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Choosing a Cruise line/boat for first time Cruiser

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Hi guys, I'm new here :grin:

I am trying to get information to make this decision a little easier. But the more I read the more my head starts to hurt lol. So how do you do it? How do you choose which cruise line to go on and which ship? Since it is my families first, I am really picky. My husband and I are both in our late 30's and 3 kids. At the time of the cruise they will be 17, 15 and 3 1/2 (can we say oops lol). I was looking at Carnival and then someone said no, look into RCI. I just want to go on a trip that will make everyone happy. Is this possible? Any advice you guys can give me would be great, Donna

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ujustgot2 (LOVE that name!):

You can't go wrong with Royal Caribbean. We've been on 4 so far (Grandeur, Explorer, Voyager, and Mariner) and absolutely love Royal Caribbean. I was the planner for our "Family and Friends" cruises. People's ages ranged from 8 to 85! The kids (or young adults!) program is fantastic. I had always said that I would never go on Carnival because of what I perceived Carnival to be - more of a "party" atmosphere, more drunks, etc. HOWEVER, I am now planning our next cruise - on Carnival!! :grin: Never ever say never! We want to go out of New Orleans on a Sunday and the Carnival Conquest is the only ship that does that. I've been reading alot about Carnival, here, and on the cc boards. I've come to the decision that it is really not the cruiseline itself, there seem to be the same likes, dislikes, problems,etc on both Royal Caribbean and Carnival. Your cruise is what YOU make it. And I intend on having a wonderful time on the Conquest! (but I'm still not gonna allow my hubby to go to "that" deck! :wink: )

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OH! Forgot to add this - Your best bet is to first decide what itinerary you'd like (more ports versus more sea days, and which ports you want to see), and then that will decide further which cruiseline. Then explore the boards to find out more (here and cc) and ask alot of questions or just "lurk". You can learn SO much - which cabins are best (aft balconies, IMHO), shore excursions (Capt. Marvins, Dolphin Discovery, etc).

You say that you're "picky" - in what sense? And keep in mind that you might not be able to please everyone - sometimes it's impossible!

I know you'll get alot of responses from the people here - everyone here is so friendly and helpful. I know I rambled on but if I think of something else, I'll post again.

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Hi, ujustgot2, and alt text

The first thing you have to remember is that a cruise means different things to different people. My favorite cruise line might be your least favorite.

To prove a point, I, unlike Chillhouse (we are allowed to disagree, by the way...) have been on Royal Caribbean three tiomes and each time I get home I promise that I'll never sail on Royal Carbbean again! I think the food is the poorest of any line, with the exception of Costa, and the service is spotty.

On the other hand, Celebrity (also owned by Royal Caribbean Int'l) is one of my favorites!

While Carnival has had a difficult time shaking the "Party/Animal House" image, there is little, if any, of that atmosphere aboard (Exception: Western Caribbean during Spring Break...). In addition, Carnival has continously upgraded the quality of its food, and service, and I find it to be superior, recently.

Another favorite of mine is Princess, just a tad under celebrity. However, in certain areas it is superior to Celebrity.

You will find others who totallydisagree with me, since so much is based on personal tastes. I don't like HAL, while a very good friend won't sail anything but HAL. Leave it to say that we don't cruise together.... :grin:

Anyway, decide what you want out of a cruise. It's your vacation and you have to enjoy it. Decide what you expect to find, and then read the "revew" section of this board to find it.

Also, ask lots of questions! That's what we are all here for. Remember, the only "silly question," is the one you didn't ask!

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Thanks Chillhouse and DaCruzNut for your advice and warm welcomes. Chillhouse - by picky I mean that while I am on vacation I like my surroundings to be pleasant. It doesn't have to be five stars perfect. I just want my room very clean and upkept. Also the employee's has to be friendly and helpful. No matter where I go, if the establishment shows pride in the surroundings and treats their employee's good - it is going to show. It drives me nuts when you pay a lot of money to go somewhere and it looks like it is run down. Then to try and figure out which cruise would be right for my family. We know that we I want to go to the western C. but that is about it. I want to relax but I know my kids are going to want to be on the go. The ship has to have enough programs to keep them busy. Call it silly but I have been dreaming about going on a cruise since I was a little girl. Yes because of the Love Boat lol. Why has it taken me so long? I love Walt Disney World, it is hard to stay away :grin:

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*pressing the "what Jeff said" button*.

I personally think you'll be fine with that age range going on Carnival, Princess or RCI/ Celebrity and HAL might not have as much for the younger folks than the previous 3, but they too are catering more to families these days. Besides, if it's your first cruise, you haven't had a chance to get jaded by all the talk about which line is best LOL.

Along with picking out where you want to go, go to the cruise line websites and read up on their ships. Sometimes you'll read about a ship, and say "I want to go on that". That's how we went on the Grand Princess. I saw pictures at a travel agency I delivered to, and decided we were going on it, no matter where it was going (so long as we could afford it).

Another lesser factor could be what port to sail from, based on where you live. For instance, if you live in Seattle, cruises out of Miami might not be as attractive as ones out of LA, unless 7 hour flights don't bother you LOL

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Whatever you finally decide, you will have a great time! ALL of the cruise lines try their hardest to supply your "minimum requirements," and are successful 98% of the time.

All of today's ships are beautiful, and offer pleasant surroundings. Even Carnival has toned-down its garish decorating.

Most Cabin Attendants are excellent, and keep your cabin/suite immaculate, since they rely on tips. While this can vary from ship-to-ship, the service is,at least, usually 'very good', on most.

The crew, Cruise Director's staff, and others will be friendly and helpful. I have run across a few "bad apples," but have had a very pleasant experience with most. The cruise lines know how important this is to most passengers.

Since this is your first cruise, everything will be new, and exciting, and you can't make a bad choice, if you stick with Carnival, Celebrity, Princess, Royal Caribbean or Norwegian (NCL).



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I completely agree with Jeff. My first cruise was waaaaay back in 1974, and since then, have only been on Royal Caribbean, so it is my "first love", so to speak. Jeff is much more experienced, having been on several cruiselines! I am getting excited to try Carnival next time!

One of your comments though, makes me think you'd be happier with one of the newer ships. All the cruiselines will have enough to keep the kids happy. The rockwall and ice rink on the newer Royal Caribbean ships are neat but how many times during the cruise would you want to do those things? We did those things the first two cruises but not the last two. But your kids might really want to try the rockwall and ice rink.

These sites might interest you:




Whatever you decide, you WILL have a great time!

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