Cruises: Best value?

Mrs. RickJay and I have never been anywhere tropical and nevr been on a cruise. Sometime between November 2007 and March 2008 I’d like to change that.

Anyone have any good experiences with cruises or all inclusive resorts that weren’t absurdly priced?

Any suggestions as I search for a nice vacation?

First up, visit cruisecritic.com for all the nitty gritty on every cruise line under the sun.

The Carnival lines are excellent value but be aware that they are also downmarket/family style cruising. If you expect pampering or old-fashioned glamour you’d have to choose another line. If you expect value for money - go for it.

We did Hawaii. I didn’t like it. The scenery and snorkelling is over-rated and apart from seeing the Volcano National Park (so well worth it) there’s nothing to do except shop for souvenirs.

They’re a really big advertiser, and so we took everything with a BIG grain of salt…but, we booked a cruise through Vacations To Go, probably 3 months after everyone else did on the same ship and got our cabin for about a third less than they did. Yes, we took an inside cabin, and an over-50 discount, but the savings were genuine with Royal Caribbean on a 7-day Caribbean cruise.

I was most impressed with the agent that was assigned to us, he guided us through every step of the way and we had absolutely no surprises. We had shore excursions booked in advance and everything.

Did I say we’d never done this before?

So, I can say that with our experience, I could not recommend Peter Cavanaugh at Vacations To Go highly enough. I know this sounds like an ad, but read my posts here. I take a pretty skeptical view to most everything.

Just FYI, here’s his email:

pcavanaugh@vacationstogo.com

I’m sure there are other places just as good, just speaking from our only first-hand experience. Any questions, email me. And best wishes for a great experience.

-Harry

Just a word on those shore excursions - they tend to be at least twice if not four times more expensive if booked through the cruiseline rather than booked direct through the vendor. All tour directors are au fait with picking up and dropping off to cruise ships - in fact cruise ships is where the majority of their income comes from so there’s no worry about not finding your tour director or not getting back to the ship on time. Or if you’re a relaxed traveller, just see what’s available at the wharf - usually plenty of touts with excellent deals. There was for example one tour I noticed advertised through the cruiseline for $65 - available on the wharf for $12. The only time I would consider booking through the cruiseline is at ‘tender’ ports - cruiselines disembark first those passengers with shore excursions booked through them leaving the rest of the passengers with a lengthy (sometimes hours) delay before being allowed off.

Really good advice. From someone more experienced than us. Make really, really sure these are a value vs. your time.