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robindina

best and worst things- looking for tips

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The hubby and I have been on one cruise and it was on the NCL Jewel. We loved it, but we have the mentality that your vacation is as good as you make it.

 

We booked Carnival because of the convenient location to home and the price. We booked an Oceanview room.

 

Because we have never been on Carnival and we are new to cruising, I was wanting to know what you liked most and what you disliked about your cruise.

 

We are going on a December cruise on the Valor!

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NCL and Carnival are about the same in comparisons .

Nothing to really dislike if your in that excitement mode for cruising . Carnival excels and conveniences the cruising market by having more ships at the most ports than the competition.

Edited by BoDidly

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We have cruised NCL Epic and Carnival and I found the poolside music and entertainment better on Carnival. On Epic it was the same girl singing the same songs blandly all week. Even during the nighttime deck parties on Epic it seemed like the DJ played the same 10 club songs every single night. On Carnival I felt like we enjoyed the music and deck parties and were up dancing a lot!

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I have never cruised NCL, so I am not sure how useful my advice is, and it is subjective to my likes/dislikes, but here goes...

 

Best Tips

Afternoon Tea: make it a point to try one. It is free, unless you want to drop a few bucks on fancy tea bags. You will be served fantastic snacks and desserts.

Steak House: This has an up-charge, but the food is worth it. If you go the first night, you get a free bottle of (cheap) wine. There is also the option to purchase wine at a huge discount at the Steak House on the first night. I have read of people using that to buy several bottles, and then pacing them out in other dining venues throughout the cruise.

Cheers: The Cheers drink package (if you choose to purchase it) is not just for alcohol, but covers fancy coffee, soft drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, and milk shakes (if your ship has a place for them). Under Cheers, you are also entitled to a large bottle of water at dinner (you may have to ask for it). Keep it sealed, and use it when you go ashore.

Medicine, etc: For basic over the counter type medical supplies, you can purchase them at the infirmary far cheaper than in the Fun Shops. I split my foot pretty bad on an excursion, and purchased band-aids and antibiotic ointment (generic Bacitracin) at the infirmary for a fraction of the price upstairs. I have heard this is true for Dramamine, ibuprofen, and other over the counter type medications, but have not verified it.

 

The Worst Tips (Not bad things really, but good information to be aware of)

Inch-of-Gold: The shops will have a promotion to buy gold jewelry by the inch. The marketing makes it sounds like they are selling actual gold jewelry, but it is not. It is gold-filled or plated jewelry. If you find the price worth it for that, then it's all good, but just understand the gimmick.

Comedy Club Lines: I love the comedy club and enjoy the shows, but get in line early. It gets crowded, the line can extend way back into the ship, and you might not get a good seat or any at all if you show up at the last minute. I suggest at least a good half hour before your show begins.

Cheers Package: If you use it, the Cheers package sounds all-inclusive, but it is not. It covers single drinks only, up to 15/day, served in bars. So it will cover a glass of wine, cocktail, shot, or beer. It will NOT cover a bottle of wine, shared drink (like a fishbowl), or those giant beer tube thingies. I think it does give discounts on bottles of wine. Just something to make sure you know, if you choose purchase it.

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I've only been on one cruise and it was with Carnival (Paradise) last Feb.

I liked the FTTF in that we sped right through embarkation and our room was ready when we boarded.

I didn't like having to wait in line at the bar to get a glass of cola. Even though I purchased the pop package (Bubbles it's called) I still had to line up. I would sooner have $7 a day added to the initial cost of the cruise and be able to just go fill my cup on my own when I choose

 

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Afternoon tea sounds intriguing

 

 

 

I have never cruised NCL, so I am not sure how useful my advice is, and it is subjective to my likes/dislikes, but here goes...

 

Best Tips

Afternoon Tea: make it a point to try one. It is free, unless you want to drop a few bucks on fancy tea bags. You will be served fantastic snacks and desserts.

Steak House: This has an up-charge, but the food is worth it. If you go the first night, you get a free bottle of (cheap) wine. There is also the option to purchase wine at a huge discount at the Steak House on the first night. I have read of people using that to buy several bottles, and then pacing them out in other dining venues throughout the cruise.

Cheers: The Cheers drink package (if you choose to purchase it) is not just for alcohol, but covers fancy coffee, soft drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, and milk shakes (if your ship has a place for them). Under Cheers, you are also entitled to a large bottle of water at dinner (you may have to ask for it). Keep it sealed, and use it when you go ashore.

Medicine, etc: For basic over the counter type medical supplies, you can purchase them at the infirmary far cheaper than in the Fun Shops. I split my foot pretty bad on an excursion, and purchased band-aids and antibiotic ointment (generic Bacitracin) at the infirmary for a fraction of the price upstairs. I have heard this is true for Dramamine, ibuprofen, and other over the counter type medications, but have not verified it.

