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PhenaBaby

Newbie... a few questions!

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My husband and I are booked for our first cruise in September, on the Panorama. I have a couple questions that you might be able to answer for me. 

 

1. Calling home. If we purchase one of the internet packages, will I be able to use my phone to call home? Maybe like on FB messenger or something? This will be my first time ever leaving my kids for more than one night and I am extremely nervous I won't be able to check on them.

 

2. Excursions. Is it better to book the excursions through Carnival before the cruise? I actually booked the cruise through Costco and they also offered sales on excursions? Which is better or wait until we are actually on the ship to purchase and decide? Or wait until we are at port and book when we are off the ship?

 

3. Do we actually need a passport? Reading online since we are leaving and coming back to the same port we won't, but is that true? Is there a reason we would want to get our passports just in case? I don't want to get to the ship and not be able to board.

 

I'm sure I will have more questions as our cruise gets closer.... :)

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Calling home, sometimes I've heard iffy on ships internet and you need the most expensive pkg, idk. There are sometimes sales to call from your cabin for 1.99 a minute and that works for me for short check ins.

 

I personally wait to book on the ship. Weather could be hurricane season, and you want different choices. Some will say they might sell out. I've always found plenty of choices.

 

I would not consider not having a passport. True you can probably get on the ship with a birth certificate but what if there is a emergency... you cant fly home without embassy intervention without a passport. You miss the ship, you are needed at home, you get sick etc. 

 

I get on cheap wifi in the ports. Better quality, much faster, and make your longer contact home calls from the ports.

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18 minutes ago, PhenaBaby said:

My husband and I are booked for our first cruise in September, on the Panorama. I have a couple questions that you might be able to answer for me. 

 

1. Calling home. If we purchase one of the internet packages, will I be able to use my phone to call home? Maybe like on FB messenger or something? This will be my first time ever leaving my kids for more than one night and I am extremely nervous I won't be able to check on them.

 

2. Excursions. Is it better to book the excursions through Carnival before the cruise? I actually booked the cruise through Costco and they also offered sales on excursions? Which is better or wait until we are actually on the ship to purchase and decide? Or wait until we are at port and book when we are off the ship?

 

3. Do we actually need a passport? Reading online since we are leaving and coming back to the same port we won't, but is that true? Is there a reason we would want to get our passports just in case? I don't want to get to the ship and not be able to board.

 

I'm sure I will have more questions as our cruise gets closer.... 🙂

If you purchase the social media package you can use the messenger app to send messages. I have had some luck with messenger calls but not very clear. 

Excursions will get all kinds of responses. Carnival will, of course, give you the guarantee of not getting back late but most responsible vendors will also guarantee you getting back.  Private vendors will usually (not always) have a better price. There will also be more flexible tours with private vendors. Don't wait to board before you book. What you want may already be sold out by then. Find what you want, at a price you are comfortable with, and book. There is a TON of information for private vendors and recommendations on the ports of call boards on here. Check it out.

Do you absolutely need a passport to cruise. No. Would I personally leave these shores without one. NO!

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My personal policy on excursions is book ruins thru carnival. Because they are usually much further away and have been known to get back late. Other than ruins, beach days etc, book direct or ahead of time. Look at the distance from the port and how long the excursion is.

 

No one expects emergencies. For instance I dont rent mopeds especially any mexican port. People have had problems. You have a accident, you can be held unless you have the cash to cover. It's happened. Rental cars, you go to get gas, someone taps your bumper and you have to pay cash or the police take you to the police station, what will you do? Mexico isnt safe to rent a vehicle, google it. Other ports you have to drive opposite side of the road, I personally don't rent vehicles. Take a cab. 

 

Be safe. 

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41 minutes ago, PhenaBaby said:

My husband and I are booked for our first cruise in September, on the Panorama. I have a couple questions that you might be able to answer for me. 

 

1. Calling home. If we purchase one of the internet packages, will I be able to use my phone to call home? Maybe like on FB messenger or something? This will be my first time ever leaving my kids for more than one night and I am extremely nervous I won't be able to check on them.

 

2. Excursions. Is it better to book the excursions through Carnival before the cruise? I actually booked the cruise through Costco and they also offered sales on excursions? Which is better or wait until we are actually on the ship to purchase and decide? Or wait until we are at port and book when we are off the ship?

 

3. Do we actually need a passport? Reading online since we are leaving and coming back to the same port we won't, but is that true? Is there a reason we would want to get our passports just in case? I don't want to get to the ship and not be able to board.

