Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Travel&Dining > Cruises
Reload this Page >

New to Cruises... Need advice

New to Cruises... Need advice

Old Jan 31, 18, 5:05 pm
  #1  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Programs: BA Silver, EY Gold, HH Diamond, IHG Plat
Posts: 11,734
New to Cruises... Need advice

I have never been on a cruise. Ask me about flights and I will give you the low down on everything but know absolutely nothing about cruises. We are 3 couples and looking at a 7 day cruise around the Mediterranean. Two rooms will need to have space for a kids bed (is that possible on a cruise liner?)

- What is the best ship? We are looking at the luxury liners.
- I have a IATA card so is it worth contacting the companies direct for a TA discount?
- Any suggested itineraries?
- What is the best way to book as I have read that discounts can vary hugely.


Any advice would be appreciated.
onlysuites is offline  
Old Jan 31, 18, 6:07 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Programs: AA Lifetime Platinum; Amex Plat; Four Seasons; Fairmont; HH; etc.; "Retirees-In-Training"
Posts: 625
Originally Posted by onlysuites View Post
I have never been on a cruise. Ask me about flights and I will give you the low down on everything but know absolutely nothing about cruises. We are 3 couples and looking at a 7 day cruise around the Mediterranean. Two rooms will need to have space for a kids bed (is that possible on a cruise liner?)

- What is the best ship? We are looking at the luxury liners.
- I have a IATA card so is it worth contacting the companies direct for a TA discount?
- Any suggested itineraries?
- What is the best way to book as I have read that discounts can vary hugely.

Any advice would be appreciated.
www.CruiseCritic.com will become your friend

Make sure you don't miss some of the sub-forums, such as Ports of Call, the one for each cruise line of interest, and once you've chose, then the Roll Call for the actual cruise you are on.

Also look at some others, such as travel insurance (it can have special benefits for cruises) or air travel (yeah, not much beyond FlyerTalk, but there *are* some cruise specific issues), etc.

We are hooked on cruising, and much of our air travel is specifically to get to/from cruises, though we also often add some land time.

GC
nnn likes this.
GeezerCouple is offline  
Old Feb 1, 18, 9:15 am
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Programs: Mileage Plus
Posts: 170
I think Seabourn is fantastic. You will have to call about the availability of the third bed. I always book directly with Charl at Seabourn. You may know that the airlines offer great deals to people going on cruises. Working with Charl my wife and I have been able to get fantastic premium airfares by being flexible, i.e., getting their a couple days early, leaving there maybe a couple of days later or even arriving or departing from a close by city that we would also like to see. Of course with your travel agent credentials you may be able to get the same deal from the airlines once you have proof of your cruise reservation. (But if your arrival flight is late and you book with the cruise line it is their problem to get you caught up with the cruise.) On an upcoming cruise my wife and I booked far in advance with Charl and then months later interested my wife's sister and husband in joining us and at that time saw the price had dropped. I called Charl and he got us the lower price. Whether you could do all this on your own travel credentials is something I don't know.
jonsail is offline  
Old Feb 1, 18, 9:37 am
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Programs: Mileage Plus
Posts: 170
p.s. Here are three other advantages of booking air travel thru the cruise line. It occasionally happens that the cruise line alters the itinerary. For example, a hurricane damages an arrival or departure port or the State Department issues a travel advisory against a port. (A couple of years ago Seabourn on short notice determined not to end a cruise in Istanbul due to safety fears.) If you have booked thru the cruise line I believe they will re-route you at their expense. Per cruise critic reviews I believe Seabourn assisted all of its passengers when it decided not to end the cruise in Istanbul but I believe they only paid the extra expenses of people who booked air thru them.) Second, if booking far in advance and you check Seabourn's website periodically and you see that they are now offering, say, $500 toward airfare, if you booked air thru Seabourn before the air credit was offered and call them I think they will retroactively apply the credit. Third, if you book yourself far in advance and don't pay the huge premium for flexible fares, you take a hit (unless you buy travel insurance) if you can't do the trip. If you book your air thru Seabourn, you have a longer window to pay and cancel w/o penalty. I also add that when I book air thru Seabourn I get the same elite qualifying miles and redeemable miles that I would have gotten if I had booked directly with the airline.
jonsail is offline  
Old Feb 1, 18, 9:43 am
  #5  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Programs: AA
Posts: 11,116
I second the recommendation for Cruise Critic.

