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Old 07-09-2009, 12:16 PM
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Our family and my father's family decided to book our very first cruise. Now comes the worst part... the waiting!

Our family consists of myself, DH and our 8 year old DD. My father's family includes himself, his DW and their DS & DD (both 9)

Leaving out of Virginia and driving up to Baltimore, our departure date on the Carnival Pride is slated for Easter Sunday 2010. With two different school systems, it was the only time our kids both had a holiday (Spring Break) together.

Both of our families decided on the standard balcony staterooms in the 8B category on the 4th deck.

Our itinerary is: 2 days at sea, 1 day at Port Canaveral (which sounds boring - I just did Disney last summer and I'm still OD'ed on it), 1 day at Nassau Bahamas, 1 HALF day in Freeport Bahamas, and then 1 day back at sea heading back to Baltimore. All in all, it's a 7 day trip, but admittedly we're beside ourselves with excitement.

So then, why am I pestering you guys? Well, I've found that our Carnival "Vacation Planner" (excuse the expression) has jumped ship since we completed our bookings call - and I've got questions!

So an immediate thanks for anyone still reading this, and even more appreciation for anyone with suggestions or opinions!

1) I'm trying not to be the "overly worried mother", but am I the only one who had hesitations about leaving their child with the Camp Carnival folks? Obviously they're fantastic - I haven't heard otherwise, but how does it work if there is a problem on either side - ours or theirs? I heard something about walkie talkies??

2) On the heels of the camp Carnival question, does anyone know how strict they are with the age groups? I realize from all of the reviews that the kids are going to most likely have a blast, but I want our kids together. Remember, our DD is 8, and the other two will be 9. How stringent are the Carnival camp folks? Am I going to have to get special permission ahead of time to put the 9 year olds in the 8 year old's group or vice versa? To be honest, the 9 year olds would most likely have more fun doing the activities described in the 8 year old's group.

3) Internet. I realize I'm supposed to unplug and enjoy my vacation sans technology, but all of my pictures are taken via a digital camera. I tend to offload the memory cards onto a storage website for photos. For the Pride, what are my internet wired/wireless connection options? Does anyone know what the pricing is?

4) We're Verizon Wireless customers - anyone know what the signal for VW customers is? I feel like a complete idiot asking about all of this, but please just humor me. I have wireless internet access and was wondering if I can save some money by connecting via my cell's wireless internet access.

5) The Final Bill. ((The dirge plays in the background)) On average, how much do the drinks with spirits cost? I've heard between $7 and $10 each - does that sound about right? How experienced are the bartenders? Am I going to have to order well known drinks like an Amaretto Sour or can I go on a limb and ask for a Blue Motorcycle or Undercurrent and the bartender know what I'm talking about? Or maybe the best question is - do they have a spirits drink menu? Also, we're planning on paying our gratituties ahead of time. Is there anything else we should know about ahead of time that we'll want to save for?

6) Ladies - What do you do with your room/Sail & Sign cards? It's too bad they don't do what one of the resorts near me does... wrist bracelets that act as the room key and debit card. Convenient.

7) This whole formal dress bit. I understand there are two formal nights, but on the other nights in the dining room (not buffet areas) are the kids expected to dress up from their shorts and t-shirts? Dresses for the girls, and khaki's for the boys? While I'm asking, is it the same for the guys?

8) Does anyone know where online I could find a menu from this year? The Vacation Planner said it was on their website, but I didn't have any luck finding it. There's a lot to sift through on their site.

How many of you are ready to throw me overboard? Sorry for the 101 questions. I'm certain I'm not the only one with questions, but I imagine I've overwhelmed a lot of you. Meanwhile I'll continue to scour the forum for more Q&As and FAQs.

Thanks to those who made it this far and respond!
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Old 07-09-2009, 12:16 PM
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Our family and my father's family decided to book our very first cruise. Now comes the worst part... the waiting!

Our family consists of myself, DH and our 8 year old DD. My father's family includes himself, his DW and their DS & DD (both 9)

Leaving out of Virginia and driving up to Baltimore, our departure date on the Carnival Pride is slated for Easter Sunday 2010. With two different school systems, it was the only time our kids both had a holiday (Spring Break) together.

Both of our families decided on the standard balcony staterooms in the 8B category on the 4th deck.

Our itinerary is: 2 days at sea, 1 day at Port Canaveral (which sounds boring - I just did Disney last summer and I'm still OD'ed on it), 1 day at Nassau Bahamas, 1 HALF day in Freeport Bahamas, and then 1 day back at sea heading back to Baltimore. All in all, it's a 7 day trip, but admittedly we're beside ourselves with excitement.

