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The Carnival Freedom and Carnival Valor are two of Carnival's Conquest Class vessels. While the ships have several common features and very similar layouts, there are some differences between the two ships. I recently sailed on both the Carnival Valor and Carnival Freedom from Galveston. The Carnival Valor currently does 4 & 5 night cruises from Galveston and the Carnival Freedom does 7 night cruises from Galveston. This is a photo comparison of the public areas of each of the two ships:
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Carnival Cruise Line's third Vista Class ship recently underwent its steel cutting ceremony at Fincanteri's Marghera Shipyard. The ship will be the third in Carnival's Vista Class and will debut in 2019.
At this time, we do not have the ship's official name, homeport, itinerary details, or design plans. However, there will likely be many similarities to the Carnival Vista and Carnival Horizon because both of these ships are also Vista Class ships. The Carnival Vista has been sailing since 2016 and the Carnival Horizon is scheduled to begin sailing in early April 2018.
We should know more information about this new ship at a later time, but for now we know the ship's construction has officially started!
For more information check out Carnival's official press release: Click Here (link will take you to Carnival's News website.)
The month of March is here again and this means that many schools around the United States will soon be enjoying Spring Break. While Spring Break can vary by state, area, and school, many schools will have their Spring Break sometime during March. As schools give time off for a break, some families will spend this time on a cruise vacation. If you are cruising during the Spring Break time-frame or are considering a cruise around this time of year, here are a few tips & suggestions for you to consider:
1. If You Don't Like Cruising During School Breaks Because Of More Children On-board, This Time Of Year Is Probably Not For You!
There are some people that prefer to cruise, with very few children onboard. If you are one of these people, consider cruising during a different time of year when school is in session. Another option you could consider, is choosing a cruise line that is less family oriented. This could decrease your likelihood of sailing with children and families, but does not guarantee a child free cruise.
2. The Weather May Not Be Perfect Or As Great As You Hope For
Everyone wants his or her cruise vacation to have nice weather, but this does not always happen. Cold fronts and other weather systems can occur during March, which could have an effect on your Spring Break cruise. Check the weather forecast often before your cruise to see if precipitation is likely in the places you will be cruising. I hope the weather will cooperate for everyone cruising for Spring Break!
3. Don't Forget Sunscreen or Sunblock
If you plan on being outside for any length of time you need to make sure you bring sunscreen that will protect you from u/v rays and the sun. Bring enough sunscreen for you and your family. However, don't forget to actually put it on before going outside. You may still get sunburned, if you are like me, but the sunscreen should help protect you. Put the sunscreen on as recommended by the label on your bottle and don't forget to reapply if the directions state the protection only lasts for a certain amount of time.
Getting a sunburn during your cruise vacation could put a damper on your vacation or make you feel terrible.
4. Parents Please Watch Your Kids At Pools
No matter what type of pool, slide, or water recreation activity your child wishes to participate in, make sure you keep an eye on each him or her. Most cruise ship pools have no lifeguards and are use at your own risk. The pools on ships can be used year round in some destinations, so this tip doesn't just apply to cruises that sail during spring break or the summer. Parents need to watch their children closely to make sure nothing happens to them. It is always much better to be safe than sorry!
5. For The Ports - Keep Track of Time & Be Back Before The Designated Time
Sometimes cruisers get off in a port of call and then get too wrapped up in their excursion or activity, which causes them to forget about getting back to their ship on-time. Although this is an issue that pertains to all cruises, it is important to remember to give yourself plenty of time to get back to the ship before the designated return time. Once your ship has sailed, you are probably out of luck and will have to find transportation to meet the ship elsewhere. The simple solution is to keep track of time, get back to the ship early, and then you can enjoy watching others rush back to the ship because they arrived near the last possible second!
6. The Price For Spring Break Cruises Can Vary
Typically, spring break cruises cost more than some of the cruises that sail identical itineraries around the same time of year. This is because cruise lines know their will be some demand for cruises during this time frame. You can most likely expect to find cruises that cost less than summer rates, but more than some of the other cruises offered during off-season times. However, do not wait until the last minute to book a spring break cruise because prices can go up and availability of staterooms will decrease.
7. Check The Dates Of When Your Cruise Begins and Ends
Some cruises that offered around the spring break timeframe do not align perfectly with time kids have off from school. This could mean choosing a certain cruise could result in your kid(s) missing a little bit of school if you choose to book the particular cruise vacation.
