Top 10 Tips for a Carnival Cruise

Posted on
October 4, 2016

We got back from our very first cruise back at the end of August and whilst we had the most amazing holiday, there were some things we wish we had known beforehand.
Carnival Vista
1. Make sure you check-in online in good time before your cruise and print off all the documentation. You can also sign the kids up for Kids Club, book excursions and treatments in the spa and register a payment card before you sail, which will save lots of time onboard and guarantee you a place.
2. Download the Carnival Hub App – not only is it a cute countdown tool before you go, but whilst you are onboard it is your itinerary, map and helps you keep on top of your on-board sail and sign purchases. You can also use it without purchasing a wifi package.
3. Don’t be seduced by drinks packages – they are great if you know you will buy a lot of drinks, however we bought bottomless bubbles for each member of the family which gives you unlimited soft drinks and we hardly used it.  Free water, traditional lemonade, iced tea, tea and coffee are available in the Lido Restaurant. With a bottomless bubbles package you can go back to the bar to claim a free drink every five minutes, so buying a couple for the whole family would work.
4. Take lanyards – you need your sail and sign card for almost everything so keeping it around your neck is recommended. You also need the card to get on and off the ship as they scan you to ensure they know you have left and returned again.
5. Choose your excursions wisely. You are best off reviewing excursions in advance of the cruise and booking them online to secure your space. Many excursions are not suitable for young children, however, they are able to stay onboard in the kids club whilst you are off the boat. If you book an excursion with lots to see it can feel rushed.
6. Take advantage of Kids Clubs. Carnival has well-organised activities for children, at Camp Ocean, organised by age. There are a plethora of activities to keep the kids entertained while giving parents some free time as well.  The best part is that aside from late night babysitting, it is completely free, although be prepared to carry a brick of a phone around with you, just incase of any issues.
Ships Phone
7. Spend time on the ship when it is in port. You don’t have to get off the ship in every port and it is the ideal time to take advantage of everything it has to offer as it is much quieter. We did the waterpark on a port day and literally walked up to the slides with little or no queuing.
8. Be aware that service gratuities of 15% are automatically added to your sail and sign account towards the end of the cruise. The majority of the tipping amount goes to employees such as stateroom stewards, assistant stewards, dining room waiters and assistant waiters and those behind the scenes and equates to around $14 per person per day of the cruise. Also be aware that it will also be added to any treatments, drinks and food.
9. Children who are not toilet trained, including those in swim nappies are not allowed in any of the water facilities onboard, as per United States Public Health Services. There are also no lifeguards on any of the pools so close parental supervision is needed.
10. The food is out of this world, but don’t discount the pay extra restaurants. They are an experience in themselves and it would be a shame to miss them. At JiJi Asian Restaurant each member of the family had to roll a dice and choose who is gonna be lucky, the winner the chooses the menu for table, expect to be serenaded in Cucina Del Capitano and Fahrenheit 555 has the most amazing steak dishes to try.
Whilst you are here check out Camping and Cruising’s fab post on money saving tips for the savvy cruiser.
We were one of five Carnival families aboard the Vista and you can see what everyone’s experiences of the cruise were by clicking the links below.
[inlinkz_linkup id=668246 mode=1]
Carnival Cruise

  1. Reply

    Dean of Little Steps

    October 5, 2016

    That’s useful tips, especially about the drinks. Unless of course your family is known to drink that much ; Been enjoying your cruise posts 🙂

  2. Reply

    Mary Louise

    October 5, 2016

    So many great tips you have listed – oh the phones!
    Looking forward to having a read through the link up!

  3. Reply


    October 5, 2016

    Very handy and useful tips I’d love to go on a cruise one day.

  4. Reply

    Steph Curtis

    October 5, 2016

    Those sound like very good tips to me – always worth checking with those who have been before! Sadly don’t think I’ll ever get my husband on a cruise – I may just have to leave him behind 😉

  5. Reply


    October 5, 2016

    Great post! Choosing your excursions wisely is a very important point! No one wants to waste any time or money on their holiday but signing up for something that just isn’t for them!

  6. Reply


    October 5, 2016

    Thanks for the great tips, it is really useful to know these things so that I can plan properly

  7. Reply

    Little B & Me

    October 5, 2016

    Thank you so much for your advice. I’m not likely to go on a cruise but always helpful to know.
    Bit shocked that kids aren’t even allowed in in swim nappies!!

  8. Reply


    October 5, 2016

    Great tips Kara, I have never been on a cruise before but every time I visit your lovely blog it makes me want to go….now 🙂 I bet it is great going around and seeing lots of different parts of the world. Instead of staying in one place.

  9. Reply

    Nikki Thomas

    October 5, 2016

    IT all looked and sounded so amazing and even though I had never really considered a cruise before, I think I would love to go on one now. Great tips there.

  10. Reply


    October 5, 2016

    Brilliant tips, never done a cruise before and this is really helpful. Though no access to the pool with my baby puts me off for the timebeing, will wait till both are toilet trained so we can use the facilities. Great advice.

  11. Reply


    October 5, 2016

    Great tips! I would love to go on cruise one day.

  12. Reply

    Newcastle Family Life

    October 5, 2016

    I have never been on a cruise before, we have always wanted to, though. These are brilliant tips that I am sure will be so useful xx

  13. Reply

    Michelle Twin Mum

    October 5, 2016

    I’ve been following man of the posts and it does look like a dream holiday. Mich x

  14. Reply

    Jen Walshaw

    October 6, 2016

    So may great tips and I can see this being the perfect holiday for lots of families. My only concern would be no lifeguards on the pools.

  15. Reply


    October 6, 2016

    I’ve really enjoyed reading your cruise posts Kara – I think it sounds like a great holiday for a family x x

  16. Reply


    October 6, 2016

    I’ve never been in a cruise but it looks so fun and relax! It looks like you had lots of fun 🙂 x

  17. Reply


    October 6, 2016

    I am still confused that you pay for extras at the end, a friend of mine totally forgot this recently and was presented with a bill bigger than expected because of the extra 15% x

  18. Reply

    Jayne @ Sticky Mud and Belly Laughs

    October 6, 2016

    Fab tips! I like the idea of being able to download an app for on board.
    We have been discussing whether or not to try a cruise with the kiddies, it does sound so nice x

  19. Reply

    Fashion and Style Police

    October 6, 2016

    These tips are so useful. Thanks for sharing.

  20. Reply

    JuggleMum, Nadine Hill

    October 7, 2016

    Thanks for having a linky so I could add my posts Kara! It was such a special holiday, we loved every minute and I’ll never forget spending so much time all together as Ambassadors. The days when we’d just drop the kids off at the pool and hang out – so much fun! x

  21. Reply


    October 10, 2016

    Great post, I will definitely take these tips on board for when I do go on a cruise x

  22. Reply

    Nikki Turner-Chaplin

    February 6, 2019

    My kids love the kids clubs and are always asking to go in even when I don’t want them to. They make friends and find it quite exciting I think!

Leave a Reply


Are we nearly there yet? is a new online blog run by me, Kara Guppy, and is named as such thanks to my daughter Eliza who always asks that very question when we are less than 5 minutes up the road heading off on our adventures. You may know me from my other family blog