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Best Time to Cruise The Caribbean By Month



If there’s one question we hear over and over, its this: When is the best time to cruise? And to be honest, it’s a tough one to answer because it can, in some ways, be subjective. Maybe you want to cruise when there will be the fewest children on board. Maybe you’re looking to go to Alaska, which has a limited season, and want the best weather possible. There are as many different factors as there are cruise options. But there are ways to get a general idea of what you’re going to pay during various times of the year.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be offering you month-by-month breakdowns on a typical cruise to some of the most popular destinations. I’ll also offer up some pros and cons to each time period. First up? Perhaps the destination most people think of when they think of cruising: the Caribbean.

cruise the caribbean

Keep in mind that when we get into details about pricing, I’m only talking generalities. For each month, I looked at Carnival’s fleet sailing out of Miami and tried to find the lowest price for an inside stateroom. I only looked at Carnival cruises in order to give us a starting point, as opposed to trying to aggregate a price point across numerous cruise lines. But as anybody who has ever booked a cruise knows, the price quoted today could be higher or lower than the one you got yesterday. But the prices mentioned below — which are per person, based on double occupancy — will give you a general idea of how things fluctuate from month to month. And of course, I always recommend that the minute you either find a cruise you’re interested in or actually book one, you set a price alert. (To find out how to set a price alert — not to mention exactly why you should — click here.)

So now… let’s talk about why you should (and, in some cases, probably shouldn’t) book a cruise in each of the 12 months of the year.

Save Money: Set a Cruise Price Drop Here


Whether or not you’re actually planning to sail in January, this is a great month to shop for a cruise. Why? Because it’s the kick-off of wave season, which means you can often find great deals. As for prices on January cruises, you can find some pretty good deals. For one thing, there tend to be fewer people sailing. Why? Because we’re just coming off Christmas and New Year’s, which are two times when a whole lot of families take advantage of the fact the kids are out of school. Now that the kids are back in class, ships might have berths to fill. And as we all know, the rule of supply and demand says that the more staterooms they have to fill, the better the odds of you getting a good deal. Now, it’s worth noting that it can be a tad chilly sailing out of Miami in Florida. (People in the north assume it’s 70 and sunny year round, but that’s not always the case!) Also, while the air temperatures in the Bahamas are great during winter months, the water temps can be chilly.

The best price I found: Carnival had a 7-night sailing for $419 per person.


Swimming with the Sting Rays in Grand Cayman.

As with mid-to-late January, this tends to be a very good time of year to sail as kids are back in school. There will, however, be competition for the best deals, as a whole lotta people want to get away from the winter blah’s. The holiday season is over, summer seems so far away… and there’s the Caribbean, beckoning with her white beaches and blue waters. Be warned that it’s tougher to find a good deal around President’s Day. Why? Say it with me: The kids are out of school.

The best price I found: Carnival had a 7-night sailing for $429 per person


Spring Break season means prices are going to go up. Even those 3- and 4- night sailings that were running around $169 just a few weeks ago are now going to jump up into the $300 price range. Spring Break can also mean a whole lotta college kids on sailings, so how you feel about a March cruise may depend on whether you think they’re a party waiting to happen or to be avoided at all costs. There are also going to be more families with kids because, as it turns out, college kids aren’t the only ones who get a spring break! As we discussed earlier, the rules of supply and demand are kicking in again. More people want to cruise, so the cruise lines are going to charge more.

The best price I found: Carnival had a 7-night sailing for $489 per person.


We’re definitely seeing the prices go up as spring hits. For one thing, many lines reposition ships this time of year, meaning there are fewer options. And fewer options means higher prices. Weather wise, we’re just outside the season for ideal temps (which typically runs from January to March), but all those days of warm weather mean the water temps are just about perfect. And of course, sailing out of Miami in April is usually pretty ideal as well. So… guess what? The prices are continuing to go up.

The best price I found: Carnival had a 7-night sailing for $549 per person.

