So it’s your first time taking a cruise and you’re not sure what to expect.  Here we give you a quick list of what, generally, is included on your cruise, what the additional costs are, and how to maximize your fun!

We will take Carnival as an example since this is a cruise line we consider ourselves to be experts in.

Tips/Gratuities

We will start off with this since most first time cruisers are not aware of this additional cost that cruise lines will charge them.

Nowadays, all cruise lines will automatically charge you for tips.  Typically this will cost $12 per person per day.  So if you take a 3 day cruise, expect an additional $36 charge per person.  On a 7 day cruise you will be looking at an additional $84 per person.

So once on board there is no need to tip any crew member.  You can order room service as often as you like and tipping your room service attendant is not required or expected.

Food

What’s free?

Generally speaking most of the food on board your cruise will be free.  This includes the buffets, 24 hour room service, the formal dining room, 24 hour pizzeria, desserts, and so much more.  You can enjoy everything from waffles and eggs, to Guy Fieri’s burgers, to lobster tails.  We found the quality of food on cruises to be excellent.

Coffee, iced tea, juices (lemonade and fruit punch) and filtered water are free as well.  It’s self service, so drink up!

What’s for a fee?

Certain ships will have specialty restaurants such as a steak house, Italian restaurant, sushi and Asian restaurants.  Remember, in the formal dining room and in the buffets you can have Italian and Asian style dishes for free.  But specialty restaurants will cost extra.

Alcohol, soda, coffee bar (frappuccino style drinks), and milk shakes are additional.  In regards to soda and alcohol, Carnival no longer allows guests to bring cans of soda or water on board.  They do allow 1 bottle of wine or champagne per adult.

You can easily enjoy your cruise without spending money on specialty restaurants, although I highly recommend them.  The steak house, for $35 per person is well worth it.

Click here to read up on all the dining options on board a Carnival cruise.

Activities & Entertainment

Whats free?

There’s always a lot to do on a cruise.  The comedy shows, Broadway style shows, night clubs, kids program, water slides, sports deck, fitness center, live music, karaoke…  it’s all free.

What’s for a fee?

Concerts (Carnival Live), IMAX, internet cafe, spa, hair & beauty salon, casino, gift shops, video arcade, baby sitting, and photographs to name a few.

Last cruise we took we did buy a few pictures they took of us on our cruise.  They have professional photographers throughout the ship taking pictures.  Some of them came out excellent.  You’ll probably end up at the gift shops as well buying souvenirs for friends and family.  But overall it’s nothing too expensive and you can stick within your budget.

You can view the list fo all the activities and entertainment click here.

Staterooms

All staterooms come with 24 hour room service, 24 hour room steward, Private bathroom and shower, Plenty of closet and drawers, TV, Telephone, Personal safe (located in the closet), and individual climate control.

They are typically 185 to 220 sq feet and can accomodate up to 5 guests (although some ships limit to 4).

Interior cabins

carnival-cabin-interior2

The two twin beds can be converted into a king bed.  If you have more than two guests in the cabin then you will typically see 1 or 2 uppers (bunk beds in the wall) and if there is a 5th guest there is typically a trundle as well.

Ocean view cabins

carnival-cabin-oceanview1

The two twin beds can be converted into a king bed  (as shown above).  If you have more than two guests in the cabin then you will typically see 1 upper (bunk bed in the wall), a pull out single sofa, and if there is a 5th guest there is typically a trundle as well.

Balcony cabins

carnival-cabin-balcony

The two twin beds can be converted into a king bed (as shown above).  If you have more than two guests in the cabin then you will typically see 1 upper (bunk bed in the wall), a pullout single sofa, and if there is a 5th guest there is typically a trundle as well.

You can learn more about Carnival’s staterooms by clicking here.