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lindsay0526

Last Minute Anniversary Trip- from Booking to Planning and Finally an Overall Review

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DH and I will celebrate our 15 year anniversary this spring/summer (we have two anniversaries thanks to the military), and decided to squeeze in a trip this spring. Originally, we wanted to cruise to Key West, but there were very few cruises that had this itinerary and would accommodate both his work schedule and our kids’ schedules. So, on February 1, we booked the grandparents to come in to take care of our 3 girls, and then booked our 5-night trip on the Carnival Paradise, departing from Tampa (our closest port) and going to Grand Cayman & Cozumel with my mom’s TA (she will only book a cruise through him).

 

At first glance, this wasn’t my favorite itinerary, because I have been to both places previously as a teenager with my family (twice) and then we stopped at these same places on our honeymoon (Carnival Miracle), but a trip away with my beloved sans kiddos is always a treat. And honestly, the more I have looked at the options, the more excited I have become- we are doing different things than I previously did as a kid and on our honeymoon, so the trip has become more appealing. We aren’t avid cruisers (our last Carnival cruise being our honeymoon), and we did a Disney cruise last summer with our kids, but the prices couldn’t be beat. DH’s often rigid/unpredictable work schedule, make planning any non-refundable trip (even with travel insurance) nerve wracking, so we have avoided it. We had to move heaven and earth for him to make it to our Disney cruise last summer. Anyways, I digress...  back to our trip. 

 

Through our TA, we booked an interior room and with our port fees, it came out to $698 (or 349pp) and we prepaid our gratuities ($140). So far out of pocket, we are at $838 spent. I typically book trips myself, but I reached out to our TA for a quote, and he was able to find us a rate for $50 less per person than I could find on the Carnival website (winning!).  

 

Up next... let the planning begin! Cheer or no Cheers? Excursions? Extras? And my personal favorite... the packing list! 

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First off, congratulations on you upcoming anniversary! I'd strongly suggest that you call your TA, and tell him of this special event which is the reason(s) for the cruise!  We told ours of our anniversary and got comped 2 drinks from Guest Services, a little anniversary cake in the MDR, and a bottle of champagne and chocolate covered strawberries sent to our room. As my dear Father said 'the squeaking wheel gets the grease'. So true. And it never hurts to ask. 

 

Secondly, to do cheers or not: That depends on how much cocktail drinking you plan to do. I find it quite expensive, and could not justify the expense, considering we only had 3 or 4 cocktails per day. Up to you, if you can afford it. 

 

We have Grand Cayman and Cozumel in our stops on our cruise in September. The jury is still out on Grand Cayman, but we've narrowed down our choices at Cozumel: Mr. Sancho's or Nachi Cocum. Both are all inclusives(if you so choose). And if that doesn't appeal to you, there are tons of excursions to do there. It just depends on where your interests/desires lay. 

 

P.S. Here are some pics of our goodies thanks to Carnival

 

 

20190727_190709.jpg

20190727_171050.jpg

Edited by Joe817

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45 minutes ago, lindsay0526 said:

Up next... let the planning begin! Cheer or no Cheers? Excursions? Extras? And my personal favorite... the packing list! 

Congratulations and happy anniversary. We love Cheers - and it's MORE THAN ALCOHOL. We drink a lot of bottled water and hubby drinks soda. See the attached spreadsheet to determine if it's worth it to you.

 

We liked Mr. Sanchos but next time I want to try one of the other inclusives. Somebod posted that Nachi Cocom  is the best and it certainly looked appealing. I'm sure you can search for that thread out here.

 

My sister had our cabin decorated for our 25th anniversary. That was a nice touch that made the whole trip seem more festive.

 

Have fun!

