Snarky Brides

Carnival Cruises

Has anyone done one?  Any advice?

Specifically, we are looking at the Carnival Victory out of Puerto Rico.  We would have 7 days out at sea, visiting 6 different Caribbean islands for 8 to 10 hours per island. 

What extra costs should we keep in mind?  We have factored in excursions, transportation around the islands and food on the islands, and activities we may want to do on the ship.  I've heard a big cost that sneaks up on people is alcohol, but we don't drink.  Would it be worth it to get one of their "soda passes" for the trip?

Also, is it worth it to upgrade rooms?  I don't particularly care about the view really, but I also don't want to get stuck in a high traffic area.  If we get to select our room (that's one of the payment options) what area of the ship should we avoid?

I looked up reviews of the ship and the main complaints were bad food (which I could live with as long as its edible) and too many Puerto Ricans.  Supposedly, the ship is also starting to show some wear and tear, but it is such a better deal than any of the ships leaving out of Florida and we would get more island time so I can deal with outdated carpet.

If your advice is "OMG CARNIVAL IS THE DEVILLL!" please let me know that too :)
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Re: Carnival Cruises

  • I want to go on a cruise but Mike gets seasick.

    Plus, the only really serious fight we ever had was over him dancing with another girl on spring break on a cruise he went on. Hey, cut me slack, I was 21 and over protective/psycho ;) But yeah, we almost broke up so I think cruises are bad karma for us!

    I am so unhelpful!
  • Now I know to AVOID ALL DANCING ON THE CRUISE. Scott will be 21 when we go.  Wink

    Very helpful! 
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_snarky-brides_carnival-cruises?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:17Discussion:ede520c0-ac03-46a9-91c5-275caadbbb53Post:a347e1fb-0bba-4afe-a111-c7ae34d6248b">Re: Carnival Cruises</a>:
    [QUOTE]Now I know to AVOID ALL DANCING ON THE CRUISE. Scott will be 21 when we go.  Very helpful! 
    Posted by kimheartsscott[/QUOTE]

    hahah no it will be fine... he was with his boys and it turned out he was dancing with her because his buddy was into her friend... I freaked about the fb pics though. Not sure why bc I regularly dance/danced with any one and every one when I go out :)
  • I've been on Carnival and RC.  I prefer RC to Carnival, but that's because of the atmosphere.  Carnival is known as the "fun ship" because it's geared more towards families and the younger crowd. 

    Rooms:  I've always stayed in the basic interior cabins.  Carnival has the largest cabins of all the ships I've been on.  I was pleasantly surprised.  The cabin areas are seperate from the activity areas, so there shouldn't be any real traffic to avoid.  I would, however, recommend getting a cabin on a lower deck.  In turbulent waters, the higher your cabin is, the more of the pitch and roll you feel.  People on the top decks tend to get seasick more often.

    Drinks:  Tea, coffee, water, and lemonade (I think) are offered free of charge.  We never did the drink packages, and lived without soda for a week.  If you need the soda, the drink package are worth it.  As far as extra fees:  the biggest thing is gratuity.  Most ships now charge an automatic tip (it supposeably saves you time/hassle of calculating and dividing the tip among various people).  It think it averages about $10 a day per person.

    Also - you can't use cash on board the ship.  They have a "sail and sign" card, which serves as your ID and credit card on the ship.  It's linked to a credit card, and you use it for purchases, gambling, etc. on the ship.  If you don't watch yourself, you can get carried away with it.

    I don't know what islands you're travelling to, but check the US Customs law for what you can/can't bring back, exemptions, etc.  If you're smokers, know that you're allowed to buy one carton of cigarrettes per person.  Beyond that, you're charged tax of  $10 a carton.  CBP "know before you go:"

    http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/vacation/kbyg/
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  • We did a 5 day Carnival cruise for our HM.  It was what we could afford, and we had a good time, but I wouldn't go on one again.

    (Disclaimer: I'm kind of a snob.)

    Our main complaints were the food and the clientele.  The food was hit or miss.  We had some really good stuff in the formal dining room, but nothing was spectacular and there was some stuff that was downright bad.  The buffet-type food was maybe what you'd get in a college dorm or a slight click up.  There was definitely quantity over quality.

    There were also, frankly, a lot of drunk, trashy people on the cruise.  I've never been somewhere that was SO smoky--it kind of ruins the experience of being out on the ocean when people are blowing smoke on your face.  It was gross.  There was also a lot of noise late at night from drunk people, which was annoying.  If we did it again, I'd upgrade to a private balcony.  I think it would definitely be worth the money.

    Also, getting on the boat took for-freaking-ever and was a big PITA.  And we wanted to see one show on the whole cruise and it was packed to the gills and we couldn't get in.