One thing to be aware of is that cruise fares are per person, so what you will need to look at is whether a stateroom holds a 3rd person or not (some cabins do, some don't). Depending on the cruise line, the third bed will either be a sofa bed or a drop down bunk, but it just depends (if it's for a child under 2, some lines will offer a crib/pack and play for the child - but you still have to book a room that is rated for 3 people). Some lines will discount the third person in a cabin, some won't. It also can depend on how sold out a cruise is if they will discount or even allow for a 3rd person in a room.
wrp96 is offline  
Old Feb 1, 18, 10:21 am
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Programs: Delta Gold (2020)
Posts: 2,047
Originally Posted by wrp96 View Post
. It also can depend on how sold out a cruise is if they will discount or even allow for a 3rd person in a room.
Good point. Deck plans (available on every cruiseline website I've ever visited) should have a key that will show you which of the cabins can fit 3 or 4 people. That said - there are also lifeboat restrictions, so even if a cabin that fits 3 people is available, if there are too many people booked in other cabins, they might not sell it to you for 3 people. Or so I've learned, reading at Cruise Critic the past decade or so ;-)

When I'm looking for cruise ideas, I like to use Vacationstogo.com - I love their search/list feature, it's pretty complete (in your case, you'd pick your geographic region - the Med - and date range, any other limits - and it will show you all the cruises at that time. I've never used it to book, I just like to get a good overview in one place. They also have info on cruiselines & ships (passenger # is very important for me & my husband - we do NOT like big ships. Heck, we don't even like what are called "midsize" in the industry now ;-)

(we're not big cruisers - I still prefer a land DIY trip - but we like a cruise to get an overview of an area and decide where we might want to go explore more. My in-laws are doing more cruises now as their mobility becomes a little more limited - and there are cruiseline personalities out there to suit everyone's style & budgets, I think. Except me. Because I have champagne taste on a beer budget. Craft beer, but still ;-)

Sign up for emails from cruiselines you're interested in, and also any TAs you might hear about (NOT on cruisecritic- highly against the rules to discuss travel agents there, or even ask someone to email you a recommendation!). That way you'll hear when new itineraries are released and any specials that might be going on - air discounts, special drink package prices or specials where gratuities are included, etc.
Hoyaheel is offline  
Old Feb 1, 18, 10:44 am
  #7  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Programs: BA Silver, EY Gold, HH Diamond, IHG Plat
Posts: 11,734
Originally Posted by jonsail View Post
I think Seabourn is fantastic. You may know that the airlines offer great deals to people going on cruises..
Didn't know that but thanks. I will have a look at Seabourn. Would you say that is the best that is sailing in the Med?


Originally Posted by wrp96 View Post
I second the recommendation for Cruise Critic.

One thing to be aware of is that cruise fares are per person, so what you will need to look at is whether a stateroom holds a 3rd person or not (some cabins do, some don't). Depending on the cruise line, the third bed will either be a sofa bed or a drop down bunk, but it just depends (if it's for a child under 2, some lines will offer a crib/pack and play for the child - but you still have to book a room that is rated for 3 people). Some lines will discount the third person in a cabin, some won't. It also can depend on how sold out a cruise is if they will discount or even allow for a 3rd person in a room.
Ok thanks.
onlysuites is offline  
Old Feb 1, 18, 10:51 am
  #8  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Programs: BA Silver, EY Gold, HH Diamond, IHG Plat
Posts: 11,734
Cruise critic is quite good. Just a lot of choice. Would someone please advise what type of ship should I be looking for? Is the royal Caribbean any good? They have a good rate. How are celebrity cruises?

A 1-5 of the 5 top cruise lines would be handy. Thank you so much in advance.
onlysuites is offline  
Old Feb 1, 18, 10:55 am
  #9  
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Programs: AA Lifetime Platinum; Amex Plat; Four Seasons; Fairmont; HH; etc.; "Retirees-In-Training"
Posts: 625
Originally Posted by onlysuites View Post
Cruise critic is quite good. Just a lot of choice. Would someone please advise what type of ship should I be looking for? Is the royal Caribbean any good? They have a good rate. How are celebrity cruises?

A 1-5 of the 5 top cruise lines would be handy. Thank you so much in advance.
Here is the link to the CruiseCritic sub-forum for luxury cruises:
https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forumdisplay.php?f=444

Royal Caribbean is still one of the "mass market" cruise lines. So is Celebrity.
The luxury lines, which are of interest to you, will likely be more expensive, perhaps much more so.

