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Traveller94

Carnival tips for new cruisers

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Hi Carnival cruisers! I just booked my first Carnival cruise in over 20 years. Some boards have threads like “Cruise Line X secrets” or “Everything you need to know about Cruise Line X”. I’ve searched the Cardinal board and browsed back 100 pages, but I didn’t find anything like that. So, would frequent cruisers be willing to share their knowledge? Do I need to book things ahead of time? Are their great activities or venues I shouldn’t miss? Are there things that will surprise a frequent Princess cruiser? I will be with a group of 6, ages 18, 25, and 40s on the Legend next summer for their Scotland and Iceland sailing. Thank you so much! I’m really excited about this time and want to gather as much info as I can. That’s half the fun!

Stacy

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Read as much about the ship as possible to find out the specific tips for that vessel. 

 

1)We did the behind the scenes tour on our first cruise and loved it!!! It was expensive, but we got to meet the Captain, see the bridge, galley, brig, engine room, and all the areas guests can't go. I would highly recommend this to everyone. To get it you have to go to shore excursions as soon as you get on board and book it asap. We only had 10 people in our group so it filled up fast. 

2)Try the steakhouse as it is amazing. We love the atmosphere and the food. YUM

3)Scope out deck plans of the ship for any hidden areas. On the Dream we found deck 11 had a sitting area at the very front of the ship. Because it was through the guest hallway it was always empty and quickly became our favorite place to go in the evenings. 

4)Pay attention to the daily calendar. Our first cruise we missed so much such as the Love and Marriage show, the quest, etc because we didn't know about them and choose to do other things. Now we make friends with other cruisers to get their tips on the best activities on the ship. 

5)Wait until day 1 to book spa treatments. All of our cruises have had major specials in the spa if you book the 1st day. We have preferred those treatments to the ones you can buy online pre-cruise. 

6)Get FTTF... it is a great way to have quick customer service especially the 1st time when everything seems wrong. 

7)On the 1st cruise don't panic over your sail and sign account on board. If you have questions and don't understand charges, then go ask questions. The 1st trip I stressed over every charge since I had prepaid for almost everything. In the end the charges all wiped out and my balance due was under $100. Their computer system is slow and doesn't always update the same day. 

 

Good luck with y'alls cruise. I never wanted to go on a cruise, but my son did. So we went when my kids graduated high school, and now my daughter and I are HOOKED and have sailed every year since. She is so young she will easily make diamond. 

 

 

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Kimma11 gave great ideas. We sailed on the Legend last summer and I would add that you try the Guy's Burger Joint.  The burgers and fries are killer.  I am also a big fan of the Pizza on the ship.  There were more than enough activities everyday and also many places for a moment of quiet if you like.  The Comedy Club is a hit and the comedians change so it is always fresh. Enjoy!

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The Behind the Scenes tour is excellent, not to be missed. However, you will not see the engine room. You do get to see the ship's control station which manages many of the ships operations, very interesting

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Thanks, GLCM guy and coevan!

 

GLCM guy, kimma11 mentioned secret spots on some ships. Was there anything like that on Legend? My DH also was curious about the Legend buffet.

 

Does Carnival have any famous foods we should be sure to try? Do they do afternoon tea?

 

The ship tour and comedy club sound like they will be fun. Any other ship day activities that shouldn’t be missed?
 

Thanks again!

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Your cruise sounds like it will be amazing!

If you like comedy shows, Carnival does it best.  On a 7 night cruise, they have two comedians the first half of the cruise and two different ones the second half of the cruise.  More often than not, each comedian has several different shows.  Each show will have a name, so you will be able to tell if it's a repeat. We love Carnival's comedy shows.

The Quest show is one in which everyone participants by forming groups.  It's an adult game show, so not for the easily offended.  It's hilarious.  I have never laughed so hard.  You can also watch without participating.  The Love and Marriage show is another fun one.  

Bottled water is super cheap.  We always order it online and have it delivered to the cabin on the first day.

 

Carnival has self service laundry available.  They also offer a special mid-cruise - $15 per bag.  The bags are small, but if you roll the cloths you can fit a lot. It's good for casual clothes.

As mentioned, Guy's Burgers is a great lunch option.  It's located near the pool and they offer a selection of burgers.  There is a toppings bar nearby. Also, Faster to the Fun has some good benefits.  I always tried to get it on every cruise.

If you don't get Faster to the Fun and want an early appointment time to arrive at the terminal, just make sure you check in online as soon as it opens up.  

I hope you have an awesome time!  I would love to do that itinerary some day.




 

Edited by TNcruising02

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Thanks, TNcruising02! Great information! I does sound like a great itinerary. I’m so excited!
 

