Carnival Cruise Lines

Cruise Reviews by Cruise Critic

Cruise Line Overview

Carnival Cruise Lines, founded in 1972 and headquartered in Miami, is the world's largest cruise line. The company's humble origins pigeonholed the line as the cruise industry's version of a floating fraternity party for a long time. But that was yesterday, and while Carnival still commands a certain reputation for a flashy, neon atmosphere -- and by no means skimps on elaborate lounges and discos -- its ships continue to evolve.

In particular, Carnival earned kudos for enhancing cuisine (never a high point in the old days), investing in a top-notch children's program, and expanding its itinerary offerings beyond traditional Caribbean and Bahamas trips to regions like Alaska and Atlantic Canada. Carnival offered its first European itineraries in 2002 (Carnival Legend sailed a few cruises after its inauguration in Harwich), and in 2005, Carnival Liberty spent a full season in Europe -- a first for the line, which has since offered cruises to the Continent regularly. But the company's bread and butter has long been three- to seven-night cruises embarking from regional U.S. ports, including Miami, Boston, Charleston and Los Angeles.

Carnival Cruises is one of the world's most innovative cruise lines. In 1996, it debuted the first passenger vessel to exceed 100,000 tons: Carnival Destiny. It was also the first major cruise line to build and operate a completely smoke-free cruise ship, Carnival Paradise. (After nearly six years of butt-free sailings, the ship went to a "limited smoking" policy.) Effective December 1, 2011, smoking will be prohibited in all staterooms across the fleet.

Standard cabins include robes, and the "Comfort Bed" sleep system features deluxe plush mattresses, soft duvets, high quality linens and upgraded pillows. (Suite passengers have a "suite pillow menu" from which to select a specific pillow of their liking.)

In addition, the line offers a vacation guarantee program that allows passengers unhappy with their cruise the chance to disembark at the first port and get a refund. It also provides senior discounts via AARP, as well as very successful weddings at sea and golf offerings.

The Fleet

For nine years, starting in 1990, Carnival designed, produced and launched its immensely successful Fantasy-class ships, 2,052-passenger vessels measuring 70,367 tons; these include Carnival Fantasy, Carnival Ecstasy, Carnival Sensation, Carnival Fascination, Carnival Imagination, Carnival Inspiration, Carnival Elation and Carnival Paradise. Market changes, however, dictated new designs with more balconies and cushier staterooms. Carnival Destiny (now Carnival Sunshine), a 101,353-ton ship carrying 2,642 passengers, debuted in 1996; two sister ships followed -- Carnival Triumph in 1999 and Carnival Victory in 2000 -- both of which added 700 tons and 58 staterooms, bringing their capacities to 2,758 passengers each.

Carnival continued to add to its fleet through an aggressive new-build program, with Carnival Spirit launching in 2001 and three new additions in 2002: Carnival Pride, Carnival Legend and Carnival Conquest. In 2003, Carnival Glory, the second in the Conquest class, debuted. The year 2004 saw two more vessels emerge from Italy's Fincantieri shipyard: Carnival Miracle in March 2004, part of the Spirit class, and Carnival Valor, another Conquest-class vessel. A fourth Conquest-class ship, Carnival Liberty, launched in 2005, which brought the fleet total to 21. Carnival Freedom, the fifth and final in the Conquest class launched in 2007. Carnival Splendor, slightly larger than Conquest-class vessels, debuted in July 2008.

In 2009, Carnival introduced its largest ship yet -- Carnival Dream -- measuring 128,251 tons and carrying 3,646 passengers double occupancy. The ship is mainly an evolution of its predecessors, but does feature a few innovations, such as deluxe oceanview cabins for five with two bathrooms, a two-level adults-only Serenity area, and the longest waterslide at sea. Sister ship Carnival Magic, which carries 3,690 passengers, entered service in June 2011. Carnival Breeze will debut in June 2012.

In October 2012, the line announced that it had signed an agreement with Italy's Fincantieri to launch a 135,000-ton, 4,000-passenger ship in winter 2016.

