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Tips For Cruising With Carnival Cruise Lines Australia

Fat Mum Slim /

Brought to you in partnership with Carnival Cruise Lines Australia.

As I’m writing this article, I’m basking in my post-cruise glow, all relaxed and chilled out. Cruising does that. My family and I have just finished cruising around the Pacific Islands for nine nights aboard Carnival Legend. I’ve been lucky enough to cruise a few times now, and each time I do I pick the brains of fellow travelers for all the best tips and tricks to making the most of the trip. Today I’m sharing those tips {over 55 of them!} so that you can make the most of any trips you have coming up too!

BEFORE YOU LEAVE

1. Check for sales. Cruising is such an affordable way to travel with the whole family, and sometimes you can get amazing bargains with sales. I spoke to a woman on the ship who got a steal for her trip. See if you can nab one too by checking out the deals page regularly.

2. Book a balcony room. If you can swing it, a balcony room is amazing. We love having our own little space to watch the waves roll on by, and also see when we approach a port. If you can’t swing it, we have also traveled in a room with a porthole and it was great too.

3. Get prepared, just in case, for sea sickness. When we were cruising I got so many questions on my Instagram around sea sickness. Shane gets really bad sea sickness and took medication {just an anti-histamine} and didn’t feel one iota of illness. I didn’t take anything, and didn’t feel sick at all. Most of the time, the ship only gently moves {it’s so big} as it travels, and you can hardly feel anything. For your own peace of mind speak to a pharmacist and pack something.

4. Book a taster cruise, or as Carnival like to call them ‘Fun-Size’. If you’re still worried about dipping your toe in the cruising pool, these shorter cruises will help you see how you feel about cruising. There are 3 day Weekend Sampler cruises, and even 4 day cruises to Moreton Island {I’ve done one similar to this, and it’s a great cruise} or Tasmania. You can check out the short cruise options here.

5. Research. When it comes to ports, there are so many great shore excursions to go on. Some ports don’t need an excursion at all, and you can just explore the island once you jump off the water shuttle, but some it’s hard to choose. Read about them on the Carnival site, and even check out TripAdvisor and other review sites.

6. Pack smaller notes for your shore excursions. While you’re visiting the ports, especially on the Pacific Islands, you might like to buy things, even food or drinks. They generally accept Australian dollars, but you don’t want to rock up with a $50 note and expect them to be able to break it. Take coins or $5 notes, and make life easier.

7. Pack a lanyard. If you’ve cruised before, you’ll know that you wear a lanyard most of the trip, because your cruise card becomes your ID and your currency. You can grab a lanyard from your local bargain shop for a few dollars, or you might have a collection at home to choose from. If you do happen to forget the lanyard, you can grab one on the ship.

8. Traveling with tweens, or other families? Pack Walkie Talkies. It’s an easy and fun way to communicate while on the ship. You’ll probably find yourself telling your mates/family, “Hey, meet me at Bingo!” or “Can you please grab me a pizza?”.

9. Pack evening wear. Or at least something a little bit fancy. Most cruises will have a fancy night, where most people will get dressed up. Some people will go the whole hog and wear tuxedos and evening gowns, and look beautiful while doing it. If you want to eat in the restaurant, men will need to wear long pants and a collared shirt. It’s actually fun to get dressed up a little!

10. Pack costumes! Before you step aboard the ship, you might be hesitant to join in on the fun of the fancy nights or the costume nights, but I can assure you that you’ll probably regret not doing so once you’re on the ship, like I did. Our cruise had a Mexican night, and an 80s Fluro night, and I wasn’t prepared. Next time, I’m on it! {You can check what themes your cruise will have on the Carnival Website}.

11. Print your luggage tags. You can log into your account once you’ve booked your trip, and you’ll see all your documentation. Among your documents you’ll find luggage tags that you can print and attach to your bags. At the terminal there will be helpers with staplers to put your tags on for you, so print them and wait for that stage, if you like.

12. Download the Carnival Hub App. Since I last traveled, an App has arrived and it’s great. You can chat with your family, check out the Fun Times Guide, and also keep track of your account to monitor your spending.

13. Pack a refillable bottle. You’ll need water for the Shore Excursions, so you can either take a water bottle from your room, or fill your own up.

14. Pack a night light. There is perfect lighting in the cabins, but if you want a weak light for your kids while they sleep. Pack a little battery-operated night light to make sleeping comfortable.

15. Bring a backpack. Or beach bag. When you head out on the shore excursions, especially if you’re doing the Pacific Islands, you’ll want to take towels, sunscreen, water, hats, a change of clothes etc so make sure you’ve got a bag to take them in.

16. Also, bring snorkeling gear. You won’t regret packing your snorkeling gear. You can buy it on the ship and hire it on most of the islands, but it’s easiest if you bring your own from home.

DURING YOUR CRUISE

17. Keep your room organised, and utilise the space. The cabins are smallish {you’re in a cabin, not in a sprawling penthouse} but there is a spot for everything, so use it! Unpack your toiletries into the shelves provided. You can store your suitcases under the beds once you’ve unpacked. It will be a lot less stressful if you keep your room tidy each day {and I’m sure your room steward will love you a bit more too!}.

