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tcs1366

New - with many questions

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We will be going on our first cruise in 4 weeks and i've been reading as much as i can ... but i have some simple questions that probably most newbies have, but which may seem silly to avid cruisers.... but here goes....

 

[and i'm sure i will add to this later]

 

Beach towels -- i know the ship provide them, but what do you do for shore trips to the beach? bring some from home?

 

On shore trips, any worry of theft? Say if you are snorkeling on a boat and obviously have personal belongs on the boat? or say those "tubing trips" where you are in the water tubing -- where are your belongs and are they safe?

 

[i just recall being on beaches in St Thomas where people told us to bury our belongs due to kids stealing all your stuff]

 

When we booked our cruise, we were assigned a dinner time [early dinner] what does that mean, where is it, and what if we eat elsewhere? Will a meal be prepared for us and waiting for us -- I mean, this wont be a "formal" dining every single night? DH wont go for that as he is more casual, and i'm not even sure i can get him to bring a suit. [he always had to wear a suit for work and said in his "off time" he wasn't getting into a suit. ]

 

"Pop/Soda cards" what are they, how much are they and how long do they last? one day, or pre pay til it runs out and refill it?

 

Smuggling booze on board? I've read various things on this topic.... can you, how much and what types? I like wine, DH likes Gin and Beer.

 

Laundry facilities.... worth it? for vacations, i usually pack for 4 days and do laundry half way thru.... plus, i rarely wear a lot of what i bring ,,,, so i can get away with under packing. too many times OVER packing. Plus - i like to clothing shop while on vacation.

 

Shops on board.... expensive or reasonable? and say i just brought nice dressy black slacks [flowy type] could i find a nice "sparkly" top there for formal night? I just dont want to have to "drop" $50 on a top.

 

Luggage -- what type? I have one of those Samsonite hard sided, and many softer carry-on type, plus a few of the 'flight crew' type that have wheels and fit in the over head bins.

Plus how do you pack those "gowns" in soft sided bags?? Do you use garment bags?

 

Shore excursions.... if booked thru the ship, do they fill up fast? do we need to decide this before we leave? We have ideas on what we'd like to do -- but have not finalized anything yet.

 

OK -- that's all i can think of for now... if I have more questions, i'll add on.

 

HUGE thanks in advance,

 

Cruisin' Newbie

 

tcs

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Don't bring towels--they provide them, even for going ashore.

Don;t bring really valuable stuff if you'll be leaving it on the beach. Disposable cameras, and small amounts of $$. If you're on an excursion, they generally have somewhere safe to leave your things.

Early seating and main seating are the same thing--it's the 1st dinner of the evening. Usually around 6 pm. Read your cruise info--not all nights are "formal"--most are casual (dockers and collared shirt for men, slacks, dresses, etc... for women.)

Laundry facilities vary from cruiseline to cruiseline--RCI has no self-serve.

Shops--- Mostly "logo wear"--not very much "real" clothing!

Luggage--anything goes. If you're flying to port, you'll have to pack according to the airline regulations! The ship doesn't really care HOW or What you pack!

Since this is your 1st cruise, I'd book excursions through the ship. You can wait until you are onboard, but most folks book in advance.

Don't stress--this is supposed to be a fun vacation!

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there is probably a safe in your room where you can put jewlery and such, if that's the type of valuable you were referring to.

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as for jewelery -- I honestly dont think i'm going to bring more than my every day stuff.... plain titanium band and maybe some simple earrings. I'll leave the good stuff at home. [i once lost my engagement ring in AZ, and by the grace of GOD i got it back a month later] ... so when i travel, only the plain bands come with me.

 

I guess for "valuables" it would be wallets/purse [though i tend to leave my purse "at home" which i guess would be the room safe.

 

oh... FWIW --- I'll be on Carnival's Glory.

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[beach towels] -- They are provided, but you can always bring one if you have extra room.

 

[On shore trips, any worry of theft?] - Leave valuables in your room safe. Bring cameras and some cash for souvenirs. There is usually a guide that can watch your camera, etc. (for example, at Dunns river falls, where we could not take the camera on the climb, we left them in the jeep and one of the drivers kept an eye on things)

 

[When we booked our cruise, we were assigned a dinner time [early dinner] what does that mean, where is it, and what if we eat elsewhere? Will a meal be prepared for us and waiting for us -- I mean, this wont be a "formal" dining every single night? ] - Your food will not be waiting for you at the assigned time....you still have to order it from the menu. Not all nights are formal...check the on-board newsletter. If you want to skip formal night...no problem...just eat in one of the other dining venues. You don't have to dress up at all if you don't want to.

 

["Pop/Soda cards" what are they, how much are they and how long do they last? one day, or pre pay til it runs out and refill it? ] - You buy it once for each person that wants it at the beginning of the trip. Usually about $6/person/day. It's good for the whole trip.

 

[Laundry facilities] - Some lines have self-service laundry. Others, you have to give your laundry to your stateroom attendant, and they will have it washed and folded for you. I suggest letting them handle it if its available...you don't want to waste time doing chores.

