Monthly Archives: June 2016

What Just Happened?

Yep it’s been a whirlwind of texts, phone calls, and emails over the last 24 hours. Today the big jump was made and the deposits were put down.  So now all the questions are racing thru your head.  Let me help you out with a few answers.

The deposits today secured your cabin and your account with Carnival.  The prices are around what I quoted previously so that makes me happy.  Over the next year and a half I will go on every day to check the fare prices.  If and when the prices lower I will let everyone know and we will submit price protection forms.  These forms will do one of two things: 1) lower the amount owed on the cruise if you still have a balance due or 2) give you on board credit if your cruise is paid in full.

There will be several specials that will be going on this year including military rates.  If these rates lower our balances we will take them!

Now why did I have you call and spend $59.95 for Faster to the Fun?  Quite simply it’s because we get to the fun faster! We will be among the first to board the ship on day one.  Our rooms and luggage will be ready first as well.  All except for Scott because his luggage always gets there well after mine does 🙂

There is also a special line set up for Faster to the Fun guests at the customer service area so you don’t have to wait in line.  We find this very helpful when needing to go over our Sail and Sign account.

On the final day we will be among the first to debark.  This will be helpful to get through customs and to our cars.  We know some of you will be needing to get to the airport so the earlier you can get off the ship the better to catch your flights.

Please when you talk with George make sure he has your email address and mailing address. Also, go online to http://www.carnival.com and set up your online account.  Once you have an account click on manage, then my booking, then add booking. You will add your booking information and now be ready to keep track of your payments.

If anyone has any questions or needs help navigating the Carnival site just call me.  I’m on it all the time!

Let the excitement begin….by the way it’s only 536 days away!

 

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Sail and Sign Card

The Sail and Sign card is your room key, your ship ID card and your charge card for all things on the ship. During check-in each person is given a Sail and Sign card, even Wyatt.

Sail and Sign cards are Carnival’s on board cashless credit program. This allows you to charge all your services, gratuities and purchases during your cruise to your stateroom.  All locations on board accept your Sail and Sign card for payment; the casino will also accept cash.  As a side note, when gambling always use cash so you know what your spending.

A credit card or cash deposit is needed to establish your personal on board account. At check-in you will be asked for a credit card or cash to set-up your Sail and Sign account. If giving a credit card or debit card Carnival will put a hold on your card for approximately $1000. Please be aware that even if you don’t spend that much on the ship the money will be held for up to three days after the cruise. If you use cash, which is what Scott & I always do, you can put $200 down and then add to your account as needed.

When the Sail and Sign accounts are setup during the check in process one adult in the room is assigned as an owner for the account.  The owner is fully responsible for all charges made to that account. Minors must have an account, but the account owner has the option not to allow charging privileges to their account.

You are responsible for making sure your Sail and Sign card is paid in full before debarking on the final day.  On the tv in your stateroom there is a guest services channel that updates you on all of your expenses to date. Please check it often so there won’t be any surprises at the end of the cruise.  There are also kiosks located on the ship where you can check your balance and add money if needed.  If you pay cash and have an available balance at the end of the cruise Carnival will give you a check on the last day as part of your check out.

 

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Passports & Birth Certificates

The question gets asked over and over again about whether or not passports are necessary for cruising.  Well here is the 411 (is that still a thing?) on passports and birth certificates.

When taking a closed loop cruise passports are not necessary at this time, the government has the ability to change this at any time.  A closed loop cruise is when you depart and return to a United States port, i.e. Galveston, TX. In order to cruise you are required to have an original certified birth certificate and government issued ID. Now let’s say you are a child, Wyatt & the other Peebles children, obviously you do not have a state issued ID but you do have your parents with you so you are good to go!

Passport books are the most expensive yet recommended. Passport books must be valid for at least six months beyond completion of travel.  That means that your passport must be valid through at least June 17, 2018. There are pros and cons to having and not having a passport.

The Pros:

  • If you were to miss getting back on the ship from one of the ports you have a passport to use to get to the next port.
  • If something were to happen and you needed to get back to the U.S. immediately, you will need a passport for air travel.
  • Debarking on the final day of the cruise is easy and quick through the passport lines.

The Cons:

  • The cost of a new or renewal of a passport is $135 for people ages 16 and over $105 for people under 16 years of age.
  • In order to get a passport it averages 6 weeks processing time.
  • You have to make an appointment with the post office to get your paperwork & photo to be sent in.

