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Carnival Cruise Line Review — Ships, Destinations, Dining, and More

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Carnival Cruise Line has been around since 1972. While it is mostly known for Caribbean cruises, it actually offers cruises to Mexico, Hawaii, and Europe, as well. Carnival Cruise Line Australia covers destinations like Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands.

Carnival ships, also known as “Fun Ships,” have a reputation for lively atmospheres and numerous onboard activities. With 26 ships sailing across the U.S., the Caribbean, and Europe, there’s something for everyone on a Carnival cruise.

Basic Information

Name: Carnival Cruise Line

Parent Company: Carnival Corporation (which also owns Carnival Australia, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Cunard Line, AIDA Cruises, Seabourn, Costa Cruises, and P&O Cruises)

Number of Ships: 23 (3 more debuting in 2022-2023)

Loyalty Program: VIPF Club

Credit Card: Carnival® World Mastercard®

Ships

Carnival Cruise Line currently operates 23 ships, with 3 more coming by the end of 2023.

  • Carnival Breeze
  • Carnival Conquest
  • Carnival Dream
  • Carnival Ecstasy
  • Carnival Elation
  • Carnival Freedom
  • Carnival Glory
  • Carnival Horizon
  • Carnival Legend
  • Carnival Liberty
  • Carnival Magic
  • Carnival Mardi Gras
  • Carnival Miracle
  • Carnival Panorama
  • Carnival Paradise
  • Carnival Pride
  • Carnival Radiance
  • Carnival Splendor
  • Carnival Spirit
  • Carnival Sunrise
  • Carnival Sunshine
  • Carnival Valor
  • Carnival Vista

Carnival Celebration will debut in November 2022. Carnival Jubilee and Carnival Luminosa will debut in 2023. Carnival Fascination and Carnival Imagination were put into long-term storage in 2020 with no timeline for return.

Departure Ports

Carnival Cruises sails to lots of destinations across North America, the Caribbean, and Europe from 26 departure ports.

Cruises to Australia, New Zealand, and South Pacific Islands can be found on Carnival Australia.

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Departure Ports
North America and The CaribbeanBaltimore, MDBarbadosCharleston, SCFort Lauderdale, FL
Galveston, TXHonolulu, HawaiiJacksonville, FLLos Angeles (Long Beach), CA
Miami, FLMobile, ALNew Orleans, LANew York, NY
Norfolk, VAOrlando (Port Canaveral), FLSan Diego, CASan Francisco, CA
San Juan, Puerto RicoSeattle, WATampa, FLVancouver, BC, Canada
EuropeBarcelona, SpainCopenhagen, DenmarkLondon (Dover), EnglandRome (Civitavecchia), Italy
Southhampton, EnglandVenice, Italy

Hot Tip: If you’re looking for destinations in Asia, Australia, New Zealand, or the South Pacific, check out Carnival Australia. This is Carnival’s sister company that offers different itineraries and ships.

Private Ports/Islands

While Carnival Cruise Line doesn’t own any private ports, it does make use of 2 of the ports owned by other cruise lines.

  1. Princess Cays is a private resort on the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas that’s owned by Princess Cruise Line. This destination offers everything you would expect — beaches, kayaking, sailing, a kid’s area, an adults-only area, and more.
  2. Half Moon Cay is another private destination located in the Bahamas. This island, also known as San Salvador Island, is owned by Holland America Cruise Line. You’ll find everything you need for a relaxing day on the beach — swimming, snorkeling, sailing, horseback riding, a water park, and more!

Half Moon Cay
You can visit Half Moon Cay, a private island in the Bahamas, on a Carnival Cruise. Image Credit: Carnival Cruise Line

Hot Tip: Be sure to get the most bang for your buck! Check out our guide to the best websites to book cruises at the cheapest prices.

Onboard Activities

These days cruise ships are full of things to do, and Carnival Cruises are no exception.

Carnival offers much of what you would expect to find on a cruise ship these days including pools, a casino, themed parties, Broadway-style shows, youth programs, and art auctions.

Skyride
The Skyride is one of the unique onboard activities offered by Carnival Cruise Line. Image Credit: Carnival Cruise Line

Lots of additional activities are offered to ensure you won’t be bored at sea. Not all activities are available on every ship and activities marked with $ come with additional fees.

