N@50: We Like to Cruise

We like to cruise. Does that mean we’re an “old” 50? Sometimes I think we are.

Regardless, we just booked our annual Carnival cruise. Telling you that it’s a Carnival cruise tells you what kind of cruisers we are.

We cruise during that low season, between the week after Labor Day and the week before Christmas. We have a strict budget. Our limit is $200/day, including tips. So for a 5-day cruise, the most we’re going to pay is $1000 for the two of us. That’s for a stateroom with a balcony and includes $100 ($20/day) for tips.

We usually wait as late as we can to book, looking for a price drop. We learned our lesson last year when the price went up instead of down so we booked early this year. We’re doing an 8-day Southern Caribbean and we’re within our price window, including tips AND cruise terminal parking. Not bad at all.

A colleague of mine regularly does the Tom Joyner cruise. He paid over $4000 for the trip. I’m hoping that’s for him and his wife but I’m thinking that was per person since he said they had either a suite or a balcony. I almost fainted. That’s a lot of money. He reminded me that a portion of the cost was tax-deductible because it goes to the Tom Joyner Foundation to fund college scholarships. He also said he had a great time so the cruise was worth the cost. I just nodded. By the way, Royal Caribbean calls this year’s cruise an 8-day cruise. Carnival would call it a 7-day cruise since you really come back home on the 8th day.

On our last cruise, we met a couple at one of the tourist sites in Mexico. It was supposed to be a Mayan ruin but I think it was a tourist trap. Anyway, back to this couple. We were sitting (of course) at a bench along one of the paths when they joined us. They were on Royal Caribbean. The wife proceeded to tell us how much better Royal Caribbean was than Carnival and encouraged us to cruise Royal next time. They were on a 6-day cruise and we were on a 5-day cruise; we both had a balcony. Guess what? We cruised on Carnival for less than half the price they paid on Royal. Their eyes widened when they learned that and I got the feeling they’d be checking out Carnival next time.

Price aside, cruising works for us because it cuts down on the decision-making. We don’t have to decide which restaurant to go to or which show to see. We just go. And the variety of activities is so great that we each get to do things we want to do. We also like that they make up our beds twice a day. I know this is a small thing but it’s nice have a freshly made bed in the morning and right before bed, especially if you take a nap during the day the way we do. We also don’t have to cook. Food is always available, which is good and bad.

We also like the different cruise destinations. On our last cruise, which was out of New Orleans, we visited Cozumel and Progresso, Mexico. On our upcoming cruise, we’ll be leaving from Ft. Lauderdale and going to St. Maarten, St. Lucia and St. Kitts. We want to do a South American cruise sometime in the future. Those are about 15-days one way so we have to figure out how to do it.

There are some downsides to cruising. People can be rude. Children can be rowdy. And some people drink too much. That said, a cruise is what you make it. We haven’t had much interaction with the rude, the rowdy or the drunk. You can have a good time on a cruise or you can have a bad time. It’s really up to you.

Does anyone else like to cruise?

8 thoughts on “N@50: We Like to Cruise

  1. We went on a cruise last year. Prior to that we had not cruised for several years. We enjoyed it, but I am still a big fan of resorts. I like to get to where I am going. Cruising seems like we’re always on the way somewhere. I know that blasphemy for fans of cruises.

    What I do like about cruising is having all the essentials paid in advance. I also like being pampered. But we get that at resorts.

    Now for the price comparison, you win. I like the way you sold the other couple that was trying to sale you.

  2. Angela,

    I’ve been trying to get on a cruise since I was eighteen. Joined the navy thinking I’d finally get on one. NOT.

    Anyway, my good friend is taking me on the Tom Joyner cruise in May. I’m so excited.

    Do you have any advice for a newbie? I don’t have a clue what to bring or do while on the cruise.

    I wondered about tipping and how much money I would need.

  3. Mildred, we’ve thought about resorts but I’m afraid we’ll spend all our time in the room. Are there lots of activities and places just to go hang out at these resorts?

    LaShaunda, you have a REALLY good friend if they’re paying for you to go on the TJ cruise. You really won’t need much money on the ship unless you drink or want a soda or like to gamble or shop. We usually bring sodas with us or buy some at the nearest port. They’re costly aboard ship. Tea and juices are available all day for no cost.

    You’ll incur some costs at the ports where the cruise stops. The ship has planned excursions that you can purchase but we usually just go out and negotiate directly with the taxis and tour bus drivers. It’s usually cheaper. How much you spend at a port is up to you. Some folks really like to shop so they spend a lot of money. Some folks do a lot of excursions so they spend a lot of money. We tend to set an amount we’ll spend at each stop and stick to it.

    Everyday you’ll get a schedule of ship activities. Since you’re going with TJ, there’ll be lots of activities planned for you. You’ll also find time to pull away and do some reading. It’s really up to you. Keep checking the TJ page. They should have a link to the ship and the TJ schedule and you’ll be able to plan.

    Most folks dress casually. We do bring something for formal nights, but the rest of the time its shorts and shirts. Hope this helps.

  4. LaShaunda, On the tipping, it’ll probably be included in your cruise fare. Most groups do that. Carnival adds $10/person/night to the tab automatically. You can pay it upfront or on the ship. You can even deduct it if you don’t way to pay. We usually just leave it on the room.

    You’ll need dollar bills for tipping for room service, if you use it, but that’s about it.

  5. Hi Dr. Benson,

    Got hooked to your blog! Not a good time to write a comment now except the last part of the dissertation. But reading about cruise was refreshing!

  6. Angela, I love going on cruises. I usually go by myself and end up meeting interesting people. I went on a 7 day cruise for $450 one year. I booked it the week of the cruise. I decided at the last minute to attend this book conference and the travel agent gave me a price I couldn’t refuse. LOL

    I like cruises because of the variety of entertainment and destinations at a low price and of course the people are interesting and the food is good.

  7. Hi Rini, get back to work!

    Shelia, I’m jealous. Don’t you enjoy yourself just a little more when you know you got a good deal? You did extremely well. So when’s your next cruise?

  8. My wife and I are thinking about taking a Carnival Vacation cruise to Progresso, Mexico, in addition to Cozumel. It is actually five Day trip leaving out of Mobile. Anyone have knowledge about this specific cruise vacation? I can’t dig up much information in relation to Progresso

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