Post # 1
Hi Bees! I need some help with cruise planning. Thanks!
For anyone who has cruised before – I guess I need help with knowing:
(1) for a 12 night cruise, how many is too many/too few days at sea? If there is only one day at sea, would that not be relaxing enough? Is 5 days at sea too many (i.e. not enough ports visited)?
(2) once you pick what class of cabin you want, how do you know which cabins in that category are more desiarable (towards the middle of the ship? a certain side of the ship? etc.). I think I might need help with lingo here:)
(3) any general feedback on RCI or Princess.
For anyone who has taken a Med cruise specifically, we are trying to decide between two cruises – one hits a lot of ports (heavy on italy and greek islands) and the other doesn’t hit as many but does go to egypt for two days, which would be awesome. I have also heard that Kusadasi is a bust, so another benefit of the non-egypt one is that it doesn’t go there. The ships seem comparable to me (even though they are on different lines), the length of time is the same, and the prices are similar enough to make that a nonissue. Any advice on which one to choose?
Post # 3
1. I think either way would be fine. If there are only a few days on the ship you can always stay on the ship and not go to the port. Or on the other hand, sea days the cruise director always has so much planned, days at sea can be really fun!
2.If you feel like you would get sea sick I recommend trying for one of the middle decks in the middle of the ship. If you don’t think that you will get sea sick I would try for the back of the ship. One time we had a cabin on the very back of the ship and it was very nice to sit on the balcony at night.
3. I have been only been on RCI but I have loved them. I highly recommend them. The food is great, the service is phenomenal, the cruise director always makes it so much fun. If you go on RCI I highly highly recommend going to the show “The Quest” it is so much FUN!!!!
Post # 4
Thanks so much!!! That’s great advice! It will be my first cruise, so I’m not sure about the sea sickness. I’ve heard that the middle is the best to protect against that, so since it is the first time, I might go for that. I don’t genearlly have issues with sea sickness on other types of boats, but again… not sure with respect to the cruise. Thanks again!
Post # 5
1) It’s up to you because it depends on how ‘lazy’ you want to be. on a 12-day cruise, you def want at least 1 day at sea. 5 days is getting up there. I’d say anywhere up to 5 is ideal.
2) the only thing you need to worry about with cabins is if they are inside or outside cabins, ie have a ‘window’ or not. The rooms tend to be uniform throught the length of the ship so that shouldn’t matter. Inside cabins sort of feel like a closet but they are cheaper, so it depends on what you are going for. Cabins higher up in ship (upper decks) tend to be more desirable than the ones down below.. also you can pick cabins that have a balcony.
3) I’ve been on several RCI cruises and never been on Princess so I can’t say for sure, but RCI tends to attract a younger/more active crowd and have fun activities on-board.
I’ve done one Greek island/Italy cruise.. i loved it. I think you can’t go wrong with either of those itineraries, and Egypt is definitely one of those ‘once in a lifetime’ destinations where I’d think to myself, ‘how likely am I to go back to egypt if not on this cruise?’ – whereas the greek islands and cities and italy are a bit easier to get to if i go back in the future. But they both look great.
Feel free to PM me if you want – I’ve been on probably 15 cruises in my life (this was my family’s vacation-of-choice as a kid, as opposed to road trips or other kinds of vacations) and my mom runs her own cruise-only travel agency, so I have access to lots of info if you need more help 🙂
Post # 5
First off- Cruises are so much fun! i have never been on RCI or Princess but i have done a few carnival cruises. i think for a 12 day cruise the average is 3 days at sea…I enjoyed the days at sea just as much as the ports because A. you get to sleep in! b. you are in no rush to go anywhere. (though let me suggest – i woke up early on the days at sea to lay towles out at the pool because most ships dont have nearly enough lounge chairs – plus FI and i liked to be in the adults only section at the back of the ship looking over the water as opposed to the pool but i got up at 7 and laid towles out and a book or something to mark our territory, then went back and got in bed.)
to avoid sea sickness i reccomment an ouside cabin somwhere in the middle of the ship. the outside cabins are great because they have windows. FI hates crownds, small spaces and gets motion sickness – he wore one of those writsbands and never had a problem
Never been to the med but i bet a cruise there is AWESOME! you will have a blast. Also remember – they have dress up nights, probably 2 or 3 of them on a 12 day cruise so bring some dressy clothes!