Passport cards are an inexpensive way to have a passport. The same rule applies for a card as a book, it must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the completion of travel.

The Pros:

  • The cost is reasonable. $55 for people ages 16 and older $40 for people under the age of 16.
  • Debarking on the final day of the cruise is easy and quick through the passport line.

The Cons:

  • In order to get a passport it averages 6 weeks processing time.
  • You have to make an appointment with the post office to get your paperwork & photo to be sent in.
  • You cannot use a passport card for travel by air.  This card is only for use by land and sea.

Driver’s license and birth certificate are the other approved forms of identification. The best part of these forms of identification is you should already have them.  If you don’t then shame on you and you better get to getting!

The Pros:

  • You should have them and if not they are easily obtainable.
  • Super inexpensive way for children to travel for sure!

The Cons:

  • You cannot travel in a foreign county with these forms of ID.
  • You cannot fly back to the United States with these forms of ID.
  • Disembarking is slow moving and long lines at the terminals, expect delays.

As a side note, any guest without proper documentation will not be allowed to board the ship and no refund of the cruise fare will be issued. In other words, DO NOT FORGET YOUR DOCUMENTATION AT HOME! Anything else you need for the cruise like clothing or hygiene items can be purchased anywhere but your documentation cannot.  That should be the item that you don’t forget to pack and you should pack it on your person.  Don’t put it in your suitcase and then fly.  Suitcases get lost.

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Deposits

The date is set, December 17-24, 2017.  The ship has been selected, the Carnival Breeze. The departure/return location is Galveston, Texas. And the itinerary is chosen. What more could there possibly be to know…..only enough stuff to fill up blog posts every week for the next year and a half.

By the way, the itinerary looks like this:

  • Sunday, December 17th departure from Galveston, TX
  • Monday, December 18th Fun Day at Sea
  • Tuesday, December 19th Cozumel, Mexico
  • Wednesday, December 20th Belize City, Belize
  • Thursday, December 21st Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan, Honduras
  • Friday, December 22nd Fun Day at Sea
  • Saturday, December 23rd Fun Day at Sea
  • Sunday, December 24th return to Galveston

Normally deposits run $250 per person but not in our universe. When the $50 deposit per person becomes available I will let everyone know A.S.A.P. Sometimes this deal is for one day only and other times it lasts for a week.  I will contact the Carnival Personal Vacation Planner (PVP) or as we like to refer to him, George.  At that time I will need to tell George the following information:

  • Full names of each traveler.  If you normally go by a nickname or any name other than what is on your legal documents please make sure I have the correct name to use.  This would include D.J. and Chad.
  • Dates of Birth
  • What cabin category you have selected
  • Email address and phone number Carnival can use to contact you.

After I have given George all the information it will be your responsibility to call him directly to give your deposits. We then have the option to make small payments, large payments, or simply pay our cruise in full prior to 76 days from the sail date.  That means your cruise must be paid in full 76 days (October 2, 2017) prior to the December 17th departure. I will not be handling your payments.  You will make the initial deposit with George and then after that you have the option of contacting him or just going online. Scott & I prefer making our payments online because it’s more convenient and we can readily see our balance.

There are two items you will see as an added charge and those are port fees and taxes.  I have looked at the cruise Scott & I will be on in 181 days and found that our fees are $90.11 per person.

I will be keeping a spreadsheet of each person’s information to give to George.  Now obviously I know the majority but just to humor me, when you get a chance please send me the info.  I know this was a rather long post and I do plan on making further posts a bit more condensed. I will be posting to the blog every Monday.  First round of cruise fun surprises will be going out in the mail the end of the week! (DJ & Matti I will hand you yours)

 

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Starting with the basics – Balcony

Next up, the balcony room.  This is by far our favorite room.  There is nothing like relaxing on your own private balcony watching the waves, flying fish, sunrises, and sunsets. Of course this room is not the most affordable option. There are 5 categories of balcony rooms:

Cove – Not only do you get the balcony that has 2 chairs and a small table, but this cabin is only 25 feet above the waterline.  If you would like to enjoy some ocean spray or quite possibly some waves this is the cabin for you. This room sleeps 4 and has the availability for connecting rooms.

Balcony – The standard balcony room has 2 chairs and a small table, sleeps 4, and has the availability of connecting cabins.

