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Various First-Timer Questions


Dannzzigg

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I will be aboard the Inspiration out of Tampa, bound for Grand Cayman, Belize, Cozumel and Costa Maya on 8/29/04 for my first cruise.

 

Just thought I would pose some questions specific to Carnival to which I am looking for answers, as well as some that may help other first-timers on carnival as well.

 

1. Smoking- aside from common sense courtesy, what restrictions are there regarding smoking? In the cabin? On deck? Dining rom? Casino? Bars?

 

2. Arrival Time and Departure Times- are the times listed on the Carnival website the times when the ship expects to set sail? How much earlier than that time should I get to the pier to embark? I plan on arranging most of my shore excursions through sources other than Carnival, so I need to make sure I select things that will leave me time to get back aboard.

 

3. Does the ship actually moor-up alongside a pier, or do all stops require tenders to and from the ship?

 

4. Are there 'standard' nights when they schedule the formal nights? IE. first night at sea, or on the two 'Fun days at sea'?

 

Just want to say thanks in advance. I have been reading these boards avidly for the last few days since discovering them, and already I have learned so much. It's great to know that there is a community of people so willing to help out and share their own experiences.

 

I'm sure as days go by I will think of more questions, so as long as I can still find this thread, I will try to keep them here.

 

Thanks again!

 

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Inspiration, My First Cruise

 

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1. Smoking - The dining rooms definitely don't allow it, nor do the main showrooms or the spa. Beyond that, smoking is allowed in most places (they'll indicate that one side of the ship is non-smoking out on deck, but I can't remember which). When I smoked, I tended to just find spots that are downwind of any non-smokers and out in areas where my ashes and smoke wouldn't be blowing towards others, even if it wasn't a non-smoking area. There are plenty of places you can smoke without offending people. icon_smile.gif

 

2. Arrival/Departure - The departure times listed are times that they set sail. You need to be on board no later than 30 minutes prior to those times. I generally aim for 60 minutes. If you're booking independent excursions, aim for 90 minutes just so you don't risk missing the ship.

 

3. Tenders - This is port specific. In fact, in some ports you may not know until the night before whether you'll dock or tender, as it may depend on the number of ships in port that day.

 

4. Formal nights - Each itinerary has their "standard" nights for formal nights. I'm sure someone else who's done that Inspiration itinerary will be able to tell you which nights will be formal nights.

 

Enjoy your cruise!

 

<center><font size="-1"><hr>Also known as Dave, who is Openly Addicted to Cruising!

 

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Sitmar Fairwind (7/87–Caribbean) ⊕ Sitmar Fairwind (12/88–Panama Canal)

Carnival Sensation (8/00–Caribbean) ⊕ Grand Princess (5/01–Caribbean)

Crystal Harmony (8/02–Alaska) ⊕ Carnival Conquest (9/03–Caribbean)

Carnival Spirit (6/04–Alaska) ⊕ Carnival Glory (9/04–Caribbean)

 

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Arrival/Departure: Be back on ship at least 30 minutes before departure time. We have seen people left on the pier after the gangway was taken up. If you run late getting back to the ship and you booked your excursions through Carnival they will wait on you. If you do your own thing make sure you allow enough time to get back. We do our own thing alot but usually book a morning excursion so we don't have to worry about getting back on time.

Tenders: Grand Cayman & Belize

Formal Nights: Second night & next to last night

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So far, so good. And once again, thanks to everyone on these boards. I'm finding so much usefull info here. Some more questions:

 

1. What times are breakfast served from and to? I plan on being on deck for the sunrise at least once, and it would be great to do so with a steaming hot cup of coffee in my hand.

 

2. Is there a way to get an advance copy of the capers? I'd like to get an idea of what there is to do on board for the 'Day at Sea'.

 

I've already booked my first excursion (Dolphin swim, Sea lion swim and sea lion show at Cozumel), and I'm looking over reviews and making decisions on some others. Now I'm trying to get an idea of what life on board the ship will be like for those times when I'm not out exploring the ports of call. Anything anyone would like to mention about the on-board entertainment would be appreciated (what are the casinos like? How are the 'vegas style shows'? Besides the dining room, what other eating opportunities are there? etc... etc...

 

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Inspiration, My First Cruise

 

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Capers is put out the night before so you can sit in your cabin at bedtime and plan the next day.

A cup of coffee is waiting for you at sunrise on the lido. Much activity is already going on .. setting up the buffett,putting out chairs by the pool,etc. but plenty of quiet time too!

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The hours are as follows:

Breakfast

6:30 Coffee & danish Lido deck

8-10:30 on deck Lido

8:15 Early seating

9:30 Late seating

 

Lunch

12-2:30 Lido

12 Early Seating

1:30 Late Seating

 

4-5pm Tea Time

24 hours coffee, tea and icecream

 

Dinner

If two dining rooms

5:45 and 6:15 Early Seating

8 and 8:30 Late Seating

 

6-9:30 on Lido

 

5:30-8pm Sushi Bar

24 hour Pizza bar

24 Hour room service

 

Late Night

buffet

12am - 1am

 

This may not be accurate for your ship, but it may give you an overall idea.

 

Marty

CARNIVAL MIRACLE

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If you want to get the Capers for this itinerary, go to cruiseclues.com, then go to daily programs. There is a link to one family's cruise webpage about their cruise on this itinerary from March with all the information and Capers.

 

NCL Majesty 11/98

Fascination 10/01

Triumph 12/02

Triumph 8/03

RCCL Majesty of the Seas 11/03

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Thanks for all the info so far. It's really helping me set my mind at ease over the many many questions that come to a first-timer like myself.

 

Now about tipping...

I saw that Carnival automatically includes gratuities on the S&S card for some things, but I can't seem to find where I saw that. What do they automatically add it to?