 

[Luggage -- what type? I have one of those Samsonite hard sided, and many softer carry-on type, plus a few of the 'flight crew' type that have wheels and fit in the over head bins.

Plus how do you pack those "gowns" in soft sided bags?? Do you use garment bags?] - Soft sided with wheels is probably best. Garment bags are great for things you don't want to fold.

 

[shore excursions.] - book early, the popular ones do fill up fast. I would recommend browsing through them on your cruse line's web site. If you know you definitely want to do something, go ahead and book it online. One less line you will have to wait in on board.

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Beach towels -- They will provide you with towels when going ashore, but if you lose it, you will have to pay for it, but we've never had a problem with that. It's not a bad idea to bring your own, if you don't mind finding a place in the cabin to hang it to dry. Not a problem if you have a balcony, but in a tiny bathroom, every inch is valuable.

 

Shore excursions -- If you and everyone in your party is going to be in the water, I wouldn't bring along anything that you would consider valuable, like a camera or purse. For watersports, get one of those waterproof wallet thingies that hangs around your neck or clips on for money and credit cards and such. Take along disposable cameras.

 

You can eat at your dinner time or skip it and eat in the buffet or whatever you feel like doing. You may or may not be assigned to a table with other people. You can always change your table or dinner time if you aren't happy with it. On a 7-day cruise, there are usually 2 formal nights, where a suit would be necessary. Those might be good buffet or optional restaurant nights for you.

 

Soda cards are worth it, if you are a big soda-aholic. Ships always have a self-serve drink bar with water, coffee, tea, lemonade, and maybe hot chocolate and milk available all the time. We usually stick with those. Soda cards will get you all the soda you want for the week from bars and at meals. Without a card, you have to pay for them.

 

We don't drink alcohol, so I can't help you there. We have brought soda aboard without any problem.

 

Carnival usually has laundry rooms, but other cruise lines are hit and miss. Check on the specific board for info on your ship. It's like a normal laundry mat with quarter-operated washers and dryers, and a free iron and board. If you travel with kids like mine who always get food on them, it's worth doing a load. On a ship with no laundry, you can hand-wash in the sink or send it out with your cabin steward. Not sure how much this costs--never done it.

 

Shops are basically just from souvenir-type items--logo things and magnets from the ports of call and whatever. Some do have formals for rent, but I've never seen them sell any clothing other than logo stuff.

 

Luggage--I would suggest anything on wheels. It will see more wear and tear on an airplane, I would think. I pack gowns that I can fold once in a large suitcase.

 

Shore excursions -- try to book them ASAP online. The more popular ones will fill up even before cruise time.

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Thanks for all the info.... I've tried booking excursions on line, but as i do not have my "booking number" I can not access anything on Carnival's site... i have an email into our TA, but of course, they are closed.

 

DH is the pop drinker.... but i've heard the cups are small... he's a Big Gulp kind guy .... needs LOTS of fluids with his meals... and i found a list of "included" beverages, and he said he'll stick with Iced Tea, provided it is not the powdered stuff.

 

I'm a water drinker... so most of that is a non-issue for me. With the exception to coffee... I hope it's good. I"m a starbucks junky.

 

IF i have room... i may consider bringing towels... we will have a balcony.

 

Dh does have one of those water proof thing that holds CC and cash. so well make sure that is brought with.

 

Hopefully most the things on my mental list are getting answered... i cant think of many more....

 

and 4 weeks from tomorrow, i'll be soaking up the [hopefully] warm Fla weather at the Port. [we're staying at the Radisson]

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I've never had good iced tea on a ship, but I'm really picky about my tea. But my DH doesn't seem to mind the kind they serve in the dining room. I drink water with my meals, and I take along a big insulated cooler that I make my own iced tea in. I fill it half way with hot water, dunk a couple of bags in, pour in a bunch of sugar, then fill it the rest of the way with ice. That lasts me a couple of hours of laying in the sun with a book. I'm usually happy with the lemonade too. And they have juices in the mornings.

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I had tea on a Carnival ship in the dining room. It wasn't powdered but it was really strong. I just had them bring me an extra water and then I mixed them back and forth until I had two glasses of iced tea. I understand the Big Gulp thing. I also took my big mug down during the day to the Lido deck and mixed tea and water again to get the perfect mix. I made it all week without any Big Gulps. I was so mesmerized by the beautiful water I forgot about my Diet Cokes. You are going to have the time of your life.

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As far as storage of valueables, not all rooms have a safe. I was on the MOS,RCCL, a couple of week agoa that didn't have a safe in the room, but the guest relations desk has safe deposit boxes guests can use for free. I went with my family (3 rooms worth) and we just got one box, put our passports, cc, and cash in it. It is available 24 hours a day so when we went into port we just accessed it the night before and got out the cash we would be needing and then put it back after we were back on board. It works just like a safe deposit box at the bank does (just better hours).

 

For dinner, you will see all sorts of dress at dinner. I've seen jeans, but I wouldn't recommend it I would feel underdressed. A tip for you, the food available in the dinning room is a lot of the times available through room service.

 

I've taken cups/bottles on board the ship before and filled them up with multiple cups from the soda card. You can ask for it withouth ice to increase the amount of soda you get per cup and then get a separate cup of ice to add to the larger cup.

