Are Carnival Cruises All Inclusive?

Are Carnival Cruises all inclusive? Not everything is included in the cruise fare, as guests can choose to pay extra for add-ons and to enjoy some venues.

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While it appears that cruises are all-inclusive vacations, not every cruise is. While some provide all-inclusive packages, like Norwegian Cruise Line, some cruises do not have that option. Are Carnival cruises all inclusive? We take a look to see what you get when taking a vacation with the popular cruise line.

The benefit of a Carnival Cruise is that they provide cheaper cruises compared to other larger lines. However, as the customer, you need to know what is included in your package. You need to know what you are getting for the money you paid and the additional costs you may incur with package add-ons and for access to some venues.

Are Carnival Cruises All-Inclusive?

The unfortunate news is that Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International do not have a real all-inclusive deal on their ships. While booking your trip on these cruise ships, you will note that fare includes meals in their main dining room, your cabin or stateroom, the buffet, and some select free venues.

You will also access shows, pools, onboard venues, and additional amenities on ships like Carnival Pride, Carnival Elation, and Carnival Freedom. Basic fare also includes water, coffee, and some additional basic drinks, but not items like alcoholic drinks or pop. 

Breakdown of What’s Included and What’s Not Included

This is what is covered in a Carnival Cruise fare:

  • Live entertainment (comedians, musicians, and theater shows)
  • Stateroom (nightly turndown, private safe use, and the television)
  • Access to the ship’s lounges along with live entertainment
  • Pools, waterslides (except in some locations), and hot tubs
  • Fitness center containing contemporary gym equipment
  • Food in Lido Restaurant and Main Dining Room
  • Kids clubs for those 2-17 years old
  • A pizzeria (9:00 a.m. – 4:00 a.m. daily)
  • Limited hours of soft serve ice cream and frozen yogurt
  • Guy’s Burger Joint
  • Certain drinks in the Main Dining Room when accompanied by meals, plus all the time in the Lido Restaurant. Drinks include lemonade, non-bottled water, iced tea, non-specialty teas, coffee, and hot chocolate.
Carnival Cruise Line Ship Deck
Photo Copyright: Cruise Hive

What is not included:

  • Dine-in specialty restaurants plus snacks at lounges/cafes
  • A Steakhouse Selection in the Main Dining Room
  • The Pizza Anywhere delivery service
  • Non-alcoholic/alcoholic bar beverage
  • Dr. Seuss Green Eggs and Ham breakfast
  • 24-hour available room service
  • Purchases made from the gift shop/Special Occasions/Cherry on Top
  • Thrill Theater/IMAX
  • Treatment at the spa, certain fitness classes, and salon services
  • Gambling in the casino/bingo/Deal or No Deal
  • Arcade games
  • Loft 19 rental
  • Sky Zone Trampoline Park at Sea
  • Art Auction programs
  • BOLT Ultimate Sea Coaster
  • Photos
  • Carnival Adventures (shore excursions)
  • Internet/chat option on HUB app
  • Using smartphone
  • Telephone calls (Ship to Shore)
  • Medical expenses
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Laundry services (self-serve/valet)

While it is possible not to spend additional money while cruising, many guests pay more for internet, specialty dining experiences, photos, and drink packages ranging from pop or bottled water to unlimited alcohol. 

Carnival Mardi Gras Roller Coaster
Photo Courtesy: Carnival Cruise Line

Drink Packages

While Royal Caribbean International allows you “all-you-can-drink” in terms of alcoholic beverages, Carnival Cruise Line limits guests to 15 drinks per day. Carnival has a fixed daily fee, while Royal Caribbean varies what it offers per sailing. 

You can bundle some drink packages, but the overall cost outside of the standard offerings at the Lido Restaurant and Main Dining Room are as follows:

  • Bottomless Bubbles: With this unlimited pop package, guests can enjoy as much juice and soda as they like from any venue that serves drinks while on board. The only place it does not apply is room service, the minibar, and through the interactive television. Also, only one person can use the package and can get only one drink at a time.
  • Cheers: This alcoholic drinks package includes spirits and cocktails under $20, glasses of beer or wine under $20, alcohol-free cocktails, specialty coffee, energy drinks, hot tea, bottled water, non-alcoholic bottled drinks, bottled water, 25% off spirits and wine by glass over $20, 25% off champagne or wine by the bottle, and 25% off classes and beverage seminars.
Carnival Cruise Line Drinks
Photo Credit: Joni Hanebutt / Shutterstock

