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Another cruise post (no children)

32 replies

everyonebutme · 05/01/2020 17:43

Never done one so don't know where to start. Fancy trying 7-10 days somewhere warm (possibly June or late September). Really don't know where to start! Does anyone have any tried and tested recommendations please? Which ships? Where to go? What company to use? Also what to ensure that we are aware of what we are spending, ie what's included and no surprises regarding expensive drinks and tips at the end that we have to pay. If it makes any difference we are a couple in our 50s.

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Panicovereveryone · 05/01/2020 18:33

Silverseas if you’re after a treat

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handbagsatdawn33 · 05/01/2020 18:47

You might want to consider adults-only cruises. Going outside school holidays still means you'll get younger kids.
I wouldn't recommend Marella (waterborne Tui). Very bad experience on a Med. cruise.
What's included varies a lot between companies, you really need to do some research.
Have you got an independent Travel Agent near you? They might be able to suggest something.
Be very careful picking your cabin. Look at the deck plans; you would not want to be above or below a late-night venue - unless you want to party until late that is !

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Biancadelrioisback · 05/01/2020 18:53

I worked on Royal Caribbean and P&O and royal was by far a better company. It is very American however it's more fun than P&O and the ships were much nicer.
Try and see if you can find a cruise which has an overnight somewhere. It's nice to be able to get off the ship one evening.
Drinks packages are expensive so completely depends on how much you drink.
Pick a ship which has things you'll do. For example, one of my ships had an ice-rink and rock climbing wall. I remember speaking to passengers who told me they hated both and felt the ship was a bit boring.

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Biancadelrioisback · 05/01/2020 18:58

Also, decide if you want to do everything. Some cruises have lots of ports, loads of excursions and can be quite full on. It was quite common for some passengers to stay on board on some of the more common ports (vigo, Lisbon, Gibraltar etc) and take advantage of a quiet ship. Some people want to do everything and end up crashing about half way through.
Ships often have lots going on throughout the day and evening with quizzes, live music, shows, parade parties, midnight buffets, pool parties etc. You don't have to do everything so try and check out a cruise compass before you sail so you know what the deal is

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Becles · 05/01/2020 19:04

NCL or Princess are great starter companies.

Have a look at Vacations to go, cruise 1st and cruise nation for deals.

Cruise critic is a good forum for all things crusing.

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Leflic · 05/01/2020 19:10

I’ve been on a couple ( P&O and Ocean Village that got sold off). I’m looking to take my DH on his first cruise but I don’t think either would be his thing, so I’m looking too.

First thing I’d say is are you going for the destination /ports or because you want an easy fun all inclusive? Ports are crucial to me so I’d look at what ships go where I want and then see how long they intend to be in each port. P&O was a bit sneaky as they said “overnight” in one port but actually left and docked further out so you couldn’t go back in the morning.

Would recommend a balcony every time. Absolutely make a holiday you.However I don’t think windows addd much ( often small or with restricted views ) and inside cabins are so much cheaper so not a bad option.

You are expected to pay tips. Some companies let you take them off if you queue at reception ( always massive queue), some don’t and some include them in various packages.

Food is all free but you pay extra for smaller speciality restaurants.
Drinks extra (except you’ll get tea/coffee/ juice at set meals).If you like alcohol it is worth getting a drink package on most ships.

All ships will try and flog you photos of you on the ship, spa treatments, upgraded areas and trips at the ports. None of which you need. Most ports are much cheaper using local taxis etc.

Cruise Critic will tell you all you need. Look up YouTube videos for reviews of the actual ships.

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everyonebutme · 05/01/2020 19:10

Thanks for the advice so far. That's given me even more to think about! Will check out some of the things you've said.

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Ilikewinter · 05/01/2020 19:12

Weve done RCCL and NCL, RCCL had more fancy stuff on the ship, climbing wall, crazy golf, ice rink. NCL was smaller ship, no dress code in main dining rooms.

Trying Princess this year, they have a fantastic offer on at the moment (£35pppd that includes premium drinks package, wifi and all gratuties, normally sells at £70pppd) so I would have a look on their website and see if anything appeals to you.

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Funf · 06/01/2020 08:41

We have done 14, we wont touch P&O again.
Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Holland America, Princess are all good depending on budget.
The med might be a bit cool and wet in September depending where you go.
The key is planning, if we want a few beers we do it ashore as some charge £3 a pint some are £8! Look at your ports and decide what you would like to see and do then look on cruise critic forum for others who have been to see how to do it on the cheap. We where quoted $6000 for a full day trip party of 6, found an official guide on line same trip $600, it pays to do research.
The med is a good starter but check the ports some are poor some are excellent.
A good example, Portomayo in Portugal, the town isn't really a tourist place but if you book a speed boat trip to the Bengali caves you will have a fantastic day out, the small beach is good too, the ship offer a trip to the town or some ruin miles away that you would get very little time in.
Planning is the key

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Leflic · 06/01/2020 23:33

Funf 14! That’s good that you have a lot to compare to.
Which ship did you like best?