While there is only one post-Breeze ship order on the books, Carnival is far from stagnant. Since 2007, Carnival has been pumping big bucks into fleet upgrades, and "refurb not new-build" appears to be the mantra moving forward. Over the past few years, it's committed $350 million to its eight Fantasy-class vessels, adding new deck spaces, waterslides and kids' facilities as part of the "Evolutions of Fun" initiative. "Fun Ship 2.0," a $500 million program launched in 2011, covered much of the rest of the fleet. Numerous ships gained new themed bars, dining venues and comedy clubs, among other additions. The program also included one of the most dramatic single-ship refurbishments in contemporary cruising: In 2013, Carnival Destiny underwent a $155 million transformation culminating with a name change. After its release from a 49-day dry-dock, Carnival Destiny became Carnival Sunshine.

Carnival Cruise Lines Fleet

Onboard Experience

Day Activities : Inside

With so much to see and do, our unmistakable interiors inspire fun from the moment you come aboard.

Fun Inside

As soon as you step foot in our spectacular atrium, you'll discover the seemingly unending variety of ways to spend your days at sea. Relax with a drink at the bar, take in the ships décor and feel your excitement build as you watch the smiling faces of our guests as they pass by. When you're ready stroll through the gallery adorned with beautiful works of art, find some great deals in our duty-free shops or lose yourself in a good book at the ship's library. Looking for a little more action? Our friendly-casinos are open day and night at sea so you can tempt lady luck anytime you like. Or, spend some time relaxing at Spa Carnival.


Want to chat with friends, old and new? Need a great meeting place to catch up with family and plan your next "fun" move? Or does the idea of kicking back and refreshing your drink sound good to you? We've got a spot just for you. All of our "Fun Ship" lounges provide the space and enjoyable ambience needed to unwind, meet up with friends or enjoy some "me" time. Grab a friend, grab a drink and/or grab a seat and just 'lounge.'


We know that your stateroom is your home-away-from-home for the duration of your "Fun Ship" vacation. So, to make your stay as comfortable as possible, each spacious stateroom features soft carpeting, indirect lighting, lots of closet space and individual climate control. You'll be pleasantly surprised at just how spacious our staterooms are. And, you won't find a better bed than those offered in every stateroom on every Carnival ship. The Carnival Comfort Bed features a superb mattress, high-thread-count linens and duvet, custom pillows, fine cotton towels and terry cloth bathrobes.

Day Activities : Outside

All of the available activities on deck make our fleet less like ships and more like floating resorts.

On Deck

Pools, waterslides, basketball court, a 9-hole golf course and more. Sounds like your neighborhood country club? Well, no membership fees are required here. All you need to do is step out on deck during your "Fun Ship" cruise. The soothing sounds of the calypso band surround you as you grab a cold, tropical cocktail and lounge on the sun-kissed deck. Many of our ships now feature a sliding glass dome, as well as Carnival's Seaside Theatre, a 12-foot-high by 22-foot-wide LED screen located poolside on the Lido deck showing movies, sporting events, concerts, and other special programming. So, pull up a lounge chair, kick back and enjoy the show, rain or shine. Oh, and don't miss out on our on-deck buffet with food favorites galore - Bon Appetit!

Daytime Activities

The Lido Deck is fun for all...Make a splash or take a plunge at Carnival's WaterWorks Park. Read a book at the 'Adult-Only' Serenity Retreat. Catch up with friends by the resort-style pool or watch a movie at Carnival's Seaside Theatre. And don't forget about soothing your body and mind at Spa Carnival. When you're not splashing around the pool, enjoy the deck parties, take a swing at our new 9-hole mini golf course, or go for a run on the jogging track, and try our on-deck buffets.

Day Activities : Shoreside

Get the most out of each beautiful destination your ship visits with our wide variety of shore excursions.

Shore Excursions

The best way to fill your day on shore is to explore our vacation destination's hot spots. Going to the Grand Caymans? Snorkel, feed and interact with dozens of Southern stingrays. Sailing to the Mexican Riveria? Swim with the Dolphins. Or is Alaska your destination of choice? If so, you just have to try our Rain Forest Canopy & Zip Line Adventure. Book your shore excursions online now! Simply click here to add your cruise reservation to your profile. If you've already registered go to the My Reservation and select 'Add Shore Excursions.' Shore Excursions are subject to availability and not available on all ship and sail dates.