Carnival Vista Cheers Evaluator 2018-08-02.xls

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@Joe817 What a great tip! And yes, our TA knows and made a note on our reservation. He is really a phenomenal TA and always asks if there is a special reason why we are traveling. 🙂 And those look like some really nice perks to celebrate an anniversary. (And I’ve never minded being a squeaky wheel) ❤️ 

Edited by lindsay0526

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@ricew001 Thanks! And I’m from NC originally- the piedmont triad area. 🙂 Send...NC bbq... this way... 😉 

Edited by lindsay0526

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1 minute ago, lindsay0526 said:

@ricew001 Thanks! And I’m from NC originally- the piedmont triad area. 🙂

I'm in the Triangle - and we were originally planning to move to Florida from Southern VA when I was 6 but stopped in this area and loved it!

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Okay moving forward.  

 

We are doing a few things differently on this trip- we have booked an interior room, which I have never had an a cruise. At minimum we had a porthole on our Disney cruise, and we have always had a balcony on our Carnival cruises. And in all honestly, we really didn’t use the balcony when we had one, so this time, we are saving some $$$ and trying out an interior room. And currently we have a room on Deck 5 in the middle of the ship, so hopefully it is plenty quiet and we don’t feel too much motion from the ship.

 

The other thing we have done differently is we are sailing on an older, smaller ship (recently refurbished, but older none the less) and different class than we cruised on when we were on the Miracle. The Paradise is a Fantasy class ship and the Miracle is a Spirit class. I’m not super concerned about this one, except the more I have read on here I think we would have enjoyed the Alchemy Bar and the Serenity Bar. But there’s always the next trip, right?

 

The next decision I needed to make was did we feel like the Cheers package would be beneficial and I’ve read enough on this board that it is a very polarizing topic. For us, the Cheers package is a “no” even though it covers more than just alcoholic beverages. Since we are driving to the port (and even if we flew, we would have stopped and picked up beverages), we are going to take 12 sparkling waters, 6 sodas and 2 bottles of wine (the Carnival wine list is terrible). We aren’t avid soda drinkers, but if we get a little seasick the sodas will help settle an upset stomach. We also won’t order bottled waters for our room. Since I am Red (I should be Gold- Carnival is supposed to be adding a missing a cruise...), we will already get a free liter of water in our room, and we will take a refillable water bottle with us. I will likely take a Mio water flavoring with the electrolytes, because it’s always a good idea to replenish electrolytes when spending a day in the sun or after a night of too many drinks.

 

Here’s a quick calculation on how I came to my “no” Cheers conclusion-

 

Cheers would have been $306.50pp or $613 for DH and myself even if I prepaid and that price included the automatic gratuity.I did a quick math of likely drinks we would order (and gave us a generous *for us* quantity) and also picked above-ish average priced options:

Embarkation Day: 2 drinks (9.50), dinner: wine (10.50), double espresso w/dessert (2.25), evening cocktail (11)

     Daily Total: 42.75 + 7.70 gratuity= $50.45

Port Days: specialty coffee (3.50), dinner: wine (10.50), double espresso w/dessert (2.25), evening cocktail (11)

     Daily Total: 27.25 + 4.91 gratuity= $32.16

Sea Days: specialty coffee (3.50), 3 drinks (9.50), dinner: wine (10.50), double espresso w/dessert (2.25), evening cocktail (11)

     Daily Total: 55.75 + 10.04 gratuity= $65.79

 

Our trip is 5 days (1 embarkation day, 2 port days and 2 sea days)- $246.35pp or 492.70 for DH and myself and I honestly don't think we will drink this many drinks nor do I think we will get a specialty coffee every morning (I think we will likely be about $150-200pp, which is $200-300 less than paying outright for Cheers), but it's nice to look at it and see that even if we decide to indulge a little more we won't be breaking the bank. 

 

Now, that we decided not to do Cheers, we are going to take the money we will save and use it for some excursions in Grand Cayman and Cozumel. And that’s what’s coming up next...excursions!

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I disagree with you about Carnival's wine list being "terrible". Assume they did not have what you liked years ago when you cruised with Carnival. 

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@mexicobob, maybe terrible wasn’t the right word.  But I don’t find it all that exciting. It does cover the basics, but I don’t see a really stellar bottle on the list.

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Now for how we are going to fill up our days while on the cruise.

 

When we did the Disney cruise with our kids, it was non-stop from wake-up to bedtime and it was tiring. On this trip, it will be way more relaxed.

