Are you planning on going on a Carnival cruise, or are you just a cruise lover looking to learn more cruising tips? Then you are at the right place. We have gathered 100 Carnival cruise tips and tricks which you can benefit from for your next vacation at sea with the cruise line.
These tips and tricks are meant to help you enjoy your cruise without sweating and stressing. When used wisely, these tips help you have an unforgettably smooth and enjoyable cruise. So, read on to find out more.
Embarkation and Debarkation Tips
Arriving and the cruise ship terminal for the very first time can be confusing and stressful so we’ve got some quick tips to help you out. You can also read our full guide on Cruise Ship Embarkation.
Departing the ship and going back can be just as stressful and likely depressing because the Carnival cruise vacation is over! Here is a dedicated page for Disembarking the cruise ship.
1. For U.S. Citizens You Can Use Other Forms of Travel Documents
For those of you who are a U.S. Citizen and your cruise ship is sailing a round trip from a U.S. port you can use alternative travel documents, not just a passport. For Carnival Cruise Line you can also use your Birth Certificate and a Driving License, check the official requirements here.
2. To Avoid Delays, do Your Online Check-in Beforehand
Do your online check-in the night before to avoid unnecessary delays at embarkation. Also, keep your appointment time, if you want to be processed fast.
3. Onsite Parking is Convenient but Costly
Parking at the port of embarkation is convenient because of the short distance between the car and ship, but it’s rather expensive. Save a lot more by parking at an offsite parking lot. Try also renting a car from airport services to drive to the port and do the same when returning from the cruise. This will save you a lot of parking problems.
4. Tip the Porters Good
Porters are great allies, tip them well and your bags receive royalty treatment. Just make sure you tip at least $1 per bag which is what Carnival suggests. The terminal porters are not employed by the cruise line but can be very helpful, if you don’t have any luggage tags they will provide for you and even direct you where you need to go to check-in.
You can get your Carnival Luggage tags from Amazon right here.
5. To Start Your Vacation in a Relaxed Manner
You are going on vacation for relaxation purpose, so, why not take Carnival’s airport transport services at select airports. It will save you the hassle of unloading or loading your luggage. Transport can easily be reserved through Carnival with a shuttle or car.
6. To Save Money Skip the Option Above
Instead of Carnival’s air and ground transportation options go for other means of transport that are cheaper like Uber or Lyft.
7. Change in Itinerary
Carnival can cancel and change a port schedule anytime. They only do this for your safety and convenience. There could be an outbreak of a virus or unrest in a port of call and others. Note, however, that this doesn’t happen regularly either.
8. Skip Queueing and Get to the Fun Faster
The last thing you want to do on your vacation is to queue for anything. Invest in the Carnival Faster to the Fun (FTTF) package to avoid this. The price ranges from $39.95 to $119.95 for short to long cruises. This price covers everyone in your cabin. You get priority check-in after VIFP’s. You get access to your stateroom as soon as you are onboard. Your luggage is boarded first and you don’t queue for guest services or disembarkation.
9. Don’t Miss Your Cruise Due to Flight Delays
Avoid falling into the same pitfalls that previous cruisers did. Take a flight at least a day or two earlier to avoid missing your cruise trip due to flight delays.
10. Get Proper Luggage Tags
The stapled paper tag you use on your luggage can get lost during onboarding. Airport staff may also remove it, to place their own. Therefore, get a proper luggage tag for your suitcases and bags. Pack valuable items in your carry on and not in your checked luggage.
11. Take a Picture of Your Luggage and Where you Park
It is easier to show a photo of a lost suitcase than to describe it. Take a photo of a landmark where you park. The cars next to yours might move leaving you in confusion as to where you parked.
12. Pack Your Clothes in Each Others Suitcases
This helps if one of you loses a bag or gets their bag delayed at customs. It ensures the other person has clothes to wear, while they await their suitcase.
13. Carry Your Own Luggage if You Want to Get off the Ship Faster
Granted getting off a ship with bags and suitcases is not the easiest thing, but if want to exit fast, go the self-assist way.
