ALL ABOARD THE CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES- WHAT TO EXPECT AND HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR CRUISE TRIP - MYRIAD MUSINGS

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ALL ABOARD THE CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES- WHAT TO EXPECT AND HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR CRUISE TRIP

"ME- Ribhya, what would you like to do of your 9th birthday?
RIBHYA- Mommy, I would like to go on a cruise........."

We booked our cruise tickets three weeks prior to Riri's birthday and rest is history. It was impossible to get last minute tickets on Disney Cruise lines, so we tried our luck at the Carnival Cruise lines. Ideally, we wanted a weekend trip, preferably Thursday through Sunday, four nights, upper deck, middle of the ship and a room with the best view. So, we reached out to Carnival Cruise lines and the sales rep was able to get us exactly what we were looking for. Ours was a four-night cruise to the Grand Bahamas ( Nassau, full day at sea, Freeport), our stateroom was on Deck 6, in the middle of the ship and had a balcony. As hubs and I have cruised before, we were able to use our VIP rewards to get an upgrade for no charge ( TIP#1- leverage your membership status to upgrade ) .

From the second you book your tickets the fun begins. We downloaded the Carnival app, which is highly recommended. The app is your itinerary, your on-board reservation reminder, your spending tracker and all that you would need to know before, during and after the cruise. It is advisable that you complete the profile page of each traveling passenger in your party ahead of time- passport needed. Additionally, you could check in ahead of time, after which you will be provided a time slot for boarding on the day of cruise ( TIP#2- arrive only during your time slot, in which case you will be asked to wait if you arrive early. This helps with a smooth and timely boarding )

Carnival cruise lines, elation carnival, balcony view, what to expect when cruising to Bahamas,


Carnival cruise lines, elation carnival, balcony view, what to expect when cruising to Bahamas,

Carnival cruise lines, elation carnival, balcony view, what to expect when cruising to Bahamas,

Carnival cruise lines, elation carnival, balcony view, what to expect when cruising to Bahamas,

Carnival cruise lines, elation carnival, balcony view, what to expect when cruising to Bahamas,

Carnival cruise lines, elation carnival, balcony view, what to expect when cruising to Bahamas,

Carnival cruise lines, elation carnival, balcony view, what to expect when cruising to Bahamas,

Carnival cruise lines, elation carnival, balcony view, what to expect when cruising to Bahamas,

How to get to the port? 
We were sailing from Cape Canaveral in Florida. We flew into Orlando airport and was able to book a private shuttle to Cape Canaveral which runs every hour. Carnival and most cruise liners offer shuttle-rides to and from the airport, however we found it to be expensive and hence booked our own private shuttle service. The ride from Orlando airport to Cape Canaveral is a 45 minute drive, so time your flight arrival and departure accordingly if you have the inbound-outbound flight for the same
day. 

What to expect on the day of boarding?
On the day of boarding, expect what you'd expect at an International airport- security, checking, immigration and long lines. Platinum members aka first class passengers get priority boarding. You would need your passport as your ID and US birth certificate for kids traveling without passport. On boarding each traveling passenger in your party will be given their room key card which will be your ID for the duration of the cruise. It is linked to your credit card and you can use that card to make all on-board purchases. Your app helps you keep tab. TIP#3 - if you'd like to check in your luggage and delivered straight to your stateroom, print the tags they email you with your itinerary and attach it to your suitcases with the information part filled out. This saves you the effort of lugging your suitcase everywhere.)

What to pack?
Well, like any beach trip you would need to pack your swim trunks, clothing, toiletries, hats, sunscreen, phone, camera, battery, chargers, medication, a fanny-pack and travel documents. Don't forget to pack your motion-sickness pills in case you have that problem. There is a clinic on board and they have all these basic pills, but no harm in carrying extra. You can skip towels though, as there is plenty in your room. Bahamas and Florida is warm all year round but in winters you might need to bring a light jacket for the occasional wind that picks up in the evenings. The dress code is usually casual, shorts and flip flops allowed, but at the restaurants you would need to maintain a certain decorum- formal pants and dresses and closed toe shoes. On the day of Captain's dinner, for us it was on the third night, the dress code is pretty much formal for all passengers. Men are required to wear a dress shirt and women will care. (TIP#4- you can bring your own water and soda as long as it is in cans. No plastic is allowed on International water. Not all soda and juice is free on board, bringing yours in bulk saves you some bucks.) 

