Year Started: 1972
Ships in Fleet: 24
Summary: The most successful cruise line in history. Don't be misled, a high-quality cruise experience perfect for families and young couples, Fantastic value. the FUN ships, but not "party boats."
Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Western, Caribbean
Good for: First-time Cruisers. Families. Singles.
Good for: Value for Money. Overall Service. Children`s Programs.
Good for: Families. Singles. Seniors.
Good for: Families. Singles. Overall Service.
Regions: Bahamas, Caribbean, Canada/New England, Cruise To Nowhere
Good for: Families. Teens. Children`s Programs.
Good for: Teens. First-time Cruisers. Families.
Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Western
Good for: Teens. Singles. Families.
Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Western
Good for: Singles. Group. Families.
Regions:Mexico, Caribbean Eastern, Hawaii
Good for: Families. Overall Service. Value for Money.
Regions:Bahamas, Caribbean Eastern
Good for: Singles. Group. First-time Cruisers.
Regions:Bahamas, Caribbean Eastern
Good for: Overall Service. Seniors. Families.
Regions:Bahamas, Bermuda, South America
Good for: Group. Families. Foodies.
Regions:Europe, TransAtlantic, Caribbean
Good for: Families. Value for Money. Seniors.
Good for: Families. Children`s Programs. Singles.
Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Western
Good for: Group. Families. Luxury Travelers.
Good for: Group. Singles. First-time Cruisers.
Good for: Singles. First-time Cruisers. Overall Service.
Good for: Families. Singles. Teens.
Good for: Families. Value for Money. First-time Cruisers.
Regions:Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexico, Panama Canal
Good for: Families. Singles. Children`s Programs.
Good for: Families. Seniors. Children`s Programs.
Good for: First-time Cruisers. Families. Group.
Good for: Families. Group. Singles.
I found Elation to be a great ship - not as crowded as the huge ships so I had more fun
Thought we'd share our Inspiration 4 night experience. I'm 40, DH is 51 and we have a 5 year old son. We've sailed many times with Carnival and this cruise was to celebrate hubby's birthday in early May.
We booked an outside cabin, but received a call a few weeks before the cruise offering an upgrade to a Grand Suite. I researched the price Carnival offered, and it was about 60% less than the normal cabin cost, so we jumped on it, mainly because of the balcony and bathtub.
As always, we purchased Faster to the Fun, and were glad we did. We are the types that love to arrive to the port early and unpack immediately so we can enjoy every moment of the ship on the first day, so it's worth it to us. Plus, with a tender port in Catalina, we thought it would be worthwhile. We probably didn't need it since we'd upgraded to a suite, and we knew that, but we kept the FTTF since we'd purchased it prior.
I'll start with a few overall pros and cons, then break down our experience a little more.
American Table- fun to try something new!
Service in dining room
Waterworks- all of us (yep, even the grown ups) loved the waterslides. The water was chilly, but so was the air. It's just the time of year we traveled.
Lack of suite perks
Had to miss first night in dining room to wait for a private table for our family â€“ so tired of this Carnival- please honor the request for table size made on your website! Some of us just want to dine with our families.
Cigarette smoke coming through vents and doors. No clue where it was coming from, but it permeated our bathroom a few nights on the trip.
Noisy neighbors at times, hosting late night parties in the room.
Overall, we were very impressed with the cleanliness of the ship, particularly due to its age. The staff works so hard to keep everything sparkling and it was clean and bright.
We really enjoyed the balcony and extra space in the Grand Suite. It's odd that Carnival offers no suite perks, aside from priority embarkation, but hey, we save a lot of money sailing with Carnival so I get it. I did have a hard time with the fact that there wasn't even free bottled water with the suite, but again, no biggie.
Our son slept on the full size pull out couch - it was a huge bed for a couch arrangement, and still left plenty of room to walk around the suite when the bed was fully extended and made.
The Jacuzzi tub in the room was really nice, but rather narrow. I'm petite and when I was showering, the tub felt super narrow (like my feet were pressed up against the edges), but it was SO nice to be able to bathe our son, and relax in the tub rather than the standard small shower routine.