I’ve started a document with all this good stuff, like order water, sign up for ship’s tour, etc. Thank you so much everyone!

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In regards to Faster to the Fun (FTTF), is your cruise a Journeys cruise? You mentioned Iceland & Scotland. Carnival doesn't offer FTTF on Journeys cruises or cruises in Europe, so I don't think it's available for yours. Unless I'm missing something.

 

You'll get a paper Fun Times in your cabin every night that will list everything for the next day: events, activities, meal info., absolutely everything. But if you, or anyone in your party, are the type who use your cell phones on the ship, I highly recommend downloading the Carnival Hub App. Do it before you get onboard the ship. At home or in a hotel is best. Before your cruise, it doesn't do much except act as a countdown clock. But once you get onboard the ship and connect to the wifi, that's when its features will be available. All kinds of handy things: a digital copy of the Fun Times (to include being able to mark things down as favorites and it'll alert you 15 min. before they start); a map of the ship; food venues & their menus; weather info. for sea & port days; access to your Sail & Sign account; and more. The app itself is free to download and all of the features are free to use, except one. It has a chat feature that costs $5 per device (for the whole cruise) that lets you chat with people in your group or anyone on the ship who also purchases the chat feature. That's the only thing on the app that costs. You also DO NOT need to pay for one of the onboard internet plans to use the Hub app. It will work without them. You can still get one of those plans for other internet use, but it's not needed to use the Hub app.

 

"Secret" decks. I call them forward observation decks. These are just small deck areas open to passengers on the bow of some ships. Since you have to get to them through cabin hallways, not a lot of people know about them and are rarely used, hence being "secret." Unfortunately for you, the Legend does not have one of these forward decks.

 

Playlist Productions. These are the live musical shows held in the main theater on Carnival cruises. Carnival's Playlist shows get mixed reviews, to say the least. Some hate them, some love them. I'm somewhere in between. For me, it depends a lot on the performers on a particular ship. Some of the shows have songs that I enjoy, but I've felt the performers weren't very good, which negatively impacted the quality of the show for me. I recommend you see for yourself, that's the only real way to know.

If the list I have is still up to date, the Playlist Production shows on the Legend should be:

The Brits: 60's & 70's British artists

Epic Rock: pretty much self explanatory and happens to be our favorite Playlist show

Motor City: Motown R&B

Studio VIP: tribute to the era of Studio 54 and Soul Train

 

Use this forum to its fullest extent. Search for topics that already exist, but if you can't find something, just ask. I know much of the discussions going on right now revolve around the virus and cruise cancellations, but don't be afraid to ask questions beyond all that. We could surely use the break.

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Organized chaos, WOW! Great information.

 

The Carnival board seems to have great people. Makes me even more excited!

 

All this info is so helpful, especially since I’m still in that don’t know what to ask phase. As my notes and research grows, I’m sure I’ll have more specific questions to post.

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21 minutes ago, Traveller94 said:

Organized chaos, WOW! Great information.

 

The Carnival board seems to have great people. Makes me even more excited!

 

All this info is so helpful, especially since I’m still in that don’t know what to ask phase. As my notes and research grows, I’m sure I’ll have more specific questions to post.

Ask away! Many of us here are here to help! Good info O.C.!  👍

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I second OC’s recommendation to download and use the Carnival Hub App. He already did a great job covering its features, but it also allows you to check the daily activities schedule for the entire cruise as well as the MDR menu for every night of the cruise. 
 

I also recommend the steakhouse. It costs an additional $38 per person but it is well worth it. We usually check the menus for the cruise shortly after boarding the ship and normally book the steakhouse on a night that the MDR menu isn’t the best, although the food in the MDR is good every night in my opinion. 
 

The water slides on Legend are pretty good if you like them. The Serenity adults only area on Legend (and all Spirit class ships) is the best in my opinion, although the 6 year old isn’t allowed in there. Also, on Carnival ships even number cabins are on the port side (left side) while odd number cabins are on the starboard side (right side). That can help you locate your cabin if you are not familiar with the ship layout. The majority of activities at night are held on deck 2, with decks 1 and 3 also used. 

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I agree with PhillyFan's recommendation about the Serenity area, Lido Deck 9 aft. Nice pool, hot tub and great bar. Also there is shaded seating areas if you don't want to sit in the sun.

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16 hours ago, TNcruising02 said:

As mentioned, Guy's Burgers is a great lunch option.  It's located near the pool and they offer a selection of burgers.  There is a toppings bar nearby.

