If you’re booked on a Carnival cruise, then you’ve no doubt been tempted with offers for the cruise line’s Faster to the Fun (FTFF) package. Of course, you’ve likely also wondered if it’s actually worth the cost.
The premise behind Faster to the Fun is straightforward. By paying a little more, passengers get to avoid many of the lines that other cruise passengers have to wait in. Instead, you get your own dedicated priority line, much like Carnival’s Diamond and Platinum VIFP (Very Important Fun Person) Club members.
The pricing is simple. If your cruise is 4 days or shorter, then FTTF costs $49.95 per cabin (NOT per person). If your cruise is 5 days or longer, then the package runs $59.95.
Update: As of August 2016, Carnival has increased the price of FTTF for most cruises. You can view the updated pricing here.
In return, you get some pretty impressive benefits.
- Priority security, check-in, and boarding
- First access to your stateroom
- Priority delivery of luggage to your cabin
- Dedicated guest services phone line and line at desk
- Priority dining reservations
- Priority tendering at ports
- Choice of debarkation time
But are these perks really worth the extra $50 or $60 to avoid a few lines? Let’s discuss each one in more detail.
Details of Faster to the Fun Benefits
Priority security screening, check-in, and boarding
If you are excited about boarding your cruise, then you might have had this bad experience. With boarding time opening at 12:00, you arrive right at noon, only to be greeted by long lines that take forever to get through. It’s hardly how anyone envisions starting their cruise.
So that would be a huge benefit to FTTF, right? Not so fast.
Carnival has already recognized this problem of a rush of people coming right at the opening of boarding and created a logjam of passengers. In response, they are currently rolling out “staggered” check-in. This breaks passengers into groups, giving them a 30-minute boarding window. You can only check-in during your boarding time or later, but not earlier.
The result has been positive. Anecdotes claim that it’s dramatically reduced congestion on embarkation day, making waits much shorter.
But what if your port doesn’t have staggered check-in? Well, often simply waiting a little longer to board can make security and check-in a breeze. We’d suggest going about 45 minutes before check-in closes. By that time the number of people checking-in is usually in the single-digits, making the wait non-existent.
Verdict: If you absolutely have to board right when check-in opens, then FTTF is worth it. Otherwise, staggered check-in or just arriving a little later means spending very little time in line.
First access to your stateroom
With having to turnover thousands of cabins in just a few short hours, it can mean that passengers have to wait a little bit before their cabin is ready for them. Faster to the Fun guarantees that your room will be ready when you board.
We like this perk a lot. Sure, if your room isn’t ready you can just hang out by the pool, or hit the welcome buffet. But that means having to lug your carry-on luggage with you. It sounds much nicer to have your room ready right when you board.
Again, this is when simply embarking a little later in the check-in window can make all the difference. We’ve never had a cabin not be ready when boarding later in the check-in period.
Verdict: Passengers wanting to board right at the opening of check-in will benefit from having their room ready. However, if you simply wait until the initial rush dies down to board, then you can typically have your room ready anyway.
Priority delivery of luggage to your cabin
If you’ve ever been on a cruise, then you know that it can take several hours for your checked luggage to make it’s way to your cabin door.
While you should pack anything you might need for the first night in your carry-on, we think the hassle of wondering when your bags will arrive is a major headache. Knowing that your bags will be delivered first is a major relief.
Verdict: Having the bags that are among the first to be delivered is a major benefit of Faster to the Fun. If you only pack carry-on or simply don’t care if your bags get to your room early, then you may not care about buying the package.
Dedicated guest services phone line and line at desk
Without a doubt, you’ll find a reason (or three!) to have to go to Guest Services during your cruise. From questions about charges, how to book dinner reservations, or anything else under the sun, Guest Services come in handy during your trip.
The problem is that there can be thousands of other passengers on your trip with the same issues. That means lines at Guest Services can be tremendously long. Having a dedicated line can help you get your questions answered much faster — without wasting your cruise waiting in a line.
If you don’t want to purchase FTTF, then you can always go to Guest Services at odd hours (early in the morning or late at night). At these times the line is usually non-existent.
