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#1
Vancouver, BC, Canada
6 Posts
Joined Aug 2018
Hi everyone!
After being overwhelmed by variety of cruise options we settled on Allure of the Seas with Royal Caribbean in October.
I was just recommended to this forum from a friend and the amount of information here is staggering I don't know where to start?!

A little info on me.
This will be me and my families first time cruising. There will be 7 of us, 5 between 25-35, one who is about 60 and a 2 year old.

The itinerary for docking is Nassau - Cozumel - Roatan - Costa Maya

One of my top questions is; what is the experience like once landing on the ports?
I've heard how you are bombarded by people trying to sell you excursions and/or merchandise. A Southeast Asian family like us would be prey for the locals?

- I was hoping if it's possible, my ideal docking would be to cab to a local beautiful warm sunny beach and relax, possibly grab lunch at a local favourite restaurant (I'm a MAJOR foodie) then get back on the ship.
If possible, maybe do some small excursions (beachside snorkeling, or a quick water sport like jet-ski?)
Due to the baby and older member that won't participate we don't want to ditch them for 4-5 hours on a long excursion.

- Would anyone have suggestions where to go or what to do at each port stop?

- I guess I will also need to download the RC App to start reserving onboard shows and restaurants? Do those tend to fill up fast? Should I be worried and start booking right now? Which restaurants are recommended? I'm not even sure which ones are inclusive and which ones are pay.

- Also I've read conflicting reports about bringing wine onboard. Is it an automatic $15 bottle charge for bringing your own wine onboard or is it only charged if we bring it to drink at the restaurants? Is it more cost-efficient to just buy drinks on board if we only bring cheaper $10-20 wines? We won't be drinking much, mostly just me haha.

Sorry for all these newbish questions, I'm not the best at researching.
I just want everyone's first cruise to be a great experience.

If anyone can chip in or direct me to the appropriate forum if this is the wrong place, I would be appreciate that.
Thanks!
#2
Central Illinois
135,152 Posts
Joined Apr 2008
For info on the port stops, check out the port of call forums:https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forumdisplay.php?f=587

You don't need an app to make reservations, you can use a web browser to go to Royal's website, click on Already Booked, and use the Cruise Planner.

Royal allows two 750ml bottles of wine per stateroom, regardless of how many guests are booked in the stateroom. You may get charged $15 per bottle if you consume the bottle in a public venue.

Try the dedicated RC forum for more info: https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forumdisplay.php?f=83
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#3
Orange County, CA, USA
2,209 Posts
Joined Apr 2012
Obsideon: Listen to Bob. Although I sometimes bristle at people answering with "just" directions to look somewhere else on these boards, this time he is 100% right.

I've never sailed the Caribbean, but have been all over the world. I think it's Caucasians that are pegged as easy marks everywhere! Asians are "inscrutable" you know?!!

(Said only partly in jest!) Just don't meet their eyes if you don't want to shop or hear the spiel.

ETA: I too am about to cruise with a family group of 7 -- ages from 36 to 79. You're doing fine in the planning of not-too-much activity but enough to enrich everyone!
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#4
Lee-on-the-Solent, England
12,448 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Originally posted by Host Clarea

Royal allows two 750ml bottles of wine per stateroom, regardless of how many guests are booked in the stateroom. You may get charged $15 per bottle if you consume the bottle in a public venue.
Hi, and welcome to Cruise Critic,

I think that RCI's policy on taking your own wine into restaurants etc, changed last year (early this year?), and there's no longer a charge. Hence the confusion.

South-east Asians prey to the Caribbean locals selling excursions & merchandise?
I don't think so
I've never met such determined negotiators as those in SE Asia - please be gentle with those in the Caribbean, they're rank amateurs compared to Asians

Have a great cruise

JB
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#5
United States
3,144 Posts
Joined Jul 2014
No, the was back to charging, but people have seldom reported being charged.

And the charge is only for having the bottle in public. If you pour glasses of wine in your cabin and carry them to dinner, there is never a charge.

Actually, having traveled to SEA recently, I would say the Caribbean ports are no worse, and maybe less so, that SEA for trying to sell you things.

