Planning a Cruise
Usually adults plan the yearly family vacation. But planning a cruise is a totally different story. It's the kind of trip where teens in the family should also have some input.
If my parents were planning a trip to Las Vegas, I could care less where we stayed and what we did! But when parents are planning a cruise, teens can help make suggestions and decisions about where to go, and most importantly, which ship to choose. To start, you might want to check with your parents to see when they want to go on vacation -- maybe during Christmas, spring break, or over the summer? After that, leave them alone until you have done all your research.
Find a ship that seems interesting. You will be spending most of your trip onboard, so make sure there are lots of activities and at least one disco. Check to make sure the ship has a teen disco, lounge and arcade. If your ship doesn't, don't worry; it will still have teen actives, but teens share the adult disco. There are pros and cons to this: Usually the adult disco is larger, but you can only use it during special hours. Most of the new mega-ships have large teen discos, including:
Norwegian Star & Dawn Every Royal Caribbean ship (except Nordic Empress) Carnival Conquest & Glory Grand, Golden, Star Princess (have the largest) Disney Magic & Wonder Holland American Zuiderdam & Oosterdam Every Celebrity ship
By the end of 2004, every Royal Caribbean ship will contain a climbing wall; the Voyager class ships already have them, as well as miniature golfing, ice skating and inline skating. They also have a Johnny Rockets restaurant along with the casual buffet. Some Princess ships have miniature golf courses, while Carnival, Norwegian and Disney have water slides. If the ship you are looking at doesn't go where you want during the week you are available, don't worry; there are many ships, including some that are exactly the same, called sister ships. These might be doing alternating routes, like Carnival Victory and Triumph do; one might go to the Eastern Caribbean while the other does the Western Caribbean. So be sure to check out a lot of different ships!
Find the ports that fit you. If your idea of a cruise is going to the Caribbean, then where in the Caribbean do you want to go? Most Caribbean cruises leave out of Tampa, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Port Canaveral, New Orleans and Galveston. Think of it like this: the western Caribbean is more adventurous, while eastern Caribbean itineraries are more tropical, with more shopping. There are also southern Caribbean cruises that leave out of San Juan, Puerto Rico; they go to ports much like the Eastern Caribbean. Interested in going on a cruise to Alaska? Beware, it can be cold. Cruises to Alaska are more scenic, and although they might less thrilling, they really are interesting. You can either take a one-way trip or a seven-night adventure through glaciers. Other cruises go to the Mexican Rivera (similar to the Western Caribbean), Hawaii, Panama Canal, Europe and Australia.
Finding the right cabin can be a pain! It's not like going to a hotel. You are on a moving ship, and if you are sensitive to motion, some areas should be avoided, especially the extreme front and back of the ship. Usually in the front there is a lot of motion due to the ship plowing through the waves, and in the back due to minor vibrations from the ship's engines. Try to pick a room close to the elevators, so you'll have easy access throughout the ship. I personally choose a cabin closest to the lobby/atrium, so I can be close to all the public areas.
Your parents might have to pick the cabin, but try to talk them into at least an ocean view. An inside room (no window) can get really cramped. Usually ocean view rooms have an extra sofa, while inside rooms only have two beds. If you are lucky enough to get a suite or balcony, good for you. Balconies are great for watching the ship come in and out of port rather then going out to the public areas. I also like balconies because when my parents are getting ready for dinner, I can hang out there rather then watch them change (eew!). Watch out if you are doing this alone; make sure the price is reasonable! I have seen seven-night inside cabins for $649, while a balcony was $999! Show them the room that would work for you, but don't go overboard.
After you have everything researched, do some last-minute checking to make sure it's really what you want. If you are comparing two or three ships, go with the largest and newest one before worrying about the ports, since you will be spending more time onboard! When everything is done, write or type out your recommendations, including the ship, the itinerary and when it leaves, and the rate for your top two cabin choices. I would suggest giving it to your parents at a time when they aren't busy, and make sure they have time to talk. Just remember, a cruise is very expensive, so if you can't convince you parents to go on a seven-night trip, there are always four- and five-night cruises on great ships. Good Luck!
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