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Tips needed for planning a cruise for 2016, 5 day Western Caribbean

bucklepants

Active Member
Original Poster
Sorry if some of these questions have been asked already:

We are planning a cruise for late 2016, 5 day Western Caribbean, leaving from Miami. (Me, DD who will be 9 and DH. We are thinking of going late November/ early Dec. How are the crowds? How is the weather? I've read that Castaway Cay can be chilly, what's chilly? I'm from the midwest, so swimming weather is 80 degrees to me.
We are planning on flying in the day before and staying overnight in Miami. Are there any suggestions for where to stay, decent price, decent place? (Aside from the couple I pulled up from Mousesavers?) We were hoping to find a place near a convenice store/super market so we can buy water, and other things to bring on the ship.
After the cruise we are hoping to rent a car and drive to WDW for a 3 stay stint at the parks.
I'm sure our DD will be very interested in the Ocean Club/Lab. Anything we should know about this? Do they seem to make friends easily?
We are thinking of doing an excursion of Snuba Diving. And then any advice for dos and don'ts on Castaway Cay would be great. (btw, Is it pronounced Kay or Key?)
This will be our first cruise, and any advice would be great. I've been trying to read up on things already.

Thanks in advance. Again, if there are already answers to some of these things please point me in the right direction. Thanks.
 
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ChuckElias

Well-Known Member
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First of all, love your profile picture. It reminds me of the church I grew up in!

Second of all, this is my second attempt at answering your post. The first time, I accidentally hit the back button and my response was gone. Hopefully, this one works.

We are thinking of going late November/ early Dec. How are the crowds? How is the weather? I've read that Castaway Cay can be chilly, what's chilly? I'm from the midwest, so swimming weather is 80 degrees to me.
The average high in Nassau at the end of Nov. is 81 degrees (the low is 69). So if you're ok with 80 degree weather for ocean swimming, you should be fine. We sailed in January, earlier this year, and it was a little too chilly for me, but there were still LOTS of people in the water.

I'm sorry, but I can't help much with Miami. I've only ever sailed out of Port Canaveral.

I'm sure our DD will be very interested in the Ocean Club/Lab. Anything we should know about this? Do they seem to make friends easily?
I'd make a couple of suggestions. 1) Register for the Oceaneer's Club during your online check-in. If you wait until you board the ship, it can be a bit of a madhouse. 2) Go to the Open House with your daughter. You get to walk around and see everything with her. It may help put your mind at ease a little bit. And it really WILL be alright, after all :)

As far as making friends easily, I'm sure every kid is different. My daughter was able to make a friend on our first cruise with no problem. There are lots of kids for her to mingle with and find somebody to play with. If she doesn't find somebody right away, there are plenty of Cast Members to make sure she's having fun.

And then any advice for dos and don'ts on Castaway Cay would be great. (btw, Is it pronounced Kay or Key?)
It's pronounced "key" :)

Castaway Cay is all about what you like to do as a family. If you just want a chair on the beach, all you have to do is get off the ship. No worries. If you want to lay in a hammock, you may want to get off the ship a little earlier (although being on a Classic ship, you'll have plenty of room on the island to spread out). If your daughter LOVES the Oceaneer's Club, you can actually leave her with the Club councilors and they have their own program on Castaway Cay, which would allow you and your husband to explore Serenity Bay (the adults area).

Don't worry about food, lunch is served. Don't bring any cash, everything is charged to your room key card. Think about renting bikes and riding around the island. It's one of my favorite low-stress activities there.

Most of all, RELAX. It's going to be great. Enjoy!
 
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dumboflyer

Well-Known Member
Chuck hit most of your questions, but I'll do my best to mop up what he didn't!

RE: Miami. We sailed from Ft Lauderdale last year. Best to double check which port the cruise actually sails from, as some info generically lists "South Florida" when these two ports are quite far apart. If you want a good overview of Miami, very highly recommend this tour. The port itself is near downtown, so the hotels that will be closest to the port will also be unlikely to have nearby convenience stores. There are Westin hotels near both Ft L and Miami ports, we've always liked those as a good mix of comfort and price.

[Side note on convenience stores: Unlike most cruise lines, Disney has free soft drinks and filtered water on deck and in restaurants. You can save yourself some money and some hauling by bringing a couple hard water bottles and refilling when you get off the ship.]

I am also from the Midwest, and had no problem swimming in the Atlantic pre-cruise (Thanksgiving time). Only one other family member joined me, though. You can get a really wide range of temps that time of year, either in Miami or Castaway Cay. Best to be prepared for anything and narrow your packing list a few days before you leave. You might get mid- to upper-80s, you might get upper 50s. We've had both.

There are countless tips any of us could add about ship life, but one of the best would be to book a brunch at Palo as soon as you can. You will not be disappointed.
 

mammaminnie

Well-Known Member
Yes definitely book Palo brunch if you can!! It is a nice opportunity for some adult only time, with a fabulous view and amazing food! We have sailed in December and found the water to be a great temperature to swim in (also a Midwest girl-Iowa, but now a Texas transplant). I haven't sailed out of Miami, but know of others that have. I believe Marriott has a nice resort right near the port, and depending on your view, you could wake up the morning of the cruise and look out the window at your ship :)

As for Castaway Cay, if you have a chance, stroll the 5k course around the island. There are some beautiful views along the way. You can climb a look out tower and see across most of the island and get some neat views of the ship. If your daughter really enjoys the kids activities, then I would consider taking even an hour or so on Castaway Cay to enjoy Serenity Bay while she enjoys kids activities. It is very calm and quiet over there which can be a nice break.

My oldest is pretty shy, and on her first cruise she did great in the clubs. The staff in there is great at helping even the shyest of kids make friends and get into the fun of it all.
 

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