So then, why am I pestering you guys? Well, I've found that our Carnival "Vacation Planner" (excuse the expression) has jumped ship since we completed our bookings call - and I've got questions!

So an immediate thanks for anyone still reading this, and even more appreciation for anyone with suggestions or opinions!

1) I'm trying not to be the "overly worried mother", but am I the only one who had hesitations about leaving their child with the Camp Carnival folks? Obviously they're fantastic - I haven't heard otherwise, but how does it work if there is a problem on either side - ours or theirs? I heard something about walkie talkies??

2) On the heels of the camp Carnival question, does anyone know how strict they are with the age groups? I realize from all of the reviews that the kids are going to most likely have a blast, but I want our kids together. Remember, our DD is 8, and the other two will be 9. How stringent are the Carnival camp folks? Am I going to have to get special permission ahead of time to put the 9 year olds in the 8 year old's group or vice versa? To be honest, the 9 year olds would most likely have more fun doing the activities described in the 8 year old's group.

3) Internet. I realize I'm supposed to unplug and enjoy my vacation sans technology, but all of my pictures are taken via a digital camera. I tend to offload the memory cards onto a storage website for photos. For the Pride, what are my internet wired/wireless connection options? Does anyone know what the pricing is?

4) We're Verizon Wireless customers - anyone know what the signal for VW customers is? I feel like a complete idiot asking about all of this, but please just humor me. I have wireless internet access and was wondering if I can save some money by connecting via my cell's wireless internet access.

5) The Final Bill. ((The dirge plays in the background)) On average, how much do the drinks with spirits cost? I've heard between $7 and $10 each - does that sound about right? How experienced are the bartenders? Am I going to have to order well known drinks like an Amaretto Sour or can I go on a limb and ask for a Blue Motorcycle or Undercurrent and the bartender know what I'm talking about? Or maybe the best question is - do they have a spirits drink menu? Also, we're planning on paying our gratituties ahead of time. Is there anything else we should know about ahead of time that we'll want to save for?

6) Ladies - What do you do with your room/Sail & Sign cards? It's too bad they don't do what one of the resorts near me does... wrist bracelets that act as the room key and debit card. Convenient.

7) This whole formal dress bit. I understand there are two formal nights, but on the other nights in the dining room (not buffet areas) are the kids expected to dress up from their shorts and t-shirts? Dresses for the girls, and khaki's for the boys? While I'm asking, is it the same for the guys?

8) Does anyone know where online I could find a menu from this year? The Vacation Planner said it was on their website, but I didn't have any luck finding it. There's a lot to sift through on their site.

How many of you are ready to throw me overboard? Sorry for the 101 questions. I'm certain I'm not the only one with questions, but I imagine I've overwhelmed a lot of you. Meanwhile I'll continue to scour the forum for more Q&As and FAQs.

Thanks to those who made it this far and respond!
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Old 07-09-2009, 01:45 PM
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Hi Avandrie, welcome to Cruise-Chat. Congratulations on your up-coming cruise! Questions 1 and 2 can be answered in our FAQ section. One of our board members did a fantastic write up on Camp Carnival. Our children are grown, and gone, so can't help you much there except to tell you that the children always have fun. I wouldn't worry about leaving my child with them at all. The kids have a ball and get to meet others their own age. Everything that I've read and heard has stated that they are pretty strict on their age groups.

Question #3, you can purchase internet packages, the more minutes the less per minute. I believe the rates are between $.50 and $.75 depending on the package.

Question #4, check with your carrier, you might be charged roaming fees.

Question #5, drinks are comparable to a bar. Mixed drinks $4up, Beer $2up, Wine $6up, Sodas $1.75+tip (approximately for all of these). Call liquor is higher than bar liquor. They have drinks of the day specials and they have plenty of specialty drinks (menus too). Save money by not purchasing the drink of the day in a souvineer glass, just get it in a regular glass. They also have bucket-o-beer, 5 for the price of 4, that you get in a bucket with ice. You can purchase a bottle of wine at dinner and they will re-cork it and serve what you don't drink the following evening. Don't forget to add your tips to the final bill, it's either $10 or $11/pp per day. Believe me, they're worth every cent.

Question #6, I put my card in my pocket, my purse or in my waterproof pouch that hangs around my neck.

Question #7, In the dining room shorts and t-shirts are not allowed at dinner. Yes, the children will be expected to wear nice clothes to dinner. There is a dress code FAQ in our FAQ section. The formal standards are nothing like they used to be, just dress as if you were going to a very nice restaurant and you will be fine. The other nights besides formal nights, just a nice pair of dress slacks and a nice shirt, again, they don't want shorts and t-shirts in the dining room, although some do wear them. Capris, sun dresses, dress slacks, nice tops, just like a nice restaurant. Buffet area, shorts and t-shirts are fine.

