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Considering Carnival--will we be disappointed?

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The only two things that bothered me on Carnival (compared to RC) were super loud music around the pool, and long lines at the buffet rather than multiple shorter stations. All else was ok to me.

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Been on Celebrity, RC, NCL, Costa, Princess and Carnival. Some people look down on Carnival for whatever reason, I don't know but, I have never had a problem with Carnival. I am not dedicated to any cruise line but, only to cruising and what line is going to give me the best itinerary for the best price. I must say that I am easy going and don't pay attention to what other people are doing or think. Food wise on all the lines, some might have a better set up but, I do manage to gain a pound or two on each cruise so, the food can't be that bad. I like the games and things some people think are hokey. I get a good laugh and enjoy watching the crowd enjoying themselves. I am 75 years old and love to dance and have a good time and will participate in activities that's going to give me that good time. I even get up and sing kerioke, too. I most enjoy meeting and conversing with the people I meet from the different world itineraries. Of course there have been cruises I liked better than other but, I have never had a bad cruise. Never been a drinker or smoker as I have never needed those things to enjoy myself and have nothing against those who do indulge, as long as it's not to stupidity. I am a retired psych nurse and know not to sweat the small stuff and at this stage, I am only about enjoying the rest of my time on this earth. I do listen to and consider other peoples opinion but much prefer to find certain things out for myself. You might like Carnival and you might not but, you will never know if you don't try it:).

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I guess I will chime in on the subject. I have been on a good number of cruises and a fair share have been with Carnival. I have no complaints. Standard cabins are bigger than the norm, food is good and I never had a meal that I couldn't find something I liked. Dinner is an event with waiters singing and dancing (and so are most of the guests) and who cares if it slows down the service for 10 minutes if you are having fun. The activities are much more, well, active! Don't believe all you hear about party ships. I guess that could be true on 3 night weekend cruises but 7 night cruise are family friendly. I have never observed drunkenness or other bad behavior Kids are sometimes too loud in the hallways at night but that isn't just a Carnival problem on holiday sailings with lots of kids. Don't believe me? Read some of the reviews on the Celebrity Infinity on last year's Christmas cruise. Carnival has a very steady product across the board and if you want family fun during a holiday it can be found. Oh and about nickel and dime for onboard sales. My answer, who doesn't! My last RCI cruise 2 years ago was about the worst I can remember for everyone on the staff it seems trying to sell me something. Just my opinion and thoughts.

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We have sailed Carnival many times and found it to be a good value.

 

The food and service was as good as any mass cruise line. Entertainment a lot better and great if you like comedy as they have many comedy shows.

 

They advertise as the fun ship and that’s is what they want you to do and try their best at it. Carnival is a constant go, go, go. It can also be relaxing but that isn’t their intent or purpose.

 

We occasionally take a Carnival cruise for a change of pace and a different experience

 

We haven’t been on Carnival for a few years and their policy may have changed but we didn’t like their smoking policy. Smoking was allowed in the casino, some bars and on the balconies.

 

 

Happy cruising 🌊🚢🇺🇸🌅

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Before he retired my DH and I were given two Carnival cruises as free gifts from his company. On both cruises there were a large number of company employees so we knew many of the people on both cruises and had a wonderful time. When we pay for the cruises, we don't choose Carnival however. We find it a much louder, frat party type atmosphere than we care for and prefer the one announcement per day, service oriented, more sophisticated feel of other lines, particularly X. But if your options are limited by time constraints of your adult children and work schedules and the price fits your budget, give it a try. Only you can determine if it's a fit. Be mindful however that if smoke bothers you, you'll encounter quite a bit on Carnival ships. That's a deal breaker for us.

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I have been fortunate to have sailed on a boat load of ships, 7 of which were on Carnival. There was a medical conference offered yearly that was offered on particular cruises which was the basis for “choosing” Carnival.

 

It wasn’t ALL bad as I eventually knew what I was getting into. I was 28 on one and my nickname at our dining room table was “grandma.” On another I had ordered a steak which was terrible and requested a replacement and the waiter flatly refused as “it was too far for him to go.” The cabin steward not doing the cabins one day as “he didn’t feel like it.” A waiter leaving notes under my cabin door.. the contents of which I will leave to your imagination. Stuff happened that I couldn’t make up.

 

All in all it was better than being at work but there would be no way that I would ever choose Carnival over anything else...well maybe Costa.

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NCL IS a step down from most lines(unless you opt for the Haven) Carnival is some times called "The double wide at sea". You'll be hammered with constant announcements for revenue enhancement. The food is not very good, unless you spring for a specialty rest. If you want relaxation, you'll likely NOT find it on Carnival. If you like the following: Belly flop competitions/Hairy leg contests/ lots of kids running around with parents who don't give a crap etc. etc. by all means have a blast. If however, you like a bit more style with your cruise, then stick with Celebrity/Princess/HAL or other lines that are considered "premium". It's true, that lots of cutbacks have occurred on Celebrity(the reason we're giving Oceania a few tries) Still, overall, they offer a decent vacation for the money.

 

When was the last time you were on Carnival?

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Our last (and only) cruise was a spring break cruise with Carnival out of Baltimore. While the cruise was mostly fine, with lots of things for our kids to do (which was important to us), we were not thrilled. Long lines at the buffet, inconsistent service in the MDR, but the thing that bothered us the most was that in the MDR, if you wanted to order a drink, you gave the wait staff your card, and waited while a member of the bar wait staff got your drink. It was nothing for it to take well into appetizers (or longer) for us to get a glass of wine, and having a second - forget about it. The MDR wait staff never asked if you'd like another, you had to ask for it, and it was the same process with the separate waiter/waitress from the bar...the meal likely being over before you could get a second drink. We had the drinks package, and couldn't help but feel that perhaps this was a way to keep their costs down. We had anytime dining, so it may have been different if we'd had an assigned wait staff, but I don't know.

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The absolute best thing about a Carnival cruise is the CHOCOLATE LAVA CAKE! Don't miss it

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We cruised Carnival once in a while in the past.

 

However, our last cruise with them was terrible.

We booked a week before Christmas, thinking there would be few kids. This is before Christmas, not the week of, not the week after. There were 1500 kids on the ship!

 

I don;t think we got one good night's sleep. Running in the hall by little ones after midnight every single night.

 

There was a very "popular" young woman in the inside across from us that had several men banging on the door shouting "open up you ******." We did call Security. The only time we've had to do that on a cruise.

 

The man in the cabin next to us would constantly spit overboard. I guess his extended family were in insides....they would all congregate on his balcony and scream at each other.....

 

Sometimes I'm tempted by the price, but then I come to my senses. I don't have a problem with their ships, their food, their entertainment or their staff.

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I have done 4 cruises on Carnival.

Each time, we say "NEVER AGAIN!"...

But we've gone back for some odd reasons each time (going with other people, only cruise that fit into our schedule, etc.). At this point my wife has told me to NEVER again book Carnival for ANY reason--she will simply not go.

 

We have also had the occasion to cruise Carnival and another cruise line (RCCL) back-to-back--where you can really get a good comparison.

 

A lot of the opinion on this thread is anecdotal. In a vacuum, people can enjoy their Carnival cruise--after all, they're not working, not cleaning up after themselves or cooking for themselves and they are being entertained. They may not have a good frame of reference for comparison...or they may not really care about some of the same things that might bother others. A lot is just subjective opinion. And that is fine.

 

But, here is the most objective measure I can offer you: The relative overcrowdedness of the ships. The Carnival Vista, for example, is a 133,000 gross ton ship. At Double Occupancy, it holds just under 4,000 passengers...at "Full Occupancy", that number balloons to about 5,000 passengers. And Carnival, more than any other cruise line, tends to run at full occupancy most of the time--especially during school vacation times--due to their marketing to bargain rates and family groups. They tend to fill every third and fourth berth. So, you have 5,000 people on a 133,000 gross ton ship. Compare this to, say, the Celebrity Solstice. The Solstice is only slightly smaller, at 122 gross tons, yet carries only 2850 at double occupancy and only 3000 at full occupancy. But Solstice very rarely sales at little more than double occupancy since the number of 3rd and 4th berths is usually balanced by the number of single travelers.

