Read on for general information about this fantastic cruise line, and for reviews of the Carnival ships we’ve been on, use the ‘Directory’ above.
As of 2016, Carnival has an impressive fleet of 25 ships, the latest being the Vista which we sailed on soon after its inaugural voyage. And having just announced that the latest addition to the family, the Horizon, will be ready by early 2018, it seems that Carnival shows no signs of slowing down and will keep expanding its fleet for the foreseeable future.
Carnival has a very clear theme aboard their vessels, summed up simply in a single word- FUN! For many years Carnival has strived to provide the most entertaining, activity-packed holidays on sea and they certainly succeed, by using a variety of the following techniques.
Carnival has all the usual onboard activities you’d expect a cruise to have, such as interactive game shows, daily quizzes and the notoriously amusing (albeit slightly tacky) Hairy Chest Competition. However on the larger ships, you will find some of the first ‘at sea’ activities, such as IMAX screens, high ropes courses and the latest innovation, Skyride (for full details of this amazing ride, see our review of the Vista). Sporting activities are a big feature across Carnival, so you’ll find many of the ships are ‘decked’ out with sports courts, mini golf and even waterslides. Those who are after a less physical thrill can head to the fantastic 4D cinemas or the multiple table games dotted around the ships (shuffleboard was our favourite). Carnival has a particular focus on adult entertainment, so there are plenty of 18+ activities, the most popular being beer pong in the Red Frog Rum Bar.
Bars and Restaurants:
This moves us on nicely to the choice of bars and restaurants onboard Carnival ships. Certainly the Red Frog Rum Bar is one of the most popular, but it is affectionately rivalled by the Blue Iguana Tequila Bar, thus splitting passengers according to alcoholic preference. Both provide a great selection of traditional cocktails, but for something a little more unusual head to the Alchemy Bar, where a range of exciting concoctions are created. Those who love a sing-a-long will be sure to visit the signature Piano Bar, where they can join in with the resident pianist/singer without the solo attention of karaoke (though that’s still available for the more confident of performers). We particularly love the Limelight Lounge, which on certain nights is the home of stand up comedy; comedians from a variety of nationalities perform a range of material, family friendly to 18+ only, which you can watch while enjoying a drink. Another hit is the range of sports bars available on the ships, showing plenty of sports for fans from all over the world.
Carnival ships also have a great variety of restaurants and places for snacks onboard. In fact, Carnival have become renown for the latter, with places such as Guy’s Burger Joint (as in Guy Fieri from “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives”), Blue Iguana Cantina (with the most delicious burritos) and Cherry On Top (think Willy-Wonka does ice cream). The main dining rooms vary in name and design according to ship, but all have the same two menu themes, American Table for casual evenings and American Feast for elegant evenings. There is a good range of choice within both these menu’s but if specialty dining (for an extra fee) is more your style, we particularly recommend the Steakhouse or Bonsai Sushi.
- Carnival are particularly good at optimizing deck space, so you’ll find plenty of places to sit while onboard the ship. Even on sea days there are sun loungers available but, as with all holidays, you’ll have to be up early to grab the best spots.
- One of our favourite places is the Serenity deck, an adults only area where you can find jacuzzi’s, hammocks and extremely comfy hooded beds. It’s for ages 21+, so a guaranteed quiet spot any time you’re onboard.
- Carnival is all about technology. Not only have they started transferring photos to an online system, rather than printing them all out, but they also have developed a smartphone app to help guests onboard. The app is being rolled out on all ships and can help users with a variety of things, such as a map, what activities are happening currently and even a free messaging system between passengers.
- Gratuities: the standard gratuities system applies on Carnival ships, whereby you can pre-pay when booking your trip, or by cash/card at the end of your cruise.
- Drinks: Carnival ships have a variety of juices and coffee/tea freely available, as well as ice tea and water but alcoholic beverages do cost extra. It may be worth buying a drinks package for your cruise, with a variety of options available depending on what kind of thing you drink (there is a maximum of 15 drinks per day).
- Excursions: Carnival has very reasonably priced excursions in all of their stops. These can be the best option in certain places where public transport is not that reliable and can be booked in advance or once you get onboard.