Sweet Tea Gals went cruising aboard the Carnival Ship Fantasy this May and we had a great time. We did learn a few things while cruising and we have a few handy tips to share with you.
This was my third cruise, but my first time experiencing traveling by bus and meeting our cruise host as we pulled into the terminal for the Fantasy. Our luggage was unloaded and taken off by the cruise staff and we headed in for embarkation. This was a wonderful thing because otherwise we would have been responsible for hauling our luggage all the way through embarkation and onto the ship, up the gang-plank and into the hands of the crew right before you board the ship.
Think about how you are arriving and if you are driving and parking at the ship’s port or being dropped, off keep in mind how far you are going to have to walk with your luggage.
Also you need to keep in mind the amount of space you will have in your cabins-not much. Too much luggage takes up more room space.
Useful Items to Pack
Downey Wrinkle Free Spray! Your clothes will get wrinkles and in your cabin there is no iron, Downey Wrinkle Spray is great for dropping those wrinkles out.
Pack a Non-Surge with USB ports! There are not many outlets in your cabins. On board the Carnival Destiny there was one outlet in the room and one outlet in the bathroom. This comes in so handy and also allows you to plug your phones, laptops, etc, in to charge. I did call Carnival Cruise Lines to find out if it was okay to bring aboard an and they recommended a non-surge power strip. You can purchase these on Amazons for around $10.00.
You can also pack up to 12 cans of soda and 12 waters to bring aboard most cruise lines. It does make your luggage heavier though.
Remember to Pack as light as you can!
Do Not Forget Passport!
Your passport is a must to get through embarkation-do not forget it!
I also advise taking pictures of your passport, drivers license and birth certificate and having extra copies in your luggage. I also upload these documents to my computer so my family can get to them if I need them. It is also not a bad idea to take a picture of your luggage in case your luggage does get misplaced.
If you are a person who experiences any type of motion sickness be prepared. Pack your Dramamine or go see your physician for the motion sickness patch to place behind your ear. I have found the patch works best for me and my last cruise was the first time I used the motion patch, it was terrific and made my cruise so much more enjoyable. I had experienced motion sickness on previous cruises just using dramamine and i really didn’t want to go through that experience again. The patch works! Even when we had a couple of days of rougher seas I never felt any signs or symptoms of motion sickness and was able to carry on with all the fun activities going on.
Embarkation can take a while, you could be standing in line for a length of time to get through embarkation and then after that you can be waiting on just boarding the ship. Best times to beat the crowd are getting there before 10:00 am and after 1:00 pm. The later you arrive the quicker you actually will get to board the ship, just don’t miss boat-know what time the ship is leaving.
As you go through embarkation you will be issued your Ship Card. I like the new system of having a ship card to use for everything including room key, ship purchases and identification boarding and in boarding the ship. I also liked the opportunity of putting cash immediately onto the ship card which allowed me to have the freedom of my credit card not being used for purchases. This is a nice feature I had not experienced years before.
The most important item to have with you at all times is your ship card! The ship card is your way for payment in board, your room key and your identification boarding and disembarking ship. Keep it with you at all times!
Of course walking up that gangplank to board the ship is one of my favorite parts and this was no different-I love feeling the excitement of knowing I am about to board and I am headed out to sea. Your ship card will be used to identify you and let you onboard your cruise ship.
Don’t Loose Your Ship Card!
You will have to wait for your room to be ready once on board for a couple of hours which is normal, so take the time to relax on the Lido Deck and grab some food. Extra Hint: Throw some swimming suits into a carry on if you want to swim or plan on walking around and getting to know your ship. (Since I have cruised with Princess Lines I do know you do not have to wait on going to your cabin, you can go to your cabin once onboard.)
While you are waiting on for your room or once you are settled in check out the drink program ships offer. Cruise ships offer free water, lemonade, tea and coffee from the restaurant areas but if you are a soda drinker or an alcoholic beverage drinker you are better off buying one of the programs. Otherwise each drink will cost you and can build up quickly. Carnival offers a set price for soft drinks which allows you to drink as many soft drinks as you wish all through your cruise. There is also the same type of plan for alcoholic drinks. You can purchase these programs onboard on the Lido Deck.