 

Sea days will be for sleeping in, brunch, lounging by the pool and naps. I do want to try the Tea Time out on our first sea day and if we love it, I’ll make DH go again on our second! 😉 Evenings will be dining in the dining rooms (we have the late seating and always do dinner in the dining room), maybe a show in the main theater or the comedy club, maybe a little casino time, maybe a piano bar. Who knows! 

 

Grand Cayman- (Time in port: 8am-3pm) When I was a kid we did the turtle sanctuary/Hell tour, which was okay. And on our honeymoon, we went snorkeling with the stingrays, which was fun, but not something we wanted to do again. And honestly, I think the best part of Grand Cayman is the beach, so we are making our stop, a beach day! We will have a quick breakfast on ship, and then get ready to head to the Royal Palms Beach Club for the day. We have budgeted $140 for our day ($20 cab ride, round trip, both of us, $4 entry fee for both of us, $24 for two chairs, $15 for an umbrella, and that leaves about $80 for food, drinks and tips). At a minimum, our cost will be $63, if we decide not to eat there and head back to the ship for a late lunch, which is a very possible option since we have to be onboard by 3pm anyways.

 

Cozumel- (Time in port: 10am-8pm) DH is not super thrilled about stopping in Mexico, so we decided to book an excursion through Carnival. He loves to be on the water, so we are going to try out the Elite Champagne Catamaran Sail & Snorkel trip. This was a pricier tour, at $110pp, but drinks and lunch were included, so we didn’t feel like it was a bad deal. The tour doesn’t even leave until 12:30, so we don’t have to rush off the ship, and if we meander of earlier than our tour, we can check out some of the things around the dock. And then I think after 4 hours being in the sun and sailing & snorkeling, we will be ready to head back to the ship for a shower.     

 

So far, we have paid $838 for our room and prepaid our gratuities and now we have added the Cozumel excursion through Carnival at $220, which brings our total spent thus far up to $1058. We have also budgeted $400 for our ship account and $140 for our day in Grand Cayman, and that brings our running total for our entire trip to $1598.

 

Now those are the big things, but as with any vacation, there are always little “extras” and those are coming up next.

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The Devil is in the details and the same is true of a cruise vacation. All of the "extras" can add up...quickly. While some of these things are optional, it is nice to splurge a little and really feel like you are on vacation.

 

Trip Insurance: For me, this is a non-negotiable item. If we leave the country (or spend money on a non-refundable vacation), we buy trip insurance. And I NEVER buy it from the cruise line. Cruise line insurance policies cover only your cruise, but what happens if you bought plane tickets? a non-refundable hotel? car rental? Those are the reasons why a comprehensive trip policy- one that covers you from the day you leave your house until the day you return is the best option. We spent $68 on ours.

 

Specialty Dining: We did this on our honeymoon and it was nice, but I honestly don't remember much about it. The Paradise has options to "upgrade" your dinner in the main dining hall (they don't have a separate specialty restaurants) with one of their "Steakhouse Selections." These selections include a Maine Lobster Tail, NY Strip, Filet Mignon, or a Surf and Turf option for a $20 upgrade. They also have a Sushi Ship (for 2) available for an $18 upgrade. This might be something we might do.

 

Spa Services: Cruise spa treatments are e.x.p.e.n.s.i.v.e. period. But again, this is somewhere that people like to induce because they are on vacation and taking some "me" time is part of the joy of being on vacation. We did a couples massage on our honeymoon and it was well over $200, if I remember correctly. This time I am indulging in some spa time BEFORE I get on the ship- I bought a spa day package at a local spa for $160 and that includes a massage, facial, mani & pedi. I'm just considering this the pre-game to our actual vacation. 😉 (Tip: If you want to utilize the ship's spa, keep an eye out for promotional discounts of 10-20% off and for specials they may run while you are docked in a port.)

 

Parking: This is one I am still trying to figure out for our trip. Parking at the port is on the pricier side at $15/day and there are some nearby lots that we can book for as little as $6/day. This is on my to-do list this weekend. But even if you aren't able to drive to the port, you still have to secure transportation to/from the airport and port. So, here is another little cost added into the overall trip cost.

