Whether you are new to cruising or simply new to a Carnival Cruise, there are a few key pointers you need to know. Check out our tips to make sure your sailing experience is top-notch.

Spend the Night in the Port City

Stay in a hotel near the port. Not only will it eliminate the stress of traveling the day you set sail, but staying in the port city will also save you money. Terminal parking is costly. Typically, hotels near the port have complimentary shuttles, but even if they don’t, Uber or Lyft is much more cost efficient than parking onsite.

Check-in Online

Check in online in advance to save time, and make sure to have all the proper documentation for your cruise.

Get Carnival’s FTTF (Faster to the Fun) Pass

Prices range from $39.95 to $119.95, depending on the length of your cruise, and passes are good for everyone in your cabin. The FTTF Pass gives you access to priority check-in (after VIFP guests), a dedicated guest service line, priority dinner time assignments (FTTF guests are cleared after VIFP Platinum guests), water shuttle priority, and debarkation choice. Better yet, your stateroom is available to you as soon as you board the ship.

Join the VIFP Club (Very Important Fun Person Club)

While FTTF Pass is a great option, VIFP (Very Important Fun Person Club) club-carnivals-recognition-program is the way to go. Carnival’s loyalty program offers a range of benefits for their reward members. With five levels (blue, red, gold, platinum and diamond), diamond status is the crème de la crème of the program. Diamond members are privy to incentives such as an invitation to the VIFP (on 5+day cruises) party, complimentary wash and fold service, a special invitation from the Captain benefit, priority boarding and much more.

Book the Chef Table Experience

By far one of the highlights of the cruise is the intimate 14 person Chef Table Experience hosted by the Master Executive Chef. A lovely dinner starting with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres is followed by a galley tour and a spectacular epicurean adventure through a multi-course dinner, featuring exclusive offerings not found on regular dining menus.

Try This Secret Menu Item

While the banana split is only shown on the kid’s menu, we bet if you ask nicely this delicious treat could be yours as well.

Venture to “Quiet” Spots

Check out the hidden gems of the ship. The forward typically boasts beautiful balconies without the crowds. For example, Carnival Spirit Class Ships have interior passage halls on deck 3 that wrap around to the front of the vessel. The oversized windows each have a unique theme and make for intimate moments. If you’re sailing on Carnival Breeze, venture to deck 6 & 7, many guests are unaware of this public balcony.

Upgrade to a Suite

Since Carnival boasts one of the largest fleets in the cruise industry, there are plenty of luxury accommodations. It’s worth the splurge to have extra space and a balcony or ocean view.  A few of our favorite suites include the Cloud 9 Spa Stateroom which includes Elemis toiletries, priority spa reservations, free fitness classes and unlimited use of the thermal suite and the Havana Staterooms featuring island décor and an extra large outdoor area with a lounge-ready hammock chair.