Dining : Delicious Choices

Main Dining

After a full day of on board "Fun Ship" activitities - or exploring one of our beautiful destinations - you'll be ready for dinner. Tonight, choose the main dining room. Sit down, relax, and enjoy a true culinary experience featuring savory selections, including fresh lobster and an extensive wine list. The food is fantastic. But, then so is everything. Because dining is essential to the perfect vacation, we make certain that everything is tailored to your satisfaction including our children's menu featuring plenty of kid-favorites like spaghetti and meatballs, pizza, fresh fruits, assorted desserts and more.

Supper Club

Our reservations-only supper club, with a Manhattan-chic setting and a menu that includes steakhouse favorites is guranteed to be your favorite dining spot. Take in the atmosphere, fill up on tasty and luxurious meal offerings, and dance to live music. It's a special night of dinner and dancing you'll never forget.

Dining : Casual Dining

From the extravagant midnight buffets (on select ships), to the European-style cafes, sushi bars and 24-hour pizzeria, you'll discover a myriad of palate-pleasing favorites that even the most discriminating diner will enjoy.

Lido Buffet

Find your favorite spot in the main restaurant and order anything you like from new menus every day. And - get this - lobster is served on every cruise! Prefer something a little more casual? Some sit-anywhere dining? If you're a night owl, bring your appetite to our late-night buffet. Also, unlike land resorts, our kitchen never closes. The Pizzeria featuring salads, freshly baked pizzas and calzones is accessible 24 hours a day. We didn't forget about our youngest cruisers. Our children's menus feature plenty of kid-pleasing favorites including spaghetti and meatballs, hotdogs, pizza, fresh fruit, assorted desserts and much more.

Bistro Cafe

We have something special for every craving. For cappuccino, espresso and your choice of world-famous teas, every ship has a European-style café. How about freshly baked pastries or a huge hot fudge sundae to go with them (just a suggestion)? Every ship also features a complimentary sushi bar and a New York-style deli. The sea view bistro has flexible hours of operation to fit your fun-filled schedule, and boasts delicious buffet selections, a salad bar, carving stations and decadent desserts.

Spa Carnival : Fitness Center

State-of-the-art fitness equipment, jogging tracks and exercise classes to keep you in shape while at sea.


Get Physical - Stay in shape, while on board, with professional fitness experts at your service. Feel the burn and the satisfaction of a great workout while you lift, pedal or climb, with panoramic views of the sea surrounding your every move through our huge picture windows. And don't miss a single lesson or session of a spa fitness class - take energetic Aerobics, participate in meditative Yoga, become one with the mind/body exercises of Pilates, and reap the benefits of calorie-burning activities like Spinning. We can even design a "fitness program at sea" especially for you with our experienced and knowledgeable personal trainers.


Take some time just for you...wind down and relax by feeling the energizing dry heat of our cedar-scented sauna or let the hot vapors of the steam room engulf your body. It's invigorating, it releases toxins and trust us... It's just what your body needs.

Gym Facility

Stay fit on your "Fun Ship" vacation with the help of Spa Carnival's fully equipped fitness center. Go for a jog, lift some weights, or use our state-of-the-art equipment to enhance your physique. If heart pumping cardio classes are what you seek - enjoy spinning, aerobics, or cardio circuit training. For those who desire mediation or flexibility sessions - try yoga, pilates or aquarobics. All workouts are specifically geared to keep you focused on your health and well-being while enjoying all the fun of your cruise.

Spa Carnival : Salon

Our salons will have you looking your best for all the fantastic photos you'll take on your cruise.


Visit our full-service salon to get the glamorous look you deserve each night. We know that swimming and sunning can be rough on your hair, and then to think you have the task of preparing the "best" you for the night's many activities. Well leave that part up to us. Want to make a change or enhance your current style? Just tell us what you like, then let our skilled, professional staff condition your hair & scalp, give you a great cut or maybe even add some color. Leave your hair care concerns to us. We'll have you looking fabulous and feeling fantastic.

Skin & Nails

This is your time to be spoiled and pampered. Close your eyes, relax and enjoy your choice of facial therapies including massages, deep cleansing and other treatments that leave your skin feeling renewed and healthfully refreshed. Or maybe you prefer the invigorating hot vapors of the steam room or the dry heat of a sauna to release those impurities and give your face that beautiful glow. The choice is your's. And don't forget to let our professional staff give you the manicure and pedicure you deserve. You'll feel fantastic and look fabulous.


