Carnival Breeze's SportSquare
Carnival Breeze's SportSquare / Carnival Cruise Line / Andy Newman
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Carnival Fantasy's WaterWorks
Carnival Fantasy's WaterWorks / Carnival Cruise Line / Andy Newman
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Mini Golf on Carnival Dream
Mini Golf on Carnival Dream / Carnival Cruise Line / Andy Newman
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Guy's Burger Joint on Carnival Liberty
Guy's Burger Joint on Carnival Liberty / Carnival Cruise Line / Andy Newman
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Guy's Burger Joint on Carnival Breeze
Guy's Burger Joint on Carnival Breeze / Carnival Cruise Line / Andy Newman
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BlueIguana Tacos
BlueIguana Tacos / Kristen Boatright
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Seafood Shack on Carnival Vista
Seafood Shack on Carnival Vista / Carnival Cruise Line / Andy Newman
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Carnival Triumph in Ocho Rios
Carnival Triumph in Ocho Rios / Carnival Cruise Line / Andy Newman
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Carnival Sensation's Lido Deck
Carnival Sensation's Lido Deck / Carnival Cruise Line / Andy Newman
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Deck party on Carnival Glory
Deck party on Carnival Glory / Kristen Boatright
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Carnival Sensation's pool
Carnival Sensation's pool / Carnival Cruise Line
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WaterWorks on Carnival Magic
WaterWorks on Carnival Magic / Carnival Cruise Line / Andy Newman
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WaterWorks on Carnival Vista
WaterWorks on Carnival Vista / Carnival Cruise Line / Andy Newman
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Carnival Vista's SkyCourt
Carnival Vista's SkyCourt / Carnival Cruise Line / Andy Newman
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Carnival Sunshine's Shake Spot
Carnival Sunshine's Shake Spot / Carnival Cruise Line / Andy Newman
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Dr. Seuss Bookville on Carnival Freedom
Dr. Seuss Bookville on Carnival Freedom / Carnival Cruise Line / Andy Newman
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Dr. Seuss breakfast on Carnival Vista
Dr. Seuss breakfast on Carnival Vista / Kristen Boatright
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Carnival Vista's Havana Pool
Carnival Vista's Havana Pool / Carnival Cruise Line / Andy Newman
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Carnival Imagination
Carnival Imagination / Carnival Cruise Line / Andy Newman
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Horseback riding in Half Moon Cay
Horseback riding in Half Moon Cay / Carnival Cruise Line / Andy Newman
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Carnival Vista Thermal Suite
Carnival Vista Thermal Suite / Carnival Cruise Line / Andy Newman
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Carnival Breeze's Atrium
Carnival Breeze's Atrium / Carnival Cruise Line / Andy Newman
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Prime Steakhouse on Carnival Magic
Prime Steakhouse on Carnival Magic / Carnival Cruise Line / Andy Newman
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Carnival Vista's Sports bar
Carnival Vista's Sports bar / Kristen Boatright
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Carnival Pride's Sports bar
Carnival Pride's Sports bar / Carnival Cruise Line / Andy Newman
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Carnival Breeze's Sorry!
Carnival Breeze's Sorry! / Carnival Cruise Line / Andy Newman
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Carnival Legend's RedFrog Pub
Carnival Legend's RedFrog Pub / Carnival Cruise Line
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Carnival Breeze's RedFrog Pub
Carnival Breeze's RedFrog Pub / Carnival Cruise Line / Andy Newman
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Thirsty Frog Beer at Carnival Vista's RedFrog Pub
Thirsty Frog Beer at Carnival Vista's RedFrog Pub / Carnival Cruise Line / Andy Newman
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Carnival Vista's Brewery
Carnival Vista's Brewery / Carnival Cruise Line / Andy Newman
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Carnival Conquest's Toulouse-Lautrec Lounge
Carnival Conquest's Toulouse-Lautrec Lounge / Carnival Cruise Line / Andy Newman
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Carnival Vista's Havana Bar
Carnival Vista's Havana Bar / Carnival Cruise Line / Andy Newman
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Carnival Vista's Liquid Amor
Carnival Vista's Liquid Amor / Carnival Cruise Line / Andy Newman
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Alchemy Bar on Carnival Liberty
Alchemy Bar on Carnival Liberty / Carnival Cruise Line / Andy Newman
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Balcony Cabin
Balcony Cabin / Carnival Cruise Line / Andy Newman
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Carnival Vista's Family Harbor Cabin
Carnival Vista's Family Harbor Cabin / Carnival Cruise Line / Andy Newman
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Cloud 9 Spa cabin on Carnival Sunshine
Cloud 9 Spa cabin on Carnival Sunshine / Carnival Cruise Line / Andy Newman
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80s deck party on Carnival Vista
80s deck party on Carnival Vista / Carnival Cruise Line / Andy Newman
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Carnival Breeze's Liquid Nightclub
Carnival Breeze's Liquid Nightclub / Carnival Cruise Line / Andy Newman
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Dr. Frankenstein's Lab disco on Carnival Miracle
Dr. Frankenstein's Lab disco on Carnival Miracle / Carnival Cruise Line / Andy Newman
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Carnival Cruise Line
Cruise Line Review
Deal Expert / Travel Blogger

Carnival Cruise Line is the ultimate mainstream line, with big, lively ships that cater to all age groups and impressively deep discounts. The sales are so good, those Caribbean beaches feel within reach as soon as you see the advertised fare. The vibe on board is casual and unpretentious — which means that if you would turn up your nose at a poolside hairy-back competition or late-night R-rated comedy, this line probably isn’t right for you.

What We Love

It's a Real Party: Go ahead, order another bucket of long-neck brewskies by the pool, get down with the DJ on deck all day long, catch the game at the sports bar after dinner, and then dance the night away in the ship's (actually hopping) nightclub.

More Caribbean: No other line offers as many ships in the Caribbean or serves as many Americans with embarkation ports they can drive to, including more obscure choices such as Charleston, South Carolina; Galveston, Texas; and Tampa, Florida.

Serenity Lounge: These adults-only, 18-and-over escapes vary from ship to ship. Sone have hot tubs and views of the wake, and others have salad bars, but they all have upgraded deck furniture which makes this the perfect spot to stretch out in the sun on a sea day. 

Best Known For

Awesome, Complimentary Poolside Food: Newer (and updated) ships have Guy’s Burger Joint by Food Network star Guy Fieri. The meat is ground on board and the buns are freshly baked; even the French fries are hand cut and you can dress yours with toppings from the bar that include mushrooms and onions. Best of all, you can say good-bye to the frozen hockey puck patties of the past: These burgers are so good, we dare you not to eat one every day. There’s also a taco stand with house-made tortilla chips and a salsa bar. Our order of choice there: crispy Baja-style fish tacos served with pickled red onions and sliced radishes

Famous Headliners: Carnival’s onboard concert series includes names you’ll actually recognize (for real), from The Band Perry to Trace Adkins, Journey, and Martina McBride. How does the line draw that kind of talent? These musicians perform in ports such as Cozumel, where the ship stays late and the talent gets off before you sail away. (Bonus: For an extra fee you can meet the performers before the show.)

Who It's Best For

Young Couples and Friends: This is not your grandparents’ cruise line, and groups of twentysomethings flock to the short sailings out of Florida for fun, boozy weekends away. That said, you will also see some fun-loving retirees kicking up their feet, especially on longer sailings and off-peak weeks.

Families with Children: Children's programs include a Dr. Seuss-themed reading room for the preschool set, and scores of children line up for the waterslides and soft-serve filled cones, especially during school breaks. Carnival also has a partnership with Build-a-Bear Workshop, and kids can now create custom bears on Carnival Dream (the workshops will be fleet wide by summer 2017).

Don't Say We Didn't Warn You

Dining Rooms Are Weak: Although the specialty restaurants have been upgraded — including the now-awesome Fahrenheit 555 steakhouse — dishes in the main dining rooms remain hit or miss. That said, the staff is eager to please and happy to bring you something new if you're not happy with your first choice. 

Not Every Older Ship Has Been Updated: We're crazy about the newest vessels in the fleet, including the flashy Carnival Vista, which is home to an onboard brewery, a Cuba-themed pool area with palapas and mojitos, a seafood shack with a mini fish market, and impressive waterslides. But, if you're planning on sailing on one of the dated options, you’ll be reminded of just how far the line has come.

Nickeling and Diming Abounds: While you don't expect low rates to include cocktails or gratuities, some additional fees — such as shuttles from port into town — are surprising. 

Sherri Eisenberg
Deal Expert / Travel Blogger