Stilettos and Diapers: Carnival Cruising: I need your tips and tricks!

5.29.2013

Carnival Cruising: I need your tips and tricks!

In about 2.5 weeks, I'm loading up my boys for a week on the ocean! We are going on our second "just us" family vacation ever and I couldn't be more excited! 

Neither the hubs or I have ever been on a cruise, so we're pretty clueless going into this thing. We're sailing to the Eastern Caribbean with stops in Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay and Freeport, Bahamas.

We already have a game plan that includes after bedtime wine drinking on the balcony and taking turns having some solo time to relax. Cooper is pretty sure we are going to see Captain Hook and pirates. We haven't booked any excursions yet, but I'm hoping y'all will give me tons of advice so I'm all sorts of prepared! 

I'm just really excited to disconnect for awhile and spend quality time with my boys. I love the idea of this cruise so much. Being in the middle of the ocean with very limited connection to the world, outside my family. It's just not that easy to completely separate from work, the computer, social media and all that jazz. The warm sun, a huge ship and tropical islands should do just the trick! 

Taking the kids is what I feel like I need to be the most prepared for. Do I need to bring them snacks that I know they'll eat? How am I going to entertain them without internet access? (I mean, Mickey gets us through every restaurant meal.) Are we going to need Dramamine? 

For those of you who have cruised, what should or shouldn't I bring? Any tips for things to do on our stops? What are your best cruising tips?

All opinions expressed are my own. My family will be cruising courtesy of Carnival. No additional monetary compensation was received. 

16 comments:

  1. i LOVE LOVE LOVE cruising!! its my favorite thing in all of the land. or sea :) i never cruised with carnival before so i havent been to those specific ports but you are going to have a great time i hope!
    i usually cruise with royal and ive learned to NOT book excursions through them/on the ship because the prices are so high for them to make a profit. booking excursions are really easy to do once you get off the ship and on land at your port. the bonus of booking with the ship is that they know who is doing what and absolutely will not leave if your tour/excursion is late.. but otherwise, they will leave you! and ive seen many people be left behind! but ive never had a tour or excursion go late, regardless who ive booked through. i would look thru ur ships itinerary at the excursions available and definitely pick something amazing that you wont get to do again! swimming with dolphins or dolphin encounters are ALWAYS amzing. and i think your boys could do them too! im not sure though.. but they do have age limits listed with the excursions in the itineraries. or they should (royal does).
    dramamine i hear works great, along with those bracelets too. but ive heard the best things about those little bandaid looking stickies that people wear behind their ears. i dont get sea sick and ive never needed it, but i suppose its better to have with than be without! bring travel things in your own sizes. sunscreen and aloe included. thats not something youll want to buy on the ship because they charge big bucks for that small stuff! bring a great bag for the ports, or don't if your like me and think you need to buy one everywhere you go as a souvenir, lol! i wear flip flops the whole time and heels for dinner/formal nights but a lot of people will suggest a pair of comfortable walking shoes (which is flip flops for me) depending on what excursions you may like to do also. royal ships have a rock climbing wall on board and you need tennis shoes if you plan to do that. royal has 2 formal nights for 7 day cruises, so maybe carnival has that as well and id plan to pack something for those special dinners.
    check out the cruise critic website to see what people have said about your ship and ports!
    im so jealous! we cruise every year but with being pregnant we missed 2013 and cant go until little man is at least 6 months. were planning one for march tho RIGHT AWAY!

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  2. MIDNIGHT BUFFET.

    Enough said.

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  3. I've never been on a cruise but I hope you have a great time. How amazing that you are going for free! Blogging rocks!

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  4. I have never been on a cruise so I have no advice for you. The whole idea of being out in the ocean so far from land freaks me out. My husband keeps bugging me to go on one but I just don't think I can do it. I am sure your family will have a great time & I am excited to hear about all the fun stuff you do & wonderful memories made.

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  5. Take dramamine but I wouldn't worry too much about snacks. They have pretty much everything at your beck and call 24/7 - french fries, grilled cheese, etc. Maybe the ipad for meals if you really can't get through without it!

    I would put the kids in the kids club, they will play all day, do activities and meet lots of other kids. They might have it in the evening so you and hubby can enjoy the adult activities.

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  6. Wow! You got the hookup. Awesome! The boat rocks the whole time, but you get kind of used to it after a little bit and it doesn't really bother you in a motion sickness kind of way. I get motion sickness really badly but didn't get it on the cruise. I guess bring dramamine just in case. My best piece of advice is to eat at least 2 chocolate melting cakes at each dinner. They're amazing.

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  7. So exciting! I have never been on a cruise but I do get motion sickness. I found Sea-Bands and they are amazing! I have never gotten sick when I have had them on. We LIVE on the water in the summers doing a lot of off shore fishing which is when I MUST have them on or I will be chumming the fish. If you are worried about getting sick and don't want to have to worry about the side effects of the Dramamine (it seriously just knocks me out...and I'm not sure you can drink while taking it) then I would suggest the bands. They are very inexpensive and can be used over and over again! I get mine at CVS or Walgreens. Have a great trip!!!

