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Don't know where to start! Which cruise line?(15 Posts)
I'm starting to research cruises for 2019 for a big birthday, never cruised before and don't know where to start! I've looked on Cruise Critic forum and found it a bit bewildering - I feel I should narrow down the cruise lines first!
There will be DH & I (30-40ish), and two DC (4 & 7). I'm thinking of Fjords/Baltic/maybe transatlantic if I can get UK to NYC.
- Decent food with plenty of choice and different restaurant options (preferably all included in price). Not necessarily 'gourmet' but have done AI resorts before and been disappointed with food options!
- Good kids club for our girls.
- Reasonable evening entertainment!
We don't want:
- To share tables at dinner with other people!
- A 'party' ship.
- An 'oldies' ship.
We don't care about:
- Particular ports of call.
- Budget (although want 'value for money'!)
Can anyone advise/recommend please?
Royal Caribbean - we've been twice with them with DCs under 10 and they are pretty much as you describe, although I think the specialist restaurants cost extra.
You can choose whether to share a restsurant table or not. We opted not to first time and to share second time and to our suprise enjoyed sharing a lot more, even though our regular companions were all much older couples without children. It was nice to chat over the day and see what others had done, learn about their home countries, form a quiz team with them later etc. Otherwise you can be in a bit of a bubble where you are with thousands of other people but never really get talking to anyone.
It can be very confusing, each line offers different things.
We like Norwegian, and also Royal Caribbean. Both are very family friendly, with good kids clubs and lots of activities, especially in the bigger ships.
We found evening entertainment to be fantastic on the larger NCL ships, not so great on smaller ones.
We prefer NCL because you don't need to dress up at anytime if you don't want to (although of course you can choose to do so). But this may not suit you, lots of people enjoy the 'formal' evenings on a cruise.
I'm not sure how many cruise lines offer a true 'all inclusive' experience . Certainly NCL (if you are in the U.K.) provide both drinks and service charges all included in the price, with a choice of restaurants also included, but speciality restaurants, spas, certain 'exclusive' areas of the shop are charged as extras.
Royal Caribbean does not include drinks and gratuities in the price, but can be paid for in advance if you choose to do so.
I'd say the best thing to do is decide where you would like to go, decide what's important to you, then check out each cruise line to see who offers what (i.e. All inclusive, entertainment, kids clubs, activities, seating arrangements at dinner, formal evenings etc)
Royal Caribbean or Norwegian Epic!
I was all set to recommend P&O Ventura as we liked the food in the premium restaurants and the kids club was fab. And then you said you didn't want a party boat!
We also liked P&O Oceana - a smaller ship that felt a bit more up market. The kids club was more low key but still great. Not so sure about the premium dining options on there as we were with our extended family who wanted to eat in the formal dining room every night.
I didn't like Royal Caribbean.
The included food tended to be very American. And the absence of fruit and vegetables was really noticeable. We didn't see a single banana in our entire 11 day cruise, and this was in Australia in the middle of summer! Utterly bizarre.
Also, the pools were massively overchlorinated and stung your eyes like no other.
Preferred P&O, definitely. We did that with two relatively young children. The food selection was better, entertainment was better, and the cabins were better.
I've done 2 so far, royal Caribbean, very glitzy and American and much more of a stereotypical cruise. Great casino, service was brilliant. Food was great. Can't comment on kids club as we didn't have ds then but my mum has done them with my younger sister when she was little and said they were great.
P&O great food, could dine alone although might not get a table straight away. Kids club was brilliant. Service wasn't quite as personal and the cocktails no where near as good.
Neither of them were party ships, we are booked with NCL at new year, really looking forward to it, I love cruises!
Norwegian Epic is an awesome ship and I'd thoroughly recommend. It mostly does Euro cruises though. They have (or used to have) a Blue Man Group show that performs on board in the theatre.
If you don't want to share tables at dinner then book a dining time.
We went on the Norwegian breakaway in February. NYC to several stops (Florida, Bahamas another stop I can't remember!).
It was brilliant. We did the all inclusive option which was fantastic (and well worth the money) everything (apart from the usual al'aCarte restaurants) was included. Cocktails as well which are very nice! All branded drinks. The food was brilliant, the buffet restaurant was huge. Even at busy times you could always find a clean quiet table. So much choice, each night had a theme (DH loved Bbq night, steak, ribs, pulled pork, brisket... I think he'd go again just for the food). But each night there were also regular dishes as well, so salads, chips, hot dogs, burgers, fried chicken, pasta dishes, a live cooking station.
Dd was only 1 when we went but the kids club itinerary a looked amazing. They are open till something silly like 1am. Activities going on every day for them. We took dd to sensory and messy play while we were on ship and they had a small play room for under 2's.
We'd definitely go again, for kids I think it's fab. Plenty of activities, the pools were smaller than I imagined but were never busy. I was worried about it being busy but it was strangely quiet even on the days at sea there were always plenty of quiet areas to sit and read or watch the world go by.
The staff on Norwegian were also brilliant. We went to Canada before we got to NYC so we had quite a lot of clothes that needed to be washed because we'd tried not to pack loads. I went and spoke to the housekeeping person on customer services (because the sheet in the room for laundry didn't have an option for baby clothes) to see how much it would cost. She told me to just fill the bag and she'd do it for $25! Filled the bag with a mixture of ours and dd's laundry, it was back within 2 hours and she never charged us for it! I checked with her and she just said it was fine
I sound like I work for them but I honestly couldn't have wanted more. We booked through Iglu cruises and they 'customised' (sounds posh) our trip to include another place before we went to NY, they sorted transfers, car seats etc. I'd recommend going through them.
Oh and I meant to say that it's a very casual dress code. There are places you can dress up, and I'm sure there are places that are black tie, we didn't see those! We did go to a couple of the nicer restaurants but there was no expectation to dress up to the nines.
We loved the Epic , great ship! We also liked the Getaway, which has even more to do than the Epic, both ships cruise Europe in the summer and the Caribbean in the winter. We're going on the Getaway from Miami this Christmas, and can't wait!
Thank you for all the responses!
Disney do look amazing, but are they really worth the extra £££?
Will take a look at P&O, Celebrity and Norwegian. Thank you!
We love cruising and have just returned from our second cruise on Oceania Riviera which was amazing for us now as we travel alone. Food superb, specialty restaurants all included and no formal nights. However they dont cater for children. Very few on board. When we cruised with our sons we used p and o when they were small then RCI When they were teens. Food noway as good on either of those lines. Have also sailed on celebrity in acqaclass and Blu restaurant is fab and again included. Berlioz cruise guide is your bible. 😊 tells you everything! We want to try Viking next but having found Oceania they may be impossible to beat. Food now most important thing for us and we prefer mid size ships but the boys would probably vote for RCI however you pay extra for just about everything.
We took our boys on several cruises when they were much younger. If you asked them today they would both still say they were the best holidays we ever had
I'd choose from one if the larger ships, they have more dining options and more fun things to do.
P&O could be a too formal, although they are a great cruise line. They also have more cruises sailing out of the UK, so you don't have the additional flight cost. However on our last cruise I'd say 95% of the men were in black tie on the formal nights.
We like Royal Caribbean and Celebrity, although Celebrity is a bit more up market, little things such as cushions on sun beds.
We have just booked a 2 week cruise in the Caribbean for November next year with Celebrity. The cost was £1350 each (not including flights) however we also get free drinks, including cocktails, wine, spirits and soft drinks.
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