We know that the fellas need to look good too. So, our salon offers a variety of beauty treatments for men, including: facials, manicures, pedicures and hairstyling. Get set-to-impress with a Gentlemen's Facial or a complete grooming session, including a shave and haircut. Thinking of darkening that gray? We?re experts at that. Men who don't like to think of it as a beauty salon can call it the barber. It's all about him too. And while she's having her hair colored, cut and styled, he can relax in the steam room or sauna and let life's stresses drift away.

Spa Carnival : Body Treatments

Repienish your mind, body and soul with our extensive list of spa treatments and massages.

Oasis Escape

Relax, Revive or Rest - For the ultimate in a mental escape from the hectic outside world visit Spa Carnival. Your tired and aching muscles deserve a full-body massage and the lull of a serene environment. You'll be soothed by the emollients, renewed with defoliants, relaxed with hot stones or aromatherapy, and wrapped for the benefit of luxurious, silky skin. This is your time to be spoiled, indulged, pampered and beautified. Lay back, close your eyes, and feel the stress sail away as you tranquilize your body and mind...Enjoy this moment just for you.


Our European-style spa and salon is staffed with professional individuals who are trained in pampering you. So, take a deep breathe, relax and let Spa Carnival stimulate your desire to feel spoiled. Indulge in a variety of beauty treatments; specialized for men and women, including facials, loofah treatments, manicures, pedicures and hairstyling. Allow your body to feel the luxury of pampering...It's just what it needs.

Spa Services

Need suggestions on how to get started pampering yourself "fun ship" style at Spa Carnival? Try an herbal back cleanse, firming and toning therapies, and/or holistic skin rejuvenating facials. And if you'd like to try a massage - we've got deep tissue, reflexology, muscle melt, or stress-a-way massages, just to name a few. Let them calm, exhilarate, and invigorate your body...It's all about you.

Cloud 9 Spa

One of the largest spas afloat, the brand new Carnival Splendor's 40,000 sq foot, two-deck spa- including exclusive spa staterooms - will feature an extensive range of top quality facilities and treatments in an elegant setting of tranquility.

Night Activities : Shows

Award-wining productions, musical acts and side-splitting comedians... That's "Fun Ship" entertainment!

Stage Shows

"All the World's a Stage" and our spectacular stage shows are full of music, dancing, lights and costumes that could rival any Broadway performance. All show extravaganzas are made to ensure that every night feels like opening night. It?s like having top-dollar tickets absolutely free. Be dazzled by our singers, musicians, scenery and costumes and leave the show feeling good about your night out at the theatre.

Entertainment Shows

Catch a rising star ? A wide variety of singers, comedians, bands and musicians perform nightly out on deck or in one of the many clubs and lounges. Whether it?s calypso, country, or rock, we?ve got your taste in music covered. See these acts in the late-night lounge where there?s not a bad seat in the house. Every evening there are great singers or comics who will have you rolling in the aisles.

Night Activities : Casinos

Feeling lucky? Step inside our friendly casinos and try your hand at the latest games-of-chance.


The casinos on our "Fun Ships" feature the same popular games you would find at any fine land-based casino. Try your hand at slot machines, blackjack, roulette and poker - Roll the dice, cut the cards. We also have the Carnival Players' Club, a unique players' club where membership is free and all you have to do is play your favorite game. Who knows? You could even win enough to pay for your cruise. Feel the rush of excitement as you enjoy taking a chance on MegaCash, the world's largest cruise ship jackpot. One lucky guest even won $1,065,428.00! You could be next.


Hold'em, fold'em or double down; try your hand at... State-of-the-Art PokerPro Automated Texas Hold'em Tables, Traditional Slot Machines, Blackjack, Craps, Roulette, MegaCash and more.


Carnival Players' Club features all the BIG tournaments, including Wild Winners Tournament, Carnival PokerPro Challenge and the Three Card Poker Championship, where you can win your share of $1,200,000. Become a part of this winning group and you could qualify for special VIP privileges, promotions, specials and cash-back rewards. We offer something for every level of player from gaming lessons for beginners, to establishing credit lines and betting limits for the high rollers.

Night Activities : Bars & Clubs

No matter what your idea of a fabulous night-on-the-town is; Carnival has got you covered.