14. Want to Change Your Room?
Carnival mostly sails at capacity and doesn’t make room changes once onboard. Keep a lookout for previously booked rooms, which become available before the cruise begins. Then proceed to book these rooms, if they are in your category, or be ready to part with more cash for upgrades.
Cost Saving Carnival Tips
Saving money is big aspect during the voyage and before when booking. There is money to be saved if you know the right way, take a look at a post on how to buy a Carnival cruise.
15. Avoid Cruising During Holidays and When Kids are Out of School
If you want to save yourself some money, then book cruises during low seasons. Such cruises are found in between holidays and summer break.
16. Research and Book your Excursions with the Right Party
Carnival offers shore excursions with its own tour operators. This is a good deal for you if you are foreign to the ports being visited. But if you know your port of call well, then book with a third party travel operator to save up to 50% on price.
17. Mind your Spending Onboard
There are many fun activities onboard a Carnival cruise such as classes, events, excursions, spa’s, casinos and eating delicious treats at specialty restaurants. Mind your spending by checking your balances using the stateroom’s smart T.V. or sail card kiosk.
18. Old ships are budget friendly
If you want to go on a cruise on a low budget try some of the older Carnival ships. Sure, they might miss some of the newer fun activities such as the sky ride, or giant water slides but they still have other fun activities.
19. Booked your ticket early
A good trick is to book your ticket early, but make payments in installments. That way if prices decline, you can ask Carnival or your tour agent to match your ticket price to the lower price and they will honor. If you have an early saver ticket from Carnival that is fully paid and the same happens request for a refund and Carnival will honor it provided it includes a price assurance protection.
Carnival Beverage Tips and Tricks
If you do research online the CHEERS Beverage program on Carnival is probably the most asked about. We’ve got several quick tips to help you out when it comes to all things drink with Carnival Cruise Line. When it comes to taking Alcohol onboard the ship there are some rules to follow which you can find out here.
20. No bottled water or soda on board!!
Carnival doesn’t allow bottled water or soda onboard, but that doesn’t mean you can’t carry these items. Buy a 12 pack of can or carton soda, water or milk. Only one pack is allowed per cruiser.
21. Wine is accepted
You are only allowed to bring onboard one 750ml bottle of wine. Provided you are an adult above or 21 years of age.
22. Pack a corkscrew
Park a corkscrew for your wine. The corkage fee onboard Carnival is $15.
23. CHEERS Beverage Program
Carnival has an alcohol drink package which goes for $52 per day per person. It includes a wide range of alcoholic beverages such as whiskeys, spirits, beers, cocktails and more.
24. Unlimited Soda
If you don’t drink alcohol, go for Carnival’s bottomless bubbles soda and juice package. This package allows you to drink all the soda and juice you want from the soda fountain at a cost of $25.88 for a 3day trip up to $146.20 for a 17day cruise for adults.
25. Keep Your Wine in The Dining Room
Not planning to consume all your wine in one night, no problem. Give it to the waiters in the dining room, they will label it with your name and store it for you for another night.
26. Choose Regular Glass Over Souvenir Glass
You are not obliged to drink from the souvenir glass, the drink of the day is served in. Request for a regular glass and save on the cost of the souvenir glass.
27. A Souvenir Glass is Nice to Have
On the other hand, if you have a souvenir glass, go for drink-of-the-day refills at a cheaper price.
28. If You Consume a Lot of Water While on Board
Do you drink a lot of water? Then consider pre-booking Carnival’s water package which includes 12 bottles of water at $4.50 each delivered to your room. If you wait to book while on board, a 15% gratuity will be charged for each water bottle.
29. Pack a Refillable Bottle
Another water tip is to carry a refillable water bottle and refill water at the water fountains and taps. Yes! Cruise ship tap water is safe for drinking but consult with guest services first. You can get a refillable water bottle from Amazon.
30. Pack a Coffee Mug
Carry your coffee mug. It will help you carry good amounts of coffee or tea to your room, without spilling during movement.
