12 Things to Never Do on a Carnival Cruise

So much cruise advice is about what to do on the ship — which room to book, which food to eat, which beverage package to get. Sometimes, though, you also need a reminder of what not to do on a cruise ship.

For the most part you simply need to use common sense on what not to do. But there are a few things that you might not realize are against the rules, dangerous, or annoying to other passengers.

Broadside view of Carnival ship in port

Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. If you’re about to sail on a Carnival cruise, we have a number of things that you want to be sure NOT to do on the ship that will keep you safe, and in the good graces of the cruise line.

Sit on the Ship’s Railing

To be as clear as possible: Never sit on the railing on a cruise ship. Not as a joke, not for comfort, not to get a better view. People do fall off of cruise ships, and many times it turns out they were sitting on a guardrail. Sitting on a rail is tough on its own, add in a moving ship or a stiff breeze, and you can understand how easy it is to lose your balance. So whether you are on a Carnival ship or any other cruise, never sit on the ship’s railing. It’s there for safety, not for a seat.

Bring Marijuana or CBD Oil

As recreational marijuana is legalized in more states and CBD oils are as well, many passengers wonder about bringing the substances on their cruise. After all, if it’s legal where you board the ship, can’t you bring it on your vacation?

Carnival follows federal laws when it comes to marijuana, which is to say it’s not allowed on the ship. Not only does this keep them in line with federal law, but it also takes into consideration that the ship travels to other countries during the cruise. Other nations typically has laws against marijuana as well.

Even with CBD oils becoming more common, they are not allowed on Carnival ships either.

Try to Get Two Drinks at Once With the Drink Package

Drink in hand on a beach

Carnival’s CHEERS! drink package is one of the best deals across the cruise lines when it comes to unlimited drinks. For a little over $50 per day you can get (nearly) any drink on the ship. One thing you can’t do is order two drinks at once with the package.

There is a five-minute waiting period between ordering alcoholic drinks when you have the CHEERS! package. We don’t think this is so much to slow down your drinking as it is to make it harder for you to share your package with others. If you ordered two drinks at the same time, you could easily pass the second one off to another person. Having a short wait in between makes it inconvenient to do this. If you really need two drinks at once, you can get one with the package and then buy the other one like normal.

Fly in the Day of the Cruise

Whether sailing Carnival or a different line, if you are flying into the port, then always arrive the day before. Consider the day of the cruise; boarding usually starts at noon and lasts until 3:30 or 4. Factoring in wait times, picking up luggage, and transportation to the port, it doesn’t take much a delay to cause you to miss your cruise if you are flying in. Meanwhile, it seems like weather delays, computer shutdowns, and mechanical issues are delaying more flights than ever.

Flying into the port city the day before gives you plenty of time should a delay occur and can help you start your vacation relaxed instead of scrambling to get to the ship.

Skip the Muster Drill

The muster drill is the one last hurdle you have to face before you start to enjoy your vacation. A safety drill, during muster the ship shuts down and everyone is ordered to their meeting points in case of emergency. It’s a bit disruptive to enjoying your cruise, but an important drill nonetheless.

Don’t think you can hide out in your room or that the drill is optional. Each person is scanned in when they arrive at the muster station, so the staff knows who shows up and who doesn’t. If you miss the drill, you’ll have to make it up later.

Smoke on the Balcony

If you’re a smoker (or vaper) then Carnival has only a few designated spots where you are allowed to puff. One place where you are never allowed to smoke is inside your cabin. And don’t think that it’s ok on the balcony either. Smoking is expressly prohibited on balconies even though it’s an outside area. If caught, you can be fined a cleaning fee of $500.

Try to Buy Alcohol While Underage

The drinking age on Carnival cruises is 21 years old if sailing from the United States. Meanwhile, when you buy a drink on the ship you don’t show ID — you simply hand over your Sail & Sign card that charges your onboard account. That makes it tempting for minors to try and sneak mom and dad’s card to get a drink of their own.

Don’t try it. According to Carnival’s ticket contract: “Guest agrees that Carnival has the right to disembark any Guest who violates this policy and as well as any adults traveling with minors who violate this policy or any other shipboard regulation.” That means you can be kicked off the cruise if you’re caught trying to buy underage.

Claim an Empty Chair For More Than 45 Minutes

Hogged chairs on a cruise deck

“Chair hogs” are a thorn in the side of many cruisers. So what exactly are they? Chair hogs are those that go down early, put a towel or belongings on lounge chairs in prime locations near the pool and then go about their day. All day long the chair sits empty except for someone’s towel, meaning no one can sit there despite it being open.

Carnival has rules against this and if a chair is empty for 45 minutes then the staff will remove the belongings there and free up the seat. For everyone’s enjoyment however, if you don’t plan to sit in a chair soon, just leave it empty.

Think You Can Do Anything When No One’s Watching

If you are out and about on the ship, it’s best to be on your best behavior, even if you think no one is watching. Cruise ships — including Carnival — have cameras everywhere around the ship, from the hallways to the cabins to restaurants to outdoor areas. If you do something you shouldn’t it will be caught on camera.

The one exception is your balcony. Cameras aren’t directed toward balconies, but some of them still might pick up something if they happen to have your balcony in the camera’s frame.

Ignore Your Check-In Time

Some cruise lines simply have open check-in. You have a window of 3-4 hours to board and show up whenever you want. Truth is this can cause delays when check-in opens as people rush to board the ship.

To make things go more smoothly Carnival has staggered check-in. Each passenger is assigned a 30-minute boarding slot. This spreads people out throughout the check-in window so that there is never a big rush of people. If you show up before your check-in time, you’ll be turned away. (If you show up after, you’ll be allowed to board). Don’t ignore your check-in time or you may have to hang out at the pier waiting until it’s your turn to get on the ship.

Forget to Download the Carnival Hub App

Like other cruise lines, Carnival has a shipboard app. Carnival Hub is in our opinion one of the best of the bunch. You don’t want to forget to download it.

What makes it so great is how useful it is. Not only does it have maps of the entire ship, but it also features the entire daily schedule, lets you keep track of your onboard account, chat with other passengers (for a fee), and even get pizza delivered to you anywhere on the ship.

You can read more about Carnival Hub here.

Fly Out Before Noon When Your Cruise Returns

What time should I book my flight home on the day the ship gets back? That’s a common question many passengers have. Truth be told it depends on which port you sail from. Ports like Galveston and Port Canaveral are some distance from the major airports, meaning you have to allow a longer time. Other ports like Port Everglades are just a couple of miles from the airport.

No matter where you fly out of, we think the absolute earliest you should ever book a flight home is noon. This should give you plenty of time at ports like Miami and Port Everglades where the airport is close to the cruise ship. If sailing a Carnival ship from a port like Galveston, try not to book before 1 p.m. to allow plenty of time to arrive, disembark, go through customs, and then drive to the airport.

For more tips on sailing on Carnival, see our 38 Must-Do Things on a Carnival Ship.

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12 Things to Never Do on a Carnival Cruise


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