Dance, Dance, Dance!

Our nightclubs have amazing dance floors and great music. Enjoy the "oldies" and the latest in pop songs while you showcase your dance moves. It's the perfect place to have fun with friends both old and new. If dancing isn't your thing just hangout and enjoy the music, the atmosphere and the company. Our "Fun Ship" clubs are filled with excitement, laughter, and fun...Come, have a great time, and dance the night away.


Our "Fun Ship" lounges are hot-spots of enjoyment for the ultimate in nightlife. Mix and mingle with new friends, lounge in the cigar bar, dance the night away, or relax and just listen to the music. Every dream vacation includes "a good night out." "Fun Ship" lounges offer comfortable seating, vibrant colors and sometimes a themed-atmosphere for the feeling of the perfect night out.

Sports Bar

Our bars are the perfect place to watch the game, smoke a cigar or sing along at the piano with friends. When you're ready, move on to one of our nightclubs and groove all night long, or visit our cozy lounges, where conversation is key. Most ships have sports bars with a lineup of flat-screen TVs and many have a wine bar where your favorite vintage is at your fingertips.

Youth Experience : CLUB O2 (ages 15-17)

Whatever your style, mood, or moment, Carnival's CLUB O2 is your place. This special space blends friends, music, entertainment, sports and style for a teen-themed cruising experience unlike any other.

About Club O2

Club 02 activities are designed to be cool and a little more relaxed. Teens can hangout with their friends and watch a movie, listen to the latest music, play video games or join karaoke jam sessions. We've even set up teen-only shore excursions so your young adults can enjoy the sites and sounds of our beautiful ports with their peers. From the moment your teen steps into Club O2 every activity and event - from basketball and volleyball, to ping pong and high-energy dance and pool parties - has been specially created with teens ages 15-17 years old in mind.

Club O2 Lounge

Club O2's dedicated lounge area onboard is a hot spot with cool colors, comfy seating, video monitors, and a state-of-the-art dance floor. Teens can enjoy Coca-Cola products and other non-alcoholic specialty drinks as they watch movies, play video games and participate in this activity driven club - ALL with the goal to keep your teen havin' FUN.

Club O2 Director

Each director brings their own unique style to Club O2. They are hired and trained to spark the interest of teens and get them involved in great activities. Their motivation and dedication to the program ensures your teen's cruise experience is unlike any they have ever had before. They are hosts, entertainers and often DJ's for our great teen-themed parties.

Youth Experience : Circle "C" (ages 12-14)

Welcome to Circle "C" where 12-14's can cruise, chill, connect. It's a program that keeps on growing. There are games, parties, and other supervised activities that are created just for them. When they rave about all the fun they're having, you'll know they've discovered Circle "C".

About Circle "C"

The the ultimate spot where children ages 12-14 can cruise, chill, and connect to others. Cool activities, awesome facilities and lots of great new friends to add to their text-mail lists. The activities (think games, dance parties, outdoor movies and more) are supervised and created just for them. The friendly and experienced staff at Circle "C" wants to give your teens the best vacation experience possible. All activities are coordinated by a Circle "C" Director and dedicated to keeping the activities fun for our young guests.

Circle "C" Activities

Our playrooms offer a wide variety of games and equipment including, a video arcade and much more. Specialty items like air hockey, foosball, and karaoke (these are varied based on the class of ship) are also available. There are also special shore excursions, giving your kids the chance to explore our exciting destinations with a fun cruise director. Every night aboard a Carnival cruise our young guests can "mix and mingle" to the latest pop hits at our shipboard dance club.

Youth Staff

Carnival knows the importance of providing your children with top-notch care and supervision. All of our youth counselors have to meet important educational and professional requirements, as well as pass an extensive background check. They are professionally trained in CPR and are able to provide basic first aid for cuts and bruises. Additionally, should there be a medical emergency, all counselors are instructed to contact the parents immediately, as well as the shipboard infirmary.

Youth Experience : Camp CarnivalL (ages 2-11)

The year-round program includes a wide range of fun activities designed for three different age groups. All are supervised by staff who are either college educated in a related field or have professional child-care experience. As soon as children visit Camp Carnival, they'll meet the counselor assigned to their age group. While activities take place throughout the ship, smaller children enjoy many of their fun events in the Camp Carnival headquarters where there are games, arts & crafts, and even their own outdoor wading pool.