Carnival Dining Tips
Dining on a Carnival cruise is a big thing especially with all the options available including Guys Burger Joint, the dining rooms, steakhouse and more. We’ve got even more detailed Carnival cruise tips for dining here.
31. Create your own customized menu
Get the main dining and Lido restaurant’s menus online or at guest services. Plan your meals to include the best of every place including specialty venues like Guy’s burger joint, blue iguana canteen, Ji Ji Asian or Bonsai sushi and many more. Do your research before the cruise and book seats at the specialty venues you would want to eat at.
32. Eat at the specialty restaurants on the first day of the cruise
A selection of specialty restaurants offers meals at a discount on the first day of the cruise. You can skip the dining room and it’s masses to enjoy a peaceful, delicious dinner at the specialty venue of your choice.
33. Eat as much as you want
If you liked an entrée, you can order two or more plates of it. You can also have your favorite appetizers served as the main course. The chef makes special requests as well, just let the head waiter know.
34. Different food types are available
There are vegetarian and gluten-free meal options. Ask a waiter and they will bring you, your desired meal.
35. Ice cream all day
You can have ice cream and frozen yogurt all day long from Swirls. Most venues that sell hot drinks will accompany them with free pastries as well.
36. Order in
Order room service it’s free from 6.00a.m to 10.00p.m. Catch those extra Zzs by sleeping in and order breakfast in.
37. Unlimited pizza
Eat as much pizza as you want. Head over to the pizzeria del Capitano or pizza pirate and get a slice or more of freshly baked pizza.
38. Underutilized breakfast options
Most people don’t know this, but the dining room serves breakfast too and they are delicious.
39. Dinner time seating
Choose a convenient dinner appointment, but if you are like me and hate rushing to dinner, choose the ‘your time appointment’ and be seated whenever you like. You are on vacation after all so take your time. Dinner at the main dining starts from 6 p.m to 9.30p.m.
40. Consider Brunch
Did you miss breakfast while sleeping in? Don’t worry go for the sea day brunch. It runs from 8 AM to 1 PM and has a variety of tasty food options.
41. Taste bars help you choose specialty venues
You can sample different foods at the taste bars. Since these samples are from different venues, they give you a chance to discover a specialty venue you would like to try out. Taste bars are open around dinner time.
You’ll spend a lot of time here unless you’re like us and party all night long! Here are Carnival cruise tips on the best staterooms to book.
42. Cabins that help with motion sickness
If you suffer from motion sickness then pick a cabin in the lower decks amidship. Cabins in this part of the ship experience less swaying, because they are more aligned with the center of gravity.
43. Balcony cabins
Do you love the view of beautiful sceneries, landscapes, and towns? Then pick a cabin with a window or balcony. If you don’t mind the expense, choose one, that’s near a secret deck, to enjoy private peaceful moments.
44. Carry a night light
Interior cabins don’t have access to natural light, so, switch to the lido or aft facing cameras to have a view of the deck. This camera will tell you when the sun is up. Pack a night light to light your path at night.
Take a look at these travel night lights for your cruise vacation.
You will get a wakeup call from the ship but you can still carry an alarm clock to make sure you don’t miss the activities you are interested in.
Find travel alarm clocks on Amazon by clicking here.
45. Get comfortable in bed
While Carnival tries as much as possible to provide you with a comfortable bed if you don’t feel comfortable then ask for an egg crate foam and sleep better.
46. Keep your valuables safe
Use the safe in your cabin to keep your valuables safe.
47. Carnival offers a non-stocked mini bar
This saves you the hassle of removing or accounting for minibar items at the end of the cruise. Store all the items you need to be cooled, in it.
Family Cruising Tips
Carnival Cruise Line is all about family fun and making memories together. To go along with our quick tricks and tips below you can also take a look at this post on cruising with kids.
48. Babysitting services
Want to spend an evening alone as a couple? Send your kids to camp Carnival or camp oceans which offers night owls. Your children will be well taken care of by the youth staff there. They accept all children between ages 2-11 years. (please check with your specific ship if this is offered).