Looking through the link above, you'll see the line names and also comments about pros/cons.

Enjoy!

GC
GeezerCouple is offline  
Old Feb 1, 18, 11:04 am
  #10  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Programs: BA Silver, EY Gold, HH Diamond, IHG Plat
Posts: 11,734
Originally Posted by GeezerCouple View Post
Here is the link to the CruiseCritic sub-forum for luxury cruises:
https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forumdisplay.php?f=444

Royal Caribbean is still one of the "mass market" cruise lines. So is Celebrity.
The luxury lines, which are of interest to you, will likely be more expensive, perhaps much more so.

Looking through the link above, you'll see the line names and also comments about pros/cons.

Enjoy!

GC
Wow! Just saw some of the prices so I guess my idea of luxury is around $1,800 for a 7 night cruise around the Med! Any suggestions what ship I should be looking for? Ideally want a sea view cabin and not one of those inner rooms without a view.

Got a quote of $1,700 per AD and $649 per child on NORWEGIAN EPIC ship from a TA But a quick look at CC website suggests this is a horrible ship.
onlysuites is offline  
Old Feb 1, 18, 11:08 am
  #11  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Programs: AA
Posts: 11,116
If you are interested in luxury but your budget is only $1,800.00, I would recommend looking at Celebrity or Holland America. Still mass market, but their ships hold less people than Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Princess, etc.
onlysuites and bigbuy like this.
wrp96 is offline  
Old Feb 1, 18, 11:18 am
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Programs: Delta Gold (2020)
Posts: 2,047
Somewhere else here, I posted a breakdown I've seen on CC in the past - it's a lot subjective, but relates to what is included in your fare and things like passenger/staff ratio and passenger/space ratios. Usually newer ships within one company could be rated "higher" than older ships - but if the overall amenities are still the same, it doesn't usually move them from one market to another....

Luxury: Silversea, Seabourn, Regent, Crystal
Premium: Oceania, Azamara, Cunard, maybe Viking Ocean?
Mass Market: Princess, NCL, RCCI, Carnival, Disney, HAL

Lines like Sea Dream, Windstar - I find very hard to place, they seem to be very niche-market. For instance, my dad "hates" cruising but loves Windstar. I don't want to sail it because it doesn't offer balconies. Go figure ;-)

Cruise Critic is mainly known as a forum/message board, but they also have extensive member reviews, and they have an editorial board that posts reviews as well as articles - on things like "best line for XXX" - families, romance, food etc.
Hoyaheel is offline  
Old Feb 1, 18, 11:20 am
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Programs: Delta Gold (2020)
Posts: 2,047
Ah, lots happening while I was trying to post ;-)

My first & 2nd cruise were on HAL - and I loved it. Used to have a reputation for "old fogeys" but considering I was 14 and 33 on those cruises and still loved it - I don't think it's necessarily the right reputation. Do they have water slides? No. That's ok with me.

But I do think the Princess ships have better rated kids' programs than HAL - that's something to look into if it's of interest. We've only sailed on Pacific Princess (we LOVE those R ships ;-)
Hoyaheel is offline  
Old Feb 1, 18, 11:26 am
  #14  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Programs: AA
Posts: 11,116
Originally Posted by onlysuites View Post
Wow! Just saw some of the prices so I guess my idea of luxury is around $1,800 for a 7 night cruise around the Med! Any suggestions what ship I should be looking for? Ideally want a sea view cabin and not one of those inner rooms without a view.

Got a quote of $1,700 per AD and $649 per child on NORWEGIAN EPIC ship from a TA But a quick look at CC website suggests this is a horrible ship.

The outside of the Epic is UGLY!!!! But friends that have sailed her enjoyed their cruises onboard.
wrp96 is offline  
Old Feb 1, 18, 11:27 am
  #15  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Programs: AA
Posts: 11,116
Originally Posted by Hoyaheel View Post
But I do think the Princess ships have better rated kids' programs than HAL - that's something to look into if it's of interest.
Several friends with kids reported their kids enjoyed the kids programs more on HAL and Celebrity that Royal, Carnival, NCL, Princess, etc because typically there are less kids and they get more attention. Of course it all varies by kid.
wrp96 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: