Top Ten Tips for Cruising with Family on Carnival

Just 36 hours ago, I was stepping off the Carnival Conquest after an 8 day/7 night cruise to Roatan, Belize and Cozumel which I actually won in a social media scavenger hunt.  Having never cruised before, I had no idea what to expect or how to prepare to cruise with my daughters (ages 5 and 8).  So, I did what any blogger would do…I researched the heck out of the topic on Google.  I found lots of great tips but I still wanted the real “insider” tips from real families like mine.

With no further ado, here are my Top Ten Tips for Cruising with Family on the Carnival Conquest.

1.  Boarding:  Don’t get to the terminal at the last minute.  Rushing through the lines will only make the kids nervous and give you a headache.  We arrived about 1:00pm and enjoyed taking in the whole experience as we boarded.  Our room was ready but in case yours is not, it is wise to bring a few “must-have” items in your carry-on.

2.  Book a Room with a View:  I cannot say enough about our balcony room.  With space being tight, having the freedom to go outside and take in the sights and sounds of the Gulf was peaceful and relaxing.  Not to mention, my kids loved trying to find fish in the water and gazing at the starry night sky.

3.  Dine Early:  We reserved the Early Seating for dinner which was 6:00pm.  After a long day in port, the kids (and the adults) were exhausted and hungry.  The wait staff is incredible and we were eating no later than 6:10pm every single night.  This allowed for plenty of time for showers and a reasonable bedtime.

4.  Don’t forget the iPad: While disconnecting on the cruise allowed for some quality family time, my kids needed to decompress before bed.  Downloading a few episodes of their favorite TV show or installing a few storytime apps fits the bill.  While some stations are available on your stateroom television, you do not receive Disney Channel or Nickelodeon which house my kids favorite shows.

5.  Know your Kids’ Limitations:  Half the fun of cruising is on-shore adventure!  Research the excursions before booking to make sure they are age appropriate (some are restricted to children over a certain age or height).  Don’t forget to check the activity level and make sure your child can hang in for the duration of the excursion.  We took three excursions that worked out GREAT for my kids.  Watch for those posts in the coming days.

6.  The Early Bird Gets the Pool:  Want to swim on board the Conquest?  Get there early!  By mid-day the pool is very crowded and it can be hard to squeeze in.

7.  Get Acquainted with Camp Carnival: Your first night on board, you and your kids can check out Camp Carnival and become familiar with their play areas, schedule and counselors.  This is a great time for your kids to get to know their fellow campers and explore all that Camp Carnival has to offer.

8.  Be a Contestant on Hasbro Family Game Night:  The Carnival Conquest really is a Fun Ship!  For three nights in the ship’s auditorium, you have the opportunity to be part of a live game show.  Insider tip: sit on the bottom level near the front for a better shot at getting picked to come on stage and win real prizes.

9.  Ice Cream 24/7:  ‘Nuff said.

10. Stay Cool:  A personal battery operated misting fan is worth it’s weight in gold if traveling during the Summer months.  Don’t forget to stay hydrated, too!

11. (Bonus Tip) Get Involved:  Days at Sea can be long, but Carnival has a jam packed schedule for you on board.  Take advantage of the activities available such as mini-golf, family friendly comedy hour, basketball, water slide, swimming, spa, and live entertainment.

Have any tips for cruising with families and young children?  Please share in the comments below!  Looking for more advice?  Check out the article on tips for plus sized cruisers!

20 thoughts on “Top Ten Tips for Cruising with Family on Carnival”

  1. These are great tips. I’ve cruised before, but way before I had kids- funnily enough, when I cruised I remember booking the late dinner to avoid all the children, haha. Looks like such a great time! I love that picture of your daughter with the dolphin. 🙂

  2. We did a Carnival cruise last year with our daughters (ages 4 and almost 2). They had a blast! We did the pool and mini golf and movies and danced to the live music and rode the glass elevator up and down. 🙂 They also really enjoyed the 24/7 ice cream. I totally recommend a cruise! We’re hoping to go on another one in a few years. 🙂

  3. Great tips! We went on our first cruise last October and I would agree with everyone of these tips. The Hasbro family game night sounds like fun! 🙂

  4. I would love to take a cruise. My husband and I have been talking about taking a cruise for the past couple of years. We are hoping to take one in the next year or so. Thanks for the tips!!

  5. Love reading about your adventures! My husband and i are veterans on Carnival at this point– i think we’re up to cruise #12. Those long sea days are what I live for, but I don’t have little ones to keep entertained. I should write a blog about my experiences– mostly they involve the drink of the day 🙂 Glad you had fun. Once you cruise — and see the value– you’re sure to become a regular!

  6. My husband and I have been on two cruises on Royal Caribbean and somet hing I learned from surfing cruise message boards is to always book your excursions from the local companies rather than through the cruise line because you can save a LOT of money and you usually wind up with a smaller group on your boat, or in your dolphin encounter, etc. 🙂

    Also, bring clothespins for your shower curtain and walkie talkies to communicate while you’re on the boat. 🙂

  7. Thanks for the tips. Post more! We are going on a family reunion-type cruise in 2 years (about 20 people, maybe more), so we could use all the help we can get! Looks like a great time!

  8. Thank you for these tips!!! I am hoping to take a family cruise next year! This comes in handy!

  9. This is a great list! We have been thinking about taking a cruise when my husband comes home from deployment.

  10. I would really like to go on a cruise with my family in the next couple of years. Did you use the babysitting service so that you could go out later at night and if so, were you comfortable doing it?

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