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sxmsandbum
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Med Cruising questions
      #1599615 - 07/22/14 02:39 PM (98.186.71.171)

Looking to do a cruise for the first time. We are looking at Celebrity Equinox, NCL Epic, and Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas visiting the Med next summer. I know Celebrity is supposed to be the nicest of these cruise lines. Here are some things about us any suggestions of which cruise line might be the best for us?

We are late 50's and enjoy life but not huge partiers anymore but enjoy some entertainment or shows in evening.

We have never cruised before not sure what size ship would be best.

Really prefer casual to glitzy...hubby really doesn't want to haul a suit or tux and I am not into ball gowns.
Is there anywhere you can eat on the formal nights that you can dress casual or will that have to be a room service night?

We enjoy a cocktail, but not constant drinkers, how expensive is a beer or rum and coke on board if you don't buy a package.

Shore excursions...we have always done our homework and explored on our own. HOWEVER we have not been to Europe and wondering if this is advisable or stick to the shore excursions that you pay for in Italy, etc.

Is it better to book air through the cruise line or on our own...same for hotels before or after cruise?

Thanks for any and all help. I know I am comparing apples and oranges probably but trying to get a feel for this.


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Snorkeller
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Re: Med Cruising questions [Re: sxmsandbum]
      #1599623 - 07/22/14 03:48 PM (108.4.121.156)

Even though we have cruised a lot, and I do a lot of research myself, I still get Bonnie Buchanan (CruiseOne) to offer any comment on and make the arrangements with the cruise line. Especaily as a first cruiser, I think you would be well advised to use a cruise TA such as Bonnie.

You probably could have a great cruise on any of those three ships you name on one of the three lines. In some ways, you sound like a good fit for Celebrity (age - general description), but in other ways, for NCL or RC (reference to no formal dress).

One thing that can be very important is deciding what kind of cabin you want and will get. Are you going to get a suite or are you willing to take an interior? NCL has the haven thing for suites which is pretty nice (Bonnie loves it) but it is relatively expensive.

How do the itineraries and prices compare among the three you mention and others during the time you want to go? Remember to understand not only what are the ports of call, but how long you are in the ports of call.

Just personally, I think Allure is too big and "unnecessary" for a port intensive Med cruise. Allure and Oasis are great ships just as a destination in and of themselves. But, if you are going to Med ports that you have never been to or have not spent any time in for decades, then I do not feel the need for all the attractions of a giant ship. Indeed, for European cruising, many of our cruising friends prefer the river cruising - which of course are much smaller and different boats. I would add here as well that you may not want to pay for something like the NCL Haven if you are really interested in the ports and plan to spend a lot of the day time ashore.

There are just so many options and possibilities that, again, I would recommend talking with an experienced cruise TA.


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sxmsandbum
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Re: Med Cruising questions [Re: Snorkeller]
      #1599636 - 07/22/14 04:37 PM (98.186.71.171)

Thanks for the thoughts. We will spend a lot of time ashore. The price is the same for all three as we are changing a timeshare in for the cruise. I can get a ov on Allure, suite or Balcony on Epic or OV on Equinox. No inside, rooms. I will definitely check in with an expert.

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Carol_HillAdministrator
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Re: Med Cruising questions [Re: sxmsandbum]
      #1599664 - 07/22/14 07:31 PM (108.117.182.191)

Suite for the same price as an ocean view sounds kind of good to me, even though I dislike NCL. Give Bonnie a call!!

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nclauss1
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Re: Med Cruising questions [Re: sxmsandbum]
      #1599710 - 07/23/14 12:38 AM (173.85.18.106)

We did a Med cruise in 2012 in September on Princess cruises. We chose that ship mainly for the ports and dates. Hated the ship, entirely too big and way too many people. We spent most of our time on shore and when we were on the ship we were on the balcony. Having the balcony was just great, the views were fabulous. I enjoyed that as much as the ports!!!Spent a little time at the pool.The ports were fabulous. We did the shore excursions from the ship. I had checked into private tours but for the two of us it was expensive. I enjoyed all but one of the shore excursions. I would recommend getting Rick
Steves' Mediterranean Cruise Ports book, tons of info. Have you checked out Cruise Critic? You can check out the reviews on the ships you are
considering. And once you book you can connect with people going on the same cruise. We have only done 2 other cruises, many years ago, to the caribbean. We are not cruise experts at all. We booked our own hotels before and after and our own flights. Our flights were much cheaper and less stops than if they booked it. We picked our hotels after recommendations from people that had stayed there. We flew into Amsterdam, we stayed there for 2 nights and flew to Venice. After the cruise we stayed one night in Rome and then flew home from there.


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Snorkeller
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Re: Med Cruising questions [Re: sxmsandbum]
      #1599741 - 07/23/14 09:43 AM (108.4.121.156)

If I was choosing between OV on Allure or Equinox, or a Suite with Balcony on Epic (even if a mini-suite - but Haven would be really "suite"), and the cost to me was essentially the same, I would choose the Epic Suite in a heartbeat - getting the balcony would be a no-brainer for me. Also, Epic's 2015 summer itinerary out of Civitivecchia (however that is spelled) looks great. I think Bonnie has been on Epic and could give you a lot of info about it.

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Carol_HillAdministrator
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Re: Med Cruising questions [Re: Snorkeller]
      #1599744 - 07/23/14 09:57 AM (71.101.42.138)

Agreed, a suite could really make up for a lot of other things!

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sxmsandbum
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Re: Med Cruising questions [Re: Snorkeller]
      #1599820 - 07/23/14 04:38 PM (98.186.71.171)

Really? I am totally confused now...everyone has been saying Celebrity is so much better than NCl, and the Epic is smoky, etc. You would take NCL for the suite and balcony alone? On NCL I can get a family, mini, or spa suite...no Haven too many points. Any thoughts on those suites? Also can get a Aft stateroom with balcony. On Celebrity only OV. Also Allure is now off the board as all of a sudden not listed. So between Celebrity Equinox and NCL Epic. Lots more sailing date choices on Epic, might be making the decision for me. Thanks.

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Snorkeller
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Re: Med Cruising questions [Re: sxmsandbum]
      #1599825 - 07/23/14 05:13 PM (108.4.121.156)

Oh yeah! I would grab that spa suite on Epic over the OV on Equinox any day - again assuming roughly similar expense or, in your case, points. You can read complaints about smoke with regard to the casino area on just about any of these ships - I would not worry about that too much. All things being equal I generally would choose Celebrity over NCL myself - but if the comparison is between OV (no balcony) on Celebrity and a Spa Suite (balcony) on NCL, I would go NCL. I have a bias against NCL partly because of a negative experience of my sister about 30 years ago - and some feedback I heard from friends about short cruises out of Floirda years ago - but my continuing bias may be unfair to the newer NCL ships and a little irrational when looking at the med cruises like what you are looking at on Epic. Again, Bonnie is not only a cruise only agent but she was on Epic last Nov/Dec time frame - so, you could get her thoughts specific to Epic. I would assume that if you are a copule (two people) you would go for the Spa suite over the family suite - but maybe there is something specific to what you want that would make you interested in the family suite.

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Carol_HillAdministrator
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Re: Med Cruising questions [Re: Snorkeller]
      #1599839 - 07/23/14 06:29 PM (68.247.4.100)

I am also biased against NCL because we had a really horrible experience on a short cruise from Florida--NO CABIN FOR US, when we booked a cat guarantee--although it was eventually solved, and we did sail. However, having a balcony, or in this case, a suite, can make up for a multitude of sins.. Seriously, call Bonnie, or another cruise travel agent, for advice..

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