 

Extra Drinks: I covered this before, but if you are considering CHEERS, think about how many sodas, sparkling waters, specialty coffees, and alcoholic beverages you may consume. We didn't feel like it would save us any money, but you need to weigh the pros and cons for your trip. We will carry on some sodas, sparkling waters, and our allowed 2 bottles of wine, which might add another $70 to our vacation. (2- $30 bottles of wine, and $10 for the sodas and sparkling waters)

 

Gratuities: Another non-negotiable for me. The cruise line workers work in the service industry and in the service industry it is customary to tip. I don't complain about paying the gratuities, and just have them added to my fee when I make my final payment. But it's a good idea to know how much this is in advance, so you don't feel like you are blindsided. These typically run $13-15/day/pp depending on the cruise line, but they can be more if you are booked in a suite. For 2 people on a 5 night cruise, ours added up to $140. If I feel like the service was stellar, I might leave some extra cash, and if the service was terrible (which I don't anticipate), I would need to adjust that amount BEFORE I leave the ship.

 

Hotel: This is something we haven't had to worry about on our last two cruises because we have been within a 2-hour drive of the port. We still leave plenty early from our house, allowing ourselves plenty of time to get to the port, get our luggage handed off to the porters, our car parked, get through security and get checked-in.

 

And then I always buy some new clothes for my vacations, so that's another expense and a list. I'll post my packing list next. ❤️ 

 

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I jumped ahead to myself and forgot about a few other "extras" that can pop up:

 

Photos / Photo Packages: We bought a digital package with unlimited images prior to our Disney Cruise for less than $200 (I think), and I thought it was well worth it! Part of my deal with my husband was if we bought the picture package, then I wouldn't make everyone do family pictures that year and I would just use our vacation photos on our Christmas card, and then he was 100% on board. While we had a few family photos, we go the most bang for our buck with my kids meeting the characters, because anywhere there was a Disney photographer, they would include your photos in your package. Now, on Carnival ships, it is $100 for the photo package, if you buy before you go, but you only get 5 printed images and a large 16x20 portrait (certain ships offer a digital component to this package). I just don't like this package. I don't think that getting 5 printed images is a great deal and I wouldn't want the 16x20 canvas, so this package is out for us. I think we may get 1-2 photos individually, which would be between $30-40. Individual photos range from $12-18, with any "pro portraits" coming in at $22. I just don't think that the Carnival package is as good as the Disney one. Maybe if we had our kids with us, I would reconsider, but for this trip, it's just a "no."

 

Tips: These tips are different than the ship gratuities, but also need to be considered. You will tip the porters at the dock when they take your bags, $1 per bag is recommended, but with my husband and myself, we just tip a flat $5. You also need to think about tipping your tour guides, if you decide to take an excursion. We typically plan $10pp, and since we are only taking one excursion that is an extra $20 in our cruise budget. If the excursion is great- they get the tip, if it is terrible, then we give them a hearty "thank you" as we return to our ship and keep the tip in our pockets. And finally, there is room service on board the ship. While some of the room service items are free, it is common practice to tip the employee for bringing it to your room. This recommendation is about $1/item. So, if you want to order breakfast in your room every morning, then you need to think about bringing some extra bills to tip. I like to order a pot of hot water every morning so I can drink a cup of tea while we get ready for our day (and I bring my own tea bags from home). We sometimes like to order a little snack after we have been out in a port all day- it's just a luxury to have some food delivered to your room while you relax versus heading up to the Lido deck to grab a bite. After all, isn't this vacation?! 

 

Souvenirs: What everyone budgets for this category will vary greatly. I am not a big souvenir purchaser, but my mom can't go somewhere without buying something for every grandchild. If you fall into the latter category, then you will spend more than I would. I am not a big souvenir person, because my trip and photos are my big take away from my vacation, but this is a category that you need to consider before your trip. 

