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Planning for first cruise trip from Galveston port

Planning for first cruise trip from Galveston port

Old Sep 11, 22, 10:08 pm
  #1  
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Planning for first cruise trip from Galveston port

We are family of 4 (2 adults and 2 kids) planning to take 1st cruise trip from Galveston port during Christmas holidays. We are thinking of taking 7 day cruise stopping in Mexico and Jamaica. I have a costco membership. Do i start searching from Costco website? What are my cruise ship options?

Quick search is showing total cost of around 4K to book it now. Are these numbers in ball park?

Thanks
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Old Sep 11, 22, 10:58 pm
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I search at the vacationstogo.com website, but they require that you register with an email. I'm seeing only two 7-day cruises departing from Galveston just before Christmas: a 4.5-star Carnival ship, that calls at Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel; or a 5.0-star Royal Caribbean ship that calls at Roatan, Honduras; Costa Maya, Mexico; and Cozumel. So if you must have Jamaica in the itinerary, it's the Carnival cruise or nothing.

Are you looking to get two cabins, with one adult and one child in each, or all four of you in one cabin?

Good luck!
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Old Sep 12, 22, 8:49 am
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So

A couple of things. Yes you can of course search the Costco site. You will likely get a good price there.

You might, for your first cruise, want to talk to a travel agent who specializes in cruises. The TA can offer more personalized service and ideas. You usually don't pay extra for the service as the cruise line pays them a commission.

A good TA will watch if the price drops or a sale with more perks comes up before final payment due date and get the price lowered for you. I'm not saying Costco is bad, but it will be a bit more self-service.

A good TA will share with you what to expect on boarding, dining and beverage options, etc.

A lot depends on you and what you like. A good TA can get to know you and make a recommendation on the best ship for you.
Examples of what a good TA might ask:
  • How old are the kids? One line has more teen-oriented stuff, although both will have children's programs.
  • When you travel do you prefer to stay at a budget motel, a Hilton, or a Ritz (as example)--if you are budget person you may be happy on Carnival. If you are a Ritz person you will not be happy on Carnival
  • Where are you coming from? If flying in you may want to stay overnight the day before to make sure you don't miss your sailing (it happens). A TA can help you with these questions and more.
There can a big difference in the experience between RCCL and Carnival if those are your choices!
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Old Sep 12, 22, 10:29 am
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Some things to know about sailing from Galveston:

I wouldn't wait to book. Those are extremely popular sailings and unlikely to come down in price, especially as you are looking to book for 4 people instead of two.

The cruise ship options out of Galveston are all good choices, especially with kids.

Texas state liquor laws apply. There will be a limited selection of alcohol available and Texas state sales tax will apply until in international waters. If you buy a drinks package with your cruise, it usually won't apply until well after you've sailed from port. On the return, you are subject to Texas state liquor taxes, even if you aren't from Texas, and even if you bought something duty free.

Galveston can be prone to fog which can delay the ship coming in and/or departing. It's not usual but it's happened enough there I wouldn't consider it rare. If you are flying home from the cruise, make sure to account for that in your timings.
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Old Sep 12, 22, 11:37 am
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Originally Posted by guv1976 View Post
I'm seeing only two 7-day cruises departing from Galveston just before Christmas: a 4.5-star Carnival ship, that calls at Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel; or a 5.0-star Royal Caribbean ship that calls at Roatan, Honduras; Costa Maya, Mexico; and Cozumel.
Carnival ships are 2-star at best, and Royal Caribbean maybe 3-star.
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Old Sep 12, 22, 11:49 am
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Originally Posted by mahasamatman View Post
Carnival ships are 2-star at best, and Royal Caribbean maybe 3-star.
I think that we're talking different types of ratings.

The 4.5 for the particular Carnival ship, and the 5 for the particular Royal Caribbean ship are as posted on the vacationstogo.com site. Star ratings can vary from ship to ship on the same line.
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Old Sep 12, 22, 12:11 pm
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If you look just at the Galveston port website, there aren't many ships using that port right now - you get Carinval, RCCL, NCL, and Disney, and I don't think I saw any NCL cruises in December. Not sure about Disney. It's not a big port -I think it gets more embarkation & debarkation than New Orleans, but that's not saying a lot. If you're picking Galveston so you don't have to fly, you get what you get, and you can call around to see who'll give you the best price/perks, but you get better fare options when you have the most choices, and you're limiting youself as you start......(if you picked Galveston sort of randomly as it's nearby but you are not requiring it, definitely check out Florida ports - you'll get a LOT more options)
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Old Sep 12, 22, 3:23 pm
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Originally Posted by rustum76 View Post
We are family of 4 (2 adults and 2 kids) planning to take 1st cruise trip from Galveston port during Christmas holidays. We are thinking of taking 7 day cruise stopping in Mexico and Jamaica. I have a costco membership. Do i start searching from Costco website? What are my cruise ship options?