I have not felt overpressued to buy anything.
#6
MA
577 Posts
Joined Jan 2003
Hi everyone!
After being overwhelmed by variety of cruise options we settled on Allure of the Seas with Royal Caribbean in October.
I was just recommended to this forum from a friend and the amount of information here is staggering I don't know where to start?!
Hi and welcome to cruising. First take a breath and relax, it is vacation not an endurance test. Figure out what the family wants from the ports – sightseeing, beach time, snorkeling, local food and plan from there.

A little info on me.
This will be me and my families first time cruising. There will be 7 of us, 5 between 25-35, one who is about 60 and a 2 year old.
My son and his family started sailing with us when our granddaughter was about 2YO.

The itinerary for docking is Nassau - Cozumel - Roatan - Costa Maya

One of my top questions is; what is the experience like once landing on the ports?
I've heard how you are bombarded by people trying to sell you excursions and/or merchandise. A Southeast Asian family like us would be prey for the locals? Pretend the vendors are your 2YO and just keep saying NO.

The itinerary for docking is Nassau - Cozumel - Roatan - Costa Maya

We are not really foodies so not much help there. Nassau has some nice shops and if you are a haggler you can get some great deals. Your 2 YO may not enjoy that, I know my grandkids do not. Usually during our stop in Nassau this is our plan: (first at any of the stops we never rush off the ship, we wait until disembarkation calms down ) we get off the ship and turn right and head to Junkaroo Beach. With a toddler is can be a nice lazy walk. The beach is free, has bathrooms, vendors selling food and drinks, renting chairs and umbrellas. Some even rent water toys or let you use them if you rent chairs. We have been there when they have had DJs, played games – volleyball, trivia, etc – When we have had enough sun and fun we walk back. Sometimes we stop at golden Arches for the kids. Often those in our group that are tired head directly to the ship while others stay shopping in town. We have never done it but you can walk past Junkaroo Beach to Arawak Cay to the restaurants there for fish fry. I have heard they have good food and several places to try the fish and conch fritters.
You could also do he Blue Lagoon excursion. Last time we went, half our party went back early and half stayed until the last ferry back. Don’t think you have to all stay together. The weather, terrain and other things might make it so that the older or younger ones need to go back early. You can always find cabs to take you to the ship...even if there is a language barrier as long as you know the ship they can get you there. Just set a price first if not posted.

Nassau is a fun place to hop from store to store an get the freebies to take home to friends and family.
In Cozumel I would recommend chankanaab park. I would find their website and check out the park and pricing. It has been years since we have been there so I do not know the cost. My DIL swam with the dolphins there. This would need a taxi ride but taxis are easily accessible at the cruise port. To tell you the truth the last time we were in Cozumel we did not even make it out of the port area. To me the vendor were way to aggressive and I did not feel like dealing with them. We were on a megaship. We had always been to Cozumel on smaller ships that docked near town and you just walked into town. Pretend the vendors are your 2YO and just keep saying NO.
It has been a few years since we have been to Roatan but I would recommend a cab ride to foster Beach.


Sorry for all these newbish questions, I'm not the best at researching.
I just want everyone's first cruise to be a great experience.
As someone else said go to the ports of call forum for information. Check out the tourism sites for the places you are going.

I know what you are going through – planning a cruise for family --- but relax, go with the flow, the less you fret the more released everyone will be. As my son reminded be the first couple of times they cruised with us--- “Relax, Ma, its vacation it is all good.”


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Ruth

Started cruising in 1991 since then:
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NCL - 23 cruises
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#7
Toronto area, Ontario, Canada
999 Posts
Joined Sep 2001
Hi,

I would suggest as a new cruiser that you keep in mind a few things:
- traffic in the ports - usually heaviest in the last couple hours before back on board time as everyone heads back to the ships
- travel times to the locations you want to visit
- when you need to be back on board

If you are unfamiliar with the ports you should consider the ship offered tours. If you are on a ship's tour the ship will wait for you to return if the tour is late returning.
If you are on your own and late, they will not wait. The ship will leave and it will be up to you to get yourselves to the ship at the next port.
Lots of threads on this and google ship runners on you tube for videos.

