First Carnival Cruise Coming Up - Any Suggestions?

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by vickers, Sep 21, 2015.  |  Print Topic

  1. vickers

    vickers Gold Member

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    We are going to take our first family cruise together, and its our first time on a Carnival ship. One of the reasons we selected it was the price and the Camp Carnival for kids. They are 4 and 3 and the program looks great.

    All in all, the cruise itself is costing us just under $1,100. 4 Night Western Caribbean out of New Orleans to Cozumel, with 2 full days at sea on the Carnival Elation. We booked an ocean view room. Balcony rooms were not an option and I didn't want to spring for a suite this time.

    -I booked the cruise through Cruises Only (Marriott) and will earn 9 points per dollar since I put it on my Marriott Credit Card. I am gunning for that lifetime status. ;)
    -We are driving to New Orleans, so we are getting there a day early and staying at a Fairfield Inn about 11 miles outside of New Orleans, on certificate earned from opening the Marriott Credit Card.
    -I linked my Barclay Carnival Rewards MasterCard to our Sign and Sail. Through various promotions and regular spending, we have over $200 in rewards that we can use to wipe out charges through Carnival.

    We are really just looking to take 1 excursion during our day at Cozumel. We are leaning towards a beach day with buffet and unlimited drinks. Looks like fun.

    I cruised with my parents when I was younger, but this is our first cruise as a family, the first cruise my kids have been on, our first cruise to Mexico, and our first cruise with Carnival. Any tips or suggestions from anyone who has cruised out of New Orleans or with Carnival before?

    Thanks.
     
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  2. anileze

    anileze Gold Member

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    Never done it But, @Mapsmith is the resident expert on them cruises. Hopefully, he'll chime in.
     
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  3. satman40

    satman40 Gold Member

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    Cozumel has some great diving places, kick back and enjoy the beach,

    Book The Chefs Table for a great dining experience, and tour the ships assembly line kitchen,

    Cruises are just great to relax, and spend time without the everyday worries of life..

    Walk and excersize you do not want to gain weight...

    Enjoy the sounds, and the motions of the ocean

    You may find New Orleans more exciting...the p can is under the bed and the pecan is in the pie....
     
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  4. bez7
    Original Member

    bez7 Gold Member

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    Watch out for disease and fire on ship :)
     
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  5. Mapsmith
    Original Member

    Mapsmith Gold Member

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    Well. . . Since I am supposed to be the expert. (Going on number 14 this January, Number 9 on Carnival)

    First, Read this Article. http://www.travelchannel.com/interests/cruises/articles/7-things-the-cruise-lines-wont-tell-you

    Now ignore most of the negativity in the article.

    Cruising can be and usually is a lot of fun. You are going on a 4 day. Hopefully it is a Monday through Thursday Cruise out of NO. Weekend ones, particularly out of New Orleans can be a little bit of a "Booze Cruise". But don't let that dissuade you. (My cruise is 11 days out of Galveston. Don't know if I can stand Texas Two Step that long)

    Most kids love Camp Carnival/Camp Ocean. They will not want to leave. Also Carnival does have (intermittently) In-Room-Babysitting for a reasonable fee of about $15-20 per hour With a 3 and 4 year old, you might consider this to have some adult time without the kids. Go to the Casino. Go to the Dance Club. or like many people, go to the piano bar or the Comedy Club for the Adult show.

    You should have a great time and probably will want to schedule a longer cruise in the near future. Book that cruise on board (you can actually change dates and ships fairly easily, but you do have to select a specific cruise) Use your Carnival Card to book on board and you get double or more "miles" and you will get at least $100 On Board Credit for the next Cruise. You will also get "Friends and Family" Certificates that you can give to, well, Friends and Family. If they book the same cruise that you did, they get $100 On Board Credit and I do believe that you get an additional $100 On Board Credit for that newly booked cruise. I think you get 4 of the Certificates, so theoretically you can get up to $500 On Board Credit for getting F & F to come along on a cruise. (Lot of people use these Certs to convince Grandma and Grandpa to come along, thus giving you babysitters!)

    And Finally, Norovirus is called the Cruise Ship Virus ONLY because the Cruise ships are required to report anytime that 3% of the passengers become ill. Good hand washing is the best prevention--particularly after using public restrooms.

    Remember, Carnival Cruise Lines are the "Fun Ships" and they want you to have fun. Participate in Lido Deck Activities, and just have fun.

    <Edit> Just want to mention that although Carnival says that Oceanview and Balcony cabins are the same size, Oceanview are actually larger. The Balcony takes about 35 square feet from the overall size of the room, so Balconies can seem more cramped. We book Oceanview for the cost and the fact that they are larger. (and we just don't spend that much time on the balcony.)
     
  6. vickers

    vickers Gold Member

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    I was thinking of taking some bags in case the toilets back up again. lol
     
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  7. vickers

    vickers Gold Member

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    Wonderful information, thank you Mapsmith. When we went with my parents it was on NCL, and we had a great time. As carnival is the cheapest line, I was a bit worried about the experience, but looking into the ship and kids camp, I decided to take the plunge. Really wanted to take a Disney cruise, but it was over 2x as much for a similar length.