Here's a little video tour of the room:
Yes, the ship features the American Table menu. The menu is a little visually confusing at first, but you get used to it. I did find that we tended to order fewer dishes, perhaps because we were SO in love with the "for the table"size calamari every night that we filled up on that. The food quality seemed the same or better to me than it normally did with the old menus and we had no trouble finding entrees we liked. The only thing I didn't care for was the Veal parmesan. Too gamey. We're putting a little food video together too, and will try to post it when its done.
This was our first cruise. June 8th 2014 to Bahamas. Chose Carnival due to dates, price and duration. Noticed on day 2 water was brownish. Washed my face in the morning and my face broke out.
Went ashore and enjoyed the day in Freeport. Came back water was clear. Day 3 noticed maintenance crew working in hallways, toilet in our room flushed on its own twice, Maintenance guy said it was because of his work. Water was brownish orange Looked pretty bad. Later that night when we went back to our room we noticed that the water was still bad.
We went to guest services where the lady told us it was unsafe to drink and that our bottled water would be comped. We inquired about overall health/safety of other passengers and were informed that any one who had noticed and complained got bottled water free otherwise nothing. No safety message was ever made/published. Afraid to shower due to sewer backed up into water. I saved a sample of the water from the ship and am sending it off to be tested.
We booked a last minute Caribbean cruise with Carnival on the Victory for a quick get away, and had some trepidation about Carnival's overall reputation. We are fairly seasoned cruisers and tend to cruise on higher end cruise lines. With that said, we went with a good attitude and did not expect Holland America level service, food etc.
We embarked quickly and efficiently only to come on board a ship that reeked of stale cigarette smoke, had grossly dated decor, run down veranda cabins and a crew that seemed burned out at best. We could barely walk after sleeping in the horribly broken down beds (the beds visibly sagged even when fully made with a down comforter), and weren't thrilled with the 15 year old box television and pink/mauve/gold room decor. Our cabin walls and ceiling were dirty and grimy and the carpet had seen better days. This was true of all of the ship's decor. Thankfully, the Victory is headed to dry dock next year for a much needed overhaul.
We had hoped to find some saving grace in the food onboard - no luck whatsoever. Even in the formal diningroom the food was mediocre at best (although our staff was friendly and kind.) The breakfast buffet served something that was scrambled but not likely from a chicken, and the lunch buffet was lackluster and tasteless.
We are pretty mellow travelers and enjoy a variety of travel companions but this ship was the equivalent of a floating "Animal House". The cabin guests adjacent to our veranda cabin spent their days smoking marijuana, as well as many other guests on the exterior walkways/decks. Many guests were visibly inebriated and it was a loud and raucous crown overall. We spent 5 days just shaking our heads and wondering if it was all for real.
The staff seemed sparse for a ship this size and they appeared to be burned out. We could imagine that they were doing their best with the caliber of guests they were dealing with.
All in all, we really did try to have a good time despite the ship's condition and offerings, it was just darn near impossible. Money poorly spent and a good lesson learned.
Carnival Paradise March 3, 2014- March 8, 2014
Arrived at the Port of Tampa at approximately 10:30 AM. Check in was easy and efficient. I was sent to the priority boarding area to await boarding. The wait was about 20 minutes. We were taken to the boarding area and in about 10 minutes time we were aboard the ship. I found my room and began settling in by unpacking the things in my carry on. While doing that my suitcase arrived and I finished unpacking. Unpacking done I went up to deck 10 for some lunch. After lunch I wandered around getting familiar with the layout. I was surprised at the dÃ©cor of this ship. Other ships of it's era are bright and colorful. This ship is subdued but pleasant for the most part. I did find one room that was just plain ugly. That was the Rex Lounge. The whole room was covered in bands of different animal prints even the ceiling. I have not seen a room this ugly since I saw the "Jungle Room" at Graceland.
I discovered that I was assigned late fixed seating. I hadasked for "YTD". I was unable to find the Maitre' D to get that straightened out so I ate late that night. The next morning I got it straight. I went to the dining room to eat most meals. The service was not just great but fantastic! This service team was right on the ball every meal. The food was excellent and I enjoyed many of my favorites.
I did not see a lot of the entertainment but what I did see in the main show room was very good. The dance team was excellent.
I stayed aboard the ship in Grand Cayman as I have been there many times. I did go ashore to wander the shops on the pier.
The food was very good and I was more than pleased with that. Everything was fresh and delivered in a timely manner.
I have to say this has been my best cruise ever. I had lots of fun and everything about this cruise was pleasant.
must admit, after reading the earlier reviews posted prior to my trip, I boarded the Sunshine with the expectation I was going to be underwhelmed-wrong!
My father in-law and I (somehow) talked our spouses into turning the two of us loose for a week in the Caribbean to get some sun and shake out of the midwestern cold weather blahs. The wives had too much Christmas planning to do to get away and cut the boys loose for a week. Fyi, we are 60 and 82, so it wasn't like we were going to find a tattoo parlor, buy stock in a rum distillery and find a couple of bikini clad maidens and forget reality-we just needed some sunshine!
Mission accomplished, big time.
We cruised from New Orleans on the Sunshine for a 7 day run to Jamaica, Caymans, Cozumel.
Our plan was to do some light site seeing and get a tan, have a few cocktails, eat too much.
Now, as to the ship. We both thought it was wonderful! Clean as a whistle, everything in fine working order, every single staffer pleasant and efficient, the layout simple and easy tomaneuver.
My father-in-law and I have had 10 cruises between us and can both say this ship was the best we have been on for the overall experience. We have been on the small boats (the original Mardis Gras from Carnival and RCL's Sun Viking) and the mid sizers of Princess and RCL. The Sunshine combined the best of both-quiet spaces of the small vessels and the energy and diversity of the mids.
I can't say enough about the Serenity area-what a perfect spot for us old farts! You could always find shade, and up front it was just us and the horizon. A great bar, no kids, big hammocks, and double bed sized lounging areas for crying out loud! What a great space!!
Very good shows. The dancers were as good as you would find anywhere short of Broadway itself. I mean this- these shows are usually fun, but second tier in the dancers ability-not this group! They are the real deal! The group had adequate voices (hey, if they were great singers on top of their dancing ability this group would be on Broadway and not on a ship) and the production fit their skill sets perfectly-great fun and we thought it was a wow each time! Very happy guys!!
Previous comments suggest the chow was average. I must say, these folks must live at the Ritz and breakfast on Bon Bons-the food was great! We did anytime dining, went early, and were offered a table for two each mealtime. These were either small tables surrounding the center of the dining room or quiet two person booths-both great options.
Good choices for entrees with at least one exotic (for us) starter each meal-great time to try something you wouldn't normally roll the dice on.
Wait staff was awesome-always available, yet unobtrusive-just what you want!
The first night our dining room cocktail staff person decided to adopt us and found us to say hello and visit briefly regardless of where we were seated subsequent evenings-that made us feel super special and we have to give her a personal shout out-Plamena, we will cruise this line and this ship again just to see you again! You are the BEST!!! Of all time!!! If I gush anymore my wife won't let me come back!!!
The pool area:
This ship has a different take here-an amphitheater layout with lots and lots of seating and a very small pool. I must admit, I liked this priority a lot. There were a bunch of large showers scattered about to allow you to "wet 'er down" and cool off without having to jump into the pool. This left the small pool to the little ones and that seemed satisfying to everyone. The kids have a huge pool play area of their own aft, but this main space allowed the moms and dads to be in an adult space with them, yet not worry about crowding out the young adults or old codgers looking too cool off. Very well thought out plan!
We went inside, small. To us the fun is topside and the cabins are for sleeping. The steward had our names down day one and was all over our needs immediately/ These staffers are always the best and work their tails off keeping the guests happy and the cabins spotless! Thank you!
As good as we could ask for, better than advertised, we are coming back for sure (and we will find you Plamena-ouch, honey, quit hitting me...).
Thank you Carnival!
Thomas and Malcolm
Sailed with elderly parents, one of which needed extra help in the dining room. The maÃ®tre 'D and wait staff went well beyond what was requested to make everything perfect. The Captain makes himself available to the passengers, and enjoys meeting each and everyone. His attitude and friendly nature, I'm positive, makes for the happiest overall crew I've seen on over 17 different cruises.
We enjoyed a quick 2 night cruise aboard the Imagination late January 2014. Weâ€™re a party of three- me, 40, my hubby, 50 and our 5 year old son. As we live on the Central CA coast, this was a convenient trip for us.
