These are great travel tips for first time cruise vacation! Everything you will want to know before going on a cruise.

15 Cruise Vacation Tips! Great insider travel tips for first time cruisers. Everything you need to know before going on a cruise vacation.

Great travel tips for your family’s cruise vacation!

We love to travel, especially to the beach! A cruise vacation is wonderful for all ages of your family and a great way to get in a little beach time with other fun activities.

Are you looking for travel tips for your upcoming cruise ship vacation? These 15 travel tips are thing I wish I had known before going on my first Carnival Cruise vacation!

15 Cruise Vacation Tips. Great insider travel tips for your first time cruise vacation. Everything you need to know before going on a tropical cruise ship.


1. Pack your swim suits in a carry on bag so you can swim when you get onboard.

It might take a while for your bags to show up in your room. I was jealous of those who did this and were able to enjoy the pool right away!


2. You are allowed to bring a 12 pack of soda and a bottle of wine per adult. Do it!

This was allowed on our Carnival ship. But all cruise ships might not be the same, so be sure to research this before your cruise vacation.

3. Find a map right away when you get on the ship. Study it. I got lost a lot!

Next time I go on a cruise, I will study the map before I get on the ship. Seems simple, but something I never thought to do!

4. Don’t pay full price at the spa.

Take advantage of the great spa treatment specials while at port. Also be aware that on the last day, they will announce major discounts.


5. Be prepared to be in LOTS of photos!

I had no idea there would be photographers set up everywhere. It was a little crazy. Anytime you get off or on the ship a photographer is waiting. You don’t have to take the photos, we just walked past them most of the time. Believe me… if you skip once, they will find you again. ha!

Carnival had rows and rows of backdrops set up everywhere on the first formal night. If it’s packed, you don’t need to wait in line that night, because they will do this several times throughout the week. We didn’t pose for any pictures, but I had a great time watching all the families dressed in the same colors for family photos. I even saw one family all wearing the brightest orange and white stripped shirts!! The dad did not look thrilled at all. ha!

6. The main lobby deck is a wonderful, quiet spot to lounge and read.

The main lobby deck is shaded and a great place to get away from the crowds around the pool.

15 Cruise Vacation Tips. Great insider travel tips for your first time cruise vacation. Everything you need to know before going on a tropical cruise ship.


7. Come in early from a shore excursion and enjoy the ship to yourself.


8. Get sea sick? Try wearing Sea-Bands.

I tested some Sea-Bands out before I went on the cruise and got addicted to them. I have really bad ears and vertigo pretty bad, so I was worried about going on a ship and getting sick. I actually felt fine on the ship and didn’t need the Sea Bands, but brought them just in case. They really do help!


9. If you want a good seat by the main pool, be sure to bring towels and save your chairs on the way to pick up breakfast.

We liked eating breakfast in the early morning by the pool while the kids would swim. For us, morning was nice and quiet and the only time the pool was not super crowded. There are plenty of chairs around the rest of the ship. But the chairs close to the pool fill up quickly.


10. Wear elastic waist pants or a flowing dress and order Carnival’s Chocolate Melting Cake every night! ha.

You might even order two… they will bring it… just ask my husband. I like what our cruise director Chris said on the first formal night: Be sure to wear your good outfit on the first formal night because you might not be able to wear it by the end of the trip!
Carnival Cruise Chocolate Melting Cake - 15 Tips for First Time Cruisers. Things you will want to know before going on a cruise vacation.


11. Formal night is really not that formal.

Business casual is fine. I found some really cute inexpensive dresses at Charming Charlie.

12. Be prepared to walk up and down a lot of stairs.

Stairs are everywhere on a cruise ship and also WAY faster than waiting on the elevators. I don’t think I gained any weight from all the food because we walked so much! At least I’m telling myself that since I don’t dare get on a scale:-)

13. Great advice from one of my readers: Bring a power cord to plug in more than one item and a nightlight.

I would add air freshener to that list as well. Sharing a tiny bathroom in a tiny room with your family… you’ll be glad you have it!

14. Get a room with a balcony.

It’s worth the extra money, especially if you have kids who need to nap. I enjoyed reading and napping myself on our balcony!

