young woman with cruise ship in background, caption 'What I DIDN'T spend money on for a Carnival cruise And what I did instead' (inset) Carnival and Princess Cruise ships (background)

Mateus Andre/Shutterstock @lltodd2010/TikTok (Licensed)

‘I only spent $67’: Expert reveals the 4 things you shouldn’t waste money on aboard Carnival Cruise—and what to do instead

‘That was me tipping for every drink that I ordered.’


Nina Hernandez


A woman who just got off a weeklong Carnival cruise reveals the three things future passengers shouldn’t waste their money on—and what to do instead.

TikTok user Laura (@lltodd2010) went on a Carnival Celebration cruise in November. She posted a video, which has amassed 2.1 million views, to share some things that she didn’t spend money on while onboard and what she did spend her money on instead. “I want to share some things with you that I didn’t splurge on, and what I did instead to still feel like I got a good value for the money that I already paid,” Laura says to start the video.

Laura prefaces her breakdown by stating that she spent just $67 while onboard the cruise. “That was me tipping for every drink that I ordered, because I think that you should always do that,” she says. “That was me buying two stickers for my sticker collection on my desk. And then one $9 Carnival cup that I wanted. It was one of those cute little insulated wine glasses. That’s all the money that I spent while on this trip.”

One thing Laura likes about Carnival is that it doesn’t force you to pay for extras you don’t want. “I don’t feel like they nickel and dime you like some of the other cruise lines do, but they still have a lot of opportunities for you to spend additional money if you want to. But I don’t feel like you have to to have a good time.”

So what did Laura forgo?

Loft 19

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Laura was with a conference group on the cruise, and on the first day her group was allowed to tour the Loft 19 lounge. For an additional cost, guests can hang out in their own private cabana. The lounge is also equipped with fresh fruit, chilled towels, lunch delivery, and concierge service. Laura wasn’t impressed, however, and ultimately didn’t add that to her list of extras. “The cost of this is $500 per day on a sea day and $290 on a port day,” she says. “That to me did not seem anything that was going to be worth $500 a day or $290 for a port day.” Especially, Laura says, when there is a free lounge directly below Loft 19. The Serenity area, she notes, is 18 and up, which makes it more relaxing than Loft 19, in Laura’s opinion.

Thermal suite

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The second extra that Laura didn’t pay for is the ship’s thermal suite. Paid for by voyage or by the day, the room is equipped with a thermal pool, sauna, steam room, heated loungers, and rainfall showers. “I’ve been in the thermal suite on the Mardi Gras, which is the sister ship, before, and I loved it,” she says. “It’s beautiful. But I didn’t want to pay for it again. And that was purely because when I was on Mardi Gras, I was not very impressed with the behavior of my fellow guests.” The rowdy behavior included political arguments, public drunkenness, and phones blaring TikTok videos.

Specialty dining: Chi Bang

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Another thing Laura didn’t bother spending money on was specialty dining. “I didn’t feel the need to go to any of their specialty dining restaurants, because they had so many free dining experiences onboard that I wanted to take advantage of.” There are two main dining rooms on board, plus Chi Bang and Cucina Del Capitano. “Which are things that seem like they would be specialty dining, but on the Mardi Gras and on the Celebration they are included for your first night there. I think if you choose to go again you have to pay a fee, but they’re free for one time throughout your cruise.” Laura is a fan of Chi Bang, which has a Chinese menu and a Mexican menu. Cucina Del Capitano is an Italian restaurant. There are also free food stalls during the day that kept Laura full.

Carnival cruise ports

CARNIVAL CONQUEST CRUISE SHIP. CASINO INTERRIOR - 05 JUNE 2008: Interrior of the casino on large cruise ship Carnival Conquest. Carnival Cruise Lines.
Yevgen Belich/Shutterstock (Licensed)

And, finally, Laura saved money by not leaving the ship when it stopped at ports during the trip. “We went to San Juan, Puerto Rico; we went to Saint Thomas; and we went to Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic,” Laura says. “I have been to all of these places multiple times. I’ve done all the fun excursions I’ve wanted to do. So I didn’t feel the need to get off the ship. So while everybody else got off and went and had their short excursions or went on their adventures, I just laid on the deck and enjoyed myself.”

Where others are finding savings aboard Carnival

Family activities aboard the Carnival Cruise Ship Fantasy from Port Canaveral Florida to the Bahama Islands.
Dennis MacDonald/Shutterstock (Licensed)

In the comments, users shared their own Carnival cruise tips: Watch out for hidden charges like $6 popcorn on movie night; definitely attend the captain’s dinner; prepay the gratuity but do throw some cash tips at bartenders; prepay for the drinks package too; look into the Havana rooms which comes with a private pool.

But not everybody views it as favorably as Laura. One user wrote, “I went on 1 carnival cruise and it was the equivalent of Walmart on a boat.”

Another user said, “not getting off the ship defeats the whole purpose of a cruise, to me. i want to swim in the ocean and enjoy the beach!” Laura replied, “Depends on the destination for me. But everybody should cruise in the way that makes them happy.”

Somebody else said, “I’m so tired of people putting down Carnival. My husband and I have literally seen dozens of islands so inexpensively. Carnival is the best value out.” Laura agreed, “I really like Carnival! Some of my favorite memories are on their ships.”

@lltodd2010 #greenscreen what I don’t think is worth the money on a Carnival cruise. #carnivalcruiseline #carnivalcelebration #cruising #travel #carnivalcruise #carnivalcelebration2023 ♬ original sound – Laura Leigh Todd

The Daily Dot reached out to Laura via TikTok direct message and Carnival via email for comment.

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