    For soda, you can each carry on (not check) a 12 pack of soda.  We did that and didn't buy any the whole trip.  We also brought a laptop and a bunch of Netflix movies we wanted to watch, which we did some nights and was a good idea if you're not into the drinking thing.

    I will say the service was fantastic, and we enjoyed the time and views together.  We also had a great excursion in Cozumel, and staying on the boat during one of the ports was awesome because everyone else was gone and we had the decks to ourselves.
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  • Ooh, I didn't even think about the rolling being worse the higher we are.  Good advice!  I also have tips included on our little budget list, but spaced on them when I typed this.  Automatic gratuity always annoys me.  Undecided

    As far as soda goes, I can live without it for a week, but if Scott went that long he may need an IV of Dr Pepper.

    One thing I did forget to ask:  If we are departing from Puerto Rico, but going to islands outside of US territories, I shouldn't need a passport right?  Because we are starting and ending in PR?

    Thanks for the link!
  • Nope, no passport for closed loop cruises.
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  • Brie, that sounds crappy!  Loud drunks are what I'm probably most worried about [aside from crazy hidden fees], but  hopefully it isn't too bad.  Good idea about the Netflix though!  We are movie whores.


  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_snarky-brides_carnival-cruises?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:17Discussion:ede520c0-ac03-46a9-91c5-275caadbbb53Post:0d95b6f3-b07b-49f5-a6cd-c4d1c3c26afd">Re: Carnival Cruises</a>:
    [QUOTE]Nope, no passport for closed loop cruises.
    Posted by tidetravel[/QUOTE]

    Kickass, thanks.
  • tidetraveltidetravel member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments
    edited July 2010
    I should add though, that if you don't have a passport, you should consider getting one.  The issue here is that if you have to fly home from one of the islands other than PR in the event of an emergency (It does happen), you will have problems boarding a flight without a passport.  Everyone needs a passport to enter the United States via air, and the airlines will not board you without one, because the government holds them responsible for ensuring that passengers board with the proper documentation. 

    It's a slim possibility, but something you should consider.   
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  • Good point.  Scott has a passport (obviously, being that he is in Uganda and all) and I was thinking about getting one anyway, just in case.  Plus, aren't they good for 10 years or so?
  • Yep.

    Don't bother with the new passport card.  That's $30 and is good for land/sea travel ONLY.  So, you would be in the same situation.  The card is geared more towards people that cross the northern or southern border on a regular basis.
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  • I've been on a couple Carnival cruises, and had a great time. They are definitely geared more toward the younger, party crowd - but I was 18 and 20 when I went on Carnival, so it was perfect for me at the time. 

    That said, you can definitely avoid the crazy partiers and there are plenty of things to do that don't involve drinking/being crazy. I must have lucked out with the ships I was on, because I remember the food being actually pretty good.

    I definitely agree about less movement/seasickness on the lower decks, but it can also be louder the lower you go because you can hear the water crashing on the side of the ship.

    I just have to throw in a plug for my all time favorite cruise line though - Norwegian. Best cruising experience I've had, and I plan on using them for all future cruises.
  • I went on a Carnival 7-day cruise over Thanksgiving several years ago with some friends and it was a blast!  I'm actually trying to get my fiance to agree to go on one for our honeymoon!  It is definitely the best bang for your buck and no stress once you're on the boat!  I paid $350 extra for just myself and that included shore excursions at 2 of the 4 places the ship stopped and LOTS of alcohol!  All your food is covered and there is SO MUCH FOOD...it seriously never stops.  I liked it because there is so much going on all day....events on deck during the day, bars and casinos in the evening, and you can really be as social or anti-social as you'd like.  My fiance is all like "I'm going to be so bored sitting on a ship for 7 day" but he's never been on a cruise so he just doesn't understand.  I think cruises are amazing and if you don't necessarily want to stay in bed all day relaxing, you will have a blast.  I just stayed in the cheap rooms with no windows, but I was barely even in there.  Now, on a honeymoon, you may want to upgrade for something a little nicer.  I think you will have a blast!  I can't wait to go on my next cruise!
  • I'll admit, I didn't fully read the post but heres my input....

    I've done 2 carnival cruises and 1 Royal Caribbean, the Royal Caribbean was far superior and I likely won't do carnival again unless I'm realllly itching for a cruise.

    I 100% think its worth it to upgrade to a balcony but thats because I reallly, really enjoy getting up in the morning and going out there to check the temp. then eating a breakfast or having coffee out there. It's also nice when you leave a port to be able to sit on your own private balcony and watch in peace. Especially when you have a BF who likes a nice nap and you'd rather read (we only did this lazy, boring stuff affter a busy day at port).

