Who better to tell you how to get the most out of your next cruise than two Carnival crew members? We talk to Canadian Ryan Binsell, a Fun Squad member, and Gorica Iliskovic, from Serbia, who is the assistant maître d’ on board Carnival Spirit.
How long have you been with Carnival?
Ryan: Three years. I started in the kids’ club, Camp Ocean, and I’ve been with the Fun Squad for the past two years.
Gorica: Four years. First as assistant waiter, serving the officers. Then I served the Captain, then moved to room service, followed by the dining room as a junior hostess, then restaurant hostess and now I’m an Assistant Maître d’.
And what does your job entail?
Ryan: The Fun Squad is in charge of everything fun for the cruise. We do everything from karaoke to trivia to the deck parties. We also assist guests’ experience in getting on and off the ship at the ports of call.
Gorica: I assist the Maître d’ in dealing with guests’ requests in the main dining room, as well as monitoring and supervising the service, across all breakfast, lunch and dinner seatings. We also host special events on many cruises, like the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, where we all wear costumes and create quite a whimsical high tea event for attending guests.
What’s your number one tip for having a great cruise?
Ryan: I would say maximise your time for fun. On cruise ships, the one thing I really love is there’s never a time where you’re like, “There’s nothing to do right now.” There’s always something to do, always something to plan. If that’s not what you want out of your holiday, you can always sit up on the outside part of Lido deck, grab a book and relax in a comfortable day bed.
Say, I’m a mum with two young children … how do I get the most out of my cruise?
Gorica: Basically, you have to leave your everyday lifestyle behind once you board the ship. That means no washing the dishes or making beds! You have to just relax and let the fun begin. Leave the kids for a while at the kids’ club and relax with your husband or your partner somewhere like the adults-only Serenity™ Retreat.
What about trying all the different dining experiences on board?
Gorica: Yes absolutely. So, for a date night or big celebratory occasions, I would suggest Nouveau, our fine-dining restaurant. For something more casual, try Bonsai Sushi. But eating in the dining room is also a great experience because of the show times, when the waiters sing and dance for everybody. And also, I’d suggest you dress up for the theme nights like ’80s night – everyone has so much fun.
Ryan: And you have to try the Warm Chocolate Melting Cake. It’s really, really good and on so popular it’s on the menu daily. I ask for peanut butter with mine… delicious.
What about special occasions like Christmas? Is that a good time to cruise?
Gorica: It’s a beautiful time to be on board at Christmas: people are gathering together as a family and we are like one big family on board, too. We all experience it together with a big feast and snow in the atrium; it’s very special.
If I hadn’t been cruising before, what would your advice be and what makes a great cruise?
Ryan: I think go with good people. Go with your family. Go with your friends. And make the most out of what you’re doing with the people you’re cruising with. As for the people onboard, everyone’s in a great mood. You’re more willing to talk to a random person who you’re sitting beside at dinner, or at a show. I think that really, the interactions that you make throughout the cruise and the people that you meet can really enhance your experience.
Any final tips?
Ryan: Definitely download the Carnival Hub App. It’s linked to your account, so you can keep track of your purchases. It also gives you a day-by-day schedule of all the activities: the time and the location, and a map! The dining room menu is also updated every day. And there’s a chat feature where you can interact with other people on board. You can say, “Hey, meet me on the Lido deck in 15 minutes.”