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MickinMD

Thinking of a Spring Cruise

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The Winter and Spring cruise prices are cheap, I'm rounding into better physical shape, and may do a cruise.  I'll probably wait until March to book a cruise where they drop the prices to fill the last rooms (I did an $1800 Alaska Cruise for $1100 that way). Two interesting ones I've spotted for April whose deals will end soon but may reappear in March:

Here's an Eastern Caribbean one that ends a little before Easter, running from Apr. 6 - 18, and where the temperatures of the islands visited are typically highs in the mid-80's and lows in the mid-70's and it starts and ends at the Port of Baltimore, a 20-30 minute ride from/to my home.

My first Caribbean Cruise was the Western Caribbean Cruise in 2017 so this would be new to me.  $1103/person for an inside cabin for two plus $175 in spending credit is an excellent deal.

It's on the Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas, a 2400+ passenger ship with 8 bars - some with music/dancing, a casino, a showroom with shows each night, 2 swimming pools and all the bells and whistles.

There are a lot from Baltimore like this in Winter and Spring, so I'm going to wait for a fill-the-rooms deal close to sailing.

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This one's interesting but I have to decide if cold weather is ok with me.  It's on the Holland America Rotterdam, a sister ship to the Volendam, on which I took an Alaska Cruise.  It's only a 1414 passenger ship, but that means it's big enough to have a showroom with shows each nite, a movie theater, 7 bars - some with music, two swimming pools, a casino, and all the usual bells and whistles.

The cruise is on the Baltic Sea, where I've never been for TWELVE days from Apr. 29 to May 11. It will be cold (highs around 50F) but not terribly so and I'd have no problem. I'd have to look at summer prices to see if it would be better to wait.  We would fly to Rotterdam the 28th, explore the city in the afternoon/evening, then have the morning and early afternoon to explore more before boarding at 5 pm.  Roundtrip airfare per person is $659 to $850 from Baltimore, depending on how many stopovers we want. An Oceanview room for two at $1619 per person is superb - and due to the cooler period.

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4 minutes ago, MickinMD said:

1103/person for an inside cabin for two plus $175 in spending credit is an excellent deal.

We did a similar cruise but left from Puerto Rico which saved a few days of just cruising on the ocean. However PR is probably still a mess.

I highly recommend that you reconsider the inside cabin. Of course an outside cabin has better scenery but there's also a practical consideration. If the ship loses power, and it has happened a few times lately, the plumbing and AC stops. With an outside cabin you'll have fresh air and a place to take a whizz, etc. I'm not joking about this. I'll always get a cabin with an outside door.

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FWIW Rotterdam was leveled by the Germans in WWII so there isn't much of historical significance there.  I have a lot of family that lives near there (Dordrecht & Zwijndrecht).  

If you could make your way to Den Hague my cousin has a restaurant, The Raffles. Good Indonesian food!  More to see there and close by.

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We are booked on a cruise to the Virgin Islands and Nassau in March.

My wife will be with me, so I don't think I'll have any affect on the number of virgins in St. Thomas and Tortola.

We have an outside cabin. Certainly costs more, but BuffCarla is worth it.

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2 hours ago, Chris... said:

How was the Alaska cruise? It's on my short list of places to visit

 

We did one for our honeymoon about 12 years ago.  It was my first cruise and fantastic.  We left from Vancouver and made at least 5 stops to many places we'd never be able to get to.  We planned way ahead and had really fun trips planned for each day.  Guided hikes, snorkeling (in September), helicopter on to a glacier...  I would absolutely do it again.

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27 minutes ago, Myself said:
3 hours ago, Chris... said:

How was the Alaska cruise? It's on my short list of places to visit

We did one for our honeymoon about 12 years ago.  It was my first cruise and fantastic.  We left from Vancouver and made at least 5 stops to many places we'd never be able to get to.  We planned way ahead and had really fun trips planned for each day.  Guided hikes, snorkeling (in September), helicopter on to a glacier...  I would absolutely do it again.

Yep - Alaska still rates at the top of our cruise vacations.  It is particularly spectacular doing the south to north direction - starting in Seattle or Vancouver and finishing in Anchorage (technically Seward). Things start out beautiful and eventually finish at BEAUTIFUL.  Well worth a vacation.  We are actively trying to convince my FiL that it might be a nice trip for him and his wife.

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3 hours ago, MickinMD said:

The cruise is on the Baltic Sea, where I've never been for TWELVE days from Apr. 29 to May 11. It will be cold (highs around 50F) but not terribly so and I'd have no problem. I'd have to look at summer prices to see if it would be better to wait.  We would fly to Rotterdam the 28th, explore the city in the afternoon/evening, then have the morning and early afternoon to explore more before boarding at 5 pm.  Roundtrip airfare per person is $659 to $850 from Baltimore, depending on how many stopovers we want. An Oceanview room for two at $1619 per person is superb - and due to the cooler period.

