I’ve spent a lot of my professional career defending Carnival Cruise Lines. Allow me to explain.
When people ask what I do for a living, I tell them I am a travel writer who specializes in cruises. The next question inevitably is, “What’s your favorite cruise line?” That’s a hard one to answer. It’s like being asked, “Which of your two children do you love most?” And so I respond in a vague sort of way, because the truth is that all of the cruise lines that I’ve experienced (with the exception of some that have gone out of business) have been my favorites at one time or another. That said, I often surprise otherwise informed people when I mention Carnival Cruise Lines as one of my favorites.
I understand people’s surprise. Carnival has been around for a long time, more than three decades now, and unfortunately, one of the persistent images of Carnival is of hard-core partying. You know: beer funnels, wet T-shirt contests — all sorts of sin and debauchery. Deserved or not, there it is, the image of Carnival as party-hearty. So I typically find myself offering the rebuttal: “Carnival is not what you think it is.” I explain that Carnival has changed in recent years and that anyone would be surprised at the cruise experience Carnival offers. I know. I was surprised — even recently.
Putting The Fun In Cruising
In recently cruised three luxury lines. These were some pretty swank ships — operated by Crystal, SeaDream and Regent. The experience was extremely refined. Champagne flowed and caviar was spooned copiously.
When I returned home five pounds later, I booked a cruise on Carnival Victory with my 12-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter. You can imagine my surprise when I boarded the ship to find hordes of people, bold designs, and get this, no champagne — well, at least not flowing freely. I could always pony up for a glass. I boarded Carnival Victory, dare I say, as a ship snob.
After a few hours on board, however, I began to transform. My children were having fun, meeting other kids their ages; the sail-away from Manhattan was lively and festive. I was traveling not with beer-drinking belly-up-to-the-bar types (that’s the old Carnival) but with people like me — middle America. The thing that really struck me, however, was that all of us were having fun. After a couple of days on board, I confirmed something I had known all along: Carnival puts the fun in cruising. On the “Fun Ships,” even the daily activity sheet Carnival Capers uses the word fun on its cover three times: “Your daily guide to FUN.” “Enjoy your Fun Day at sea!” “On the Fun Ship Carnival Victory.”
Open up Capers, and you get a listing of fun and wholesome activities: Name That Tune, The (Not So) Newlywed Show, Ice Carving Demonstrations, Towel Folding, Karaoke Craziness, Totally 80s Dance Party, Air Brush Tattoos and more. On Pool Deck during the day, adults and kids alike went careening down the giant waterslide. In the dining room, waiters perform magic tricks, dance on tables and make dining fun and festive. On the Promenade Deck late evenings, people were dancing to live music. My daughter crooned Karaoke hits one night.
We were on a unique itinerary that offered a long, weekend getaway from New York to Saint John, New Brunswick. Our four-day cruise gave us two “fun” days at sea and one “fun” day in port. For those who need a quick cruise fix or a short get-away from life, Carnival’s short cruises from New York are fantastic — and, as with any cruise on Carnival, loads of fun.