  • Basketball
  • Bingo ($)
  • Bolt Ultimate Sea Coaster ($)
  • Cherry on Top candy stores ($)
  • Cooking classes
  • Cooking demonstrations
  • Build-A-Bear Workshop ($)
  • Family Feud Live
  • IMAX Theater
  • Karaoke
  • Library
  • Lip Sync Battle
  • Make It With Michaels arts and crafts ($)
  • Martini tasting ($)
  • Mini Golf
  • Mixology competitions
  • Outdoor movies
  • Punchliner Comedy Club
  • SkyCourse
  • SkyRide
  • Sky Zone trampoline park and challenge zone ($)
  • SportSquare
  • Video arcade ($)
  • Volleyball
  • Waterslides: WaterWorks and Twister

Formal Nights

Formal nights (or Elegant nights) are those in which formal dress is encouraged. That means dress pants with a dress shirt and sport coat for men, and for women, this means cocktail dresses, a pantsuit, or a skirt. If you want to go all out with a tuxedo or evening gown, that’s acceptable, too!

While formal dress is encouraged, it’s not required throughout the ship. However, the main dining room will require formal attire on Elegant nights. On those nights, shorts, T-shirts, beach flip-flops, bathing suits, jeans, sleeveless shirts for men, sportswear, and baseball hats are not permitted in the dining rooms.

Hot Tip: Curious about award travel on cruises? Check out our ultimate guide to using miles and points to book a cruise.

Dining and Beverages

You don’t have to worry about going hungry on a Carnival cruise. You’ll find lots of complimentary choices as well as specialty restaurants that come with additional charges.

Complimentary Dining

You don’t have to pay an extra dime to eat on your Carnival cruise if you don’t want to. All of these options are included in the price of your cruise (however not all locations are offered on every ship).

  • Big Chicken
  • BlueIguana Cantina
  • Guy’s Burger Joint
  • Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que
  • Lido Marketplace
  • Lucky Bowl
  • Main dining room
  • Mongolian Wok
  • Pizza Pirate
  • Pizzaria del Capitano
  • RedFrog Pub & Brewery
  • Seaday Brunch
  • Street Eats
  • Swirls
  • The Captain’s Pasta Bar
  • The Carnival Deli

Guy's Burger Joint Carnival Cruise
Dining at Guy’s Burger Joint is included in your cruise fare! Image Credit: Carnival Cruise Line

Specialty Dining

Carnival also features many specialty dining options that aren’t included in the price of your cruise.

  • Bonsai Sushi
  • Bonsai Sushi Express
  • Bonsai Teppanyaki
  • Coffee Bar
  • Cucina del Capitano
  • Emeril’s Bistro 1396
  • Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast
  • Guy’s Pig & Anchor Smokehouse | Brewhouse
  • JavaBlue Cafe
  • JiJi Asian Kitchen
  • Rudi’s Seagrill
  • Seafood Shack
  • Steakhouse
  • The Chef’s Table

Bars and Beverages

There is no shortage of bars available onboard a Carnival cruise ship. Most beverages including soda come with an extra charge, however, Carnival offers drink packages if you would prefer to pay for all of your drinks ahead of time.

Bottomless Bubbles is a drink package that included unlimited soda and juice and can be purchased on your ship. It must be purchased for the entire length of your cruise (meaning you can’t just buy the drink package for a day or 2). The cost is $8.50 per day for adults and $5.95 per day for kids.

Cheers! is Carnival’s prepaid bar package. With this package, you’ll enjoy unlimited alcoholic drinks (with a few exceptions) for the entire length of your cruise. This package can be purchased ahead of time for $51.95 per person per day or, once you are aboard, for $56.95 per person per day.

Hot Tip: Cheers! and Bottomless Bubbles packages aren’t available on European itineraries.

Here are some of the bars you might find on your Carnival Cruise:

  • Alchemy Bar
  • Beer Station
  • BlueIguana Tequila Bar
  • Casino Bar
  • Havana Bar
  • RedFrog Pub
  • RedFrog Rum Bar
  • SkyBox Sports Bar
  • Sports Bar

Hot Tip: The drinking age on all Carnival ships is 21+, regardless of the drinking age at any port.

Accommodations

There are different levels of staterooms you can choose on Carnival Cruise Line — interior, oceanview, balcony, or suite.

Regardless of what type of room you have, you’ll enjoy the following amenities:

  • Dedicated room steward
  • Carnival Comfort Collection linens
  • Stateroom climate control
  • TV
  • In-room safe

Carnival also offers 4 unique room types to accommodate families or anyone looking for something a little special.

