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Spotlight: Carnival Cruise

Sail to destinations far and wide (and have a ton of fun along the way!) on a Carnival cruise ship.

carnival cruise

Carnival Sunshine.

(Photo: ©Danny Lehman)

Think of Carnival Cruises and you might be reminded of those Kathie Lee Gifford commercials in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s where she danced and sang aboard a Carnival ship.

Since its launch in 1972, Carnival Cruise Line has become the world’s largest cruise line and is part of a family of companies owned by Carnival Corporation, which also includes Princess Cruises, Holland America Line and Cunard Line, among others. Find out why so many travelers choose to cruise Carnival.

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The ships

Carnival Cruise’s 24 ships operate 3- to 16-day voyages, departing from every coast in the U.S., as well as Canada, Puerto Rico, Europe and Barbados. Its newest ship, Carnival Vista, debuted in 2016, and the Carnival Horizon is expected to set sail in 2018.

Each ship features family-friendly staterooms; Cloud 9 Spa staterooms, which gets you priority spa reservations, free fitness classes and exclusive discounts; Family Harbor staterooms, located right near Family Harbor Lounge, which allows kids to eat free in most premium restaurants and gives parents one free evening with Night Owl babysitting; and Havana staterooms, located right near the Havana Bar & Pool.

Destinations

Carnival cruise ships sail all over the world. Destinations include Alaska, the Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada and New England, the Caribbean, Cuba, Europe, Hawaii, Mexico and Panama Canal.

In addition to the standard cruises, Carnival Journeys is a limited series of special sailings to destinations like Bermuda, Hawaii, Alaska and the Caribbean, designed to immerse passengers in a destination’s culture. Local chefs come on board to prepare meals, and entertainment is centered on the location’s history and traditions. Each Journey passengers also get an all-expenses-paid scholarship to the Academy of Fun, which offers onboard courses on topics such as historical art, science of celestial navigation, social media and photography.

Themed cruises

Carnival Cruise Line hosts a variety of themed cruises, such as a salsa dancing cruise, a FamilyLife Marriage cruise (for married couples looking to relax and renew their relationship), Ship-Hop (with music from hip-hop and R&B) and more.

Dining

There’s no shortage of delicious foods on a Carnival Cruise ships. Kids will love eating at Green Eggs and Ham, where they can enjoy their breakfast in the world of Dr. Seuss. There’s also authentic Mexican food at the Bluelguana Cantina, burgers at Guy’s Burger Joint, fresh fish at the Seafood Shack and premium cuts and seafood at the Steakhouse. And these are just a taste of the dining option available to passengers.

carnival cruise

An 800-foot-long white-sand beach on Grand Turk is one of the many attractions featured on four- and five-day cruises from Port Canaveral, Fla., on Carnival Cruise Lines’ Elation. (Photo: Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Lines)

Things to do

Every Carnival cruise ship has gorgeous pools with fun slides, but if you get bored hanging out there be sure to check out Sky Ride, where you get to bike around the entire ship high above the deck and the ocean. Sportsquare gives you the chance to show off your skills in basketball, ping-pong, foosball and more, while the SkyCourse is a two-level rope course.

There are plenty of bars and lounges for adults to enjoy, or sit back at the Serenity Adult Only Retreat, where you can enjoy sea breezes (and a cocktail) while lying in a hammock. Parents can leave the kids with the ship’s babysitters, who will watch the little ones for a fee.

Kids’ activities

Kids will obviously love all of the adventure-seeking activities on the ship, while little ones will have a ball with Seuss at Sea, a variety of Dr. Seuss-themed activities such as interactive story time, the Seuss-a-palooza Parade and more. And don’t forget to visit the ship’s candy shop, Cherry on Top, for a sweet treat.  For older kids, Club O2 is a just-for-teens hangout, while Circle “C” is for kids 12-14.

Entertainment

Guests can catch an IMAX movie right on the ship, compete in a Lip Sync Battle or on a live version of the game show Hasbro.

Carnival LIVE brings well-known entertainers to a theater venue when your cruise stops in Nassau. Some entertainers include Nick Jonas, Chris Tucker, Rascal Flatts and more. Seating is limited so be sure to buy your ticket when you book your cruise. Prices vary, but start at $30.

Excursions

Once you get to shore, you’ll want to experience everything the destination has to offer. Whether you want to get an adrenaline rush zip lining in Puerto Rico, explore the history of Mayan ruins in Belize,  swim with dolphins in Tortola, or walk in The Godfather’s footsteps in Sicily, there is an activity for you.

Carnival cruise pricing

The average price of a Carnival cruise is anywhere from $100 to $1800 per person, depending on the length of the cruise and where you’re going. Of course, many on-shore excursions are extra, as is some of the dining. Alcohol is not included, unless you take out an all-inclusive package, which usually costs around $1200 per person. A seven-night cruise from NYC to Bermuda, for example, starts at $689 per person.

Carnival cruise deals

The best way to find the latest Carnival cruise deals is to find a reputable travel agent. Plan and book your next cruise vacation with AAA.

Have you ever been on a Carnival cruise? Share your experience with us in the comments. 

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