 

I'm sure I will have more questions as our cruise gets closer.... 🙂

 

Most smartphones these days have a feature called Wifi Calling, and most carriers support it. It's something you have to turn on manually, but it allows you to make phone calls over wifi instead of the cellular network. You just turn it on, enter an emergency address (usually your home address), and you're good to go. Wifi Calling will definitely work with the Value & Premium internet plans on the ship. I've also seen some say they've successfully used it with the Social plan. Being on the Panorama, you'll have some of the best internet service Carnival has to offer. As someone else pointed out, with the Social plan and facebook messenger, you could make voice calls through that, too. I've seen a lot of people say that's worked well for them. I don't use it myself, so have never been able to test its reliability. But I have used Wifi Calling multiple times with really good results.

 

When you book excursions doesn't really matter. Unlike some of the other purchases, they aren't discounted if you buy them before the cruise. The only thing you'd really have to worry about is if they sell out before you get the one you want. Personally, we like to purchase them ahead of time. If you need to cancel the excursion, you have until the night before the cruise to get a refund. Purchasing excursions through Carnival offers the benefit of having the ship wait for you if your excursion runs late. You can also purchase them through independent sources, which are often cheaper, but that method doesn't offer the safety net of the ship waiting. In a vast majority of cases, you'll get back in time.

 

The passport issue is one of the most debated topics of cruising. When taking what's called a "closed-loop" cruise, which means you leave and return to the same U.S. port, you technically do not need a passport. You can board the ship with a govt. issued ID and birth certificate. There are some ports of call that do require one in order to debark the ship, but not very many. Having one is kind of like insurance...you don't need it unless something happens. In an emergency, you can't fly home without one. So it's up to you & your family to weigh the pros & cons and go from there.

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You're gonna love Panorama + it's itinerary, just sailed her in Jan.

 

If you purchase the social media wifi package, you'll be able to post live pics + vid on FB plus use FB Messenger to chat. Only one of you need purchase this, but only one can be logged in at a time if you do that. Free wifi can be found in most ports.

 

Good thing about booking excursiuon thru Carnival, the ship won't leave w/o you. If you were goin to Belize, IMO, it's a must. Your ports are far more developed, so it's not absolutely necessary, but nice.

 

You can't enter the US by air w/o a passport. So if you had a medical emergency, they're a must. That said, we normally leave ours locked in the cabin safe.

 

Make reservations for JiJi's. Best $15pp you'll spend onboard. Try the duck appetizer + pork bellies, mmm, mmm, mmm.

 

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If I could make one suggestion on excursions, purchase Rhythms of the Night in PV, prior to boarding. It is, IMHO, the best excursion on the Panorama ports. It is also very popular, so that’s why I suggest purchasing before you go. 

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1 hour ago, crzndeb said:

If I could make one suggestion on excursions, purchase Rhythms of the Night in PV, prior to boarding. It is, IMHO, the best excursion on the Panorama ports. It is also very popular, so that’s why I suggest purchasing before you go. 

Thank you for the suggestion... this is the first ever cruise for either of us and I'm clueless on which excursions we should do. That helps a lot! 🙂

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My wife and I cruise the Mexican Riviera all the time and love it.  We were on the Panorama in February.  It is an amazing ship and I think you will have a great time.  To your questions (at least the ones I can answer):  Excursions.  You are a rookie and I would recommend using Carnival excursions until you learn the ropes.  It will give you confidence as you venture out.  Also while you are on the ship you will get a chance to talk with you fellow guests and see what they have done and how it worked for them using Carnival or private vendors on the pier. Passports.  We travel with passports and on one of our cruises had to fly home from Puerto Vallarta for a family emergency.  Carnival was wonderful in their support but I don't know what would have happened if we didn't have passports.

Hope you have the best of times.  We are going back in October and can't wait!

PS  Ride the sky Ride at least once--it is spectacular!

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For newbies, I always advise to do excursions via Carnival your first time out. Once you see how it all works, you can book private excursions on future cruises.

 

We always book excursions in advance. They can sell out.

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We always book excursions thru Carnival. When you book thru Carnival if it is laye returning the ship waits.  If you are on our own, t may be waiting it may not.  And yes we try to book before the cruise if we can. Nothing is more upsetting then having an excursion you are really looking forward to and finding out it is sold out.

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I have ATT cell phone coverage.  Mexico is included at no extra charge.  I make phone calls, text, and check emails when i am in port over the cellular network.  Just remember, if you use your phone for the time, once you take it off airplane mode it will change to the local time, which may not be ship time.  Also, when you get back on board and put your phone back in airplane mode it will stay on the local time.

