Let’s be honest: taking a vacation can be crazy expensive. Sometimes it’s hard to decide where you can go to get the most bang for your buck.
Here’s an option you may have overlooked: taking a cruise to your dream destination.
Some people forget that cruises are all-inclusive. Your ticket includes meals, accommodations, all-day on-board activities and shows, and, last but certainly not least, transportation to some of the most beautiful locations in the world.
If you’re considering a cruise for your next vacation, take a look at what Carnival has to offer on how to make the most of your time and money.
Choose an early embarkation time
And get to the cruise terminal early! Nobody likes to stand in line, but the earlier you get on board, the sooner you can be sitting poolside on an empty sundeck, sipping your first vacation cocktail.
And, most importantly, there won’t be any lines for food. Don’t forget – you’ve already paid for this first-day lunch, so you may as well enjoy it!
Speaking of which…
Try ALL the food
Carnival cruise ships are known for having great food options on board. There are more than a dozen places to grab a meal, and most of them are included with your ticket. A cruise ship is basically a giant, moving, all-you-can-eat buffet – take advantage!
Guy’s Burger Joint features classic burgers with a Guy Fieri twist – take your plate to the toppings bar to make it just the way you like it.
BlueIguana Cantina serves up made-to-order tacos and burritos. Even though there are lots of options, there’s no shame in wanting to order the same thing again, and again… and again. Yes, the fish tacos are that good.
24-hour self-serve ice cream and froyo at Swirls. Need I say more?
But dining room dinners are nothing to scoff at either. You can order a three-course meal from an ever-changing menu. If you’re feeling extra hungry, go ahead and order two entrées. Or even two desserts. So you can have your (chocolate melting) cake, and eat it too!
Treat yourself to a fancy vacation dinner
If you’re celebrating a special occasion, or want a more upscale dining experience, check out the specialty steakhouse. Unlike traditional restaurants, at Carnival’s steakhouses you pay per person, not per item. An 8oz filet mignon cost the same as an 18oz prime rib!
At a very modest additional charge ($35 USD per person), you can enjoy a luxurious three-course steak dinner. With the gentle jazz music, china plates, and intimate setting, you may forget you’re on a moving ship.
Drool over the menu here.
Don’t try to be the first one off the ship
Cruise ships usually arrive at ports of call early in the morning, but don’t feel pressured to wake up early. In fact, it’s better to wait – you’ll avoid the lines on the lower deck and the slow crowd shuffle off the gangway.
Sleep in a bit, enjoy a leisurely breakfast, or grab an extra cup of coffee on the sun deck (and maybe even sneak in a cheeky second-breakfast).
Wake up early
I know I just said to sleep in, but waking up early (especially on sea days) has its own advantages. You can take in the sunrise, pick whichever lounge chair you want and read a book, or be the first one in the pool. If you’re an early riser, take a walk on the top deck – you’ll feel like the only one on board!
Order room service
If you’ve ever shied away from room service because of the extra cost, now’s your chance – it’s included with the room. You go right ahead and order breakfast in bed – you’re on vacation after all! Choose from a selection of cereals, yogurts, and pastries. Just remember to tip the kind staff member who brings the tray to your stateroom.
Take advantage of all the (free) activities
There are plenty of things to do on a cruise ship besides swimming and eating. Carnival cruise ships offer activities for every guest, and most of them are absolutely free!
The upper decks include a sports court (volleyball, basketball, and soccer), as well as ping pong tables, and a 9-hole mini golf course. If you’re feeling active, take a few laps around the jogging track (with a view that beats your usual route!), or visit the gym.
Need some evening entertainment? Check out the comedy shows, or the musical performances in the theatre. Carnival also offers a nightly “Dive-In” movie on the pool deck’s big screen. Grab a bag of popcorn and end your night with a great film (maybe even from the hot tub).
BYOB (yep, you read that right!)
If you’d rather enjoy a drink in the comfort of your own room, remember to pack a bottle of wine in your luggage. Carnival allows any guest (21 and over) to bring an unopened bottle of wine or champagne on board. Sipping a glass of wine on your private balcony is a great way to unwind at the end of a long day.
Spend some time in the Serenity area
Need some quiet relaxation time away from the
screaming and splashing carefree kids in the pool? Most Carnival ships now feature adult-only sundecks. That’s right. No kids allowed. It’s like a secret clubhouse for grown-ups!
Anyone over the age of 21 is able to sneak away to a blissful paradise with cushioned loungers, hammocks, comfy cabanas (perfect for snuggling with your sweetie or enjoying a sunburn-free nap), and private hot tubs with an unobstructed ocean view.
Keep the ship’s schedule at your fingertips
It can be hard to keep track of all the events that go on during your cruise. Your room steward will provide you with a daily itinerary, but it’s also useful to have all the information in your pocket.
Before you get on board, download the Carnival Hub app (free in the App Store and Google Play). It has tons of useful info, including hours for all venues and activities on board, weather forecasts for all ports of call, and menus (so you can plan your dinner early and fantasize about it all day).
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Disclaimer: Travel, accommodation, and meals were made possible by Carnival Cruise Line. All thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the author.