Whether you’re a first time cruiser, or just new to the ship Carnival Elation, some helpful tips from an experienced cruiser can make your vacation much more enjoyable. I’ve had nine cruises, all on Carnival, and six of those were out of Mobile, so I’ve learned some things about cruising that Carnival or other cruisers may forget to tell you about.
1) Arrive early. Yes, they say you should arrive after 12:30-1:00, but if you wait to drive to the port that late, you’ll be in a line of traffic that will seem to go on forever. Try to arrive no later than 10:00, and be sure to look up directions to the port on Carnival’s website. Traffic around the port in Mobile can be a nightmare, even with policemen out directing traffic. Be prepared to wait, especially if you plan to park at the terminal. A better choice is to stay at one of the local hotels that has a park and cruise package. With these you can leave your car in their parking lot or garage, and they take you to the terminal. These shuttles are waved through the traffic, and can get you to the door much more quickly.
2) Take a change of clothes in a carry on. Losing luggage is rare but entirely possible, as luggage is just placed in the hallway outside the rooms. I usually pack a large suitcase to check, and then take a backpack with my medicine, toothbrush and a change of clothes. The ship has a laundrymat so if you did end up with a lost suitcase, you would at least have one outfit to wear while you washed the other. Remove your hanging clothes from your luggage as soon as it arrives and steam them in the bathroom by running the shower to steam it up and then closing the bathroom door to keep the steam in. It’s helpful to bring your own hangers.
3) The temperature in your stateroom is adjustable. There is a vent with a knob on the ceiling. You can turn it up, down, or off. We overheard one lady in the dining room complaining that even with two blankets, she was freezing because her air conditioning was up too high all night. One of the staff explained to her that she could have turned it off, but because there is no thermostat on the wall, she didn’t realize she could.
4.) There are safes in the room that use your Sail and Sign card to lock and unlock (swipe). Keep your jewelry, passport, extra money, and all other valuables locked in your safe. On board, you will only need cash if you plan to go to the casino (and even then you can use your Sail and Sign card instead) and when you get off the ship at one of your destination ports for shopping or lunch.
5.) You can ask for extra food in the dining room. If you’re really torn between two entrees, you can ask for them both, and eat what you want of them. This is common and no one will think you are strange for doing it. You can also order several desserts to sample with your family at the table. Room service is available twenty-four hours a day for free, so if you want to eat in your room, you can always get a snack, sandwich, or dessert from room service. You can also order a continental breakfast or coffee to be delivered to your room each morning if you don’t want to eat on the Lido or in the dining room.
6.) Bring bottled water in your luggage, or bring a water bottle for each family member to fill each day on the Lido deck in the restaurant. Sodas, tea, coffee, juice are widely available, but water has to be bought if you prefer bottled. I drink a lot of soda, but just having water at dinner was not enough and I quickly learned to bring a water bottle to carry around.
7.) If you feel seasick, you can ask at the information desk for some meclazine (Antivert) and they will give it to you. You can also get aspirin and non-aspirin pain relievers. Bring over the counter medications that your family might need (and avoid having to see the ship’s doctor) like something for a cold, upset stomach, etc. I also always pack an antibiotic cream and a few bandaids.
8.) Hair dryers are not provided in the state rooms on the Elation. Be sure to bring yours. There is shampoo and liquid soap dispensers in each shower, but if you prefer your own brand of shampoo, be sure to bring it.
9.) There is only one outlet plug (a single, not a double) in the stateroom (and one in the bathroom) so if you, for instance, have to sleep with a fan and have someone else who sleeps with a c-pap machine, you will need a power strip.
10.) Pack light. You can exit the ship much easier (and beat the traffic out) if you carry off your luggage. You can do this with a backpack and one suitcase, but you can’t if you have multiple bags to manage. You will have to carry your suitcase up and down some stairs, so keep it at a manageable weight.
Following these tips will help you to enjoy your cruise. If you have other questions, please don’t hesitate to ask your room steward or the information desk. You will find Carnival employees are some of the nicest people in the travel industry and will be happy to assist you. So happy cruising!