help... planning first cruise and thinking of Carnival

I have soooo many questions.....First what is the fly aweigh says for cruise only you have to pay 300.00 per person if you don't purchase the fly aweigh program....what is up with that??? I know the next question is so hard to awnser and there are so many much money should i cary on to shop it ports?? And how much should I plan on spending on cruise...I am not much of a drinker I will probably have 1 or 2 cocktails a day.... I know what shore excursions will cost but what all food free??? What all should budget or....what about pictures?? I purchase every picture take of me and my many pictures will they take how much....It will just be going with myself and my 12 year old son?? Am I forgeting anything as far as spending???


Well-Known Member
Fly Aweigh is Carnival's cruise air program. You do not have to pay extra if you don't use it. I've been on seven Carnival Cruises with an eighth booked (four I drove to and four I flew to). I would never use cruise air - from any cruise line. First of all, with a little work, I have been able to beat their prices. Second, and much more important, is the flights they choose for you are not what I would choose, and missing the cruise because of bad flight planning is a possibility.

If you have a credit card you can use that for your on board spending. That way you don't have to worry about how much to bring for your on board account. Since you cannot spend cash on board (you have to set up an on board account) I strongly suggest using a credit card for that purpose (over a debit card or cash). You can check your on board spending via the interactive TV in the cabin.

Spending money on shore is just like spending money on a vacation in an American city. How much would you spend if you went to Key West? How much would you spend if you went to New Orleans? I have no idea what your spending habits are, or what you might want to buy on shore.

All the food you need is free. However, you can purchase specialty food items if you want. Either the Supper Club ($30 per person for dinner) or if there is no Supper Club on the ship, then you can purchase an upgraded steak. I believe that is $15 or $18 per steak. Hard and soft drinks are extra, as is bottled water. Water, regular coffee, milk, juice and punch are all free (specialty coffees, think Starbucks, cost extra). If you order room service the food is free, however, the person bringing you the food will expect a tip ($1 to $2 depending on the order). Otherwise, food in the main restaurant (aka MDR) and the buffet is free.

Photographs are expensive. You have the option to buy after you've seen the picture. There is a souvenir shop on board. Tips are $10/day/person. Tips are automatically added to your on board account. My on board account for my last cruise (eight nights) was $442.34. I don't gamble and I had three drinks. I bought a few photographs and some souvenirs. For the prior eight night cruise my on board account was $208.64. I didn't purchase any souvenirs. So, as you can see, two cruises, three months apart, and more than a 100% difference in the amount spent on board. For my third cruise (one week back in May 2004) my on board account was over $1,000.

If you purchase every picture the ship photographers take of you and your family, then I hope Bill Gates is your uncle and your are his favorite relative. 8x10s run $22 and the smaller ones are about $12. The ship photographers will take pictures of you when you board (embarkation photo), while you are on the ship (sail-a-way), when you get off the ship in port, at dinner, on formal nights, plus you can set up special photo sessions if you want. A family of four can easily end up with forty photographs running $700. You don't have to buy them all. I spent about $330 on my nine night Princess cruise (which was my first Princess cruise) just for photographs. And I didn't purchase all the photographs (though in hind sight there were a few I did purchase that I should not have). You have to be careful about buying the photographs. I suggest taking your own camera. The pictures you take are a lot less expensive (I easily take 100 photographs a day).
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Well-Known Member
Here is one real life example of why I don't book cruise air with any cruise line ...

Oh my!!! Just got off the phone with our TA and she finally got our flight info from Carnival!
Since this is our first cruise (April 10th, Glory) we chose to have our flight booked through Carnival....just in case! Our in-laws, who we are travelling with, said it would be a good idea! Well.....
We are flying from Toronto to Ft Lauderdale, arrive just after 2:00 pm, go through customs, get our luggage then find a Carnival shuttle bus to take us to the ship in Miami!
Can somebody tell me approx. how long this drive will be?? Are we not supposed to be on the ship an hour before departure (4:00pm.)?
Here I was hoping to be on an early flight, take our time through Miami airport, buy some pop and snacks for the kids while we're on the ship! Have some lunch in the buffet etc..... Ughhh, now we will be rushed!
Our week better be good!! LOL!!!
And then this post from the same person ...

