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friends, planning for my first caribbean vacation and need expert suggestions from NJ.

My time frame is between April or May 13. Looking for comfortable vacation around 7 days for us as well as kids.

should we go for cruise or All inclusive.

Please suggest All inclusive island and best kids friendly AI resorts. I have looked at beaches and hard rock resorts but seems very expensive. Doing some research on AI but very hard to get anything less than 5k for 7 days luxury vacation.

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All Inclusive... I took a 2 and 5 year old to Catalonia Riviera Maya, near Cancun, and had a great time..

Disney cruise for the kids. They will love you for it. Well OK, the 5 year old will. The 10 month won't even know.

bookreader54321 said:   Disney cruise for the kids. They will love you for it. Well OK, the 5 year old will. The 10 month won't even know.

Unless you go Diseny when they are dead, which is one week in February, apparantely, you are not going to enjoy it. We went last year from christmas through New Years on a packaged deal (cruise, and stay at the resort) NEVER AGAIN!!!

Cruise: Packed to the gills. Standing room only in the pools. Unsupervised kids getting into "adults only" areas. If you want to do anything with Disney characters you have to stand in line for hours and hours for just a 30 second photo op. The only time we actually got to enjoy the pool and water slides is after all the kids were in bed, which is like 11 pm on Disney.

I am comparing this to cruising on Celebrity, Royal Carribean and even Carnival.

The resorts. We actually never made it to any of the parks. By the time we were up and ready to go, by 9 am (yes, we are on vacation and like to sleep in) the parks were at capacity. So, we hung out at the resort, and Disney downtown, and actually took the bus to go to Universal, which was reasonably packed, but manageable.

It really seemed like a "Disney vacation" was more of a rat race than work. You really have to be a Disney fan to want to spend that kind of money, and effort to go on vacation that actually seems like work. Disney was easily 3X the cost of Carnival, 2X the cost of Royal Carribean, and on par with Celebrity. But, on Celebrity, you are treated like royalty.

Edit: The "nice" part about Disney cruise was that we didn't see our daughter all day. She was off to her kids club and she was back at bed time.

Edit 2: This time, we are looking for hotel stays in the Netherland Antilles (ABC islands of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao). It will be our fisrt island hopping tirp with the child. We did it when we were childless, and have very fond memories.

My wife and I stayed at an all inclusive in playa del carmen area-secrets maroma beach- was super nice, around 500/night for a very very high end place. We left the kids with her parents. No way in h@ll I would take my kids with me on that vacation (it was all inclusive adults only resort-could't take them anyway). They wouldn't enjoy it and would have made my life miserable. I love my kids and all, but vacationing without them was just incredible.

We have disney vacation next year, and I'm already drinking heavily in preparation. It is gonna suck, but I feel compelled to check that off my vacation list.

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g150812-d1007582-Reviews...

that is where we stayed- I know it's adult only so if you want to bring your kids, you will have to look around. But that general area was great. Just filter for a top rated tripadvisor allinclusive resort and you will be ok.

Have not yet done a cruise because we like the AI vacations so much. We've gone about seven times to Mexico, Jamaica, and Dominican Republic. Our favorite resort chains have been Now, Grand Palladium, and Gran Bahia Principe. All of these have kids clubs with what look to be lots of activities (we don't have kids but have heard good things from others at the resorts). We actually like the Riveria Maya in Mexico the best because there is a lot to do. If you have to have an island we liked Punta Cana, one of the best beaches I've ever been to.

We have used Apple Vacations for booking the trips and have been very pleased with them.
http://www.applevacations.com/

They are great in that they include all of your round trip ground transportation, airfare, and the resort. No hidden charges and brain dead easy trips, just book and show up to the airport on time.