We almost booked a similar cruise for 2020 with slightly different ordering of the ports and leaving instead out of Amsterdam.  We wouldn't do it in April or May, though.  I don't hate cold weather, but I would aim for just prior to or just after high season - June or Sept departures.  I think being warm is pretty nice in that part of the world, and even May might just not be as pleasant as I would want on a non-skiing vacation.

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12 hours ago, JerrySTL said:

I'll always get a cabin with an outside door.

Am I reading that correctly that there is a $500 difference in price between an inside and outside cabin?  I have never been on a cruise, so I don't know these things.  Could you sleep on the deck if you wanted?

I do like the idea of peeing directly into the ocean.

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17 hours ago, JerrySTL said:

We did a similar cruise but left from Puerto Rico which saved a few days of just cruising on the ocean. However PR is probably still a mess.

I highly recommend that you reconsider the inside cabin. Of course an outside cabin has better scenery but there's also a practical consideration. If the ship loses power, and it has happened a few times lately, the plumbing and AC stops. With an outside cabin you'll have fresh air and a place to take a whizz, etc. I'm not joking about this. I'll always get a cabin with an outside door.

Jerry - what are the odds on your situation actually happening?  Almost lightning strike territory.  Certainly pros and cons to all the variety of staterooms, but pee convenience during a loss of power isn't too high on my checklist.

From a "why choose an inner cabin" perspective, besides cost, there is the how much time do you spend in your cabin and what are you doing there.  If it is just sleeping, getting dressed, and grooming, then the inner cabin is a great option.  On the flip side, if you are a person who stays aboard, loves to sit on a balcony and read or drink coffee/tea, and doesn't want to see other people, then an inside cabin is a poor choice. 

I find the MORE active you are on a vacation, the LESS time you spend in a cabin or hotel room.  The less active one is, the more important the place you spend a ton of time becomes.

For a cruise, it is is important to consider how many seas days there are, what the view will be with/out a window/balcony, and what your comfort is with public vs private spaces.  Since a cruise ship usually is moving at night, and docked during the day, it is really a toss up of how much extra you see by having an inside vs outside (porthole) cabin.  A balcony - with the option open the door and listen to the sea - is always a nice extra.

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19 hours ago, JerrySTL said:

We did a similar cruise but left from Puerto Rico which saved a few days of just cruising on the ocean. However PR is probably still a mess.

I highly recommend that you reconsider the inside cabin. Of course an outside cabin has better scenery but there's also a practical consideration. If the ship loses power, and it has happened a few times lately, the plumbing and AC stops. With an outside cabin you'll have fresh air and a place to take a whizz, etc. I'm not joking about this. I'll always get a cabin with an outside door.

Thanks for the advice!

I've never done an inside cabin on the several cruises I've done. But, on one Aegean cruise my companion and I fell in tight with a millionaire from Miami and his wife.  They had an inside cabin that cost 1/2 ours.  He said they didn't do much in the cabin besides sleep so I've always considered it a possibility.  On my last cruise in 2017, our room and the adjoining rooms on either side were our friends/family and sometimes we all sat outside on our room's balconies, sipping drinks and watching the U.S. Coast Guard Gun Ships escort us out of Key West, etc. or watching the Coast of Cuba as we sailed by. 

On that particular cruise listed above where I considered the inside cabin, note that it costs $1103 per person vs $6005 for the cheapest outside cabin.  But note that these cruises were given as interesting examples I hoped might stir-up some comments and if I find similar fill-up-the-rooms deals shortly before the cruise, I'll try to get one with an outside cabin.

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20 hours ago, Chris... said:

How was the Alaska cruise? It's on my short list of places to visit

 

We did the Inside Passage cruise - the short one to Juneau, etc. that lasts 6 days total from and back to Vancouver.  We didn't do the one that goes all the way to Anchorage which some people have advised me to do if I ever do another one.

It 2002, the year after 9-11 and cruises were having trouble filling their ships with passengers.  So a cousin alerted me to a price reduction of $1800+ per person to around $1100 and so we each took our mothers - who are sisters - with us.

The food on the Holland America Volendam was excellent: lobster tail - the waiters brought as much as you wanted, great desserts, etc.  There was a big pool with a free junk food stand (hot dogs, pizza) open until late at night.