 

The Worst Tips (Not bad things really, but good information to be aware of)

Inch-of-Gold: The shops will have a promotion to buy gold jewelry by the inch. The marketing makes it sounds like they are selling actual gold jewelry, but it is not. It is gold-filled or plated jewelry. If you find the price worth it for that, then it's all good, but just understand the gimmick.

Comedy Club Lines: I love the comedy club and enjoy the shows, but get in line early. It gets crowded, the line can extend way back into the ship, and you might not get a good seat or any at all if you show up at the last minute. I suggest at least a good half hour before your show begins.

Cheers Package: If you use it, the Cheers package sounds all-inclusive, but it is not. It covers single drinks only, up to 15/day, served in bars. So it will cover a glass of wine, cocktail, shot, or beer. It will NOT cover a bottle of wine, shared drink (like a fishbowl), or those giant beer tube thingies. I think it does give discounts on bottles of wine. Just something to make sure you know, if you choose purchase it.

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Afternoon tea sounds intriguing

 

Different strokes for different folks...we went to the tea once...then we thought why in the world are we drinking hot tea when it is 90*...give me some ice cold sweet tea! None of the deserts were chocolate. Total bust from our perspective.

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We’ve sailed NCL, Royal, Princess, and Carnival.

My thoughts:

 

Best Things-

Alchemy bar where you just tell them what you like and they hand craft a drink to your exact taste. (Valor has one)

Guys Fieri’s burgers (free) with the huge topping bar and made to order burgers. Fries are pretty tasty too. (Valor has one)

Serenity Adult Only Retreat is so relaxing with its oversized chairs, sofas, loungers, whirlpools, and amazing salad bar. (Valor has one)

Blue Iguana Cantina (free) has the best made to order burritos ever, especially for breakfast. Just think “Chipotle’s” :D (Valor has one)

Free 24 hour soft serve ice cream

Free 24 hour homemade pizza

Punchliner Comedy Club is really good

 

Worst things-

Chair hogs by the pool and crowds can be a big issue at times

No soda dispensers so they open a can of soda and pour it into your glass. Sometimes it’s already opened from earlier and isn’t fresh.

Long lines at the 214 foot twister slide all of the time

The buffet is just average (typical cafeteria type food)

 

Overall, Carnival is very comparable to NCL. The MDR is similar, but there’s more free food choices and venues on Carnival. Entertainment is about even. The Valor is a good sized ship with lots of amenities like mini golf, Scarlett’s Steakhouse, and the Seaside theater. I think you’ll like it.

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Different strokes for different folks...we went to the tea once...then we thought why in the world are we drinking hot tea when it is 90*...give me some ice cold sweet tea! None of the deserts were chocolate. Total bust from our perspective.

 

Fair enough. I regularly drink hot tea anyway, so there is that. If the dining room was 90*, that would not be a good time! I do remember a chocolate cake or blackforest cake option when I went, I think, but it probably depends on what they prepare for any given service. I typically go for the smoked salmon sandwiches and my wife loves the cucumber sandwiches. I have found the service is inconsistent between tea sittings. Sometimes they have everything ready and bring whatever you ask for, but once (for me at least) they just made a round with each item one time and then were done.

 

But to the OP, doesn't hurt to try. If it is a bust, nothing more than a bit of time gone . Also, someone mentioned Alchemy Bar. Yes, yes, and yes! Best experience bar on the ship, really tasty drinks too!

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Different strokes for different folks...we went to the tea once...then we thought why in the world are we drinking hot tea when it is 90*...give me some ice cold sweet tea! None of the deserts were chocolate. Total bust from our perspective.

 

That is VERY odd that none of the desserts were chocolate. They often have chocolate macaroons and I have always seen this decadent chocolate cake. The best are the scones and cream. They also offer the cucumber sandwiches, smoked salmon sandwiches, usually a peach or apple tart and another cake.

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We also went on the Jewel before Carnival (I actually went on Carnival as a teen, but that was 15 years earlier). I really loved the Jewel. I felt that the food and entertainment on the Jewel was better overall - we loved the magician-comedian J P Parent, shows in Spinnaker and the trivia style. Carnival offers fun things to do also. They have comedian most nights in a smaller lounge that we usually enjoy. They also have shows in the large theater every night, but the variety is not as good as when we were on the Jewel. We enjoyed having lunch at o’sheehans on the Jewel and like the free style dining. Carnival doesn’t have free style, so we opt for anytime dining (similar but you have an assigned dining room and you will have elegant night). We have not been on a Carnival ship with Guys burgers or some of the other extra eating places. We have now been on four Carnival cruises (with another one booked) and have loved all of them (but are open to other lines). We just love to cruise and it seems like that would be your attitude also. I would definitely go on Carnival and have a great time.

 

 

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We’ve sailed NCL, Royal, Princess, and Carnival.