 

Extra Cash: Even though most of the places a cruise ship will stop will take a credit card, it is often important to carry some cash in varying bills. Most cab drivers will only take cash and sometimes won't have change (whether that is intentional or not is another story...). If I find myself with extra cash towards the end of the trip, I just start paying for everything in cash during my last port stop or I will apply the extra money to my ship account (which we secure with a credit card), or just put it back in the bank once I get home.

 

Running Budget:

$698 for our room (including port taxes)*

$140 prepaid gratuities*

$220 Cozumel Excursion* 

$140 Grand Cayman Beach Day (which we will likely take in cash)

$400 for our ship account (drinks and 1-2 photos)

$75 parking (high end estimation)

$45 tips (cash- for porters $5, for Cozumel excursion 2 x $10, and tips for room service 20 x $1)

$100 cash (varying bill sizes)

$1818 NEW TOTAL (of which $1058 has been prepaid*)

 

Did I forget any other "extras"??  If not, I'll move onto my packing list. ❤️ 

 

 

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6 minutes ago, lindsay0526 said:

I jumped ahead to myself and forgot about a few other "extras" that can pop up:

 

Photos / Photo Packages: We bought a digital package with unlimited images prior to our Disney Cruise for less than $200 (I think), and I thought it was well worth it! Part of my deal with my husband was if we bought the picture package, then I wouldn't make everyone do family pictures that year and I would just use our vacation photos on our Christmas card, and then he was 100% on board. While we had a few family photos, we go the most bang for our buck with my kids meeting the characters, because anywhere there was a Disney photographer, they would include your photos in your package. Now, on Carnival ships, it is $100 for the photo package, if you buy before you go, but you only get 5 printed images and a large 16x20 portrait (certain ships offer a digital component to this package). I just don't like this package. I don't think that getting 5 printed images is a great deal and I wouldn't want the 16x20 canvas, so this package is out for us. I think we may get 1-2 photos individually, which would be between $30-40. Individual photos range from $12-18, with any "pro portraits" coming in at $22. I just don't think that the Carnival package is as good as the Disney one. Maybe if we had our kids with us, I would reconsider, but for this trip, it's just a "no."

 

Tips: These tips are different than the ship gratuities, but also need to be considered. You will tip the porters at the dock when they take your bags, $1 per bag is recommended, but with my husband and myself, we just tip a flat $5. You also need to think about tipping your tour guides, if you decide to take an excursion. We typically plan $10pp, and since we are only taking one excursion that is an extra $20 in our cruise budget. If the excursion is great- they get the tip, if it is terrible, then we give them a hearty "thank you" as we return to our ship and keep the tip in our pockets. And finally, there is room service on board the ship. While some of the room service items are free, it is common practice to tip the employee for bringing it to your room. This recommendation is about $1/item. So, if you want to order breakfast in your room every morning, then you need to think about bringing some extra bills to tip. I like to order a pot of hot water every morning so I can drink a cup of tea while we get ready for our day (and I bring my own tea bags from home). We sometimes like to order a little snack after we have been out in a port all day- it's just a luxury to have some food delivered to your room while you relax versus heading up to the Lido deck to grab a bite. After all, isn't this vacation?! 

 

Souvenirs: What everyone budgets for this category will vary greatly. I am not a big souvenir purchaser, but my mom can't go somewhere without buying something for every grandchild. If you fall into the latter category, then you will spend more than I would. I am not a big souvenir person, because my trip and photos are my big take away from my vacation, but this is a category that you need to consider before your trip. 

 

Extra Cash: Even though most of the places a cruise ship will stop will take a credit card, it is often important to carry some cash in varying bills. Most cab drivers will only take cash and sometimes won't have change (whether that is intentional or not is another story...). If I find myself with extra cash towards the end of the trip, I just start paying for everything in cash during my last port stop or I will apply the extra money to my ship account (which we secure with a credit card), or just put it back in the bank once I get home.

