I always check in for my cruise as quickly as possible. Even if that check-in happens week before my cruise, it makes me feel like the vacation has started. Traditionally, that has happened many weeks before the cruise actually sailed. Given all of the post-COVID changes, however, Carnival online check-in now happens 14 days before the cruise. There are a couple of key changes since the “before times”– the time before COVID upended our travelling worlds.
Probably the biggest change is that you now can’t check in until 14 days before the cruise starts. I have not read a specific reason for this, but I suspect that is to allow the cruise line as much flexibility as possible in the event the public health situation demands that they make a change. There is one other change which is particularly important, however. Whereas you could previously show up at the pier pretty much at your leisure, you now have to select an arrival time. The Carnival online check-in process requires you to select a 30 minute window. I recommend checking in as early as possible so you can select the time which works best for you. I like to board as quickly as possible, so I selected 10:30– the first available time.
There are a few other things to think through before you check in. First, make sure you have all of your travel documents ready. I strongly recommend using a passport even if it isn’t required. In addition, Carnival will ask for detail such as whether you are parking a car and what time your flight arrives. Second, think about your preferences on the ship. This is an excellent opportunity to ask for a different dining time and to state whether you want two twin beds or one king bed.
I cannot tell you how excited I am to finally get back on a cruise ship. Look for more updates over the next few weeks, and happy sailing!