Relax & Enjoy your vacation!
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#8
MA
577 Posts
Joined Jan 2003
cruisintoddler,



very good and sound advice
Even when we started cruising in the dark ages, we hardly did a ship tour if I could find enough good information about the port. When my son and family started, he did mainly ships tours because of the little ones.
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Ruth

Started cruising in 1991 since then:
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#9
Vancouver
707 Posts
Joined Dec 2013
Originally posted by Obsideon
I've heard how you are bombarded by people trying to sell you excursions and/or merchandise.
I've found this to be particularly bad in Nassau. There's none in Roatan and not too bad in Costa Maya
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#10
MA
577 Posts
Joined Jan 2003
I agree Nassau is one of the worst ports but if you can get through the end of the pier and terminal area to the street you are fine. I have learned to not make eye contact, keep my hand up in the "stop" position and just keep waking.
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Ruth

Started cruising in 1991 since then:
RCCL - 4 cruises
Celebrity - 7 cruises
Princess - 6 cruises
NCL - 23 cruises
Chandris - 1 cruise
#11
Fredericksburg, va. USA
88,287 Posts
Joined May 2001
On RCI, as long as you keep your wine in your cabin, there's no "corkage" fee. Pour a BIG glass before heading to dinner, if you want! You may take food/drink anywhere on the ship.

As far as your ports go...you MUST do your research. Either google your ports, or go to the library and check out a guidebook. The more you know, the better (and cheaper) time you can have in port. What is a "must do" for one will not work for someone else. You MUST do your research, or settle for paying high prices for ship's excursion...or just wandering aimlessly on your own. Get off your ass and research your ports!
#12
Vancouver, BC, Canada
6 Posts
Joined Aug 2018
Originally posted by Host Clarea
For info on the port stops, check out the port of call forums:https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forumdisplay.php?f=587

You don't need an app to make reservations, you can use a web browser to go to Royal's website, click on Already Booked, and use the Cruise Planner.

Royal allows two 750ml bottles of wine per stateroom, regardless of how many guests are booked in the stateroom. You may get charged $15 per bottle if you consume the bottle in a public venue.

Try the dedicated RC forum for more info: https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forumdisplay.php?f=83
Thank you for all your responses this is a great place for information! I will check out the sub-forums when I have time, 60 hours of work and a baby suddenly makes you appreciate the extra free times haha.
I actually got an email after I registered through the app. The email links me to the website to make reservations, and frankly it's easier to use than the App.

Originally posted by John Bull
South-east Asians prey to the Caribbean locals selling excursions & merchandise?
I don't think so
I've never met such determined negotiators as those in SE Asia - please be gentle with those in the Caribbean, they're rank amateurs compared to Asians

Have a great cruise

JB
Haha I know exactly what you are talking about, (un)fortunately we are mostly Canadian-born and quite naive compared to the "OG" Asians. When we went to Hong Kong and China a few years back we got eaten alive by the counter-hagglers!

Side story: I wanted to buy a leather belt from a shop in Shanghai, there were no price tags. The guy says "$30!" ... me thinking I'm all sauve... countered with "$12 or I'm walking away!"... he says "okok you are smart guy, $15 is the best I can do" and I'm thinking to myself "SCORE! I got 50% off!" and bought it ... then my friend (who lives there) who was shopping in another area met up with me after, I excitedly told her about my bargaining skills... she laughed so hard, and said that belt would be sold to a local for $10 before bargaining.
#13
Vancouver, BC, Canada
6 Posts
Joined Aug 2018
Originally posted by agargoyle
Figure out what the family wants from the ports – sightseeing, beach time, snorkeling, local food and plan from there.
Mostly relaxing, maybe snorkle at 1 of the 4 ports (just once is enough for us), rest can be spent relaxing on the beach. Our hometown is not known for tropical weather, it's rain most of the time lol. Definitely want to try some local cuisine as I love to eat. I might end up spending more time in the ship buffet than anywhere else haha.