I have not traveled with children so I can't comment on prices including them. That said I booked a trip to Now Amber in Puerto Vallarta in June and it was under $6k including air from Chicago for a week. As such I would think you could easily find something in the $3k-$4k range depending on how picky you are about resort. (check the specials section on Apple's site for the best deals, prices also tend to get better as you get closer to the date)

I agree w/blueiedgod about the timing. I've taken my daughter to Florida too many times and am no longer a fan of their rat race (or mouse race...ha ha). We've also gone on the Disney cruise - LOVED it. But it is expensive, as you know. We've also taken a Celebrity Cruise and had a great time. One of her favorites - All-inclusive Dreams Resort, Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. Or Dreams All-Inclusive La Romana, Dominican Republic. I preferred Dreams in DR because the service was amazing. Ya can't go wrong with either. They have a lot of activities for kids and families to participate in together. Good luck and have fun!

From my experience:
Your 5 y/o will not remember much of a visit to a special and pricey place like disney or a cruise better to do that in the 7-9 y/o range closer to 9 and then the 4 y/o will get something out of it.
I would not spend the money on AI because you won't get much out of it because you'll be with the kids -where you should be. Your 5 y/o will be more than happy just being on the beach with some toys and a mask an fins. But if a choice between AI and a cruise I would do the AI at this age.

blueiedgod said:   bookreader54321 said:   Disney cruise for the kids. They will love you for it. Well OK, the 5 year old will. The 10 month won't even know.

Unless you go Diseny when they are dead, which is one week in February, apparantely, you are not going to enjoy it. We went last year from christmas through New Years on a packaged deal (cruise, and stay at the resort) NEVER AGAIN!!!

Cruise: Packed to the gills. Standing room only in the pools. Unsupervised kids getting into "adults only" areas. If you want to do anything with Disney characters you have to stand in line for hours and hours for just a 30 second photo op. The only time we actually got to enjoy the pool and water slides is after all the kids were in bed, which is like 11 pm on Disney.

I am comparing this to cruising on Celebrity, Royal Carribean and even Carnival.

The resorts. We actually never made it to any of the parks. By the time we were up and ready to go, by 9 am (yes, we are on vacation and like to sleep in) the parks were at capacity. So, we hung out at the resort, and Disney downtown, and actually took the bus to go to Universal, which was reasonably packed, but manageable.

It really seemed like a "Disney vacation" was more of a rat race than work. You really have to be a Disney fan to want to spend that kind of money, and effort to go on vacation that actually seems like work. Disney was easily 3X the cost of Carnival, 2X the cost of Royal Carribean, and on par with Celebrity. But, on Celebrity, you are treated like royalty.

Edit: The "nice" part about Disney cruise was that we didn't see our daughter all day. She was off to her kids club and she was back at bed time.

Edit 2: This time, we are looking for hotel stays in the Netherland Antilles (ABC islands of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao). It will be our fisrt island hopping tirp with the child. We did it when we were childless, and have very fond memories.



Going on a Disney cruise from Christmas to New Years? Wow, bad move. That is the busiest time ever for anything Disney related. Everyone wants to spend the holidays with Mickey and everything fills up. Two weeks before and it would have been a totally different experience.

bookreader54321 said:   blueiedgod said:   bookreader54321 said:   Disney cruise for the kids. They will love you for it. Well OK, the 5 year old will. The 10 month won't even know.

Unless you go Diseny when they are dead, which is one week in February, apparantely, you are not going to enjoy it. We went last year from christmas through New Years on a packaged deal (cruise, and stay at the resort) NEVER AGAIN!!!

Cruise: Packed to the gills. Standing room only in the pools. Unsupervised kids getting into "adults only" areas. If you want to do anything with Disney characters you have to stand in line for hours and hours for just a 30 second photo op. The only time we actually got to enjoy the pool and water slides is after all the kids were in bed, which is like 11 pm on Disney.

I am comparing this to cruising on Celebrity, Royal Carribean and even Carnival.

