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Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Cruise Line Cruise Review

From humble beginnings when its first ship ran aground on its maiden voyage out of Miami to becoming the world’s largest cruise line, Carnival Cruise Lines truly celebrates the fun of cruising. Its trademark tagline, in fact, is “The Fun Ships,” and that’s just what Carnival delivers.

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

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Carnival Magic departs Dubrovnik, Croatia on Tuesday, May 3, 2011 as part of her maiden voyage. Photo courtesy of Carnival

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

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Staterooms aboard Carnival ships are some of the largest of any mainstream line. They also include numerous thoughtful touches. Photo courtesy of Carnival.

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

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Passengers indulge in the culinary delights offered in Carnival Magic’s Prime Steakhouse. Photo courtesy of Carnival.

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

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Passengers relax in one of Carnival Freedom’s Lido Deck hot tubs and take in the entertainment on the big screen. Photo courtesy of Carnival.

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

  • Alaska
  • Bahamas
  • Bermuda
  • Canada & New England
  • Caribbean
  • Europe
  • Hawaii
  • Mexico
  • Transatlantic

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.
Ship ReviewLive Voyage Report
Carnival Breeze Review• 8-Night Eastern Caribbean
• Inagural Season First Impressions
Carnival Conquest Review
Carnival Dream Review
Carnival Ecstasy Review
Carnival Elation Review
Carnival Fantasy Review
Carnival Fascination Review
Carnival Freedom Review• Western Caribbean from Galveston
Carnival Glory Review
Carnival Imagination Review
Carnival Inspiration Review
Carnival Legend Review
Carnival Liberty Review
Carnival Magic Review
Carnival Miracle ReviewCarnival Miracle: Classic Mexican Riviera
Carnival Paradise Review
Carnival Pride Review
Carnival Sensation Review
Carnival Spirit Review
Carnival Splendor Review
Carnival Sunshine Review
Carnival Triumph Review
Carnival Valor Review
Carnival Victory Review
Carnival Vista Review

One Comment

  • To whom it may concern,

    I do not even know where to start with how disappointed i am with the experience that i had over the weekend for my friends Bachelorette celebration on this cruise line. I have been on a couple cruises before with Royal Caribbean and i am always shared a positive experience with them. However, i did not have a positive experience at all with this cruise line and i am shocked.

    Let me get started in telling you how rude the staff was to me and my guest. A few of the staff members were nice and helpful and i not sure if i just ran into these particular staff members when they were in a bad mood or what, but i cannot believe how unhelpful these people were.

    The first issue started when we first checked into our rooms. There was a total of 5 girls. 3 in my room and 3 in the room right next to us. As soon as we walked into my room, the stater attendant introduced himself to us and was very nice at first. We asked him for a bucket of ice and then went to check out our friends room right next door. I saw that their beds were separated and thought that our bed in our room should be separated as well for the extra space. Our Stater Attendant came back with the bucket and my friend asked him if it would be ok that we separated the bed in our room as well. He said yes. So, i go into our room and start separating the beds. I have been in customer service a long time and i know that these room attendants have a lot of people to help and rooms to take care of, so i had NO problem in doing it myself and it was super simple and easy to do. Thought i was doing this guy a favor. He walks into our room and asked me why i moved the beds, and i told him that i was just helping him out. He rolled his eyes at me and shut the door….. i was so confused and embarrassed. He comes back with sheets for the beds and i flat out asked him if i made him upset and he ignored me. I apologized to him and told him AGAIN that i was just trying to help and he still proceeded to ignore me. SO UNPROFESSIONAL! AND RUDE!

    I had also asked him to pull down one of the bunk beds prior to all of this and he told me no. they do that later. I don’t care when they have plans to do it… it was there now, and my friend wanted to get settled in.

    After that, we went up to and purchase our alcohol packages. One of the girls in our room is a recovering alcoholic and since we have not seen her in years due to that fact that she lives in Seattle and works as a flight attendant so we never get to see her. She told us in the limo ride that she will not be drinking and we were totally respectful and fine with that and assumed that it would not be an issue.

    We talked to the bar tender and he told my and my other friend Tyler that the only way we could get the alcohol package is if Asten purchased one as well…. we told him politely that she is a recovering alcoholic so she had already purchased the non-alcoholic package and would not be drinking alcohol. He told us that there was nothing he could do for us and that is the only way that we could purchase our packages is if she purchased one as well. We asked to speak with a manager and we spoke with a guy named Anthony who was supposedly the manager of the ship. This guy was so unhelpful and rude and told us the same thing. He would not help us. My friend Asten started crying and was so embarrassed and explained to him that she can and will sue Carnival for this and he just walked away.

    Keep in mind, we did not know about her alcohol addiction and we did not know that we needed some form of doctors note in order for us to purchase our package prior or else this would have been taken care of. My friend Tyler is the agent that booked this trip for us and he would have made sure that this was taken care if he knew, but he didn’t.

    After my friend Asten calmed down from crying, my friend Tyler called the Carnival help line and spoke with no joke, FIVE different people including a manager by the name of Brittany and Tiffany telling him that there was nothing that they could do for us. He spent over an hour on the phone while we all sat there and waited for him which was absolutely ridiculous.

    After he tried getting help over the phone and was unsuccessful, i tried calling to get help. I spoke with THREE different people and the last person i spoke with by the name of Amanda was the most helpful, but still did not ensure that our vacation would not leave a bad taste in our mouth. An hour later, she tells me that the only thing that they could do, if anything, is move one of the girls from the other room who also doesn’t drink into our room and she made it clear that even this might not happen and that if it didn’t that i would have to call the help line again. A WASTE OF TIME!

