Cruise ships, especially Carnival

If hubby and I can work out the financial arrangements, we will be cruising to Bermuda on Carnival Legend (one of the four big fun ships, says my sister, but I’m not sure what she means by it). I’ve never cruised before, and would like to hear from Dopers who have. Did you have fun? Do you think it’s a good value for your money? Was there anything surprising or unexpected that happened?

At least three of my four sisters will be going as well, and also two (grown) neices and their husbands. But for hubby and I, it will be the honeymoon we never had, and it will also take place less than a month from our 15th anniversary. I’m really psyched, but would like the Straight Dope on cruising. Please share.

My wife and I go on a cruise every year, it’s our favorite vacation. We have been on several Carnival cruises, and while it is not a top of the line line, there’s certainly nothing wrong with them. They do a decent job with the food and entertainment, and are generally clean and reasonably staffed. And yes, for my money, cruises are an excellent value.

A couple of tips, we always get an inside cabin. The only time you really spend in your cabin is when you’re sleeping, and it’s a lot easier to sleep in late when you don’t have sunlight streaming in through your window. YMMV. We also like the early dinner sitting, it works out better as far as shows, and of course, the midnight buffet.

Congratulations! You are gonna have a great time! There is lots of stuff to do on a cruise. My family has taken five cruises and we enjoy it every time we go. I’ll try to clue you in on some of the things you should know about. The first thing you have to decide is if you prefer early or late seating for the evening meal. The early meal is usually meant for families with smaller children, so that should be something to keep in mind for your choice. Dress for most evening meals is semi-casual (dress or skirt & blouse for ladies; slacks, open collar shirt, jacket for men), but the last night is a real gala affair that permits “dressing to the nines” - which means dressy gown and tux or white dinner jacket, if you so choose. I believe all cruise ships now have casinos, so as soon as you leave U.S. waters, the casino can open. The casino wasn’t open 24 hours, though - mostly early evening until about 2 A.M. There are theaters, snack bars, pools, shuffleboard areas (yes, these still exist on cruise ships), small beverage bars, saunas, and on the newer and bigger ships, even climbing walls and running tracks. The activities will keep you busy all day long: trivia contests, karaoke, stage shows (variety shows with the cruise director as host), card parties, and just laying in the sun is good, too. Some cruise lines have private beaches or private islands that become part of your itinerary. And now for the amazing part - FOOD! You can eat nearly 24 hours a day on these cruise ships. There seems to be someplace open all the time. And the food is fantastic. Not only good food, but attractively presented. And there are selections for folks on specail diets, too. In short, you won’t go hungry on a cruise ship. A few suggestions: keep in mind that you will be expected to tip the service personnel. This is usually done on the last day just before you depart the ship. A sheet of recommendations for tipping and envelopes to put the money in will be left in your stateroom the night before. A new innovation for most cruise lines is that you can be issued a “ship credit card” when you check aboard. This can be used just like a regular credit card, with the charges going on a normal credit card when you leave the ship. One word of caution - you can easily lose track of how much you are putting on your “ship credit card,” so this could get expensive. The best advice I can give you about clothing is to take some mix-and-match outfits so you can have a new look for each time you actually wear something besides your swimsuit or shorts. Ladies sometimes spend the sunny part of the day in their swimsuit and a wrap or cover of some kind. Men can get away with swimsuit or shorts with an open shirt and be stylin’. A nice floppy-brimmed hat would be a good idea, too. Get a plantation hat with a Corona hatband for Mr. Norinew and he’s all set. Don’t forget sunglasses and sunblock lotion, if you need it. And be prepared to have your pictures taken fairly often. The ship photographer will be roaming around during the entire cruise snapping photos. These will be available for purchase in the ship commissary or some other designated place. The main thing to remember on a cruise is this: Relax! “Don’t worry - be happy!” Everything is taken care of… you don’t have to do a dang thing, so just kick back and enjoy the luxury of being pampered. Did I mention the salon? Have a scented massage, get a facial, have your nails done, or whatever. The main objective is to forget the cares of the land-locked rat-race and have a great time.

radar ralf has it down. You’re going to love it. Carnival is an excellent value, and you will need loose clothing after a few days of all that food.

FYI, the Carnival Legend is registered under the Panama “Flag of Convenience.” This is a measure for the company to side-step American labor laws and some safety regulations. Just so you know.

