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Carnival: On Board

Carnival Cruise Lines On Board
Radu Ursu/Carnival Cruise Lines
  • Overall Rating: 4.0stars 3.8 3.8
  • Expert Rating:3.5stars 3.4
  • Traveler Rating:3.5stars 3.7
    • Couples: 3.7
    • Families w/ young children: 3.6
    • Families w/ older children: 3.7
    • Singles/Friends: 3.7
    • Groups: 3.7
  • Health Rating:
    4.5
    4.5

Cabins

Carnival offers a variety of lodging options. On the cruise line's 24 ships, you'll find four different types of staterooms, including Interior Staterooms, Ocean View Staterooms, Balcony Staterooms and Suites.

Interior Stateroom

Interior Staterooms are Carnival's smallest yet most affordable lodging option. These rooms measure about 185 square feet and come equipped with two twin beds (some of which convert to a king) and a full bathroom. These staterooms, which comfortably sleep two guests, also feature flat-screen TVs, safes and complimentary room and turn-down service; some rooms also come equipped with minibars. Within the Interior Stateroom cabin class, you can choose to book a standard interior room or one with a porthole, a picture window or a French door. (The views offered by these rooms are either of the water line or of the ship's deck and are often obstructed.) An Upper/Lower Interior Stateroom is another option; this cabin maximizes space with one twin bed and either a pull-down bed or sofa bed. Note: Not every ship offers every type of Interior Stateroom, so be sure to check Carnival's website for additional information about your specific ship.

Ocean View Stateroom

Ranging between 185 and 280 square feet, Ocean View Staterooms offer travelers additional space compared to Interior Staterooms, as well as better views of the sea through larger windows. These cabins contain twin beds (some of which convert to a king) and full bathrooms (some with separate washrooms), plus the amenities found in Interior Staterooms, like TVs, safes and 24-hour room service. Some rooms also boast sofa beds. While most Ocean View staterooms (which sleep two to four guests) are equipped with standard windows, some offer more expansive views with floor-to-ceiling windows. If you're traveling with a larger group, consider a Deluxe Ocean View room — with two twin beds, two pull-down beds and a sofa bed, this room type can accommodate up to five guests, though this option is only available on select ships.

Balcony Stateroom

If you're looking for an even better view and more room to relax, you can find it in Carnival's Balcony Staterooms. These accommodations occupy between 230 and 310 square feet and come appointed with private decks furnished with patio chairs and small tables. These cabins include twin beds (some of which convert to a king) plus all the amenities offered by other staterooms. You'll have your choice of a handful of different Balcony Stateroom varieties, which vary by room size and balcony size. Note: Balcony Staterooms are not available on Carnival's Elation, Fantasy, Imagination, Inspiration or Paradise ships.

Suite

Carnival rolls out red carpet treatment for suite occupants: If you book this lodging option, you'll get VIP check-in (complete with an expedited embarkation process) and the largest accommodations available. Occupying between 340 and 750 square feet of space, suites come equipped with twin beds that convert into a king, double sofa beds, walk-in closets and whirlpool tubs. Among cabins available within Carnival's suite category, you can choose between a Junior Suite, Grand Suite, Ocean Suite or Vista Suite. All suite options vary in size and come with balconies.

Cloud 9 Spa Staterooms

Some ships in Carnival's fleet offer Cloud 9 Spa rooms, which are outfitted in a soothing, neutral color scheme and include complimentary access to spa facilities, priority spa reservations, specialty fitness classes, yoga mats and specialty toiletries. You can book an Interior, Ocean View, Balcony or Suite category Cloud 9 Spa room on the following five Carnival ships: Breeze, Dream, Magic, Splendor and Sunshine.

What's Included in the Price

  • Dining Costs
  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Fitness Classes
  • Spa & Salon Services
  • Shore Excursions
  • Medical Services
  • Onboard Activities
  • Meals at Specialty Restaurants
  • Gratuities for Housekeeping, Dining and Bar Staff

Amenities

Carnival keeps the atmosphere energized around the clock with its plethora of onboard activities and amenities geared toward kids and adults. Cruisers of all ages can enjoy Carnival's swimming pools, whirlpools, waterslides and water parks, which vary by ship but are sure to keep you cool. Sports fans can take advantage of the equipment on board: All of Carnival's vessels are equipped with ping pong tables, mini-golf courses and jogging tracks, while specific ships offer ropes courses and even basketball courts (which can also be used to play soccer and volleyball). If you don't break a sweat on the court, you can get your heart racing at the fitness center where you'll find cardio equipment, free weights and classes like yoga, Pilates and cycling (some for a fee). When it's time to unwind, make your way to the spa. Each ship's sanctuary offers treatments like facials, hot stone massages and body wraps. The peace and quiet carries over to the Serenity Adult Retreat area; available on some ships, these spaces allow guests 21 and older to relax by the pool or take in views of the sprawling seas while sipping cocktails.

