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05-15-2002 04:12 PM #1
05-15-2002 10:56 PM #2
- College Station, TX, United StatesMember No: 2
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I haven't been on a Carnival cruise, but I have been on a Norwegian and a Royal Caribbean cruise. Make sure to visit your doctor ahead of time to get the patch for behind your ear--it completely prevents seasickness.
Carnival is supposed to be a bit more of a "party" atmosphere than the cruise lines I went on. Make sure to check on Expedia for good rates. Cruise rates can vary <b>greatly</b> and you'll see people with identical cabins paying 2 or 3 times as much as the cheapest fare is for a given cabin. On both of the 7-day cruises I went on, I was able to stay under $1500 total for 2 people--not bad at all when you figure all of your meals are paid for.
You get to use all of the ships amenities no matter what price range cabin you are in. You don't spend much time in the cabin except to sleep. It is easy to get sucked in by the romantic notion of having this great cabin that you will lounge around in. You won't. You'll be busy either on shore excursions or doing other stuff on the ship.
The higher cabins are in the ship, the more they cost. Exterior cabins cost more than interior cabins. Sure it is nice to have a high exterior cabin, and you'll appreciate the 1 hour you spend looking out the window--that's 1 hour out of 7 days. Ask yourself if that is worth an extra $500 per person or so.
Ok, so the expensive cabins are high and outside, which means that the cheaper cabins are low and inside. Let's say the ship hits some rough seas--even though it is big, it will go through a fair amout of motion. Due to angles/geometry, guess which cabins will go through the widest range of motion in rough weather? That's right--those on the outside, and those up higher. The lower you are and the closer you are to the center of the boat, the less the motion of the ocean will affect your cabin--something the cruise lines won't tell you when you're looking at their fare tables.
The one disadvantage to an inside cabin is the lack of any kind of visual feedback about the time. You don't realize it until about the 3rd day, but it is actually weird waking up when there is not even a hint of daylight coming through a crack in a window. This, to me, is the only downside to an inside cabin.
Plan on spending around $150 in tips to the people that work on the cruise. The cruise line will give you these little envelopes on your last day so that you can tip your cabin attendant, waiter, head waiter, and assistant waiter. The assistant waiter is the guy who keeps your glasses filled with water and brings your bread at every meal. Your waiter is the guy who takes your orders and brings your food. The head waiter shows up every so often to make sure everything is ok, and he's the guy that will sneak you a second lobster if you want one. These guys don't make a whole lot from the cruise line, and they often work 7 days a week for 6 months straight--so it is nice to tip them. The cruise line will recommend an amount, and I would just go by that. If I recall correctly, the recommended amount is $3 per person (i.e. $6 per cabin) per day to your cabin attendant = $42. $3 per person per day to your waiter = $42. $1.50 per person per day to each of the head waiter and assistant waiter = another $42. The numbers may be slightly different but you get the idea. It really isn't that much considering all they do for you.
When dining, don't be afraid to ask for more of something, and don't be afraid to speak up if you don't like something. The waiter will be happy to bring you more of anything and also will be happy to find something else for you if you don't like what you're having. It isn't like a regular restaurant where if you eat half of it you shouldn't send it back to the kitchen--they don't care, and they have tons of everything, so don't be shy. Want key lime pie, chocolate cake, AND vanilla ice cream for dessert? Don't be afraid to ask for 3 desserts.
If you want to go on shore excursions, book them early, like the first day of the cruise--a lot of them fill up quickly.
Bring bug spray--certain beaches you might go to may have sand fleas or other biting things which you'll want to repel. Visit your doctor before you go for the ear patch like I mentioned above, and also to get a week's worth of Cipro in case you get Montezuma's Revenge from something you eat on shore.
That's about all I can think of for now--anything else you have questions about--just ask!<br>
05-16-2002 12:42 AM #3
What he said, plus...
I actually hate crazy rides like rollercoasters, and I didn't get seasick at all, no patch required. And we had a couple of rough days.
