Carnival Cruise Ships
Photo By: Russell Otway

When you’re planning a cruise vacation it’s essential that you do your research and spend adequate time planning, so you don’t end up making a rookie mistake that could ruin your trip.

Although a cruise is an exciting experience, the planning portion can feel like a daunting task. Especially if you’re a first-timer.

Whether you’re looking to take the kids on a fun cruise or you’re just looking to get away with your partner – a Carnival cruise is a great choice that’s chock full of breathtaking attractions for anybody.

But when you’re vacationing on the world’s largest cruise line, you don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb because of an avoidable blunder.

Keep reading to learn 15 mistakes you’ll want to avoid on a Carnival cruise.

1. Choosing the Wrong Carnival Ship

Some people assume Carnival cruise ships are all the same, but they actually can have unique activities choices, dining experiences, and other varying features.

Some of The Most Popular Carnival Ships:

There are several other breathtaking options – these are just some of the most favored Carnival ships.

Carnival Legend

Some of the most beloved activities and features of Carnival Legend are:

  • WaterWorks (complete with the famous Twisted Waterslide, and other water activities perfect for children and adults!)
  • Serenity Adult-only retreat
  • Hasbro – The Game Show
  • Camp Ocean (For children aged 2-11, full of enjoyable activities)
  • Lido Deck (Mega deck party for all ages)

Carnival Vista

This brand-new ship has quickly become a state-of-the-art attraction – a wonderful choice for the whole family.

A few of the amusing activities:

  • IMAX Theatre
  • Skyride (Similar to a zip-line)
  • WaterWorks and Camp Ocean (Fabulous activities for the entire family)
  • Comedy Club and stage shows
  • Lido Deck (Mega deck party)

Carnival Freedom

This Carribean cruise is not to be missed. It’s known for its lively atmosphere and its stunning cuisine options.

Some of the outstanding features of the Carnival Freedom:

  • Carnival LIVE (This attraction will cost you extra, but if experiencing live concerts with well-known celebrities is your jam, you may want to splurge for this extra)
  • The famous Camp Ocean (various activities included for kids ages 2-11)
  • Bingo and a Night club for the adults
  • Art exhibitions

2. Avoid Keeping Your Cellphone On

Depending on your cell phone carrier, you may rack up hundreds of dollars in roaming fees, data charges, or ludicrous call-per-minute rates.

If you want to avoid massive data roaming charges, which can be as much as $5 a minute on a cruise, turn your phone on airplane mode or turn it off when not in use.

The Carnival ships also come with a wifi option, which starts at $5 USD daily and goes up to $25 USD per day. Still, this beats thousands of dollars in data roaming charges!

3. Don’t Be Late On Port Days

On shore excursion days, it’s critical that you’re back on the ship on time, to avoid being left behind on shore. Although this isn’t common, it doesn’t mean it can’t happen.

On shore excursions, you can either book activities through the ship, or you can plan your own day out on shore.

Just make sure if you’re using your cell phone as a clock, you ensure it doesn’t reset to the port’s time. Always go by the ship’s time, to avoid the costly consequences of being left behind.

4. Don’t Book The Wrong Cabin

On a Carnival cruise, you’re given several cabin options. Of course, better cabins come at higher prices, but they can be worth the extra fee depending on your needs.

Some Options For Different Cabins On Carnival Ships:

  1. Interior (Least expensive option)
  2. Balcony (You can enjoy the delightful breeze on your balcony)
  3. Ocean view (You get windows with natural sunlight)
  4. Spacious Suites (The best of the best, VIP rooms)

5. Don’t Ignore The ”Port Talks”

On a Carnival cruise, you’ll have scheduled times where the guests will be given information for the following day’s shore visit. This isn’t something you should skip.

You can expect to be given crucial information like where to find certain amenities while you’re off the ship, what time you must return to board the ship, what you should avoid doing on a cruise port, and also information about the destination you’re visiting.

You should also always read the ”Fun Times” daily newsletter while aboard any Carnival cruise, so you don’t miss out on dining times, scheduled activities, and more.

6. Don’t Arrive Too Early

As excited as you’ll be to get aboard the Carnival cruise, arriving early can actually delay the time it takes for you to get on the ship. The problem with this logic is everybody has the same idea.

The earlier you are, the longer the line, and the longer you’ll have to wait. Plus, if you board the ship too early, you’ll be stuck with your luggage waiting for your cabin to be available.

If you wait until most passengers are aboard, or about an hour before departure, it’ll be a breeze to fly right through security and on to the ship.

If you’re an eager-beaver and don’t want to wait to get on board and in your stateroom, you can opt to purchase Carnival’s Faster to the Fun pass (FTTF).

What Options Does the FTTF Pass Give You?