    The food on Carnival vs. Royal Caribbean was like Applebees vs. Mortons. Seriously, carnivals food was edible but not great...

    As for drinks, the alcohol added up and we did drink everyyyy night but it was not too bad in the end. You can view your bill daily on your tv so we kept an eye on it and it ended up being about $300 for our 7 day cruise for the 2 of us. We definitely got plenty to drink too...

    I don't think soda card is worth it at all because, when you get the soda card they give you fountain soda which is kind of flat whereas if you pay for it you get a can of soda which is not flat. I ordered a coke everynight with dinner and T's sister ordered one with her soda card and we tasted the diff. It didnt end up being too spendy either.

    I think you have all the many extra costs covered, we spent very little on our cruise as we did away with ship organized excursions (overpriced) and souveniers.

    Most of this is based on our last cruise whichwas last Dec.
  • Oh yes and on Carnival there were tooons of kids which I could have done without even though I love children. This was also because we went over Christmas break. Nevertheless, RC had a lot less children, much much better service and a nicer ship.
  • Well crap.  All the comparable RC cruises are at least $200 more, with more time out at sea.  Although they do have military discounts so that could help.
  • Kim - Carnival has military discounts, too.  DEEP military discounts for active or retired military (like, we got a 7 night cruise with a kickass itinery for $350 a person, deep).  You just have to present your DD-214.

    Like I said, I prefer RC, however, for the money, Carnival isn't bad.  Especially if you're military.


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  • My favorites are days at sea :) Carnival isn't awful I just like RC better. Although, for a first cruise, you might not miss RC. See I did RC first then carnival so it was like a step down plus I'm a major vacation snob.
  • The cruise we are looking at is actually about $370 for 7 days, with no discounts.  That's why I'm leaning towards it so much.  We aren't expecting luxury, but we also don't want to feel like we should have chosen a different ship, ya know?

    Neither of us are active or retired, but I get benefits (for school) through my dad's disability benefits.  I have a military ID which I can use on base, but I haven't tried to get discounts through it yet (like at Lowes, etc).  I think I'll email Carnival and ask specifically if the discounts would apply.
  • That sounds like a great deal! I'd do it. What are the ports of call?
  • Roxy, we are so not vacation snobs.  If we can save a couple hundred on hotels but it means we have a porn shop across the street, hey, we saved a couple hundred!  All I really care about is that the hotel is in a good location, is clean and we won't die while staying there.  :)  We were thinking about flying into Puerto Rico a few days early and splurging, spending that time at a resort.  It's our honeymoon!
  • I think it sounds perfect then Kim :) Exciting!
  • FYI - I don't know what the current state of PR is, but I heard from a lot of my friends that are from there that it was pretty bad (crime, etc.) as of a few years ago.  I don't know details about what areas or anything, but it's something you may want to check on if you plan on spending any time there.

    Also - if I were to go to PR, the one thing that I would absolutely be sure to visit is one of their bioluminescent bays. 
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  • edited July 2010
    Itinerary is:
    San Juan /> St Thomas > Dominica > Barbados > St Lucia > St Kitts > St Maarten > back to San Juan

    We kept going back and forth on which island we wanted to go to, so this solves that problem.  But now we need to haul ass on booking things since we thought we weren't getting a honeymoon [Scott is supposed to start student teaching right after the wedding, but we found out he can push it back 2 weeks].
  • I've never been on a Carnival Cruise.  But I've been to a couple of mediocre AI resorts, and from what I've heard, that's probably a good comparison with Carnival.  I think Brie probably nailed it when she mentioned the food and the clientele.  I wouldn't go on a Carnival Cruise for those reasons alone. 

    If comparable RC cruises are only $200 more, I'd choose one of those.  Especially if it's your HM.  To put this in perspective, you said that Carnival charges $370 for a week.  That's about $50/day to cover your lodging, service, and all you can eat.  Quality just can't be very high at those rates.

  • :O St. Lucia and St. Kitts are amazing!
  • edited July 2010
    I think I could convince myself to drop the extra money on the cruise, but then I remember that this one week translates into 1 semester's worth of tuition for me*.  And then I have a minor panic attack.

    I guess I have some thinking to do.

    ETA: *after food, flights, excursions and everything.  I wish my tuition was $370.
  • Oh and Tide, thanks for the tip on PR.  Scott is in charge of researching that and making sure we aren't murdered.  I should see if he's done that.
  • I have been on a ton of cruises both RC and Carnival.  I have also been to most of those ports.  If you go on an excursion make sure you book through the ship because they can dicey otherwise.  I would rec the bacardi factory tour in PR.  Where the ship docks is nice but as soon as you start walking it can get a little dicey.  Cruises are fun and you will be taken care of.  It will be a very stress free vacation. 
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