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They do have some clothing besides logo wear for sale and I have seen some beaded tops, but they were pricy. I personally wouldn't buy much clothing on the ship, but everyone's different.

 

They have sales on t-shirts toward the end of the cruise.

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Thanks --- Luckily I brought my fave beach bag home from Wisc, where we have a seasonal place ... so i will bring that one.

 

I'm going to start gathering things that i'm brining, and stuffing it all in the bag -- for a central location thing... gonna go get some of those 'chip bag clips' for towel clips -- read about that in a different thread.

 

and i have a spare power strip somewhere, i'll toss that in too.

 

anything else, tips-wise you can think of that will help .... i'd appreciate it. :D

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Great thread and great responses. I also am going on my first cruise in just 2 weeks! This is informative. We're not bringing any beach towels, but we are bringing one travel cup for DW's drinks (getting her a soda card). Not sure your question about the 'coffee being good' got answered. So..... is the free coffee any good?

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I never take a beach towel from home, takes up to much room in luggage, they have them on ship to take to beach.

 

I buy a souvineer travel cup on the ship and use that for drinks we have in our room and carry around.

 

I have always found the coffee to be good, it usally seems stronger in the dinning room, but always good everywhere to us.

 

I research alot before, then choose my tours which I rarely ever book thru the cruise. The are overpriced. I find better and more informative if you do your own booking.

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The only reason you might want to bring your own towel, never done it myself but seen others do it, is if you want to go to the beach and hang out at a section that is in front of a place, say the Marriott, and use there chairs. I did do that one time with the cruise ship towel and was spotted right away and told we could use the beach (because in the bahamas and lots of other places the whole beach is public) but couldn't use the chairs. The 6 matching towel that said Carnival gave us away.:p

 

I read about taking an over the door shoe holder to put things in, like bathroom stuff, to free up counter space is helpful. I've only tried it once and found it somewhat helpful (I was on a 3 night cruise and didn't have as much stuff as I will for my longer cruise). There is soooo little counter space between the nightstand, vanity and tinny bathroom counter.

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With all the great info that i've found....

 

I'm not bringing towels from home.

Will bring some water, but not as much as originally planned.

Smuggling a bit of liquor, but not as much as DH wanted.

Purchased dramamine and bonine as i'm prone to motion sickness in rough seas.

Purchased over the door shoe holder [i've read some find them very helpful, while others feel it was a waste to bring it along]

Will use the laundry facilities, as i found it's very close to where our room is.

 

Not going in with any HIGH expectations ... i'm just going for socializing, sight seeing and relaxation. and I'm NOT going to focus on FOOD.

 

OH and since i found that my BOOKING number was my CONFIRMATION number, I've been able to access MUCH more on Carnivals site - which is very helpful when browsing excursions.

 

and to top it all off..... Seriously considering moving to FLA for retirement, so we can be closer to ports!! [not having to fly will save So much money, so i can spend more on cruising.] :D

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They provide beach towels so leave yours home. Takes up too much space

 

They allow you to bring on bottled water so get a six pack in Miami, empty one, add your gin and you are good to go.

 

Bring a big gulp cup on board and you can fill that up when you want

 

A gown?? They are rarely worn on Carnival but you can wear what you want. Usually dressy opants and a top or a dressy dress does it.

 

Prices at onboard shops for clothes are high and I don't think the Glory has one of those. Only logo wear stuff.

 

Excursions can be booked on board so no rush. Go to the talk on the excursions and it will help you pic:) k better.

 

Have a great time. I really liked the Glory, and you did right by getting a balcony...thats the best!!

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When you are boarding and they check your carry on stuff.... are they strict like the airlines and you can not bring on board "open" beverages?

 

I always carry water with me ... if I have my water bottle in my purse or carry one, will they take it, or make me dump it?

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You mentioned that you are a Starbucks Junky, so I just thought I'd mention that since you will be on a Carnival ship, it probably will have a gourmet coffee place where you can get a really good cup of coffee, although you will have to pay for it. Also, you can get free capuccino and espresso in the dining room.

 

Have a great trip!

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When you are boarding and they check your carry on stuff.... are they strict like the airlines and you can not bring on board "open" beverages?

 

I always carry water with me ... if I have my water bottle in my purse or carry one, will they take it, or make me dump it?

 

Yes, during boarding you are going through a Homeland Security checkpoint, so they WILL make you dump open bottles of water.

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Thanks OD, nothing better than a good cup of joe. and not much worse than nasty coffee.

 

I will certainly check it out.

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On my last cruise, I went to the cruise line web site, and bought a beach towel (as part of one of the packages)...it was a really high quality towel, and a great souviner. It was delivered right to the room, so I didn't have to worry about packing it.

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One other item that you might consider for your want list is a pair of ear plugs. They come in handy when the bands don't know the difference between distortion and high fidelity. They also help with any noisey kids or drunks in the hall at 3:00A.M.

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Thanks --- that is one thing DH never leaves home without. He's a light sleeper, and with work, he travels a lot .. nothing like drunks or screaming kids running down the halls at night.

 

I will bring extra pairs of ear plugs.

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