Disney’s new mega cruise ship, the Disney Dream, will be launching in just under a year and you can start making reservations now.
I am pretty intrigued with the thought of a Disney Cruise. My wife and I had a great time on our Royal Caribbean cruise a couple years back but I’m not sure how popular it would have been with the kids (we have 2 seven year olds and a two year old). Disney cruises seem a little more designed to cater to those ages.
So the Disney Dream sounds like the newest and greatest of the kid friendliest of cruise lines. Reading through the description of the Youth Club sections of the ship do nothing to change that opinion.
My only concern would be the whole hugeness of it all. The Disney Dream has 1900 more beds than the Disney Magic or the Disney Wonder. And since the Disney cruises are so designed to attract families with kids friendly, I’m sure they have a higher percentage of kids than most cruises anyway. There are going to be a LOT of kids on the Disney Dream. Coordinating all of that to keep the kids safe and happy and the parents happy and not nervous is going to be a real challenge.
Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas will offer parents a way to keep track of their childrens’ location in real time. They are adding an electronic device to the wristbands that kids must wear aboard the ship. The device will allow the ship to constantly know where the kids are.
In addition, travelers can rent a special iPhone for $17.50 that can be used to call other people who also rent the phone. And if you rent the phone, you will be able to track your kid by their wristband.
The devices and the iPhones only work on the ship but the ships these days are big enough that kids could easily get lost. I’m sure having the ability to find the kids on the ship will be a selling point for many families.
photo credit: Dennis from Atlanta
My wife and I just booked a trip to Boston which has absolutely nothing to do with taking a cruise. But I used Expedia.com to buy the plane tickets and book the hotel. They have a very nice interface for sorting through the deals and finding exactly what you are looking for and they have some pretty good deals.
After I had made all the arrangements, I was just casually browsing around the website seeing what else they had to offer and making some mental notes for future potential trips and noticed that along the main menu bar across the top of the site that there is an option for cruises.
I spent long enough clicking around to notice that they have options for most of the major cruise lines and for destinations around the world. It really can’t get much easier to find the best deal than that.
With spring break rapidly approaching, now would be a great time to see what kind of last second deals are available as the cruise ships try to fill all their rooms.
If you book a cruise at the last minute you can often get a lot of great deals as the cruise ships hope to fill all of the rooms. But is that really the best way to plan a trip?
Pros of Booking A Trip Late
- Cheaper rooms
- Less time to sit around waiting for the trip to start
Pros of Booking A Trip Early
- Booking last second air fare can often eat up a lot of the savings that you get by scheduling the cruise at the last second. You can often get better fares if you book them earlier.
- More time to make vacation arrangements at work and for scheduling someone to take care of your house, kids (if they are staying behind), pets.
- More time to save money to use on the trip. If you schedule far enough in advance, you might actually have the trip paid off before you even leave.
- More time to get passports. If you are leaving from the US and heading to somewhere outside the US, you will need a passport and it takes time to get them. You really can’t plan trips at the last second any more unless you already have a passport.
- People can buy you day excursions, special services on the boat or pay a portion of your trip if you happen to have a birthday or Christmas between scheduling the trip
- More time to buy vacation clothes and gear.
We had a great time on our last second cruise but some of that is we just really needed to get away. We hadn’t been anywhere alone for that long in several years.
When I plan my next trip, I would prefer to book everything earlier and not feel so rushed getting it all taken care of.
European cruises seem to be the rage these days if you believe everything you read on the internet. With a wide variety of countries and cultures available in one compact spot as well as some amazing weather and food, the Mediterranean is a great destination.
But what cruises are actually available?
Most of the Royal Caribbean European cruises depart from either Barcelona, Spain or Venice, Italy. The cruises focus on some combination of destinations in Spain, all over Italy, the Greek islands and Turkey. Prices for the cheapest rooms range from $599 for a 7 night cruise to $2149 for a 12 night cruise. Most of the 7 or 8 night cruises are around $800-1000.
Carnival Cruise Lines
The Carnival Mediterranean cruises depart from Rome, Italy. They seem to tend to be 12 night cruises hitting the same types of areas along southern Europe and the Greek islands with some also hitting Turkey.
Carnival also has several cruises traveling northern Europe and western. They depart from London and either head down France, Spain and Italy or head east through Denmark, Germany, Russia, and Amsterdam. They also seem to be more common as 12 night cruises with prices starting from $1299-1599.
No matter which cities you visit, there will be a wealth of culture, history, and exciting activities for everyone.