Post # 6
Thanks everyone! Yes – we are either going with a balcony or the smallest suite, so we should be “outside.” I think on a cruise this long with the beautiful ports we will want to be able to enjoy the scenery from our room.
@MissBoston: that is my exact dilemma. I doubt we’d ever go back to Egypt, but the ports (in total) aren’t as attractive to me, 5 days at sea seems like a long time, and I’ve heard Kusadasi isn’t so hot generally, and that is one of the ports on that ship. I will PM you if I can think of some more specifics. Since I’ve never cruised before, it is hard for me to even know quesitons to ask. One thing I need to figure out is if there is real benefit to booking flight+cruise together. I want to use miles for at least one of our flights, so I’m not sure how to do that if we book the cruise and flight together. Any ideas?
Post # 7
I went on a Med cruise in the fall of 2009 (16 days). I went to most of the places on both of your lists. If I were going to pick one I would pick the Princess itinerary for your first cruise over there. You also might want to come in early and spend at least an extra day in Rome. The port in Rome is approx. 2 hours from the actual city. I don’t agree with the Kusadasi comment at all. Turkey is absolutely amazing and Kusadasi is probably one of the highlights of Greek archeological sites. Now Katakolon is a total bust. One street town and the only tour there is Olympia (place where the Olympic torch is lit and starts for every Oympics). *Snooze* 🙂 I used this day to sunbathe by the pool on the ship!
As far as days at sea, on my cruise we only had 3 and honestly it wasn’t enough. Everyday you are pushing to see all the amazing sites and somedays you want to just hang out on the ship with a drink and rest the feet!! I hit the spa 2 different times to get massages and relax!
I also highly recommend at least a balcony level cabin. Pulling away from the greek ports and being able to see everything from a comfy chair on your balcony is perfect! Doesn’t really matter what side your are on of the ship. Each port is different so both sides see different things. 12 days is a lot, and you will more than likely be ready to come home by the end of it. Leave yourself a good 2 days when you get home to recoup. Oh, and last thing…I would pick a cabin that is close but not next to the staircases for easy access to the different levels on the ship. Stay away from a cabin near the large lounge where they host all of the entertainment shows. Those could disturb your sleep.
Both cruise lines are fantastic, so either one will be great. Alexandria and Turkey can be rather intimidating, so if this is your first time over to the Med I would stick with Greece and Itay.
Post # 8
@nighthawk: It’s not that important to book the flight together, it’s just a convenience for people who don’t want the hassle of doing it themselves. We never booked them together (plus you will probably find a better deal just booking online than booking through your travel agent or the cruise line – even my mom will tell you this). Especially if you have miles, just do it yourself. As one other Pp said, def give yourself a few days on either end to explore the cities you are coming in and out of, and to make sure you have enough padding for delayed flights, etc on your way there.
I promise 5 days at sea won’t feel like very much – the days you are in port are VERY HECTIC- you often have to be off the ship at like 9am if you are doing a tour/shore excursion, spend the entire day running around trying to see as much of the port-of-call as you can, rush back to the ship in time before the ship departs so you can shower and eat dinner, etc. I usually love the days at sea the best because that’s your chance to sleep in, enjoy a leisurely breakfast buffet, go to the pool, get a massage, etc., sit on the balcony with your DH and watch the sea go by. If it were 5 in a row that would be too much, but you’ll come to depend on those days to decompress! BTW – the RCI itinerary only has 4 days at sea, it seems?