15. Take advantage of the kid camps. They are SO worth it! Having time alone with your spouse is priceless.

Carnival Cruise Kid Camp Review - 15 Tips for First Time Cruisers. Things you will want to know before going on a cruise vacation.


You might also like my other cruise travel posts:



Disclosure: This was a sponsored post by Carnival as a part of their Brand Ambassador program.  All opinions and photos about the trip are my own. Photos © 2010-2017

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  2. If you are traveling without kids, get an inside cabin. Not only are they cheaper, you can take a nap in the middle of the afternoon in complete darkness. Love it!

  3. actually royal caribbean will allow for soda. while in port we stocked up & they said nothing..alcohol on the other hand will not be allowed in you room.

  4. @ Danielle, I thought that too. First time cruiser here. I researched both excursions through the cruise line and others but what I have found which scared me is the excursions through other then the cruise line said different times the ship was coming and leaving. This scares me as I don’t want to miss the ship leaving. Any tips?

  5. I also heard about you can bring a 12 pack of soda, Question, if there is two of us I was going to put both packs in one luggage with other items like shoes(not clothes) will they take any soda out if it is in my bag and not divided between my husbands bag? Can we get away with bringing 24 pack for each of us? How large wine bottle? Thanks, Oh and how much money should we bring?

  6. My class took our Senior Trip on a cruise and one of the girls used the behind the ear patches, they did not work out well for her. they kept her from getting sea sick, but it made one of her eyes dialate really big while the other stayed super small. They do have a few more side affects than the bands.

  7. How do you have to carry on your soda? Does it have to be in your carry-on or can you just buy a 12 pack and carry it on. Thanks

  8. @Motion Sick,
    Our Dr. prescribed us a sea sickness patch to wear behnd the ear. Dr. thinks they are the best…. Will see in a week when we take off on our first cruise….

  9. Love this post, Amy! We loved our Carnival Cruise over Mother’s Day. We visited Nassau, St. Thomas, St. Martin, etc. But you are so right – heading back to the ship early from excursions is so worth it!

    I’m glad you had a great trip!

    (I’ve stumbled this list! It’s great for first time cruisers – or repeaters who need reminding!)


  10. I took a Carnival Cruise years ago w/ my mom and my aunt and it was a blast. We had so much fun that I’ve been wanting do it again ever since. This makes me want to start planning one! Thanks for all the great advice! 🙂

  11. Only the Carnival Corp lines (Princess et al)
    allow you to bring wine/cokes on! RCCL and others do not!

    I’m glad you enjoyed your first cruise! They are addicting, so watch out! 🙂

  12. Dessert was always my favorite part of cruising. By the end of the week, I figured out which desserts I could only get in the dining room. Then after dinner, we’d change clothes and I’d have (the other) dessert and coffee in the buffet restaurant. 🙂 Shameful, huh?

    After our first cruise, I came home and ALL of my clothes were tight! I thought it was all the food I ate. But it wasn’t. We had a little blonde haired, blue eyed souvenir to always remember that week! 🙂

  13. @Gina Dease,

    Great tips! Yes… I SO wish we had walked off with our bags instead of checking them. They called our floor first for self depart and we were bummed! ha. It was 2 hours later before we were able to get off.

  14. One thing to mention is if you can go to the port city the day before. My husband and I were so exhausted we just slept until dinner at 8:15. Another tip is we kept our luggage getting on and off saved so much time literally walked on and off the boat with ease this suggestion is if u r traveling without children.

  15. @Screwed Up Texan,

    My passport had expired, so a birth certificate was fine for me and my kids. But I think they are going to be changing that soon and everyone will need a passport. I’m going to renew my passport ASAP because getting them last minute is really expensive.

  16. @Danielle,

    I know! I’m craving that cake!! Yum!

    The cruise online booking had shut down by the time I got around to deciding our excursions. I booked 2 excursions through other companies, but they were not cheaper. Less crowded… yes:-)

  17. Here’s another tip we’ve learned…don’t book your excursions through the cruise line. Do some research before you go and book yourself. The groups are much smaller and it’s always cheaper! Thanks for the other tips Amy! I’ve been on a few cruises and I still picked up some things I didn’t already know. BTW I think I need to wipe my keyboard clean of my drool..that cake? Yum.

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