 

 

Unfortunately the toppings bar will be a thing of the past for a while. I'm not sure how they are going to handle it, but self serve is going bye bye

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I don't know if you would call it a secret spot but very far forward on deck three there is a quiet spot where I go to read.   Comfortable chairs and small tables.  My wife and I are buffet people.  We no longer go to the main dining room and the buffet on the Legend was superb for all three meals every day.  Great variety and very appealing the way it was presented.  I think your husband and you will enjoy it.

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OTOH , do not miss the MDR, we go out to dinner to be served. The service and rapport you build with your server make for a very enjoyable experience. We are not buffet people. 

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Hi Traveller94 - We're sailing on Legend out of Dover next summer as well, doing the British Isles cruise with 3 ports in Scotland, Belfast, Cobh, and Liverpool. Last year we visited Iceland on the QM2. We've sailed Legend twice before, once an 8-day Eastern Caribbean out of NYC and a 12-day Baltic cruise out of Dover.

 

I agree with the others, Legend and her sisters have the best Serenity deck. Nice pool (most other ships just have hot tubs). plenty of room, and shaded areas out of the sun. Plus a nice bar area. Also agree about Guy's Burgers on Lido - they really are good.

 

I like the forward decks above the bridge, on decks 9 and 10. Good views. The Firebird Lounge, deck 1 forward, is the comedy club. I love the Russian decoration theme and it's a comfortable place for comedy - more comfortable than the newer ships.

 

The Behind the Fun tour - While we haven't done the tour on Legend, we've done them twice on other ships. You can't book them in advance, so if you're interested you should go to the Shore Excursions deck to book soon after you board.  They're limited to 16 people per tour (and who knows if it will be more limited next year?) and usually take place on the last sea day. It's a 3+ hour tour and takes you to the galley, laundry, crew lounge, HR training area, bridge, and engine control room. Most folks consider the bridge to be the highlight of the tour. I'm rather partial to the engine control room, as our oldest son is an engineering officer in the Navy.

 

Not specific to Legend, but if you're arriving early in Dover pre-cruise, I recommend Dover Castle. Aside from its medieval history, it's the site from which the rescue from Dunkirk was conducted in WWII. The exhibits are fascinating. And in Iceland, we were in Reykjavik overnight; the first day we did a Golden Circle tour, and the second day we did a DIY tour in town.

 

Happy cruise planning!

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Carnival offers dining  options so people can get what they like. While many  love the buffet, we rarely use it; we enjoy being served. So we eat  in the  MDR for breakfast (early casual seating on port days) and brunch (extended seating and expanded menu on sea days - don't miss the the Sea Day brunches- the Steak and eggs is a highlight of the cruise for me). And we do fixed dining MDR every night (we love the "no decisions"  aspects of cruising - no discussion of "what time do we eat?" -  All we do is show up at "our table" at the appointed time and are greeted by our familiar waitstaff.)  Of course you may choose Anytime dining with  flexible time and seating , or eat dinner from the buffet if that is your thing.  Mid day or later at night we may get a Guy's burger, a pizza, or a deli sandwich. 

 

Some Carnival ships have "skyview"  or "picture window" staterooms. These are located at the front of the ship, and, instead  of an ocean view,  have a  large window overlooking a "hidden deck" which you can reach just a few steps away from your cabin door. These  rooms are a great value as they have lots of natural light, but are listed as interiors. DH and I also like the value of porthole cabins, which have natural light but are also listed as interiors.

 

Carnival does  provide bathrobes, but you have to ask your  steward for them. Your steward will also be happy to bring  you extra pillows or a blanket. I like the quality of Carnival's bedding. 

 

If you want to save money on drinks but don't think  the Cheers package is for you, you can make most drinks a double for just  $3 more. Cheers may be a good deal for you do not drink much alcohol, as specialty, virgin drinks, coffees, energy drinks, milkshakes and the anything on the soda package  are free. 

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Thanks to everyone. There is really great info for first timers here. I wonder if it would be worth a sticky? I know a few things are specific to my questions about the Legend, but most of it would be helpful to anyone planning their first Carnival trip.

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8 hours ago, coevan said:

Unfortunately the toppings bar will be a thing of the past for a while. I'm not sure how they are going to handle it, but self serve is going bye bye

 

They had the crew serving us on the Horizon in March. Thankfully, it didn't slow things down at all. The longest lines were always for ice cream. Then again, the Horizon has the newer style food stations as opposed to one long buffet line, so not sure how that's going to go. I think they'll do alright. Oddly enough, the salad bar at the buffet was still self-serve, as were the condiment stations at Guy's and Blue Iguana. I don't know how they'll handle them. I doubt they get rid of them completely. Since the burgers & tacos aren't made perfectly to order, with specific toppings for each person, the lack of condiments wouldn't go over well at all. But to have a crew member serve those things for us would be an excruciatingly slow process.

