Carnival Cruise Ship

How To Pick The Perfect Carnival Cruise Ship For Your Next Vacation

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Carnival Cruise Line is popular with budget travelers. These cruises are famous for their amazing onboard attractions and laid back family friendly vibes. If you’re looking for no-frills fun, then a Carnival cruise is perfect for you.

The Carnival fleet has a total of 25 ships that depart from ports all over the United States. The most popular cruises are the Caribbean but Carnival also cruises to Mexico, Europe, Australia, Hawaii, and Alaska.

Use this guide to Carnival cruise ship options to help pick the best fit for you. 

Carnival Cruise Classes

Carnival Cruise ships are divided into 8 different classes including Excel, Dream, Splendor, Conquest, Spirit, Sunshine, and Fantasy. Each class differs in amenities, type of cruise, and destination. This can help you with narrowing down which Carnival ship is the best option for you. 

Excel Class 

Featured On: Mardi Gras, Celebration 

Excel Class ships are the largest and newest in the fleet. The ships with Excel Class also have the most amenities and activities on board. Noteworthy amenities include restaurant options, bars, roller coasters, and fun games such as Family Feud. Due to their size these ships may be more crowded and have less of an intimate feel.  

Vista Class

Featured On: Vista, Horizon, Panorama

Vista is the second more extravagant Carnival Cruise class. If you’re looking for a more classic Carnival experience, Vista Class is a great option for you. Highlights include SkyCourse and IMAX theaters. 

Dream Class

Featured On: Dream, Magic, Breeze

Dream Class ships are very similar to Vista Class ships, although they are slightly smaller in size. Dream Class is great for families and includes amenities such as video arcades, waterparks, mini golf, and a karaoke bar. The Dream Class is my personal favorite. Especially the Carnival Dream, since we were married onboard in 2012!

Spendor Class

Featured On: Splendor

Larger than the conquest (below), Splendor Class activities include things like casinos, comedy shows, waterparks, multiple pools, and so much more. 

Conquest Class

Featured On: Conquest, Glory, Valor, Liberty, Freedom 

While Conquest Class ships are slightly smaller they have plenty to offer guests in terms of amenities. They include activities like an adult-only top deck, great restaurants and dining options, and mini golf. If you’re looking to avoid crowds these ships are a great option for you. 

Spirit Class

Featured On: Spirit, Pride, Legend, Miracle 

If you’re looking for adventure then the spirit class is for you! These ships sail to amazing locations such as Australia, Alaska, and Europe. There are plenty of amenities and activities on board to keep you busy such as spas, pools, waterparks, and the famous SkyCourse. 

Sunshine Class

Featured On: Sunshine, Sunrise, Radiance

These are Carnival’s smaller and older ships. Don’t worry, these ships have all undergone various renovations and offer similar amenities to the newer Carnival cruises. 

Fantasy Class

Featured On: Ecstasy, Sensation, Elation, Paradise 

Fantasy Class ships are the smallest in the Carnival fleet. If you’re looking for a more intimate cruise experience then Fantasy Class is a great option for you. Be aware that there are fewer amenities onboard these ships. 

Carnival Cruise Cabins and Suites

Carnival offers several different cabins and suites for cruisers to choose from. These include…

Specialty Suites

Offer: Family Harbor, Cloud 9 Spa, Havana 

The specialty suites are the most extravagant on the ship. Depending on the specialty suite you choose, some of the suites cater specifically to families with kids, while others cater to couples, and those wanting more outdoor space. Specific ships offer different specialty suites. 

Suites

Suites are the most spacious onboard Carnival Cruises. They sleep 5 guests, have their own balconies, and offer a host of amenities. These include things like priority embarkment and disembarkment, priority dinner reservations, complimentary water, pillow-top mattresses, and comfy bathrobes. 

Balcony

Balcony staterooms are a step down from suites and feature their own balconies, which are fantastic for longer cruises with more time at sea. 

Ocean View

Ocean view staterooms are larger than interior rooms and include a window. These rooms can accommodate up to 5 people, but only 3 people comfortably. You can request a connecting room for a bit more space.

Interior

Interior rooms are the most basic and budget friendly option on Carnival Cruises. Much like ocean view staterooms these rooms can accommodate up to 5 people, but only 3 people comfortably. You can request a connecting room for a bit more space.

What To Consider When Choosing A Ship

Of course destination and budget needs to be taken into consideration when choosing a Carnival Cruise. While many of the cruises contain similar amenities, they may not all be included in certain packages. 

If traveling as a family, parents will want to consider places to unwind and relax as well as kids clubs and fun spaces. Solo travelers and singles will want to consider the nightlife and choose a cruise geared more toward entertainment for adults. Shorter weekend cruises often tend to have a more energetic vibe.