Large Balcony – This has a wider balcony area to stretch your sea legs.  Still offers the 2 chairs and 1 table.  It sleeps 2 people but does not offer a connecting room option.

Aft View Balcony – This is a longer balcony located on the stern side of the ship (the back).  If you have any type of motion sickness this is not the room for you.  You do feel the movement the farther out from the center of the ship you go. This sleeps 3 and does not offer the connecting cabin option.

Cloud 9 Spa – The same as a standard balcony but with spa amenities.This sleeps 4 and has the availability of connecting cabins.

The price of a balcony cabin for 2 people ranges from $1718-$2408 or $859-$1204 per person. Prices for 3 people range from $2347-$2777 or $782-$925 per person.

I hope that knowing the types and categories of the rooms and some current pricing this helps in some of your decision making.  When we do put deposits down I will need to know what room type and category you are wanting so I can block that option.

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Starting with the basics – Ocean View

The 2nd category for cabins is called an ocean view.  With these cabins you get a larger window allowing you to see a view of the ocean and plenty of sunlight.  There are 4 categories of an ocean view room:

Ocean View – This room sleeps up to 3 people and has the availability of connecting cabins.

Deluxe Ocean View (obstructed views) – This room sleeps up to 3 but also has obstructed views out the window.  There is not an option for connecting rooms.

Deluxe Ocean View – This cabin not only gives you the larger window but has a full bathroom plus a separate washroom.  This sleeps 5 people and has the connecting room option.The price for this room is $3535 which breaks down to $707 per person.

Cloud 9 Spa – Each Carnival ship has an area that is all about the spa treatments.  They also have rooms available in this area.  These rooms are located on the upper decks.  There are a few extra perks that you receive being in a spa cabin, like slippers. You can sleep up to 4 people but cannot have a connecting room. As a side note, Scott and I will be staying in a Cloud 9 Spa balcony cabin in 186 days.  I will let you know our thoughts after we return.

For 2 people the ocean view options range in price from $1498-$1578 or $749-$789 per person.  For 3 people the price range is $2097-$2177 or $699-$726 per person.

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Starting with the basics – Interior Cabins

After much thought I have decided that the first series of blog posts will be about the basics all cruisers should know.  This post will be all about interior cabins.  What categories there are, locations, and of course pricing.  The prices I will be using will be the current rates if we were to book today.  To confuse things even more, cause you know that’s what I like to do, I will be giving the price range for each type of cabin.  There are 15 decks (levels) to the ship so depending on where you want your room may cause a higher price.

Interior – Interior cabins are the most affordable of all.  Most of these rooms do not have windows.  You can sleep up to 4 people and there is the availability of getting connecting rooms.  Just like in hotels where there is a door to the room next to yours, Carnival also offers this option.

Interior Porthole – These interior rooms have round windows called portholes.  This allows for some natural light.  Porthole rooms sleep up to 3 people and also have the availability of getting a connecting room.

Interior Picture Window – These interior rooms offer a larger window allowing more natural light. The downside to this is the views are obstructed.  This means there is probably a lifeboat hanging right outside the window.  A picture window room allows for up to 4 people but does not have connecting rooms.

The prices for an interior for 2 people in the room range from $1198-$1318.  This makes it $599-$659 per person.  For 3 people in an interior room the prices range from $1887-$1967.  This is $629-$656 per person.  The reason for the higher price per person for 3 people is because there are not interior rooms available for that capacity in the lowest level cabins.

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Start Planning Now

Family Cruise December 2017

Yes it seems like a million days away so planning this early surely can’t be the thing to do.  Well, you would be wrong.  I’m a planner…it’s in my blood…I can’t help myself and must start the second I know we will be doing something.  Just to clarify, it’s not a million days away it’s just 559 days away.

Some of us will be seasoned cruisers, some have one under our belts, while others will be first timers.  No matter where you fit in this will be so much freaking fun!  I would like to use this platform to post valuable information, schedules, and a way for everyone to ask questions and get involved.  If there is something, even the smallest of question or concern, please ask away and someone (probably me) will get that answered.

The first questions might be and probably should be, what cruise are we going on and where will we be going?  If these are the tough questions then this planning thing will be a breeze.  Oh wait that’s the answer….Western Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Breeze leaving Galveston, TX with stops in Mahogany Bay, Belize and Cozumel.

 

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