My thoughts:

 

Best Things-

Alchemy bar where you just tell them what you like and they hand craft a drink to your exact taste. (Valor has one)

Guys Fieri’s burgers (free) with the huge topping bar and made to order burgers. Fries are pretty tasty too. (Valor has one)

Serenity Adult Only Retreat is so relaxing with its oversized chairs, sofas, loungers, whirlpools, and amazing salad bar. (Valor has one)

Blue Iguana Cantina (free) has the best made to order burritos ever, especially for breakfast. Just think “Chipotle’s” :D (Valor has one)

Free 24 hour soft serve ice cream

Free 24 hour homemade pizza

Punchliner Comedy Club is really good

 

Worst things-

Chair hogs by the pool and crowds can be a big issue at times

No soda dispensers so they open a can of soda and pour it into your glass. Sometimes it’s already opened from earlier and isn’t fresh.

Long lines at the 214 foot twister slide all of the time

The buffet is just average (typical cafeteria type food)

 

Overall, Carnival is very comparable to NCL. The MDR is similar, but there’s more free food choices and venues on Carnival. Entertainment is about even. The Valor is a good sized ship with lots of amenities like mini golf, Scarlett’s Steakhouse, and the Seaside theater. I think you’ll like it.

 

I'd agree with most of this.

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We've done Princess once and Carnival a few times now.

We love the Piano Bar - lots of fun there.

We also love the Serenity Deck.

The Love and Marriage show is hysterical and we never miss it. (We were almost picked for it on our last cruise for the 25 years married couple!)

 

I'm not a fan of Alchemy Bar, but my favorite drink ever is the Carnival Cosmo and I can get those most anywhere. I have bad allergies and I hate the smoke in the casino.

 

The chocolate melting cake is a MUST! And so is brunch on Sea Day.

 

Enjoy!!!!

 

I'm posting a tip sheet I've kept.

Tips For New Cruisers.pdf

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Handy Snacking Travel tip...if the ship you are on has a Guys Burgers: On the topping bar they have potato sticks. So when you want a salty, crunchy potato chips like snack, fill a cup. Pringles are like $4 a tube at the ship store where as the potato sticks are up for grabs when Guy's is open. On cruise ships, I have found that food/meals are plentiful but snacks not so much so when I saw the potato sticks for me it was a huge SCORE.

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Check the funtimes for a Steakhouse cooking demonstration at noon on the first sea day. I can't believe our 10th cruise was the first time we went. You get samples of the dishes, so that's a fantastic lunch, for free!

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I just had my first NCL cruise two weeks ago. To me, the food on NCL is better, with more varieties.

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No soda dispensers so they open a can of soda and pour it into your glass. Sometimes it’s already opened from earlier and isn’t fresh.

 

That's for the Bottomless Bubbles program (endless soda). If you buy a soda, you get the entire closed can.

 

Agree on the Chocolate Melting Cake. Ask for a side cup (or 2) of vanilla ice cream or peanut butter.

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The hubby and I have been on one cruise and it was on the NCL Jewel. We loved it, but we have the mentality that your vacation is as good as you make it.

 

We booked Carnival because of the convenient location to home and the price. We booked an Oceanview room.

 

Because we have never been on Carnival and we are new to cruising, I was wanting to know what you liked most and what you disliked about your cruise.

 

We are going on a December cruise on the Valor!

 

My husband and I have been on several ships and cruised Carnival 10 times. We love Carnival because it is very laid back and eclectic. We are in our mid 50s and have been cruising since 2009. We are both foodies (he is a chef) so Carnival in our opinion has the best food quality, selection as well as more options for no charge dining. We have dined in the steakhouse, italian restaurant and chinese sushi for a charge which were all worth the money but would not have missed out just staying with the main dining or other options. You sound like us, we can make our vacation whatever we like. We live in Florida right on the beach, so our life is a vacation :). Have a great time!!!:halo:

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That's for the Bottomless Bubbles program (endless soda). If you buy a soda, you get the entire closed can.

 

Agree on the Chocolate Melting Cake. Ask for a side cup (or 2) of vanilla ice cream or peanut butter.

Peanut butter? That's a FANTASTIC idea!

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The best thing is watching the first-time cruisers the first few days loading up their trays like it was their last meal on Earth.

The worst thing is the first day back home, when no one is cooking for you, or bringing you clean towels, or entertaining you.

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Check the funtimes for a Steakhouse cooking demonstration at noon on the first sea day. I can't believe our 10th cruise was the first time we went. You get samples of the dishes, so that's a fantastic lunch, for free!

 

I had no idea, I will look for this on my upcoming Dream cruise! :D

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1) The piano bar can be fun, especially if the pianist is good.

2) Usually, the CD has a music trivia at night in the atrium and it’s more about the music than the trivia

3) if you like trivia, they have it throughout the day and it can be really fun.

4) I love the comedy and agree you should get there early

 

5) I don’t sunbathe but have heard to get a chair early.

6) not sure if that ship has USB ports or if you need them so might bring an adapter

7) don’t judge the food lines by the first afternoon

 

 

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