 

Running Budget:

$698 for our room (including port taxes)*

$140 prepaid gratuities*

$220 Cozumel Excursion* 

$140 Grand Cayman Beach Day (which we will likely take in cash)

$400 for our ship account (drinks and 1-2 photos)

$75 parking (high end estimation)

$45 tips (cash- for porters $5, for Cozumel excursion 2 x $10, and tips for room service 20 x $1)

$100 cash (varying bill sizes)

$1818 NEW TOTAL (of which $1058 has been prepaid*)

 

Did I forget any other "extras"??  If not, I'll move onto my packing list. ❤️ 

 

 

Trip Insurance? Cost of driving to and from the port? Are you all driving the day of embarkation? 

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@Joe817 check out the post prior. At the beginning of this post, I said I forgot some of the “extras,” so the extras you are referring to are in that post. 😉

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5 minutes ago, lindsay0526 said:

@Joe817 check out the post prior. At the beginning of this post, I said I forgot some of the “extras,” so the extras you are referring to are in that post. 😉

Ah, ok. My bad. Sowwy. :classic_blush:

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If you are interested in an itinerary with Key West as a port, The Conquest from Miami has 4 day itineraries which include Key West and Cozumel.    Prices are pretty reasonable and the Conquest class ships offer a good variety of amenities.  We recently booked for October 2020 for $223pp.  With taxes and port fees were $675.  

 

 

 

 

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This is an updated running total for this trip as I had forgotten to add our trip insurance. But this makes it easy to see how an advertised trip price of $249 (minus port fees) can quickly add up to be a more expensive trip than you may have originally thought.

 

Running Budget:

$698 for our room (including port taxes)*

$68 trip insurance*

$140 prepaid gratuities*

$220 Cozumel Excursion* 

$140 Grand Cayman Beach Day (which we will likely take in cash)

$400 for our ship account (drinks and 1-2 photos)

$75 parking (high end estimation)

$45 tips (cash- for porters $5, for Cozumel excursion 2 x $10, and tips for room service 20 x $1)

$100 cash (varying bill sizes)

$1886 NEW TOTAL (of which $1126 has been prepaid*)

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Now for my clothing packing list. This packing list will vary based on your personal preferences and the activities that you have planned for your vacation.

 

On embarkation day, I wear a "cruise casual" outfit, because I don't want to eat in the dining room in a pair of leggings and a tank top, if that's what I wore onto the ship because my luggage hasn't been delivered yet. On sea days, I primarily need a swimsuit w/cover-up and then an outfit for dinner. For my port days, I need whatever clothing my excursion or plans require (sometimes closed toed shoes are a requirement), but for my upcoming trip- it's going to be two days on the beach/water and then outfits for dinner.

 

I should also note that I don't automatically throw my clothes into a hamper after I have worn it, because I may need to rewear it another day/night, unless the clothes are obviously dirty, then they go in the dirty clothes pile. Why is this important? On our last cruise- I was in an animated conversation with my siblings and knocked an entire glass of red wine in my lap covering my white blouse and red shorts in wine. I ran quickly to my cabin and threw on a cute cotton dress that I had worn another night and returned to dinner quickly.

 

For my 5-night trip:

 

Breakdown-

Embarkation: cruise casual outfit

Sea Days (x2): day: swimsuit w/coverup; evening: 1 formal outfit, 1 cruise casual outfit

Port Days (x2): day: swimsuit w/coverup; evening: cruise casual outfit

Debarkation: comfortable travel home outfit

 

Clothes Packing List

4 Cruise Casual outfits (I normally pack 2 dresses and 2 pants w/dressy blouse)

1 Cardigan (to use in the dining room)

1 Jacket (for this trip, I am planning on a denim jacket)

1 Formal outfit (a LBD or something that I would wear to an evening wedding)

1 Travel Home Outfit (usually legging and a t-shirt)

2 casual daytime outfits (I do like to have a couple of outfits that I can just throw on to go and eat breakfast in the morning)

3 swimsuits (I find that these can take a long time to dry on ship)

3 cover-ups (I love the terry cloth cover-up dresses from Lands End)

1 pair of flip flops 

1 pair of sandals to wear with my formal night LBD

1-2 pairs of other sandals/shoes (Birkenstocks, gladiators, etc)

*I should also note that my rule for shoes is that each pair of shoes must go with more than 1 outfit to be packed