We are not really foodies so not much help there. Nassau has some nice shops and if you are a haggler you can get some great deals. Your 2 YO may not enjoy that, I know my grandkids do not. Usually during our stop in Nassau this is our plan: (first at any of the stops we never rush off the ship, we wait until disembarkation calms down ) we get off the ship and turn right and head to Junkaroo Beach. With a toddler is can be a nice lazy walk. The beach is free, has bathrooms, vendors selling food and drinks, renting chairs and umbrellas. Some even rent water toys or let you use them if you rent chairs. We have been there when they have had DJs, played games – volleyball, trivia, etc – When we have had enough sun and fun we walk back. Sometimes we stop at golden Arches for the kids. Often those in our group that are tired head directly to the ship while others stay shopping in town. We have never done it but you can walk past Junkaroo Beach to Arawak Cay to the restaurants there for fish fry. I have heard they have good food and several places to try the fish and conch fritters.
You could also do he Blue Lagoon excursion. Last time we went, half our party went back early and half stayed until the last ferry back. Don’t think you have to all stay together. The weather, terrain and other things might make it so that the older or younger ones need to go back early. You can always find cabs to take you to the ship...even if there is a language barrier as long as you know the ship they can get you there. Just set a price first if not posted.

Nassau is a fun place to hop from store to store an get the freebies to take home to friends and family.
In Cozumel I would recommend chankanaab park. I would find their website and check out the park and pricing. It has been years since we have been there so I do not know the cost. My DIL swam with the dolphins there. This would need a taxi ride but taxis are easily accessible at the cruise port. To tell you the truth the last time we were in Cozumel we did not even make it out of the port area. To me the vendor were way to aggressive and I did not feel like dealing with them. We were on a megaship. We had always been to Cozumel on smaller ships that docked near town and you just walked into town. Pretend the vendors are your 2YO and just keep saying NO.
It has been a few years since we have been to Roatan but I would recommend a cab ride to foster Beach.
Thank you for this response! Very very helpful! I will be printing this to bring with me!

As someone else said go to the ports of call forum for information. Check out the tourism sites for the places you are going.
I will check that out soon!
Originally posted by CoW mAn
I've found this to be particularly bad in Nassau. There's none in Roatan and not too bad in Costa Maya
Good to know!

Originally posted by agargoyle
I agree Nassau is one of the worst ports but if you can get through the end of the pier and terminal area to the street you are fine. I have learned to not make eye contact, keep my hand up in the "stop" position and just keep waking.
Like this?

#14
Vancouver, BC, Canada
6 Posts
Joined Aug 2018
Originally posted by cb at sea
On RCI, as long as you keep your wine in your cabin, there's no "corkage" fee. Pour a BIG glass before heading to dinner, if you want! You may take food/drink anywhere on the ship.

As far as your ports go...you MUST do your research. Either google your ports, or go to the library and check out a guidebook. The more you know, the better (and cheaper) time you can have in port. What is a "must do" for one will not work for someone else. You MUST do your research, or settle for paying high prices for ship's excursion...or just wandering aimlessly on your own. Get off your ass and research your ports!
That is great advice! Will definitely pour out big glasses of wine to wander around the ship then refill before dinner haha.

Yes I figure that would need to happen eventually, just wanted to read up on fellow cruisers experience first before diving into the sponsored websites that sometimes have biased (paid) opinions.

Oh another question, is (free) WiFi available anywhere on the ship? Or is it always paid?
If I switch sim card to a USA simcard with data, would that work?
#15
Orange County, CA, USA
2,209 Posts
Joined Apr 2012
Ship's wifi is never free (except perhaps apps that only work for ship's activities and MAYBE messaging to other passengers -- HAL has this, called Navigator).

