1. Splurge for the suite if you can afford it
There were seven in my family and five in Corrin’s family. We got three cabins for the twelve of us. We did get an ocean view (definitely worth the money) but were on the VERY BOTTOM of the ship. Floor One. Our room was very small. Our friends Tara and Lance were on level 6 with a balcony. Their room was the exact same as ours but had a balcony. Our friends Kristen and Tom decided to get a suite. It was on level 7 of the ship. I really didn’t realize HOW MUCH I WANTED to be in a suite until we visited their room towards the end of the cruise. Their room seemed like we were walking into a palace! It was huge and even had a bathtub! Would I get a suite for all five of my kids? Absolutely not. The suite is about $500-$1000 more per person depending on the number of days you sail with the 4 to 5 day cruises being closer to the $500 number. On our next cruise, I really would like to have a suite and have the kids in regular room. If that is not financially possible, I would definitely upgrade to a higher floor.
A few of the rooms had decorations on their door. Most were simple. You should go to a teacher supply store and buy a few cute flowers/tropical/cruise cutouts. The door across from us had a US flag on it (probably because we sailed on the Freedom. Why do this? All of the doors look the same. If you have something on yours (or completely decorated), your door will always stand out when you are going to it and you don’t have to worry about looking at the numbers.
3. Have little ones eat with Camp Carnival
Camp Carnival was wonderful for the little ones. The counselors are wonderful and they do a great job caring for and entertaining the kids. Our older kids didn’t really participate in the older teen programs because they had fun hanging out with each other.
At first I felt that if I didn’t have Charlotte eat with us at dinner, I would be the worst parent ever. Day three at dinner, Corrin showed up and informed us that her kids were all eating with Camp Carnival. Charlotte was really squirmy that night in the dining room so for the rest of the cruise, she ate with Camp Carnival. She loved it and it gave us a chance to really enjoy our dinner.
4. Buy the unlimited coke package
5. Walkie talkies are good but if you buy the 5.00 day social package you can text each other on ship
We bought six walkie talkies to communicate on the ship. We used them some of the time but ultimately we used our Iphones more. You could get fast internet on the ship for $90. You could get slower internet for $60 (which was fine). You could also get social things (facebook, twitter, ect) for $5.00 a day which also let you text. Our four families that traveled together ended up texting each other while we were on the ship to communicate where we were.
6. Go to the PG comedy shows with your kids and participate in the Trivia
If your kids are around seven and up, they will enjoy the family friendly comedy shows. We loved them! The adults also went to the “adults only” comedy show later on and it was very funny.
Trivia is held everyday at various places. It is so fun! We ended up winning one of the games!
7. Set spending limits in arcade
Two of the families learned the hard way that you have to be VERY specific about how much money the kids could spend in the arcade. They can use their sail and sign cards to play which made the concept of money (and spending it) go away.
8. Do the character breakfast
9. Pack extra sippie cups for kids
Our friend Jessica went on a cruise earlier this summer and she gave us this advice. I packed six sippie cups for Charlotte and assumed Corrin would pack some for Finley. Somehow, Corrin packed none and four of my six ended up in Finley’s backpack. We have NO idea what happened to Finley’s backpack right when we got on the ship so we were stuck with two sippie cups. The one Finley used ened up getting lost so Charlotte was the only one with a sippie cup for the trip. If you have little ones, pack at least four sippie cups.
10. Buy the wine package
All four families enjoy drinking wine at dinner. Carnival allows you to bring two of your own bottles aboard but you have to pay a corkage fee. All four families bought the five bottle wine package. It ends up being a lot cheaper than purchasing a bottle every night. They had three levels of the package. We chose the middle level and the wines were all good.
We did not get this package but I added up our drinks on our bill and I concluded that it would have ended up being about the same. We drank as much as we wanted and actually came in a little under as opposed to getting the drink package ($50 a day per person over 21). When we go on our next cruise, we will get the wine and coke packages but not the unlimited alcoholic beverage package. My question for you is this: Who is ready to go on a cruise?!!!!!