I think it’s hard reading reviews of ships because some people have nothing to compare their ship to and the ship vibe changes depending on school holidays and the weather.

I disliked the Butlins atmosphere on P&O but loved the steak and chips and meeting other guests in the dining room ( which I thought I’d hate). Azura felt more like a big ferry I thought!

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HeddaGarbled · 07/01/2020 00:09

From the top, you have the luxury and very expensive cruise lines: Silversea & Azamara. Next down is Cunard. This is tiered, so if you fork out for the most expensive cabins, you eat in a better restaurant and have a more luxury experience, but you can pay less for standard class, which is still quite formal and sort of faux posh.

Then you get the premium lines: Princess, Holland America (HAL) and Celebrity. Celebrity is fairly relaxed about the whole dressing up for dinner thing, if you prefer informal.

Below that, it gets less luxurious and more crowded, but there will be a younger age range, more activities and better entertainment.

Meals in the main restaurant and buffet will always be included, as will some soft drinks. Speciality restaurants, alcoholic drinks, speciality coffees and soft drinks are usually extra, so unless you are content to stick with the basics, I would recommend you get a drinks package. These are a substantial additional cost, but are sometimes thrown in as a perk when you book.

Tips/gratuities are charged at a daily rate and are another substantial add on, but again are sometimes offered as a booking perk.

The cruiselines’s shore excursions are also expensive. You can organise these independently much more cheaply if you choose.

//www.cruisecritic.co.uk is the best source of information, particularly the chat boards.

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SunSeaCocktails · 07/01/2020 02:21

Ive just prices up a Princess 15 day Hawiian cruise for November.
As a guide for your extras. It was advertised on offer at £1659 for basic inside cabin full board.
According to my travel agent Tips on Princess are paid at the end of the cruise and they suggest $15 per day per person.
Drinks package was $59.99 per day.per person.
So.more like £2700.odd quid before you add spends, excursions etc.

I did a Marella Caribbean Cruise and thought it was amazing value. They have an adults only ship I think it's the Explorer 2.

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Funf · 07/01/2020 06:28

You have spotted something most don't when reading reviews its all about what people have to compare it to.
Our best was Celebrity, followed by Princess / Holland America. Its interesting the comment about Cunard, we felt it was an average ship trying to be posh, it sold its self very highly but just failed to deliver, pokey cabins average food, lots of noise and no interest when we brought this up, our son at 15 being 6ft2' was apprehended every night for not wearing a jacket, it was very amateurish as they approached him mob handed then he would explain he didn't need ones he is a child, amateurs, it was like he has committed a crime, I had to put them straight which we shouldn't have to do on a holiday.
P&O well its a dirty Butlins at sea, sticky carpets as well. We have done two the second was much worse, I have a cut out and keep apology from them as our ship stank of sewage as they know it has a toilet issue which they usually blame on new cruisers not using the toilets correctly!

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okiedokieme · 07/01/2020 07:12

Budget is everything - it can be anything from a few hundred to several thousand and to a certain extent of course you get what you pay for (but there's an element of snobbery too). I loved Cunard but it's old school, (smart dress, string quartets playing, posh) whereas Marella was fun, all inclusive and actually the ships are near identical (the layout, just different decor). Drinks prices vary hugely with the US ships costing a fortune whereas the British brands are not dissimilar to a (ok London) pub, or opt for ai. As an intro I would recommend both of these, but there's excellent cruise message boards for specifics

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BlueSkies2020 · 07/01/2020 07:40

You have had some excellent advice here and I’d agree with it. I’ve been on several different lines and also know a fair bit about others. Take note of what is written about tips and don’t try wangle out of them- factor it into price. Vacations to go is indeed excellent. September is an excellent time for the Med if you fly.

Luxury lines (Silversea, Regent and Crystal) will have a much older and quiet vibe. Akin to 5/6 star hotel. Very expensive. I’ve not been on these. Wouldn’t want to even if I did have the money.

Cunard and P&O are very British and food is not the best imo. Passengers on Cunard more refined Brits but much older crowd. Would only do P&O for the free night nursery for little kids. Cunard entertainment is more traditional - dances, classical music, opera singing. P&O more modern shows. Embarrassing British anthem sail away on P&O! We called it the Brexit ship. Ships are nice but none of the fun stuff! Staff not too happy/ friendly. Do posh dress up evenings very well if this is your bag

RCL and NCL. American, casual, younger crowd, busier and lots of bells and whistles. Excellent entertainment. Food excellent and lots of variety. Better service and more proactive, wanting to please. Less opportunity for dressing up. Generally have huge ships. Huge ships are more fun! And not necessarily more crowded.