    We are departing out of New Orleans, but on Thursday. I didn't think about the weekend being a party liner, but that's a great point. Ill report back on that one. :)

    I was pretty impressed with what I read about the Camp Carnival and that it is included. I think kids can stay up to 6 hours a day there. We will do a shorter time the first visit to make sure they like it. I am looking forward to the casino. Ill book Mrs. Vickers a spa service too.

    I didn't know about the signing up for the next cruise on board an the perks associated with it. Thanks for those tips.

    One question for you @Mapsmith - we had to choose our dining, so we went with the Dining Your Way which is open dining from 5:45pm - 9pm I believe. But isn't the buffet open for supper, and come and go, like it is for breakfast and lunch? With the ages of our kids, buffets are the way to go.

    Ok 2 questions...... Is it true you put your key card in the slot machine and play from your sign and sail account, or is there a fee, like a cash advance associated with that?

    Thanks again.
     
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  8. Mapsmith
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    Mapsmith Gold Member

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    We have never selected Your Time Dining, because we like the experience with assigned dining. As a couple we are usually seated with others of the same general age. With Kids they would assign you a table with other families. Buffet is open for dinner so no problem there. (Side note: We have found that the Buffet Deserts are slightly better than the dining room deserts) But don't worry about taking the kids to the Main dining room. The waiters love kids (many have kids of their own that they haven't seen for months)

    You do have to register your Sign and Sail in order to use it at the Slots. No charge and works just the way you post. No fees, no advance, just the losses from gambling.

    As to the spa, when you first get on board, go to the spa and take the tour. They will have a free raffle for a free spa treatment. The spa, although charged on the Sign and Sail card is separate from Carnival. They will PUSH additional treatments, and lotions to take home.

    Plus, the fitness center is accessed from the spa. You use the same locker room. But the Spa/Gym has the best showers on the ship. And the Sauna/Steam Room are free. So treat yourself to a good steam. (The spa also has mucho towels available for use in the spa/gym.


    You will also find that you will make friends with other parents around the Lido Deck or Kids Pool area. Always fun. And that will keep you away from the Party Crowd (unless you want to party in the Disco at night)
     
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  9. Mapsmith
    Original Member

    Mapsmith Gold Member

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    Vickers, Another thing. Early Set time dining will usually put you with many, many, families. (Parents like it because it is close to the normal dining time for the kids) So if you change to Early Dining, you will probably be placed with another family with 3 or 4 year olds.
     
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  10. vickers

    vickers Gold Member

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    And thanks for the square foot comparison between oceanview and balcony @Mapsmith . I probably would have sprung for the balcony, but it was not offered on this itinerary for some reason. But knowing that you sacrifice in-room square footage, I probably would have passed anyway. Plenty of other spaced on the ship to get fresh air.
     
  11. satman40

    satman40 Gold Member

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    Early seating will get you a better seat at some of the shows...

    Their is no shortage of food, and most people do not spend much time in their rooms.

    A few years ago we did some MS in he gambling area, always fun to cash out...

    Enjoy..
     
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  12. kebibl18

    kebibl18 Active Member

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    In Cozumel, if you are looking for a beach day that is all inclusive and kiddo friendly, check out Mr. Sancho's. $17 taxi each way for up to 4 people. You can do either All-inclusive or pay as you go. I've been there three times this year and thoroughly enjoyed it. With the two little ones, if you decide to do the AI side, check into reserving one of the cabanas. They are great for when the kids need a nap!
     
  13. Mapsmith
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    Mapsmith Gold Member

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    That is because the "tion" ships, (Elation, Fascination, Inspiration, etc) only have a very few Balconies. They are the older ships and have a lot of Oceanview.
     
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  14. vickers

    vickers Gold Member

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    @Mapsmith have you tried up the Carnival App yet? Currently, its only available on the Breeze, but they are planning to roll out fleet-wide over the next several years. Looks like a promising way to keep in touch on the ship.
     
  15. Mapsmith
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    Mapsmith Gold Member

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    I downloaded it last year on the Breeze (Carnival Hub) But it was only working with the daily activities. When I am on the ship, My phone is usually in the safe and turned off.

    I have heard good things about the app and the internet plans, but I don't see me ever using it. With just you, the wife and two toddlers, you probably don't really need it. (Camp Carnival does give you a pager if you request one, so they can contact you if necessary)
     
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  16. vickers

    vickers Gold Member

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    Great. I figured Camp Carnival had a way to contact you, but I wasn't sure what it was. If my wife loses me, she knows to check the casino. ;)
     
  17. Mapsmith
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    Mapsmith Gold Member

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    Vickers, also go to Cruise-Critic. Lots and lots of info there. Look to see if your ship has a "secret deck" Usually Deck 7 or 8 right below the bridge. Good place to just go be alone for a few minutes. (but windy if the ship is moving.)
     
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  18. swazzie

    swazzie Silver Member

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    I took my family on our first Carnival cruise (on the Sensation) in June 2014 and we had a blast. My sons (6 and 9 at the time) enjoyed Camp Carnival and the water slides and their dad and I enjoyed many other activities on the ship. Carnival has a program called Faster to the Fun that allows priority boarding, having your room ready upon boarding, and a few other perks that could help the cruise experience more comfortable. It was $50 per room last year and spots for it are limited, but I did pay up and it was useful for my cruise. That may be something to consider, too. I also second the Cruise Critic recommendation...it's an invaluable resource when it comes to researching cruises.
     
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