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I don't consider these secrets, but people always say "I didn't know you could do that" when I order a second entree or second anything in the dining room, or order a refill in my souveneir glass at a "discount" rate. And then there's the soda card.
I'll continue the "dining room tip" theme with this one: Any pasta dish on the main entree section of the menu is also available as an appetizer. In my opinion, it's a good way to try it without gorging on pasta. Then you still have room for some of the other delicious looking entrees that are available that evening!
Big Red Boat 1/00
Disney Magic 4/00
Sensation 6/04 (with the kids)
Sensation 10/04 (WITHOUT the kids-WooHoo!)
HAL Rotterdam-Alaska 6/10
On some of the Carnival ships, you can get a deck of cards w/Carnival logo, just by asking at the purser's desk.
In the casino, they'll give you a lanyard, as well as punch a hole in your S&S card for you.
In the dining room, ask for espresso after dinner - not usually listed on the menu, but I have either espresso or cappuccino every night at no extra charge.
Hint: Read your Capers carefully, as some things are in small print. (Take a highlighter.) For instance, "tea time" is not announced in a big separate area, just in the listing of day's activities. I thoroughly enjoy that!
I wouldn't call this a secret but I didn't know you could order "buckets" of beer. I saw several people with them on the Lido Deck but never figured out how they knew to order them like that (till I started reading these boards).
Don't know if these are secrets as much as "little known facts":
1. Book early and deal with a reputable travel agent. Make sure you have an agreement with your TA that any price adjustments to the fare will be passed along to you. Carnival ( and alll cruise lines) frequently change the fair for market conditions. Watch these boards for fare decreases. Carnival lowered the fair on our cruise and offered a room upgrade AND and onboard credit. We declined the upgrade (see number 2) in favor of a larger credit. My family started out our 1 week cruise with and onboard credit of over $1,000.
2. Upgrades are not what they are cracked up to be, unless it is to a balcony or an outside room. All other cabins are exactly alike. You will pay about $80-100pp to move up each floor. I've done both the higher and lower floors and the lower floors get the same service, same amenities, same everything, just at a lower price. Consider how many Pina Coladas the extra $100 will buy you. Book a lower floor and save you money of if you are offered an upgrade, take the on board credits.
3. Cruising in not an "all-inclusive" vacation. Plan on spending about 20-25% of your cruise cost onboard. About 22% of Carnival's revenue comes form cruisers buying drinks, photos, gambling, playing bingo, shopping, etc.
4. Do not book shore excursions through the cruise line. Do a little homework before you go and book your excursions directly. you will save 25-30% by doing this. The excursion companies pay a hefty commission to the cruise line which is passed on to your through higher prices. Cruise critic boards are an exellent source of infomation and many excursion companies live or die based on cruise critic reviews. We booked a helicopter tour directly in hawaii and saved over $250 from the cruise excursion price. Ther is a risk of doing this, but in all of my years of cruising, we have NEVER had a bad experience.
5. If you gamble, avoid the ship's slots and electronic card games. The payouts on slots are significantly lower than ANY other place. Las Vegas is regulated and must payout 97%. A ship in international waters is regulated based on where it is registered which may not have any gaming laws. Payouts for ship slots are estimated to be around 85%. The odds for craps, blackjack, roulette, etc are the same as other locations.
6. When you board, go directly to the casino (it will be closed) and get the free lanyards that are in the slot machines. Sometime during the cruise go to the pursers office and have your sign and sail cards hole punched and attach them to the free lanyard.
7. Carnival puts the fear in everyone about lost beach towels. They say you are issued 1 and you must return it or be charged for it. Every cruise, Carnival looses about 100 beach towels and very few cruisers are charged. Why? the room stewards pick the beach towels in your room and replace them with clean ones. Get to know your room steward. tip him a few dollars during the week for the good job he is doing and a little something extra at the end. Do you think he will risk making you mad tracking beach towels and collecting $22 from you for Carnival or keeping you happy to get a big tip? Worked for us (we lost at least 2 beach towels on our last trip and never had to pay)
8. Drink cards: not such a good deal for adults, unless you are a big soda drinker. Drink cards for adults are $38 and $28 for kids. The card allows you to get a glass of coke, which is about 2/3 can . A can of coke costs $1.50 for the whole can. That is about 30 cokes over a 7 day cruise (not including the time you are off the ship) or 4-5 per day. Alternatively consider getting one card and using it to "buy" sodas for your significant other (you must be descreet about this). As you move through the ship, order one soda at one bar and another soda at the next bar. That way, you only have to drink 2 per day to break even.
9. the books in the cabins are free, if you ask your room steward.
10. there are free post card available at the pursers desk.
A lanyard with a clear plastic envelope is not the best idea for your S&S card. You will need to remove it everytime you leave and board the ship as your card must be inserted in the machine so the computer can track all pax. Also if you want to track your slot play you insert your S&S card in the slot machine.
Best to get a lanyard from the casino cashier, and they will also punch the hole in it. [much shorter line than at the Purser's desk] You can also join Ocean Players Club at the cashiers cage. [no charge]
The pizza place also makes a very good Ceaser salad to order, 24/7.
On Spirit class ships visit the deli early on. It will get more and more crowded each day. Sandwiches are excellent and they will make anything you want if they have the ingredients.
Thanks for all of the hints. The one about the deli will help us out since I'm sure my kids will be spending time there.
July 1993 Nordic Empress
March 1994 Celebrity Horizon
November 1995 Legends of the Seas
October 1998 Dawn Princess
March 2000 Voyager of the Seas
July 11, 2004 Carnival Pride
June 16, 2007 Serenade of the Seas
October 8, 2011 Oasis of the Seas
September 26, 2014 Carnival Ecstasy
April 17, 2015 Viking Eir
Just a bit of info, from what I have heard, you are charged for cappuccino now in the dinning room on alot of the ships. Maybe others will please let us know which ships are charging.
__________________ Carnival Pride – 8/17/02 (Western Caribbean) Carnival Glory – 8/21/2004 (Eastern Caribbean) 30th Anniversary Cruise Mariner of the Seas – 8/12/07 (Western Caribbean – Hump Cabin) Adventure of the Seas – 08/16/09 (Southern Caribbean – Hump Cabin) for our 35th Anniversary Cruise, Wife & Daughter's B'day (her 1st cruise!) ???? Oasis, Allure or Explorer of the Seas – 2014 Hoping for a 40th Anniversary Cruise!