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Go ahead and print out a copy of the deck plan either from Carnival site or elsewhere. May take a couple of pages.

As you read about activities or venues look them up on the deck plan. By the time cruise rolls around you'll be familiar with ship and spend less time lost.

Edited by BananaAnna

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There's A LOT to do. You might try to do everything you want, but there's just too much. If you try to do everything you want, you'll run yourself ragged. Many events & activities will overlap with one another throughout the day/night, so there will probably be times you'll have to prioritize. Each Playlist show will do two performances a night, one early and one late. Depending on when you cruise, there might even be more than two/night. One of the ideas they're considering is to have more than two to keep the crowds smaller, but that will likely go away once everything gets back to normal (whenever that may be). For comedy shows, each comedian has PG shows and 18+ shows, so you'll have multiple to choose from each night.

 

Since you've cruised on another line, I'm sure you're familiar with cabin gadgets. Handy items to take for your cabin. But just in case things are different on Princess, I'll toss a few out there. I can't speak for the Legend specifically, but a majority of Carnival cabins only have one electrical outlet. Some do have an outlet in the bathrooms, but those are low voltage for electric razors only. So one of the most popular items to take is a power strip of some kind or something to give yourself more outlets. If you take a power strip, make absolutely sure that it IS NOT surge protected. Surge protected devices can harm the ship's electrical system. Personally, I take a long extension cord (9-10 ft.). It's easier to pack than a power strip and can be stretched all throughout the cabin. I always take a small, 10 in. portable fan on all our vacations because I like the air and the white noise. A long extension cord lets me put it right by the bed. Or move it into the bathroom to air it out after a hot shower while we get ready. In addition to the cord, we always take a 3-way outlet adapter. Just a cheapo adapter that turns a single outlet into three. The multiple plugs on the extension cord, plus the 3-way adapter, gives us more than enough to charge our phones, run the fan, or whatever. When we're not using it, I always make sure to put the extension cord somewhere out of the way so it's not out when they clean the cabin.

 

We also take a mesh shower caddy that hangs in the shower and has pockets for shampoo bottles and such. There's no shelves in the shower, so it's either set things on the floor or take something. The closets will have several hangers, but you can ask your steward for more. You can do a search on Amazon for "cruise items," or something similar, to browse through all kinds of things.

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As far as cruise gadgets go, we found this on Amazon. It's loaded with everything you could imagine to take along with you on your cruise:

 

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=cruise+accessories&lo=list&language=en_US&crid=3R0UA2XV7RDB&linkCode=ll2&linkId=82a3626649a0d741a5ddb9e22f4e8c19&qid=1562019848&sprefix=cruise+access%2Caps%2C434&ref=sr_pg_1

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15 hours ago, Organized Chaos said:

 

They had the crew serving us on the Horizon in March. Thankfully, it didn't slow things down at all. The longest lines were always for ice cream. Then again, the Horizon has the newer style food stations as opposed to one long buffet line, so not sure how that's going to go. I think they'll do alright. Oddly enough, the salad bar at the buffet was still self-serve, as were the condiment stations at Guy's and Blue Iguana. I don't know how they'll handle them. I doubt they get rid of them completely. Since the burgers & tacos aren't made perfectly to order, with specific toppings for each person, the lack of condiments wouldn't go over well at all. But to have a crew member serve those things for us would be an excruciatingly slow process.

 

 

I know most states have stopped self serve, even Golden Corral is not a buffet now. Health departments are removing multiple use items like ketchup bottles. It would hard to fathom Carnival allowing multiple people fro using the same tools, not going to happen. We have been given paper salt and pepper packets and individual condiment packages. 

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4 hours ago, coevan said:

I know most states have stopped self serve, even Golden Corral is not a buffet now. Health departments are removing multiple use items like ketchup bottles. It would hard to fathom Carnival allowing multiple people fro using the same tools, not going to happen. We have been given paper salt and pepper packets and individual condiment packages. 

 

Regardless of whether it's on a cruise ship, Golden Corral, or wherever, buffets are still buffets, even when the worker serves the food to you. I see that Golden Corral will be allowing for some handling of shared utensils by customers, but they'll provide gloves, napkins, and/or wax paper sheets when necessary. It's still a buffet, but they've also added an additional service to bring some food directly to the table.

 

Carnival removed some of the single-use plastic items not long ago, but they might have to bring some of them back for the time being. I'm trying to think how they handled the cereal dispenser back in March. I think we were still allowed to pour our own, but that might not fly now. Maybe they'll bring back the single-serve boxes.

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