Cruise the Caribbean in Grand Turk


If you want to sail during May, make your plans early. Better to book at a higher price-point and keep your eyes on that price alert I know you set than to wait. Because when May actually rolls around, a lot of people look for last-minute cruises. They might find something, but they won’t get a prime cabin (“We have something directly beneath the theater in which the River Dance Cloggers will be performing, sir… ” ). “The first week of May still offers reasonable pricing,” says Becky Smith from Becky’s Travel. “But with many colleges getting out around the second or third week in May, the prices for cruises start to increase as the month progresses.

The best price I found: Carnival had a 7-night sailing for $519 per person.

June and July

So you want to sail during the summer months, huh? Well, have at it… but you’re going to need to break out that wallet. When the summer cruise season hits, prices go up significantly. This is peak season and the cruise lines know it. For those who don’t want to take their kids out of school, this is their only shot at a family vacation. (There’s a reason that this is also the most popular/pricy time at Walt Disney World!) Fortunately, if you wind up on a kid-packed sailing for reasons beyond your control, almost every modern ship has an adults-only zone. Having spent more than a little time in the Carnival Sunshine’s Serenity over the years, I can tell you that those areas can make your cruise… and save your sanity!

The best price I found: Carnival had a 7-night sailing for $764 per person.


Slowly but surely, the education system begins sucking children and college students back in (although some won’t go back until early September, much to the chagrin of some parents!). Prices for mid-to-late August are going to be significantly lower than you’ll get at the beginning of the month. That said, it’s worth noting that we’re right in the heart of hurricane season and, if 2017 taught us anything, it’s that itineraries can change and whole voyages can be cancelled during particularly rough seasons. Translation: Always, always, always buy cruise insurance.

The best price I found: Carnival had a 7-night sailing for $549 per person.


Want a bargain? You’ll find one in September. But you’re a savvy enough shopper to know that where there’s a sale, there’s a sign reading “caveat emptor.” (If there’s one thing I learned watching the Brady Bunch rerun in which Greg buys a used car, it was “buyer beware!”) And in this case, it’s the same as we mentioned above: Hurricane season is in full effect. If you’re willing to roll the dice and take your chance with shifting itineraries and possibly less-than-idea weather, you’ll easily find a bargain. In fact, you’ll find some almost hard to believe ones!

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The best price I found: Carnival had a 7-night sailing for $299 per person.

cruise the caribbean


Prices on 7-day cruises out of Miami are going to be right around average this time of year. But if you want to get a real bargain — and have the time to devote to a 14-night-or-longer trip — check out some of the transatlantic voyages that typically take place this time of year. A lot of cruise lines who sent ships to Europe over the summer start bringing them home and generally speaking, when a ship is making a long, one-way voyage, the prices are awesome.

The best price I found: Carnival had a 7-night sailing for $449 per person.


November is an odd month. While it remains right about at the average sweet spot for the most part, Thanksgiving can go one of two ways: You’ll either pay a premium price to let someone else do the cooking for your family (not to mention clean up the mess afterwards), or you’ll find a great bargain. There seems to be no real rhyme nor reason to the disparity in prices. I suspect that a lot of families bypass a Thanksgiving cruise in favor of Christmas, which affords more days off from both work and school.

The best price I found: Carnival had a 7-night sailing for $439 per person.


Perhaps not surprisingly, December offers some of the highest and lowest price points. The lows will be found during the first two week’s of the month, while the highs will (shocker!) hit during the holidays. Everybody is off work and school, and people get awfully sentimental about the holidays and decide spending a week with their loved ones is a great idea. (How good an idea it really is may depend on how well your extended family gets along!) If you want to do a holiday cruise but not pay a premium price, see if you can convince everyone to take off the first or second week of December. The ships will be gorgeously decorated, but not nearly as crowded (or expensive) as they’ll be during the actual Christmas/New Year’s sailings.