ETA: I checked with my mom and she said those two lines are comparable in the cruise experience, and to go with which itinerary and price suits you better. Sorry that doesn’t help much 🙂 She also said the RCI ship is one of their newer big ships with tons and tons of things to do -including an ice skating rink, different dinner options (not just one big dining room like traditional ships), different evening shows and entertainment options, and a promenade in the middle (I think these have a central park type environment sometimes even with a carnival – merry-go-round and all!). Definitely the kind of place where you won’t be bored the days you’re at sea.
Post # 9
I know that on my first cruise which was island hopping in Hawaii, we never had 1 day at sea…it was a different port everyday and even though it was exciting because it was my first cruise, it really wasn’t very relaxing…we were on the go a lot….I love to cruise so 5 days at sea would be awesome for me!!!! Definately try to get a cabin on one of the upper levels….I’ve heard, never experienced, that the bottom levels can be a little rough!! Never been on a Princess cruise, but loved RC. Good Luck and enjoy…..very jealous:)
Post # 10
When going on a cruise I prefer more days at port than at sea. You always have the option of staying on your ship if you don’t want to disembark at every port. A couple of days at sea is nice, but I don’t like anymore than that. I love the adventure of seeing so many places when on a cruise, so that’s why I prefer it this way.
When booking a room definitely get one that has a balcony. It’s so much nicer to be able to step outside your own room and enjoy the scenery or the sea. It gets a little stuffy if you have a room with no opening windows. My mother (who gets sea sick) was totally ill the whole time she cruised in a room that was on the inside with no windows 🙁 Also, I like rooms that are higher up to the main decks and more centered to the elevators. It’s a pain to be at the end of the hall on the bottom of the ship if you’re on a large boat.
Make sure you check with trip advisor or a similar vacation review site to ensure that you are going on a cruise line that caters to your needs. Some cruise lines attract more seniors and that isn’t the most fun for young honeymooners. You also wouldn’t want to be stuck on “family week” with a ton of screaming families and disney activties lol.
#1 tip: Arrive early when boarding the ship. It’s usually like a cattle call if you’re not travelling first class, so to avoid total mayhem make sure you’re at your gates and check in locations as early as possible.
Post # 11
Wow! Thanks for all the great advice! Seriously – wow! We are planning to spend 1-2 nights in Rome on the Front end for sure, and I will have 1.5-2 days afterwards before I have to go back to work, which is nice.
@StAugBride2011: That’s great advice about being near the stairs! Is that something you can tell at the time of booking? And also good advice to just maybe stay on the ship if the tours aren’t doing it for you (like you said about Olympia).
It does concern me that the Princess one only has 1 day at sea – we’ll see. I do want this to be at least partly relaxing, but honestly – 2 weeks without my blackberry is relaxing even if I was running a marathon every day. 🙂
Post # 12
I think in terms of “days at sea” less is typically better. Another thing to be sure to look at is the length of time in each port. You may hit 5 major ports but if you have to tender to port (take a ferry boat) that can take time and if the city/attractions aren’t near the port you can also have travel time. If you are only in a port for half a day or so that may not be enough time to see/do the activity you are wanting.
Another point about “days at sea” is that usually the day you board you can board around noon. That gives you almost a half day extra on the ship.
Post # 13
Yes, when you get into the booking phase online you can actually pick the cabin and deck you want. With Princess you choose the cabin type first (balcony, suite, etc.) and then you will pick your deck and available cabin. It walks you through it and you can see all the floor plans of the decks. Also, with Princess you can book all of your tours and any spa services you want before you even get on the ship! 120 days out from sailing. We are also doing a Princess cruise for our honeymoon to the Virgin Islands, so I have been planning all of days online with their “cruise personalizer.” Makes things so easy, since the spa always fills up so fast on the days at sea! We are planning another Med cruise for our 1 year anniversary! You will have a fabulous time no matter which cruise you pick. RCI should have the same booking features, I am just more familiar with the Princess settings right now since I am on them all the time!! 🙂
Post # 14
@StAugBride2011: thanks! That’s good advice about booking the spa services early!