I haven't been on Carnival, but I have been on Holland America, top notch all the way. More laid back than Carnival, and since I outgrew wild partyig when I left college, it was perfect. Going on a Celebrity in July, we shall see how they stack up.
05-16-2002 01:46 PM #4
Cool, thanks. More Questions.
I will definately check with Expedia for rates. That is really what is holding me up. Every time I talk to Carnival, I get different rates, room availability, etc. I am afraid I will book it and later find a rate next week at 1/2 the price.
I agree on the motion sickness. My wife thinks the higher outside rooms will get you less seasick because they are more expensive. I agree with you on the physics of the whole thing.
They offer some kind of cancellation or trip interruption insurance. Is it worth it?
We will be taking our 4 year old, and going in September. There seem to be lots of kids things to do on Carnival. Any thoughts on taking a 4 year old? Also, should I be concerned about the weather in Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta, Cabo in September?
05-16-2002 03:15 PM #5
The cruise line should have some kids programs that will help keep the kiddo occupied some. I don't have any kids myself so I'm not quite sure how that will affect things on the cruise.
I've never purchased trip cancellation insurance. I look at it like an extended warranty on a car--by not getting it, you gamble that nothing will go wrong, but they wouldn't offer it to you unless they thought they could make money on it. So, you might get screwed, but odds are that you don't need it.
In September you will probably get some afternoon showers, but I wouldn't worry about it. It will be hot, but not quite as hot as August. There's always the chance of a hurricane, but there is more than enough warning on such things for the ships to plot routes to avoid them. The last cruise I went on we stayed one step ahead of a hurricane the whole way, and other than some rain when we were in Grand Cayman, it didn't really affect us.
Pack some bottled water to take with you. You'll want to take a couple of bottles with you when you go on shore probably, and you don't want to pay the exhorbitant amoun the ship will charge you as you are headed to shore.
Be very careful about thinking you are getting a good deal on jewelry or art either while on the ship or on shore. The ship will have all sorts of seminars and art auctions trying to sell you stuff. At the time I went last, I had recently done thorough diamond pricing for an engagement ring here in the U.S., and knew a lot about prices and quality. At every port the cruise "shopping director" would have seminars to tell you about certain places you could go to get great deals (read: certain places where if you buy, she or the cruise line get a kick back). Their prices were rarely as good as in the U.S. and never better.
However, if you are interested in certain designer jewelry like David Yurman or John Hardy, you may be able to get 10% off at certain stores on shore, plus you won't have to pay sales tax. Those two never go on sale in the U.S. You just have to really know what you are looking for and have checked out prices ahead of time. A lot of people get sucked in with the idea of cheap gold or precious stones, but there just aren't the great deals that they try to tell you about. Oh, and avoid Tanzanite. Well, buy it if you think it is pretty, but don't think it is going to grow in value or anything like they'll try to tell you. They sell the stuff all over down there and push it really hard.
05-23-2002 11:54 PM #6
Re: What he said, plus...
Been on both Carnival and Royal Caribean, RC is far and away the better ride. More attentive, cleaner ship just better. The RC crew was more into your well being and much friendlier. The dining room staff was happy and seemed to enjoy making your trip memorable. Maybe it was just that particular Carnival crew. (Ecstacy out of Port Canaveral, Fla.) Hope your trip goes well.
05-29-2002 12:13 AM #7
What Alan said, plus . . .
Wow, nice post Alan. Great Stuff!!
Only other ting I can add is the cruises tend to reward those who are more active. Go to the morning arobic workout--get a voucher. Go to the dance lessons--get a voucher. Get bunches of vouchers, and trade them in for stuff like sweat shirts and souvigners.
Or not. You're on vacation so, what the heck, relax and blow off the vouchers. Up to you.
Port activities depend on you and your agressivness to do your own thing. When I went to the Caribean, I looked up some fishing activities on my own because the ship did not promote them (at all!). Fishing is a major activity in Cabo. Depending on your needs, be it golf, history of the Aztecs, visiting the local villages, whatever, be agressive off the boat. You'll be rewarded there too.
05-30-2002 06:39 PM #8
06-07-2002 04:53 PM #9
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