Not understanding some stuff about cruises; can anyone help?

(58 Posts)
KatyMac Sat 09-Jul-11 21:41:32

Are they AI?

What does it mean when it talks about a 'drinks package'

Is it worth £1000 to have a 'deluxe' cabin with a double bed (DH thinks yes....I am less sure)

Is it very dressy?

What will DD (14 by then) do all day?

KatyMac Sun 10-Jul-11 08:45:10


callow Sun 10-Jul-11 08:55:38

Depending on the cruise you will generally get all food included. Some cruise line have special restaurants where you pay £10 - £20 each, but you don't need to visit them. Some cruise lines have a drinks package to be purchased for an additional sum. What it includes varies.

Most cabins in all ships have beds that join together to become a double. Whether it is worth the £1000 extra to have a deluxe room it up to you.

Again some cruise lines are dressy and some not so. P & O have several nights on each cruise where you are expected to dress in formal wear (dinner jackets for men, long dresses for ladies). Other cruise lines have a more flexible approach and formal wear is not compulsory.

Some cruise lines have extensive programmes for children and teenagers, other cater for children under 12 only and other don't cater for children at all.

If you tell us the cruise line you are thinking of going on it will help.

KatyMac Sun 10-Jul-11 09:10:20

Sorry it's Colourful Coasts with Thomson, I think it's quite a low cost one

KatyMac Sun 10-Jul-11 09:11:31

The ordinary cabins are about 10 by 10 I think, which seems quite small for 3 of us (DH is 6 ft & DD is nearly as big as me)

callow Sun 10-Jul-11 10:06:13

I haven't been on Thomson cruises, but this is a forum where people have . Also look on the reviews page.

In a smaller cabin you would probably need to configure the room with 3 separate single beds (one single and 2 as a bunk bed). In a larger room there is often a double bed and the single bed is a sofa bed.

They usually include everything except drinks. We buy a soft drinks card at the beginning which saves quite a bit but we're not big alcohol drinkers.

I would say get the bigger cabin if you can afford it. You might not spend much time in there but when you do you'll be thankful you aren't sitting on each other!

It's as dressy as you want to make it. I've only ever travelled on Cunard ships and they are extremely formal in the evenings. However, there are dining alternatives if you don't want to dress up, it's not compulsory. But shorts etc in the evening are always frowned on. Other ships are aways going to be less formal than Cunard. During the day normal, casual clothes are fine. I try not to wear jeans but DH does. It's not a problem. Wear what you like during the day.

As for what your DD will do, that's hard to say without knowing what facilities are on the ship and what sort of person she is. is another good, informative site.

KatyMac Sun 10-Jul-11 10:32:31

DD is marginally sporty, swims a lot, reads a lot & on our last holiday she held dance lessons for the entertainment team

If there is music, a stage or a dance floor she will be fine; aerobics classes, Zumba, etc will do

The drinks thing is £500 which is a hell of a lot of fruit juice & coke tbh

Sounds like a cabin is a must

£500!!!!!!! shock Bugger that! I can't remember what the card costs, something like $3.95 plus 15% service charge per day.

Sounds like your dd will be absolutely fine. They generally do classes, there will be pools etc, she'll have a lovely time smile

KatyMac Sun 10-Jul-11 16:22:39

Well it is for 3 of us

Fingers crossed we like it

KatyMac Sun 10-Jul-11 16:42:27

Now there is one with Norwegian Cruise Lines - are they any good?

KatyMac Sun 10-Jul-11 19:36:38

It seems to be sold out sad

I am gutted I really fancied it

zipzap Sun 10-Jul-11 20:22:56

I haven't cruised on Thompson but I have on several other cruise lines.

If you have a budget in mind and an area (med, Baltic, Caribbean etc) then it might be worth ringing up some of the big cruise specialist travel agents and seeing what they can offer. Prices fluctuate all the time and if you can be relatively flexible with dates or can go at quite short notice then you can get some really good deals. And as they tell you a deal, compare the price online so you can see if they are in the right ballpark; sometimes someone might sound a bit more expensive but they have more onboard credit or free parking or cabin upgrade...

Sometimes the fly cruises can be a bit cheaper than the uk round trip ones but make sure they are quoting you a price including flights as you don't want to then discover you need to pay lots for flights. Having said that there are some great US sites out there that sell great priced cruise only deals if you are happy to do your own flights (makes more sense there as youmight be driving from an hour away or flying from the other side of the country).