Newest Carnival Cruise Ships

Carnival Mardi Gras 

Sails To: Caribbean 

Sails From: Port Canaveral, FL 

Duration: 6-9 days 

Carnival’s Mardi Gras is a salute to where the cruise line has been and where it’s headed in the future. The Mardi Gras is made for anyone and everyone! The goal was to create an atmosphere where cruising is a bit less stuffy and fancy. This new ship features zones, six themed areas bursting with new and innovative dining, drinking, and entertainment. Mardi Gras offers BOLT, the first roller coaster at sea, as well as Emeril’s Bistro 1396. Enjoy new bars like The Brass Magnolia and Fortune Teller. 

Carnival Celebration – COMING SOON

Sails To: Caribbean, Transatlantic

Sails From: London, England – Miami, FL 

Duration: 2-5 days, 6-9 days, 10+ days

Carnival Celebration is a toast to the last 50 years at sea for the cruise line. This ship will set sail in November of 2022. Much like its sister ship Mardi Gras (above), the Celebration features the new six zone system that highlights incredible flavors and experiences. Enjoy the second ship ever to feature BOLT, the first at sea roller coaster. Enjoy Bonsai Teppanyaki, the RedFrog Tiki Bar, and the Havana Bar. The staterooms are a perfect home away from home for you to relax after fun days on the ship. 

Carnival Radiance 

Sails To: Caribbean, Mexico 

Sails From: Galveston, TX – Los Angeles, CA

Duration: 2-5 days, 6-9 days

Carnival Radiance is new to the fleet in 2022 and was designed for a more intimate cruising experience. With a mass occupancy of 2,984, this ship is perfect for you and your close travel buddies. Radiance features some exciting new restaurants including Shaq’s Big Chicken, Guy Fieri’s Burger Joint and Pigs & Anchor BBQ Smokehouse. Kids on board will love interacting with their Dr. Suess favorites including an onboard meeting with the Cat In The Hat. The ship also features a plethora of adult entertainment options including a SkyCourse, Serenity Adult-Only Retreat, and Alchemy Bar. 

Top Rated Carnival Cruise Ships

Carnival Glory

Sail To: Caribbean, Panama Canal 

Sail From: New Orleans, LA

Duration: 6-9 days, 10+ days 

Although Glory is a bit of an older ship, built in 2003, it is a beloved favorite with Carnival cruisers. The ship offers a wide variety of entertainment and activities. For adults there is a stand up comedy club, and Playlist Productions that features singing and dancing. Kids can enjoy Seuss at Sea, where they can meet their Dr. Suess favorites and watch the books be brought to life. The ship also features WaterWorks waterpark, Dive-In Movies, and many more fun activities. 

Carnival Sunrise

Sail To: Bahamas, Caribbean 

Sail From: Miami, FL 

Duration: 2-5 days, 6-9 days 

Carnival Sunrise was recently renovated and the changes were so dramatic that they had to rename the ship, it was originally the Carnival Triumph. Everything in the ship has been updated including all of the cabins that are beautifully furnished. Sunrise has new dining options as well, the ship features Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse, Cucina del Capitano, and Bonsai Express. Entertainment and activities onboard this ship are not lacking. Have fun at a new Sports Court with mini-golf, ropes course, and WaterWorks. Kids will love Camp Ocean for 2-11 year olds, and teens can enjoy Club 02 where they can hang out. 

Carnival Elation

Sails To: Bahamas, Caribbean

Sails From: Port Canaveral, FL 

Duration: 2-5 days, 6-9 days 

Carnival Elation is a great budget friendly Carnival cruise option. Designed to celebrate those who influenced the arts. Elation gives you tons of fun options at sea! The culinary experiences onboard will have you never wanting to leave. Enjoy amazing tacos and burritos at the Blue Iguana Cantina or classic burgers and fries at Guy’s Burger Joint. While relaxing poolside be sure to grab a drink from the RedFrog Rum Bar or Blue Iguana’s Tequila Bar. 

Carnival Dream 

Sails To: Caribbean, Panama, Canada

Sails From: Galveston, TX

Duration: 6-9 days, 10+ days

As one of the largest ships in the Carnival fleet you’ll find that the Dream features the perfect balance between relaxation and amazing activities. If you’re looking to relax, Carnival’s Dream has you covered with a wrap-around promenade accompanied by whirlpools providing plenty of space to unwind and soak up the sun. The ship also has an adult-only lounge that offers a separate area where you can relax, lounge, and enjoy a cocktail. Parents will love the amount of space for kids’ activities including a huge children’s center, a fun water slide, and a ton of fun! The dining options on Dream won’t leave you disappointed with cuisine from Pizzeria del Capitano and Bonsai Sushi. 

