Just about the most recognizable name in the biz, Carnival and its “fun ships” have been around for almost four decades and offer a casual, super-mainstream kind of experience at a great price.
Today, Carnival has more than 20 ships in its fleet and more on the way, and devotes more of those ships to the Caribbean and the Bahamas on 3- to 7-night cruises than anybody else — though it also sails to Alaska, Europe, New England and Canada, Mexico, the Panama Canal, Hawaii, and Bermuda.
Big, Fun Ships
In the beginning, the line really lived up to its “Fun Ship” reputation, full of hard-partying young people and older folks alike. Things have matured a lot since then, but you’ll still find beer by the bucket, hairy-chest contests by the pool, and lots of happy folks in the hot tubs at all hours (especially on short weekend cruises) — along with families using the waterslides and couples dining in the specialty restaurants. Carnival truly attracts all ages, with couples and families making up the majority of guests.
The Carnival ships are uniformly big, but as with most lines, the newer the ship, the larger. Those launched in the last few years can carry almost twice as many people than the line’s oldest 2,000-passenger vessels.
Staterooms On Carnival Cruise Line
Fleetwide, Carnival’s ships get big points for their roomy and well laid out cabins, which all have equally roomy bathrooms. In the public areas, you can expect some pretty over-the-top decor — especially on the line’s older ships, which sport things like oyster shell wallpaper, furry barstools, wacky chandeliers, neon-bright dining rooms, and fanciful spaces themed on ancient Greece and Rome. Ships built over the past decade have toned things down a bit, but they’re still bright, busy, and playful. Almost everywhere you look, you’ll get an eyeful of wildly collaged textures, shapes, and images.
Dining On Carnival Cruise Line
In the dining department, Carnival’s food quality and presentation are much better than a lot of people expect on a mainstream cruise. The low-fat, low-calorie, low-salt Spa Carnival fare is also surprisingly tasty. At dinner, guests can go traditional or casual in the main restaurants, either choosing a fixed early or late seating or just dropping in whenever they like between about 5:45 and 9:30.
Dress codes are flexible too, and even on formal nights nobody will get upset if you show up in jeans and a polo shirt. If you want to go super-casual, you can dine buffet-style for every meal, choosing among everything from burgers and fries to burritos, pasta, fried rice and Indian food. You can get pizza 24 hours a day, too, plus sushi, deli sandwiches, and more. For a special night out, about half the line’s ships offer extra-cost specialty restaurants with superior service and cuisine.
Activities On Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival ships are buzzing with entertainment options, from flamboyant song-and-dance revues in giant theaters to large glitzy casinos, live bands and hilarious late-night stand-up comedy shows offered fleetwide on every cruise. The pool decks rock, pumping out loud Caribbean-style favorites throughout the day.
You won’t find much in the way of classes and seminars, but there are plenty of audience participation games and contests. You can also head to the huge gyms and spas, take a dance class, watch a movie on a giant outdoor screen, surf the web in the Internet center, whack some golf balls into a driving net, play laser tag (for a $5 fee), or head to the adults-only sunbathing deck that most of the ship offer for some quiet time. Kids get big children’s centers with high-energy counselors and activities, plus great water slides and water parks.
These People Will Love Carnival Cruise Line
People who want to have fun. All of the vessels in the Carnival Cruise Lines fleet exude a lively, upbeat atmosphere.
Families. With supervised activities for kids and Club 02 for teens, Carnival Cruise Lines offers something for every member of the family — the kids, parents and even grandparents.
People who don’t mind lots of visual stimulation. Carnival Cruise Line’s ships are bright and bold, with lots of neon and screaming colors.
What’s Included On Carnival Cruise Line
All meals, except for dining in the optional reservations-only Supper Club, featuring steakhouse favorites for US$35 per guest. Round-the-clock room service is complimentary, and the Pizzeria is open 24 hours for freshly baked pizzas and calzones.
FunShip Fitness, except for instructor-led classes such as Spin, Yoga and Pilates.
Entertainment, including stage shows and live entertainment out on deck or in one of the many clubs and lounges.
Youth Programs. Camp Carnival features a wide range of fun activities for kids from ages 2 to 11. Circle “C,” where kids ages 12-14 can connect, and Club 02 for teens ages 15-17.
Destinations Served By Carnival Cruise Line
Canada & New England
Carnival Cruise Reviews
To read a review of a particular ship, click the link under "Read the Review." If applicable, our Live Voyage Reports offer a day-by-day overview of an actual cruise onboard. In some cases, there may be more than one report, to be sure to see if your favorite destination is represented.