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  8. Sorry - Sea bands are these pressure point wrist bands...just to clarify.

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  9. I hope you have a great time! I haven't been on a cruise with kids but I have been on a bunch of cruises so I'll give you my opinions...I would bring Dramamine just in case but even the non-drowsy stuff makes me very very tired but it's better than being sick, I get car sick but have never had sea sickness. You could try the sea bands that Lydia suggested I never have but it's worth it if they work for no side effects, they aren't that expensive) Bring snacks! Even though there is food on the boat you want the kids to have something to snack on (there are not lots of snacky things, pizza and ice cream all the time, but I found that Carnival didn't have many food option other than their scheduled restaurant times and sometimes I wanted something at 4:30 and there wasn't anything open (also I don't know how long it is but our Carnival was 7 days and by the end of the trip I was so tired of the food it all smelled the same to me)) Also I drink a lot of water and I something I have never done but will next time is people brought a case of bottled water the water is kind of expensive I probably spent more on water than alcohol on my last cruise! I have done excursions with the ship and with private companies, on the ship they are more expensive but you don't have to worry about being left behind! I loved swimming with the sting rays so did my younger cousins (Callen might be too young for that one though) Take your ipad with games that don't need internet and load it with movies! You can buy movies and their should be movies playing on the tv in your room also. But there are lots of activities for kids Cooper will be old enough to participate it kids activities without you if you want to let him, even if you don't there should be plenty activities during the day. Every day you'll get a schedule of things happening on the boat and where they are located.

    Okay I'll stop the essay! Have so much fun!

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  10. Michael and I went on one cruise, kid-free, so I can't help you there. But I can say to Pack LIGHT. I wayyy overpacked and that already-tiny room was SO much tinier with all of my... stuff.

    Have a great time! :)

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  11. I went on the EXACT same cruise you are going on last May (out of Baltimore, right?!). The ship is older and is decorated very strangely but the wait staff were SO nice and all of the people in charge of activities were super fun and engaging as well!

    They had a lot of activities going on during the day for the kids and they have a kids room where you could drop them off to play if you chose to. There were always loads of kids swimming in the pool and dancing at night to the dance parties. They show childrens movies during the day and the dj's play music for the kids to dance to down at the pools.

    The food was pretty good! There is a burger bar outside by the pool that always has burgers, hotdogs, nachos, chicken tenders and french fries in the afternoon-evening hours incase the littles don't like anything they are serving for lunch that day and they also always serve ice cream on the pool deck as well! Pizza is served 24 hours a day as well. I would take snacks and stuff to take with you out to the pool for them to munch on in between meal times. Dinner was my favorite meal of the day! I'm picky so I loved that they had really unique food on one side of the menu and traditional foods like steak and fried chicken on the other for those of us that don't want to try alligator or other odd things lol ;)

    This cruise was my first cruise so I wasn't sure what to expect as far as getting sea sick. I asked my doctor to prescribe me the patch to put behind my ear just incase I got sick. I only ended up using them because we were out at sea when a hurricane was coming so it was VERY choppy. I would recommend taking Sea Bands with you because people on the ship swore by them and obviously they were more expensive on board. I don't get motion sickness but I will say that I got nauseus the first night at dinner because the dining room is in the back of the ship and between the movement of the ship and feeling the engines moving, I was feeling queezy. The auditorium where all of the big shows, Bingo, etc. is in the very front of the ship so you will feel a lot of movement when going over waves and stuff. It took a day or 2 to get used to.

    Grand Turk was BEAUTIFUL! We did the off shore snorkeling and it was really nice. They take you to a drop off where you can feed fish and see a coral reef. The beach was pretty and there were tons of pretty shops there! The Margaritaville has a huge pool so the kids will have fun swimming in that!!

    Half Moon Cay is an island that they basically made for cruise ships to dock at and spend the day. There isn't much to do there except for laying out on the beach if you don't do an excursion. Take sand toys and stuff to keep yourselves occupied while you're there! We spent a majority of the time inside the Captain Morgan pirate bar because we didn't have any littles with us ;)

    We never made it to Freeport which I was bummed about because we had to take the long way back to port due to the hurricane that was brewing but they had activities set up all throughout the day to keep people occupied. We went to the towel rolling class where they teach you how to roll the towels like they leave in your room every night and it was really fun!! lol

    Feel free to email me if you have any specific questions (kfran49896@yahoo.com)

