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Cruising for Rookies

couple standing in front of ship 

We can all agree that cruise life is the best life. The food, the drinks, the excursions, the shows, the friends, and the relaxation… there’s really nothing like it. If you’re getting ready to embark on your first, get ready. You are about to get your mind blown! On our most recent cruise to The Bahamas, we realized that as experienced cruisers, we have some wisdom that could have helped some of the “first timers” around us. So while Googling “What to bring on a cruise” may help you a little, here you’re going to find some solid advice that will help you avoid making the mistakes that many new cruisers do.

husband standing in front of cruise check-in



Don’t forget your passport. This may sound elementary – but we actually DID forget our passports this last trip! (We assumed our Global Entry passes would work. Word to the wise: They don’t.) Thankfully, our friends were able to break into our home, find our birth certificates, take photos, and send them in time for us to make the cruise. But not everyone can be so lucky. Moral of the story:

  • Bring your passport (a photo copy of your passport will not be accepted)
  • If you want a backup, bring a photo copy of your birth certificate (unlike passports, a photo copy WILL work)


What’s the first thing we do when we embark? Pop some bubbly, of course! A few tips when it comes to beverages on board the ship. Whether you stick to soda or you enjoy a good margarita, Carnival has the perfect drink packages to fit your needs. Instead of paying per drink, you can save money (and hassle) by buying an all-inclusive CHEERS package. Purchasing them is quick and easy, and you can do it as soon as you board!

husband cheersing at dinner

bartender smiling behind bar



Choosing what excursion(s) to do in port can be nerve-wracking. Carnival® does such an amazing job with shore excursions that the options are seemingly ENDLESS. From driving ATVs to snorkeling hidden reefs to shopping and food tours… choosing how to spend your day can be a challenge. We’ve found that chatting with other cruisers about their experiences, chatting with the friendly helpers at the excursions desk, and reading the reviews online can all be super helpful in narrowing down your options. Know that you’re in great hands with Carnival – and you really can’t go wrong with whatever excursion you choose!

Oh, and a couple of guidelines: Don’t forget to bring your ID, and if exploring on your own, always be careful and aware of your surroundings. And don’t forget what time your ship sets sail! You don’t want to miss it!!

husband standing in front of Bahamas map

couple driving in ATV

couple's selfie in ATV



The entertainment options on board are constant. You can see a comedian, a musical production, a jazz band, and a magician all in one night! Here are a couple of tips we’ve found to make the most of our nights on board:

  • There are typically a few different comedy shows a night at the Punchliner Comedy Club. so be sure you go to at least one! We suggest sitting up front. There’s a good chance you’ll get heckled, but it is SO worth the belly laughs. Get there about ten minutes early – these shows fill up fast!Punchliner comedian


  • The Piano Bar is typically located near the comedy shows. Make sure you pop in for a few songs, and if possible, sit at the bar surrounding the musician. Get ready to laugh, make new friends, and sing along to “Bohemian Rhapsody” at the top of your lungs. It’s one of our favorite places on the ship… you may end up spending your whole night there!wife singing a piano


  • Don’t miss the “Playlist Production” shows! You’ll be blown away by the dancing, singing, lights, and overall theatrical magic! We typically try to go to the earlier showing, just so we have time for everything else we want to do that night. We like sitting on the far right side of the balcony for a fun birds-eye view of the show, but there really isn’t a bad seat in the house.


on ship Playlist Production show


We’re getting hungry just thinking about all of the delicious options on board a Carnival Cruise®! Similar to choosing an excursion, choosing where you’re going to eat (and what you’re going to have!) can be challenging. There are SO many different restaurants and types of food that it’s easy to get overwhelmed… in the best way possible.

  • Explore your options. Your “Fun Times” daily itinerary lists out all of the different restaurants, the times that they’re open, and the types of cuisines they offer. It’s extremely helpful when you have a hankering or are planning your next snack. Oh, and don’t forget the 24 hour room service!
  • Which leads us into our next point. Embrace your vacation. If you want pizza at midnight, eat pizza at midnight! There’s a special chocolate buffet happening on the Lido deck? Go for it! Life is short – and these vacations are even shorter! Chances are you’re working off what you’re eating with all of the dancing you’re doing at the club!
  • There is also a plethora of healthy options as well! Some of our favorites are the sliced grapefruit in the mornings, the kale caesar salad, and the fresh sushi bar. Carnival truly has something for EVERYONE!
  • Lastly, do us a favor and PLEASE try the margherita pizza at Pizza Pirate, the burgers at Guy’s Burger Joint, and the chocolate melting cake in the dining room. Trust us. These are three things that we find ourselves craving on a regular basis… they’re THAT good!


pizza on patterned counte


wife smiling at dinner behind wine bottle

husband in bright green shirt eating burger
chocolate dessert

Well there you have it friends! We hope these pointers not only come in handy during your next adventure with Carnival, but that they also get you COMPLETELY STOKED to cruise!!! Bon voyage!

 This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind.

Note: Onboard activities, shore excursions, and dining options may vary by ship and destination.