    We decided to just forget it now that it was 7PM and we had been on the boat since 11:00AM trying to resolve this embarrassing matter to just go ahead and worry about the alcohol package the next day so we bought all of our drinks with the cash we had.

    We went up to our rooms and changed and tried to start the day over. The first thing we did was go up to the bar to finally get a drink in and have some fun and the bar tender was the SLOWEST bar tender that i have ever met and i was standing there for 30 minutes trying to get her attention to order a freakin drink and the entire time she was just washing dishes and helping everyone else around me. She finally took my drink order and i waited another 20 minutes to get my FIRST drink. I was so irritated at this point and still tipped her and walked away. The rest of the night was just irritating from that point on and i did not want to talk to or deal with anyone that worked on that ship.

    The next day we had ordered for our breakfast to be delivered at a certain time and it was over an hour late and we were missing half of our order… not to mention, they kep bringing us only two glasses and only two silverwear set even though there were THREE of us in the room. So we kept having to wait and have the guy come back so we could begin enjoying our food. This happened every morning from that point on.

    The food at the buffet was horrible. We went to the Captains dinner where i had Lobster and spaghetti. The lobster tasted like salted rubber. It was uneatable. I noticed that the spaghetti was from the buffet from the previous day! It was disgusting. It took forever to get our drinks. yet again. Needles to say, i barely ate the entire trip.

    This same night, my best friend, the bachelorette had lost her ring. She lost in between us being the jacuzzi and then walking back to our room. We suggested that she talks to the customer service at the front desk to help her. These people were rude and not helpful at all what so ever. So told them exactly where she was and if someone could help her look in the spa for the ring and they told her that no one could help until they drained the spa at 11PM. She was crying her eyes out and everyone around her including guest noticed and no one but the actual guest tried helping her. The customer service employee just WALKED AWAY FROM HER! we were shocked. Luckily, we found her ring back in the room, but we are shocked with how unhelpful these employee’s were. Not to mention, one of the carnival papers in our room specifically state that ” Our friendly staff members are here to assist and help our valued guest with any lost or stolen items”. Bunch of bull.

    So after that lovely event happened, we went and purchased our alcohol packages. We then found out that we are only allowed to have 15 drinks per day and then we are cut off… now, i do not need 15 drinks as 4 are more than enough for me, but this is just stupid.

    This cruise line is all about taking money from people and being as unhelpful as you can possibly be.

    I cannot tell you how many time i was approached by an employee trying to sell me one of those souvenir drinks and then giving me a bad look for not getting one and then not being quick to get me the drinks that i wanted to order because i did not purchase the souvenir cups.

    Like i said, the food was terrible. The staff was unhelpful and rude. The rooms were dirty. The bathrooms wreaked of sewage the ENTIRE time.

    We also had room attendants come into our room at random time thinking that no one was in there, yet they did not clean or remove any dirty towels. WHY WERE THEY IN THERE THEN!?

    The second day of our trip, the beds were made, but the sheets were not changed. We asked one of the employees passing by and he told us that they make the beds early in the day and then they actually change the sheets later on in the day. Okay fine. When we came back later that night, i had dirty sheets on my bed. They were not the same sheets that i had slept on. They were dirty sheets with brown stains all over it. We called and asked the room attendant to change the sheets again… and guess what…. he never came. I just took the sheets off and set them in the hallway. The next day when they paid their little ” cleaning” visit, they decided to put new sheets on.

    By the way, that same night our room attendant came to drop off a bucket of ice that we had asked for and spent 20 minutes over the phone calling the Stater room attendant line and the front desk which rang FOREVER and when he saw that we had decided to push our beds together because we all wanted to watch a movie together he says ” ummm… i thought you wanted your beds separated……” with attitude. I told him ” yes, we did. Now we are watching a movie and we all cannot see the screen unless they are pushed together…” he rolled his eyes at me and walked away. Surprise Surprise.

    AGAIN, i am so SHOCKED with how unprofessional the staff is.

    Now, getting off the boat was the dumbest process i have ever been involved in.

    We had to get into a line which started at the actual exit and then form a line that went through several different hallways. This has to be the worst idea if there were to ever be a fire on board while being stuck in these stuffy hallways with a bunch of people and their luggage while the room attendants are running around, squeezing by trying to clean the rooms next to us. My friend Julie is VERY Claustrophobic. She started hyperventilating and went in tears once we started in the 4th hallway and she could see that we were only making our way to yet another hallway. The guest around us were trying comfort her and we went and grabbed her which took forever since there were people everywhere. We suggested that she waited near the exit to get some air and Julie told us that an employee came over to comfort her, kissed her hand and told her that everything was going to be ok. Yet he did not help in anyway to try and get her off the boat any quicker or to the outside air so that her panic attack would subside. He just kisses her and then tells her to sit down and walks away.

    Royal Caribbean is the only cruise line that i will travel on from this point on and i will continue to tell everyone i know what a horrible experience i had with Carnival and how rude and unhelpful the staff is. Prior to this trip, which i am glad i was able to take first to experience this, i was going to purchase a cruise for my parents to take in May. Screw that. Not happening.

    Not that anyone at the corporate office cares, and i am sure none of the management team will see this, so i will also be posting this on every review site possible to spread the word and i will continue to do it.

    Thank you for nothing,

    A VERY unhappy guest.


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