The best price I found: Carnival had a 7-night sailing for $419 per person.

Final Thoughts

As you look at the prices above, you’re probably thinking, “There doesn’t seem to be a huge disparity between the highest and lowest prices listed.” But keep a few things in mind: First, I’m looking at the per person price. So if there’s a $150 difference between sailing in, say, early December and late December, that’s actually a $300 difference for a couple. Also, you can count on not only the price of the cruise being higher during premium periods, but the price of everything from shore excursions to plane fare. So what seems like a relatively minor difference to some can add up really quickly!

So… ready to start pricing your own trip? Start here and remember: Sometimes, you have to look beyond the price to other factors before making your final decision!

What’s the best price you ever got on a cruise? When and where did you go on that trip? 


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Everything You Need To Know About Carnival Horizon



With the highly-anticipated launch of the Carnival Horizon coming soon, cruisers are seeking out as much information as they can get… and we’re here to help. Whether you’re already booked or deciding if this is the right ship for you, read on for a look at the vessel’s restaurants, entertainment options and more!

Fast Facts

Her First Voyage: The Horizon will do several round-trip sailings out of Barcelona beginning on April 2, 2018, before setting sail May 9 on a 14-day transatlantic to New York City. 
Number Of Passengers: The ship will be able to carry 3,960 guests at double capacity.
Her Stats: While it’s never polite to ask a lady such things, Horizon will weigh in at 133,500 Gross Tons. She’ll be 1,062 feet long and 15 decks high.
Itineraries: Upon arriving in New York City, Horizon will spend the summer doing 4-day sailings to Bermuda and 8-day sailings to the Southern Caribbean. In September, the ship will relocate to Miami to do a variety of Caribbean-bound voyages.

Carnival Cruise Line

The Carnival Horizon is the second Vista-class ship, and will be followed by the Carnival Panorama in 2019. She’ll be a true sister-ship to Vista, featuring many of the same restaurants and features which proved popular on the first-in-her-class vessel, including the SkyRide and the wildly distinctive LED Dreamscapes featured in both the atrium and casino. (People who’ve never actually seen the Dreamscape funnels in person sometimes struggle to understand their appeal, but trust us: They are seriously cool. Need proof? Look at some of the cool images featured... and then imagine them moving!)

What’s New On The Horizon?

Given the popularity of Vista, it would have been easy for Carnival to simply crank out a twin sister. Instead, they’ll be introducing several new concepts, dining venues and a whole slew of new entertainment options. In a promotional video for the shows, Robb Wagner, media producer for Playlist Productions, explained that Carnival was upping their game by “introducing video game technology” and “using that technology to create immersive environments” designed to “make the audience feel more like they’re stepping into a world versus sitting down to watch a show.”

READ MORE: Full Details On Horizon’s New Shows

Among the new shows being rolled out, the one we’re perhaps most intrigued by is Soulbound, a New Orleans-set spectacle combining soulful songs with special effects which will take viewers to a variety of locations… including a haunted cemetery and apothecary. (Anybody else think that, given that last set, the Alchemy Bar will be the perfect place to have drinks before or after seeing Soulbound?) The other shows are Celestial Strings (which combines classical and pop music in a garden setting, complete with “aroma-infused” sets) and Vintage Pop (in which contemporary songs are given a classic jazz vibe with a little help from a 6-piece orchestra). In addition to these, Amor Cubano: A Caribbean Dance Romance —  which made its debut on the Carnival Vista — will be imported. Meanwhile, if there’s one big change many are hoping to see on Horizon, it’s better sightlines than can be found on Vista, where many of the theater’s seats have obstructed views.

