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Cool Breezes and Warm Seas: Planning Your Perfect Summer Cruise in 2024

Ready to dive into the world of summer cruise planning? Whether you’re dreaming of soaking up the sun in the Caribbean, exploring the sparkling blue waters of the Mediterranean, savoring fresh tacos in Mexico or setting sail to the glacial frontiers of Alaska, it’s time to gear up for a journey you won’t ever forget. 

Summer cruise scheduling and planning is an adventure all in itself, which is why we’ve put together this guide to help you navigate these waters with ease while you’re having a blast on your Carnival vacation. Discover the ins and outs of planning shore excursions, the kinds of fun summer activities you can expect on board a Carnival cruise, our top summer destinations and more! Let’s get started.

Summer Fun On Board

Okay, imagine it— you’ve just stepped on board your summer Carnival cruise. The entire ship is now yours to explore and enjoy! If you want to cool off, dive into fun with Carnival’s thrilling onboard waterparks, relax by one of your ship’s pools with a refreshing drink in hand, or sit on deck and enjoy the ocean breeze.  

When it’s time to refuel, choose from delicious dining experiences across the ship. And don’t worry about the kids— Carnival has you covered with kid’s clubs, exclusive teen hangouts and dining options the whole family can enjoy, guaranteeing an unforgettable vacation experience for all!

But the fun doesn’t stop there! Carnival also hosts special summer events like the Memorial Day celebration— a fun and festive start to the summer— the 4th of July, summer solstice and tropical themed dance nights on the deck. 

How to Plan Your Summer Shore Excursions 

Let’s talk off-ship adventures! If you’re wondering how to book your summer shore excursions, you’ve come to the right place. First of all: if you prefer to relax and enjoy the quiet moments on board, you really can’t go wrong. However, we do highly recommend them! We partner with top-tier tour operators across the world to bring you some of the most incredible shore excursions and experiences that you absolutely won’t want to miss.

Reserving your summer cruise excursion is as easy as browsing through our selection of available excursions, then booking directly through! Before you book, make sure you have the following:

  • Internet access
  • An email account
  • A fully deposited cruise booking
  • Your cabin level booking number
  • Registration through

You can book your shore excursion before you set sail up until the “Pre-Sail cut-off time,” which is the night before your departure at 11:59pm Eastern Time (around the same time you’re so excited that you can’t sleep). After this time, excursion booking will be available on departure day on board your ship. We strongly suggest making Pre-Sail reservations so you can nab a spot on your dream adventure!

Still have questions about how shore excursions work? Click here to read our Shore Excursion FAQs.

Best Time to Start Planning for a Summer Cruise

It probably goes without saying that when it comes to cruise planning, timing is everything. It’s generally considered best to book around 6 – 12 months before you want to set sail so that you have your pick of itineraries, sailings, excursions, cabins and more. You can also keep an eye out for cruise deals that may pop up during the planning period! 

6 Summer Cruise Packing Tips

For quick trips, traveling light is your ticket to adventure.

Whether you’re a type-A planner, a spontaneous adventurer or something in between, packing the right items for your cruise is an absolute must. Here’s are some quick tips to remember next time you’re packing for a summer cruise:

  1. Sun Protection is Essential: It’s fun soaking up the summer sun, but a sunburn isn’t! Always remember to pack sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, plus hats, sunglasses and cover ups to protect your skin. 
  2. Don’t Forget a Backpack: No matter what you’ll be doing on your summer cruise, one thing is for sure: you’re going to need a backpack. It’ll be your trusty sidekick for all kinds of adventures, and your stash for essentials like sunscreen, water, electronics and more.
  3. Bring Any Over-the-Counter Medications You May Need: While you’re exploring the world, you may encounter ailments like headaches, allergies or an upset stomach. Never fear! You can come prepared with travel-sized versions of any over-the-counter medications you use regularly, or might need during your trip. We recommend keeping them in a travel-friendly pouch so they’re easily accessible if you need them. Your future self will thank you!
  4. Roll, Don’t Fold: Rolling your clothes can help you avoid unsightly wrinkles and maximize your luggage space, allowing you to pack that extra outfit for unexpected occasions. For items that tend to wrinkle easily, try rolling them with tissue paper to keep them smooth and wrinkle-free upon arrival.
  5. Bulky Items First: Rolling clothes is a game-changer, but let’s face it—some things just won’t roll! Start packing with the bigger items like your tennis shoes (perfect for your outdoor adventures) and layer them at the bottom of your suitcase. Don’t let them sit empty! Stuff those shoes with small essentials like socks, belts, and other accessories to maximize room in your luggage.
  6. Wear your Layers: To save valuable packing space, think about layering your travel outfit. Even when heading to a warm destination, packing a denim jacket or cozy sweater is a good idea for cooler evenings or chilly air-conditioned restaurants!

Click here for more summer cruise packing tips.

Summer Destinations You Can’t Miss 

Not sure where to sail? Check out these popular destinations to help with your summer cruise scheduling!


Ready for a Caribbean cruise that promises all kinds of fun in the sun? Celebration Key, a dreamy Carnival exclusive destination, boasts a mile of white sand beach and the largest fresh water lagoons in the Caribbean (based on publicly available data of surface area measurements as of 01/22/24) for all your aquatic adventures. At Mahogany Bay, located on Roatán Island, you can dive deep into the island’s colorful culture and explore its stunning coastline. Last but certainly not least, exclusive destination Half Moon Cay is a slice of tropical paradise that invites total relaxation with warm shores and crystal-clear waters.


The Mediterranean is where history meets elegance, a breathtaking blend of beauty and discovery around every corner. Málaga, one of Spain’s oldest cities, was influenced by both the Romans and Moors to create a city budding with character. Santorini’s dramatic cliffs, sparkling blue waters, and iconic architecture tell their own stunning story– and it’s one you definitely don’t want to miss. Over in Malta, this little-yet-lively island packs a punch with its bustling historic streets and unique flair. Prepare for the journey of a lifetime through some of the most enchanting spots in the Mediterranean!


Maybe you’d rather cruise to the sparkling shores and ancient wonders of Mexico? We wouldn’t blame you! Cozumel offers a large variety of entertainment for all who visit, but especially for divers— it boasts some of the best coral reefs in the entire world! Ensenada, known for its stunning coastline and delicious cuisine, also features charming streets and bustling markets. Meanwhile, Costa Maya has an irresistible blend of beaches and fun-filled excursions that suit every traveler’s preferences. 


Alaska’s awe-inspiring wilderness and lively communities await! This summer, think about cruising to Alaska and getting a taste of this stunning northern frontier. Ketchikan, known as the salmon capital of the world, is famed for its historic waterfront and passionate fishing community. Larger than NYC, Sitka stands as the largest city-county in the country, jam-packed with mountains, green forests and a blooming community. Don’t forget Juneau, surrounded by ice-capped mountains, and offering a perfect path to fresh air and the great outdoors.

Your Summer Cruise Planning Checklist

Ready to set sail this summer? Let’s just make sure you have everything you need for smooth sailing. Here’s a checklist to guide you through your summer cruise scheduling and planning:

  • Choose your destination
  • Choose your travel dates
  • Set a budget
  • Select a cabin
  • Book your cruise!
  • Research & book shore excursions
  • Prep your packing list

Ready for the summer cruise of a lifetime? No matter how and where you decide to soak up the sun, the real secret to an epic cruise is making the most of every single second. We hope this guide to summer cruise scheduling and planning sets you up for success with some excursion and packing tips, plus destinations you absolutely can’t miss. Whether you’re diving into adventure or lounging in relaxation, always remember to embrace the fun and let the good times roll! 
Ready to find your dream summer cruise vacation? Click here to get started!