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Carnival Cruise FAQ

Shayne Rodriguez Thompson

Jan 15, 2020

Read time
7 min read

Cruise Critic brings you some of the most frequently asked questions about Carnival Cruise Line.

Can I smoke on a Carnival cruise?

Smoking is limited to designated areas on all Carnival ships, typically one small outdoor section of the Lido Deck and in the casino. Smoking in any other areas of the ships -- including cabin balconies -- is prohibited. This includes all tobacco products, including vapes and e-cigarettes. Marijuana and CBD products are not permitted on any Carnival cruise.

Can I bring my own drinks on a Carnival cruise?

This is one of the most common Carnival Cruise Line questions. The only beverages passengers may bring onboard a Carnival ship are nonalcoholic drinks in cans and one unopened 750 mil bottle of wine or Champagne. Both must be carried on; it cannot be packed in checked luggage.

As for distilled water for items like CPAP machines, you can bring your own water but it must be hand-carried along with your CPAP machine. Alternatively, you can prepurchase it from the Carnival Fun Shops online and have it delivered to your cabin on embarkation day. Regular drinking water can also be prepurchased.

What is the Carnival Cheers! beverage program?

The Cheers! beverage program is a mostly-inclusive beverage program that allows passengers to pay a daily flat fee for up to 15 alcoholic drinks a day, as well as unlimited sodas, nonalcoholic cocktails, energy drinks, bottled water, specialty coffees and teas. The cost if you purchase the program before your cruise is $51.95 per person, per day or $56.95 per person, per day if you purchase onboard (plus an 18 percent gratuity either way). Each adult 21 and over sharing a cabin must purchase the program and it must be purchased for each day of the sailing; it is not available on European itineraries.

Does Carnival offer a soft drink package?

Carnival offers the Bottomless Bubbles drink package for passengers who would like to enjoy nonalcoholic fountain sodas and juices. This package is available for $5.95 per day for children and $8.50 each per day for adults, plus an 18 percent gratuity charged at the time you purchase the package. Like the Cheers! package, it is not available on European itineraries.

Can I bring my own food on a Carnival cruise ship?

Carnival's cruise fare includes plentiful snacks and food, available nearly 24/7. However, for passengers who just have to have their favorite pretzels or chips for a midafternoon snack, Carnival permits cruisers to bring onboard prepackaged, ready-to-eat snacks. While some homemade and fresh snack items may be permitted as well, it's best to check with the cruise line if you are unsure about a specific item.

What are the dining options on a Carnival cruise?

Food options are available 24/7 on cruise ships. In the main dining room, Carnival passengers can choose either traditional assigned seating -- early or late -- for dinner or they can choose the "Your Time" open seating option. Early dining is usually at 6 p.m. and late dining at 8:15 p.m. Passengers who choose the open seating option can dine anytime between 5:45 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Dining for breakfast and lunch (usually only open on sea days) is open seating.

Additionally, passengers can choose to eat at the buffet, complimentary specialty eateries (like Guy's Burger Joint or BlueIguana Cantina) or the for-fee restaurants any time during each venue's opening hours.

Can I get Wi-Fi onboard a Carnival cruise?

All Carnival ships are wired for Wi-Fi from front to back and in cabins. Carnival offers various Wi-Fi packages; a basic Wi-Fi package, with access to only social media sites, is available from as little as $6.80 per day when purchased pre-cruise or $8 per day when purchased onboard.

What are the gratuities for a Carnival cruise and should I prepay them?

Another of Carnival's most frequently asked questions. Gratuities on Carnival cruise ships are optional, though they are automatically charged if you have not prepaid them. The tips (divided among stateroom attendants, dining and culinary services staff and other behind-the-scenes workers) are $13.99 per person, per day for anyone staying in a standard room and $15.99 per person, per day for anyone staying in a suite.

Prepaying gratuities is an excellent option for anyone who would prefer to have most, if not all of their cruise-related charges paid in full before their sailing. If you don't prepay, gratuities will automatically be added to your Sail & Sign account and charged at the end of your stay. The amount can be adjusted if you were unhappy with the service or would like to add additional gratuities. You can also hand out extra cash at the end of your sailing to anyone who went above and beyond for you.

For more about tips, in general, Cruise Critic tells you the truth about gratuities.

Do I need to bring my passport or a birth certificate on a Carnival cruise?

All cruises require formal I.D. for boarding. If your cruise begins and ends in a U.S. port, a passport is not required, though it's the easiest form of I.D to use. If you do not have a passport, you will need an official, stamped copy of your birth certificate (not a photocopy) along with at least one other government-issued photo I.D., such as a driver's license.

A valid passport is required for all voyages that begin or end in an international port and for Caribbean sailings that include Martinique or Guadeloupe in the itinerary, even if the cruise sails round trip from a U.S. port.

How do I get to and from the Carnival cruise port terminal; does Carnival offer ground transfers to and from the cruise port?

If you live within driving distance of your cruise ports, most ports can be reached by car with parking available onsite or nearby. Passengers who do not live within driving distance will need to book airfare to and from an airport near the cruise port and arrange transfers via taxi or ride-share, or some other type of ground transfer to the cruise port.

Some passengers choose to take a train or bus to a stop nearest the cruise port and then arrange additional car transfer.

Carnival does offer ground transfers between select airports and cruise terminals on the day of embarkation and immediately following the end of the cruise. Prices vary by port and airport.

How much luggage can I bring on a Carnival cruise?

Though there are no specific limitations to how many bags you can bring on a Carnival cruise, the cruise line suggests one bag per person for three- to five-night cruises and two bags per person for cruises of six nights or longer. Bags must not weigh more than 50 pounds each and cannot be larger than 16 inches high x 24 inches wide when lying flat (length of bags doesn't matter). However, passengers who are flying to and from the cruise port, must also adhere to airline restrictions.

Additionally, small coolers, no larger than 12 inches x 12 inches x 12 inches, for the purpose of housing small quantities of nonalcoholic beverages and/or medications are permitted as carry-on luggage.

If you've never cruised before, be sure to check out Cruise Critic's top 10 cruise packing tips.

What is Carnival EasyPay?

Carnival passengers who book their cruise at least five months in advance can choose to pay for their sailing with Carnival's EasyPay program. EasyPay allows passengers to book their cruises with a deposit and then the balance is split into monthly payments that are automatically debited from the credit card account used at the time of booking.

Updated January 15, 2020
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