Guy Fieri’s Newest Restaurant

On the food side, Carnival Horizon will offer a couple of concepts that are new-to-Carnival, including the latest offshoot of the line’s partnership with celebrity chef Guy Fieri. This time around, Fieri’s offering up Guy’s Pig & Anchor BBQ Smokehouse. And because it’s a crime in at least 4 states to eat things like smoked brisket or babyback ribs and not wash them down with a cold beer, the joint will also serve as a brewhouse offering up an exclusive line of Parched Pig beers. During the day, the restaurant will serve up free grub, while the more extensive dining menu will come with a fee. (And yes, the ship will also have a Guy’s Burger Joint, aka the perfect poolside grub… and yes, the Burgers will still be free.)

Another first-for-Carnival addition will be Bonsai Teppanyaki. The for-fee restaurant (which will be open for lunch on sea days and dinner every night) will offer a menu spotlighting authentic delicacies from the Far East. But as anyone who has ever experienced a Teppanyaki restaurant knows, half the fun is the show put on by the amazingly talented chefs. It’s also the perfect setting for group fun, as the chef’s work at custom-built stations at the center of an eight-seat table. Bonsai Teppanyaki will feature to such set-ups, but with seating limited, it’s definitely a venue one should plan to make reservations for.

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Rendering of Bonsai Teppanyaki by Carnival Cruise Line

Horizon will also feature an assortment of the venues which have proven popular on other ships, such as the  JiJi Asian Kitchen, Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse, Cucina Del Capitano. For all your grab-and-go needs there’s also the BlueIgunana Cantina (located near the midship Beach pool), as well as the Seafood Shack and Pizzaria del Capitano (both located by the aft-facing Tides pool). There is also, of course, the various options offered by the buffet. And if you happen to be hanging out in the adult’s-only Serenity area on sea days, you’ll be able to enjoy one of the healthiest options on board, the do-it-yourself salad bar. Finally, for what promises to be the best dining experience you’ll ever have at sea, sign up for the once-in-a-lifetime meal that is offered by the Chef’s Table.

Pick A Room, Any Room

Havana Cabana Suite – rendering: Carnival Cruise Line

As on the Vista, the Horizon will offer the widest variety of stateroom options ever featured on a Carnival ship. The Family Harbor staterooms and suites are perfect for both single and extended families, especially given that they include access to a special lounge featuring snacks, games and a comfy place for clans to hang out and maybe even make new friends. But the most popular rooms on the ship will surely be those located in the Havana area. Ranging from interiors to suites, these beautifully decorated rooms also come with exclusive daytime access to the Havana Bar & Pool (which isn’t open to other guests until after 7 p.m.). It’s important to note that all guests staying in the Havana area must be 12 years old and above.

The Cloud 9 Spa rooms are perfect for those looking to get their relaxation groove on. They grant passengers free access to the thermal spa, Elemis toiletries, bathrobes, slippers and more. One of the nice things about the Spa rooms is that they come in everything from an interior to a suite, making them affordable to a wide variety of budgets.

Important Things To Keep In Mind

Carnival Horizon

  • As the Carnival Horizon is a new ship, it could take a while for the kinks to be worked out. Those sailing on the first few voyages should — as with any new ship — keep that in mind. If you’re the type of person for whom a few bumps in the road can ruin an entire trip, it might be worth letting the ship and her crew settle in before taking them for a run.
  • When trying to decide what stateroom is right for you, be sure to consult the deck plans. Make sure you’re not located above a theater or below a bowling ally. Until the ship has been sailing for a while, actual reviews of various decks, let alone specific cabins, won’t be available… so using the deck plans will be your best bet!
  • One of the coolest sections of the ship, the Havana Bar & Pool, is off limits to guests who aren’t staying in the Havana section… until after 7 p.m. But be sure to visit, because it’s got spectacular views and is sure to be one of the hottest spots on the ship nightlife wise.
  • Be sure to check the Fun Times to see when restaurants which are only open limited hours are serving. There’s nothing worse than getting psyched up for a meal… only to find out the restaurant isn’t open!
  • The newest venues on the ship — such as Bonsai Teppanyaki — will also be the most popular. Once you’ve locked in your trip, consider making reservations so that you can enjoy the restaurants you consider Must-Do.