 

Recognize that "gross tonnage" is a measure of space or volume, not of weight. You divide the number of passengers into the total gross tonnage...and you get an idea as to how much space there is per passenger. Do this math and you realize just how crowded a Carnival cruise is. They cut their costs and increase their profit by crowding as many people onto the ship as possible.

 

This, of course, also impacts a lot of the venues and services onboard. The showrooms on Vista and on Solstice are similarly-sized...but there are far more passengers needing a seat on Vista--so, in order to get a seat, one must show up often an hour ahead of showtime...On Celebrity, you can wander into the showroom just before curtain and always find decent seats. Other venues on Carnival--lounges, activities, buffet, pool deck, it is often difficult to find space or seating...Rarely a problem on Celebrity.

 

The crowding an number of people on Carnival ships also impacts service--especially bars and dining room...

 

I can go into detail (if I had the time) on all of the areas where Carnival cuts back or falls short...but, I don't have the time so, you'll have to trust me...

 

OTOH, Carnival has its many fans...Carnival's idea of "Fun" is a lot of noisy activities deep into the late night...and to many people, THAT is what they are looking for on a cruise. The food (if not the service) is decent...and food is VERY subjective--so it's hard to tell people that the food on one line is "better" than the food on another--it all depends on what you like or are accustomed to. The decor on Carnival can be described as somewhere between "gaudy" and obnoxious...but, again, that's all a matter of personal taste, right? Carnival does market to a segment of the cruising public--those looking for a "deal", those looking for cheap fun, those who just want a cruise at whatever the cheapest price may be...A lot of folks will tell you that this marketing strategy tends to land them a slightly different crowd than most and that the demographics--age, income, etc. are different...That there is a particular "Carnival Demographic"...Of course, saying that may bring on the wrath of Carnival loyalists...And know that, like any cruise line, you will find all sorts of people on board--some outside that demographic...And that there are many fine people (and some not so fine) in ALL demographic categories.

 

But, for me, what really sways me against cruising with Carnival is that overcrowding factor.

 

So, you might go ahead and try Carnival. You may actually enjoy your cruise. But you also may find yourself quite disappointed in a variety of aspects.

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We are big fans of celebrity. We did sail NCL out of cape canaveral to Cuba and really enjoyed the cruise. In my opinion Celebrity caters to the over 50 traveler.

 

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums

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I've always felt, if you ever had a bad cruise, then something went terribly wrong (like running aground or fire or flood).

 

That said, I've sailed CCL a couple of times. Had fun both times. Always something you can schedule to do, whether by the pool or in the theaters, etc. Their shows tend to be smaller productions vs Royal and certainly less polished and entertaining than those you'll find on NCL's ships. However, what they have are good shows.

 

Food is pretty good. You'll always be able to find something you like.

 

If you've seen one Carnival Cabin, you've seen them all. I have heard the Havana Cabins on the new Vista are quite nice, though.

 

Only took one Celebrity Cruise. It as similar to my only HAL cruise. It was nice. But, if you're looking for night life, these aren't the cruises to take. The most exciting thing we found on our Celebrity cruise was the glass blowing exhibit. And, they did have a grassy area at the top of the ship where we were able to play bocce ball (which my family enjoyed). Food was fine, though. If you like a laid back atmosphere, Celebrity (or HAL) will fit the bill.

 

I've been sailing a lot with Royal and Norwegian lately. Much more activity on both. Both offer some of the nicest ships at sea with lots to do. Service is good on both. Food is good on both (including MDR and Buffet). Their specialty restaurants range from very, very good...to outstanding.

 

I do like the Casino better on NCL's newest ships. I like playing cash Hold'em and NCL provides a dealer and a table to play. No other cruise ships have offered to do so....mostly they do tournaments.

 

I've yet to see better entertainment than I've experienced on NCL with all of their Cirque and Broadway productions. I've seen Blue Man Group, Rock of Ages, Million Dollar Quartet...all of them as good or better than what I've seen in Vegas (maybe not the Cirque shows since Vegas offers much bigger venues.....still great on NCL nonetheless).

 

Not slighting Royal. But, NCL is a step above in the entertainment dept.

 

Again, no bad choices. Carnival will be fun. I'm sure Celebrity will be too (but you may end up in your cabin earlier than expected).

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We are taking our first Celebrity cruise next March, so I can't compare it to Carnival. Really looking foward to it! However, I have had 7 cruises on Carnival, and here are my thoughts:

Food - dining room very good (better than RCCL); buffet a little lacking (better on RCCL)

Entertainment - shows not great, however OUTSTANDING comedy shows

Room size - average inner and balcony are larger than most cruise lines

Service - always have had very good service in both dining room and room steward. On our last cruise, our room steward always called me by my name and asked what he could do for me.

Fellow Passengers - My 2 sleepiest cruises were on Carnival. I know it has the party vibe reputation, but even on a cruise during college break, we did not run into drunk cruisers. Though I am sure the shorter weekend cruises probably has them.

Friendliest cruisers were on Carnival.

Activities - Always some kind of trivia or something going on. We like organized activities and aren't ones to lay out on the sun deck. If you want the bells and whistles - rock climbing wall, ice skating, etc., then maybe Carnival isn't for you.

As for the tank top another member mentioned - they are actually not allowed in the Main Dining Room. I am very surprised this man was not turned away and would have probably gotten the Maitre D involved. They can be worn at the buffet area. This is the MDR attire requirement from the Carnival website:

  • Not permitted: Cut-off Jeans, men’s sleeveless shirts, tee-shirts, gym or basketball shorts, baseball hats, flip-flops and bathing suit attire

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We like Carnival but it isn't for everyone. We have meet the nicest people on our Carnival cruises....people are friendly. We aren't huge drinkers and tend to not hang on the pool deck much. When we can quiet time we use out balcony. There can be a party atmosphere on the shorter cruises but we have not seen much of that on 7+ day cruises. We are pretty chill so maybe most things don't bother us :D

I agree the short cruise is drinking and parting the young crowd never would I take one again. The 7 day plus Carnival are great my wife says the food is much better on Celebrity I can not tell the difference. Carnival is "the fun ship" we always had just as good service, the entertainment sometimes loud for us, I love the waiters dancing and singing in the dining room. We have been on over 60 cruises and we now only go with Celebrity (my wife loves it) second would be RCCL next Princess then Carnival followed by all the rest Never been on a bad (over 7 days) Cruise!!

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We've done one Carnival Cruise. That will probably be the only one. We did a B2B Journey cruise that totaled 21 days. It wasn't that bad, but we prefer other cruise lines, Celebrity being one of them and NCL the other one that we frequent the most. There are probably more similarities between NCL and Carnival then Celebrity and Carnival, but it wasn't bad and I suggest you go and decide for yourself. We were on one of the newer (at the time) ships, the Dream and it was a good ship with plenty to do. We enjoyed the trivia and the ports were nice so it's hard to not have a good time on a cruise.

 

Carnival had some nice people on it and we have become friends with many of them and keep in touch on social media. The thing that I did like about the cruise was that it was a long cruise on Carnival. We prefer 10 days or more so when we saw this one for very cheap $649pp for 11 nights we booked the first leg. Then one night after a few (probably too many) cocktails we booked the return trip on the last night of the cruise. Our bags had already been put out so we had to get off and get them in the morning.

 

The second leg was $500pp for the 10 days and we did have a good time. I will never again though book a B2B on the last night of the originally booked cruise...LOL. Had to cancel hotel, airfare and re-book, etc. It was stressful the first whole day. I had to call my boss and tell her I needed another week off as well. Glad I got it without issue.

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If you go with an open mind you will have fun on Carnival .We used to cruise with them but some of their cliental were a little too strange for our taste .The food is not good but the drinks are reasonable and the comedy is good .We had a blast on the last long weekend cruise we took with them but to go on a holiday cruise with a zillion kids and no curfew I 'd pass.

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Wife and i sail on many cruise lines including carnival and we've enjoyed carnival just as much as the other cruise lines i would say to you just try carnival.

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We like a lot of activities.

Our typical sea day:

Buffet

Sun on the deck (not necessarily at the pool)

Burgers by the pool

Poker tournament in casino

Trivia

MDR

Show--usually only comedians

"Game shows"

Casino

Dancing in the club to dance music from 70s-today.

(and our kids like most of these activities too)

 

When we go on shore, that is when we like a beach & relax (tho with young adult kids--18, 20, 23--they like a lively beach)[/quote

 

 

 

Carnival's buffet is certainly inferior to Celebrity's, however, you will find enough to eat that is decent or adequate. They do have a made to order omelet station. buffet for lunch and dinner is ok too, probably dinner buffet is the least enjoyable for me, but still always able to find more than enough to satisfy.

 

There are many places on deck for sun or shade, that are away from the pool. Serenity deck is adult only, and is my favorite deck space.

 

burgers...most Carnival ships now have "Guy's burgers", ala Guy Fieri. You order a burger from the station, and then go to the toppings station and load it up with your favorite toppings, ie customizing your burger. Many people love these, some don't. I am somewhere in between. There is also a wonderful place called Blue Iguana, burritos and tacos again with a separate station for toppings and sauces.

 

Casino....now here is my biggest gripe with Carnival. Their casinos are way too smoky! Casino is I think the only indoor place for smokers to smoke, therefore, many do and it becomes oppressive and very unpleasant for non smokers. Not sure how their poker is, as I have only played slots in their casino.

 

they have trivia, but people are very very competitive... maybe something that goes to other cruise lines too, but I also have to say, I have not participated, just observed from a distance.

 

MDR. Dining room food is far superior to buffet food, and the dining room staff do try their best to please, at least in my experience of 8 carnival cruises. If you don't like something, they will be more than happy to bring you something else. Also, never an issue if you want two appetizers, skip the main, and go to dessert etc. They are very accommodating. In fact, I find all of Carnival's crew extremely friendly and eager to please you.

 

Comedians are usually quite good. There is a family friendly show early around 7.30 pm, and an adult content one later after 9pm. For me (a senior citizen, and far from a prude), I prefer the earlier show, and find the later one too vulgar for me. This just my opinion for me. Also depending on the ship, some of the show rooms for comedians are just too small, and end up meaning you have to line up before showtime to get in to find a decent place. but other ships are fine, ie the conquest class ships that I have been on.

 

The playlist shows are just ok...not my cup of tea, too many flashing lights, strobes etc. but they are short only about 30 to 45 mins max. The music is canned, no live orchestra or band, and this also something that I am not overly fond of, but it is an ok way to spend a half hour before or after dinner.

 

Dancing...there is that! various places during the day and evening.

 

Going ashore,,,in most of Carnival's ports there are usually beaches not far away, and sometimes just right off the ship, Grand Turk comes to mind.

 

Carnival is not horrible really, and gets a bum rep often. I think what you have to do, is keep in mind that their cruises are often much less cost than other lines. So if you go in with expectations in line with the price difference, you will likely be ok, and not disappointed. However, Carnival cruise will not ever be on par with a Celebrity one, or Princess etc.

 

My Mom who has pretty much only cruised on Celebrity, joined me once on a Carnival cruise, and she really enjoyed it, but I had also prepared her for what to expect and not to expect. Hope this all helps.

 

I still like Carnival, but as I get older, and in my 60's now, I find that I am looking elsewhere for my next cruise, and especially one with a smoke free casino, or one that is better ventilated....LOL..that is why I am on the Celebrity board now!:D

 

edit to add...as others state, the shorter cruises 3, 4, or even 5 day cruises, tend to be more party theme, and crowds who fit that demographic, time of year also can make a difference. 7 day or longer cruises will be more relaxed.

 

last edit...lol...something else that I often enjoy on Carnival ships is the movies on deck after dark.! they even give you popcorn!

Edited by SMSACE6

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We're going on our first X cruise next month so can't compare the two. Reading your list I think you will enjoy Carnival. We started cruising with Disney when the kids were young then moved on to Carnival with larger family groups. Enjoyed Disney but won't do it again until we have grandchildren to entertain. All of our Carnival cruises were a lot of fun. I thought the food and service were very good. No complaints. Always MDR when open. Never ate in the buffet except for snacks. On my last cruise they added a vegetarian Indian option at dinner in the MDR which I loved and ordered often, and I'm not a vegetarian. I also really enjoyed the mix of people. Some had been saving for a cruise for years while others had sailed at the top end and enjoying time with family. I also stay in both Hampton Inns and Ritz-Carltons depending on the situation. YMMV but I say go for it. Keep an open mind and adjust for your surroundings instead of wishing for something different.

