“You two don’t seem like the cruising type.” Those were the words uttered to us by our friend Jan, as he was in complete disbelief that we had booked a cruise. Trust us! It is ok to take a relaxing vacation where you are led from port to port.
I think we look very relaxed!
So yes, we recently took a Carnival cruise to the Western Caribbean with our friend Alysa and would love to share our favorite cruising travel tips. The stops were Cozumel, Roatan – Honduras, Belize City – Belize and Grand Cayman. Jen did plenty of research on the internet and Pinterest on cruising so we can only assume that we learned from the best. This list of cruising tips is pretty specific to Carnival, so check with your cruise line for details.
1) Smuggle booze on board. This is truly how you can avoid a bar bill of $1k. A few years back we took an Eastern Caribbean cruise and purchased the Genuine Rum Runner® Smuggler’s Revenge Kit. We may have had a few beers before we ordered this package, and yes it is enormous, but this has saved us the cost of the kit and hundreds of dollars more. Yes, it looks super cheap and ridiculous, but the booze still tastes the same! It is much easier to travel with a plastic bag full of liquid than a very heavy, suspicious, glass bottle. Jen unzipped the suitcase liner and taped the bags in place. (Yes that is Hello Kitty Duct Tape). With cruise ships having so many people boarding there is no way they can do full inspections of everyone’s luggage.
2) You are allowed to bring beverages on board. Every customer is allowed to have a 12 pack (12oz.) of non-alcoholic drinks. If you are smart, you will bring drinks that will mix well with the booze you smuggled on board. Reminder – You must carry this on – do not put in checked luggage. Read the fine print of your cruise contract!
3) You may also carry on one bottle of wine per person. There will be a corkage fee if you bring this to the dining room, I believe it is $14. We choose to just drink this in the room before dinner. We had two reds and enjoyed our bottle of cava with some orange juice, available at breakfast.
4) Bring an electrical power strip. There is usually only 1-2 outlets in a typical cabin. Especially for the ladies, you can charge your phone & camera, plus blow dry your hair all at the same time. Here’s a two pack: Belkin 6-Outlet Surge Protector(2-Pack)
5) There is no limit the amount of a food dish you order. Say you really want a lot of the lobster on the formal night? Go ahead and order two entrees if it pleases you. On our ship there was a gentleman who dressed as a pirate every night. He ordered 4 lobster entrees. You think I am kidding? Nope. Here is a picture of Alysa with said gentleman. He even told us pirate jokes. And no he was not associated with the cruise.
6) Eat at the steakhouse. This will be a $35 cost to you, per person, but you could never get the meal you receive for cheaper in the US. Jen & I ordered the surf & turf (filet and lobster tail) and Alysa ordered the two lobster tail meal. Both amazing. We also had three other courses. **Bonus – usually if you go on the first or second night, you receive a free bottle of wine. Also the other restaurants are usually amazing. We ordered this huge sushi boat for only $20!
7) Bring an over the door organizer. Jen purchased a cheap one on ebay for $4. This was invaluable having 3 women with various hair brushes, curling iron, sunscreen and other various toiletry items that needed to be put away. Something like this would work: 15 Pocket over the door room / closet organizer
8) Let your server know if you have any allergies. Jen has a dairy allergy and our server arranged for a dairy free dessert for her. After a few days with just a fruit plate, she was going nuts and was very excited for the chocolate melting cake, dairy free.
9) Bring a soft-sided cooler bag. This little guy came in handy when we were having drinks in the room. Also, it was perfect to chill a little local Grand Cayman beer, which we *may* have smuggled onboard. (we just rushed through security) 25″ Large Cooler Tote Bag w/ Zipper in Black
10) People watch. Really this is all you can do half of the time. Eat it up. We saw some of the most “unique” people ever on board.
Again I’d recommend reading the fine print. You’ll find out what you can do as far as bringing on beverages, wine, etc. and what you can’t do. It’s better to just check ahead of time so that you won’t miss out. In total we spent around $330 per person on board. That included a few bottles of wine at dinner during the course of the week, eating at the steakhouse & sushi restaurant and a few drinks here and there. That did not include any excursions as the one we booked for Belize (snorkeling) was canceled due to inclement weather. We did take an excursion on Grand Cayman that we had arranged ourselves that was $40 per person.
Although we did have some bad weather, we did have a great time, visited new places and made the most of it. It’s always best to travel with a positive attitude and a full drink.