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27 Carnival Magic Cruise Tips



Perhaps the Carnival Magic is so wildly popular because it’s been around long enough to accrue a loyal following. Or maybe there’s just something special about the ship which keeps people coming back for more. Whatever the reason, the Magic is often cited by Carnival Cruise Line devotees as not only a favorite, but a ship that many have sailed time and again since first it was launched in 2011.

Certainly, there’s a lot to love. The Dream Class ships are, to many, an ideal size. Others love The Lanai, a half-mile promenade which wraps around an entire deck, something that’s increasingly rare these days. Whatever the reason, the Magic is as beloved as it is popular. Whether you’ve sailed her repeatedly or are considering booking the Magic for the first time, we thought we’d offer up some tips, thoughts and even a few secrets that will help make your trip on this amazing ship all the more special.

Carnival Magic

Photo by Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Lines

1. Book a Cove Balcony

If you like being close to the water, this type of stateroom — which was introduced on Dream Class ships — is ideal. Plus, you get all the benefits of a balcony at a lower cost. Their unique construction offers a lot of protection from the weather while also offering up a unique view, as the passing scenery seems almost framed by the surrounding bulkhead.

2. Get Your Morning Coffee Fix Even Before Breakfast 

Even if you want to have breakfast in the main dining room or lido deck area, consider ordering coffee from room service. After all… who really wants to face the day, let alone your fellow passengers, without caffeine? Best of all, breakfast room service is complimentary.

3. Get a Head Start on Formal Night

Consider leaving your cabin a few minutes earlier than normal on the formal night. Why? People are all dressed up with somewhere to go… and a whole lot of them want to get their pictures taken. Because there are various spots set up around the ship at which photographers are stationed, things can get a little congested as you make your way toward the Southern (aft) or Northern Lights (mid) dining rooms. (Plus, you might wanna get your picture snapped before dinner, too!)

4. Try Something Different For Lunch

It’s easy to hit the buffet come lunchtime, but there are a whole lot of options available… including Cucina Del Capitano. Yes, the restaurant is a for-fee spot at dinner time, but at lunchtime, they offer a variety of pasta dishes (and a decent Caesar salad), and it’s all complimentary.

5. Escape the Kids 

Located on the very top deck and at the very front of the ship is Serenity… aka a little slice of heaven. (And as it turns out, heaven comes with two hot tubs.) This adult’s only retreat is the perfect escape… and the further forward you go, the quieter the space you’ll be able to find. Get there early — especially on sea days — if you want a good seat. This is also a great place to relax in the evenings and catch the sunset.

6. Snack in the RedFrog

Food from the Red Frog Pub.

Everybody knows this favorite hangout offers a big selection of Caribbean rums and amazing beers, many don’t realize that it’s also a great place to grab some munchies like wings, sliders, conch salad, and grouper fingers. Yes, each snack will cost you $3.33 but they’re well worth it and the perfect thing to hold you over until dinner time (or to soak up some of those drinks)!

7. Eat Free BBQ

If you’re a BBQ fan, Deck 5 starboard (that’s the right side of the ship, for those who are nautically challenged) is the place you wanna head. That’s where you’ll find Guy’s Pig & Anchor BBQ… as well as a whole lot of people. This spot can get crowded, so it’s best to try and hit it as soon as it opens. (Check the Fun Times in order to figure out when that is.) My personal favorite? The smoked beef brisket, the chicken and the mouth-watering macaroni and cheese.

8. Check Lido Marketplace hours daily

Trust me when I say there’s nothing worse than coming back from an excursion, dawdling in your room for a while… and then finding out the Lido Deck Marketplace — where you’d planned to grab a bite — is closed. Make sure you know when they’re open and when they’re not… although truth be told, as on any cruise ship, you’re never going to go hungry. There’s always going to be something available… including room service.

