Archived Q&A and Reviews
Caribbean Cruise for parents' 50th wedding anniversary?
Our parents' 50th wedding anniversary is coming up this fall and we are thinking about inviting them to a 5-7 day cruise in the Caribbean. Has your family booked a trip with Royal Caribbean Cruises and have you been on either the 'Navigator of the Seas' (out of Galveston, TX) or the 'Freedom of the Seas' (out of Port Canaveral, FL)? I know our senior parents will love it ... but will our kids (ages 8 and 11) be entertained as well? Would you do it again or was it a one-time experience for you? If we decide to do the cruise, we would prefer to work with a travel agency who is specialized in cruises and can help us putting together package deals (air fares/cruise ship/adjoining rooms, etc). Do you have any recommendation for a friendly agent? Never been on a cruise
We went on a Royal Caribbean Cruise out of Florida to the Bahamas 13 years ago when I was 12 and my sister was 7. We both had a blast, but then again, it's hard to find an upset kid with water, sand and free food and drinks everywhere they look, not to mention a cool vessel to explore. T
We sailed on Navigator of the Seas last August with 2 boys (ages 13 and 9). The kids loved, loved, loved the ship, and definitely preferred it to the sights they saw at the ports of call. Our cabins were very comfortable. We prefer cabins located in the back half of the ship, because we were closer to the things they loved to do. We could walk a short distance to the elevator bank to ride up to most of the activities, rather than having to walk the length of the ship. They spent some time in the kids and teen club and a lot of time in the pools, playing putt putt, using the climbing wall, ice skating, etc. The food was fine cruise ship fare. They accommodated the kids in the main dining room and made a cheeseburger for my younger son every night, even when it wasn't on the menu. The boys' favorite was the neverending frozen yogurt machine on the pool deck.
We booked the cruise ourselves on the phone with Royal Caribbean, which was pretty easy. We had shopped around online so we knew what deals were being offered, and did not hesitate to ask them to match what we had seen elsewhere. RC's website has a pretty good map of the ship and cabins, so you can see where your cabins are located and decide where you want to be. Costco can also be a good place to look, because they may offer additional shipboard credit, etc. The RC representative who booked the cruise for us also took care of our dining room table assignment.
We booked our own airfare, which may or may not work for you. If you book through RC, they will be responsible to make sure your flights get in on time so you don't miss the ship, but they also may book you via a less direct route than you would select for yourself. On a previous cruise where we used the cruise line for flights, they booked us on a red eye, which we would never have chosen with our kids, who were really young at the time.
As for excursions, we did not book those through RC, but looked online, mostly through cruisecritic.com (great reviews of ships, ports, and excrusions) and travelocity, for recommendations. The small companies that provide these excursions live and die by the recommendations and have a highly vested interested in making sure you will not give them a negative review. For the same price as the ship excursions, we beat the cruise ship crowds and ended up in much smaller, or even private, groups for our tours.
As our cruise was finishing last summer, our kids told us about a different, newer ship that they had seen profiled when watching TV in the cabin. They said they wanted to sail on next time, because it offered more bells and whistles. Having said that, we were very pleased with Navigator of the Seas. It did not feel old or tired.
Cruises sometimes seem kind of cheesy, but we have been on several, most of which included our parents and siblings. It works really well when you have a large group of people that includes kids and grandparents. Everyone can do their own thing during the day and meet up for meals. You also avoid most negotiations about where or when to eat. Cruises also tend to be a good value. In my mind, the ship is the destination more than the ports of call because you don't spend long enough at any port of call to really experience it. Susan