18. Read and use the Fun Times. Each night the Fun Times will be dropped into your room, and it contains the details of activities and shows for the next day. Each night, we grabbed a pen, and marked which things we didn’t want to miss. It was a fun way to connect with the family, but also make sure everyone was getting what they want.

19. Eat at the restaurant. I met a dad on the second day of our cruise, and he asked me where it was best for the kids to eat. I rattled off the places, and when I mentioned the restaurant, he had no idea that it even existed. You can eat there every night, and enjoy three courses for dinner {and it’s often open for lunch and brunch too} included in your fare. The kids loved ordering dinner every night, and we loved our waiter Pambudi and waitress, Cha-cha, who we got to know over the length of our stay. The food was amazing.

20. Try the Carnival Chocolate Melting Cake. It is the bomb, and should be enjoyed by all. Ask for it with the butter pecan ice cream for the perfect combo.

21. Taste a burger. On Carnival Spirit and Legend you’ll find a Guy’s Burger Joint. The burgers don’t cost a cent extra, and are SO delicious. Grab one and head to the top deck to take in the view and watch the waves roll by while you get your burger on. There’s also a secret Aussie burger called the Boomerang Burger that’s not on the menu!

22. Enjoy a breakfast burrito. There are loads of options for breakfast. You could eat at the restaurant on sea days, or you could enjoy the buffet, or you could even grab a pizza. We loved heading to the BlueIguana Cantina and grabbing a breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs and crunchy hash brown bits, and vegetables. I’m drooling thinking about them!

23. Get the bottomless bubbles. We got the Bottomless Bubbles package {costs $7.50 a day extra}. We’re not big drinkers {such a snooze, we are!}, but we did get the soft drink option which worked out at great value.

24. Eat all the ice cream. It’s free and it’s open 24 hours.

25. Be lazy. Order room service. Because you can.

26. Try Dr. Seuss Brunch. It’s colourful and fun, and only $10 per person. We’ve done it twice now and highly recommend it.

27. Or the Madhatter’s High Tea. Also only $10, you can high tea while on the high seas. Pack a hat to wear!

28. Get your pizza fix. While we’re on the topic of food, I should tell you that there is pizza available to you {included in your package}, and it’s open 24 hours. You’re welcome.

29. Or go healthy. I know all of the above options are tempting, but you can eat balanced while cruising. There’s an amazing salad bar in the buffet with loads of fresh produce. There’s also healthier options on the menu in the restaurant too {marked so you know what they are}.

30. Try the Japanese. On both Carnival Legend and the Carnival Spirit you’ll find a Japanese restaurant called Bonsai Sushi. The first time I cruised I remarked that it was some of the best sushi I’ve ever had, and I still stand by it. The miso is so fresh and delicious, and the edamame is soooo good. It does cost extra, but is affordable and worth it! We loved it.

31. Have some kid-free time. There is a Kids Club available, and it’s a great way for the kids to make friends and have some fun. They do a bunch of fun activities, and on our ship they even did a little Christmas Show {so cute!}. As Lacey is 10 now, we had the option of allowing her to sign herself in and out. She only joined Kids Club on the last day, and within 15 minutes had made friends, and they were able to sign themselves out and go and get sushi together.

32. Use the Adult’s Only Serenity Retreat. Ah bliss! This deck has the best views of all the ship, and loads of lounge chairs, it’s own pool, and often has it’s own entertainment too {an acoustic guitar player}. Soak it up {with a cocktail!}.

33. Exercise. Walk or gym it. Or skip the lifts. I had a goal of not putting on weight during my cruise, so I wanted to eat balanced, and also walk as much as possible. There’s a walking track up on the top deck, where plenty of inspiring people run or walk each day, and there’s also a fully equipped gym too.

34. Watch ALL the shows. We created a little routine each night. We’d head to the restaurant for dinner, and then straight to a show afterwards. We loved the musicals, and the comedy acts too. The shows were so amazing. On our cruise we had a Queen Tribute, and I haven’t stopped singing Queen songs since, neither have the kids.

35. Switch to Airplane mode. Once you’re out at sea on the first night, switch your phone to Airplane Mode. It means you won’t get charged any global roaming fees, especially once you get to your ports. We stopped into New Caledonia and they don’t have travel passes for data {usually when I travel, my phone will activate a Telstra Travel Pass that costs $10 a day so I can take calls and check out social media}. So stay on Airplane Mode until you get back home. The Carnival Cruise Hub App works with Airplane Mode.

36. Get online. If you’ve got work to do, or want to share all your travel pics on social media, you can activate an internet pass on the ship. It’s not the fastest internet, because you’re out at sea, but it is faster while you’re at ports or early in the morning. It’s enough to upload a photo, check emails and brag to your friends about how good a time you’re having.