I guess this is a BIG lesson learned!!!
We will go ahead with these stupid flights, and if we ever cruise again (time will tell) we will book our own, and likely travel a day ahead! I mean, it makes a lot of sense!
We will have to cross our fingers (and toes) and try not to stress ourselves out too much! LOL!! Ahhh, if you only knew me
**I'm thinking that the beer and vodka that I've ordered from Bon Voyage will be needed!!!!**
I hope my kids are ok through all this craziness.......


Well-Known Member
They really do take a lot of pictures. They also say they are only available for a short time, which is true to a point. We don't know how long your cruise will be...if it's a short one then they won't have to move the pictures much. But on the longer cruises, they move and/or replace pictures with newer ones they've taken of you. If you have pictures taken at each photo station...let's see...about six photos per station with four to eight stations...on at least two nights. Plus there are always stations set up on other nights as well but not as many. They take pictures when you get on the ship, every time you get off the ship, and at least twice in the dining room. We pick out the absolute best photos and put them back on the shelf where we found them until mid-week. Then we decide if we really want one of those. At $22 bucks a piece you have to be selective. Your pictures will never disappear, but they may end up in unmarked boxes that you will have to search through in order to find your pictures by the end of the cruise. some ports you can use credit cards AS LONG AS they are stores that Carnival OKs. If you use a credit card at a non-Carnival store don't be surprised if you find your card number stolen a month or two later. (Personal experience speaking there.) Some places give change in the currency of their country, some have plenty of US dollars to work with. It will benefit you to have smaller denominations so you don't get too much non-US money back.

We've never used the fly away program and as far as I know we've never been charged extra.

They will set up an account for you onboard ship - you don't really need cash on board ship - from the credit card you give them. (They do cash accounts, too, but I'm not sure what the minimum is on that.) All the things you buy from the gift shops, the supper club, the bakery, or the spa will be charged to that card. We even use them now for the casino and bingo. (Bingo is $20 for a sheet with three boards on it. You have to buy a new one each session if you want to play that session.) Our Sail and Sign bill has ranged from $400 to $1200. (We don't drink anything but soda pop. And the higher amount had excursions on it.) Since it's on our credit card we don't have to deal with it until after the trip. I've heard of some paying it off before leaving the ship so their card doesn't get charged. The minimal amount for tips is charged when you board.

We often take extra money (cash) and give it to our waiter and room steward at the end of the cruise if they've done an exceptional job.

thank you!!! That was great information!!! thanks for explaining things to me....I love hearing personal expirences..sometimes book/brochures don't give informitive details!!!


Well-Known Member
We always take a fair amount of singles with us. These are for people who load/unload our luggage, servers in the bars, or around the pool deck. Servers who remember our names, are always smiling, and seem to enjoy their jobs will get an extra dollar when we sign for our drinks. There usually are some who we will look up on the last day with an envelope containing an extra tip. They can make a cruise very memorable.

Paul S
Enjoy your Carnival Cruise! Carnival is fun, food is great, service is wonderful. There are people of all ages from family reunions to singles to families. You will love it.


Awaiting results of mental evaluation
While not my personal favorite, Carnival puts out a very good product. Especially for a first-timer.

One thing not mentioned ... Cell Phone(s).

Once you get onboard, turn off your cell (and your son's) and lock them away. The cruise line won't charge you for using the phone, but they will charge your cellular provider for your air time and they will pass that cost on to you! Here's the kicker ... When you use your cell on the ship, the signal is picked up by the nearest cell tower.

Guess where that is? That's right. It's on the ship.

Then the signal is processed by the ship's relay equipment and converted to a sattelite signal, beamed up to the sattelite network and relayed back to the world. The cost? Well, in addition to whatever your cell provider charges you for regular usage, you're also looking at roaming charges, international service and most importantly ... sattelite time ... at an additional rate of up to $9.75 per minute (or fraction thereof) and yes, that does include texting ... !!

I have read reports of families with a couple teenagers getting cell bills in excess if $1,700 for a week's worth of chatting and texting ...

Fore-warned is fore-armed!