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I'm sure this has been posted a billion times on here by other knotties but I went back five pages and didn't see anything of significance.

FI and I are brainstorming for September HM ideas and it's come down to Las Vegas or a cruise. His parents have offered to pay but we have no idea what the HM budget will be. We're generally thinking that it may be somewhere in the 2k range (at least until we're told otherwise.) Also, I'm not a big fan of flying because of all of their stupid rules (which I understand, they just make me not want to fly...ever) So, I am hoping we get to go on a cruise. /fingers crossed

This brings me to my reason for my post. Neither of us have ever been on a cruise and we have no idea where to start/what to expect.

Things that I think I know (please tell me if I have any incorrect information):
-Cruise prices are listed per person.
-I live in Arkansas. I think the only Port of Call that is within driving distance is New Orleans.
-The best time to book a cruise is 6-8 months in advance.
-You should be in your Port of Call the night before you depart.

That just about sums up my entire knowledge of cruises. Anyone have any need to know info for me? Do I need a passport? Are there any tricks to getting a good price? Any questions I should have answered before booking?

Really, any information you have would be absolutely fantastic. TIA!
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Re: Cruises?

  • yes, i think your guidelines are correct.....except for the rates per person.......thats not always the case...it is sometimes though. Our cruise was per room/2 people to a room. If you wanted additional people in the room it was more money.

     i went on a celebrity (DONT. DO. IT....ill save my rant for later if you want to PM me) cruise in christmas 2008 with my family...aunts uncles, etc. and we got to the port (Miami) the day of. our plane was delayed, and we almost missed the boat. then in july 2009 i went on a Carnival with my FI's family, and we got to Tampa (the port) and it was so much less stressful.

    We loved the Carnival cruise. It was relaxing at times, and fun at others, Food and service was great. We are actually doing it again for our honeymoon. They give you a 'past guest' code, and we used it for our honeymoon and we are getting TONS of upgrades. There are mixed reviews of Carnival on this board, but we enjoyed it! :)

    6-8 months is probably a good time, as the sooner you book the sooner you have over what room you want. some people say wait until the end because you can get a cheaper rate, which may be true, but you have to take the 'leftover' rooms usually.

    I would find out what they do want to spend, you do have some time. And yes, 2k is definitely doable! You really do get the most bang for your buck.

    My other advice is using a travel agent. We used a travel agent (one my grandpa has used for over 30 years, he LOVES to travel, I dont know of a place he HASNT been!) and it was wonderful. They get paid by the vendor. They know of 'insider' secrets and deals, and they work directly with the companies to get you the best rates.

    I believe what to expect is what cruise line you go on. Celebrity is supposed to be a relaxing, 'adult' type cruise (DONT DO IT THOUGH) there were no kids except for my cousins, and I think one other family. The Carnival cruise was 'less' relaxing and more of a party ship. Expect food to be everywhere, and always something to do.

    sorry so long, hope it helped! :)

  • i second not needing to be in the port the night before- we're flying into san juan the day of our HM for the cruise.

    2K is way doable, especially without flying!

    i would rec RC- not sure if they port out of your location or not, but they're my favorite line for sure. i've heard great things about carnival too.
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  • I think the whole point in flying in the night before is incase your plane is delayed due to weather. Since you would be driving, you should be all set.
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  • I have also been on Carnival.  They're more of the family/young people cruise line.  Every time we cruise with them we meet some fun people to hang out with during the cruise. 

    I wouldn't say you need to be at port the day before - especially if you're driving.  Just allow yourself plenty of time for traffic and other delays. 

    The big cost on cruises (for us alkies at least) is alcohol.  Most cruises I believe allow you to bring on one bottle of wine/champagne per guest.  The rest you have to buy on the boat.  Even at port if you buy at a shop near the ports they will deliver the bottle to the boat and you get the bottle at the end of your cruise. 

    There is also a port in Galveston, TX - I'm not sure if that is driving distance for you.  If you do a cruise search on cruise.com or expedia it should show you all ports and you can see which are close enough for you. 

    Make sure you reserve money for drinks on board, excursions, and shopping at ports.  Cruises are great though, I would definitely recommend.
  • Check out cruisecritic.com to see which cruise lines depart out of your preferred port.  You then review each line to see which one best suits your needs.  I loved my NCL cruise and I know that they sail out of New Orleans. My best friend & I drove from Charleston to Miami for our cruise 2 years.  We drove in the day before which was good for us because it was a long drive and we wanted to relax some before we got on the ship (the hotel also didn't charge us to leave the car while we were on board the ship).  You'll be tired once you get off the ship so if you can add an extra day on the end to help alleviate the stress of driving the long distance in a day I'd do it.
  • I'm actually leaving to go on a cruise tomorrow and it will be my 6th cruise. We are going on carnival this time but I have also been on Royal Caribbean many times and Norwegian once. I have had great experiences on all three cruiselines and we are doing a cruise for our honeymoon as well. All the PPs gave you great advice. I just wanted to add that you should research the different ships within the cruise line. Some ships may be alot nicer and newer then others and that can make a big difference in your experience.

    Have fun on your HM!
  • I second the advice about checking out cruisecritic.com there is a boards section similar to this and people there will be able to help you with more specific advice.

    I have been on a lot of cruises and have had both good and bad experiences in most lines (Carnival, NCL, Celebrity). I think it depends on what type of vibe you are looking for and what time of year you go. If you are looking at September you should not have a lot of children aboard since they are in school, but you might want to take travel insurance because of the hurricane risk.

    If you are driving, no need to be in the port the day before, some time in the morning that day should be fine.

    Also, remember, that while your cruise fare includes food,lodging, some beverages, not everything is included. You will still need to pay for alcohol, gambling, souviners, excursions, etc.

    I honestly feel that you should book as early as possible or as close to the dats as you can stand because you will get the best rates.

    Carnival has an early saver program that actually will give you teh difference if another person books the same room as you for less before your trip (which can be nice).

    You should also look at vacationstogo.com for cruise comparison and cheap prices. You can seach by month, port, or length, and it gives you prices from all lines (even small ones).

    Good luck with your search and if you want more info on any specific line I would be glad to help just send me a PM :)

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  • As one pp posted- get a travel agent. A local one...in addition to your research, they can help you find the vacation that is best for you and at no extra cost to you (for their work).
    You don't HAVE to be there the day before, but considering all of the weather issues on the east coast this week, I'm surprised to see so many people just saying don't. Wink 
    I know your car trip wont get cancelled or changed as flights do, but roads get snow and ice and have closures as well. I'm not sure what the route would be like for you, or if you have options, but if there's one bad accident, you could miss the ship--and they don't usually wait. If you're driving from an hour away it's one thing, but if you're driving to another state ... for your honeymoon, you might not want to take the chance. You just have to decide if it's worth the risk, or if you want to get an inexpensive hotel in or around the port and explore that area. I've been on 11 cruises and when it's not a local port, I've always gone in at least a day before just to have the peace of mind.
    CruiseCritic is a good site to check for ideas and they also have boards where you can post if/when you book so you can meet up with other people.

  • Wow. These are all awesome. Thanks so much to everyone that's responded thus far. I'm about to get on cruisecritic and I'll start asking around about travel agents. I have this thread bookmarked so I will definitely be checking back for any other advice. :)
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  • When you find a cruise you like, check out cruisecompete.com.  It's a free service that basically functions as a travel agent.  You can enter your cruise-specific information and it will generate quotes for you.  When I used it a few years back, we ended up with on-board credit and a bottle of wine when we got to our cabin AND we ended up getting $$ back because the price of our cruise dropped after we booked.
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