2 pairs of pajamas

1 light robe (if one isn't provided in the cabin)

1 pair of slipper socks

2 bras (keep in mind if you need to pack a strapless or convertible option)

6 undies (I always pack 1/night and then one extra)

 

Accessories

2 pairs of sunglasses

1-2 hats (for the pool/beach)

Jewelry for my Formal Night Outfit (usually a sparkly pair of earrings and/or a necklace)

Jewelry (for my cruise casual outfits and daytime outfits)

*No jewelry I take is valuable- it's all costume! 😉 

 

There are a few more things I need to pack toiletries and other "nice to haves" for my trip and I'll post those tomorrow. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

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I think your lists are very well thought out 🙂 I might add another $100 to the ship board account for "stuff I didn't consider" like a small gift for your parents for keeping the kids, maybe something small for the kids, motion sickness meds (worst case - DH never had an issue until we did and sometimes they charged/sometimes didn't), room service if feel like staying in, etc.

 

Your port parking doesn't sound bad - but I'm used to $15/day at Baltimore and $40/day 😮 at Manhattan.

 

Congratulations ❤️ and have a great trip.

 

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@pacruise804 Thank you! 😘 And holy moly- $15 or $40/day in parking?!?  It is $15/day at the Tampa port, but you can book across the street (literally) for like $10/day. They advertise it as $5.99 but by the time they add all of the fees and such, it it bumps the price up. 

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The $15 doesn't bother me too much, but the $40 (capped at $400 per cruise I think) is crazy for this non-city girl - although I saw even more expensive options in Manhattan too.  Brooklyn I think was $25, but not as many ships sail from there.

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Other things we take along-

 

Bag to use at the Pool- I LOVE these Baggu Large reusable shopping bags as pool bags. It folds up SO small, but gives you a ton of space. I fold it up in my bag to use in port, if we buy something.

     https://www.amazon.com/BAGGU-Reusable-Shopping-Ripstop-Recycled/dp/B07N4FMBQG/ref=sr_1_6?keywords=baggu+bag&qid=1582117543&s=home-garden&sr=1-6

Bag to carry off ship- We love a packable backpack like this one from Eddie Bauer for towels, sunscreen, water bottle, etc.     

     https://www.eddiebauer.com/p/82300168/travel-backpacks?color=Stripe&sp=1&size=ONESZE

USB charging station

Travel Documents- Passports, Cruise Documents & a copy of our Travel Insurance

Toiletries- shampoo/conditioner, deodorant, lotions, etc

Medicines- I ALWAYS travel with a small thing of medicines- motrin, tums, zofran

Sun Products- I plan 1 bottle of sunscreen for every 3 days of travel (I'm trying out Blue Lizzard this trip) & aloe

Hair Things- I don't pack my own hair dryer unless one isn't provided. And I take a flat iron or curling iron.

Light for the Bathroom- We have our emergency kit at home, so we just borrow our lantern, which is similar, from that bin, but we love it when traveling. It works great in the bathroom overnight on the lowest setting and it's rechargeable.

     https://www.amazon.com/Rechargeable-Waterproof-Flashlight-Hurricane-Emergency/dp/B01AW7Q1EO/ref=sr_1_7?crid=25SO84XZSXBXV&dchild=1&keywords=lantern+and+power+bank&qid=1582117956&sprefix=lantern+and+%2Caps%2C164&sr=8-7

Electronics- iPads, cameras, etc + all chargers

Cups- I take my own straw cup (I love my Bubba) and our own reusable water bottle

Tea Bags

Travel Blanket- I love my Cocoon CoolMax blanket to use in our room or on the deck at night. 

Packing Cubes- We each have a set from eBags and we LOVE them. It helps keep our room much tidier.

 

 

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Oh, and I forgot to mention that Carnival’s Price Guarantee for excursions came in handy! I didn’t even realize that was a thing, until I was reading on this board. I found a similar excursion to the one offered by Carnival that we are taking in Cozumel on Viator and submitted the form on Carnival’s website. They approved the request, and now we have a $44 OBC, which is how they refund you the 110% difference.

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