.  I think I'm leaning towards a Western which seems to generally have Labadee and Perfect Day and a couple of other ports - ? Nassau and Falmouth as an example.

 

Do you think that itinerary would have more interest for a 16yr old boy.  He likes all the adventure stuff that I've seen when looking up Perfect Day / Labadee.

I wouldn't be overly interested in the Waterpark but would buy a ticket to go in and spend the day while he does all the slides etc..

I assume one can find a chair to sit around in and relax.  It probably wouldn't be worth getting a cabana just for me when he would spend most of the day running around.

 

Obviously waiting for later 2022 to be released but would likely book something when it gets released and rest of the trip planning will come along a bit later.

Is there anything pertinent I need to know.  If a GS was reasonably priced I would consider booking that but chances are it would be a balcony I think due to cost.

 

Is there a preference for a balcony? Central Park / Boardwalk or Ocean View?  I think I'd be leaning towards Ocean View Balcony but is there something about the others you would really recommend.  The closest I could probably compare it to would be the Interior Promenade rooms we've stayed in when on Voyager but that only has a window whereas I gather the CP and BW rooms on Harmony have an actual balcony in the room?

 

Any thoughts / ideas for taking a cruise from Orlando would be much appreciated, thank you : )

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I would suggest RCI Harmony out of Port Canaveral...any chance of spending the day before touring the Kennedy Space Center would be absolutely worth it.

 

I would also suggest the eastern caribbean itinerary that would include CoCo Cay.

 

As far as cabin categories try for either an oceanview balcony or maybe a JS depending on your budget.

 

Enjoy this long trip and all that it entails.

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Thank you very much for your reply.  Do you mean do the Eastern over the Western?  I saw that the Eastern also goes to CocoCay but it seemed (to my 'not overly familiar with the area' mind) that the ports on the Western might suit better - Labadee looks like something a 16yr old would like?

It is going to depend on the dates when released.  They seem to go out on a Sunday and it will come down to what fits best with our plans.

 

Thank you for the Kennedy suggestion.  It's the one thing I regret not having done.  We really enjoyed our visits to the Space Shuttle Museum in LA.

We've been to WDW/Universal twice and then just Universal another two times.  Our biggest gripe has been just not having enough time to get everything done - past visits have only been a week and it's exhausting.  The next time we returned to Florida we really wanted to have at least 2-3 weeks or more compared to 1 week.

 

I had looked into a tour to Kennedy from Orlando which seemed to get good reviews.  Spends about 6hrs at the Centre, an airboat ride and a couple of other stops I think.   Either before or after the cruise.

We could stay a night in P.C. I guess but I'm pretty sure we won't have a car so I didn't mind the thought of doing the tour.

 

Thanks for your input, much appreciated.

 

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Yes...I meant the eastern caribbean itinerary....just a personal opinion but the western itinerary is just Mexico

to us. Avoid Nassau if possible not worth the short time spent there...again JMHO.

 

Have been to Labadee several times ... your 16 year old would enjoy Coco Cay probably more so.

 

A tour (tour's) that includes not only the KSC  (that's an all day thing) but an airboat everglades tour one day would be amazing

 

Enjoy planning you have some wonderful options ahead of you.

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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.  

Edited by Tapi
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We have sailed on the Harmony and Mariner out of Port Canaveral. I have a 14 year old son and he really liked RCL over Disney (we sailed on the Dream) because there was more activities that interested him and fewer screaming kids onboard. My wallet liked RCL better too!  
 

We booked an Eastern cruise, but ended up on a Western thanks to a hurricane. My boys love Coco Cay!  There are plenty of places to hangout while he does the rides. I did the big slide once, but I’m claustrophobic so that was more than enough!  We also went to the water park/zip line park in Costa Maya and they loved that too. At that park they have elevators to get you up to start of zip lines. There was a nice quiet pool you could hangout by while he did the slides here too (you can buy a cheaper ticket to exclude the slides/zip line too). We did an Island tour in Cozumel that I think they liked more than they would admit!  
 