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I have only 17 cruises compared to dozens and hundreds perhaps of some others here. But, I've been fortunate enough to sail a lot of lines. NCL (Haven and non), Disney, RCCL, Carnival, X, Seabourn, Celebrity, Princess, Crystal. Maybe one more? I forget now.

 

Anyway, the only cruise experiences I absolutely would not repeat are Norwegian non-Haven and Carnival.

 

I sailed on the Carnival Legend about 10 years ago, so maybe things have changed. It was tacky, loud, bright, with awful food. I don't usually gain a ton of weight on a cruise but I have never lost weight except this cruise. Cabin was not very nice at all. Many boorish passengers (and yes some friendly nice ones as well!) Activities a la frat party. Drunk, drunk, drunk people.

 

Celebrity isn't perfect but I can still enjoy a pleasurable vacation experience. I'm not kidding when I say I would not sail Carnival again even if it was free (except maybe in a top suite stateroom so I never had to leave?)

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We have only been on Carnival for longer cruises at times that were not school breaks, and would not hesitate to take similar type cruises with Carnival again.

We enjoyed the food and entertainment.

But we went with realistic expectations and did not expect it to be Celebrity.

Probably what we disliked most were the numerous announcements and the cheer leading, treating us like children at summer camp.

It looks like Celebrity may have picked up the annoying port vs. starboard type screaming competitions from crew members who came over from Carnival.

We actually saw fewer drunks on the Carnival cruises than we have seen on Celebrity since they started including the drink packages.

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We like a lot of activities.

Our typical sea day:

Buffet

Sun on the deck (not necessarily at the pool)

Burgers by the pool

Poker tournament in casino

Trivia

MDR

Show--usually only comedians

"Game shows"

Casino

Dancing in the club to dance music from 70s-today.

(and our kids like most of these activities too)

 

When we go on shore, that is when we like a beach & relax (tho with young adult kids--18, 20, 23--they like a lively beach)

 

Nothing wrong with Carnival if you go in with reasonable expectations. The MDR food isn't that bad, the buffet is horrendous unless it's one of the newer ships. But by the pool they have Guys burger joint and Blue Iguana doing tacos and burritos and they are pretty darn good (watch out for the habanero salsa that stuff will eat the paint of your car). In the mornings they do omelets out there and breakfast burritos (also very good). The nightlife is usually great but can be geared more to 20s-30 year olds (hip hop, dance club stuff). The comedy club is usually good too. The fares are cheap because there's no extras, no beverage package, free grats or anything else. Although the Carnival booze package is pretty reasonably priced. They actually make pretty decent drinks, the pina-colada and other blended drinks are miles better than on Celebrity. And with the beverage package you can get premium alcohol in them (patron etc).

Edited by TFLG

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Our first cruise was on Carnival then we tried Norwegian, Costa, Royal, Princess, HAL, Celebrity, and Uniworld River Cruises. Only line we wouldn't go on again is Costa. We are Platinum on Carnival because of a lot of short cruises mixed in with some longer ones back in the day the day they counted cruises, not days. In those days we didn't have much money and young kids. As we got a little more mature we drifted back to Carnival only when we went with a lot of family members who had kids ranging from kids club age, teenagers, and young adults. It was affordable for everyone and a great way to spend either Christmas or New Year's. The kids all loved it and the rest of us enjoyed everything as well. As we got older and could manage eating in the steak house on Carnival we did a couple of times on each cruise and to tell the truth we all agreed it was a wonderful meal for the small extra charge. Enjoyed our evening meals because the kids enjoyed the servers so much. One time we had a high school age group of 8 boys with us for a graduation cruise and I swear Carnival lost money on that one. Those boys ate more food than I thought humanly possible but we all had a blast Just don't expect elegance or a lot of quiet time. Lots of action. Get the best balcony cabin you can if you want quiet and give it a try. It's wasn't terrible, just different. Our large family with my siblings and now their kids and grands will probably go during the holidays next year because it will fit everyones budget. Have fun whatever you do.

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