Tips for first time Carnival cruise: Best things to know before cruising tips and tricks. Caribbean cruises.




What are some things to know before going on your first Carnival cruise?!


There are affiliate links below. You should totally check out some of the cruise packing ideas. And you might be able to find some cruise outfits for 50% off here. Also see cruise formal outfit ideas too.



Also see possibly the most popular item specific for a cruise – these tags for your cruise luggage.

And also see these packing helpers to help you pack better and maybe even go carry-on only.



1. You don’t have to go to formal night

Now, it can be a very good idea to go to at least one formal night (err… “elegant evening”) for the experience.

But if you don’t want to have to think about what to wear on a cruise with 2 formal outfits, then you can skip the second one if you’re on a cruise with 2 formal nights.

But by skipping a formal night, you WILL be giving up a dining room meal. This is because you can’t go to the dining room on formal night if you’re not dressed up.

Instead, you can eat at the dinner buffet on the lido deck.

This buffet is available any day of the cruise in case you decide that you don’t want to eat at your specific dinner time.


What to wear on formal night?!


2. Get the Fun Times schedule

The “Fun Times” is the name of the schedule with the list of all the cruise activities that will be going on, both on sea days and port days.

You’ll get this delivered to your room every day, you can likely get it on your phone, and you can find it all around the cruise ship.

There are TONS of activities on a Carnival cruise, so be sure to look through the schedule!

You might want to put a highlighter on that cruise packing list so that you can highlight all those activities that you don’t want to miss.

It’s also a good idea to take the Fun Times with you out to the cruise port, because on the front page of it there are emergency numbers in case you get yourself into a situation when you’re out in that foreign country. (Which is also a reason it could be good to bring a passport on a cruise.)


3. You can get unlimited pizza and ice cream 24/7

Some ice cream stations might close down, but walk around until you find one open.

The pizzas are basically single serving and made to order.

There are some free drinks you can get on the cruise ship too.


4. Sign up for the kids program BEFORE the cruise

So if this Carnival cruise is a family cruise for you…

Carnival basically has 3 parts to their youth program:

  • Kids club for under 12 years of age (Camp Ocean, formerly called Camp Carnival)
  • Teen club for 12 – 14 years of age (Circle C)
  • Teen club for 15 – 17 years of age (Club O2)

If you have a child that’s 18 years old and still in high school, they will NOT be able to be a part of the teen club. This is for apparent legal issues that have come up in the past.

Otherwise, there IS generally a one-year leniency for the age groups.

In order to participate in the youth program, they need to be registered by parents.

For young kids, they may not really notice when you sign them up for the kids program.

But if you’re cruising with teens, do them a favor and register them BEFORE you go on the cruise.

Or else, it could be a great big hassle for them when they show up to the teen clubs.

They will not be able to participate in ANY activities until you the parent sign off on it.

This means they need to go wandering around the cruise ship in search of you… when they don’t even know how to get around the cruise ship yet since it’s the first day!

And just register your kids even if you think they won’t go… so then in case they surprise you and they do check out the teen club, they are good to go!


5. Show up for the deck party

Tips for first time Carnival cruise: Best things to do on a Carnival cruise activities - check fun times schedule for deck party. Caribbean cruises.

Depending on the length of your cruise, you’ll likely have 1 or 2 deck parties.

Even if deck parties don’t really seem like they are your thing, just go for the experience!

If it’s really not your thing, you can always just watch from one of the higher decks!


6. Do the water slide on the first day of the cruise

If you’ll be going on a cruise with a lot of kids and teens (that would be around the holidays and school vacations!), then you can expect long lines for the water slide.

Sea days are the most popular days to do the water slide.

You could end up waiting 10-15 minutes just to go down once.

But the first day of the cruise?!

It’s usually pretty empty!

That means minimal wait time. Maybe even NO wait time.

BUT. In order to do this, you need to make sure you pack your swim clothes in your carry-on luggage!

You might not get your suitcase until hours after you arrive on the cruise ship, so anything you want as soon as you get onto the cruise ship, you’ll want to have with you.

Another time to do the water slide is if you get back early on a port day.

While everyone is off the ship out exploring the cruise port on their own or on shore excursions, the water slide will still likely be open.

If you want to know for sure about water slide timings on port days, be sure to stop by the kids club to ask. They will be better people to ask than guest services. (That should be another point on cruise ship secrets – guest services doesn’t know everything. ;))


7. There’s a safety drill on the first day of the cruise

Before the cruise departs, there needs to be a safety drill.

This is for YOUR safety, so it is best that you do what you’re supposed to in the very unlikely event that something happens to the cruise ship in the middle of the ocean.

This generally means knowing the location you’re supposed to report in the case of an emergency.

The location will be listed on the cruise ship card you’ll receive on the first day on the cruise, indicated by a letter.

You can check the cruise ship map, or ask a cruise ship employee to know where to go. (Although I wouldn’t trust cruise ship employees to know everything about maritime safety, this is one thing most will know.)

Kids of a certain age (something like 12 and under) are required to wear a wristband with a letter indicating the their safety location.

You can get them this wristband on the first day of the cruise from the kids club or guest services desk. The kids need to wear this during the entire cruise.


8. Support kids with cancer

Carnival has partnered with St Jude hospital.

This children’s research hospital is for kids with cancer and other life-threatening or terminal illnesses.

On the last day of the cruise, there are a couple of activities you can do to support kids with cancer.

If you’re cruising with kids, you can do a build-a-bear workshop in which proceeds will go to St Jude’s.

There’s also an activity on the open deck for everyone, Groove for St. Jude, and you can buy a t-shirt to support the cause as well.


9. Movie under the stars might get cold

If your cruise has a “movie under the stars” on the big screen (check your Fun Times schedule!), then go watch the movie!

When else will you get the chance to watch a movie out in the middle of the ocean, with the stars right above you?!

But, because you ARE in the middle of the ocean with no sun out, the wind can make it a bit cold!

So be sure to add a light jacket to the list of what to pack for your first cruise.

Oh, and you’ll probably get to eat popcorn with the movie. (You can get it for free.)


10. Go to the hypnosis show

This isn’t available on every Carnival cruise, but if you see it on the Fun Times schedule… you just really need to go.

Hypnosis is REAL.

I went to a couple of shows, and the stuff that happened just cannot be faked!

There were guest participants (that could be YOU!) and they did some crazy things while they were out of it, and they don’t even remember doing things when they are snapped back to life!

This makes for a VERY entertaining show!


11. Every cruise ship is different

Finally, just know that every cruise ship is different!

So if you read about some cruise activity, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll have the same experience on your cruise!


12. Be on the open deck for sail away on the first day of the cruise!

Tips for first time Carnival cruise: Best things to do on first day of cruise - embarkation sail away party. Caribbean cruises.

…and every day of your cruise for that matter!


Tips for first time Carnival cruise: Best things to know before cruising tips and tricks. Caribbean cruises.