Other than my honeymoon which I got 40% off rrp (and booked because we very specifically wanted that cruise) I don't think I have ever paid more than 50% of the rrp, there are definitely bargains to be had, I just made sure I kept up to date with cruises I would be happy to go on and watch the prices fluctuate then jump in at a point at which you are happy to pay for it. I've missed out on a couple (right at last moment, have made booking and when agent hit final buy button it's said sorry none left when there were when I started the booking) but I've always had a great time and can highly recommend it.

KatyMac Sun 10-Jul-11 20:30:07

I have rung a few places but all there is, is a longer one that means DD missing school or us all missing Christmas

So back to the drawing board

callow Sun 10-Jul-11 22:11:30

To get the best price for a family cruise in school holidays you need to book the day the cruise is released.

I am on a cruise with P & O to Norway in June next year in the half term. The child price for my cabin (obstructed window) was only £80 a child (after paying two adult fares). The cheaper family cabins sold out the day they were released. P & O release their new cruises in March/April each year.

KatyMac Sun 10-Jul-11 22:17:21

So I'm stuffed really

I can't believe there is nothing around. As I said above, I've only ever travelled on Cunard ships but they email me every flippin' day with new offers. The rest of my family booked a transatlantic crossing on a whim a couple of weeks ago because the price was so good. There must be something out there.

What's more important to you, being on the ship or the destination?

KatyMac Sun 10-Jul-11 22:24:09

Neither really

It's the dates (26th Dec back at work/school 4th Jan) & the cost (not a lot)

HopeEternal Tue 12-Jul-11 22:16:55

KatyMac, check out some of the smaller companies. I recommend Cruise and Maritime AND Fred Olson. Both are mainly round trip from the UK. Neither have children's programmes, but do have the things your DD is interested in.

I was previously a dedicated Cunard cruiser. First they sold off the Caronia and then the QE2. I had done about 15 cruises between those 2 ships - primarily the QE2. I tried the QM2 and absolutely loathed it. It was P&O / Princess writ large. No atmosphere.

The smaller companies have much better deals.

KatyMac Tue 12-Jul-11 22:37:29

We're booked now & a cruise for less than tenerife shock

In a balcony room with a double bed

But apparently we will need to dress up a bit (what a hardship; & no-one would have seen anything I already have grin)

KatyMac Tue 12-Jul-11 22:59:20

I'm a bit excited & a bit scared

zipzap Wed 13-Jul-11 01:05:34

Excellent - happy cruising grin

do you mind me asking which company you ended up going with?

KatyMac Wed 13-Jul-11 07:14:06

NCL from Barcelona

It's so exciting

Glad you found something. It sounds lovely, have heard good things about NCL. You'll have a great time smile

HopeEternal you must have been cruising for years! Did you go on the Caronia? We only started recently and the first ship we went on was the QM2. My parents went on the QE2 just before she was sold and they weren't particularly impressed. It's funny how your first experiences shape your preferences. I would love to have sailed on her but never got the chance.

KatyMac Wed 13-Jul-11 08:53:50

Still haven't sorted out the drinks thing & I have to pay the taxi from Barcelona airport to the cruise

girlywhirly Wed 13-Jul-11 11:36:17

I have been on Thomson cruises.

The pools are too small to do any proper swimming in. You don't need to dress up in the buffet restaurant, but you do in the others, that is smart casual at least. You have to pay for all the drinks except the tea and coffee on deck, but if you bought one from the bar you would be charged. They operate a cashless system, so you leave them your credit card number and they charge it to your cabin number, then give you a statement so you know what your final bill will be.

zipzap Wed 13-Jul-11 13:11:37

Ooooh sounds lovely - I'm very envy grin

I've sailed from Barcelona before but I don't like flying so took the train down overnight which was fun and stuck an extra night in Barcelona before and after the cruise as there wasn't much chance to see the city if was the start and stop point and it's a city we love.

Don't make the mistake we did of thinking we could walk from the cruise port gates to the ship - if your ship is in one of the far berths it can be a looooooong way especially with luggage!

Sitting here wistfully dreaming of the time that ds2 will have stopped his tendency to climb over anything in sight so that we can go cruising without worrying he's about to climb overboard! Another year or two maybe....

KatyMac Wed 13-Jul-11 14:25:43

My friend says it's 'freestyle' but I don't really know what that means

HopeEternal Wed 13-Jul-11 15:35:18

GwendolineMaryLacey, yes, I have been cruising for about 15 years.

The first 2 cruises were Caribbean cruises with Princess. They were great fun but I found the ships a bit too large for my personal taste.

