Cheap Carnival Cruises

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WYPanther
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Cheap Carnival Cruises

Post by WYPanther » Fri Aug 01, 2014 8:44 am

Hey Guys,

I'm a senior at Pitt and looking to get together a group of guys for a spring break cruise. Any advice or opinions on cheap carnival cruises? Thanks in advance.

letsgobobby
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Re: Cheap Carnival Cruises

Post by letsgobobby » Fri Aug 01, 2014 8:58 am

We went on a Carnival Cruise last year, one week. It was fine. We had realistic expectations going in. Don't expect gourmet food. Expect a clean ship, relaxed atmosphere, not a ton of upselling. The only true drawback is there were hardly any food options late at night. It seems it was pizza, or nothing, if I recall correctly.

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JamesSFO
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Re: Cheap Carnival Cruises

Post by JamesSFO » Fri Aug 01, 2014 8:59 am

Can I suggest posting at http://boards.cruisecritic.com/

there is a Carnival forum, my guess is the folks there will have more targeted advice.

FWIW, I would look into Carnival's Early Saver program which will honor price drops, but your payments are non-refundable.

The Wizard
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Re: Cheap Carnival Cruises

Post by The Wizard » Fri Aug 01, 2014 9:29 am

Carnival is an excellent choice for college-age people; a less than excellent choice for retirement-age people with more discretionary income to deal with...
Attempted new signature...

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tadamsmar
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Re: Cheap Carnival Cruises

Post by tadamsmar » Fri Aug 01, 2014 9:53 am

Our first cruise was a short one to Nassau.

Might be a good choice to see how you like cruise ships.

As a rule of thumb, the shorter the cruise, the younger the other people on the ship will be.

MattE
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Re: Cheap Carnival Cruises

Post by MattE » Fri Aug 01, 2014 10:52 am

There's a Carnival Cruise that leaves out of Baltimore every weekend that does a 7-day trip to Port Canaveral (Orlando\Cocoa Beach Florida), and then Nassau\Freeport in the Bahamas. It's typically loaded with college spring breakers (matching whatever major regional school is out that week) for the entirety of March - my friends and I did the same thing you are back during my senior year and found it was pretty much the SS Penn State for the week. It's a pretty solid guarantee to having a boat with a lot of people your own age trying to party, and if you're Pitt students you wouldn't have a problem driving to the port, then. Port Canaveral and Nassau are pretty underwhelming as far as cruise destinations go, but if you\your friends have never been on one and are looking to easily organize a good time, it'll do the trick. The other down side of leaving out of Baltimore is that in mid-March the first few days of weather will generally still be chilly, but Carnival boats all have at least one pool area with a retractable roof so it's not like it completely kills being out on deck.

I also second the Early Saver program, i.e., if you're trying to go next March, make sure you're booked 6+ months in advance. You get price matching then if you find equivalent cabins for sale at a lower rate after you book then, but it's on you to occasionally scan their room pricing and see what's up. They give you the match as a credit to your on-board room account (what anything you purchase on-board gets charged to). If you're flexible Carnival often has amazing short-notice sales deals for cruises, but that's not something you're likely to find during a high-volume period like spring break times and also requires you to be able to arrange your related plans at the drop of a hat.

Thirdly, the other thing to consider is the leaving-from-Florida vs. leaving-from-Baltimore trade. Cruises that leave from Florida 1) stop at more places 2) are in good-weather places the entire time and 3) are cheaper, but require the additional expense of flying in and arranging transportation to\from the airport on both legs of your trip. All-in they normally work out to be moderately-but-not-game-changingly more expensive than leaving from northern ports you can drive to. The thing to consider there is also that while stopping more places sounds nice, you're also by proxy probably going to spend more money on excursions or doing stuff in port, then.

Fourth, unless it can't be avoided, never book shore excursions directly through Carnival; they add an enormous overhead "finder's fee" that can be close to 50% of the underlying tour cost in some cases. Example: Introductory scuba diving in St. Thomas booked through carnival is like $130pp, but if you call the dive center they book with and reserve a lesson directly, it's only $70pp + the $15-$20 roundtrip taxi fare. Use the Carnival website to get an idea for excursions you want to do, then use Google to find the tour operators and book directly through them. You'll save an enormous amount of money and the only downside is that you might have to catch your own cab to where you're going when you get off the boat depending on what you're doing.