Carnival makes sure kids stay entertained, too, with age-appropriate programming. The Camp Carnival (ages 2-11), Circle "C" (ages 12-14) and Club O2 (ages 15-17) programs sponsor group activities and events geared toward each age group. Younger children can play with counselors while the older kids head to a pool party, take in a movie, hit the dance floor or show off their best American Idol impression with karaoke.

When night falls, you and your clan can catch musicals, dance performances, comedy acts and game shows at the theater on each ship. If you're looking for an all-adult crowd and are hoping to win big, head to the casino for table games, roulette and slots. Finally, Carnival's lounges and piano bars offer up tunes — and a variety of libations — for music lovers.

Dining

The price of your cruise includes all meals in Carnival's main dining room — where you'll have the choice of a 6 or 8:15 p.m. seating — and a variety of other food options on board. Some ships also offer "Your Time" seating, which allows more flexibility with your meal times: You can dine any time between 5:45 and 9:30 p.m. and request a specific table size or waiter at no extra cost. Main dining room menus vary, but you can expect to see appetizers like oysters Rockefeller and Caesar salad, fresh seafood entrees like mahi mahi and lobster, meat-centric dishes like filet mignon and smoked duck, and vegetarian options like baked herb polenta and grilled tofu. Plus, those with a sweet tooth will be pleased with the smattering of desserts available, including sherbet, fresh fruit and warm chocolate melting cake (a cruising favorite). You can also try a new dish each day at the vessel's Taste Bar, which offers small plates of different delicacies from around the world.

Each ship also contains a Lido Deck Buffet, which serves sandwiches, salads, finger foods and hot dishes, plus a pizzeria and ice cream bar that's open around the clock. Room service is another dining option available 24/7. Some specialty restaurants on board are included in the cruise fare and boast everything from burgers and barbecue to Italian and Mexican fare. Reservations are not required at these establishments and guests are seated on a first-come, first-served basis. Carnival provides cruisers with a few upscale restaurants. While dining at these establishments does come attached to extra fees, it won't break the bank. Dishes at Bonsai Sushi range from $1 to $15. Meanwhile, a meal at Steakhouse costs $35 per person and includes an appetizer, entree and dessert. Due to its popularity, reservations for Steakhouse are highly recommended and you can make them online or in-person once on board. (Note: Not all ships feature the same specialty restaurants; visit Carnival's website to see which eateries are available on each boat.)

Drinks like iced tea, lemonade, coffee, hot cocoa and fountain water are included in the cruise fare, but you'll have to pay extra for beverages like soda, beer and wine. Carnival does offer the "Cheers" beverage program, where you can pay a flat fee (between $42.95 to $49.95 per person per day, plus gratuity) to enjoy unlimited soda, beer, wine and cocktails. You can also opt for the "Bottomless Bubbles" unlimited soda program, which costs $4.50 a day for guests ages 17 and younger and $6 a day for guests 18 and older.

While Carnival encourages travelers to dress casually during the day, evening dress codes differ. Most nights you can don "cruise casual" wear (khakis, jeans or dress shorts and collared shirts are appropriate for men; capris, jeans or dress shorts, blouses, shirts and casual dresses are appropriate for women). For formal nights (usually one night for a cruise between two and five days, and two nights for a voyage six days or longer), guests are required to dress in "cruise elegant" wear. Appropriate "cruise elegant" attire includes dress slacks and dress shirts with sports coats (though suits and tuxedoes are also acceptable) for men, and cocktail dresses, pantsuits, skirts and blouses or evening gowns for women.

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Disclaimers about ship ratings: A ship's Health Rating is based on vessel inspection scores published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If a ship did not receive a CDC score within 24 months prior to the calculation of its Overall Rating, its Health Rating appears as N/A; in such a case, the ship's Overall Rating is calculated using the average Health Rating of all CDC-rated ships within the cruise line. All ship Traveler Ratings are based on ratings provided under license by Cruiseline.com.