featured image for FUN on a Carnival Cruise

Carnival Cruise Line is known for its vibrant, fun-filled voyages that appeal to families, couples, and even solo cruisers. The ‘FUN Ships’, equipped with all kinds of amenities and diverse itineraries, truly offer something for everyone. However, like any vacation, knowing a few insider tips can significantly enhance your experience. Here’s a comprehensive guide to making the most out of your Carnival cruise, based on insider knowledge and expert advice.

photo of the Carnival Victory

Choose the Right Ship and Itinerary

  • Research Ship Amenities: Each Carnival ship has unique features. Some have more extensive water parks, others boast better spa facilities or specialty dining options. Make sure the ship you choose aligns with your interests. Some of our favorite Carnival Ships are Celebration, Mardi Gras, and Magic.
  • Pick the Right Itinerary: Consider what destinations appeal to you most. Carnival offers a wide range of itineraries, from the Caribbean’s sunny beaches to the scenic landscapes of Alaska. Each destination has its unique attractions and activities, so pick one that suits your vacation style.

Plan and Book Early

  • Early Saver Rates: Take advantage of Carnival’s Early Saver rates, which often provide the best price guarantee. Plus, booking early means a better selection of cabin locations.
  • Book Your Must-Do Activities Early: Many onboard activities and shore excursions can sell out quickly. Book them early so you don’t miss out on popular experiences like spa appointments, specialty dining, or shore excursions.

When considering shore excursions, while it is typically recommended to book through the cruise line, you will likely find more options and savings by booking through a third-party tour provider, such as Viator.

specialty dinner option on Carnival

Explore Carnival Dining Options

  • Try Specialty Dining: While the main dining room and buffet are excellent, Carnival’s specialty restaurants can offer a memorable dining experience. Options like the Chef’s Table provide a multi-course dinner with a private tour of the ship’s galley.
  • Flexible Dining Times: Opt for ‘Your Time Dining’ if you prefer flexibility. This option allows you to dine at your leisure rather than sticking to a fixed early or late seating schedule.

Maximize Your Time Onboard

  • Check the Daily Schedule: Every night, you’ll receive a “Fun Times” newsletter detailing the next day’s activities and events. Plan your day to include live shows, movies, contests, and classes that interest you.
  • Don’t Miss the Live Shows: Carnival offers impressive live entertainment, which includes Broadway-style performances, comedy shows, and live music. These are must-see events and are included in your cruise fare.

Utilize the Carnival HUB App

  • Download Before Departure: The Carnival HUB app is your digital companion on the cruise. It offers access to daily schedules, account tracking, deck plans, and even allows you to chat with other guests on board. This is a must have for ships that offer online dining scheduling.
  • Manage Your Account: Keep track of your onboard spending through the app to stay within budget.
app icon for Carnival Hub app

Carnival Ship Tours and Classes

  • Attend the First-Day Tour: If offered, take the guided tour available on the first day. It’s a great way to familiarize yourself with the ship and discover areas you might want to revisit. You will also find this a great way to meet other cruisers and ship’s staff.
  • Participate in Classes: From dance classes to mixology workshops, participating in these activities not only enriches your cruise experience but also provides fun ways to meet other passengers. Most of these opportunities are tucked away in various parts of the ship and are included in your ship fare.

Prepare for Port Days

  • Research Ports in Advance: Understand what each port offers in terms of attractions, shopping, and beaches. Decide if you need a guided tour or can explore on your own. You can check out our many blogs on destinations here.
  • Pack a Day Bag: For port days, pack a day bag with essentials like sunscreen, hats, comfortable walking shoes, local currency, and water. Most Caribbean ports operate on U.S. Currency. Be sure to NOT bring food off the ship.

Consider a Beverage Package

  • Assess Your Needs: If you enjoy alcoholic beverages, soft drinks, or even specialty coffees, consider purchasing a beverage package to potentially save money.
  • Keep in mind you must purchase the drink package for the entire cruise and for all adults in the cabin. Typical drinks run from $12-$15 per drink. Four drinks per day and you are at a break even point.
tropical drink by a pool

Don’t Forget to Relax

  • Explore Less Crowded Areas: Ships can be bustling with activity. Find quieter spots like the adults-only Serenity area to relax and enjoy some tranquility.

A Carnival cruise is packed with potential for fun, relaxation, and adventure. By planning ahead, taking advantage of onboard opportunities, and using the insider tips provided, your vacation will be an enjoyable and memorable experience.

Enjoy Your Cruise!

You might also enjoy: