Great Carnival Cruise

Whether this is your first cruise, or your tenth, you’ll find some useful tips here to improve your upcoming trip!

1. Get your passport.

Passport for Carnival Cruise

On my recent cruise on the Carnival Magic, the embarkation lines were crazy long. Once we got through the ID checkpoint and into the line for room keys, my group was singled out and moved into a different (much shorter!) line. Why? Because we had two things going for us: we had passports and we did the

2. Online check-in.

You can give the cruise line all your information ahead of time, print out a boarding pass, and even print luggage tags! This really speeds up the process. Then be sure to

3. Arrive early for embarkation.

I mentioned that the lines were really long. Our paperwork indicated we could arrive between 12:30 and 2:30. My friends arrived at exactly 12:30, and the process took one hour. My party arrived at 1:00, and our process took two hours. Arrive early, and you won’t regret it.

4. Purchase the Unlimited Soda Program, or bring a 12-pack with you.

You can bring drinks to keep in your room, and get ice from any of the buffet areas. Or you can purchase the Unlimited Soda Program at the lobby bar as soon as you board the ship, for about $27.00. That includes your tips. If you drink two sodas or more per day, it’s a bargain! (There’s also a program for unlimited alcoholic drinks, but that one costs $50.00 per day, even on the days you’re in port; so it may not be as good a value.)

5. Faster to the fun

This option is $50.00 per cabin, and it’s another way to save time on your vacation. You’ll get priority check-in, expedited luggage, priority tenders for going ashore, and more! Look for it while you’re doing online check-in.

6. Reserve excursions online before your cruise

Another long line you could encounter onboard is at the excursion desk. You can avoid this by booking all your excursions online before you cruise! You can read about them all to compare before you buy.

7. Gamble in the first few days

Now this one is purely based on my own personal experience, but it seemed to me that the machines in the casino were quite a bit “looser” during the first few days of the cruise… Then they made a valiant attempt to get their money back toward the end of the cruise. Has anyone else had this experience?

8. Stay onboard at one port to enjoy the ship

Remember when I said to book your excursions online? That’s a great idea, but another great idea is to just stay onboard the ship for one of your ports. Everyone else gets off, and you can have the ship all to yourself! Imagine having your pick of the lounge chairs, enjoying “port day” specials in the spa, riding the waterslides, and zipping through the buffet lines… Now THAT is a vacation!

Empty Waterslides on Carnival Cruise

9. Let the photographers take lots of photos. Or not.

Maybe the whole family is dressed up for formal night. Or you’d love a pic of your kids with a pirate. Carnival’s photographers are always around, and you can get all the pictures you’d like! But if you know you don’t want a photo, feel free to say “no” when they ask. It’ll save time for everyone, not to mention all the photo paper!

Unpurchased photos on Carnival Cruise

10. Bring a power cord, as there’s only one outlet in your cabin.

We all have phones, cameras, and things that need to be charged. And you might also like to dry and style your hair. There’s only one outlet, so be sure to pack a power cord or you’ll have to make some tough choices!

My name is Brenda Arnold-Richard, and I’m a Travel Planner with Travel with the Magic. If you’d like help planning your next cruise, or even a vacation at a Disney Destination, contact me at I’ll be happy to help you have a smooth journey!