Top 10 Things To Note From My Recent Western Caribbean Carnival Cruise
Updated: Sep 7
I love taking cruises. It is perhaps one of my favorite types of travel. Over the Thanksgiving holiday, my family and I were aboard the Carnival Dream for an 8-day Western Caribbean cruise that departed from the historical New Orleans, Louisiana. We had a blast and made lots of great memories. While I’ll discuss the trip in more detail in another post, there were a few things that stood out to me that I felt were worth sharing. None of these items are meant to knock Carnival or anyone in particular. They are simply meant to point out things that might be helpful to those planning a cruise.
Dress code With the exception of ‘elegant’ nights the dress code for the main dining rooms in the evening is casual. Cutoff shorts, flip flops, sleeveless shirts, bathing suits, etc. are not allowed. However, we did see that in the evening. The maitre d’ never turned those guests away to go back and change. In the casual dining areas shirts and shoes are always required. However, during the day we saw that rule broken quite a bit. All that to say, please be a responsible guest by respecting and obeying the dress codes.
Lack of Outlets In the staterooms there is basically one convenient outlet in the room and and one in the bathroom. So if you bring a lot of items that need recharging such as phone, laptop, camera, etc. just know you will be limited to how much can be plugged in at one time.
Parking in New Orleans When cruising from New Orleans, Louisiana, be prepared to shell out a lot of money for parking. The rate to park at the cruise terminal is $20/day (cash or credit card accepted). That money is paid to the Port Authority and not the cruise lines. The upside is when you enter the parking garage there will be a designated area to drop off your luggage to a porter before proceeding to park your car. Remember, most every cruise departure port will have parking fees if you take your car. So be prepared for that extra expense ahead of time.
Staterooms open at 1:30 p.m. Even though you may get on the ship early, you will not be allowed to your stateroom until 1:30 p.m. unless you purchased a “Faster to the Fun” pass. So plan to go to the Lido Deck dining and enjoy lunch while you wait.
Participate in the Activities Sea Days can be long. So take advantage of all the fun activities on board. The trivia games, bingo and various other games are always fun and are a great way to meet other passengers as you team up with them to compete for prizes. Check out the evening entertainment in the main theatre. These are some quality shows.
Local vs Ship Time Despite crossing time zones, Carnival stays on “ship time” which is the time zone of the departure port. So if you stop at a port in a different time zone than your departure port, you will need to remember that you have to be back on ship at the designated time in “ship time” and not “local time”. Same goes for your excursion times. Note whether the excursion ticket is local or ship time.
Pre-Purchase Water I like to drink a lot of water. However, the ship’s water has a funny taste due to the filtering process. Rest assured, it is perfectly safe to drink though. So I pre-purchased several 12-packs of 16oz bottles of water at $4.50/pack which were waiting in our stateroom upon arrival. Bring your Yeti-style cup or a large water bottle to fill up with ice in the Lido Deck dining.
Be Prepared to Walk The elevators are always slow and usually full. So be prepared to take the stairs often unless you just love to wait a while.
Tenders On the Western Caribbean cruise itinerary, Belize is one of the port of calls. It was the only port where we had to use a tender (water taxi) due to the ship not being allowed to enter the port because of the barrier reefs. Be sure to allow for time to get off the ship for your scheduled excursion and then back on ship. The later in the day (closer to final tender time) the more crowded the lines will get. Departing the ship will be done in groups by excursion. So listen for your group’s meeting place. Whatever itinerary your cruise takes you on, be sure to note if any of the port of calls require a tender so you are prepared.
Wireless Internet If you can go without internet for your cruise, then do so. Not only is it way overpriced given how cheap one can get it at home these days, but it is very slow and sometimes unreliable. I realize it is satellite internet and can be dependent on weather but part of the time it didn’t work at all.
All-in-all we had a great time and wouldn’t trade it for anything. We look forward to planning our next family cruise.
If you are interested in taking a cruise, I would love to help you plan it. Please contact me and let’s begin the process.
If you have never taken a cruise, be sure to check out my post for first time cruisers. This will answer some questions that all first time cruisers will have.