Verdict: If you don’t want to be bothered waiting in a line to have a question answered, then Faster to the Fun is well worth the money. If you want to save a few bucks, however, you’ll find that there are no lines at off-peak hours (Guest Services are available 24 hours a day).
Priority dining reservations
Have a certain time that you want to eat in the dining room? Your request with Faster to the Fun is filled after Platinum-level guests. That means you are all but assured your requested time in the dining room. This is especially helpful if you are booking your cruise close to the departure day when many times have already been filled.
Verdict: If eating at a set time is important to you, then you’ll love this benefit. If you want more flexibility, you can always select “Your Time Dining” which allows you to simply eat whenever you want in the main dining room. Remember there are also other food options aboard the ship if you want to avoid the main dining room altogether.
Priority tendering at ports
Priority tendering can either be a huge benefit… or absolutely worthless. For those that haven’t cruised, the ship doesn’t always pull up to a dock and you simply walk off. For some ports (such as Belize City or Royal Caribbean’s Coco Cay), the ships can make it all the way into land due to the depth of the water. Instead they anchor offshore and smaller boats ferry passengers into the port.
As you can imagine, moving thousands of passengers off the ship into smaller boats that then sail back and forth can take some time. If you are on a cruise with tender ports (a full list is here) and want to get off early, then having the FTTF package is great.
Verdict: Passengers who have a tender port on their trip and want to be among the first off the ship will get a lot of value from having Faster to the Fun. If you don’t have a tender port in your itinerary, then this benefit is worthless.
Choice of debarkation time
The funniest thing about cruising is that all those people who couldn’t wait to board… can’t wait to get off the ship once it returns home. That means long lines.
In our opinion, FTTF doesn’t help a ton with debarkation. The first people to leave the ship are those who choose “self-assist”. These are passengers who wish to leave first and can carry all of their baggage with them. You’ll find that a huge number of people select this option, and it takes a while for them to disembark from the ship.
Faster to the Fun guests who choose to use the self-assist option will be right in line with everyone else. It’s only in regular disembarkation where FTTF holders can get priority.
Verdict: Don’t buy Faster to the Fun to get off the ship before everyone else. It has some great benefits, but this isn’t one of them.
What Do People Say About Faster to the Fun?
There seems to be overwhelmingly positive feedback with the Faster to the Fun package. Given the wide range of benefits and the relatively low cost, we can see why.
Looking at reviews posted online, here’s what some people are saying:
“Faster to the fun is my favorite! I love getting on board and having my room ready to drop my bags and quickly run up and grab a bite to eat before the crowd arrives. I was so sad when this was sold out for our trip this year, but I knew to check back regularly and we snagged one. They were sold out again in about five minutes. I am ready to reach platinum so we will not have to purchase this in the future, but until then it is absolutely worth it. It makes me look forward to the trip that much more.”
“I purchased FTTF for my cruise from Charleston in 2013. It was worth every penny. I had not cruised in over 20 years, and when I saw the long lines, I was irritated because we had waited on the bus for some time. Once we got through security, we were immediately escorted to the front of the line, onto the ship, and our bags were at our door upon arrival. In addition, I had a chance to “cut in line” at the guest services desk onboard because I had FTTF on my cruise card. This is worth every dime, and I have it booked for my 04/30/2016 cruise from Charleston!”
“We bought FTTF for our cruise last Feb., and we highly recommend it. We arrived at the Port of Miami about 10:30 am, were given a Priority Pass and were onboard at the very same time as the Diamond and Platinum cruisers. It was great. Our luggage was already in front of our cabin door so we could unpack and drop off our carry-on bag nice and early before enjoying lunch.”
Overall, there seems to be a consensus that Faster to the Fun is well worth the price. In fact, with limited availability the package sells out quickly. That said, if you want to save money you can certainly “work around” some of the long lines with the techniques mentioned above.
If you are the sort of person who can’t stand lines or having to adjust your schedule, then you should see about buying the package.
Have you bought Faster to the Fun? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.