Deciding on the best carnival cruise ship will depend on what activities you enjoy doing as well as your family dynamics. People who are single will enjoy doing different things compared to a family man. Whether you want to sit back and relax or engage in various activities around the ship, there is something that people from every age group will find interesting.
What to Consider
When planning to go on a cruise, not only do you need to take your destination and budget into account; you also need to consider the tastes of the people who will be traveling with you. Parents will want areas to unwind or have a romantic moment and may even require babysitting services or hangout areas for tweens/teens. Carnival offers all of these and so much more.
While many of the cruises contain the same amenities, they may not all be included in the same package. They may still be available but will fall under that category of additional expenses. This is something that you will want to check into and work into your budget.
If you are single, there are many adults-only spaces and an active nightlife. Some cruises are geared more toward entertainment for adults than families.
You will also need to consider the duration of your cruise, and, again, plan for the extras. Those don’t always come in the form of additional cruise ship expenses but purchases made while at your destination. You want to enjoy your holiday and not be concerned about being strapped for cash. Therefore, it is a good idea to plan ahead and bring some extra money just in case.
Each cruise ship contains something different, as well as various themes. This means that if you book multiple cruises, you can have a different experience each time. It also allows you to tailor your experience or your family’s experience to the activities they will enjoy the most.
In This Article…
- What to Consider
- Best Overall: Carnival Glory
- Best Runner-Up: Carnival Sunrise
- Best New Ship: Carnival Celebration
- Best Budget: Carnival Elation
- Best Balance of Activity and Relaxation: Carnival Dream
- Best Overall Experience: Carnival Legend
- Best for Adults: Carnival Radiance
- Best Accommodations: Carnival Horizon
- Final Thoughts on the Best Carnival Cruise Ship Choices
Best Overall: Carnival Glory
Carnival Glory was built in 2003, making it an older but beloved ship. While you may assume that Glory would be showing its age, constant refurbishments have kept it updated and in optimal condition.
Carnival Glory offers a wide variety of enjoyable activities and attractions. If you like stand-up comedy, you will enjoy The Punchliner Comedy Club. For on-stage entertainment, go to Playlist Productions where you will enjoy dancing and singing accompanied by video screens that make the production life-like.
Carnival WaterWorks provides a winding journey down a Twister. The waterslide section also includes an all-new AquaTunnel with twin racing slides accompanied by a giant tipping bucket. Plus, to top off your evening, enjoy a Dive-in Movie, which is their mash-up of Hollywood meets islands.
For the kids, they can experience Seuss at Sea where the characters and their favorite books are brought to life.
Best Runner-Up: Carnival Sunrise
Carnival Sunrise has recently experienced a $200-million refurbishing. Originally known as the Carnival Triumph, the changes were so drastic that they decided to give the ship a new identity, and the Carnival Sunrise emerged.
It has three homeports: Norfolk, New York City, and Fort Lauderdale. Each location offers its own destination.
Every cabin has been remodeled with updated furnishings, including the additional dining experiences of Cucina del Capitano, Bonsai Express, Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse, and Red Frog Pub. They added a new Sports Court with mini-golf, Waterworks, and a rope course.
In addition to the attractions mentioned above, this cruise ship contains:
- Camp Ocean for 2–11-year-olds to enjoy ocean-themed activities
- Club 02 for teens to hang out
- Circle “C,” which is a hot spot for those aged 12-14
- Zumbini for toddlers to preschool
- Make it With Michaels offers arts and crafts for hobbyists
- Adults can relax at Cloud 9 Spa
- Seuss-a-palooza Parade
There are many more attractions to enjoy, but these are just a few that really set this cruise apart.
Best New Ship: Carnival Celebration
Coming in 2022, the Carnival Celebration guarantees the perfect vacation experience each time. It marks Carnival’s 50th birthday and offers a tribute to their many years at sea. This cruise ship provides a nod to the classic, original MS Celebration while amping up all of the festivities associated with a Carnival cruise.
This cruise will set sail from Miami and guests will immediately be greeted with a Mardi-Gras atmosphere. Carnival has incorporated six zones into this ship which offer themed areas that combine flavor, and offer amazing experiences. This is also the second ship to offer BOLT which is a rollercoaster located onboard the ship. They have guaranteed it will rival the original.
For fun onboard the ship, they have incorporated:
- Family Feud: bring your family together to see if you can guess the top answer
- Playlist Productions bring your favorite musical to life
- WaterWorks added a Keleid-O-Slide, which contains a lightshow waterslide
- Loft 19 is the ultimate relaxation destination for adults
- Seuss at Sea is designed to bring the magic of Dr. Seuss to little ones
- Various beauty and relaxation spots for both men and women
Additionally, there are a plethora of culinary experiences onboard to satisfy any appetite.
Best Budget: Carnival Elation
Carnival Elation was designed to celebrate those who inspired the arts. Amusingly, it is said that “guests like you can expect this ship to inspire you… to have tons of vacation fun.”. This indeed is what this ship was designed to do.
As you travel to your destination, you can experience culinary delights from Blue Iguana Cantina(tacos/burritos), Guy’s Burger Joint (simple burger and fries), or dine in the Lido Restaurant. Once your appetite has been fully satiated, relax poolside with a drink from the RedFrog Rum Bar or the Blue Iguana Tequila Bar.
For the kids, Carnival Elation has several supervised options ranging from three spaces for youth, video arcades, and Carnival WaterWorks.
Best Balance of Activity and Relaxation: Carnival Dream
Carnival Dream is one of the larger vessels in the Carnival fleet. Its gorgeous design has generated a plethora of quiet spaces for relaxation, yet it is active enough to keep you busy. Whether your goal for the day is to lay back and relax or to have as much fun as humanly possible, there is something available no matter what your mood is.
