We’re Going On A Cruise!

A couple weeks ago we asked for your help in choosing a cruise for this fall.  Thanks to your input, we made a decision and booked a cruise!  We will be sailing on the Caribbean Princess on October 1 out of New York City to New England and Canada.  We are so excited and I have decided to take you with us on our planning and cruise.  Though I have taken classes on Princess and feel I know a lot about Princess Cruises, there is much to learn so I want to share that with all of you.  Over the next couple of months, we’ll take you through our decision, booking and research and finish up with the cruise itself.

We’ll start with our decision to book a Princess Cruise.

We first looked at MSC Cruises because they had a training cruise that I could go on starting on October 8.  The cruise was seven nights and went from New York City to Quebec City.  I started looking at airfare prices before committing to this date.  Flights into New York City were not that bad.  We could do this for less than $100 apiece, including taxes.  Then I looked at flying home from Quebec.  Our first problem had occurred.

Quebec City to Milwaukee or Madison was going to be close to $400 a person!  This would not work.  Airfare would cost nearly as much as the cruise itself.  I looked at taking the train to Montreal — not too bad.  But airfare was still quite a bit.  I figured the best way would be to take a train to the US and then fly home.  The only option seemed to be to take Amtrak to Albany, New York, but airfare was still high, as was the train.

We decided a one way cruise would only work if we could get reasonable airfare through the cruise line.  Because this was a training cruise for me, they were not offering airfare for travel agents.

We really wanted to do the New England/Canada itinerary since Disney would be doing this next year and I have many clients on this itinerary.  I have also wanted to try Princess Cruises for a while now.  We decided it would be the Caribbean Princess, operating roundtrip cruises from New York City, up to Halifax and St John.

So which date do we choose?  We figured we can go anywhere from September 24 to the beginning of November.  The first thing we did was to check out the differences in itineraries.  All of the cruises stopped in Halifax and St John.  They all stopped in Newport, Rhode and Boston, Massachusetts, but some went to Portland, Maine and some went to Bar Harbor, Maine.  The overwhelming majority of our friends suggested Bar Harbor so this helped to eliminate a couple cruise dates.  We finally settled on October 1 over October 29 because even if October 1 is a little early for the fall colors in the southern part of our journey, October 29 would probably be too late for most of our itinerary.  October 1 it is!!

Next we needed to decide which type of room we would like.  We eliminated the inside rooms because I just want to have a window to determine if it is day or night out when I wake up.  I didn’t care if it was an obstructed window, I just wanted a window.  There are a number of categories within a category.  There are inside, obstructed oceanview, oceanview, balcony, mini-suites and suites.  For this sailing, I couldn’t get an oceanview or suite but the rest were available.  We initially wanted a balcony because we wanted to be able to see colors on the shore while sailing and didn’t want a blocked view.  When I went to book, I noticed that the room numbers available were not really obstructed.  After discussing it with my husband, we decided to give it a try.  Unfortunately, by the time I went to book, those rooms were also not available.  So we booked a balcony.  The mini-suites didn’t seem to give us enough benefits over the balcony.

Since we booked on the 75th day prior to sailing, payment was due in full immediately.  I added the travel insurance through Princess as I found the price to be comparable to what I could get independently.  Also, if we did have to cancel for any reason, we would get 75% of our cruise fare as a credit.  We could upgrade to the premium insurance and qualify for 100% credit, but it wasn’t worth it to us.

We also decided to add transfers from La Guardia to the port.  We’ve never been to New York City and didn’t plan to come in early so we did not want to have to worry about getting to the port.  Typically, I’m nervous flying in on the same day as a cruise, but a couple factors made this decision easier.

First, we found three direct flights in the morning arriving no later than 12:15 pm. Therefore, if we miss one flight, we have two more options to get there on time without transfers.  Second, we could easily catch up to the ship in Newport, Rhode Island.  So airfare to the ship was now booked!

After the cruise was more of a mystery.  We contacted a friend who lives north of the city to see if they wanted to get together after the cruise.  We decided to stay an extra night and spend time with them.  Rather than fly home from one of the NYC airports, we decided to fly from closer to their house.  Finding the right flights proved to be difficult, but we finally agreed to fly home late at night and take the next day off work.  This would give us a couple days with our friends.

Now we have the cruise, insurance and airfare taken care of!  No need to book any car rentals or hotel at the airport so we’re all set and ready to go, right?  Oh no, there’s so much more for us to plan, especially since we are planners!  Watch for our next blog as we continue on our journey to our first Princess Cruise!

3 responses to this post.

  1. NEWPORT!

    Reply

  2. Posted by georgemoe on July 25, 2011 at 10:29 AM

    What day in Bar Harbor Tracy?

    Reply

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