    Oh and wear a watch!!!! There is so much going on and barely any clocks lol

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  12. Hi! I have been reading your blog for a while now and I love it! I had to comment on the post today because cruises are so much fun and I want your family to enjoy your first one! My husband and I have been on 5 cruises, so here are some tips I've learned so far. 1) Take some clean clothes and toiletry items in a small carry on bag the day you get on the ship. You will be able to do all kinds of fun things on the ship while every is loading, but your luggage will probably not make it to your stateroom before dinner. If you don't want to feel gross on your first night of cruising then take a well packed carry on. 2) Stop by the excursion desk shortly after it opens to look over the excursions. The good ones fill up really quickly. We have always booked through the ship b/c we don't want to be left behind! They absolutely WILL leave you if you are late!! If you are taking your boys on the excursions with you then be sure you don't book any type of snorkeling trip that doesn't specifically say "beach & snorkel" in the description. If you do, you will be dropped off of a boat in the middle of the ocean to snorkel....not my idea of fun. Also, the dolphin swimming was very cool when we did it! 3) Take a case of water with you if you have room. We always took several bottles with us when we were off the ship. It saves a lot of money. 4) You will probably want to take 2 swimsuits for each person unless you like wearing wet swimsuits. There is a pool (or 2 or 3) onboard so you will most likely be going back and forth with your boys. I hate wet swimsuits so I always pack 2. 5) Last thing! Take at least 2 disposable waterproof cameras with you. You will have lots of fun taking pictures of the activities your family does at the beach or pool. You won't have to worry about water and sand messing up your good camera.
    I hope you enjoy your family vacation! We always have lots of fun on cruises! Go to the shows, relax on the beach and by the pool, and enjoy not having to cook or clean!

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  13. my hubs and I did the BAHAMAS carnival cruise in 2001 (this very weekend in fact! he proposed on June 1st!)We LOVED it and actually are in the process of planning one for our family of 6! We only had one port stop (Nassau)we did do a shore excursion to Blue Lagoon Island and it was so much fun! We enjoyed everything about the cruise, there is plenty to do(between shows and such) and eat( 24 hr pizza!) so don't worry! HAVE FUN!!!!!

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  14. WOO HOO! I love cruising! I've never cruised on Carnival, but my parents and siblings have and there seem to be a LOT of family and children activities on board! I am by no means a cruise expert like some, but here are the things I've learned from cruising (or things I wish I knew then!) 1) you will almost ALWAYS pack way more clothes than you need. Cruising is such a relaxing atmosphere and on the days you're docked you're dressing for comfort/movement so pack more for that than dressing up! 2) Pack a carry aboard bag filled with bathing suits, a few snacks, camera, and anything you made need the first few hours on the boat. We didn't get out luggage to our room for a few hours and it would've helped to have my camera, a few toiletries, and a bathing suit (because once the kiddos see the pool they won't want to leave!) 3) I'm not sure if you planned for the designated time for dinner, but if so I would pack some snacks that you know the kids like to have in the room (just in case!) 4) I cruised on Holland America and they had soda cards-- if Carnival offers them, I think they do, get them!! It's worth it to be able to have all the sodas and drinks you want! 5) Pack any meds you may need- hellllllo expensive on the ship 6) Google the stops and see what tripadvisor/other websites suggest. When in Grand Turk we were there from 9-2 and we did horseback riding on the beach. IT WAS AWESOME. It allowed us to see the real town area away from the tourist stuff and it is definitely something my family will always remember (I can email you links to my posts from the cruise if you'd like!!) 7)The kid camp /day care facility on the ship is EXCELLENT. there are even computers,video games, and lots of other fun things for kids to do- my siblings (even at ages 9 and 12) love going there, even if for a few hours! 8) We brought walkie talkies for my sisters to use. It's sometimes a pain with how big the ship is (especially if kids have to use the bathroom, want a snack, etc) and the walkie talkie (waterproof) allowed my parents and I to not worry AS MUCH when the kids are in the pool area and they blend in with the other kids. 9) HalfMoon Cay was one of the most relaxing days- we didn't plan any excursions while there- but instead just played around the island. It was cute, fun, and beautiful water! 10) I would buy dramamine and the bands that go around your wrist just in case. I was terrified to being really sea sick but there was only one night, for about two hours, that I felt nauseous. Other than that I would've never know I was on a cruise ship!

    Whew! I could go on forever with cruise stuff... can you tell I love them?!?

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  15. I have been on 9 Carnival cruises, but never with kiddos so I'm sorry I dont have any advice there. They do have the Camp Carnival onboard that all the kids seem to enjoy, so maybe check into that.

    Definitely pack light - I rewear stuff to dinner and take workout/fast-drying clothes to wear ashore that I can just rinse off in the sink and hang to dry in the room. I used to bring all kinds of cute outfits and jewelry and such, but now I just keep it super simple and I'm happier that way.

    Bring an outlet extender (very few plugs in room), but hide it when you leave because they usually aren't allowed onboard. Also, check out Boca Clips or something similar to keep your towel attached to your lounge chair because the decks are really windy.

    Of those ports, I have only been to Freeport and there isn't much to do in the port so maybe check out an excursion. We went kayaking to Peterson Cay and it was absolutely the best snorkeling I've ever done. It's a lot of swimming though, so not sure how the kids would do.

    Have fun! Just keep it simple and hang loose!

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  16. We already have a game plan that includes after bedtime wine drinking on the balcony and taking turns having some solo time to relax. Tips for Cruising

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