The decision has been made ... we are taking our first cruise later this year. I am VERY excited. I cannot wait to get off of this continent for 7 days!
I have been spending a lot of time polling different people and reading a TON of reviews online. It seems no matter which cruise line you pick, someone has a complaint about it. So I guess you can't win there.
One of my husband's good friend's parents (follow that?) have been on 16 cruises. She is my go-to person about this because clearly, she's familiar with taking a cruise and obviously enjoys it. She made a few recommendations based upon her experience:
~ Avoid all Carnival Cruises. It's a giant party boat. Done!
~ She prefers Celebrity and/or Princess Cruises but they tend to cater to an older crowd and not necessarily family-friendly. I got that vibe as well while researching their boats and cruises.
~ Royal Caribbean = very family friendly. Agreed!
~ She has never taken a cruise via Norwegian yet oddly enough, it's the cruise line I'm leaning toward at this point! Ironic, I know.
A few must-haves on my list:
1. I want to leave out of NYC, Cape Liberty, NJ, or Baltimore, Maryland ... I do not want to fly in order to board the cruise. So yes, this gives us some limitations but it also helps to save money too (money that could be spent on a cool excursion!)
2. I definitely like the free-style dining option. I don't want to be limited to when and where I have to eat. And while dining with strangers could be fun, I'd rather decide who I'm dining with!
3. A fun boat for the kids ... cool pools and activities geared specifically for them.
4. The cruise I'm considering is docked at the destination port for 3 days. This is desirable, in my opinion, because you don't have any time restraints on what you may want to do while on the island. Many of the cruises I've looked at are only at a specific port for 6, 7, or 8 hours before you have to be back on the boat. That's not a lot of time to explore!
5. The bottom line, of course ... you could seriously spend a freaking fortune on a cruise.
We hope to make our final decision within the week or so and get this cruise booked!