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On my first cruise we booked an excursion for a snorkeling trip to Coki beach in St Thomas in the afternoon. That morning my brother and I were impatient and didn't feel like waiting around so we went to the dock and told a cab driver to take us to a beach where we could snorkel. We snorkeled all morning and went back to the ship and ate lunch and then met up for our excursion. As the bus took us along we realized we we going right back to where we were before. We just looked at each other and shook our heads because we knew we just got ripped off.  It all depends on what your doing and what your budget is and what you want to do. On my last cruise I paid for a snorkeling excursion to go to a little patch of sand/island in Belize and it was great. There is alot of great advice on this site and others about each port and how you can save money. A cruise is one of the best vacations for value, but the ship will try to get in your pocket the entire time you are on it. I take it as a challenge. 

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Passports - do you need them, no.  Should you have them...normally yes.  You may cruise with just birth certificate and govt. issued ID.  If you happen to be from one of the few states, such as Washington, that issues enhanced ID (different from Real ID), then that will work also.  Please note Passports are currently taking longer than the 4 to 6 weeks.  They are not processing expedited passports at this time.  IF you need to get home from a port in Mexico, you will need a passport.  You would need to have an emergency passport issued, which can be done.  So you are not "stuck" in Mexico. With that said, if everything goes back to semi-normal soon and expedited service is available, you may want to get a passport.  Oh, and be sure to bring any bridge documents if your name on ID and birth certificate are different (such as marriage certificate).

 

Excursions - agree do Rhythms in Puerto Vallarta.  With private excursions, you will normally have a smaller group at a lesser price.  I never hesitate to use them. But you have to go to them.  This may be right outside the pier or a taxi ride away.  With the ship's excursions, you will often meet in the ship theater (for Cabo) or at a designated area in the pier area.  If this makes you more comfortable, certainly book these.  You will have a great time.

 

Check and see if your phone company offers free calling in Mexico.  If so, you only have three sea days so you may be able to manage without service on the ship.  Each ship has an emergency number.  Be sure to leave this with your kids caregivers.  If your kids are older and staying alone, just figure they will have a party and deal with it when you get home.  Check the mailbox for receipts for limes and other garnishes..lol

 

Most importantly, be safe and have fun.  

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On 4/21/2020 at 11:37 AM, crzndeb said:

If I could make one suggestion on excursions, purchase Rhythms of the Night in PV, prior to boarding. It is, IMHO, the best excursion on the Panorama ports. It is also very popular, so that’s why I suggest purchasing before you go. 


I second this. This excursion was our favorite one out of all of the excursions we have taken on any cruise.  It was a great night from the beginning to the ending and the highlight of our cruise.

The best advice that I have ever seen on CC:
1. Get a passport
2. Purchase travel insurance
3. If arriving to the port by plane, fly in a day early

Those things aren't required, but are helpful in case of issues that may come up.  We always purchase an internet package and keep in contact with family members through text messages and facebook messages.
 

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Thank you all so much for  your advice! 

 

I currently have the Rhythms of the night in my cart with Carnival... I'm waiting to see what happens with the cruises in June before I actually book it!

 

I also have my passport paperwork filled out and we will go next week to get those underway... better safe than sorry!!

 

I'm looking into our cell phone carrier... I will probably still purchase internet so we can have some kind of contact with my kids... until we get to port and can call.

 

 

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13 minutes ago, TNcruising02 said:


I second this. This excursion was our favorite one out of all of the excursions we have taken on any cruise.  It was a great night from the beginning to the ending and the highlight of our cruise.

The best advice that I have ever seen on CC:
1. Get a passport
2. Purchase travel insurance
3. If arriving to the port by plane, fly in a day early

Those things aren't required, but are helpful in case of issues that may come up.  We always purchase an internet package and keep in contact with family members through text messages and facebook messages.
 

Thank you... where is the best place to purchase travel insurance?

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4 minutes ago, PhenaBaby said:

Thank you... where is the best place to purchase travel insurance?


I have an annual policy with Chubb because I usually travel a lot, but I have read many people on CC use insuremytrip to find a plan.

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13 minutes ago, PhenaBaby said:

Thank you all so much for  your advice! 

 

I currently have the Rhythms of the night in my cart with Carnival... I'm waiting to see what happens with the cruises in June before I actually book it!

 

I also have my passport paperwork filled out and we will go next week to get those underway... better safe than sorry!!

 

I'm looking into our cell phone carrier... I will probably still purchase internet so we can have some kind of contact with my kids... until we get to port and can call.

 

 

Please be aware that the State Department is operating at reduced staff, and passport applications are experiencing 'significant delays', due to the covid-19 pandemic. In addition, they have eliminated the 'expedited' processing. Here's a link:

 

"Because of public health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, effective March 20, we have limited U.S. passport operations. "

 

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/ea/passport-covid-19.html

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