9. Take Time to Walk The Decks

Carnival Magic

On many modern ships, it’s tough (if not impossible) to actually walk the entire circumference of a deck without encountering a road block of some sort. But on the Magic, deck five allows you to stroll to your heart’s content, completely unencumbered.

10. Be Careful Where You Book

This holds true for any ship but it’s worth remembering: Always check the deck plans carefully (and talk to your travel agent) before booking. Nobody wants to be directly above or below a nightclub but let’s face it… someone’s going to wind up there. Smart cruisers know that not every stateroom — even within the same classification — is the same. By taking the time to do a little research, you can make sure you’re exactly where you want to be.

11. Bypass The Casino To Avoid The Smoke

The casino can be pretty smoky, but it also happens to be smack-dab in the middle of deck five. But you can bypass it by taking deck four below or walking the hallways on deck six above it. There is a staircase just aft of the casino that will put you in the middle of the promenade so you can avoid it all together. You will just have to walk a flight of stairs to get there.

See Carnival Magic Deck Plans

12. Get Your Food On ASAP

Carnival Magic

Pig and Anchor BBQ.

If you’re like me, there’s probably some food item on board that you’ve been looking forward to pretty much since the day you booked the cruise. In my case, it’s something from Guy’s Burger Joint. If so, head there as soon as you get on board. While everyone else is still trying to figure out where things are (or stopping in the atrium for a vacation-starting drink), you’ll be able to enjoy your must-have treat without waiting in line. Plus, what better way to kick things off than with something you’ve been looking forward to for so long?

13. Take Advantage Of The Spa Showers

One of the benefits of visiting the spa is the shower. The stalls are bigger than your stateroom’s shower, and the towels are nicer, too. Fun fact: While most people work out before hitting the showers, nobody says you have to. Live it up!

14. Know Which Hot Tubs To Hit

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Carnival Magic has a whole lot of hot tubs… the secret is avoiding ones that are going to be overcrowded or have kids in them. Obviously, the hot tubs in the Serenity area are great for avoiding kids, given that that’s the adult’s only area. But there are also four hot tubs on deck five — two on either side of the ship — which are rarely crowded. In fact, it’s usually pretty easy to find one there that’s completely empty!

15. Bring a Sweater To The Shows

For some reason, the air can be pretty chilly in places like the theater and the comedy club. Better to have a sweater that you don’t need than to get there and find yourself shivering through the whole show!

16. Hit Ocean Plaza for Breakfast 

Carnival Magic

If you don’t want to fight the crowds in the Lido Marketplace at breakfast time — but also don’t feel like doing a whole sit-down meal thing — swing by Ocean Plaza. Right next to the coffee bar, you’ll find a great continental breakfast spread. It’s perfect for folks who want a little nosh to tide them over until their next meal.

17. Buy the Spa Pass, Pronto

If you’re thinking about getting a spa pass, purchase it before you set sail. They only sell a certain number, and they can sell out quickly, as the thermal spa is pretty popular. This is a situation where you need to commit early or risk missing out.

18. Make Sure To See The Shows

Carnival Magic

Carnival is once again moving towards using live musicians in their Playlist Production shows, and it makes a big difference. The shows offered on my recent seven-night sailing were Flick, Country Road, America Rocks, 88 Keys, and Lip Sync Battle.

19. Get to the Shows Early 

Both the production and comedy shows fill up fast, so it’s best to get there as soon as the doors open. There is usually a pre-show presentation in the main theater that starts 30 minutes before the show, and the comedy lounge opens its doors about 30 minutes in advance.

20. Download the Hub App

The Hub App will become your best friend over the course of the cruise, so download it before you even arrive at the port. The app will give you access to your photos, let you monitor your onboard spending, allow you to set up alerts so you don’t miss activities you want to take part in, look at menus and more. Once you’re on the ship, the app is free to use. (Just make sure your phone is set to airplane mode so that it doesn’t try to connect to the ship’s cellular network!)

