I went on a cruise to Mexico a few weeks ago and thought I would share with you what I personally learned from the trip! I read lots of different articles and posts about cruises. However there were a few things I didn’t read/find that I would like to share with you. I can’t tell you how long I tried figuring out how tipping worked on the ship, or shore excursions, or how drink cards worked. Well, I finally figured it out and would like to share it with you so you know for your cruise!
Purchase your shore excursions with the cruise! My cruise was with Carnival, I thought since we were going to Mexico it would be cheaper to purchase tickets from the business itself instead of the cruise. However, there are lots of benefits if you purchase your shore excursions with the cruise. Carnival also offered 110% back if you find it cheaper. This way if it is cheaper you will actually make money and you will still get all the benefits with the cruise. You can find a list of the benefits here.
Once you get off the ship there is usually a lot of tourist places where you can purchase souvenirs, these places will be the most expensive. If you wait until you get further away from the port it will most likely be cheaper. For instance, I found this super cool Mayan blanket I loved. However they wanted $80 for it. We talked them down to $50 but that was the cheapest they would go. I waited until we were away from the port and I purchased a very similar blanket for $20. Also they have lots of places that sell the same stuff. We went into all the shops and found who had it the cheapest before we purchased anything, plus you don’t have to carry stuff around until you’re leaving, which was nice.
There was 4 people total in our balcony room. We were worried that one of us would need to sleep on the floor because there wouldn’t be enough room. However, everyone did get their own bed. We had 2 twin beds and a bunk bed in our room. So you don’t need to worry about sleeping arrangements, they will have space for everyone. Also, I was told that balcony rooms didn’t have furniture on them. Ours cabin had furniture. We had 2 chairs and a little table, perfect for sitting outside and enjoying the sun!
There is only 1 outlet in the room. I was also told you can’t bring a power strip. You may want to call and double-check to see if you can bring a power strip, this way it won’t get thrown away when you get there.
Tips are an automatic charge to your account after the cruise. Its a flat rate for each day. We paid $64 per person for a 5 day cruise ($13 a day). They split the tips between housekeeping and employees working at the restaurants. At first I was a little discourage because of this, thinking they wouldn’t do a good job because they would get a tip anyways. However they do let you remove the tips if you want, you just need to go talk to guest services and they will help you. I honestly think they deserved the tips, everyone working on the ship was extremely helpful and kind.
Our scheduled check-in time was 1:30PM. However we got to the port around 11AM. We were worried they wouldn’t let us in until then and we would need to hangout until our check-in time. All we did was ask and they didn’t have a problem with us checking-in early. We actually beat the rush. After we went through security we looked and everyone had showed up. We were able to board the boat early and get lunch. We need to wait until 1:30 to get into our rooms because they were still being cleaned.
Endless Drink Cards:
When booking your cruise they give you an option to purchase drink cards. They have a card for endless soda, and a card for endless alcohol. I didn’t purchase either card. I thought the only option I would have is water when I got on the ship. However they still had good drinks that didn’t cost anything. They had juices (apple and orange juice) for breakfast and lemonades and teas for the rest of the day. They also had coffee and hot chocolate.
If you want to purchase a drink card, lets say alcohol, EVERYONE in your cabin over 21 years old needs to purchase it. You also can’t purchase it for 1 day, you have to pay for the entire week for everyone over 21. I assume same goes for soda. Everyone has to purchase it for the entire week. So it can get pricey, so keep that in mind. We had 2 people in our cabin over 21 and for the entire week with endless alcohol would of costed $500.
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This was my favorite part of the cruise, food was included! You could eat as much as you wanted and not pay extra. They had buffets and sit down restaurants you could go to. My personal favorite was the restaurants, the food seemed more fresh and had better/fancier options! (Plus the desserts were amazing) I liked eating at the buffets for lunch, but for breakfast and dinner I personally preferred the restaurants.
We went on a cruise to Mexico and we went and got our passports before leaving, however, if you don’t have a passport and don’t want to purchase one or don’t have enough time to get one, you can bring your birth certificate instead! The cruise said they would rather you have a passport, but a birth certificate and drivers license would do.
There are events you can go to that will require you to dress nice. The ship offers one or more formal dinners, depending on how long your cruise is. Also, there are dance clubs that you can go to that people often dress nice for.
There is also a really nice gym on the ship, so if you want to burn off all the calories you’re going to be consuming, bring gym clothes and tennis shoes!
I hope the things I’ve learned help you as you’re planning your next cruise adventure. Please feel free to comment below with questions or comments!
Thanks for reading!