The exclusions to the Cheers package are:

  • Beverages for sale in a souvenir glass
  • Bottles of liquor
  • Gangway drinks
  • Minibar and room service
  • Floaters, shared cocktails, beer buckets, or pitchers
  • Drinks offered through an enomatic wine machine
  • Merchandise or related items
  • Food

There is speculation that the price point is too low for the Carnival brand. Carnival Cruises charges $59.95/guest and an 18% service charge (pre-cruise) for a CHEERS! Beverage Package. The same package is $64.96/day/guest and an 18% service fee while on board. Charging this price point doesn’t seem worth it regarding return on investment.However, down the road, guests may see more of a premium package but with a higher price point. The pivotal point in making this decision may be balancing the ship’s availability for specific cruise ships. Select ships contain an established amount of dining slots. Popular restaurants will quickly sell out on some cruises. The second factor will be whether the cruise line feels the deal will encourage guests to spend more money. While Carnival Cruise Line has not indicated it will provide an all-inclusive package, it did provide this option for Princess Cruises, one of its sister brands.

Dining Experiences

Carnival cruise ships, like the Mardi Gras, Carnival Breeze, and Carnival Vista, contain a wide variety of food, but not all are free. Eating in the Main Dining Room/Lido Restaurant is at no charge. Additionally, some specialty restaurants may have a complimentary breakfast and lunch option.

Other food comes with an added expense, including snacks found in lounges or cafes and an evening meal in a specialty restaurant. As noted above, the only free foods are the pizzeria, frozen yogurt, and ice cream. However, in early November 2022, the cruise line announced that it’s cutting back on 25/7 free ice cream and yogurt, by now only being available from 11 AM to midnight each day.

Be aware of some special meals coming with a charge in the Main Dining Room. The Steakhouse Selections will cost more, as will the prime cuts of meat.

Carnival Cruise Line Dining
Photo Credit: Yevgen Belich / Shutterstock

Most passengers are content with the food in the Lido Restaurant and Main Dining Room. The offerings are varied and plentiful, so guests will never tire of the food. This enables guests not to have to pay an additional fee for dining if they choose not to.

Read Also: Free Carnival Cruise Dining Options

Carnival provides several deals wherein guests can bundle added-fee items and vary according to the trip booked. In some instances, guests can bundle internet and drinks, spending less money when compared to making separate purchases. 

Are Flights Included?

A Carnival cruise may include a flight. However, they are an option available when guests book their cruise, including transfers to or from your airport. If a flight is required, it is advised to book it as part of the fare or arrange it yourself.

Carnival Cruise Terminal
Photo Credit: JHVEPhoto / Shutterstock

You may save money if flights and transfers are booked separately. However, it does come with extra work. If there are delays, the ship will not wait. Sometimes a cruise line may wait for guests who booked flights as part of their packages. 

What Is Included May Depend on the Stateroom

Booking cruise ship suites may provide extra perks found in the fare. This may include:

  • Express boarding/priority check-in
  • One free laundry bag per cruise
  • Priority debarkation
  • Two bottles of water free in the suite
Carnival Sunrise Stateroom
Photo: Copyright Cruise Hive

Depending on what suite is booked and on what cruise ship, other perks may include:

  • Access to Havana Pool plus cabanas during the day (Havana Suite on Carnival Celebration, Carnival Horizon, Mardi Gras, Carnival Panorama, and Carnival Vista)
  • For Family Harbor Suite (on Carnival Celebration, Carnival Horizon, Mardi Gras, Carnival Panorama, and Carnival Vista), guests enjoy access to Family Harbor Lounge with video/board games, free snacks/breakfast in the lounge, kids eat for free in some specialty restaurants, and one evening of free babysitting.
  • For Carnival Excel Suites on the Mardi Gras, guests enjoy free entrance to Loft 19/priority cabana reservation, sparkling wine/fruit bowl, Bottomless Bubbles, complimentary room service, free on-demand movies, and no charge for laundry.

Conclusion

Are Carnival Cruises all-inclusive? The answer is no, overall. Guests booking a cruise so have the option to purchase extra add ons, which can often be cheaper online before the voyage. Even though there are many venues, services and packages that guests can purchase, the free options can still make a great cruise vacation.

Haiyan Ma
Haiyan Ma
I absolutely love cruising with my favorite ports of call being in the Caribbean. As a former crew member for Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, and Carnival Cruise Line I can continue my passion by sharing my experiences with readers. Find out more about us here.

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