Hurricanes can be a major disruption to any cruise vacation because these storms can make seas choppy, close ports of call, force itinerary changes, and damage many destinations. The 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season runs from June 1 through November 30 and the Eastern Pacific Hurricane Season runs from May 15 through November 30. The time for hurricane season is upon the United States and many other places in the world once again.
While many people will cruise during hurricane season without any inclement weather or disruptions to their cruise voyage, there always seems to be some cruises each year that have itinerary changes or rough seas because of hurricanes. Our goal is to help you plan for a cruise that could be potentially disrupted in some way by a hurricane or tropical storm.
Onboard The Cruise Ship During A Hurricane
If you find yourself onboard your cruise ship during a hurricane or tropical storm you do not need to panic. Many cruise ships will make an effort to avoid sailing into the storm and instead keep the ship in calmer waters. This is for the comfort of all passengers and the safety of the ship. However, this does mean cruisers onboard will not feel any motion. You may feel the ship rocking, but it should not be nearly as bad as the waters directly affected by the storm. The closer you are to the storm the worse the waves will be.
Your cruise ship may close the outside public decks as a safety precaution if winds are too high, the ship is rocking too much, or the ship deems there is a safety concern with letting people freely walk on the outside decks. Be prepared for this possibility, but keep in mind there are probably other things you can do in the interior spaces of your cruise ship. If there is rain outside most people will probably stay inside anyways.
I recommend bringing some medication or a safe remedy that will help you in the event you become seasick or ill because of the movement of the ship. Talk to your doctor about what remedies or medications may work best for you.
There Is A High Potential For Itinerary Adjustments & Port of Call Cancellations/Changes
Cruise ships will often avoid areas that will be affected by a tropical storm or hurricane, if possible. This could mean a cruise's itinerary could be altered. In the past, cruise lines have cancelled ports of calls and made that particular cruise day a sea day. In other cases, when possible, cruise lines have swapped a port of call with another port of call. There are many factors that go into a cruise line's decision when making itinerary adjustments.
Before Cruising: Could The Cruise Be Cancelled & How Would I Find Out?
Many cruise lines will make an effort to avoid cancelling a cruise, but in some cases cancelling is the only option a cruise line has. A decision to cancel a cruise could be based on the storm's expected landfall, how close landfall is to a cruise's departure date, port authority storm procedures, and more.
Many cruise lines will email guests about a cancellation or post information online. There are a few cruise lines that use a text alert system to give notifications to subscribed guests. If you feel like you are missing important information and a storm is likely to impact your voyage in some way, you should call your cruise line directly.
Before The Cruise: Can I Voluntarily Cancel?
The specific answer to this question will depend on your cruise line. In many cases, your cruise line will allow you to cancel, but not receive a refund. This is because you are voluntarily cancelling on a voyage that is still going to sail and you are held to the cruise line's cancellation policy. In some cases, cruise lines will show compassion and allow cruisers to cancel without a penalty, but this does not happen with all cruise lines. However, if the cruise is cancelled by your cruise line they should be providing you with a refund and compensation.
Driving To A Cruise Homeport Where The Storm Is Expected To Hit: Things To Do
If your cruise is still sailing and the storm is expected to make landfall around your departure port there are a few things you can do:
- Parking: Flooding could occur at the place you park your car. If you can, try to park in a covered parking garage on a level higher than the ground. This will help protect your car from some flooding, but is does not guarantee your car will be 100% safe. Your car could still be damaged by water in many ways, including higher than expected floodwater. Don't forget that the wind can damage your car or blow objects into the glass.
- Take Valuables Out Of Your Car: Before leaving your house to cruise, take valuables out of your car. You should not leave valuables in your car at any time, but in this case your car could be washed out from flooding or looted after the storm.
If You Live In the Storm's Impact Area - Prepare Your Home
If you live in the area the storm will affect or potentially destroy, you need to prepare your home before cruising. I recommend doing tasks such as unplugging electrical devices from the walls to minimize your loss from a power surge, boarding windows, and storing objects that could be damaged easily in a safer place. There may be other tasks you must complete depending on your home's location and your own personal storm preparation plans. Some people have to deal directly with flooding, high winds, and other things. Make sure you prepare your home to minimize any damage that may occur while you are gone.
Links To Further Your Hurricane Preparedness
National Hurricane Center: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/
I will be adding more links at a later time.
Your cruise ship stateroom will be where you can keep your belongings, sleep, and clean yourself up. For some cruisers, the type of room does not matter, but for others deciding which type of cruise stateroom to select is a big deal. This blog post will give some tips and suggestions to keep in mind as cruisers try to determine the best type of stateroom for a cruise.