Read More: 11 Reasons to Download the Hub App

21. Strike A Pose… Or Lots of Them

Every time you see a photographer, jump in front of that camera and let them snap your picture! There’s no charge, and who knows? They might wind up snapping a picture that you love so much you just have to purchase it! Plus, now that the Magic has switched to a digital system, you don’t have to worry that they’re wasting a lot of paper printing out photos you’re not going to purchase. And it’s crazy convenient to look at your portfolio either in the Pixels gallery or via the Hub app or even on the interactive television in your stateroom!

22. Enjoy The Silence 

If you’re looking for a place to chillax away from the hustle and bustle, then head to the front of the ship on decks five, six or seven. There are three levels that are easily accessible from the promenade on deck five from the port or starboard side. If you’re on deck six or seven, walk all the way forward and the doors will lead you outside. You may think it’s a crew door but it’s actually accessible to guests and will lead you to a spot most folks never even know exists.

23. Buy The Internet Package In Advance

If you plan on staying connected while you cruise — and let’s face it, these days, who doesn’t? — make sure to purchase the internet plan before you get on the ship. Heading to the My Cruise Manager section of the Carnival website and buying the plan in advance will save you a few bucks. For example, the Social Plan is $5 per device per day onboard, but it’ll only cost you $4 per device per day if you purchase the package ahead of time.

24. Buy CHEERS! package ahead of time

Carnival Magic

The Alchemy Bar has the cure for what ails you.

Like with the Internet package, buying the  CHEERS! beverage package in advance offers a pretty significant savings. Pick it up before you sail for $51.95 per person per day. Wait until you’re on board to buy the exact same package, and it’s going to run you $56.95 per person per day.

Read More: Pros and Cons of Carnival’s CHEERS! Package

25. Keep Your Brain Sharp

Sure, you’re here to relax and veg out. But if you want to give your brain a daily challenge, head to the coffee shop to pick up the daily puzzles.

26. Enjoy A Free Glass Of Wine With Your Steak

Carnival Magic

Many people don’t realize this, but on every Carnival ship, if you make a reservation in the steakhouse for the first night of the cruise, you will get a complimentary bottle of wine with your meal. They pick the red or white wine you’re offered, or you can get a percentage off a bottle of your choice.

27. Be Quick to Snap Up Faster To The Fun

On a ship like Carnival Magic that holds around 4,000 guests, Faster to the Fun sells out quickly, usually months ahead of the sailing. If you don’t have priority status with the cruise line, consider using this to get on the ship quicker. For a seven-night cruise, it costs $69.95 per cabin, not per person. Some of the perks include priority boarding, express luggage service and a dedicated guest services line.

Read More: 9 Reasons to Buy Faster to the Fun

All prices and information quoted were accurate as of March 2018, but are subject to change without notice. 
What tips do you have for Carnival Magic? 
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Guide to Bringing Beverages on a Cruise Ship



There are a lot of questions out there surrounding what guests can and can’t bring onboard a cruise ship in regards to drinks. So, we’ve broken things down for the ultimate cruise beverage guide.

What you can bring onboard on embarkation day:

Photo by Christopher Ison.

Carnival Cruise Line: Carnival has one of the loosest beverage policies of all cruise lines, allowing each guest to carry on a maximum of 12 sealed 12 oz cans or cartons of a non-alcoholic beverage (e.g., sodas, juices, milk, or sparkling water) – a policy that most cruise lines have eliminated. Also, each adult (21+) guest may carry on one 750 mL bottle of wine or champagne. A $15 corkage fee will apply at bars, dining rooms, and specialty restaurants.

Royal Caribbean: For Royal Caribbean, no beer, liquor, or non-alcoholic beverages are allowed to be brought onboard. However, a limit of two 750 mL bottles of wine or champagne per stateroom can be carried on. A $15 corkage fee may apply.