What about entertainment on board?
There is entertainment abound on every cruise liner. From the minute you step on board, there is fun everywhere, round-the-clock. You will be greeted by your host and there is usually a welcome dance and drink party. There are shows and activities for adults, for kids, for teens, for the entire family all included in your package. There is a day-camp for kids 2-12 years and you are more than welcome to drop-off your kids there. There is a youth program for teenagers. Library, playpens, pools, slides, movies, music, dance-shows, game-shows, scavenger hunts, you name it and there will be something scheduled for everyday. Every afternoon your room steward will deliver the following day's on-board itinerary to your room, which gives you enough time to plan your days. (TIP#5- show up at the shows 15-20 minutes before they start to get the front row seats It is likely that you'll be called up on the stage for participating if you are in the front few rows.) On days when the cruise is docked, you can step out and explore the ports, for us it was Nassau on the second day and Freeport on the fourth. (TIP#6- book your sightseeing and activity tickets for docked days ahead of time. It is generally cheaper and hassle-free to book these with the cruise liner as they make all the disembarking and local travel arrangements.) Besides this the restaurant crew does their own performance while dinner every night. They have a small song and dance thing planned for every night. 

What about food and drinks?
Food, water and juice is generally included in your ticket pricing. However, alcohol of any kind is not  included and you will have to use your room key card to pay for any alcohol bought at restaurants, bars and shows. Talking about food, there is 24 hours food service at the diner. Binge eat on salads, fruits, soups, sandwiches, pizza, tacos, burgers, ice cream any time of the day, you'll never go hungry on-board.  There are several formal restaurants on board and based on your cruise-package you will be assigned a restaurant for your daily dinner. There is a time slot for dinner, ours was between 5:45-9:30pm. ( TIP#7- to avoid waiting at the restaurants for dinner,  arrive early or after 7:30 pm when most of the crowd has left). The cuisine is mostly american, but there is an Indian option  on the menu by default and it is generally very good. (TIP#8 Make the restaurant staff aware of any dietary restrictions that you might have). I informed them about my cleanse diet and they were kind enough to accommodate my request. They would take my order for the next day's dinner every night and prepare the meal as per my food aversions. I didn't miss a thing, they took good care of me. We also told them about Riri's birthday and they had a small birthday ceremony and mini cake cutting  during dinner the last night. 

What about Duty-Free shopping?
Since you are on International waters, whatever you shop for on board would be duty-free. Not necessarily the cheapest, but you could shop for alcohol, cosmetics, jewelry, gold and silver chains by the inch, clothing, toys, gift-items and what not, all duty-free using your room key card. There are stores inside the cruise that are open pretty much 18-20 hours. So there will be something up for grabs any time you head out of your room. 

What about photography on cruise?
Well, you are more than welcome to bring your cameras but Carnival will make sure there is a photographer or two around to capture your best moments. They are pretty commercial about this whole photo shenanigan. These photos are professionally printed on Carnival themed stock paper and are available for sale within a few hours of being shot and they make great memorabilia. There are photo studios with different themes set up all around. You could swing by the studio when it opens and have your pictures taken professionally. You will have the option to buy the pictures you like and recycle those that you don't like. ( TIP#9- buy the picture package on the first day, this way you will lock in a flat discounted rate for all your cruise pictures and the more you buy, more free gifts can be redeemed at their partner store SHUTTERFLY. )

Is there  internet on-board?
The minute you sail out of Florida, your phone service sets to International roaming if you don't manually change it. The Carnival app works on their Wifi but otherwise there is no internet on board. You have the option to buy Internet packages by the day for the entire cruise stay, which isn't that great and honestly speaking, we enjoyed four days of no internet and zero connectivity with social media. 

It was peaceful, family-oriented and a much-needed break. We had so much fun that taking photos and checking our phones was the last thing on our mind, hence the lack of photos. 

This is part one of the two part "Bahamas Trip" series, stay tuned for another post coming up soon. 


1 comment

  1. I always wanted to go on a cruise. To the Norwegian fjords. It's very nice to read about your cruise. Hope to see you on my Fancy Friday link up party.

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