A friend of mine just took this cruise and said that it was great. Of course, part of the "great" was that they live right here in Jacksonville so they didn't have to drive to the port. The website for the cruiseline should be able to give you some info about parking and the ship.
Here are my cruise tips:
1. Take Ziploc bags - food is available 24/7, so you can pack yourself snacks to take when you go on the islands.
2. Tip your room steward at the beginning of the trip, rather than at the end when most people do. This gives them some spending money themselves, and you will get the best service of anyone that they're responsible for! They will also tend to work with you in letting you stay in your room a little longer when the cruise is over - just aske them if they'll do your room last (unless you want to be first off the ship, and they can pull some strings and get you the ticket to be first off, too!)
3. Take a plug in room freshener. Sometimes the cabins smell a little musty and there should be an extra plug behind the TV. The TV usually pulls out on a shelf so that you can get to the extra plug.
Have a great time!
We've cruised on Carnival out of both Jax and Port Canaveral. Both are great ports compared to a Miami or Houston. Parking was about $50 at each for 4 days.
Nassau is great once or twice. Take a native tour (rather than one booked on the ship) to explore the island and be sure to see Atlantis (you can go there and see the aquarium without having to pay an admission charge). Carnival automatically tips your stewards, so unless you are going to go over the $10 a day per person cruising, you relly don't tip them at all.
Thanks for the great advice. I can always count on my trip advisor friends!
Wanda is right...Carnival does automatically add the tip to the bill, but we still tip at the beginning and then ask them to take the tip off which they are required to do. You may want to check with guest services when you board to make sure and tell them you'd like to tip at the beginning.
Here's another tip and it's funny, too. When you go to the Straw Market, or all of the places where they sell the tourist junk, they're very aggressive. Just speak to them in a language that you make up yourself and they'll leave you alone because they can't understand you! I guess that's a bad thing to do, but we wouldn't have to do it if the vendors wouldn't be so pushy!!!! You'll find yourself laughing yourself silly over your original language :)
One more thing....unless there's an excursion that you can't live without - don't book it on the ship. When you're on the island, you can find the same excursions much cheaper. Here's an example:
A few years ago we went to Ocho Rios Jamaica where they have Dunn's River Falls. We really wanted to do this because as a child we would go to Disney World, go into "If You Had Wings" attraction and one thing you would see would be a bunch of people climbing on a waterfall. That's Dunn's River Falls and it had always fascinated me. So when I found out we could do it, we booked it. It was about $60. When we got there, we found out that we could have taken a taxi for about $6 and the charge to do the falls with a guide was $10. Too bad we didn't know that beforehand!!!!!
Typically, too, you can board early. If it says you board at 2pm, they'll probably let you on about 11am. And when you get on the ship, you can start taking advantage of the buffets!
Each evening, go and find the photos they've taken and put them in one place. That way at the end of your trip, all of your photos are together and you can look through them to see what you want without having to search through thousands of photos.
We also take mini-binoculars. Of course, regular ones are fine, too. Sometimes it helps to see all kinds of things...dolphins, etc.
Oh, and take bathroom spray, too. I don't have to tell you why. The cabins are small. I also take a small candle just to make the room smell nice. You may also want to buy a disposable underwater camera before you leave (they're outrageously expensive there but pretty cheap here). They work really well. And my last suggestion - take safety pins. I don't know what you'll use them for, but trust me, you will! And I never leave home without my Tide Stain Stick!!!
If for some reason they put you at a dinner or breakfast hour you don't want (even though you've requested the other), you can go to the restaurant when you board and have it changed.
Just returned from Celebration December 30 cruise
Even with tipping, staff seems not to care about their work
No friendly smiles or willingness to help the passengers
The idea of automatically adding on the tip seems to have eliminated the quality of service on the Carnival Cruises.