The resorts. We actually never made it to any of the parks. By the time we were up and ready to go, by 9 am (yes, we are on vacation and like to sleep in) the parks were at capacity. So, we hung out at the resort, and Disney downtown, and actually took the bus to go to Universal, which was reasonably packed, but manageable.

It really seemed like a "Disney vacation" was more of a rat race than work. You really have to be a Disney fan to want to spend that kind of money, and effort to go on vacation that actually seems like work. Disney was easily 3X the cost of Carnival, 2X the cost of Royal Carribean, and on par with Celebrity. But, on Celebrity, you are treated like royalty.

Edit: The "nice" part about Disney cruise was that we didn't see our daughter all day. She was off to her kids club and she was back at bed time.

Edit 2: This time, we are looking for hotel stays in the Netherland Antilles (ABC islands of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao). It will be our fisrt island hopping tirp with the child. We did it when we were childless, and have very fond memories.



Going on a Disney cruise from Christmas to New Years? Wow, bad move. That is the busiest time ever for anything Disney related. Everyone wants to spend the holidays with Mickey and everything fills up. Two weeks before and it would have been a totally different experience.


We learned by experience, I guess. We don't celebrate Christmas, and though that everyone, judging by the people who we know who celebrate Christmas, want to spend Christmas with grandma and/or grandpa with chestnuts roasting on the fire, carolling door to door and all that shebang.

We have done Christmas/New Year cruises on other lines, and it was pretty much dead, excpet for people like us, who don't celebrate Christmas.

shadron said:   Have not yet done a cruise because we like the AI vacations so much. We've gone about seven times to Mexico, Jamaica, and Dominican Republic. Our favorite resort chains have been Now, Grand Palladium, and Gran Bahia Principe. All of these have kids clubs with what look to be lots of activities (we don't have kids but have heard good things from others at the resorts). We actually like the Riveria Maya in Mexico the best because there is a lot to do. If you have to have an island we liked Punta Cana, one of the best beaches I've ever been to.

We have used Apple Vacations for booking the trips and have been very pleased with them.
http://www.applevacations.com/

They are great in that they include all of your round trip ground transportation, airfare, and the resort. No hidden charges and brain dead easy trips, just book and show up to the airport on time.

I have not traveled with children so I can't comment on prices including them. That said I booked a trip to Now Amber in Puerto Vallarta in June and it was under $6k including air from Chicago for a week. As such I would think you could easily find something in the $3k-$4k range depending on how picky you are about resort. (check the specials section on Apple's site for the best deals, prices also tend to get better as you get closer to the date)


I recently got an e-mail from JetBlue that if you book a Disney vacation through them, kids (up to 11 years old) fly for free, and cruise/stay at Disney for free. That could be some massive savings for people with multiple kids under 11.

blueiedgod said:   bookreader54321 said:   Disney cruise for the kids. They will love you for it. Well OK, the 5 year old will. The 10 month won't even know.

Unless you go Diseny when they are dead, which is one week in February, apparantely, you are not going to enjoy it. We went last year from christmas through New Years on a packaged deal (cruise, and stay at the resort) NEVER AGAIN!!!

Cruise: Packed to the gills. Standing room only in the pools. Unsupervised kids getting into "adults only" areas. If you want to do anything with Disney characters you have to stand in line for hours and hours for just a 30 second photo op. The only time we actually got to enjoy the pool and water slides is after all the kids were in bed, which is like 11 pm on Disney.

I am comparing this to cruising on Celebrity, Royal Carribean and even Carnival.

The resorts. We actually never made it to any of the parks. By the time we were up and ready to go, by 9 am (yes, we are on vacation and like to sleep in) the parks were at capacity. So, we hung out at the resort, and Disney downtown, and actually took the bus to go to Universal, which was reasonably packed, but manageable.

It really seemed like a "Disney vacation" was more of a rat race than work. You really have to be a Disney fan to want to spend that kind of money, and effort to go on vacation that actually seems like work. Disney was easily 3X the cost of Carnival, 2X the cost of Royal Carribean, and on par with Celebrity. But, on Celebrity, you are treated like royalty.