Norwegian Cruise Line: Norwegian also prohibits its guests from bringing any beverages onboard, with the exception of carrying on bottles of wine or champagne as well as factory-sealed purified or distilled water for medical devices or infant formula. Norwegian charges a $15 corkage fee for 750 mL bottles and $30 for a 1,500 mL Magnum bottle.

Disney Cruise Line: Disney is unique in that it allows each adult guest to bring two 750 mL bottles of wine or champagne or a six-pack of 12 oz beers onboard. A $25 corkage fee applies. While Disney’s website does not clarify its policy about bringing onboard items like soda, soda is available free of charge at select locations onboard as well as in the dining rooms.

MSC Cruises: While MSC’s website is unclear regarding its policies, from what we can gather MSC seems to have the strictest policy of all. No beverage of any kind – not even a bottle of wine or champagne – can be brought onboard. Exceptions are only made for medically necessary reasons, such as distilled water needed for medical devices or infant formula.

Holland America Line: Like many lines, Holland America allows the carry-on of 750 mL bottles of wine or champagne by adult guests. However, uniquely, the first bottle will not be subject to a corkage fee. Any additional bottles after the first, though, will incur an $18 corkage fee. This is per guest, not per stateroom. Other alcohol is not permitted to be brought onboard.

Princess Cruises: Princess allows one 750 mL bottle of wine or champagne per adult guest. If consumed in your stateroom, there’s no fee. However, if you want to enjoy it at dinner or in a restaurant, there’s a $15 corkage fee.

Celebrity Cruises: Celebrity allows up to two 750 mL bottles of wine per stateroom to be carried on. These are subject to a corkage fee, the amount of which is not specified on Celebrity’s website.

Distilled Water

Almost every cruise line also allow distilled water to be brought onboard (in your carry-on only) for those with medical needs such as use of a CPAP machine or for baby formula. Regardless, it’s best to inform the cruise line or your travel agent beforehand that you’ll be bringing this item.


Most cruise lines will allow carry-on of a small, personal-sized cooler – no bigger than 12x12x12 inches in size – for packing of special needs items such as medicine, breast milk, etc. Again, it’s best to inform the cruise line in advance if you plan to bring this.

What’s Available Onboard

Cruise ships offer water, lemonade, tea, coffee, and juices free of charge. Bottled water, sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks, specialty coffees and hot teas, coconut water, as well as items such as milkshakes and smoothies are an extra charge – except soda on Disney which is included. Alcoholic drinks are also extra, in case there was any doubt. However, most cruise lines sell all-inclusive beverage packages (or offer them as free incentives) for those interested.

Purchasing Alcohol in Port

Cruisers love to purchase liquors and goodies in ports of call because they are often duty-free. However, keep in mind that you have to turn in any alcohol purchases to the ship until the end of your cruise. The ship will hold onto your alcohol for you – usually until the morning of disembarkation or the night before. Then you can retrieve it before debarkation. (Just don’t forget about it!)

Purchasing Alcohol at the Ship’s Gift Shop

Onboard: If you wander into the ship’s duty-free liquor store and find yourself at the checkout counter with some booze, expect the same policies as if you were purchasing alcohol in port. Your alcohol will be held for you until the end of your cruise, at which point you can collect it.

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Online: If you pre-order your alcohol online before your cruise for delivery to your room, that alcohol must be consumed on the cruise. Any pre-ordered liquor must be (responsibly) enjoyed inside the stateroom. Bottles of wine or champagne ordered this way have a little more flexibility, as you can take those to the dining room or steakhouse and the waiters will serve it to you while you eat. Otherwise, the same in-stateroom rule applies.

Special Requests

If you desire to bring your own products onboard due to a food allergy or dietary restriction, you’ll need to contact the cruise line directly, or have your travel agent do this for you. Some cruise lines may allow it with advanced notice, while other cruise lines may prefer that you notify them and they will stock the ship with what you need instead. Remember, cruise lines are always happy to accommodate special dietary needs for each and every cruiser with advanced notice.


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