Question #8, haven't a clue, but I'll bet one of our Carnival experts will know.

Be sure to try the chocolate melting cake-yummo! Hope y'all have a fantastic cruise! I'm sure others will give you better answers, but I took a stab at it
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Old 07-09-2009, 01:54 PM
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Hi AVandrie and welcome to Cruise Chat.

Penny gave you her usual fantastic answers, but I just wanted to add that I wish I were cruising with you, too! You sound absolutely delightful from your message, and had me laughing out loud. You have a great sense of humor and a great spirit, and with those in your luggage, you're guaranteed to have an even better time than otherwise.

Question 1: Kids always have a great time in the camp program, but really, you/they can decide how much time they want to spend in camp and how much with you. Many families take walkie-talkies with them so family members can keep track of each other onboard these big ships. If for some reason your kids don't like the program, you're not committed to putting them in it. But chances are kids your kids' ages will have a ball and will cry when they have to get off the ship and leave their new best friends. Even the most doubting of children usually end up loving the program.

Sandy
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Old 07-09-2009, 02:09 PM
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Avandrie, Welcome to Cruise Chat. Here is a link to another section on our Cruise-Chat forum. It may answer some of the questions of Camp Carnival for you.

Carnival should have assigned your booking to another Vacation Planner. If you need to make final payment or make any changes they will handle it. Carnival is going to E-documents. You will need your booking number and register on Carnival's website. It's called your FunPass. You won't have to worry about that now though. You can do it once you make final payment. You can also book shore excursions through Carnival's website. One thing you should know about pre-paying your gratuities with your cruise booking is that they can't be removed or adjusted once you are on board.

Wristbands would not work on cruises. The sail and sign card is the size of a credit card. Your picture is taken when your board the ship and is embedded in the card. When you enter or leave the ship you punch your card in a kiosk. This is how the ship tracks who is onboard and off. The card also will be your room key on the Carnival Pride. It is also used for any on board purchases. I've never had a problem carrying my sail and sign. If you don't have pockets, use a fanny pack, small purse, or in the gift shop you can buy a small water proof container to hold small items and it has a cord to wear around your neck.

You will see a wide variety of dress on formal nights. Some people like to go all out with tuxedos and long gowns (seeing that less & less). Some will wear nice cocktail dresses, men nice suits. Some will just wear nice dockers & shirts, or nice dresses. There's a wide variety. Children should be fine with something nice they would wear to church or a wedding.

The bartenders are quite savvy. If they haven't heard of a drink and you can tell them how to make it, then they will. As long as they have the ingredients. There is a menu of drinks. There will be a daily drink special also. They will push the Carnival drinks in souvenir glasses which cost more than just ordering the drink in a regular glass. If you don't want to pay extra for the souvenir glass just ask for the drink in a regular glass. Drink prices are comparable to what you would pay in a nice restaurant back home. They do add a 15%gratuity on all drinks including cokes.

The Pride has internet Wi-FI from Bow to Stern. You can pay .75 per minute or buy a package of minutes. The more minutes the cheaper. 100 minutes $55, 250 minutes $100. (this is on 6 day or longer cruises) There usually is an activation fee also of $3.95. Your cell phone carrier plan will apply and any roaming fees.

Here is a sample dinner menu.

It looks like I was typing while others were posting so some of my information may be a repeat. Welcome aboard!
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Old 07-09-2009, 02:20 PM
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Note that Carnival did revise their dress suggestions last year and "dress" shorts are allowed on "cruise casual" nights, but they need to be tasteful. Here is a link to the Carnival dress code.
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Old 07-09-2009, 03:17 PM
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Hi AVandrie-

Penny gave you great answers but left some holes that I will attempt to fill for you.

Camp carnival- They will tend to let the old children drop an age group if there are close but not vice versa. They have every right to be strict with this, but we have had good luck going on the first day to the camp carnival "welcome aboard" Q&A and sign up session they have and asking the CC person in charge of that group answer if she would be willing to have the older child in with the younger one. It is really up to her. Now realize that it has been 4 or five years since we have needed to do this but it is worth asking.

