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Old 11-26-2012, 01:50 PM   #1
kathleendsm
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Shorter cruises - your thoughts?

I could use some advice! Right now our family is booked on a 7 day Western Caribbean cruise on the Fantasy. We've gotten some cold feet though....we really want to try cruising, but are concerned that jumping in with such a long cruise. We're worried about seasickness and in particular, about our 4 year old DS who has special needs. I don't know how he'd do in the kids club (or even if they'll let him in), and if he doesn't want to be there it will be a LONG time to be trapped on a boat with him being bored. He's currently not potty trained so he couldn't go in the pools.

We're thinking instead that we'll get our feet wet with a 3 or 4 day cruise on the Dream, that way if it isn't for us, we aren't there for a while week. There seems to be about a $1200 difference for a family of 4 between the 3 and 4 day, and the itineraries are similar. Any feelings either way about which one you'd book in our place? On the 3 day it would be a really short time if it didn't work for us, but I've heard there can be a party atmosphere. Is it worth it to do the extra $1200 for the extra day (which I think is a sea day)?
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Old 11-26-2012, 02:13 PM   #2
PrincessShmoo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kathleendsm View Post
I could use some advice! Right now our family is booked on a 7 day Western Caribbean cruise on the Fantasy. We've gotten some cold feet though....we really want to try cruising, but are concerned that jumping in with such a long cruise. We're worried about seasickness and in particular, about our 4 year old DS who has special needs. I don't know how he'd do in the kids club (or even if they'll let him in), and if he doesn't want to be there it will be a LONG time to be trapped on a boat with him being bored. He's currently not potty trained so he couldn't go in the pools.

We're thinking instead that we'll get our feet wet with a 3 or 4 day cruise on the Dream, that way if it isn't for us, we aren't there for a while week. There seems to be about a $1200 difference for a family of 4 between the 3 and 4 day, and the itineraries are similar. Any feelings either way about which one you'd book in our place? On the 3 day it would be a really short time if it didn't work for us, but I've heard there can be a party atmosphere. Is it worth it to do the extra $1200 for the extra day (which I think is a sea day)?
While I'm firmly in the "longer is better" camp, I think, in your position I'd give the shorter cruise a try first. Probably the 4 night vs the 3 night. Just because it generally takes about 2-3 days to figure out where things are onboard and a 3 night means you're getting off before you've really reached that threshold. And on the 4 night there is one sea day (good for just relaxing).

I will point out that, being un-potty trained, your DS would not be elegible for Oceanears Club/Lab. I'm not sure about being in the nursery. But there is the option of you being able to take him to the Open Houses in the Club/Lab. They have these at least once each day in either the Club or Lab area. During Open House, kids of any age can participate in the activities along with their parents.

I don't know which 3/4 night cruises you're comparing, but I think a $1200 difference is quite significant. When were you planning to go? I did a quick check at DCL website and differences between 3 and 4 nights doesn't look that big - in the $500-900 range maybe.

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Old 11-26-2012, 02:43 PM   #3
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I would go with the shorter cruise to "get your feet wet".
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Old 11-26-2012, 02:51 PM   #4
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I would do the 4 night. On a 3 night, you really are only on the ship 2 1/2 days and you bounce from one port to another. On the 4 night, you get to enjoy a sea day. Since most 7 night cruises have 3 sea days, (or 2 + one late port arrival day), you'll want to see what the activity schedule is like on a sea day. The ship schedule is relatively light on port days; there is a lot more to do on a sea day.

In most cases, I recommend "longer is better," but in your situation, I'd go with 4 nights.
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Old 11-26-2012, 03:14 PM   #5
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We did a 3-night cruise on the Dream in 2011 to "get our feet wet" and although it was definitely short, we didn't feel like we were shortchanged at all. We loved it so much that we booked a 7-night this past year.

I would echo the previous posters - 7 nights is a long time if it turns out that your family does not enjoy cruising or if you have issues with seasickness (although I think this is less likely than you might think, especially with medication). I can also say that we did not experience a "party" atmosphere on the 3-night cruise at all.

When we did the 3-night cruise, our children were 4 and 6 and although we did take drop them off at the Lab & Club a couple times, the only thing you will miss out on by not being able to do that is the adult dining experiences in Palo or Remy. Of course, on the 7-day cruise, our kids loved the Lab & Club and were in it for 3-4 hours a day, which we appreciated as well.

Depending on what your son's special needs are though, it's hard to imagine him being bored on a Disney cruise ship. You also don't mention if you have other children or whether the purpose of the cruise is to entertain them, get some vacation time for you and your husband, or a mixture of all three.

