Sharon and Mark in front of the beautiful Crown Pricess, docked in Tallinn, Estonia
We believe that a cruise vacation offers the best of a resort stay combined with visiting exciting ports and cities. Cruises allow you to unpack one time, but visit many places. Spend a morning relaxing by the pool and then wander the streets of a European city in the afternoon. Or scale the rock climbing wall on a Royal Caribbean ship and then go lie on a gorgeous beach in the Caribbean.
Cruise lines that we have personally traveled on include:
Each cruise line has a distinct personality, and we believe that it is important to go on one that feels right to YOU.
In general, our experience has shown that Carnival tends to be a little more flashy, perhaps comparable to a glitzy Las Vegas hotel (both in decor and level of high-spiritedness among the passengers).
Royal Caribbean is known for having "WOW" ships. They have an incredible variety of activities ranging from rock climbing walls, ice skating rinks, multiple swimming pools and the Flowrider, and they have a fun and happy vibe throughout the ships. In addition, the main dining room is really good, and on their bigger ships they have indoor and/or outdoor promenades that are great places to sip a drink and relax.
Princess, while still getting a younger demographic (30-50 years old for most passengers) than many of the more "old world" lines (such as Holland America or Cunard), is a bit more refined, and has the added bonus of being able to select "Anytime Dining" (the ability to eat wherever, whenever and with whomever you choose). In the "biggest cabin for the dollar" category, it is hard to beat Princess's "Mini-Suite" category on their larger ships at 323 square feet (including the balcony). With an entire deck of Mini-Suites, Princess can offer the cabin at a more competitive rate than most other cruise lines for similar sized accommodations.
Celebrity is a bit more refined than Princess, with bathroom design that can't be beat! If you are a "foodie" Celebrity is definitely the line for you. The buffet was the nicest we have seen at sea, and was like walking through a gourmet food shop. In addition, the main restaurant features innovate menus and the specialty restaurants are like dining with a James Beard-award winning chef.
Holland America is a classic line, which while tending to have older passengers on average, still provides a romantic experience no matter your age. With a long maritime history, tradition is the order of the day at sea.
Click on the links above to find more detailed information on our particular experiences and shore excursion suggestions for the itineraries we have been on.
Celebrity Equinox at Dawn
General Cruising Advice
No matter which line you book, especially if you are on newer, larger ships, if it is in your budget, we particularly recommend getting a balcony cabin. It is nice to have your own private place for solitude and seeing the sky - plus in case you feel a little seasick (which is much less common on larger cruise ships than on smaller sailing boats), if you step outside and look at the horizon it should pass (your brain's sensation of moving then matches up to seeing water, waves and smelling sea air - as opposed to being inside when your brain feels that it is moving but sees a stationary room).
We also think that cabin location is very important. You want to be as close to midship as possible (least motion - think pendulum/physics here) and not too high a deck. Our preference is for a cabin located between the midship and forward elevators (1st choice), or between the midship and rear elevators (2nd choice). We personally prefer not going all the way to the aft of the ship, but the balconies in the back can have terrific views (but you do feel the vibrations from the ships propellers a little more).
Another tip would be to pick a deck of cabins sandwiched between two other decks of cabins. You do NOT want to be under the swimming pools (scraping deck chairs) or over the nightclubs or casino (noisy noisy). If cabin location matters, do NOT accept "run of category" or "guaranteed balcony" type of reservation - that means that you will not know your particular cabin location until you board - they just assign whatever is empty. You would forgo the possibility of an upgrade, but you could also be located next to the main elevator lobby under the swimming pool.
IMPORTANT - We would HIGHLY recommend flying in the DAY BEFORE your cruise departs. Just in case the plane is late, just in case luggage is late...It is much more relaxed to wake up the morning of departure already in the city the cruise leaves from, have a leisurely breakfast, pack your carry-on (put a swimsuit and change of clothes into the carry on - your luggage may not arrive at your cabin until after dinner) and comfortably head over to the port. However, it is totally safe to fly home the day you return. Cruise ships are notoriously on time on that end.
If you would like information on family cruising, click here.
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To move, to breathe, to fly, to float To gain all while you give To roam the roads of lands remote To travel is to LIVE!
- H.C. Andersen
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