I am taking my first cruise this weekend and I’m looking for tips. Specifically, I’m taking a 3-night Carnival cruise from Miami to Nassau. A couple of specific questions:
Will there be any formal/semi-formal nights? I’ve heard Carnival doesn’t do that, but I’m not sure.
I noticed an option when I booked for a honeymoon package for an extra $50 per person, but there’s no description of what’s included. I’m going with a female who’s just a friend, but we thought that if the goodie package was worth it, we might sign up for it. Anyone know?
Any other general tips would be greatly appreciated, as I have no idea what to expect.
When you board, waiters will be carrying trays of really good looking fruity drinks around. Its tempting, but think twice, the drinks will run around six bucks a pop, a fact they’re not overly anxious to tell you.
If you intend on having a few drinks, I highly recommend stocking up on your favorite beverages (beer in cans only if you intend to bring them poolside) at a Miami package store and packing them in your carry-on. We did this and saved a fortune. We asked the steward for an extra ice bucket and kept a few beers on ice. Then we’d throw a few in a small bag and enjoy them by the pool instead of paying three buck each.
Put money aside for your tips before your trip. Bar tips will automatically be added to your bill, but other tips (cabin steward, waiter, asst waiter, head waiter) will be given at the end of the trip. See the Carinval site for recommended amounts. If you put the money aside ahead of time, you won’t have to worry about it later.
They will be taking your picture every time around: when you board the ship, at dinner, etc… They will be displaying the photos daily in the photo gallery. Wait until the end to buy them, that way you can get just the ones you want and not buy them all.
Definitely visit the Carnival site, there should be lots of info there to answer your questions.
For other great trips, see here, where you can read a review of your actual cruise ship.
Enjoy. We’ve done three cruises (on Royal Carribean) and loved them all.
There are lots of packages similar to the Honeymoon package you mentioned.
These are a somewhat decent deal if you would purchase the items in the package anyway. But really, they are more appropriate as gifts. For instance if you were giving your kids a cruise as a wedding gift, you might include the Honeymoon package.
Buying it for yourself might save a couple of bucks over buying the contents yourself, but you’ll waste the savings if even one or two of the items aren’t for you.
For example. One package might include 12 drink tickets for $50. Each ticket is good for one cocktail worth up to $5. That comes to $60. right. Sounds good? But what if your drink of choice is only $4. You don’t get change. Then you only get $48. worth.
We paid for the Honeymoon package on our Carnival Cruise, and it ended up saving us about $5. over what the same items would have cost, but I expect there were more than $5. worth of items we would have passed on if we were paying cash.
So, after much rambling, I would say, “don’t bother.”
Liquor? The ships all have duty-free shops which open once you get out of US waters. Once there, big bottles of liquor are actually cheaper on the boat. Of course, you will want to supply your own mixers though.
We (myself and SO - not married) just went on a Disney cruise last week and the US Customs form we had to fill out mentioned that we were only allowed one liter of alcohol per household unless we bought something produced in a visited US territory (St. Thomas in our case) in which case you could bring back a total of 5 per household (including the US one). We brought back a total of 3 liters, lied on the Customs form, and got away. If you and your friend do not live together, you count as two households (and each need to fill out a form). Also, we were allowed to keep the bottles with us on the ship for the whole time. It seems to me that if Disney lets you keep your own booze, Carnival may, too. Of course, we didn’t try to drink it by the pool, or anything. Also, check stores on the island before you buy anything on the ship, chances are they’ll have better prices. And go for non-US stuff. On St. Maarten (Holland), Absolut was $5 a liter (!), but Jack Daniels was more than in America. Pack them well (like pcubed said) - wrap them in a shirt, then in a plastic bag, and be sure your suitcase doesn’t have room for them to rattle around.
Honeymoon package: If it’s really a spectacular deal, they’d want you to confirm that you’re newlyweds. It might be a decent souvenir, though. It also might be an awkward surprise for people who are “just friends”. Your guess is as good as mine.