We like the Mariner for short trips when we can’t be gone over a weekend.  We have yet to get off the ship in Nassau and just enjoy a less crowded boat!  While the ship is smaller than the Harmony, my family had plenty to do and enjoyed it just as much. 

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Sounds like a great vacation , we enjoy Port Canaveral . Some very good suggestion and not sure if some hotels still offer a package that includes R/T transportation from Orlando to hotel in PC/Coaca Beach with transportation to dock and back to Orlando after cruise.

 

Its about an hour trip from Orlando to PC./Coaca Beach .Some nice waterfront restaurants in PC  to enjoy dinner and watching boats/jet ski's , etc. in the harbor.

 

RCI just built a new terminal there about 2-3,years ago. 

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5 hours ago, Ashland said:

Yes...I meant the eastern caribbean itinerary....just a personal opinion but the western itinerary is just Mexico

to us. Avoid Nassau if possible not worth the short time spent there...again JMHO.

 

 

Thanks so much for your advice, it's been very helpful.  I did wonder if Nassau was a little like Noumea in the South Pacific.  The ships always stop there but it's definitely a port we don't think much of - one and done unless we have to jump off just to go to the supermarket or something.

 

2 hours ago, Tapi said:

Your plans sound great! 

 

Thank you very much for your very detailed and informative post.  Lots of good info and some things to think about.  Good tips on cabin selection and lots of other useful insights that I will take some time to go through and read.

Interesting thought about the different ship options, I hadn't thought of that.  I didn't realise PC was such a busy port.  When I first started thinking about this trip a couple of years ago I assumed we would go out of Miami, didn't know there were so many options.

Now that we are D with RCI we were just starting to think about trying some other options.  We don't have tons of choice down here in Aus.  Pre-covid I had booked a short Princess cruise that was coming to our home port here just to give it a try but C19 put a stop to that - they've sold the ship we were going to go on!  We will probably try Celebrity out of Sydney at some point when things are up and running again.

I will have a look at those options but I think it is likely my son will want to try Harmony - we don't get the option of Oasis class ships here and that was one of the draw-cards as we would like to experience it once at least.

Thank you again for your detailed response, much appreciated : )

 

1 hour ago, Cutigerlady said:

We have sailed on the Harmony and Mariner out of Port Canaveral.

 

Thank you very much, some great and very helpful info there for me to check out! Cheers : )

 

24 minutes ago, beerman2 said:

Sounds like a great vacation , we enjoy Port Canaveral .

 

Thank you for the helpful info, much appreciated!  : )

 

 

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Plenty of good advice above.  I'll just mention two things:

 

There is always an Oasis class ship sailing out of Port Canaveral.  It might the the Harmony or the Allure depending on when you are traveling.  

 

The drive from WDW to the port is about 75 minutes.  Its an easy drive and the port is well laid out with good signage.  

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As mentioned, don't  ignore cruises out of Tampa, especially if you decide on the Western itinerary.

Disney is actually closer to Tampa then it is to PC. It is about 45 minutes  to the Port, straight interstate all the way

 

Both Celebrity and RC have cruises scheduled from there starting (hopefully) early winter.  

The ships are  not the giants like Harmony because of a bridge they need to go under, but they are not rowboats, either.  It's a great port to sail from, easy parking and access, nice terminal, scenic and lengthy sail away. 

And valet parking for the locals! 

Edited by EatonDoolittle
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We did our cruise from Port Canaveral last year on Harmony with a visit to the KSC and visits to Coco Cay, St. Thomas and St. Maarten. Fantastic cruise!  I did a review with lot's of pics if you are interested in what the trip was like.

 

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Just another tip...if you need transportation from Orlando to PC (round trip) there are several shuttle companies that 

offer this...and there may be hotels in PC or Cocoa Beach that offer a shuttle to KSC from their hotel if not a cab or uber would also work well.