Princess is similar to P&O but American. Hal (not been myself) is also America, bit posher, older crowd and more traditional ship feel (teak wood wraparound decks).

Celebrity is more refined, better food and wine, less bells and whistles because it’s not really for kids but sophisticated fun. Excellent entertainment. My line of choice for adults only but can be pricey. No need to dress up but people are smarter any way.

Italian lines offer great value (MSC Costa). Great food if you don’t expect American style dining. Can be chaotic and disorganised. Quality of entertainment is less but larger ships do offer greater variety. Very good for families. Good for dancers. Stylish and glitzy ships. Casual passengers. My first choice for good value. Lots of kids. American people don’t tend to like food or European style service and guests, so you’ll get bad reviews from them.

Budget lines. With low expectations we’ve had a great time on pullmantur. They have some excellent iteneriares and are all inclusive with alcohol. Less dining options but food was amazing. Old cabins but clean. Naff entertainment but we made our own fun! Full of Spanish passengers. Marella not tried it, but cheapie brits abroad ship.

River cruises. All about the destinations and scenery. Posh but limited ships. Older crowd. Expensive

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BlueSkies2020 · 07/01/2020 07:44

Should have said some might view NCL RCL, Italian lines as tacky if they’re expecting out and out luxury. I don’t feel this way, but can appreciate that Celebrity, Cunard, Hal and luxury lines are much more classy

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Nowisthemonthofmaying · 07/01/2020 07:54

Celebrity are good - nice food and good drinks packages. The ships don't feel tacky at all and there aren't many children. Easy to avoid paying tips, too - just go and have a word with customer services and they'll take them off your bill no questions asked.

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Funf · 07/01/2020 07:57

Now that's a good point always pay your own gratuities otherwise you will be paying a fortune, we usually give £20 the the Waiters, and cabin steward, although one year we also gave a very humble cabin steward our fishing gear and £20 he was over the moon

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BlueSkies2020 · 07/01/2020 09:18

@Funf strongly disagree with your approach about tips. It’s so annoying when people do this! It’s how the system works and you should pay the tips. You’re denying the staff their hard earned money. If you don’t like the set up, don’t cruise! Brits are the worst for this behaviour and it’s embarrassing seeing them lined up at customer services to have them removed Blush

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Funf · 07/01/2020 11:18

@blueskies2020 Let's agree to disagree we will not be paying.
Our last trip would have been $1400 at the cruises suggested rate!
The staff are well catered for but we have had some telling me how poor the pay is and how they rely on tips, I didn't tell him an acquaintance of mine was driving the ship!
I have seen some of the programmes showing how badly the staff are treated but in my experience many have very long service and its the holiday makers who treat them badly.
The main thing is the OP is aware how the cost and realises they have an option

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Funf · 07/01/2020 11:21

Drinks, we have paid from £3 a pint to £8! Good job we are not big drinkers, a package wouldn't work for us as we wouldn't drink enough just do your sums. Some people smuggle spirits on and just get a soda package. We have a local beer when ashore part of the holiday for us.

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Hollachica · 07/01/2020 11:28

We have done a couple of Celebrity Cruises and would highly recommend it. We did a 14 day Caribbean but they don't do that itinerary anymore, which is such a shame. I second a balcony and if you choose this timing you get a free drinks package and or tips included.

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BlueSkies2020 · 07/01/2020 12:53

@Funf yes, we will have to agree to disagree. Personally I think passengers who don’t tip are a*holes. You’re basically saying the service was shite. The staff suffer. It’s not an option for decent people with a conscience so I wouldn’t advice it to the OP. Gratuities are compulsory and removing them is extremely rude to the staff. I’ve not paid more than $12 a day. I factor it into the price. Everything is included on a cruise bar alcohol (there are some AI) so it’s actually very good value.

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BlueSkies2020 · 07/01/2020 12:57

P&O Cunard MSC Costa were the cheapest for drinks. The Italian lines have excellent drinks packages.

RCL and celebrity the most expensive. I have also had a free drinks package on Celebrity which really made our honeymoon fabulous. Cocktails before every dinner!

NCL in the middle but we’ve had a drinks package with them included.

Pullmantur is incredible value as alcohol included and you can upgrade for peanuts to craft gins etc. But the cruise is not for the faint hearted! But we’re adventurous and loved it. Fabulous food and staff x

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BlueSkies2020 · 07/01/2020 13:01

@Hollachica you can do 2 back to back cruises instead (they rotate itineraries ) although I appreciate that’s more sea days. P&O do lengthy Caribbean itineraries and with a passage back to UK included if that’s of interest. But celebrity is unfortunately in a different league to P&O!

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