A wrap-around promenade accompanied with whirlpools extended to the sides provides plenty of space to relax, soak up the sun, and unwind. The adults-only lounge offers a separate area where people can unwind in a lounge chair and enjoy the salty sea breeze.
It comes equipped with a huge children’s center with dedicated spaces for tweens and teens. Carnival Dream also has a 300-foot twisting waterslide.
In addition to the ones mentioned above, other activities include:
- Mega deck party
- Cooking demonstration
- Live music
- Jogging track
- Military appreciation
- Art seminars
- Towel animal theater
When it comes to a culinary experience, this ship comes equipped with Guy Fieri restaurants included in the fare: BlueIguana Cantina, Bonsai Sushi, and Pizzeria del Capitano.
Best Overall Experience: Carnival Legend
If you want to visit the Mediterranean, Caribbean, or Alaska, the Carnival Legend should be your first choice. This 2,124-passenger ship debuted in 2002 and was fully refurbished in 2014. It offers a well-rounded experience to its passengers.
The RedFrog Pub provides the best drinks accompanied by a mythical mascot. Green Thunder waterslide is an experience that users will remember for many years to come. Yet this is just where the fantasy of this boat begins.
Want to enjoy the nightlife but don’t know what to do with the kids? Take them to Night Owls where competent staff will watch over them until the early hours of the morning. Kids will also enjoy Seuss-a-Palooza storytime or Build-a-Bear Workshop at Sea.
The Carnival Legend features classic favorites as well as legends throughout the decades. Passengers can swim in Avalon and Camelot pools, attend the Club Merlin Casino, or experience culinary delights at Truffles Restaurant.
The Unicorn Café is where passengers can enjoy a great cup of coffee. Additionally, handmade classics will be found at Guy’s Burger Joint, while the BlueIguana Cantina is known for its taco-burritos.
Best for Adults: Carnival Radiance
Enjoy the warmth of being with your loved one on the Carnival Radiance. From the stellar entertainment to the best in culinary delights, this cruise ship experience will amaze you!
For those looking for some friendly competition, there is SportSquare that has a multitude of games ranging from foosball to basketball and everything in between. For something more tranquil, relax in the Serenity Adult-Only retreat at the end of the day.
There are plenty of locations to grab a drink on the ship from the Alchemy Bar to the Heroes Tribute Bar which mays tribute to those in the military.
Culinary-wise, this cruise ship has introduced food made by Shaq who is renowned for his fried chicken. There are additionally two restaurants serving up food from Chef Guy Fieri (Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse and Guy’s Burger Joint).
There are many activities that couples can enjoy together ranging from a round of mini-golf, a romantic evening at the Dive-In Movies, or laughing at the Punchliner Comedy Club.
Best Accommodations: Carnival Horizon
Sailing for Miami, Carnival Horizon is one of Carnival’s newest ships. It offers more choices in terms of accommodations, which include the Family Harbor. This is a dedicated family stateroom containing its own concierge and dedicated lounge.
The Cloud Spa stateroom provides unlimited access to Cloud 9’s thermal suites. Havana suites are luxurious. They come with swinging hammock chairs located on the balcony with exclusive daytime access to the Havana Bar and Lounge.
In addition to the stunning suites, Carnival Horizon unites comfort, exotic destinations, and superior culinary experiences in their cruises. In terms of fun, this ship has a two-screen Carnival Multiplex. It provides one theater with IMAX action. It also has 3D visuals accompanied by motion effects.
Kids will love the Dr. Seuss WaterWorks that come accompanied by the storybook characters. Adults will love to experience SkyRide, Playlist Productions, and The Punchliner Comedy Club. For sports fanatics, there is SportSquare that is sure to have a game for everyone.
Couples or singles can dance all night with the White Hot Night Party, various nightclubs, or Sailaway Party. If you are health conscious, there are SkyFitness, volleyball, and other opportunities for physical activity throughout the ship.
Carnival Horizon uniquely features Bonsai Teppanyaki, which includes an intimate meal with an interactive performance. And there are restaurants to tantalize any palate. If you enjoy Guy Fieri, there are two themed restaurants aboard: Guy’s Burger Joint and Guy’s Pig & Anchor Smokehouse/Brewhouse.
Exquisite seafood spreads can be found in the Seafood Shack. Meanwhile, Jiji Asian Kitchen is a specialty restaurant catering to pan-Asian cuisine.
Final Thoughts on the Best Carnival Cruise Ship Choices
The best Carnival Cruise ships are not dependent on which one offers the best overall experience. The best experience will depend on you and/or your family. Gearing your journey to reflect the tastes of everyone going aboard will make for the greatest excitement. Parents can relax, knowing their children are well taken care of and doing something they enjoy.
The best thing about Carnival Cruises is that they have something for the entire family and for different lifestyles.
Thrill-seekers can enjoy SkyRide. Art lovers can reflect on paintings hung over two decks or take in an art lecture. For music, there is an active nightlife, piano bars, and lip-sync battles. No talent, ability, or hobby has been overlooked when it comes to these cruises.
Furthermore, these cruises come equipped with everything imaginable. Fitness rooms and physical activities are a part of each vessel. They also come equipped with various learning experiences, arts and crafts projects, and even a library where passengers can enjoy the quiet and read a good book.
The cruise ship experience that you choose will depend on you. What do you enjoy? What is perfect for your family? What are your specific needs? These should all be considered when planning a cruise. But one thing is for certain: you will have a great time on any of these amazing cruises.