Staff is eating off buffet lines, pushing ahead of paying customers
Staff is often seen in groups talking among themselves in their own language, not clearing tables, just being LAZY
I almost got run over by a staff member cutting in to the boarding line in Nassau. Even the police security guard said she should apologize.
In her broken French accent, she mumbled, sorry.
Yes, she was, as was the majority of the crew
Wow! That's terrible that you had such a bad time. I've never had a problem with Carnival, although I've never been on that particular ship out of Jacksonville.
I hope our original poster had better luck!
We have always really enjoyed our cruises on Royal Caribbean, although it may not be as convenient to the port for you.
Thanks for your report.
Went on this cruise Dec.25-30/06. Had a great time, although the food was only OK, not great and the weather was a bit cool and cloudy. The staff, for the most part, were fine. The Pursers Office staff were very glum whenever I saw them. The people who work in the Buffet area seemed bored, but I would be too! It's VERY NOISY in all the Restaurants -- old ship, and low ceilings. The ship, although aging, is kept in tremendous shape. The staterooms are small, but adequate. They give you a very nice package of samples in the bathroom at the beginning. Bring a few extra hangers--there's lots of room for them. Our room steward was the best staff member we came across! I went to the Spa for a couple of treatments. Frankly, they spent more time trying to sell me their products than talking to me about anything else. The treatments went on sale at the end part of the cruise, so I was a bit annoyed that I had booked and gone early. The Spa itself is extremely tiny and the change room/waiting area was a mess when I was in there. There is no receptionist, so I guess the Spa workers need to clean up after themselves and their customers. Since this was Christmas Week, there were alot of families aboard. I never heard how many people in total were aboard, (it was completely full) however they did announce there were 550 children! This likely was part of the noise! I was nearly knocked over by running kids a couple of times; some kids were jumping on the furniture in the lounge, etc. Parents need to think about how much they really need to bring little kids along, and if they do bring kids, they need to think about keeping them under control. Many kids were well behaved, I hasten to add. The ports of Key West and Nassau are ho-hum, but at least the ship is able to dock in a great location in each case. The weather was not condusive to water-sports at all. Be aware that Nassau completely closes up by 6pm, and the ship stays in port until 10pm -- so unless you go to Atlantis or Senor Frog, there is very little to do after 6pm. We met many people and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. A Cruise is only what you make of it. We could not handle the 'Celebration Singers and Dancers' -- too many off-notes and missed steps, however, we found the band 'Blackjack' playing in a lounge and loved them! The comedians were pretty good too -- the Midnight shows were the best, although we had to force ourselves to stay up that late, as we are early risers. The prices at Christmas time and over New Years are very high compared to what the same cruise costs at other times. Parking at Jax was $12.00 per day. The Cruise Terminal staff were awesome!
My wife and I took the Celebration from Jax last year and had a blast. I know that the cruise lines tip the staff for you but what worked for us was a daily tip left on the table. The young lady did not touch it the first day. I found it exactly where I left it. I explained to her that what ever I left on the table was hers (unless i had forgotten my wallet). From that day on she constantly checked in on us and also left things for us at night when we tucked in, iced down cokes cookies etc... It was well worth it. I also suggest that any of you ladies schedule a pedicure at the salon, I scheduled one for my wife and the ladies there were a pleasure to be around. They had stories about where they were from, they shared curise tips and told us of things that we should check out in Nassau. They told us to go the city behind the market, get on a city bus for the grand total of 2 bucks a piece and travel to one of the city beaches. No hassels no big fares, just relaxing on the beach with items they told us to take from the ship, bottled water, snacks and towels. We enjoyed the way we were treated and my wife won't quit talking about the pedicure. I am now a God in her eyes. I hope this year they still have the salon open!
I am taking the cruise in June with my grandson. I elected not to pay the via the cruise line. My question is, how much do I tip the room steward each day (or at the beginning of the trip) for a 5 night cruise? Also, how much do I tip the waiters at meals? Do I tip after each meal? The last cruise I took was 25 years ago, and things were different, more formal, back then.