Family-Friendly Staterooms: These rooms will accommodate up to 5 people, and some even come with a second bathroom. Adjoining rooms are available if you need even more space.

Cloud 9 Spa Staterooms: This type of room is available for those looking for a little more relaxation. These rooms come with Elemis toiletries, plus bathrobes and slippers. You’ll also get priority spa reservations, free fitness classes, access to thermal suites, and spa discounts on port days.

Carnival Havan Stateroom
Havana staterooms have an island flair and some even have large balconies with a hammock chair. Image Credit: Carnival Cruise Line

Havana Staterooms: These unique rooms are for guests 12 and older. They have an island vibe and come with unlimited access to the Havana Bar & Pool. If you upgrade to a Havana Cabana room, you’ll get a larger balcony with a hammock chair. Upgrade to a Havana Cabana suite to indulge in a luxurious rain shower.

Family Harbor Staterooms: These family-friendly rooms are decked out in nautical decor and are located close to the Family Harbor Lounge which features food, games, and movies. Plus, when you’re staying in a Family Harbor Stateroom, your kids will eat free in most of the specialty restaurants, and you’ll enjoy 1 free night of Night Owls babysitting service.

Hot Tip: Make sure you don’t forget anything — check out our printable cruise vacation packing list!

VIPF Club

The VIPF Club is Carnival’s loyalty club. You can join at any time, even if you’ve never been on a Carnival cruise. You’ll earn 1 point for each night you spend at sea.

There are 5 levels of membership in the VIPF Club:

  • Blue: first sailing
  • Red: second sailing — 24 points
  • Gold: 25-74 points
  • Platinum: 75-199 points
  • Diamond: 200+ points

The benefits you’ll receive vary depending on your membership level. Every member will receive members-only offers and an e-newsletter. Other benefits you can earn include complimentary bottled water, priority check-in and boarding, free drinks, VIPF parties, collectible pins, complimentary dinner at a specialty restaurant, and more.

Hot Tip: Don’t miss out on valuable points — check out our guide to the best credit cards to use to book your cruise.

Carnival Australia

Carnival Australia has an entirely different website and offers cruises to different destinations than Carnival, however, it’s not really a different company.

Carnival Australia Ships: Carnival Spirit and Carnival Splendor

Carnival Australia Departure Ports:

  • Brisbane, Australia (beginning in 2020)
  • Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Melbourne, Australia
  • Singapore
  • Sydney, Australia

Carnival Australia Destinations:

  • Australia (including Tasmania, the Great Barrier Reef, Adelaide, and Moreton Island)
  • Hawaii
  • New Zealand
  • Pacific Islands (including Noumea, Mare, Lifou Isle, and more)
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Singapore

Final Thoughts

Carnival Cruise Line offers cruises to the U.S., Caribbean, and Europe on 26 different ships! Onboard, you’ll find plenty of activities to keep you busy including waterslides, games, movies, shows, and even Build-A-Bear Workshops!

When it comes to dining, you won’t go hungry. You’ll have plenty of complimentary options to choose from or you can check out one of Carnival’s specialty restaurants like Emeril’s Bistro 1396 or Bonsai Sushi.

When it’s time to settle in for the night, you’ll be able to choose from lots of different types of staterooms including spa-themed rooms or family rooms with a second bathroom that accommodates up to 5 people.

Whether you’re looking for an adventure-packed vacation or just want to relax on the sea, Carnival Cruise Line has something to offer.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Carnival's newest ship?

The newest ship in the Carnival fleet is Carnival Panorama which will start sailing December 11, 2019. Carnival Radiance and Carnival Mardi Gras will debut in 2020.

What is the biggest Carnival ship?

The biggest Carnival ship is the Carnival Panorama which can accommodate 4,008 passengers and 1,450 crew members. A close second is Carnival Horizon which can hold 3,974 passengers and 1,450 crew members.

How much is the drink package on Carnival?

The Bottomless Bubbles package gives you unlimited soda and juice while on board and costs $8.50 per day for adults and $5.95 per day for kids. The Cheers! package comes with alcoholic beverages and costs $51.95 per person per day if you purchase ahead of time or $56.95 per person per day if you purchase onboard.

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About Katie Seemann

Katie has been in the points and miles game since 2015 and started her own blog in 2016. She’s been freelance writing since then and her work has been featured in publications like Travel + Leisure, Forbes Advisor, and Fortune Recommends.

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