My late DH and I then did a few transatlantic crossings on the QE2. We then discovered the Caronia and went on 3 or 4 cruises on her and a couple of more crossings on the QE2. DH died in 2004 and about 2 1/2 months after he died, I went on my first solo cruise - again on the Caronia. I very much wanted cruising to continue to be something I felt I could do, rather than become something we had done. When I told the crew that I had lost my husband, they all sort of adopted me and made sure I was well taken care of. Carnival (parent company of Cunard) sold the Caronia to Saga about 6 months later.

From then on (with one lapse with a P&O cruise and one crossing on the QM2) I went solely on the QE2 - usually two or three times a year. My last cruise on her was about 2 months before she left for Dubai. I'm not really surprised that your parents weren't particularly impressed with her in her last year or so. The decision to sell her had been taken and Carnival more or less stopped doing anything other than the bare minimum to keep her legally afloat. She became a faded shadow of her former self.

For the last couple of years my lovely new DH and I have gone with the smaller companies I mentioned upthread.

HopeEternal Wed 13-Jul-11 15:37:07

KatyMac, have a look at this:

ggirl Wed 13-Jul-11 15:46:00

we're off on a cruise on friday for a week
friend managed to get a bargain for us
p&O azura
7 nts in superior deluxe balcony for 2adults one child

ggirl Wed 13-Jul-11 15:48:41

and we booked 5wks ago

Geordieminx Wed 13-Jul-11 21:08:54

Katy - you can sign up to the drinks when you embark, think we paid about $30 a day, although we only got a drinks package for ds and I... They never check wink they do beer and wine packages too, depends on whether you are big drinkers or not?

Taxi about £35 from airport, you could get a bus from right outside the airport which will take you to Playa Cataylunya, and then a taxi from there would be about £10?

KatyMac Wed 13-Jul-11 21:51:06

Is that Barcelona? I think Taxi - we will be tired (even if I nap after Dr Who I will have had to leave at midnight/1am to get the flight & it's over 2hr to drive

DH & I are almost completely teetotal - how much is $30?

Geordieminx Thu 14-Jul-11 07:07:43

By the time you had paid the bus then taxi it's probably not worth the hassle. Taxi from the airport may even work out cheaper?

About £20 but it may tell you on line, like I said, we got away with just buying 2. grin

Geordieminx Thu 14-Jul-11 07:15:51

Oh and if you let me know what ports you are visiting I can help with excursions.

We did a Royal Carribean last year, the trips were £££ so we organised our own which worked out much better.

It all sounds complicated but once you get your head round it you will have a fab time.

Oh and take at least 2 sizes of clothes, as with 24 hour eating you will need a size up by day 3 wink

Geordieminx Thu 14-Jul-11 07:22:54

drinks and kid stuff here

2 drinks packages will cost about $12 for a day, which is about £7... Def worth it for unlimited drinks. They are great too in that they walk round the pool constantly asking if anyone needs a drink

KatyMac Thu 14-Jul-11 07:30:52

We are going to Maderia, which we know so won't be paying for an excursion - we just need to get to shore (& a rather nice cake shop); we 'know' Tenerife as well.
Arrecife we will probably wander, same in Malaga

Barcelona; Funchal; Funchal; Santa Cruz De Tenerife; Santa Cruz De Tenerife; Arrecife; Arrecife; Malaga (Granada); Malaga

To be honest unless there is something very special, we are unlikely to bother; the holiday is to relax rather than rush about to 'see' things iyswim

KatyMac Thu 14-Jul-11 07:43:26

So for all 3 of us it would be $18.75 plus 15%

Umm that's about £40 if a drink is £2.50 we can have 16 drinks between us & if £3 then 13

I reckon we would drink 1 in the morning 2 with lunch, 2 in the afternoon, 2 with dinner and 1/2 win the evening; so 8 or 9 each

Unless drinks are very cheap (<£2) it would be worth it

wheresmywaist Thu 14-Jul-11 08:00:45

We did Royal Caribbean last year and paid for the fizzy drinks package (flask they could refill at any bar/pool) for the kids - we needn't have bothered though, the ice cold squashes and water were fine. Have a great time - we loved it smile

Tsil Thu 14-Jul-11 08:02:46

Katy I was on the NCL Epic in May this year. I don't know which ship you are on but we had a great time. Drinks are expensive but if you are tee total then you should be ok. Tea and coffee are free all over the ship but if you drink soft drinks I would recommend the drinks package. For one person 11 day cruise was $80 but at $2.20 - $2.70 per soft drink plus 15% gratuity on every bill it is worth it. Also you are charged $12 per day per person for service charges, you can reduce this down to whatever amount you want you want on the last full day of your cruise just go to reception. We cancelled it completely and tipped in cash those that gave us great service. Don't be intimidated by the look of disgust you get for doing this it but it can be an unexpected expense on your cruise.

