Carnival Cruise Travel Guide

I am usually the type of person who likes to unpack the day they get home from a trip because I hate to keep tripping over a suitcase. However, this week I finally finished unpacking from our cruise even though we got home two weeks ago. What took me so long? There was a lot to unpack and there was a lot to do at home after traveling almost all of August! Now that everything is put away, been through the wash and luggage put back into storage, I’m excited to sit down and share about our trip! It was my first cruise and Jake was in charge of planning because he has been on a few with his family in the past. We originally booked this cruise last July for our three year anniversary back when everything was shut down. When the world looked bleak, it was nice to look forward to something. We had fun shopping for new vacation clothes, excursion supplies and picking out what book we would read on our balcony while sailing through the ocean.

What to Pack

It depends on where you are traveling to and what you plan on doing. It’s not a bad idea to overpack a little but I found that I really didn’t need to bring all that much with me on the ship. Most cruise websites give you a packing itinerary based on where you are sailing to that can be helpful!

  • 1 dress per day for dinner, casual or dressy
  • 1 coverup
  • 1 formal outfit if you choose to participate in the formal dinner night on the ship
  • 2 shorts and a t shirt outfits for leaving port and getting off the boat your last day
  • Comfortable outfits for Day at Sea activities, shorts and a top
  • Overpack on undies because you will do multiple outfit changes a day
  • Overpack on bathing suits so you always have a dry one available
  • Sneakers, sandals and a fun shoe to wear to dinner
  • Socks
  • 1 workout outfit
  • A light sweatshirt in case it gets chilly at night
  • 2 sets of pajamas
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • Outfit for excursions
  • A hat
  • A clutch for carrying your things around the boat
  • A beach bag
  • A dry bag
  • Waterproof phone case
  • A good long book
  • Sunglasses

Toiletries

Don’t worry about forgetting to pack something because the boat will have it! The rooms will have shampoo, conditioner and there are items you can purchase in the shops if you need them. I like to accumulate trial size versions of products I use everyday so when I travel I can just pack those instead of needing my full sized versions of the product. For this trip, I brought my own high end shampoo and conditioner because I am picky about what I wash my hair with along with a small lotion, toothpaste and a toothbrush. If you have a smaller version of a product that you need to bring, be sure to use that to leave as much room as you can in your suitcase!

  • make-up, same advice as above, use the trial size versions if you can to save room!
  • deodorant
  • sunscreen and face sunscreen in a high SPF
  • aloe lotion for post sun
  • hair straightener, I barely used mine though
  • 1 hairbrush
  • leave in conditioner, I love this one
  • hair ties, a headband and bobby pins
  • a razor
  • contacts, another set of contacts just in case
  • glasses
  • Tums, Advil and a daily vitamin
  • hand sanitizer

What to Do

Since this was an anniversary celebration trip, we had a suite with a balcony and chose to have our luggage brought to the room for us. If you are able to do it this way, I highly recommend it! It makes the days at sea and mornings so much more magical. A helpful hint, be sure to walk around the ship the first day to get an idea of where everything is and make notes of what to do on the boat. We started each day with room service so I could enjoy a cup of coffee and croissant on the balcony before getting ready for the day. We also agreed to wake up and get moving before 8am every morning to enjoy every minute we could on the ship. We didn’t want a trip where we were to busy to enjoy it, so we planned some downtime in our day as well as an excursion or activity on the boat.

Excursions

Since this was my first cruise, I let Jake plan all of our excursions. Of course I had a say in what I wanted to do, but I put his planning skills to good use and let him plan. At first I wasn’t sure if I wanted to spend more money on excursions. Couldn’t we just walk around once we got to port? I’m happy Jake insisted we plan excursions ahead of time because that is what made our trip. Do your research and homework and plan out your daily game plan way in advance. Excursions do sell out and a lot of people were stuck at Port because they didn’t realize that going to the beach in the Bahamas was considered an excursion you had to sign up for ahead of time. Our first stop was Ocho Rios, Jamaica and we hopped on a bus to climb a waterfall and swim with dolphins. It was an amazing experience I will never forget! The staff went out of their way to make sure we had a memorable experience and kept us on schedule to get back to the ship before it left port.

Our second stop was Bimini, Bahamas and we signed up for a day at the beach as our only excursion. It was $60 for 2 beach chairs and an umbrella for the day at a beach resort and while it may seem silly to pay for, it was a guaranteed spot to sit at the beach with an option to leave and come back at any time because we had a wrist band. We ordered food to our chair and enjoyed a few cocktails. It was the perfect relaxing beach day! There were other excursions to do in the Bahamas but we wanted our last day to be a lazy one because it was a much needed vacation for the both of us!

Let’s talk about the food…

It is impossible to go hungry on a cruise! There is a buffet that is open most of the day and at night, there is a late night menu. In the main dining hall, it’s more of a restaurant experience which I preferred over the buffet and found the food to be better too. There are also a dozen eateries around the boat that are also included (aka free) that are open all day. While there are a ton of places to eat “for free”, you can also have a more upscale restaurant experience or a few eateries have delicious food for a small cost. We got sushi one night and it was $5 for a large portion. When you sign up for the cruise, you will be bombarded with emails about things to do, packages to sign up for and also helpful information about your trip. We looked into unlimited alcohol package for us but when we did the math, it was impossible for the two of us to drink enough for it to make sense financially. Instead, we got the free soda, juice and water package. I am so happy we did because I could stop at the bar at any time without having to pay. Being in the sun that long, I needed to drink water constantly and the soda was a nice sugar pick me up and refreshing after some time in the sun. There are a lot of bars on the ship and we luckily found a little quiet one in the back that didn’t have a lot of visitors. We got close to the two bartenders at that bar who let us bring our food from the eateries there to eat or just hang out and enjoy a cocktail when we needed a break from the sun. People are not joking when they say you will gain weight being on a cruise! Which is why I wouldn’t let us take any elevators and made us take the stairs so we could try and walk off some calories!

Fun Day at Sea

So let’s talk about what you can do on the ship. While I loved reading my book on our balcony in the late afternoon each day, we did venture out of our room to see what other fun could be had on the ship. We did a game of mini golf which had us laughing the entire time because wind was not our friend! There is a ton of organized fun to do on the ship everyday like themed quizzos, crafts, comedy shows, etc. We did a game of Bingo because you have to when you are on a cruise ship, a few games of quizzo, and spent our last night in the Piano Bar. Oh and there are plenty of kid-free places to enjoy around the ship if that is your thing. We spent an afternoon at the adult only lounge area which had cabanas and comfy places to lay out.

Last bit of advice, slow down and enjoy every minute at sea!