There is No Wi-Fi Onboard the Ship
You will not be able to text or use social media unless you plan on using the options for those who cannot do without social media for a few days.
Options: Cruise ships offer package deals for wi-fi and you can go cheap to expensive.
One of the best options on cruise ships are the ships app to download to your phone free. for a very small fee is the ships Hub App. This app lets you message your family members back and forth on board plus the Hub App also gives you daily ships schedule and you can even keep up with your Ship Card account.
Know What is Allowed and Not Allowed on your Cruise
Many people do not think about this but cruise lines are very specific to what they will allow you bring onto ship, what you can and cannot do once aboard the ship. Passenger safety must come first. You can also check this information out from your cruise lines web site before you board the ship.
Dining and Eating Options
Dining at the more elegant dining rooms is always a treat. Each evening the dining rooms have a different event going on and you can follow this by checking your ships daily schedule card that is left in your room each day. You are assigned a time and an area in which you will sit at for each meal for the dining room. Dress code for the dining room is casual dressy to elegant dressy and the daily ship itinerary will display what type of dress is planned for dining rooms each night. It really depends on your style and what you prefer. If you know you are planning on eating within the dining rooms each night you need to plan on packing a couple of dresses or dress slacks and tops. They do not allow shorts to be worn in dining rooms. Men can get by with a pair of khakis and a nice shirt. I like having the opportunity to choose where I want to eat and I enjoy eating at the dining rooms a couple of evenings. The ships restaurant offers many different styles of food and dress code is simply casual. Shorts and tees will do. If you are hanging out on the Lido Deck the option of eating from the burger, pizza or other eateries is quite nice plus you have the advantage of a great view while dining on the Lido Deck. Sweet Tea Gals loved Carnival Cruises Guy’s Burgers, if my cousin and I had our way we would have eaten Guy’s Burgers each meal.
Don’t Forget Room Service as an Option
Room Service comes in handy on the mornings the ships are at a port stop and you have plans to get off ship and enjoy shopping, excursions or traveling around the island. Room Service lets you order the night before, your steward will leave a card each evening in your room, you simply fill it out and hang it on the door. Easy enough. We also used Room Service on nights we were doing other fun things aboard the ship and missed our dining room time and the restaurant was closing up. My Cousin and I found the French fries to be much better from Room Service than what was out at the restaurant.
Daily Itinerary Sheet and Ships Cruise Director
One of the best things you can do during your cruise is to check out your Fun Times Sheet-Carnival Cruises daily itinerary or your ships daily itinerary sheet left in your room each day and see the many activities are going on especially the two days you are at sea. I cannot express how great it is when you have a fantastic Cruise Director on board. Life at Sea becomes one big, happy party! Aboard the Fantasy we had the best Cruise Director I have experienced. Our cruise director, Mike Gibson, and his Fun Squad Crew kept the Fantasy hopping. He was great fun and we loved finding out each day what Mikey was up too.
Check Out Ship’s Entertainment
Take time to go see one of the shows going on during your cruise. It is a nice time to relax and enjoy yourself and your family. Entertainment can be geared for all ages to fun with kids to adult entertainment, there are also many games and even dancing scheduled while you are cruising.
Check out the many excursions offered at your port-of-calls. You can check excursions offered before you sail by going to cruise line website or once onboard the ship sign up for an excursion. There are many excursions offered and vary in activity level, kid oriented fun to adult fun plus the excursions vary in price per person. It is worth taking an excursion around the island you are on if you have not had the pleasure to visit there before. The other option is to wonder the island on your own, many have taxis, bicycles, buses, etc. waiting to take you around and show you the sights or to a specific place you would like to go visit.
That’s our handy tips for enjoying a cruise and Sweet Tea Gals hope y’all have a great time crusin’!!