49. Lose the extra weight from the baby stroller
Lose the extra weight of the baby stroller. The cruise ship will provide you with one for $8 per day. Just make sure you book in advance in case they run out.
50. Get permission to travel with a kid
When traveling with your kid(s) only without their other parent, ensure you get a written permission from the other parent to travel with them. Avoid the legal drama of trying to prove that you are not skipping town with your kid(s) without the other parent’s approval.
Port and Excursion Tips
A major part of a Carnival cruise is getting off in port and experience the destinations on your own or on a shore excursion. Take a look at the best Carnival cruise ships for shore excursions here.
51. Book your shore excursions in advance
Research and book shore excursions in advance. Once on board, you might miss out on an interesting shore excursion because it’s booked to full capacity. 52. Don’t miss the ship
The biggest advantage of booking excursions with your Carnival cruise line is that you won’t be left by the ship or have visa hassles at the port. The alternative, however, is much cheaper, book your shore excursions with a large and reputable tour company and save yourself at least 50% in price.
53. Explore with a person who works for cruises
Another option is to explore port with a cruise staff; they know the best places on the port. If you know a cruise staff that is off duty, explore the city with them.
54. Or stay onboard during a port day
You can remain onboard on a port day to enjoy discounted deals at the spa, the specialty restaurants and get the best photographs taken or enjoy peaceful moments without the many people around you.
55. Wear good walking shoes
Port visits involve a lot of walking, wear comfortable walking shoes, or invest in innersoles for your favorite walking shoes, this will offer your feet comfort while walking and your feet will thank you later for this.
Find a wide selection of walking shoes from Amazon before your voyage.
56. Pack a dry bag
Going for shore excursions that involve water sports? Carry a dry bag, they keep all your valuables dry. Get one from here.
57. Wear a watch when on port
If you end up deciding to venture out on your own on port visits, remember to wear a watch which tells the right time to ensure you don’t miss the ship.
58. Cheaper Taxis
Skip the taxis and souvenir shops at the port and venture a little bit into the town for cheaper taxi and souvenirs.
59. Keep Documents Safe When in Port
Keep your travel documents and cash safely in a money belt during port tours. Locals can tell you are a tourist and so will the pickpockets.
60. Get the number of the port agent
During port days, get the number of the port agent in charge. This number could come in handy in case of an emergency.
61. Group travels
When traveling with a group and you want to experience the shore excursions together ensure you disembark together on port days. This makes it easier for the tour operators to sit you together in the transport available.
62. Get the facts right before booking excursions
Before booking shore excursions, research the requirement information like health requirements for a scuba, snuba or diving activities. Consider weight requirements for different activities and the costs associated.
Carnival Spa Tips
Now it’s time to take it easy forget about the world and just think of treating yourself with these Spa tips on a Carnival cruise ship.
63. Spa passes
Are you a spa person? Get daily spa or weekly spa passes instead of getting a spa stateroom. It is cheaper.
64. Say yes more
Attend spa seminars if you are into those sorts of things. Volunteer to participate when they call out for a volunteer for treatment demonstrations and get a free treatment.
65. Spa deals
As with all other things, spa treatments are discounted on port days and towards the end of the cruise. Go for them then. You can also use the sauna and Jacuzzis on some decks in the evenings for free.
Wish we could all win money while in the Casino, maybe these Carnival cruise tips can push us in the right direction.
66. No complimentary drinks for new casino players
You only get free drinks and complimentary stuff at the Carnival casino if you have hit 1000 points and above. Use your sail card to accumulate this points.
67. The odds of winning on a cruise ship are stack against you
Cruise casinos have nothing to lose. They know there are no other casinos around, so they are not incentivized to give you good odds.
68. Winning big the first or last night of the cruise
There is an unconfirmed claim that you are likely to win big the first day of the cruise when the cruise opens or the last day. But because machines can’t be programmed this way, others call this hogwash. You can try your luck though.
69. Get your sail card punched and a lanyard
Get your sail card punched and a lanyard to wear around your neck at the casino. This is meant to keep you from losing your keycard at the casino.