37. Request a powerboard. Don’t bring your own electrical powerboard with you on the ship, but if you need one you can ask your room steward for one if need be.

38. Get to know your Cabin Steward. They’ll tidy your room twice a day, and they’re the sweetest people. They’ll also make towel animals to delight you and the kids each day. Say hello, and thank you.

39. Show the love. Tip your crew, especially your wait staff and cabin steward. It’s not necessary, but it’s a nice thing to do. You can pack a thank you card and envelope from home to give them, or you can grab an envelope from Guest Services to write a little thank you note on.

40. Use the hand sanitiser. It’s available all around the ship. Use it!

41. Ask for more hangers, if you need them. They’re available!

42. Place a ribbon on your mailbox. Outside your room you’ll find a mailbox that you’ll get mail in from time to time. You can tie a ribbon there so that the kids know which room is yours. It’s a fun thing to do.

43. Do ALL the things. I noticed a lot of people on the last day trying to fit everything in, because they’d been too busy relaxing. I say do all the things during your stay. I wanted to make the most of our trip. Play putt-putt golf, do the slides, check out the library, go shopping, go for a swim, and explore each day. Or do nothing at all. Totally up to you!

44. Make a Build-A-Bear. If you ask Lulu what her favourite part of the trip is, it will change every day, but one highlight was making a Build-A-Bear. There’s a workshop on both Carnival Legend and Spirit, and your kids {or you!} can make a toy and dress it. So much fun!

45. Learn how to make towel animals. You will quickly become obsessed with towel animals and it’s so easy to make them. There’s a workshop at the end of the cruise where you can learn how to make two different animals.

SHORE EXCURSIONS

46. Get in early for the water shuttles. At each port, tenders will take all of the passengers {well, those who have chosen to leave the ship}, and everyone can’t just leave at once. It wouldn’t work. So the day before, around 3pm, the crew places zone passes out so that passengers can choose the time that they’d like to leave the ship. I’m an early morning person so we chose Zone 1, meaning we were first off the ship.

47. And if you miss getting a water shuttle zone pass, get ready and packed early. Because quite often the crew will ask if anyone is ready early and let people go through in order to fill the tenders. We lost our zone tickets one day, and were devastated, but we packed our bags and headed to the waiting area and got on early. Happy days!

48. When visiting Noumea, check out one of the islands. In the past we’ve visited Amedee Island, and it’s so so so good. This trip we went to Duck Island, and it was amazing too. Both islands offer great snorkeling, and you might even spot a turtle, or a sea snake!

49. At Mare, grab a shady spot and soak up the most stunning beach in the world. Yejele Beach is a stunning stretch of white sand, with beautiful snorkeling straight off the shore.

50. Enjoy Lifou Island. There’s so much to do. We took an excursion to Luecila Beach, and it was a STUNNING beach. On Lifou I’ve also done a cultural tour too, which I highly recommend. Straight off the water shuttle you can swim at the beach, check out market stalls and even buy some food or get your hair braided. This is one spot that an excursion isn’t necessary, but is a fun thing to do.

51. Soak up the glorious Isle of Pines. On our first Pacific Islands cruise, we stopped at Vanuatu and this time we stopped at Isle of Pines. It is THE most beautiful spot I’ve ever experienced. It was a delight to finish our ports at this one. Straight off the water shuttle we had the choice of walking to two beaches, and we went right and found the most stunning snorkeling. My tip is to get off early here and enjoy it for as long as possible.

52. Eat the chips. I don’t know why, but the chips/fries at the ports taste like childhood. The kids love them, and it’s nice to support the locals who set up stalls to make them.

DISEMBARKATION

53. Get up early and watch the ship sail into harbour. The captain will generally announce the night before what time he thinks you’ll be sailing into the harbour, so I highly recommend getting up early and watching the sunrise and the ship sail in. It’s my favourite thing to do.

54. Take it easy. Half way through your cruise you’ll get a question sheet around disembarkation. It will ask if you’d like to take your own bags off the ship {easy if you’re physically capable, which is made easier with the lifts} and what time you’d like to hop off the ship. You’re welcome to take it easy, enjoy a breakfast in the buffet or restaurant, or you can even chill in your room and check out the view {ours was of Sydney Opera House}.

55. Check-in for your flight when you get off the ship. I had no idea this even existed, but as soon as got off the ship we saw a sign for Virgin Flights. We were able to check-in right there, outside the ship, for our flight, and even offload our bags. It meant that we could check out the city before heading to the airport and back home, without dragging our luggage around with us.

And lastly, this.

56. Book the cruise. Look at her face. Mine was very similar. I had the best time. WE had the best time. There’s something about cruising. It’s a perfect mix of activity and rest. No one gets bored. No one has to wash, or cook, or clean. I was so relaxed. The kids were so happy. Hubby was stoked with the whole experience. It was just one of those trips that everyone came home so, so, so, so, happy. Cruising will do that to you.

Are you a cruiser? Got any tips to add? And if you’re new to the cruise game, let me know if you have any questions below. I’m happy to answer them!

@Fatmumslim