Other than that dress is casual during the day ie swimwear shorts etc and as formal as you want in the evening. If you are on the Epic the only place that they ask for a suit and dress is in le bistro which is an extra charge French restaurant other than that there isn't a strict dress code.

I've done cruising with NCL, Royal Caribbean and Yachts of Seabourne. All fab. The freestyle cruising with NCL is great if you have kids and don't want to be tied down to a sitting. Royal Caribbean also great, a little more formal but not overly so. Neither of them take the P on drinks prices - just be canny about what you choose. We've done the wine drinks package with Royal caribbean and that was good value. Seabourne is all inclusive but doesn't have children's facilities (but if you want pure luxury......). You won't be able to take your own alcohol on board. They'll confiscate it although you get it back at the end of the cruise. The very formal cruise has gone by the by now. For the formal dining rooms, they will expect long trousers and collared shirts for men (polo shirt fine) but you don't have to get completely dolled up. Usually there's one formal night per cruise but if you don't fancy it then head off to one of the more casual dining rooms. I suppose with the drinks packages the key is to work out how much you'd go through each day and cost that. Between, water, soft drinks and wine etc we'd probably expect to spend about £50 per day so on a 12 night cruise that would be £600 so £500 for the drinks package would be good value. YMMV. Enjoy your cruise!

Geordieminx Thu 14-Jul-11 08:26:15

You'll probably find given that it's hot, and the drinks are free you will drink more grin

KatyMac Thu 14-Jul-11 10:20:33

That's what we thought; I wonder how much a coke/pepsi is?

Geordieminx Thu 14-Jul-11 12:06:37

Somewhere between $3 and $4 I would reckon. Possibly even more?

KatyMac Thu 14-Jul-11 22:39:08

Apparently there might be dancing (classes & in the evening) DH & DD will be thrilled

Geordieminx Fri 15-Jul-11 07:47:53

There will be more classes than you can shake a hairy stick at! Each night you will get a booklet in your cabin which will give you all the info for the next day... Port, excursions, classes, food, entertainment, basically everything.

KatyMac Fri 15-Jul-11 10:04:13

Dancing squee!!!!

Gosh I am sad

Geordieminx Fri 15-Jul-11 10:45:44

You will have a fab time!

Try and go to the formal dining room - it's wonderful. We ate in the buffet restaurants for the first few nights as we had ds(3) and thought it would be too posh...Not at all. They assign you a table, we were with another family with a ds the same age as ours, had the same table and waiting staff for the week, they went out of their way to help, brought ds's food first, came round with the fresh bread basket about 10 times, brought smaller portions of our meals if he wanted them. Totally wonderful!

I remember one morning waking really early, so I went for a wander and left the boys to sleep. Was up on deck about 6am, amazingly peaceful. Sat with a cup of coffee and watched the sun rise over Naples. Magical.

Aw, wish I was going. My lot are off again next month and I'm not going, I'm really jealous sad

My favourite memory was the entire ship out on deck at 5am with coffee and croissants as we sailed up the Hudson river into Manhattan... <sigh>

Early morning on deck is magical, isn't it?

KatyMac Fri 15-Jul-11 14:47:10

Oh you guys

I can't wait; I'm so excited & I really can't wait

I have a week camping in France first

KatyMac Fri 15-Jul-11 21:39:34

DH has started planning his outfits hmm

Geordieminx Fri 15-Jul-11 22:05:56

It's not as formal as you think it's going to be, or at least it doesn't have to be?

There was a formal night in the dining room, weren't going to go as Dh didn't have a suit, but he was told by maitrde (sp) that trousers and shirt would be fine and it was, a took mostly maxi dresses?

You will have ball!

KatyMac Fri 15-Jul-11 22:12:02

DH is a dance teacher

DD is a competitive ballroom dancer

They are formal anyway....kinda

I'm always the over dressed one as well

But it's the potential dancing that is exciting DH (we are away on a dance conference in Worthing atm & he brought 4/5 outfits)

Geordieminx Fri 15-Jul-11 22:36:55

You can never be over dressed on a cruise grin

very useful info here. Thanks smile

AndreaDawn Sat 20-Jul-13 21:22:06

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