Internet usage- Gosh no, don't attempt to upload your photos to your website storage, the fees would be out of this world! You can get minute packages for internet usage but we are talking like $100 for an hour worth of access. AND that access is very slow compared to being at home. It really is only good for email and light web usage. To upload the data for pictures would burn up minutes very quickly, not to mention make you spend valuable cruising time sitting in the enet cafe instead of having fun. You would be MUCH better off just buying 2 or 3 (or one really big one) memory cards for you camera. fill one up and plop in the next one. Two weeks ago I brought two 2 gig memory cards and didn't use up the first one and I took lots of pictures and videos...

Verizon- Yes, you will have Verizon service onboard but again the price is an issue. You pay international roaming rates which are I think $1.99 a minute for voice calls and 25 cents per text. I don't know for sure if the ship's service has a good data rate as I only used my phone for a couple of texts. You sure don't want to set your teenager loose with a text phone or your bill will be $1000 bucks... The cell coverage is provided by a company called Cellular at Sea... google on them and you will get more information. Verizon contacts through them to provide service. Its cheaper than paying for ship to shore phone calls but not greatly. Only use the cell phone ON THE SHIP in emergencies. Many of the islands have cell coverage. Go to the VW website and look each of them up to see what your fees would be so you know... Oh and a word to the wise.. make sure your children know NEVER to use the phone in the cabin to try to call your cell phone. Our child did this and just trying to connect twice (she got the voice mail each time because the phone was of course turned off) but for those 2 1 minute call we were charged like $40

Jim
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Old 07-09-2009, 03:56 PM
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Jim is exactly right. Don't try to move files from the ship to your photo website. Shipboard internet not fast and can lock up at anytime, thus trashing an upload. We bring along lots of camera memory and swap out cards as needed. A 2GB SD card can be had for $10 or so. That is a lot of photos. Alternately, bring along a laptop and just move your photos to it as needed.

I guess Penny forgot about Jim and me wearing shorts to dinner on our group cruise aboard Holiday last summer!
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Old 07-09-2009, 05:01 PM
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You guys are amazing (and have a lot of patience with the newbie cruise girl to boot)! Thank you so much for the amazing details!

Despite our trip being light years away (that's how it feels anyways), our family is going next week for passports. I also filled out as much information as I could to get the Fun Pass documentation in order (hit a passport info roadblock). Also to stave off the almost annoying (even to myself) extreme excitement I hopped onto Carnival's gift portion of the website and sent a secret "Happy Easter" "occasion cake" order for both our room and my fathers family's room - from "Mr. E. Bunny"... notice the two meanings? Yep, I'm a dork. I figured it'd be a fun touch seeing we're boarding on Easter day.

I did finally get the chance to read the FAQ on the Carnival Camp and liked what I was reading. Now then I think the 6-8 year old activities sound perfect for my daughter.

As per the majority ruling, I think I might force myself to leave the laptop at home. It'll be painful, and yes.. I may go into withdrawals or shock, but I'm hoping that as the anxiety hits, I'll remember to stop, relax... take a deep breath... because I'll need it for that jog to the bar to order a top shelf margarita - that ought to help me forget my laptop woes. The things we must do to get along.


Since I can't seem to stop myself from typing up this welling excitement (sorry ya'll)... let me ask yet another question -

I also spent some time today looking through the shore excursions available. I had read something online about a "Sand Dollar Snokel Trip" but didn't see anything like that on Carnival's list. I also am itchin' to go parasailing again (that last time I did so was in Freeport when I was 18... I wonder if it'll be different now that 14 years have passed), but I didn't see any mention of that. Hmm. Is it possible that there are excursions not listed that are available on the boat? Or am I going to have to "wing it" and try and find these local vendors - cross my fingers and my toes and hope for the best?

Last but not least (yes, I'll give you guys a break), I did think the (non-Atlantis) $110 Dolphin experience looked like something DD might enjoy, but mostly I thought the Treasure Hunt on shore and in the water for the kids would be a blast - has anyone heard an opinion otherwise or to support that? And the kid in me is thinking real hard on that Segway tour... I can hear my credit card company going CHA CHING!! Doh!

Thanks again everyone! I will try not to post-stalk the crap out of you for the next ...umm.. 12 hours?
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Old 07-09-2009, 05:37 PM
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Thanks for the compliments. The members of cruise-chat love helping new cruisers. It is great that you came here well before your cruise so we can help you. Every so often people will show up here who didn't bother to ask questions beforehand, and their first post is a rant about something they didn't understand or like. We don't like those posts. Nothing we can do after the fact!

Swimming with the dolphins is a great tour. Just make sure it is the right one since they have many versions. Most are really an "experience" (like the $110 tour you mentioned) where you stand on an underwater platform and get a few seconds here and there with the dolphins. Mostly you just watch them go through stunts. You need to do the tour that has you actually out in the water with them. It is always much higher in price.
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