Finally (and a mod can feel free to edit this out if it's inappropriate), alcohol prices on-board are ridiculous but it's insanely easy to get around their "no outside alcohol" policy; anything that's not a glass bottle can just be stuffed into the bottom your checked luggage and will get through 99% of the time. Even if they do confiscate it, they hold onto it and give it back to you on the last night of the cruise, so it's not lost forever. Similarly, security is supposed to confiscate alcohol purchased in duty-free stores in port as you return to the ship and hold onto it for you until the last night, but my wife and I have often just been waved right on through while openly holding bottles of this and that. It's a company policy, not legal thing, and a lot of their security workers just don't care.

WYPanther
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Re: Cheap Carnival Cruises

Post by WYPanther » Fri Aug 01, 2014 11:08 am

Awesome information guys. All the advice is appreciate as we're obviously trying to find out as much about this as possible. It's an easy way to have a good time for a couple days that seems reasonably priced.

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Watty
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Re: Cheap Carnival Cruises

Post by Watty » Fri Aug 01, 2014 2:50 pm

Getting the right cruise is pretty important since you could end up on one that is 90% families on spring break, younger couples, or retired people.

Be sure to check on the current passport requirements since you may need one.

Be sure to budget for things like parking, alcohol, and the tips that are automatically added to your bill. These can really add up.

My understanding is that the people that take care of your room pretty much only get paid the tips so if you opt to cut that out of your bill for no good reason that is coming from some third world worker which is pretty harsh.

When it gets closer check this web site for discounted cruises if you have not already found an inexpensive one. I have bought one there.

http://www.vacationstogo.com/

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Tozmo
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Re: Cheap Carnival Cruises

Post by Tozmo » Fri Aug 01, 2014 4:31 pm

letsgobobby wrote:We went on a Carnival Cruise last year, one week. It was fine. We had realistic expectations going in. Don't expect gourmet food. Expect a clean ship, relaxed atmosphere, not a ton of upselling. The only true drawback is there were hardly any food options late at night. It seems it was pizza, or nothing, if I recall correctly.
We went in 2011 on the western Caribbean route, and agree with the above. The midnight buffet was lesser than royal Caribbean. Burgers, pizza, ice cream I think. Not amazing desserts that I remember from RC.
However, the coconut milk soup that they offer at dinner for one of the nights (it won an award) is great.
And if you have never done a cruise before, you really can ask for everything on the menu if you absolutely want it.
We didn't do any of the upselling restaurants, just because, but we overheard good things. Try to get a balcony if you can afford it.

spectec
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Re: Cheap Carnival Cruises

Post by spectec » Fri Aug 01, 2014 6:46 pm

If you find you need to get a passport, spring for the extra $30 fee and get the passport card in addition to the passport itself. It is about the size of a credit card and made of durable plastic, so you can carry it instead of your passport for travel in the Caribbean. It's handy to carry with you since getting it wet on an excursion won't affect it. You still need to take your passport along because you'd need it if you had an emergency and had to fly back from out of the country. (passport card can't be used for air travel). Just keep the passport tucked away in a safe place and never take it out. All in all, it's a handy thing to have along and you'll never be a person without a country when in a foreign land.

Regarding the advice to book your own excursions, be aware of one risk. If an unapproved excursion operator doesn't get you back to the ship on time, you're on your own. The ship can leave without you and it's up to you to get yourself to the next port of call or back home. I've never seen that happen, but have heard about it actually happening. There's quite a bit of discussion on Cruise Critic about this if you care to research it. Sure would be embarrassing to have to fly back home at your own expense while your personal belongings and maybe your backup cash enjoy the rest of the cruise without you, all because the tour bus had a flat tire (even though you saved $30 for the cheap excursion.)
Don't gamble; take all your savings and buy some good stock and hold it till it goes up, then sell it. If it don't go up, don't buy it. - Will Rogers

letsgobobby
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Re: Cheap Carnival Cruises

Post by letsgobobby » Fri Aug 01, 2014 7:19 pm

We've been on 3 cruises and not had a bad time yet. I was a cruise skeptic before my first. I'm a hiker! Explorer! Active traveler! Not a tourist! But lo and behold, they're d*** relaxing. And the 'hordes' of people don't bother me because I can always just push my chair out on the balcony, read a book, and watch the sun drop into the ocean. And there are lots of little nooks and crannies on a big ship to seclude yourself.