The sightseeing was excellent though some of the side-trips were $200-$300 for dog-sledding or kayaking with killer whales, etc. - we passed them up though if I did it again, I think I'd want the kayak/killer whale experience.  The summer cruise goes north from Vancouver and enters Glacier Bay, where you can see the glaciers calving off and thundering into the water and seals, etc. napping on mini-icebergs.  It then stops at a few cities in SE Alaska like Ketchikan that has a train that takes you to the top of a mountain, along the path gold miners crossed to get to the Yukon in Canada and Ketchikan also has another low-cost side trip to visit totem poles and a Tlingit (Inuit-tribe related) ceremonial show.  At Juneau, there's the Mendenhall Glacier, the high-priced side dog-sledding I mentioned, and the big McCauley Salmon Hatchery (a not cheap $75 side trip in 2002 though we didn't have to pay for it thanks to a local relative) - with live Salmon traveling upstream and caught to process their eggs and restore Salmon to various streams.

My distant-cousin by marriage, Cindy McCauley Cashen, met us as we had prearranged by email and took us on a private tour of the Hatchery which her late-father had founded - originally on the back porch of their house - and where she was on the Board of Directors. So that was a special thrill.  She also took us to the Mendenhall Glacier and amazed us by saying things like, "See those trees where the Bald Eagles are?  That's where we used to hang out when we hooked high school."

We were amazed because she pointed out the trees, not the Eagles, not realizing how thrilled we were to see them.  At some places, since it was Salmon-running season, the trees were more white than green due to hundreds of Bald Eagles!  It was breathtaking!

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12 minutes ago, Parr8hed said:

I could have qualified for many free cruises from 93-98 or so.  

Was that during your job where one of the benefits was "To See The World" only to find out that the world is mostly water?

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Just now, JerrySTL said:

Was that during your job where one of the benefits was "To See The World" only to find out that the world is mostly water?

Yep.  

Funny thing is that I spent 4 years active and never once even saw a ship.  My friends would go out on my little pontoon in the river.  They would ask if I knew how to drive it.  I said "Sure, I spent 4 years in the Navy".

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On 1/11/2019 at 2:11 AM, maddmaxx said:

A cruise is where you pay to go to sea on a ship?

 

:o

Once again, we agree.

I dislike just about everything about cruises. If you paid me I wouldn't want to go.

But the killer is, if I want to go somewhere, I don't want to have a few hours there before I have to get back in the sardine can.

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3 hours ago, late said:

Once again, we agree.

I dislike just about everything about cruises. If you paid me I wouldn't want to go.

But the killer is, if I want to go somewhere, I don't want to have a few hours there before I have to get back in the sardine can.

Most of the time the ship reaches the next port while you eat dinner, get entertained on what is basically a small city, and sleep.  You wake up the next morning at the next port and may debark around 9 am and have to be back on the ship around 5:30 pm.

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I would add a couple caveats. If I won the lottery, and took a cruise to Europe, and then get off, that would be great. That would beat the pants off flying. That's how all this started.

There are 2 or 3 luxury cruise companies. I wouldn't mind going on one of those. But they are extremely expensive. For that money, I'd fly to Vienna, and hang around Europe for as long as I could.

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31 minutes ago, JerrySTL said:

I just signed up for a 9 Feb 2020 7-day cruise leaving on RC from Miami. Ocean view balcony of course.

That's a LONG way off :(  You may need a separate cruise in the meantime :D

You may be lucky with that Feb date, as the weather where you are will likely still be crappy, but the weather in the Caribbean will rival Hawaii!!!  Normally, 2020 would be a potential "cruise" year for us, but it is also my 50th year, so the battle becomes "long bike vacation" vs "long cruise vacation" . Unlikely to get both my wishes.

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On ‎1‎/‎14‎/‎2019 at 4:30 PM, maddmaxx said:

A spring cruise.  This would be a good time to check in on the "where can I catch a cold" thread.

 

Or worse.

I came down with a cold a few days after getting home 😢  Not sure where I caught it, but travelling was certainly a possibility. Nonetheless, cruise was awesome.

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3 minutes ago, Razors Edge said:

That's a LONG way off :(  You may need a separate cruise in the meantime :D

You may be lucky with that Feb date, as the weather where you are will likely still be crappy, but the weather in the Caribbean will rival Hawaii!!!  Normally, 2020 would be a potential "cruise" year for us, but it is also my 50th year, so the battle becomes "long bike vacation" vs "long cruise vacation" . Unlikely to get both my wishes.

I'll be 'cruising' the Katy Trail in June. It certainly will be hot and I'll have an outside view just outside of my tent.

I love January and February Caribbean cruises because it's much warmer than St. Louis and not hurricane season yet.

You can always compromise and do both for your 50th year!

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