1. How Much Time Do You Plan On Being In Your Stateroom?
There are many things to do on a cruise and some cruisers spend more time in their stateroom than others. If you plan on not spending much time in your stateroom, you may not want to spend much money on your stateroom. An interior or room with a window might be a good choice for you because typically these staterooms are cheaper. If you plan on spending time in your stateroom or looking at the view from your stateroom often throughout your cruise, spending money on a balcony or suite would probably be worth it for you.
2. Does Light Bother You At Night?
While most cruise ship staterooms that have a window or balcony have curtains, some light might still be able to get through the cracks and into your stateroom. If light bothers you at night and disrupts your sleeping, you might want to look into getting a room that is an interior. This is the only way to guarantee your room will have no outside light coming in. If you book an interior and realize it is too dark, you could always turn on your stateroom's bathroom light and crack the door to allow a little bit of light into your room. This often works, except if the ship's motion closes the bathroom door.
3. Price: Choosing Your Stateroom Can Have An Impact On How Much You Pay For Your Cruise
Typically, interior staterooms are the cheapest option for cruises. For most cruise lines and ships, the lesser the view a room has the cheaper the price will be. If you are trying to cruise as a cheap as possible, I recommend pricing the different categories of rooms and comparing the prices of each. There are a few rare cases, where interior rooms are not the cheapest, but I have found this to be an exception.
4. Do Suites Have Extra Perks?
This will vary by cruise line because each cruise line does suites differently. If you are considering a suite, I recommend finding out perks are available to suite guests on your cruise ship and deciding if those perks are worth the extra cost.
In the fall of 2018, the Carnival Vista will reposition to do 7 night cruises out of Galveston, Texas. The Carnival Vista was launched into service in 2016 and is currently Carnival's largest ship. Since the Carnival Vista is the leader of the Vista Class and still a new ship, many cruisers may not know about all the features the Carnival Vista has to offer. This blog post will give some information about the Carnival Vista's features, their locations, and other general information about the ship.
Location: Deck 12
The Carnival Vista is the first Carnival ship to receive a feature called the Skyride. Essentially, the Sky Ride contains two tracks that are suspended above the ship's Sports Square. The Sky Ride riders will get to petal themselves, similar to riding a bike. However, as you petal yourself around the Sky Ride you will get to enjoy a view of the scenery around your cruise ship. If your ship is docked in a port of call you can enjoy the sights of the port and if your ship is sailing at sea you can enjoy the open waters of the ocean your ship is sailing through. To me, this feature sounds like a fun way to excersize and enjoy the sights from the ship!
Location: Deck 12
There are plenty of things to do on the Carnival Vista, and the WaterWorks is another thing. The Carnival Vista's WaterWorks has several waterslides including Carnival's Twister Waterslide and a slide called the "Kaleid-O-Slide". The WaterWorks also has a splashpad called "Splashzone" for kids and 300 gallon bucket that dumps water. The splashpad and waterslide landings are on the Carnival Vista's Deck 12, but the entrance to some of the slides is on Deck 15.
Location: Deck 12
The Carnival Vista's Skycourse is a ropes course for guests to enjoy outside. The Skycourse consists of two paths, which are of different difficulty. For safety reasons, cruisers have a harness. This is also a great way to see the views from the ship as you have fun on the ship.
4. Carnival Multiplex
(Consists Of The Thrill Theater and Imax)
Thrill Theater Location: Deck 6 Imax Location: Decks 7, 8, and 9
The Carnival Multiplex on the Carnival Vista consists of the Thrill Theater and an Imax Theater. These features both cost a little extra. The Thrill Theater shows films that have special effects and motion. The Imax Theater is essentially the same as an Imax on land, but the Carnival Vista's shows a variety of different movies and films. The daily onboard newsletter, the Fun-Times, should have information about show-times.
5. Guy's Burger Joint
Location: Deck 10 - Lido Deck
Guy's Burger Joint serves free hamburgers and french fries at lunchtime. During open hours, cruisers can step up to the counter and order. Once a cruiser receives his or her burger, there is a toppings bar that offers tomato, lettuce, onion, cheese, ketchup, chopped bacon, and other toppings that go great on hamburgers. The Carnival Vista's Guy's Burger Joint is located on the Lido Deck, which is Deck 10.