We don't do a ton of excursions. The last cruise we did none. We just got off at each location, and walked or took a cab around town, went to the beach, etc. What I'm saying is you can get a budget price on a cruise, not allow them to upsell you anything, and still have a great time.

We've cruised with and without cruises. Different cruise lines, lengths, itineraries. Like I said, not a bad time yet. Going with friends is extra fun and as a college student you'll have a lot of fun. Don't do anything stupid; people fall off cruise ships when they're drunk.

You can bring a little of your own alcohol on Carnival. Much cheaper than buying on board.

We did pay once for the fancy steak restaurant. It was better than we anticipated. Not a Ruth Chris; but about as good as Morton (IMO). Not bad for $30.

jbreittling
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Re: Cheap Carnival Cruises

Post by jbreittling » Fri Aug 01, 2014 7:42 pm

I would encourage reading this article as you make your plans. It seems as though passenger rights are non-existent on cruises.
http://www.myfoxdfw.com/story/26097750/ ... -to-senate

tibbitts
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Re: Cheap Carnival Cruises

Post by tibbitts » Fri Aug 01, 2014 9:49 pm

jbreittling wrote:I would encourage reading this article as you make your plans. It seems as though passenger rights are non-existent on cruises.
http://www.myfoxdfw.com/story/26097750/ ... -to-senate
While I'm sure terrible things have happened on cruises, you have to consider probabilities, and I'm not sure that cruises are statistically dangerous vs. other types of travel. You also have the risk of "non-existent" rights, at least relative to what you might expect, at many travel destinations.

rj49
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Re: Cheap Carnival Cruises

Post by rj49 » Fri Aug 01, 2014 10:35 pm

If you want a short cruise in a sunny area, you might look at the ones out of LA to Baja California. They have ones as quick as 3 days, with a stop in Ensenada and Catalina Island. Prices are very cheap. You can get a longer cruise that goes to Cabo as well. There don't seem many cruise lines going to Baja Mexico now, so it wouldn't be as overcrowded with ships as Caribbean/Bermuda destinations. Travelocity usually has a lot of comps like free gratuities or cash back and their site is pretty easy to work with to find cruises (such as by price per night).

MattE
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Re: Cheap Carnival Cruises

Post by MattE » Fri Aug 01, 2014 11:43 pm

spectec wrote: Regarding the advice to book your own excursions, be aware of one risk. If an unapproved excursion operator doesn't get you back to the ship on time, you're on your own. The ship can leave without you and it's up to you to get yourself to the next port of call or back home. I've never seen that happen, but have heard about it actually happening. There's quite a bit of discussion on Cruise Critic about this if you care to research it. Sure would be embarrassing to have to fly back home at your own expense while your personal belongings and maybe your backup cash enjoy the rest of the cruise without you, all because the tour bus had a flat tire (even though you saved $30 for the cheap excursion.)
I maintain that this is a very minimal threat as long as you don't book a tour that's scheduled to get you back to the boat at the last second. A large portion of private operators guarantee they'll get you back to the boat on time because it would basically be the end of their business as soon as they don't get one person back. There's a ton of topics on Cruise Critic about "Anyone ever missed the boat?" and almost everyone is "I've heard..." or "I've seen..." and virtually everyone still books their own tours. A lot of the time when someone gets left behind, it's not even due to a tour; they're simply shopping or drinking and lose track of the time or mix up local and ship's time (easy and terrible mistake). Look at it this way: On a 4-stop cruise, a couple may save $100-$300 booking excursions independently depending on what they're doing. Assuming you plan on doing more cruises in the future, if you got left behind 1 out of every 10 times (which probably overestimates the percent chance of it happening to a given passenger by two orders of magnitude), you'd still break even on the cost of the vacation that was ruined.

http://www.cruisecritic.com/articles.cfm?ID=254 I think this link gives some pretty good high-level rules for when you should book through the boat. Outside of those situations, I personally would never bother if I have the option.
rj49 wrote:If you want a short cruise in a sunny area, you might look at the ones out of LA to Baja California. They have ones as quick as 3 days, with a stop in Ensenada and Catalina Island. Prices are very cheap. You can get a longer cruise that goes to Cabo as well. There don't seem many cruise lines going to Baja Mexico now, so it wouldn't be as overcrowded with ships as Caribbean/Bermuda destinations. Travelocity usually has a lot of comps like free gratuities or cash back and their site is pretty easy to work with to find cruises (such as by price per night).
Airfare's an issue for that leaving out of Pittsburgh; the difference in flight costs between there and Florida would practically pay for another cruise.

