Picture it: You get on the ship and try making a dinner reservation at Bonsai Teppanyaki, only to find out it’s fully booked. Well, never fear, because you still might have a shot… if you’re willing to switch those dinner plans to lunch on a sea day. The menu and experience is exactly the same as the evening seating, so you wont’ be missing out on a thing. And if this was something someone in your party really, really wanted to experience, you might just wind up saving the day.
Some people don’t mind kids. Others want to relax without them running around. If you fall into that second group, check out the Serenity area on your Carnival ship. This spot is for adults 21-years and up. It features some cozy and comfy seating you won’t find elsewhere on the ship and often has its own dedicated bar area and hot tubs. Even if you don’t care about kids one way or the other, you’ll often find the Serenity area less crowded than the pool area and has more cozy, private spaces.
If you are sailing from the United States on Carnival, then you have to be 21 to drink alcohol on the ship. But if someone isn’t quite of age, they can drink when in most ports. Places like Mexico and The Bahamas have drinking ages of 18. That means people underage in the U.S. can still drink legally when in port.
If you’re worried about getting the best deal on an excursion, don’t. Carnival offers a 110% guarantee. If you find the same excursion for cheaper somewhere else, then they will refund 110% of the price difference as onboard credit. That doesn’t mean you can’t find cheaper things to do, but know that if you do buy an excursion through the cruise line, you’ll be covered.
Do you wear a pair of old flip flops where the tread has been worn off? If so, it’s time for an upgrade. Decks on cruise ships can get slippery. Between rain showers, splashes from the pool, or cleaning by the crew, there are lots of times you’ll find wet decks. If you don’t have sandals with grip then it’s not just a nuisance — it’s downright dangerous. You don’t want a slip and fall ruining your vacation.
Cruises are great for vacations with kids, but know that if you take a kiddo under two years old, then you’re going to be watching them almost all the time. In-room babysitting is available at some hours, but kids under two aren’t allowed to be dropped off in the ship’s kid clubs (called Camp Ocean). Have a kid older than that? Then the kid’s clubs offer childcare for free while you go enjoy the ship. Definitely take advantage. After all, it’s your vacation too!
When you book your cruise, Carnival will give you the option of buying the Carnival Vacation Protection. It’s definitely worth it to have some insurance for your trip (recent hurricanes emphasize the point), however, we think you’re better off going with a third-party insurance policy. These policies are usually the same or cheaper in price than Carnival’s policy and cover more. For more on cruise insurance, you can read our article here.
Were you having dinner at the Pig & Anchor the night the Main Dining Room had escargot on the menu? If you’re in the MDR the next night, ask your waiter if it’s possible to get an order. They won’t always be able to make it happen, but when it’s possible, they’ll do it. Two of my favorites — escargot and bitters and blanc — were served in the dining room the evening I was eating at the Steakhouse. The next night, when my server discovered how disappointed I was, he put in a request and, much to my surprise, the kitchen totally came through. It won’t always be possible, but it never hurts to try. (And hey, if it does? Make sure to slip your server a little something extra.)
You might not think of it, but the nights in the Caribbean can get cool, even in the summer. This is especially true when the ship is underway, which makes the breeze much stronger. Do yourself a favor and bring a light jacket to wear in the evenings. Even if you plan to stay inside on the ship, the air conditioning can get cool in many places.
This isn’t so much a Carnival tip as just a heads up on what you’ll spend. Sodas run about two bucks. Beers will set you back about $6-8. Don’t forget to add in 18% gratuity, which is automatically included to the price. Worried about the bill? Carnival also sells CHEERS! drink packages that give you access to whatever you want for one daily price. They are convenient and can help you budget.