About Camp Carnival

It's all in fun...Camp Carnival includes a wide range of activities designed for children in three different age groups - Toddlers, Juniors, and Intermediates. All children are supervised by staff who have experience and/or education in child-care. You'll see your child's excitement grow as soon as they meet their counselor and get assigned to their group. And when it's time to eat kids get their very own menus, featuring all their favorites like hot dogs, chicken nuggets, pizza, macaroni & cheese, hamburgers and more. Camp Carnival Directors are hired and trained to spark the interest of the children and get them involved.

Toddlers (2-5)

The age-appropriate activities at Camp Carnival are sure to delight your 2-5 year-olds. The smaller children enjoy many of their fun events in the Camp Carnival headquarters. From finger painting to cartoon time, arts and crafts to puppet shows, your little ones will have a blast! We also provide babysitting services in the evenings. So plan a "date night" or "quiet time" just for two. Toddlers do not have to be potty-trained in order to be part of Camp Carnival; parents simply need to provide the youth staff with diapers and toiletries for their child.

Juniors (6-8)

When our 6-8 year-old guests enter the bright and lively world of Camp Carnival they'll enjoy fun-filled and exciting activities like Spin Art, dodgeball, volcano making and more. Your pint-size cuties will also participate in a large variety of themed activities and games - including prize bingo, water colors, jewelry making, foosball, air hockey, and much more. Your kids will have so much fun, they won't even noticed their being supervised. They'll think of our counselors as just big kids.

Intermediates (9-11)

Your 9-11 year-olds will feel a flurry of excitement every time they step into Camp Carnival. Our young cruisers will play all day long - from dodgeball and pool parties to video games and scavenger hunts. They'll also be excited about the new friends they've made. Parents can take advantage of our evening "After Hours" services from 10 p.m. till 12 a.m. After 12 a.m., juniors and intermediate will join the younger cruisers for our Slumber Party service until 3 a.m.

Celebrations : Celebrations

You have big reasons. Birthdays. Anniversaries. Graduations. Job promotions. Things that make you feel like, well, celebrating. Only you know what makes you want to have a party, pop open the champagne or bring out the cake. But at Carnival, we know how to turn whatever reason you have into an even greater event. And if it's a family vacation, keep in mind that Carnival has three supervised programs for your kids: Camp Carnival for youngsters 2-11, Circle "C" for kids 12-14 and Club O2 for teens 15-17. There are also connecting staterooms that are ideal for families. So, plan on a "Fun Ship" cruise where there's no such thing as a one-day celebration.

Celebrations : Family Reunions

Being with all the people you like is a celebration in itself. Which is why Carnival is the perfect choice for a reunion for any family, high school or college. It's a great setting for a retreat for your business, church or organization. It makes a wedding even more romantic. And for a girlfriends' getaway, it's inspired. With so many pools, dining choices, indoor/outdoor activities and exciting destinations, there's something for every guest of every age.

Celebrations : Romance

It's easy to see why so many couples choose a Carnival cruise. So many of our spacious staterooms have private balconies. Our reservations-only supper clubs are the perfect setting for a special occasion. The nights are filled with music, dancing, late-night shows and -- wow -- night skies filled with billions of stars. So, join us for a major event like a golden anniversary, or a sudden excuse to take a "Fun Ship" cruise, like buying new sunglasses. But find a reason, any reason, to celebrate. Then book a Carnival cruise vacation.

Fellow Passengers

For the most part, passengers are a broad crisscross of Americans; according to Carnival, 30 percent of its passengers are under 35, 40 percent are between 35 and 55, and 30 percent are over 55.


Carnival's focus remains the Caribbean, but the line also ventures a little farther afield. Carnival has regularly offered Europe cruises (including stints in the Mediterranean and Baltic), and the line offers cruises to Hawaii and Alaska. Carnival also has ships dedicated to Canada and New England, the Bahamas, Bermuda and Mexico. In late 2012, Carnival Spirit became the line's first Australia-based ship.

Carnival sails cruises from several homeports along the West, East and Gulf Coasts, including Charleston, Fort Lauderdale, Galveston, Jacksonville, Los Angeles, Tampa Bay, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Port Canaveral and Seattle.

Shore Excursions