  1. First access to your cabin
  2. Priority check-in and through security (so you can get faster to the fun!)
  3. Guest Services (You receive access to guest services at any time by phone from your cabin)
  4. Priority dinner reservations


7. Rushing Off The Ship Results in a Longer Wait

Like arriving too early when you first begin your vacation, rushing for early embarkment can lag your departure from the ship – because everyone has the same idea.

Carnival ships offer a program called Express Embark, which allows you to leave early – when the ship is docked, if you carry off your own luggage.

If you opt for this program, you’ll likely have an extremely long wait to get off the ship. But, if you decide to wait for the regular embarkment you’ll waltz right off the ship in no time.

8. Try Not to Overpack

You may think this is the clique advice you hear from everybody when you’re about to go on any vacation – but when you’re on a Carnival cruise, this advice shouldn’t be taken lightly.

What Will Overpacking Effect Anyways?

  • You’ll likely come home with more than you brought, between souvenirs and items purchased on port stops.
  • There isn’t adequate storage space for large amounts of luggage in most cabins
  • Carrying around large amounts of luggage can become quite a burden

9. Forgetting Your Shipcard

When aboard a Carnival cruise you’re given a room key, also known as a shipcard. But what you may not realize is your room key is also used for several other things.

Your Shipcard is Also Used For:

  1. A charge card called a Sail & Sign card to be used for all purchases on the Carnival ship
  2. Your identification while on board

Just when you least expect it, you’ll require that card. But a common rookie mistake is not bringing it every time you leave your cabin.

Carnival Cruise Ship Funnel
Photo By: Russell Otway

10. Never Book a Flight For The Same Day Your Carnival Cruise Departs

There are many things in life we can absolutely no control over. Flights are one of them. It’s always smart to fly in a day before your cruise departs, to give yourself sufficient time, so there’s no chance of missing your cruise.

11. Limiting Yourself to The Buffet

While the buffets on a Carnival cruise are delicious and convenient, you shouldn’t limit yourself to only eating at the buffet.

The main dining room on any Carnival ship always has spectacular food, and it tends to be a bit better quality than the buffet.

They also have specialty restaurants that you don’t want to miss out on, and 24-hour room service options. You’ll have to pay an extra fee to dine at one of the specialty restaurants, though.

Dining Experiences on Carnival Cruises You Don’t Want to Miss:

  • Guy’s Burger Joint
  • Seafood Shack
  • Steakhouse
  • Lido Resturant
  • Jiji Asian Kitchen

12. Not Paying Attention to Extra Costs

An extremely common mistake people make is assuming there won’t be any extra costs or fees.

Unfortunately, it’s inaccurate in most cases. You do have extra costs that you should always plan and budget for. Even if you’re on an all-inclusive Carnival cruise.

Extra Costs You Should Plan For:

  • Parking at the port
  • Beverages and alcoholic drinks (You can purchase a Bottomless Bubbles card for unlimited soda, or a CHEERS beverage card for alcohol to save money on buying them individually)
  • Bingo and Casinos
  • Gratuities (The daily gratuities is $12.95 per person or $13.95 if you’re in a suite cabin)
  • Specialty restaurants
  • Internet access
  • Shore Tours
  • Spa Treatments

13. Not Considering Insurance

You cannot predict when unforeseen circumstances will arise, so investing in travel insurance for your cruise on a Carnival ship can be a worthwhile investment.

Travel insurance for cruises vary drastically, so it’s vital to read the fine print.

What Sorts of Things Can Carnival Cruise Insurance Cover?

  • Trip cancellation
  • Emergency evacuation
  • Trip Delay
  • Lost Baggage
  • Worldwide travel assistance
  • Medical insurance

14. Packing Too Little

While most people know not to pack heavily on a cruise or any vacation in general, it’s also important to pack everything you need to avoid added expenses.

It’s essential to pack for your trip accordingly, and not forget any of the essentials. You never know if you’ll be seasick or need an extra bathing suit.

Although you can purchase almost anything you may need while on your cruise on the Carnival ship or on shore days, this can add up quickly and you never know what will be in stock.

15. Attempting to Do Everything On The First Day

It’s your first day on the cruise, and you’re bursting with excitement. Who wouldn’t be?

But try not to forget to relax during your cruise, as well.

There are numerous activities to relax while aboard a Carnival cruise such as The Cloud 9 Spa, The Z Spa, Spa Carnival, and various fitness activities.

If you’re running from one thing to the next without stopping to enjoy any of the activities, it can make for a stressful vacation.

Instead, plan what activities, dining experiences, and shore excursions you’ll be doing for each day. As tempting as it may be to attempt to cram everything into one day, take the time to smell the ocean air.

Final Thoughts

Getting prepared for a cruise can be incredibly stressful if you let it. If it’s your first cruise, it’s incredibly easy to make costly mistakes.

Carnival cruises are known for their fun and easy-going atmosphere. So instead of getting overwhelmed, plan your trip well in advance and do your research so your time at sea is more enjoyable.