1. The Lido Buffet Gets Crowded Fast, But Not Every Buffet Line Is Equally As Crowded
As more people get on the cruise ship, the Lido buffet will become more crowded. This is because the first thing most people do on their cruise is eat lunch. However, not every buffet line gets equally as crowded because there are many cruisers that will get in line at the first buffet line they see, especially if they are a first time cruiser. For example, on my Carnival Dream cruise a few years ago, the deli was located at the very back of the buffet away from many of the other buffet lines. The deli had no line even hours after boarding had started. This likely was due to most cruisers not knowing where the deli was. However, the buffet line that served hamburgers was extremely long because it was one of the first buffet lines cruisers would see on the Lido. On the other days of the cruise, things such as the deli had longer lines once most people knew where to find the deli.
All Carnival ships have food lines throughout various areas of the buffet. On your Carnival Cruise, if you do not want to wait in a long line try to see if something near the back of the buffet is less crowded. Before your cruise, look at your ship's deck plan to see if there are any buffet lines tucked away from the general areas of the buffet.
2. Do Not Go To Your Stateroom Early Unless You Are Platinum/Diamond Or Faster To The Fun
Carnival offers a perk to Platinum and Diamond guests as well as a service to Faster to the Fun guests that allows early stateroom access upon boarding. On the first day of a cruise, Carnival closes down the stateroom hallways by shutting fire-doors to keep access limited. Guests with the perk of getting their stateroom ready early are allowed to open the fire door and go to their stateroom any time after boarding.
If you are not one of the people I mentioned above, please do not go to your stateroom early for any reason! This can complicate the cleaning and preparing process that stateroom stewards have. Before the official open time for staterooms, stewards are busy cleaning the rooms from the previous guests, changing linens, and cleaning bathrooms. I have seen a few people attempt to access their stateroom early and get kindly asked to leave by stateroom stewards.
3. Pools Are Typically Open On The First Day For Cruisers Who Want To Swim
On the majority of my Carnival cruises the outside pools and hot-tubs have been open on the first day. There are some people that bring swimsuits in their carry-on bags in order to begin using the deck chairs and pools right away. Due to this, deck chairs don't just become scarce on sea days, they can easily become scarce on the first day of a cruise too!
4. The Muster Station Drill (Safety Briefing) Is Required
Before sailing, all cruise ship passengers are required to attend a mandatory muster station drill. This is due to international law. Do not try to skip this drill. Stateroom stewards check staterooms, balconies, stateroom bathrooms, and under beds to catch people trying to hide from the drill. Skipping the drill can result in fines or getting kicked off the cruise ship.
The muster station drill on all of my cruises with Carnival have varied in length, but this is due to the other cruisers. When someone attempts to skip the drill, this can delay the official start of the drill for everyone else. Crew members at the muster station take a count of cruisers and report that number in order to make sure everyone is present.
5. The Gift Shops and Casino Are Closed Until The Evening
When you first get on your cruise ship do not expect the gift shop or casino to be open. Both of these places are usually closed due to local laws regarding gambling and the selling of products. However, sometime after sailing in the evening these places will typically open. Check your Fun-Time, which is the on-board daily activity newsletter, for information about the times things will open or close during the day.
6. You Can Find Your Dinner Time and Dining Room Information On Your Sail & Sign Card
Carnival prints your assigned dinner time on your Sail & Sign card. If you don't remember which dining time is printed on your online documents, you can find your dinner information here. There are usually three different options for dinner dining on your cruise, which are Your-Time, Early Seating, and Late Seating. If you wish to have your dining time assignment changed, you can usually find information about this in the Fun-Time or visit the guest services desk. However, in most cases, it is hard to get a changed dining time.
7. Carnival Says You Can't Get Stateroom Upgrades On The First Day And This Is Typically True
Carnival will often advertise that stateroom upgrades are not available once the cruise has started due to the ship sailing full. This is usually true and means there are really no staterooms available for upgrades. Do not waste your time trying because the Guest Services line is typically long and it would stink to wait a long time in line to be told the same thing that Carnival has been saying the entire time.
8. The Guest Services Line Can Get Long On The First Day
On the first day of the cruise, the line for Guest Services can get long. This is because people have questions, need various things done for them, and many other reasons. I recommend avoiding visiting this desk on the first day of the cruise, if possible. Of course, if you have something important you need to discuss you will have no choice, but to get in line. If that is the case, hopefully you will be lucky and the line will be short. If your request, question, or concern can wait until the next day, consider waking up early in the morning to visit Guest Services.