Given our experience, I would absolutely book the 3-day cruise if you can save $1200. That's a significant chunk of change. One thing we did that you might consider is staying on the boat during the stop at Nassau. The boat will be less crowded then and you can get the benefits of a "sea" day without missing much in Nassau. Although there are fewer scheduled activities on a port day, there is still plenty to do on board the boat and those activities will be less crowded than they would on an "at sea" day.
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Old 11-26-2012, 03:42 PM   #6
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I have a DS with special needs, we've done a 4 night and a 7 night. I'd actually recommend the 7 day for you. On our 4 night, It took DS a few days just to get used to the ship, so he just started to have a good time and then it was over. On the 7 day, he had time to adjust and enjoy, there was so many things for him to do, and we could do his favourites over
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Old 11-26-2012, 03:59 PM   #7
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I actually experienced the same as the above poster. My son is 3 with special needs. It took him until day 3 to really enjoy anything, and to totally calm down from all the new stimulating things. We also spent time in our room so he could cool down, or just have some quiet down time, and we didn't feel like we were missing out in everything, because we had 7 days.

He was able to be left in the nursery since he is not potty trained, and developmentally more with the nursery kids. We only used it once for palo, but he loved it, and they were great with him! We also took him into the club during open house hours, which he loved! The staff in there were very understanding of his needs and wonderful with him, too.

Of course, what works for one family doesn't work for all, and only you know how he reacts to new things. Good luck! I hope you all enjoy it!
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Old 11-26-2012, 04:04 PM   #8
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I would vote for the 4 night as well. With a 3 night you'd barely feel like you're getting into the swing of things before it was time to leave.

As for the potty training issue, I'd speak to the cruiseline about it directly if you haven't already. If he's unable to learn at this point due to developmental delays, there should be some sort of policy. There are many kids with special needs who have these issues and it would be discriminatory to keep special needs kids out of the clubs for that reason. I can understand the pools as its a health issue, but on our last cruise there was a girl in a wheelchair enjoying the clubs and surely she wasn't independent. I'm sure you're on top of this already, but a call ahead of time to discuss his needs would be very reassuring.
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Old 11-26-2012, 04:06 PM   #9
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I totally agree with the other special needs moms!! We have a DD 10 (was 9 on our cruise three weeks ago) and it took her a few days to settle in to the cruise. She had a great time and really enjoyed it! If we had done a 3 or 4 day it would have been too stressful for her. She would have just been getting comfortable then we would have had to leave. We brought our 4 youngest on the cruise and I gave Dramamine to everyone the night before we boarded but no one had a problem!
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Old 11-26-2012, 04:26 PM   #10
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PS. One thing I did with all the kids that I think really helped (especially with our special needs daughter ) was that we sat down at the computer, went to the Disney cruise website and watched every video they had on our ship. This have the kids a chance to see what their room looked like, the restaurants we were going to be eating at, the pools and for our kids the club. We watched the videos over and over and it made all of them a lot more comfortable!
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Old 11-26-2012, 05:26 PM   #11
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We've been on 2 cruises, 1st one was before kids....it was a 7 day. I personally think it was too long. By the 5 or 6th night we were ready for home. Our 2nd cruise was a 5 night and it was perfect. It's not that we got bored or whatever, we had a blast both times, we just prefer the shorter. Whenever we go on our next cruise will be with the kids, so shorter will be better anyway. Good luck!
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Old 11-26-2012, 05:30 PM   #12
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I don't have alot of experience with the care of a special needs child but I will say that if I had to choose a 3 or 4 night cruise I would go with 4 because like stated above on the 3 you are really only on for 2 1/2 days and it's just too short.
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Old 11-26-2012, 05:38 PM   #13
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A 4 night is the perfect "starter" cruise. Our first was a 7 night shortened to a 4 night with one port stop. It's long enough to enjoy the ship and have a sea day and short enough that if someone doesn't like cruising you will be off soon.
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Old 11-26-2012, 06:03 PM   #14
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DH and I cruise and we do 7 day, but with it being the kids' first time (and our first family vacation) he is adamant that we only do 3 days. If it goes badly (for any reason, including one of our kids getting pretty bad motion sickness in the car, so we are worried), it will all be over quickly.

Ends up for school and work reasons, we felt the 3 day was better this time around anyway.

It won't stop DH and I from cruising in the future together (including a 5 day later next year), but it will be an indicator if we will take the kids again. We'd likely do a 7 day with the kids next time if it goes well this time.
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Old 11-26-2012, 07:03 PM   #15
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My first cruise ever was a 4 night. If it were only me, I would consider a 3 night for a "first time" but I think with a family it would be way too hectic? We recently took our first 7 day cruise and I hope we can always do longer cruising from now on! That said, I personally wouldn't have booked a longer cruise for my "first time", although you will love it I'm sure. Change to a 4 day if you must, but the 7 is ideal!
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