Quick search is showing total cost of around 4K to book it now. Are these numbers in ball park?

Thanks
Out of Galveston your cruise line options are Royal Caribbean and Carnival. The wife and I have only sailed on Carnival, mostly from Galveston, so can't speak to RC. We are older but find the less formal atmosphere of Carnival to be perfectly satisfactory. I've booked directly through Carnival, Costco, and American Airines and unless booking very close to sailing date I haven't found a big spread in prices from the 3 sources we book through. The differences are usually free gratuities, onboard credit or such.

Carnival does offer several programs onboard for different age teens and younger childen broken out in 3 different age brackets. Those programs had been closed due to COVID but have returned. I don't have kids a home so can't say much. Also offered are Family Harbor cabins which have some benefits for families

We'll be on a 14 day cruise from Galveston next month, rebooked from a cancelation during the cruise industry shutdown. Returned from a 8 day cruise last month and have a January cruise booked too. We waited pretty late in life for our first cruise but find them really enjoyable. Nothing like sitting on a balcony in the morning sipping coffee.
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Old Sep 12, 22, 4:22 pm
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Originally Posted by Boggie Dog View Post
Out of Galveston your cruise line options are Royal Caribbean and Carnival.
Ruby Princess is also sailing out of Galveston this winter (mostly 7 nights, but the Christmas cruise is 11 nights & the NYE cruise is 10 nights).
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Last edited by HPN-HRL; Sep 12, 22 at 4:25 pm Reason: Added cruise length info
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Old Sep 12, 22, 4:30 pm
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Originally Posted by HPN-HRL View Post
Ruby Princess is also sailing out of Galveston this winter (mostly 7 nights, but the Christmas cruise is 11 nights & the NYE cruise is 10 nights).
Have they started saiing yet? Know that Disney is seasonal and are currenty not operating from Galveston
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Old Sep 12, 22, 4:39 pm
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Just remember if youre on Carnival, you can buy discounted gift cards (10% off) with an AARP membership. $100 and $500 cards. Limit 5 per month. These are not always available. I used them with my Costco booking in January. Very easy.
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Old Sep 12, 22, 4:56 pm
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Originally Posted by Boggie Dog View Post
Have they started saiing yet? Know that Disney is seasonal and are currenty not operating from Galveston
IIRC Princess starts in November...
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Old Sep 12, 22, 7:37 pm
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Ruby Princess

I am personally fond of the Ruby.

There are two 10 night cruises in December out of Galveston, December 18 and 29th.
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Old Sep 13, 22, 11:47 pm
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Thanks for the great information. Sorry for not keeping up with the replies. We are starting from DFW. We will be driving to Galveston to board the ship and driving back to DFW as soon as we are off from the ship. It will be a 5 hour drive from DFW to Galveston. We are also starting our first cruise trip very late in the life. Is it better to stick to 4-5 day trip to start with.

i will check vacationstogo.com for price along with costco. Any recommendations for TA? Quick check showed me 4k+ for 4 people on Carnival. We will check Carnival, RCCL and Ruby. How flexible are these tickets in case for any changes?

Also, do we feel anything different in terms of visiting port in Jamaica vs taking cruise to places around just Mexico?

Thanks again.

Last edited by rustum76; Sep 14, 22 at 12:06 am
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Old Sep 14, 22, 4:29 am
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Originally Posted by rustum76 View Post
Thanks for the great information. Sorry for not keeping up with the replies. We are starting from DFW. We will be driving to Galveston to board the ship and driving back to DFW as soon as we are off from the ship. It will be a 5 hour drive from DFW to Galveston. We are also starting our first cruise trip very late in the life. Is it better to stick to 4-5 day trip to start with.

i will check vacationstogo.com for price along with costco. Any recommendations for TA? Quick check showed me 4k+ for 4 people on Carnival. We will check Carnival, RCCL and Ruby. How flexible are these tickets in case for any changes?

Also, do we feel anything different in terms of visiting port in Jamaica vs taking cruise to places around just Mexico?

Thanks again.
Are you booking 2 rooms? Inside, window, balcony or suite room?

Always sign up for the cruise line directly so you get their latest deals. There are often senior discounts, state discounts, military discounts that dont always show up on Costcotravel.com.

If you are sure about going on Carnival, try to buy the 10% off gift cards before booking the trip. You dont have to pay the gratuities in advance. Each cruise line has different change policies. I was supposed to go on a Carnival cruise with my cousin and her family. Her oldest daughter, a schoolteacher tested positive for Covid, and they had to cancel. Carnival was really good about letting them reschedule for almost any date this year. Even when the cruise was double the price they had booked.

Id recommend a 6-7 day cruise. You are likely booking one of the most expensive times.
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