10. Visit the Secret Deck: Located at the very front of most Carnival ships, on varying decks depending on the ship, these areas are typically accessed through a door located on either side of the ship all the way forward. Make sure you check the signs carefully, and wear comfortable footwear as you may need to climb up or down small flights of stairs. The best thing about the Secret Deck? It is still relatively private in comparison to other areas of the ship and offers a great place to get away from the crowds and experience some great views.

9. Try New Things: In the traditional dining rooms, you are not limited to only one appetizer and one entree per person. You can order two entrees or three desserts if you choose. You can also order appetizer-sized portions of entrees as starters or order a few appetizers for your main meal. It’s a great way to try new foods you’re not sure you’ll like (escargot, anyone?).

8. Save on Storage Space: Most stateroom bathrooms are quite small with limited storage space. Pack smart and bring a toiletry bag with a hook. These devices are wonderful with separate compartments to hold all your toiletry needs and keep liquids safe from the rest of your clothes. Besides saving space in your luggage, they can help you “unpack” in a flash. Just hang the bag on the hook on the back of your door and you are done - saving the limited counter space for the few items you need to keep by the sink. Also check your stateroom: Carnival designed the bulk of their couches with drawers built in underneath for storage.

7. Bring Your Sense of Adventure: Did you know that most Carnival ships have an onboard water park and watersides? Many also feature a ropes course and outdoor movie screens. Take advantage of all these different activities as they are included in your ticket price. And don’t forget your camera to record the memories!

Group Horseback Riding

6. Outsmart Onboard Internet: Bringing your laptop with you so you can stay in touch? Internet access onboard can be pricey - anywhere from $0.55 per minute and up - so type your emails out in advance. Then when you are ready to send them, long on and paste in the completed text so you can send all your emails in just a few minutes.

5. Keep the Power On: Many staterooms have only one outlet, which isn’t typically enough if you want to be able to charge your laptop, cell phone, iPad - and blow-dry your hair - all at the same time. Bring a small power strip with you and tuck it under your desk out of the way so that you can keep all your devices fully charged and not have your camera battery run out at a critical moment.

4. Stay Connected: Traveling with a group on one of the larger ships? Consider bringing along walkie-talkies to keep everyone connected onboard the ship without cell phone roaming charges.

3. Eat on Your Terms: Carnival ships all feature both traditional dining and specialty restaurants. If you enjoy group dining and making small talk with strangers (and new friends!) then eating in the traditional main dining room is a cruise staple you will enjoy. But if you prefer to have a more flexible schedule and want to try different cuisines then include specialty dining in your planning. Unlike the general dining room which is included in your cruise, there is usually a flat entrance fee to the specialty restaurants and some of them even offer a la carte dining.

2. Tip Smartly: Many crew positions onboard depend on your gratuities to supplement their income. Carnival includes those gratuities (covering your stateroom attendant, your waiter etc.) in your cruise fare. But what about the bartenders and bar servers? For every drink you order a 15% gratuity will be automatically added to the bill. Had outstanding service and want to add on more? Go right ahead. Just know what you are signing for.

1. Book Your Shore Excursions in Advance: Popular shore excursions usually sell out if you wait to book them while onboard and they can be very expensive. Besides who wants to spend their time ashore with a herd of people? Book in advance with professional tour operators through ShoreFox - you can save up to 40% from cruise prices, get better service away from the crowds and have an amazing time.

Looking for more in depth information on the ports of call you are going to visit? Check out our complementary Port Reviews available for each port of call - and packed with everything you need to know to make the most of your time ashore.

Happy Children Snorkeling