Not long ago, I sailed with Carnival Cruise Line aboard newly refurbished Carnival Magic in the Caribbean. It had been a while since our last regular Carnival sailing. I’m on Carnival quite a bit for this blog but those are really more of a media circus, cruise industry style. Here, we were not part of a group, no one knew who we were and we had no schedule. Along the way, I noticed some interesting and wonderful things you might not have noticed or had occasion to use on your Carnival Cruise.
- Forget Third-Party Tour Operators– Carnival Cruise Line’s Best Price Guarantee on shore excursions refocuses our attention on what matters: what we will see on location. They also ask a very good question on day one of any sailing. Right on page one of Carnival’s Fun Ashore excursions list for a particular sailing, Carnival ponders “How will you remember your vacation?” A good question most travelers give little or any attention to.
- FunHub App- Free to download, the Carnival FunHub app comes alive when you board a Carnival FunShip. Find your way around the ship on deck plans that are now in your phone. See the daily schedule, text other passengers on the ship (free), plan excursions, see menus and more. Not available on all ships, I missed the Carnival FunHub App that worked so wonderfully on Carnival Vista when on board Carnival Magic last week.
- Very Digital, Or Not, Your Choice- While the Carnival fleet of Funships is becoming more digital all the time, they still have the analog versions of helpful things like hand held deck plans. All around deck you will see fellow passengers with tablets reading the books that would have occupied a lot of space in luggage. Funny related story: I’m sitting on the promenade deck of Carnival Magic when kid after kid walks up to a backlit sign, swiping it to move along on the content then giving the device the same puzzled look when nothing new appears.
- Oh, Did They Loosen Up The Slots?– I never win anything in the casino but like to play slot machines. I don’t expect to win big but it seems that cruise lines with casinos have been getting a bit stingy with their payouts. On two different FunShips in as many months, I was able to play longer and enjoy it more because they let me win a little bit. Perhaps gamblers should signal their intentions before sitting down, promise not to walk away with any of their money but would just like to play for an hour or two.
- There Is Something To Be Said For Port Canaveral- always on the move, Florida’s Space Coast cruise port is expanding. A new multi-level parking garage makes quick and easy access to the ship in terminals designed to handle the crowds. Accustomed to flying to the embarkation port then flying back home, the 90-minute drive that included picking up the dog at the vet’s office was a breeze and a half. If you haven’t noticed, Carnival has more ships homeported at North American embarkation ports than any other cruise line.
- The Daily Routine, Done Well- Periodic announcements are just part of the deal at Carnival and a good reason to get your Carnival head on before boarding. This is about as informal and relaxed as it gets. While I firmly do not believe a company can be everything to everyone, this one takes a good stab at it, chasing away land-based cares and concerns for those who buy into it all.
- Blue Or Red- The rivalry continues between the Thirsty Frog Red fans on one side of the Lido deck and the Blue Iguana’s on the other side. Themed events and scheduled live performances specific to the Blue/Red rivalry are interspersed with live and recorded popular music…for the most part. Hard to believe that MMMBop is still hanging in there. Happy deck though, that’s what counts.
- Lord Have Mercy! Entertainment Is Back- Aptly curated live entertainment runs from violin concertos to current hits, big band sounds, pop, rock and you name it. I don’t know that it was really ever gone but compared to the past, there is a concentrated effort being made to nail the programming on every sailing.
- Take Another Look At That CHEERS Package. Do the math, you will need to drink x number of whateveritisyoudrink to come out even on the Carnival CHEERS Beverage Package. Where I believe one mistake made by those who decline it is in their estimated consumption. Most people estimate low compared with what they will actually drink at sea. We just found this out on Carnival Magic and ended up paying $8.39 more than if we had been on the unlimited CHEERS Beverage Package.
- Book On Board While You Can- Like other cruise lines, Carnival has future cruise booking onboard and available but about all you’ll hear of it is in a flyer with the ship’s daily mail. While the Carnival plan is a bit tricky when compared to, say, sister line Princess Cruises, there can be some real stand alone value there. Just be sure to know what you are signing up for.
There are a whole lot more interesting little and wonderful things Carnival Cruise Line is doing, all very well documented on their website and in our Cruise Addicts news.
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