Glad you didn't take offense at the "Asians are inscrutable"!
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#16
British Columbia
850 Posts
Joined Jun 2014
Originally posted by crystalspin
Ship's wifi is never free (except perhaps apps that only work for ship's activities and MAYBE messaging to other passengers --
Some cruise lines do provide free wi-fi. Viking Ocean has unlimited free wi-fi for all passengers on every cruise.
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Andy & Judi

World Cruise & RV'ing Blog: www.andyandjudi.com

Upcoming Cruises
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Previous Cruises
1976 Uganda - Meddy
1977 Oriana - Vancouver to Sydney
1978 Oriana - UK
1978 Canberra - UK
1979 Uganda - Meddy
1979 Island Princess - Alaska B2B, Mexico B2B
1980 Sun Princess - Alaska B2B, Mexico B2B
1999 Sun Princess - Alaska
2002 Radiance of the Seas - Alaska
2005 Coral Princess - Panama
2005 Dawn Princess - West Coastal
2007 Dawn Princess - Mexico
2008 Island Princess - Panama
2008 Diamond Princess - Asia B2B
2010 Island Princess - Panama
2011 Diamond Princess - Alaska B2B
2013 Sapphire Princess - Alaska B2B
2014 Emerald Princess - Caribbean B2B
2014 Emerald Princess - Trans Atlantic
2015 Sea Princess - World Cruise
2017 CMV Columbus - Baltic
#17
Las Vegas
11,978 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
Originally posted by crystalspin
Obsideon: Listen to Bob. Although I sometimes bristle at people answering with "just" directions to look somewhere else on these boards, this time he is 100% right.

I've never sailed the Caribbean, but have been all over the world. I think it's Caucasians that are pegged as easy marks everywhere! Asians are "inscrutable" you know?!!

(Said only partly in jest!) Just don't meet their eyes if you don't want to shop or hear the spiel.

ETA: I too am about to cruise with a family group of 7 -- ages from 36 to 79. You're doing fine in the planning of not-too-much activity but enough to enrich everyone!
I would disagree w you on this statement. I believe in the idea that if you give a man a fish, they will be hungry tomorrow; if you teach him how to fish, he will have fish to eat tomorrow. You have to agree that most of the questions that most people ask can be easily answered with a very simple Google search. If you answer the question instead of sending them to Google, they will never learn how to use Google and they will keep on coming back to CC to get answers to simplest questions.

There are also obviously difficult questions. For these, I usually provide a link to a WEB site with the answer instead of answering it directly. Again, my hope is that Google is useful even more the difficult questions.

In the end, my approach gives the people the answers they need. I just go about it in a different way.

DON
#18
MA
577 Posts
Joined Jan 2003
Obsideon


I love the hand gif --- and yes just like that!
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Ruth

Started cruising in 1991 since then:
RCCL - 4 cruises
Celebrity - 7 cruises
Princess - 6 cruises
NCL - 23 cruises
Chandris - 1 cruise
#19
Vancouver, BC, Canada
6 Posts
Joined Aug 2018
Originally posted by donaldsc
I would disagree w you on this statement. I believe in the idea that if you give a man a fish, they will be hungry tomorrow; if you teach him how to fish, he will have fish to eat tomorrow. You have to agree that most of the questions that most people ask can be easily answered with a very simple Google search. If you answer the question instead of sending them to Google, they will never learn how to use Google and they will keep on coming back to CC to get answers to simplest questions.

There are also obviously difficult questions. For these, I usually provide a link to a WEB site with the answer instead of answering it directly. Again, my hope is that Google is useful even more the difficult questions.

In the end, my approach gives the people the answers they need. I just go about it in a different way.

DON
I completely agree with you.
However, sometimes not everyone always has the time to do research on new topics and it's easier to ask a trusted community of experienced people for quick answers rather than digging through the vast internet for random answers, where most of them are usually out-dated, confusing or straight up wrong (like the wine fee is a good example). That's what these great communities are for!

But as you did suggest, I am browsing the Port of Call subforum, haven't got around to all the threads yet but thanks again!

Sorry but another question, most of us are usually night owls and used to sleeping quite late.
I was originally planning to do some work and maybe surf some net before I sleep. Now discovering there will only be expensive Wifi. What is there for us to do at night? Is there still stuff to do later at night? Anything open? The only thing I can think of, and I would prefer not to, is the casino? Basketball court? Gym? Arcade? Do they shut it all down at certain times?
I also noticed there is a pizza shop open till 3am... haha but can't do that every night...