While riding the train the other day, I heard a lady tell her friend that she and her family ran up a $3000+ bar tap during their recent cruise! Ouch.
Alcohol is one of the items that cruise ships can really get you to run up a huge tab if you are not paying attention. I don’t drink much but I had a few during my cruise and paid cash for all of them. Paying cash is a great way to avoid accidentally running up a huge tab by charging it to your ship account. Moderation would be helpful, too.
While most cruises these days are “all inclusive” their are still plenty of ways that you can spend more money than you were planning on a cruise.
For example, gambling. Just like Vegas or the riverboats, casinos on the ship are an excellent way to lose a lot of money very quickly. Again, using cash and/or only allowing yourself to use a predetermined amount of money per day is the best way to keep your losses at a level where you can walk away happy.
We also brought reusable water bottles that we would refill on the ship before leaving for our excursions. On most of the days, the amount of water we carried ashore was enough to last until we got back on the ship easily saving us $5-10 dollars a day.
There is an article of on MSNBC that has a list of some ways you might end up spending more than you expected. Some of them are easier to avoid then others but if you know about them in advance you can plan for ways to minimize the charges and properly budget the ones that you do not want to avoid.
Romantic cruises are not just for honeymoons any more.
You can chose to get married on board a Carnival ship or on land during one of the destinations during the cruise.
The shipboard weddings include traditional wedding items like bridal bouquet, sparkling wine, wedding cake, and optional photography service.
From that base point, you can customize your wedding cruise to create your dream wedding and honeymoon.
The on land weddings includes similar base features plus round trip transfers for the bride and groom. Land weddings are performed by a local official.
Carnival also provides a Honeymoon Registry where your friends and family can pay for various aspects of your dream honeymoon cruise like spa treatments, photos, land excursions, and food in the ships specialty restaurants.
The Norwegian Gem is the newest ship in the Norwegian Cruise Line Fleet.
Like all of the Norwegian ships, the Norwegian Gem delivers Freestyle Cruising which basically means that you are not tied to the traditional dinner schedules that a lot of other cruise lines use.
The Norwegian Gem has 12 different restaurants which serve a wide variety of foods including Tex Mex, French, Mediterranean, Asian, steakhouse and pizza. All of the restaurants are open between 5:30pm and midnight. You will never have to choose between eating a good dinner or participating in one of the ships many activities since you can just move dinner early or later as needed.
Also, there is no formal dress code for any of the meals. If you want to wear the tuxedo you brought, feel free. If you want to wear your khaki pants, that’s fine too.
The Norwegian Gem also has a bowling alley for a fun, unique experience at sea. They boast a casino with some of the best gaming rewards to be found on any ship. Your points can be used to pay for anything on your current cruise, your final bill, or a future cruise.
You will also find all of the swimming pools, spas, workout equipment, bars and lounges that are the mainstay on all of the large cruise ships these days.
The Norwegian Gem is currently departing from New York in March and traveling to Cape Canaveral, Florida; Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas; Nassau, Bahamas; Freeport, Bahamas; New York, New York on a 7-night Bahamas cruise.
After sorting through all of your cruise options and finally deciding on a destination and date, you need to make sure that you have all of the things that you need for the trip.
In addition to passports and confirmation numbers, you are also going to need some sunglasses, warm weather clothes, towels, and books.
I am starting to put together a little store front where you can find all of these travel necessities for your cruise in one place.
A couple of the things that I wish that I had spent a little more time shopping for when I went on my last cruise are fiction books, luggage and sunglasses.
I wish that I had brought more fluff books. The few books that I brought were a little heavier than I really wanted to spend time focusing on.
We were pretty well set on big luggage but I wish we would have picked up a couple good backpacks for the day trips.
And you can never have too many pair of sunglasses. I had to buy a couple on the ship because I had a tendency to accidentally leave them at the restaurants in the countries we visited.
If there are any categories of items that you think I should add to the store, please leave a comment and I will try to get it added. While you are waiting for me to add the category, please use the search box to see if what you are looking for is available but just not added to the sidebar yet.
The Disney Cruise ship Disney Wonder will be retiring the musical play they perform during the cruise.
Starting in April, passengers will no longer see Hercules The Muse-ical. Plans are in place to start performing Disney-Pixar’s Toy Story as a musical instead.
The stage will be filled with a giant Mr. Potato Heads, piggy bank, and tyrannosaurus in life size puppets.
The main characters like Buzz, Woody and Bo Peep will be played by real actors.
My kids, like most kids, are definitely bigger fans of Toy Story than Hercules so the change is sure to excite kids and parents alike.