Edit: The "nice" part about Disney cruise was that we didn't see our daughter all day. She was off to her kids club and she was back at bed time.

Edit 2: This time, we are looking for hotel stays in the Netherland Antilles (ABC islands of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao). It will be our fisrt island hopping tirp with the child. We did it when we were childless, and have very fond memories.


I agree with most of the points; however, I do not think judging a Disney Cruise by traveling during the busiest week of the year is necessarily means for dismissal the rest of the year.

I made the mistake of booking a cruise when my wife was pregnant with our first. We had been on a few cruises together and I thought to myself 'hey, how hard could it be at that age?'. Worst. Vacation. Ever. What I learned is that with kids that young you need to plan a vacation that is as flexible as possible. I think the all-inclusive will work out a lot better. For one, you'll probably have a decent-sized room to come back to if the 10mo is fussing/freaking out. Secondly, your expectations are going to be lower. There are a lot more things to do on and off the cruise ship that if something does go wrong, you're really going to regret having to miss a lot of it. With the all inclusive, you also don't have as strict a time schedule. They probably offer the same activities all day every day, so there's less chance that you'll miss something.

Disney World (vacation, not cruise) is a great option as well. We brought our daughter (4 at the time) and son (18mo) and they both had a blast. Us adults had fun as well as the child swap and fast pass features allowed us to get on just about every adult ride we wanted to go on without a wait. And that was during peak season.

thanks for all replies , i think i have decided to go for AI and looking for nice AI with lot of family friendly activity and good Veg Food. Looks like punta cana may be good with family.

Another nice thing about an All Inclusive is you'll be able to order room service as often as you want. With the baby, eating in your room will be much less stress. Or Mom and Dad can take turns eating out with the older kid while the other parent eats in with the baby.

We've done both cruise and AI vacations and there are many similarities. Both are all-inclusive as far as food is concerned but cruises often charge for drinks whereas AI usually include at least soft drinks. Cruise ships usually have more dining options but not all are included in the price. Both have free 24/7 room service. After that selection depends a lot on specific cruise line or resort.

Entertainment: on-board cruise ships, it varies a lot but you won't be able to know much before hand as the shows and artists vary a lot. In AI resorts, it depends also a lot on location. If you have other stuff in the area around the resort, they don't seem to make as much of an effort to provide entertainment.

Cruise ship kid clubs are in our experience better than AI ones. Our kids beg us to be dropped at the kids club on almost all cruise ships. Caveat is that most don't handle kids under 3.

Locations: cruise ship will move you around to about 3-4 ports in a week so pick those you're interested in. It's more diverse but you really only get a sample of some islands whereas on an AI vacation you have time to explore more. If it's your first caribbean trip, I'd pick a cruise if you like a sampler rather than picking a specific island and be stuck with it. We've initially done a lot of cruises before doing more AI on the islands we liked the most.

Price: it depends on you. AI usually the price is fixed and they won't nickel and dime you much outside of services (like spa) where you'd expect to pay extra anywhere. On cruise ships, they make cabins more affordable but you have to pay extras for special dining, for shore excursions, daily service charge, internet, drinks, etc. For AIs, you may end up paying for stuff you don't use so in general more expensive but on the other hand, you're not stressed about the cost of every small thing you do. And you know the cost mostly upfront. For cruise, if you plan ahead, avoid stuff that costs extra, setup your island tours independently, don't go to the casino, and various on-board ripoffs, you can get a lower price in general.

Final caveat: you won't get sea sick on an AI vacation. But you can get really miserable if in the path of a major storm. Cruise ships can and will reroute to avoid a major storm. But then they may skip scheduled ports of call. That said, it takes quite a bit for most people to get sick on cruise ships. Those have pretty good stabilizers. If prone to motion sickness though, go for mid-ship cabins on lower decks.



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