The first time I went on a cruise I was hooked. It was so much fun and completely relaxing. After going once I felt like a pro going into my next cruise. My husband has never been on a cruise before so for our honeymoon we decided to go on a seven day cruise. We both had so much fun and he didn’t even want to get off. Now he is hooked also and planning our next vacation. So as a side note if you have never been, be prepared to have a great time and to be constantly cruising from then on. To ensure you have to ultimate fun I have listed some helpful tips. Hopefully you will be prepared to go on your first cruise (at least get you excited to go on one, and if you have been on one, help you plan better for your next cruise. I have attached some affiliated links which helps me get compensated for some of the products (you simple click the highlighted word) but this post is not sponsored by brand or company.
I have only cruised with Carnival and hopefully in the future will try another cruise line to give a better personal opinion. However, I have talked to other cruiser before who have done multiple cruises. Based on a common opinion you will either like it or not care for Carnival Cruise. Here are is the number one reason that I have heard from others: Carnival is a party ship!!! Don’t let that scare if you are not the party type person. Also, if you booked a cruise with any cruise line and didn’t like it, try another cruise option. There are seriously so many cruises out there and you will find one that fits your pace and lifestyle. So let’s get started with the actual tips to help you with your cruise.
Bring your own refillable water bottle to stay hydrated. Lido deck has ice, water, tea, lemonade and coffee available all the time. The cups provided are small so brining your own water bottle allows you to make less frequent trips to the drink station. Also, when you are at the ports fill your cup up before getting off the ship. We got these water bottles because it helped kept are drinks cold for 24 hours and it had handles that made it easy to carry as we walked around the ship and ports. Side note: don’t fill your cup during embarkation because they will make you throw the water out.
You will be given a card that has all your information. This is also the key to your room, your payment for anything you purchase on the ship as well as your identification when you get on and off the ship. You do not want to lose this card. Putting it on a lanyard makes it handy when you need to use it. You can get one here.
Small Bills for Tipping
I would highly recommend dropping your luggage off before parking your vehicle. This just makes it easier and you will have less things to carry. Tipping the luggage porter is typically $1 per bag but you can tip them more if you would like. Also, make sure your luggage is tagged properly. Once you drop off your luggage you can park your vehicle at the designated spot and take the shuttle back to the cruise terminal. Don’t forget to tip the shuttle driver. Once you get back from your cruise, you will take that same shuttle and they typically will drop you off near your vehicle and help you with your luggage. Don’t forget to tip them again.
Analog Wrist Watch
Your ship will stay on the time zone of the port you left. Since most phones will change time zone even if you put it on airplane mode it’s better to bring a watch that is analog. When you are at ports you will know exactly the ship’s time and not miss the time that you need to be back. Pay attention to the time zone you are in and the ship’s time so that you don’t miss the boat. Yes, people have been left before because they did not return in time. Don’t be one of those people and get a watch like this.
Snorkeling Mask and Gear
If you plan on doing any snorkeling on your excursion, bring your own equipment. You can rent them or sometimes it is part of your excursion package deal, but remember others have used them too!!! It is best to bring your own and buying them there is more expensive plus they only have limited options. You can get one like this.
Three reasons to bring towel clips. One, it gets a little windy on the cruise ship and you do not want your towel to get blown away. Having towel clips will keep them in place. Two, the lounge chairs get filled so fast that you will need to save a spot. Most everyone uses the beach towels that the cruise line provides, brining your own unique towel clips will help you remember which spot is yours that you saved. Finally, when you need to dry your bathing suit having towel clips becomes handy. You can get one here.
Download the HUB App
Everyday we got an itinerary of what’s going on for the day which is great. However, if you download the Carnival HUB App on your phone, you will always have it and see what is going on for the week. You can also see your balance of everything you have purchased. You also have access to the pictures you take from all their photo booths and purchase right from the app. If you have anytime time dining at the main dining room, you can make reservations when you are ready and they will message you when the table is ready. They also have a text messaging feature on the app which you can purchase if you have a big group. This will help you guys stay connected without purchasing their internet package. Downloading this app was very helpful and I would highly recommend it.
Note Card/ Gift
All through out your cruise so many of the staff who are from all over the world take really great care of you. Take time to get to know them and their story. You will be charge gratuity per person in your stateroom however, that gratuity covers so many people. If you make connection with some of the staff and wish to give them a gift or extra gratuity having notecards will come in handy. They do not have notecards for sale in any of the shops on the ship so be sure to bring one like this. Leaving them a kind note of how much you appreciate them goes a long away.
Carnival Cruise line offers 2 types of drink package; bottomless bubbles which is their unlimited soda and juice program and the other is cheers which includes sodas, energy drinks, specialty coffee, bottled water, non-alcoholic drinks and of course all spirits (including cocktails) as well as beer and wine with a $20 or lower menu price. If you are a heavy drinker or love your soda then these options will be cheaper than purchasing the drinks individually. If you are not into any of these types of drink or maybe just need a soda every now and then, there is another option you can do. You can carry on a 12 pack of soda or energy drinks per person. It can only be CANS no bottles. You can also carry on a bottle of wine per person but they do charge a cork fee if you bring the bottle it into the main dining room. Decide which option is best for you and your family before purchasing any drink package. Side note: Carry the 12 pack in a bag because they will open it and inspect the cans. Having them in a bag helps you carry the open package easier.
Booking your Cruise
Many of us can’t purchase a vacation plan and pay it full upfront and I honestly don’t recommend using a credit card to pay for it. What other option do you have? When you are looking to book your cruise think about an installment plan option. Most cruise lines must receive their payment 90 days before you set sail. Plan accordingly to how much you can afford to pay every month then booked your sail date in advance. Most cruise line will have some deals and even break down the installment plan for you. No one wants to go broke just for a vacation so think about an installment plan. By the time you are ready to set sail, your cruise will be paid for.
Hope these helpful tips makes your cruise vacation easier and/or inspires you to book your first cruise. Let me know if you have any other helpful tips that you have done! Thank you for taking the time to read this.
“Not an Expert just a Dreamer”