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Old 09-09-2007, 03:23   #16
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Jay - If it's Royal Carribean it might be the same itinerary. The on-shore stuff can be pricey. We did sea kayaks through some mangrove swamps in Key West with a guide who showed us a lot of the local marine life. That was fun.

But if the trade off is Sailing School the choice is clear!

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Old 09-09-2007, 06:22   #17
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I took a cruise once - 37 years ago, steerage in the Empress of Canada, Liverpool to Montreal when I came over to "take a look". Still here (well a couple of hundred miles south) and still looking but no more crusing in anything over 50 feet crewed by someone else since then!

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Old 09-09-2007, 09:56   #18
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I've been twice in the last two years with my family. The first time it was a new experience and kinda fun, but the second time it really was kind of boring. Too much price, not enough fun for it. People were nice, destinations were pretty, but honestly I'd rather invest the cruise ship costs into a boat and be able to see those destinations on my own time and itenerary.
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Old 09-09-2007, 11:19   #19
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Hmmm - I always suspected I was different. My wife and I have been on 8 Caribbean cruises in the past 4 years, all on Carnival and we love them. Partly, this is because we’re temporarily prevented from resuming sailboat cruising, but mostly it’s about expectations. For us a cruise ship represents a week long escape from stress and a chance to be pampered with virtually no decisions to make other than when to go to dinner - we don’t really ‘do’ much, I usually bring 4 or 5 books, and we've been known to haunt the piano bar. It is very much a floating resort hotel, and from that perspective it is also a super bargain: We typically pay about $1,100 plus an automatic $140 charge for tips for a 7 day cruise -it helps to live in Florida so you can drive to the ship. In my opinion, the free food is excellent and often outstanding, the alcohol is expensive (although beer is cheaper than the Bahamas), and I can actually enjoy one Broadway style musical in seven days. We always eat and drink too much; it always costs more than we expect; and we always meet interesting people - including two people taking a break from long time sailboat cruising, and a guy who thought a Carnival cruise would be a cheap/cool way to check out a couple of boats for sale in St. Thomas. Some observations:

1. Ports - for the most part a cruise ship is not even going to take you to the same harbor that you would typically anchor a sailboat in. If you expect to do real site seeing, you’ll have to pay extra for an excursion and you have very limited time. For the most part we don’t do this partly because it’s exhausting and we don’t want to need a vacation after our vacation. In 8 cruises we have done 2 excursions - one was a day sailboat/snorkeling charter to St. John - very cool. I will not get off a cruise ship in San Juan or anywhere in Jamaica - staying on the ship is more fun. We like Charlotte Amalie - check out the shops, buy some T-Shirts, and have exotic pizza at Amici’s; and Phillipsburg - check out the shops, buy some T-Shirts, check out the boardwalk, and have poutine and Canadian beer at the Get Wet Bar; back to the ship for a nap. Martinique and Barbados are beautiful, but not where the cruise ships dock - you must take a ferry or excursion, or don’t get off at all.

2. Lines - for initial boarding and final disembarking, these are unavoidable. For this reason alone, I will not take a less than 7 day cruise - gotta rest up between lines. Otherwise, lines are easily avoided - if the boat docks at 9:00, have a bloody mary and wait awhile before you leave the ship. The only real exception is the stupid U.S. Customs practice which requires all passengers on a ship whose last port was say St. Maarten (Holland) to have their phony Massachusetts birth certificates, etc. inspected when the ship docks in St. Thomas - even if you’re not getting off, you have to go through the line.

3. Crowds - it makes a difference how ‘full’ the ship is. We cruise off-season because it’s cheaper and less crowded. Still, we are usually up at the crack of dawn and often have the entire Lido deck to ourselves for an hour or so. I have spent several afternoons dosing, watching the ocean, and pretending to read in a lounge chair on a 300' open deck with no one else but an occasional waiter.

In the end, I don’t particularly care where a cruise ship goes, I just like them.
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Old 10-09-2007, 17:05   #20
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One cruise ship experience for me to cozumel, caymans, and jamaica. I'm glad I did it even though I don't like being herded through T-shirt shops. I enjoyed all the ammenities aboard as well as the great food. I flew from San Diego to Miami to catch the ship and at the first dinner I found myself sitting directly across the table from a guy that worked next door to me in Malibu. Talk about a small world.

I would like to go on an Alaskan cruise ship ride just to relax and watch the scenery go by. That will probably satisfy any cruise ship urges. I just prefer to be on the water rather than be land bound. Doesn't really matter much what kind of boat.

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Old 10-09-2007, 17:53   #21
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Don't know if you did a Carnival cruise, but we did one to Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel and we loved it. Actually, we hated Jamaica - breathtakingly beautiful island, but the ultra-aggressive tourist vultures were really scary. Grand Cayman was OK - we found a dive shop outside of town which had picnic tables with thatched umbrellas right on the beach and they served very good fried fish and beer. We loved Cozumel - took a taxi out to the end of the main drag and walked back to the ship finding many cool hole-in-the-wall cafes along the way. Don't know if Cozumel got socked by Dean, but I would do that trip again - just wouldn't get off in Jamaica.

All of these experiences could be dramatically changed with extra cost excursions, but our cruise ship theory is that it costs $200 a day for two people to take it easy and do nothing - but do it in grand style in exotic places.
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Old 05-10-2007, 21:33   #22
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I have heard good and bad from people I know who have taken cruises. I think it takes a certain type of person who is not bothered by large crowds, lines and of occasionally being herded like cattle.

For myself...chartering looks much more appealing. I will probably give a cruise a try one day just to satisfy my curiosity.

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