Some information about Flags of Convenience

Well these are the things that I can tell you about a cruise. First of all, my credentials. I cruised with Carnival out of LA. I am also a travel agent, so I know a fair bit about the cruising.
If you are looking for a vaction of sitting around on the deck. You will love this. If you are in it for the entertainment, I think that you may be disapointed. I found the shows on the ship that I was on really tacky. Cheesy Vegas style shows with bad dancing. The food was really quite good, but I found that the thing that I always felt like eating wasn’t available at the time I felt like eating it.
I found myself feeling clastrophobic. Even though you can participate or not participate in any thing that is going on, the schedule seemed to leave me running around or not having anything good to do.
I reccommend getting off the ship and staying as far away from the ports as you can. When you dock at a port, there are a million little sales people that come out of nowhere with the “best deals”. If you have been to Mexico, you know what I mean.
In my opinion, I think that a cruise is a good way to get a taste of each desitnation, but you can’t really expirence the full feel of a destination when you are only there for 6-10 hours.
That being said, most people love cruising! And Carnival is a great cruise line to start with. Hope you have a good trip.!

I enjoyed doing it once - but doubt I’ll do it again for a while.

IMO, cruising seems to be an excuse to eat and drink to excess. Sure, it’s a kick to order one of everything on the menu and have za and ice cream every midnite, but the fun wore off for me. Gambling is fun, but the on-board casinos are nothing compared to Vegas. And you can gamble in Bermuda anyway. And just about everything on board is - uh - small scale. The pools are not much for swimming. If you want to exercise, you either go into a gym, or run short laps around the upper deck. So you end up spending a lot of time just hanging out on the poop deck charging drinks to your room and waiting for the next food service. The shows and such were entertaining enough, but I’m not sure I’d go to any of them if I weren’t captive on a boat. And I REALLY didn’t care for the tipping pressure at the end.

Personal taste. Like I said, I’m glad I tried it. And I might enjoy some non-Caribbean cruises. One advantage I can appreciate is if you were going from location to location, you would not have to keep packing and repacking. But you are totally at the mercy of the ship’s schedule. And when you are at sea, you are stuck on the boat. Sure, boats are nice, but it isn’t as tho you can take a walk down the beach as far as you want; rent a bike and explore; decide on a spur of the moment round of golf; etc.

As far as the Caribbean - or Bermuda - goes, personally I’d prefer staying in a nice hotel in a particular location, instead of spending time cruising to a few.

Oh yeah - our cruise experience was one of many family vacations - grandma and grandpa, 8 adult children and in-laws, and 10-12 kids. I think every one of the adults preferred the vacations when we all booked rooms/condos in the same resort on land.

What a great tip! This is the kind of thing I would not have thought of! My feeling is that if there is a lot of night-life, I would most likely nap in the afternoon, and this sunlight thing would be important.

Yes, this was my understanding. Hubby and I are both on no simple carbs plans, and it’s my understanding that if I inform them of this ahead of time, they may be able to provide us with, say, sugar-free desserts. I also got to look at a sample dinner menu, and it seems that they don’t try to cut costs by adding pasta to every entree!

I’m sorry, but I got a mental image that almost made me laught out loud! Mr. Norinew has big, bushy, really, really curly hair that just wouldn’t mix with a plantation hat! He’s been known to wear a fedora on occasion (and look pretty cute, I might add), but generally hats aren’t his style! Me, OTOH, when we went to Florida last summer, I bought a wide-brimmed straw hat, and liked it. Wal-Mart sells them for about $4.00 each, so there’s no reason I can’t buy an assortment and have one for every outfit. This is something else I never would have thought of!

Sitting around is exactly what I could use! After dealing with the stresses of raising a teen, and adolescent and a toddler at the same time, I don’t get to do much sitting around doin’ nothin’. Also, as mentioned in the OP, my sisters will be there, and we’ll go together and see the cheesy entertainment and make fun of it! :slight_smile:

BTW, on Carnival’s website, they mention “complimentary 24 hour. stateroom service”. Extra points go to the first Doper who can tell me what kinds of things this service entails!

light snacks and pizza, hamburgers, etc. [I did get our steward to bring two bottles of Champagne at 1:00 A.M. for a ten dollar tip one night - my wife and I jumped into the jacuzzi for an impromptu party]