I know that the amounts can be adjusted by visiting the purser's desk, but it would seem to make more sense to just hand the person some extra cash if the service provided is worth the additional tip. Is there any reason NOT to do this?

 

And about the S&S card. I've always been a bit old fashioned, preferring to pay cash whenever possible. Other than it's use as a room key, if I prefer to pay cash, do I have any use for a card? Or is paying with cash at the bar, shops etc... even acceptable?

 

Thanks again folks!

 

countdown.cgi?trgb=000000&srgb=00ff00&prgb=FFA000&cdt=2004;8;29;16;00;00&timezone=GMT-0500

Inspiration, My First Cruise

 

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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Dannzzigg:

And about the S&S card. Other than it's use as a room key, if I prefer to pay cash, do I have any use for a card? Or is paying with cash at the bar, shops etc... even acceptable?

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

 

I don't know about paying with cash in the Gift Shop but you MUST have the S&S card with you to get on and off the ship at port. icon_wink.gif

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Hi there. To answer a couple of your questions:

 

The tips that are automatically on your S&S account are: $10 per person per day. This breaks down to: Stateroom services (cabin steward) $3.60, Dining room team service (waiter and asst.) $5.50, and alternative dining (Lido buffet) $.90.

 

Everything you purchase on the ships, be it drinks, photos, items from gift shop or sundries & liquor, etc., are charged to your S&S account.

 

The only CASH you will actually need while ON the ship would be for tips for room service personnel, or for gambling in the casino.

 

When you receive your docs, there will be a "Welcome Aboard" booklet. Please read it for more details about your cruise. It's just chock full of necessary info.

 

Welcome to cruising! icon_smile.gif

 

"Laissez les bon temps rouler!"

Festivale 1987

Carnivale 1988

Mardi Gras 1989

Pacific Princess 1990

Norway 1994

Holiday 2001

Holiday 2002

Holiday 2003

Sensation 2004

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thanks again to everyone! I've learned so much already, and I haven't even seen my docs yet. So a few more questions, if you please...

 

1, My MIL booked us w/a TA. How far out from the sailing date should I expect our docs to arrive?

 

2. Is seating in the dining rooms assigned for every meal? Or are breakfast and lunch in the dining room 'sit where you please'?

 

3. We will be driving in to Tampa and using the Carnival parking lot at the pier. Are there porters who pick up your luggage there, or will we be carrying it a distance to where the porters are? I'm trying to get a feel for how far I'll be carrying DW's notoriously heavy luggage. (and hoping for some incentive for her to pack less than usual) :)

 

4. Drinks with dinner- I have read varying comments on this. Are they free or do they go on you S&S card. If they do go on the card, do they include gratuity or is this considered part of the dining room service that is already paid via auto-tipping on the card?

 

5. If we do not like where we are seated in the dining room, and we request that the maitre d move us, is a tip expected, and if so how much? I think I would like to sit near a window, but I assume many others would also. Any thoughts on this?

 

As always, I'm sure I'll have more questions. And to all of you who have replied or will reply, thank you for all of your help. The folks here at Cruise Critic have really helped make planning this vacation an enjoyable obsession.

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Thanks again to everyone! I've learned so much already, and I haven't even seen my docs yet. So a few more questions, if you please...

 

1, My MIL booked us w/a TA. How far out from the sailing date should I expect our docs to arrive?

They usually arrive 2-3 weeks prior to cruise. I book directly w/Carnival PVP and get mine much earlier.

 

2. Is seating in the dining rooms assigned for every meal? Or are breakfast and lunch in the dining room 'sit where you please'?

It varies ship to ship. On the Holiday, for example, every meal in the dining room is at your assigned table, except on port days when it's open seating. I understand other ships do it differently.

 

 

3. We will be driving in to Tampa and using the Carnival parking lot at the pier. Are there porters who pick up your luggage there, or will we be carrying it a distance to where the porters are? I'm trying to get a feel for how far I'll be carrying DW's notoriously heavy luggage. (and hoping for some incentive for her to pack less than usual) :)

Sorry, go ahead and get those muscles tuned up! You have to hand over your luggage to the porters at the checkin point at the pier; they don't come to the parking lots.

 

4. Drinks with dinner- I have read varying comments on this. Are they free or do they go on you S&S card. If they do go on the card, do they include gratuity or is this considered part of the dining room service that is already paid via auto-tipping on the card?

If you want an alcoholic drink in the dining room, a bar attendant will be there to take orders, and they will be put on your S&S card, and it will include a 15% tip.

If you want iced tea, coffee, juice, milk, etc., there is no add'l charge. I always have complimentary espresso or cappuccino after dinner, as well.

 

5. If we do not like where we are seated in the dining room, and we request that the maitre d move us, is a tip expected, and if so how much? I think I would like to sit near a window, but I assume many others would also. Any thoughts on this?

I don't know that a tip is 'expected', but I think it would be up to you.

 

As always, I'm sure I'll have more questions. And to all of you who have replied or will reply, thank you for all of your help. The folks here at Cruise Critic have really helped make planning this vacation an enjoyable obsession.

The planning part of a cruise IS fun, isn't it?
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The planning part of a cruise IS fun, isn't it?

That's the way I look at it. I like things to be planned in advance, although I am not adverse to just chucking our plans out the window when something interesting comes along. Two of our ports are planned out with excursions and two are left wide open to 'see what we can find'. I've been requesting brochures from all of the Ports of Call that we will be visiting so I can have something of an idea about them (history, etc...), I've developed a 'brochure' of my own that has our itinerary on one side and a collage of pictures from ea port on the other, as well as some shipboard pics I've found as well. Designing this, and planning out what we will be doing in ea port has been a big part of the fun.

 

And thanks once again for the answers. If only they had porters at the parking lot...

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