This past February, I finally embarked on my first cruise! It’s a dream of mine to go on a Disney cruise someday, but in the meantime, we decided to try out Carnival Cruise as our first cruising adventure. I’d never been on a cruise before and wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. We had a great time though and I would 100% do another Carnival Cruise again!
Here is my review of Carnival Cruise line, as well as some things I experienced being a first time cruiser. If you can’t afford a Disney cruise, Carnival gives you just as many amazing memories for a discounted price!
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Cost of Ticket
The reason we went with Carnival Cruise was honestly because we were familiar with the name. We did a Baja California cruise over Valentine’s Day, so the ticket was about $205 for the whole four night cruise, with about $115 additional in port fees and taxes. They had financing options which was nice, so we did not have to pay the whole thing up front. Additionally we could add ALL the gratuities for housekeeping and wait staff onto our bill beforehand. This was extremely convenient because we didn’t have to worry about that once we started on our cruise.
Your Carnival Cruise ticket includes a number of amenities including access to many shows and activities, meals on the Lido deck, and a sit down dinner each night. Your Carnival Cruise room key can be linked to the credit card on file for your room so you can easily charge anything that costs extra – like the coffee bar or chips at the casino!
To save a few extra bucks, be sure you purchase things like bottled water and anti-motion sickness wristbands and medication before getting on board. As you may have guessed, the price will SKYROCKET once you’re on board! Check out other helpful tips for first time cruisers here!
For an extra cost, you can purchase shore excursions which are activities you can do when the cruise ship stops each day. Each destination has different excursions and they all vary in price. We did a glass bottom boat tour in Catalina Island that was roughly $50 each, and the horseback riding we did in Ensenada was about $130 per person. There are usually around a dozen or so shore excursions per port, so you can find something for the whole family to enjoy no matter what age group you’re traveling with!
You don’t HAVE to do an excursion at each stop, you can just explore the area if you want! We did this with Catalina Island – not so much with Ensenada, because all the stands we needed for souvenir shopping were right off the boat!
I was not expecting 5 star lodging in the cheapest room on the boat, and it’s a good thing I didn’t get my hopes up. Our room was very simple and basic – a bathroom with a shower, a closet, a bed, and a television. TV was often hard to come by when we were traveling out on open sea, as the signal was just terrible. Additionally, there was only one outlet in the room, which made it difficult to charge our phones at the same time. I ended up charging my portable phone charger while we were out, and then using that to charge my phone at night while Chris used the outlet. In the future I will definitely be purchasing a travel power strip to bring on board!
Still, we didn’t spend much time in the room because there was just so much to do on the ship! BINGO, trivia, art auctions, free shows – there is literally ALWAYS something going on.
The Carnival Imagination looks like it’s stuck in the dinner club era of the 1960’s and 70’s, but that was ok with me! It could definitely use an update when it comes to theming and decor, but it was kind of cozy. It was nice knowing that many happy travelers had experienced the same fun as I was.
The one thing I was a bit nervous about was the quality of the food. Honestly? It was the best part! The dishes were AMAZING and every day there were new signature dishes based around the port we were docked in that day. Because all the dishes are included in your cruise (there are a few exceptions but they are all marked on the menu). Not to mention the Lido deck is ALWAYS open for you to grab food no matter what time of night it is!
Everyone on the ship is extremely helpful and cheerful. If you ever have any questions, they’re just a phone call away from your room or you can stop by the front desk on the ship to speak to a concierge. We had a situation where one of the cruise excursions we booked had to cancel due to technical issues. They let us know right away with a notice to our room and made it easy to book a new excursion in its place – and they refunded the cost immediately on to our room bill!
You can access your bill, see shore excursions, show schedules and more on the Carnival Cruise app when you get on board. Additionally you can pay to get Wi-Fi on the ship (the Wi-Fi they give you only allows you access to the app) and we purchased the social media package. It was relatively cheap per day and gave us access to Facebook and Instagram so our loved ones could still contact us should they need to.
I really liked the app because it told us where all events were, what time, and how to go about adding things like excursions and special dinners to your account. You should download it ahead of time, but you won’t be able to do much other than access a trip countdown until you get on board!
Personally, I LOVED Carnival Cruise! They made everything so easy. From booking online to checking in when the time for our cruise came, it was extremely convenient and everything was very well handled. As a Disney blogger, I hold all my travel companies to high standards because naturally I’m comparing everything to Disney! I’m happy to say I was not at all disappointed with Carnival.
Cruises are a fun and unique way to see new places while leaving the planning and travel to the professionals. I can’t wait to book our next cruise with Carnival! If you have Rakuten (formerly known as eBates) you can actually save by getting cash back at many travel booking sites, including Expedia! Sign up using my link and you’ll get a reward after your first cash back purchase!
Well there you have it – my review of Carnival Cruise! I’m already planning our next trip – I’m hoping to go somewhere in the Bahamas next!
Have you ever gone on Carnival Cruise? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below! And don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter! You’ll get access to my FREE WDW Prep Checklist when you sign up!