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tadamsmar
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Re: Cheap Carnival Cruises

Post by tadamsmar » Sat Aug 02, 2014 5:57 am

This a good funny article on cruise ships, a classic:

http://harpers.org/wp-content/uploads/2 ... 007859.pdf

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mike143
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Re: Cheap Carnival Cruises

Post by mike143 » Sat Aug 02, 2014 9:43 pm

I use this site to search and then buy directly through the cruise company.

We live in Central Florida and have done Carnival out of Miami that goes to Key West and Cozumel three times now.

Check out Ports of Call on cruisecritic.com for things to do. We did the pub crawl in Key West and visited Mayan ruins in Cozumel, both through the cruise company. Both were enjoyable, the Mayan ruins required a lot of travel time, which was tiring.
Nothing is free, someone pays...You can't spend your way to financial freedom.

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wshang
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Re: Cheap Carnival Cruises

Post by wshang » Sat Aug 02, 2014 10:16 pm

This just might be a time to break the BH rule on buying individual stock. If you purchase 100 shares of Carnival Cruise (CCL) or Royal Caribbean (RCL) can receive up to $250 in onboard credits. We bought our two weeks prior to departure, it entitles you to these credits each time thereafter. Carnival Corporation owns all these lines:

Carnival Cruise
Princess Cruises
Holland America
Costa
Windstar
Seabourn
Cunard Line

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mike143
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Re: Cheap Carnival Cruises

Post by mike143 » Sun Aug 03, 2014 7:00 am

wshang wrote:This just might be a time to break the BH rule on buying individual stock. If you purchase 100 shares of Carnival Cruise (CCL) or Royal Caribbean (RCL) can receive up to $250 in onboard credits. We bought our two weeks prior to departure, it entitles you to these credits each time thereafter. Carnival Corporation owns all these lines:

Carnival Cruise
Princess Cruises
Holland America
Costa
Windstar
Seabourn
Cunard Line
Interesting: cruisecompete.com: Cruise Shareholder Benefits
Instructions


Carnival Corporation (CCL) $36.44
Royal Caribbean (RCL) $59.47

Carnival Info: http://media.corporate-ir.net/media_fil ... areben.pdf
Royal Caribbean: http://www.rclinvestor.com/phoenix.zhtm ... derbenefit

Only $50 credit for short cruises.
Nothing is free, someone pays...You can't spend your way to financial freedom.

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Jazztonight
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Re: Cheap Carnival Cruises

Post by Jazztonight » Sun Aug 03, 2014 3:01 pm

wshang wrote:This just might be a time to break the BH rule on buying individual stock. If you purchase 100 shares of Carnival Cruise (CCL) or Royal Caribbean (RCL) can receive up to $250 in onboard credits. We bought our two weeks prior to departure, it entitles you to these credits each time thereafter. Carnival Corporation owns all these lines:

Carnival Cruise
Princess Cruises
Holland America
Costa
Windstar
Seabourn
Cunard Line
Thanks for mentioning this. I too sprang for the 100 shares of Carnival because my wife and I like to go on Princess cruise lines.
Here's the link to the deal:
http://phx.corporate-ir.net/External.Fi ... lwZT0z&t=1
However, this won't be appropriate, probably, for the OP.
"What does not destroy me, makes me stronger." Nietzsche

Mick
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Re: Cheap Carnival Cruises

Post by Mick » Mon Aug 04, 2014 1:23 pm

NCL also offers the stock benefit but does not allow it to be combined with any other discount. We had a 7, 5, and 14 day cruise with them so I bought the 100 shares. They only gave me a credit for one. On the other two they did give us free dinners at Cagneys and a bottle of wine for each of the other two cruises.

Add that to the 2.5% the stock has gone up since I bought it last month and that is a nice return. Guess I can sell it now, lol.

OP, watch out one thing for spring break cruises. You might see a package for unlimited drinks. These normally have blackout dates that coincide with spring break times.

MSchleicher
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Re: Cheap Carnival Cruises

Post by MSchleicher » Mon Aug 04, 2014 4:00 pm

I noticed that this offer is only valid for cruises booked before February 28, 2015. Do the cruise lines tend to extend this offer as time passes?

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