Horizon tips

The drinking age in most ports is 18 years old… but 21 on the ship

If you are sailing from the United States on Carnival, then you have to be 21 to drink alcohol on the ship. But if someone isn’t quite of age, they can drink when in most ports. Places like Mexico and The Bahamas have drinking ages of 18. That means people underage in the U.S. can still drink legally when in port.

Carnival offers a 110% “Best Price Guarantee” on excursions

If you’re worried about getting the best deal on an excursion, don’t. Carnival offers a 110% guarantee. If you find the same excursion for cheaper somewhere else, then they will refund 110% of the price difference as onboard credit. That doesn’t mean you can’t find cheaper things to do, but know that if you do buy an excursion through the cruise line, you’ll be covered.

Trying to budget? Sodas cost $2-$3; Beers cost $6-$8

This isn’t so much a Carnival tip as just a heads up on what you’ll spend. Sodas run about two bucks. Beers will set you back about $6-8. Don’t forget to add in 18% gratuity, which is automatically included to the price. Worried about the bill? Carnival also sells CHEERS! drink packages that give you access to whatever you want for one daily price. They are convenient and can help you budget.

Look for deals on older Carnival ships

Carnival is always rolling out new ships. And while the pace of newer vessels will likely slow following the pandemic, the cruise line still has a number of new ships. Mardi Gras, Panorama, and Horizon have all been introduced in recent years. Rightly so, many people are eager to sail these newer ships. But if you want a deal, look at the older ships in Carnival’s fleet. The vessels are still fantastic to sail, but don’t generate the buzz like a new ship does. Often you can find cruises for hundreds of dollars less, giving you a great vacation for less money.

Bring cash, but ATMs are available on the ship

It’s better to bring all the cash you need, but don’t worry if you get an a jam. Carnival has ATMs on the ship where you can get some extra money. Be warned: the charges are high — $6 per transaction. And that amount is before anything that your bank might charge you to access your money.

Book excursions online to save time

If you plan to take a shore excursion, you can book it on Carnival’s site ahead of time. If you do this you’ll get the same price you’ll find on the ship, but you have some advantages. First, you don’t have to spend your precious vacation time waiting in line on the ship to book. Second, you get to book before everyone on the ship. If there’s limited space on an excursion, this could be the difference between getting the excursion you want or having it be sold out.

A $5 outlet adapter is worth its weight in gold

Cruise cabins are notorious for having limited outlet space, despite the fact that people travel with more devices than ever. Typically there is only one outlet per cabin in many older ships (newer ships are getting better at offer more outlets). Bringing a cheap outlet adapter can be a lifesaver, giving you multiple plugs. Best of all, they are only a few bucks and don’t take up much space.

You can bring on some drinks, so take advantage

Carnival allows you to bring some drinks on the ship with with you. You can bring a bottle of champagne or wine (standard size), and up to 12 cans or cartons of non-alcoholic drinks. While a bottle of wine or a 12-pack of soda may not seem like much, it definitely makes a difference in your budget. Considering that a glass of wine can cost $8-12 and a soda costs more than $2 each, it’s worth it to bring what you can to keep costs down. Plus, if you have a favorite brand, it makes sense to bring it because it might not be available on the ship. (Carnival ships serve Pepsi products.)

Buy the drink package early to save money

Carnival offers passengers the option of buying the CHEERS! drink package. For one set price per day, you can have your run of just about any beverage on the ship — alcoholic or otherwise. Now, this drink package isn’t for everyone. You definitely want to run the numbers on how much you’ll drink before you buy and if you’ll get your money’s worth (see our drink package calculator here). But if you do decide to purchase it, be sure to do so before you sail. Carnival discounts the package $5 per day — or about 9% — if you buy the package online before you board.

Every Carnival ship has a coin. See if you can find it

Want to have a treasure hunt on your cruise? It’s tradition for Carnival to place a coin on the ship when under construction as a good-luck charm. It’s a fun pastime to explore the ship and see if you can find it. It’s usually located on an upper deck in a public area where anyone can access it.