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When our children were young we frequently combined cruises with WDW visits.  DW always preferred to cruise first.  Liked to get aboard ship with nicely packed clean clothes.  Then upon reaching WDW she and I would spend the first 1/2 day doing laundry while kids relaxed in the pool.

 

We only sailed out of PC once.  Usually found more attractive itineraries and better pricing sailing out of MIA and PE.  We'd fly into FLL, overnight there (learned our lesson never to fly in day of cruise) and shuttle to ship.  After cruise we'd rent a car and drive 4 -5 hours to Orlando.  There we'd load up on snacks at local supermarket before checking in at WDW and dropping off rental.

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7 hours ago, Sea Dog said:

We did our cruise from Port Canaveral last year on Harmony with a visit to the KSC and visits to Coco Cay, St. Thomas and St. Maarten. Fantastic cruise!  I did a review with lot's of pics if you are interested in what the trip was like.

 

Thank you! I have to work the next couple of days but am definitely going to review this!

I'm glad I asked the question.  Not knowing much about the cruises / ports in this area the suggestions have been very helpful and different to the perception I had in my head.

 

5 hours ago, Baron Barracuda said:

When our children were young we frequently combined cruises with WDW visits.  DW always preferred to cruise first. 

 

Thank you! Timing wise I was not wanting to push WDW too close to Christmas week but looking at the dates I probably do have a two week period to play with so would have a bit of leeway to pick a cruise that most appeals to us

Tentatively we'd fly into LA 11/26 and Orlando ~ 12/3.  I thought we would do WDW first ~ 4th to 11th but could probably cruise first and then Orlando ~ 11th to 20th if we plan things out carefully.

Should probably drop LA off the schedule but seeing Disneyland at Christmas time is a bucket list item for me so we'll probably keep it on the schedule

 

5 hours ago, Baron Barracuda said:

We only sailed out of PC once.  Usually found more attractive itineraries and better pricing sailing out of MIA

 

This could be a possibility I guess.  If we are cruising first we could just as soon fly into MIA rather than Orlando. Another option to look at.

 

5 hours ago, shipgeeks said:

OP, I'm guessing you will be coming from Australia?

 

Yes, coming from (Western) Australia - hopefully we will be able to leave by then.  Currently we can't even leave our state but I think that will change soon.  Whilst our population has been mostly supportive of this decision I think it is starting to wear a little thin for some now and they want us to open our border to the rest of the country.

Internationally, the govt. has said we are not looking at travel until 2022, particularly to Europe / USA, so we will just have to wait and see how this all pans out but certainly hopeful that by the end of 2022 things are a little more normal, surely : (

Edited by BecAus
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On 10/16/2020 at 1:49 AM, BecAus said:

It is going to depend on the dates when released.  They seem to go out on a Sunday and it will come down to what fits best with our plans.

My suggestion - use the cruise as the item everything else is booked around.  The cruise is the only event that has a solid date scheduled.  If you have solid dates already for the start and end of your vacation, then you may have to trim a couple days from something before or after the cruise.  I wouldn't take a cruise you're not entirely thrilled about just because it fit the dates.

 

Regarding Nassau

On 10/16/2020 at 5:19 AM, Tapi said:

usually 6-7 ships in port 

Is a bit of an exaggeration.  Look at the port on Google earth, there are only 5 berths.  I've been there, the rest of the explanation is about right, I'm not sure I'd go back unless the rest of the cruise had ports I just HAD to visit.  In one day I was able to walk to the Queen's Staircase, shop, get back to the ship and then do an excursion over to Atlantis to tour the aquarium.  In fact - my parents were on that cruise and had been there before, I think they went to the staircase but it was otherwise a "stay on ship" port for them.

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1 hour ago, hallux said:

Is a bit of an exaggeration. 

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. 
 

 

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21 hours ago, Baron Barracuda said:

DW always preferred to cruise first.  Liked to get aboard ship with nicely packed clean clothes.  Then upon reaching WDW she and I would spend the first 1/2 day doing laundry while kids relaxed in the pool.

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. 

Edited by Tapi
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