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First Time to Cruise? Helpful Hints and Suggestions

Updated on November 6, 2016

First Time Cruise

I have been on 8 Carnival cruise lines and after every one, I have learned a new lesson, thought of a new plan or remembered what not to do the next time I go. As a result, I have given countless people advice on how to have the best cruise experience possible. I thought I would share it with you. Please note, all of this information is based on Carnival cruises. I am working to platinum status and refuse to try another cruise line until i reach it.

  1. Bring a wristwatch! All ships base their departure and arrival time on "ship time." What this means is that no matter how many time zones you cross, you will always use the time zone of your initial port to return to ship during days in port. Nowadays most people use their cell phones to check the time and it just doesn't always work when cruising. At times your phone doesn't adjust in the new port or you don't turn it on because of the charges. Always, always, always have watch to keep on ship time (waterproof is even better). If you don't, you will probably end up buying a new one on the ship.
  2. Power strip or multi-outlet plug. Most state-rooms only have 1 plug. That's right 1! Now, if you have two people with iPads, iPods, phones, curling irons, etc., let's go ahead and stop the warfare now by bringing a handy dandy power strip or multi plug. Trust me, it will be used!
  3. Bring your own soft drinks. Many ships now let you bring a case of soft drinks on board when you check in. If you don't want to buy a soda car, then bring it on. Plus, you will have drinks in your room at night.
  4. Leave the beach towels behind. The ship provides beach towels for you.
  5. Get to the port early and have free lunch! Even though the ship may leave at 4, you can get there as early as 10/11 AM. Food is free. Pool Is Open. Start the vacation.
  6. Lanyard- Bring a Lanyard or get one on board. Your room key is your wallet. A lanyard really helps you keep up with it at all times or when you don't want to have to carry a wallet or purse, that is all you will need.
  7. LOVE AND MARRIAGE SHOW - Whenever possible, GO TO THIS SHOW! That is all I will say. Trust me.
  8. CARNIVAL FUN TIMES - These are the heart and soul of your trip. Tear off the schedule and keep it with you. There is always something going on.
  9. Underwater Camera. If you plan on snorkeling or being around water, go ahead and get an underwater digital camera. By the time you have bought 10 disposable ones, you would pay for it.
  10. Dinner. If you plan on getting the most out of the ports, then book the late seating. This gives you time to get back to the boat, freshen up and then go eat. As well, if a group is traveling and you didn't make arrangements to sit together when booking, go to the Maitre 'D. His job is to accommodate. If you don't like your table, let him know. He will do whatever he can to make you happy.
  11. Tip - Go ahead and prepay those tips. If you don't, they will charge you anyway. The tips are divided between all of the staff. However, if you have exceptional service, do not be afraid to tip the dining room or state room staff. As well, the Maitre 'D only gets a tip if you give it to him. He is not included in the prepaid gratuities.
  12. HAVE A GOOD TIME - A cruise is what you make it. I cruise every year. I don't drink and I don't gamble, but I have never had a bad time. Enjoy the trip!


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