6. Blue Iguana Cantina
Location: Deck 10 - Lido Deck
The Blue Iguana Cantina serves burritos and tacos at lunch. Usually, the Blue Iguana Cantina also has some breakfast options too. To compliment tacos and burritos, Carnival's Blue Iguana Cantina also has a salsa bar. The salsa bar has a multitude of options available for cruisers. The Blue Iguana Cantina is complimentary! The Carnival Vista's Blue Iguana Cantina is located on the Lido Deck, which is Deck 10.
7. Family Harbor Staterooms and Lounge
Location: Deck 2
The Carnival Vista has special staterooms located on Deck 2 that are considered a part of the ship's Family Harbor staterooms. Staterooms that are considered a "Family Harbor Stateroom" receive access to a lounge located on Deck 2 that is considered exclusive to the guests staying in these rooms. The Family Harbor Lounge has a few video games and board games for families, family movies, and other things meant for families to enjoy. Also, a continental breakfast buffet and afternoon snacks are a part of the Family Harbor Lounge experience. For cruisers staying in these staterooms wishing to utilize the lounge, keep in mind the lounge may only be open certain hours of the day.
8. Red Frog Pub & Brewery
Location: Deck 5 - Promenade Deck
The Carnival Vista's Red Frog Pub has an onboard brewery that makes beers for Carnival Vista cruisers to drink. The Red Frog Pub primarily serves craft beers and snacks to cruisers for a fee.
9. Havana Pool Area
Location: Deck 5 - Promenade Deck
The Carnival Vista's back of Deck 5 has an area called the Havana Pool Area. This area is reserved for guests staying in Havana staterooms from the morning until 7pm. The Havana Pool Area consists of a pool and two hot-tubs. Beverage service (for a fee) is available. This area has a tropical look and feel.
10. Serenity Adults Only Retreat
Location: Deck 15
The Serenity Adults Only Retreat on the Carnival Vista is an area for adults 21 and older. On the Carnival Vista, the Serenity Adults Only Retreat has a variety of areas for relaxation and getting some sun. Carnival's website says the Vista's Serenity has areas for getting sun, but also areas for cruisers wishing to stay in the shade. Also, the Carnival Vista's Serenity Adults Only Retreat has a complimentary salad station, massage huts available for a charge, and hot-tubs.
11. Cucina Del Capitano / Pasta Bar
Location: Deck 11
Cucina Del Capitano on the Carnival Vista is a dinnertime eating venue that serves Italian food to cruisers for an extra charge. Cucina del Capitano is only open during the dinner hours.
However, at lunch the Cucina Del Capitano area is used as a Pasta Bar and this area serves complimentary customized pasta dishes. The Pasta Bar is only open at lunch.
12. Red Frog Rum Bar
Location: Deck 10 - Lido Deck
The Red Frog Rum Bar serves frozen drinks and beer for cruisers to purchase. This Caribbean themed bar is located on the Lido Deck near the pool.
13. Blue Iguana Tequila Bar
Location: Deck 10 - Lido Deck
The Blue Iguana Cantina Bar serves frozen drinks and beer for cruisers to purchase. This themed bar is located on the Lido Deck near the pool.
14. Cherry On Top
Location: Deck 5 - Promenade
The Carnival Vista has one of Carnival's Fun Ship 2.0 features, Cherry On Top, which is essentially a candy shop. This shop sells candy, gifts, and a few other things.
15. Sports Square
Locations: Deck 12 and Deck 14 (Selected Areas Of Each Of The 2 Decks)
The Carnival Vista's Sports Square consists of numerous outdoor attractions for cruisers to enjoy. In the Sports Square Clubhouse there is two lane bowling (costs extra), billiards, ping-pong, shuffleboard, and foosball. In addition, Sports Square on the Carnival Vista has a two level 9 hole mini golf course, a jogging track, basketball court, volleyball court, and some exercise equipment. This information does include all of Sports Square's features.
Please note, the features are subject to change. While some things are complimentary, others are not. Please check prior to your cruise to find out what is included and what is extra. This list does not represent all of the Carnival Vista's features.
Carnival Breeze vs. Carnival Valor vs. Carnival Freedom: How Do Carnival's Three Galveston Based Ships Compare?
Currently, the Carnival Breeze, Carnival Freedom, and Carnival Valor sail from Galveston. This combination of cruise ships gives Galveston cruisers many itinerary choices and options for cruising. The Carnival Breeze has been sailing from Galveston since April 2016. The Carnival Freedom has been sailing from Galveston since February 2015. The Carnival Valor became the most recent Carnival ship to reposition to Galveston in December 2016.