Carnival Legend

Sails To: Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada/New England, Caribbean, Panama Canal 

Sails From: Baltimore, MD 

Duration: 6-9 days, 10+ days 

Carnival’s Legend offers a well rounded passenger experience and a great variety of cruising locations. The ship theme can be seen in the Avalon and Camelot Pools or with a visit to the Club Merlin Casino. Parents who want to enjoy the nightlife onboard will appreciate Night Owls, where your kids can hang out with constant supervision until the early morning hours. Kids can also enjoy Seuss-a-Palooza or the onboard Build-a-Bear workshop. Dining on the ship includes the Unicorn Cafe, the perfect place to get your morning caffeine fix or classics like Guy’s Burger Joint and the Blue Iguana Cantina. 

Carnival Horizon

Sails To: Caribbean 

Sails From: Miami, FL 

Duration: 6-9 days 

Carnival’s Horizon is a newer ship that offers more accomodation options then most of the other Carnival fleet. This includes the Family Harbor Specialty Suite that is a dedicated family stateroom that offers its own concierge service and lounge.  For entertainment the ship has its own Multiplex with one IMAX theater and one 3D theater. Kids will have a ton of fun activities to enjoy including SkyRide and Dr. Suess WaterWorks. Adults can enjoy the Punchliner Comedy Club, Playlist Production, and SportsSquare. There are also nightclubs and parties for adults including a White Hot Night Party where you can dance the night away. You won’t find Horizon lacking in culinary options. The Seafood Shack has fantastic seafood spreads and Jiji Asian Kitchen offers pan-asian cuisine. 

Carnival Splendor

Sails To: Alaska, Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific, Transpacific 

Sails From: Sydney, Australia – Seattle, WA

Duration: 2-5 days, 10+ days 

If you’re looking for exciting destinations and adventure you can’t do better than Carnival Splendor. This ship will ensure that you have a great time at sea with amazing entertainment and activities. Enjoy the El Morocco Lounge that offers musical performances, comedy shows, and fun karaoke. Have a great time at the Carnival WaterWorks or relax at the onboard Jazz Club, The Cool. For extra fun you can Lip Sync Battle fellow cruisers and make the crowd go wild! To fully unwind enjoy Serenity Adult-Only Retreat or the Cloud-9 Spa. Dining options include Masala Tiger, where you can get signature Indian cuisine and MongolianWok, where you can chow down on Asian goodness. 

Other Carnival Cruise Ships

Carnival Breeze 

Sails To: Caribbean 

Sails From: Galveston, TX

Duration: 2-5 days 

Find out more here

Carnival Conquest

Sails To: Bahamas, Caribbean, Panama Canal 

Sails From: Miami, FL 

Duration: 2-5 days, 6-9 days, 10+ days 

Find out more here.

Carnival Ecstasy 

Sails To: Caribbean 

Sails From: Mobile, AL

Duration: 2-5 days, 10+ days

Find out more here.

Carnival Freedom 

Sails To: Bahamas, Caribbean

Sails From: Port Canaveral, FL

Duration: 2-5 days, 6-9 days

Find out more here.

Carnival Liberty 

Sails To: Bahamas

Sails From: Port Canaveral, FL

Duration: 2-5 days

Find out more here.

Carnival Magic

Sails To: Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada/New England, Caribbean

Sails From: Norfolk, VA, Port Canaveral, FL, New York, NY, Miami, FL

Duration: 2-5 days, 6-9 days

Find out more here.

Carnival Miracle 

Sails To: Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico

Sails From: San Francisco, CA, Los Angeles, CA, San Diego, CA

Duration: 2-5 days, 6-9 days, 10+ days

Find out more here

Carnival Panorama

Sails To: Mexico

Sails From: Los Angeles, CA

Duration: 6-9 days

Find out more here.

Carnival Paradise 

Sails To: Caribbean

Sails From: Tampa, FL

Duration: 2-5 days, 6-9 days

Find out more here.

Carnival Pride 

Sails To: Caribbean, Europe, Panama Canal, Transatlantic

Sails From: Rome, Italy, London, England, Tampa, FL, Lisbon, Portugal, Barcelona, Spain

Duration: 2-5 days, 6-9 days, 10+ days 

Find out more here.

Carnival Sunshine

Sails To: Bahamas, Caribbean
Sails From: Charleston, SC

Duration: 2-5 days, 6-9 days, 10+ days

Find out more here.

Carnival Valor 

Sails To: Caribbean
Sails From: New Orleans, LA

Duration: 2-5 days

Find out more here.

Carnival Vista

Sails To: Caribbean

Sails From: Port Canaveral, FL, Galveston, TX

Duration: 2-5 days, 6-9 days 

Find out more here

Coming In 2023

Carnival Jubilee 

Sails To: Caribbean, Transatlantic

Sails From: Galveston, TX, London, England

Duration: 6-9 days, 10+ days

Find out more here

No matter what Carnival Cruise ship you choose you won’t regret time spent on the seas with this cruise line. With tons of activities, entertainment and dining options, Carnival Cruises are perfect for those looking to cruise on a budget. 

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