70. Cheaper cash
Carnival ATMs charge a $6 service fee. To save on this cost, buy chips at the casino at just $3, hold them and exchange them later for cash without extra charges.
Outdoor and Entertainment Cruise Tips
Now when it comes to Carnival outdoor activities and onboard entertainment are just so good. There is plenty on offer for any type cruiser and here are some great cruise tips to help you out.
71. Want to ride a bicycle in the sky?
Carnival’s horizon and vista ships have an 800-foot sky ride outdoor fun sport. All you need is to be above 54 inches tall and less or equal to 300pounds in maximum weight to ride it. It will give you a flying experience, and a good view of surrounding sceneries.
72. Wait out the lines by engaging in other cruise events
There are many fun activities onboard Carnival cruises. Try the ones which are least crowded during the first days of the cruise and move on to the more hyped ones, when the queues decline.
73. Towel clippers
It’s very breezy on the ship’s deck invest in towel clippers to keep your towels in place when sunbathing. You will thank us for this one.
74. Movie time! Where you sit matters
Watching a big screen movie in the open sea, under the stars is a lot of fun. But one thing that can destroy this fun is to have constant interruptions from movements and noises around you. Arrive early and sit in the seats around the pool to avoid interruptions.
75. Secret Decks
Discover quiet deck spots on Carnival ships. Carnival ships have other outer decks not commonly known to most people. These outer decks are quiet and abandoned, offering you peaceful spots, to read a book or have an intimate conversation. Depending on which ship you are on, locate deck 5,6, 7 and 10 by walking straight and out of the side doors or doors marked emergency only at the end of long hallways.
Technology and Communication Tips and Tricks
Don’t think anyone can do without Wi-Fi onboard the cruise ship. Carnival does offer packages to deal with that. Cruisers can also make things easier for themselves while onboard, take a look at the tips below.
76. Switch to Airplane Mode
Switch to airplane mode the moment you arrive onboard. Avoid getting a huge roaming charge bill, once you get back home.
77. Download Carnivals Hub App
Download Carnivals Hub App to get your daily activities on the go, to view your folio and see the menu offers from different specialty restaurants. If you are with family or friends, purchase chat service for $5 to communicate with them. The app uses the ship’s free Wi-Fi.
78. Get Walkie Talkies
If you are traveling as a large group, or have kids with you, then invest in walkie-talkies to communicate freely while on board. However, use the walkie-talkies away from people, so as not to disturb them with the noises. Find the best Walkie Talkies on Amazon for your next cruise.
79. Ship’s Data Access and Movie Packages
You can purchase the ship’s data access if you really need to get online, or movie packages ($4.5 per movie) when bored. The Ship’s internet is expensive, so if you are a movie and music streaming fanatic. Download movies, Netflix series and music on your laptop or tablet, before the cruise.
80. Pack a Power Strip
Pack a power strip to get additional power outlets for your electronic items, most cabins only have one or 2 outlets. Find travel power strips from Amazon.
81. Photos by Professional Photographers
You will have plenty of photos taken by professional photographers at the pixels photo gallery or dreams studio for free. View these photos on the digital gallery available on the Hub App and delete the ones you don’t like and order the ones you like either in soft or hard copy at a small cost.
82. Another Photograph Tip
Don’t be in a hurry to get each and every single photo every time your photos are taken, Wait until towards the end of the trip and choose the ones you like and delete the rest.
83. Pack a Small Portable Fan
Pack a small portable fan, the AC in the cabins doesn’t work, they maintain a standard room temp of about 68 to 70 degrees. Purchase small travel fans right here.
Gratuity and Tipping
Tipping on the cruise is a big topic and the debate will never end. Just be prepared and follow some of these cruise tips to help you out. You can also check our dedicated section on Cruise Hive for gratuities and tipping.
84. You are allowed to modify gratuities according to service levels
You may be unsatisfied with the level of service you have received. Don’t worry you can modify your gratuities before the end of the cruise using guest services. Carnival recommends a gratuity rate of $12.95 to $13.95 per day, per person depending on the room status.