While all three of these ships are Carnival Cruise Line's ships, there are a few differences between the three. The Carnival Valor and Carnival Freedom have many similarities because they are both a part of the Conquest class of vessels, but when these two are compared to the Breeze there are some differences.
I decided to put together a chart that will compare some basic information, amenities, and features of all three of these ships.
This information was last updated Saturday, January 7, 2017. Please keep in mind this information does include all features and places on each ship. Please verify information before making any decisions as I could possibly have made a mistake or information changed. Check back for updates!
Carnival Cruise Line made changes to its gratuity system that took effect in September 2016 that some cruisers may not be fully aware of still. The goal of this blog post is to explain how gratuities work on Carnival Cruise Line ships.
The standard automatic gratuity for staterooms that are non-suites is $12.95 per person per day. This amount is broken down into $4.05 for housekeeping staff, $6.40 for dining room service team crew members, and $2.50 for alternative services crew members.
The standard automatic gratuity for staterooms that are suites is $13.95 per person per day. This amount is broken down into $5.05 for housekeeping staff, $6.40 for dining room service team crew members, and $2.50 for alternative services crew members. Essentially, the only difference is $1.00 extra per person per day goes to the housekeeping staff that service the suites. When Carnival first announced the increased rate for suite guests, Mr. John Heald (Carnival's brand ambassador) mentioned on Facebook the suites will receive priority embarkation, priority disembarkation, confirmed main dining room selection, complimentary bottled water in suite, enhanced turndown service, priority tender service, and one complimentary bag of laundry.
Cruisers that are cruising Carnival have two options to pay for gratuities. Gratuities can be prepaid before the start of the cruise. However, if a cruiser wishes, pre-paid gratuities can be adjusted at the Guest Services desk during the cruise. The other option to pay for gratuities is Carnival will add gratuities to each cruiser's Sail & Sign Card account at the end of the cruise. This method is typically referred to as an "automatic gratuity". Just like guests who prepaid gratuities, cruisers who use this method can also visit Guest Services to adjust the amount of gratuity.
Carnival will automatically apply a 15% gratuity for bar service and the Chef's Table. These charges will be on a guest's Sail & Sign Card's onboard account.
Please keep in mind this information is subject to change as Carnival changes its recommendations and gratuity procedures.
As the year 2016 comes to a close, it is time to look towards 2017 which will bring another year of cruising to the Mobile, Alabama cruise industry. While 2016 only gave Mobile two months of cruise departures from Carnival Cruise Line, 2017 will be filled with an entire year of cruises. Here is an overview of what to expect for Mobile in 2017:
Carnival Cruise Line
The Carnival Fantasy is scheduled to sail from Mobile year-round in 2017. The Carnival Fantasy primarily sails 4 & 5 night cruises. The 4 night cruises typically depart on Thursdays and sail to Cozumel, Mexico. The 5 night cruises typically alternate between departing on Mondays and Saturdays. Some of the Carnival Fantasy's 5 night cruises sail to Cozumel & Progreso, but other 5 night cruises on the Carnival Fantasy sail to Cozumel & Costa Maya. The 5 night itinerary depends on the particular departure date.
For more information about itineraries, sailing dates, and for the most up to date information please visit Carnival Cruise Line's website.
Today, I had the opportunity to see the Carnival Valor and Disney Wonder sail into Galveston. Both ships were delayed due to heavy fog. The Disney Wonder docked around 11:40am and the Carnival Valor a little after 12:00pm.
The Carnival Valor is currently the newest edition to Galveston's growing selection of cruise ships. The Carnival Valor is replacing the Carnival Liberty and will primarily sail 4 & 5 day cruises. The Carnival Valor first arrived in Galveston on Saturday, December 17, 2016. Today (12/23/2016) was the Carnival Valor's second time docking in Galveston. The Disney Wonder has been sailing from Galveston seasonally for the past few years.
This was the first time I have ever seen a Disney ship and the first time I have seen the Carnival Valor. I will be cruising the Carnival Valor in 2017, so it was exciting to see the ship in Galveston! Here are some pictures:
Disney Wonder's Arrival:
The Disney Wonder was the first ship to arrive in Galveston today. Before docking, the ship turned around and sailed into Galveston backwards. The Disney Wonder docked at Galveston's Terminal 2.
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Carnival Valor's Arrival:
The Carnival Valor arrived shortly after the Disney Wonder was docked. Before docking, the ship turned around and sailed into Galveston backwards. The Carnival Valor docked at Galveston's Terminal 1.
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RyG's Cruise Guide