Did you know that a few agents on our team specialize in Carnival Cruises?

Carnival Cruise Lines have 24 Ships operating 2- to 17-day voyages, departing from every coast in the U.S. While they are best known for Caribbean cruises, they sail to other exotic and amazing destinations like Mexico, Alaska, The Bahamas, Europe, and Hawaii.

I just got off the Carnival Sunshine, whose home is in Charleston, South Carolina. Many of my family members were able to join me in celebrating my mother’s 80th birthday because of how many options there were to choose from. Carnival Cruise Line offers a wide range of embarkation ports, allowing guests to start their cruise vacations in California, Florida, Virginia, Maryland, South Carolina, New York, Washington, Texas, Alabama, Louisiana, or Hawaii, as well as many international ports including Barcelona, Venice, London, Brisbane, and San Juan. This means guests will travel less to reach their ships, spending less time in transit, and less money on airfare!

Carnival Cruises are known as the “fun ships.” It attracts a younger crowd, much like Norwegian Cruise Line, while Princess Cruises and Holland America generally attract more mature passengers. If you can’t wait for the fun to begin, here are some Carnival Cruise tips and experiences that I have found to be super helpful!

Tip #1: Download The App!

Carnival’s Hub App is an absolute must to get you to the Carnival Cruise activities faster! The app becomes your vital Carnival Cruise planner during your vacation that shows you itineraries, maps, photos, and menus during your voyage. The Carnival Hub app is available on all Carnival cruise ships. After my Carnival Cruise check-in and boarding, I downloaded the app using the ship’s free Wi-Fi. It runs off the Carnival Cruise Wi-Fi and doesn’t incur any unwanted roaming charges. The app is free to use and doesn’t require purchasing a Carnival Cruise internet package. Also, for a small USD $5.00 fee, passengers can chat with each other onboard using the Carnival Hub app. This feature came in handy since I was traveling with a group!

Tip #2:Fast Track Boarding With Faster To The Fun (FTTF)

Faster to the fun is the most valuable tip for cruising Carnival. Embarkation day can be overwhelming, but FTTF speeds things up for you. Onboard, faster to the fun passengers have early access to their cabins and priority delivery of their luggage! If you choose not to add this, everyone can get in their rooms by 1:00 pm. Faster to the fun passengers also have priority dining time assignments after the VIFP Platinum guests. When traveling in a larger group who want to dine together, this is especially helpful. Early dining in the main dining room fills up quickly. However, with FTTF, you can almost guarantee your preferred time in your dining room of choice.

Tip #3: Checking In

I always have a rule of thumb to arrive the night before your cruise sets sail. Carnival has now implemented a system that requires passengers to choose a check-in time within a half-hour time slot. The check-in time helps to lessen congestion and prevent long wait times. It was super easy and the line was constantly moving!

Tip #4: Atmosphere

This cruise line will feature at least one formal evening (two during a one-week itinerary), with men wearing either tuxedos or jackets and ties and women wearing either gowns or cocktail dresses. The rest of the time, resort casual attire prevails. I have noticed that many keep it casual during the day, however in the evening, guests slip into something a little more appropriate for dinner.

Tip #5: Pixels and Pictures

While onboard, I wanted to get my mother’s photo taken with Pixels Photography. They offer private sessions and photo opportunities as you pass by the different backdrops of the day. Each day, they are different. I would recommend doing private sessions for those special occasions such as anniversaries, milestone birthdays, or bucket list visits. Another helpful tip is to schedule this on a formal night while you are wearing and looking your best!

Tip #6: Camp Ocean

Carnival’s kids’ program, Camp Ocean, offers fun and games for children 2 to 11 years of age. Their Circle “C” provides hangouts for teens aged 12 to 14, and Club 02 caters to 15-to-17-year olds. The kids’ programs are included in the cruise fare. However, should you opt for a night out without the little ones, Night Owl offers evening activities for a small fee.

Tip #7: Carnival Cruises VIFP Program

After completing your first cruise with Carnival, you’ll be enrolled in their VIFP (Very important fun person) program. Like all cruise line loyalty programs, the VIFP benefits vary by level. First-time Carnival Cruise passengers attain a “blue” level and work their way up to the “diamond” level at 200 days of sailing. VIFP passengers can benefit from free upgrades, complimentary drinks, free laundry, priority debarkation, and more. Also, from time to time, Carnival cruisers may receive special offers on selected itineraries.

Tip #8: Excursions

Carnival offers many excursions to choose from! Carnival wants to ensure you are getting the best price on their shore excursions, so they offer the best price guarantee. Passengers who find the same tour offered at a lower cost by another operator can qualify for an onboard credit. There is an excursion for everyone! You can choose easy, intermediate, or advanced activities for your adventure while onshore!

Tip #9: Dining

Let’s all agree that food is one of the most exciting things while on any vacation! You have 3 options to choose from: Early, Late, and Your Time Dining. The dining crew is absolutely amazing! Not only do they serve you, but they also dance, sing, and make everyone feel special while in their presence. My tip is to always go to dining, and if you don't get full, go upstairs and hit the buffets!

Tip #10: Carnival’s Debarkation Process

Carnival has a slightly different debarkation or disembarkation day process than most other cruise lines. The day before your cruise ends, you will have a meeting with the cruise director to learn how the debarkation will work. There you will receive your colored and numbered luggage tags. You will be dismissed by the floor you are on and your luggage tag number. Because Charleston is a “silent port” no announcements are made, however, you will know where they are in the process by watching channel 14 in your stateroom. In Charleston, shuttles and ubers were waiting to take passengers to the airport without prior reservations.

I hope you find these tips helpful! At Me and The Mouse Travel, we can guide you in finding the perfect cruise line to fit your family!