85. Carry a stack of $1 bills
Carry a wad of small dollar bills, preferably one dollar bills to use for tipping and buying things at the port.
86. Be generous
Be generous with the cruise staff and you will be treated like royalty. They work hard, 7 days a week barely getting a good break.
Cruise Safety Tips
No question that safety onboard the cruise ship is no.1. Make sure you’re aware of the safety rules on your Carnival cruise. Anything can impact your cruise including Hurricanes, bad storms, sickness and more. We’ve got many articles on how to stay safe on a cruise which you can read.
87. Cruise Insurance is Important
Carnival offers a vacation insurance protection plan, which is basically a cruise insurance that will cover trip cancellation, luggage protection, medical and emergency services. It is, however, better to get travel insurance from an independent, recognized and reputable travel insurance company. They offer a wider comprehensive package. Accidents are called so because no one saw them coming… be prepared, be safe.
88. Don’t Ignore Boat Drills
Participate in the boat drill at the beginning of the cruise no matter how much it bores you. It could save your life in case of an emergency.
89. Carry a Hand Sanitizer
Cruise ships carry up to 4000 people. Since you share many public surfaces with these people carry a hand sanitizer to keep from getting sick.
90. Carnival Vacation Guarantee
A bonus point is if you don’t like a cruise or change your mind within the first 24hrs once on board, you can get the Carnival vacation guarantee. Which gives you 100% full refund of your fares and $100 onboard credit for a future cruise, plus they will get you back to the port of embarkation.
Even More Carnival Cruise Tips and Tricks
91. No Buying with Cash on Carnival
Carnival has a sail and sign card which you load with a deposit upon boarding. The minimum deposit per person is $100. Every purchase you make is charged to the card and you get a statement at the end of the trip.
92. Pack What You Need Only
Don’t pack so many clothes, you will not need them all. If going on sunny and warm cruises, pack light clothes and only 3 pairs of shoes. Pack a jacket and umbrella, some ports and sea days are rainy, not sunny.
93. Carry Plenty of Sun Protection
Destination regions like the Bahamas and the Caribbean are really hot. Make sure you carry plenty of sunscreen, sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats.
94. Inexpensive Souvenirs
If you know your port of call well, venture into it and buy souvenirs from local grocery stores where prices are not hiked. Also, wait for souvenir sale offs and discount deals at the ship’s gift shop.
95. Ask for Clean Towels, Bathrobes and Extra hangers
Call a room attendant and request clean towels, bathrobes or extra hangers if need be. They will get you some ASAP.
96. Run Out of Memory Card Space on your Camera?
If you run out of space on your camera’s memory card, get your photos burned on a CD at the photo studio and create space for more photos. Even better, get a good memory card with plenty of room from Amazon.
97. Book Shows and Events in Advance to Get the Best Seats
You should book cruise events such as comedy shows and concerts early to get the best sits in the house. Most of the shows on Carnival are free and don’t need booking but when it comes to Carnival LIVE sailings then it would be good to get those tickets early.
98. Pack Ziploc bags
Do yourself a favor and carry Ziploc bags. You will use them to carry snacks, to carry your valuables such as electronics and documents to keep them dry when engaging in water activities. Carry large ones for dirty laundry.
99. Notify your credit card company
Notify your credit card company that you will be traveling to the ports on your itinerary, to keep them from flagging your credit card as stolen. Also, carry their number, and call them to freeze your card in case it’s lost or stolen.
100. Carry a medical information card always
Emergency medical conditions could occur, always carry a medical information card. Put important information on it such as allergies, existing conditions, the current medication you are on, personal information and contact information for emergency contact.
Also Read: 15 Mistakes to Avoid on a Carnival Cruise
Take it Easy on Your Next Carnival Cruise
You are going on a cruise to relax, so relax. We have provided you with a 100 Carnival cruise tips and tricks, but feel free to look for more. Some of these tips keep vacations from going sour such as remembering to carry required documentation, so, pay attention. Use any of the tips you have noted above to enjoy a smoother cruise. Happy cruising.