When I was a travel agent a few years ago, the company I worked for sent me to this seminar at sea. I learned about Carnival and the line and got to experience a cruise firsthand. I am sure I am getting no sympathy from anyone right now. I traveled with my fellow coworkers Tammy, Scott, and Guy. Tammy and I had a wonderful ocean-view cabin. Talk about a great way to work! Cruising is the perfect vacation. You pack and unpack only once, get to see some great places along the way, and are treated like royalty. It is also very affordable, especially if you compare it to a land vacation. To show my clients the difference, I actually priced at a 7-day cruise against 4 days in Myrtle Beach, and the cruise was over $1,000 cheaper! Once considered vacations of the rich, today there is a cruise for just about any budget. Cruising has been increasing in popularity since the 1970s with the Love Boat and continues to grow each year as more and more people cruise. Today, you can cruise the whole world.
Carnival is the largest cruise line in the world. As an agent, I have sent more passengers on Carnival than any other line. Carnival is for everyone. Singles, couples, families, and groups are all sailing Carnival. There is a great deal of acceptance on the Carnival ships. I have had many gay couples travel Carnival and feel comfortable while on the ship. From grandparents to little tykes, everyone is sure to find Carnival the fun ship line.
Maybe you have heard Carnival is the party ship? Well, people do tend to have a good time on the ships. But it is not the Girls Gone Wild, spring break-type atmosphere that people think. Carnival was the first cruise line to raise their booking age to 21. Now all passengers under 21 must have a passenger over 21 in their room with them. There are only two exceptions to that rule and that is a married couple under 21 (you must have proof of marriage) or kids traveling with their parents. Maybe you heard about a case of food poisoning on a ship or a ship that broke down? Yes, that happened. But guess what? It happens to all the other cruise lines, too. Cruise ships are much like cars, and they do on occasion break down, and food poising can happen even at the most exclusive of places. Believe me, I know as an industry professional, it is only the most popular ships that get the headlines. After all, the Titanic was the most luxurious ship afloat in 1914 and look what happened to her!
A Carnival cruise is the perfect vacation for the whole family. Even though you may have read in some travel magazines to wait for last-minute deals, don’t, especially if you are a family. They only have a limited amount of rooms for more than two passengers, and those book very quickly. Your best deals are found in the fall months, when most families cannot travel. Cruises in the summer months and on holidays must be booked well in advanced. Alaska cruises, which only sail from May to September, tend to book up about a year in advanced. Anywhere from 9 to 12 months ahead of time is a good timeframe to book. You will only have to pay a deposit if you book in advance, and then your final payment comes in about 8 weeks prior to sailing.
Jut about everything is included in the price of your cruise: three sit-down meals a day, a range of buffets, 24-hour pizza, 24-hour room service, use of the gym facilities, nightly shows, children’s programs, entertainment, and use of other facilities. What is not included? Alcoholic beverages, sodas (though Carnival does have a soda card where you purchase a card and have all the soda you want. You purchase them at the bar on the ship), spa and beauty salon treatments, photographs, or shopping. What about tips? Yes, you are encouraged to tip about $10 per day, which covers your assistant waiter, waiter, and room attendant. Tip service should also be given in the bars, beauty salon, and spas. You can tip your dining host for exceptional service. These people work extra hard to make sure you have a wonderful vacation, so please be very kind to them. Some cruise lines add tips to your bill, so make sure to ask. There are some cruise lines that do not allow tipping. But I can assure you that these are the more expensive cruise lines.
Once aboard the ship, it is a cashless society. Your room key also serves as your onboard account. When you purchase a drink from the bar or postcards from the shop, you just hand them your key. At the end of the trip, you will receive a bill and it is automatically applied to your credit or debit card. Prefer using cash? That is fine, too. You just simply put money on your account, and once you have gone through that, then you just go down and put money on your card again. There are ATM machines onboard in case you want money for shore. The fees are extremely high, so wait until you are in port to use an ATM. The only place cash is used is at the casino. But many ships today also use your onboard account for this, too.
Once you have mulled over the cruise lines and the itinerary, then go ahead and book the vacation of your dream. You can book directly with the cruise line. Go to to book with them. You can also book with your locate travel agency or through the many travel websites, such as Expedia or Tavelocity. Places such as AAA or Sam’s club offer these services to their customers. Can you save ton using an agency versus the cruise line? To be honest, not really. Carnival especially has now implemented a one-price structure, meaning you get the same price whether you book though them or an agent. But no matter whom you book through, just do it. Come on, what are you waiting for?