Overall, we enjoyed this short getaway and our expectations on the Imagination were exceeded.
We sailed in an oceanview cabin this time (R43 on the Riviera deck), rather than our standard balcony cabin. We were very happy with the size of the room, and the layout as well as the fact that the cabins below and above us were also cabins- so there was no chair dragging/people walking/loud lounge noise, etc. The window was very large, and helped us to avoid that claustrophobic feeling that can creep in when we donâ€™t have a balcony. Unfortunately, we had rainy, very cool weather by Southern CA standards, so we didnâ€™t get to enjoy as much time outdoors on this cruise. It drizzled pretty much the whole time, with a great break in the rain while we were in Ensenada.
The feeling the MOMENT we walked on board wasupbeat, cheerful, and music filled. Every employee in the atrium greeted us, and the music playing let the passengers feel the vacation mood immediately upon boarding. The dancing towel animal, Ellie the Elephant is adorable, and really added to the smiles. The renovations on this ship were awesome (we cruised on it pre-renovation 8 years ago). They did a great job making the ship feel as new as possible- the pool deck looks great and the public rooms and atrium are very obviously updated. Passengers were respectful and party-focused, but not rowdy or obnoxious, from what we noticed. We noticed that a lot of people were carrying around beers and/or bucket of beers immediately after boarding- getting the fun started. We had thought that this cruise might be too rowdy and loud for us, but it wasnâ€™t. It was fun to watch the many bachelorette party groups, families travelling in large groups together and groups of girlfriends looking for a weekend getaway.
Faster to the Fun
This was our second positive experience with FTTF. While we got to the port so early that it probably didnâ€™t make a huge difference in check in time, we enjoyed the extra attention and would say it is worth the money, even for a 2 day cruise, for OUR situation. We were anxious to film the entire ship, so every hour of this cruise counted and boarding early helped.
As usual, we requested a small table just for the three of us in the early seating, main dining room, but checked with the maitre d on embarkation day and theyâ€™d pre-assigned us to sit with others (not sure why they donâ€™t honor what you request on the website, but oh well). Our request to change to a private table was quickly accommodated, and we were put in a 4-top, banquette style (not my fave- as youâ€™re seated right next others on the bench/table combo). Our main dining room servers were so friendly and caring for such a short cruise, and the main dining room food was great.
Lido Buffet food was better than average and the area was kept clean and well-stocked. The station set up really helps with the crowds- the lines were minimal even during peak times, and seating was always available. I particularly loved the Sandwich station, salad bar, and the Asian food.
This was a â€œone portâ€ cruise, with just a dayâ€™s stop in Ensenada. This was our first time off the ship in Ensenada (we usually sit out this port on longer cruises), so we booked a tour through Carnival to La Bufadora, and enjoyed the blowhole, as well as the BEST tacos (the shop RIGHT near the bus stop at La Bufadora). The vendors were aggressive on the walk to the blowhole, as others had warned, but we made a few purchases, and enjoyed the shopping opportunity. All in all, weâ€™re glad we went, but this is a place you probably only need to see once.
We'd do it again! Hopefully, this time, on the longer 4 day to Catalina.
Here's our video tour of the ship, as well as a quick tour of the stateroom. Enjoy!
My wife and I (mid 50s) take care of our elderly parents and we booked this cruise for some well deserved rest and cold weather getaway. We have cruised with Carnival five previous times and have enjoyed the fun times on board all our past cruises. We flew on Southwest free using our points to fly from Louisville Ky. to Ft. Lauderdale and back to Louisville Ky.
We cruised with another couple from Indiana and met them in Ft. Lauderdale. We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale on Saturday night and stayed in the Comfort suites and cruise port hotel in Ft. Lauderdale. The hotel stay was a free night using our choice privileges points.
Our check-in was super quick and we had a king room on the sixth floor looking out at the cruise pier. The hotel is used by a lot cruisers and was booked full.
Although our overall experience with the Dream in Feb. 2014 was mostly favorable, there were 2 major problems that marred our 7-day cruise of the western Caribbean. One was the captain's decision to bypass Mahogany Bay in Honduras in favor of docking at Port of Roaton further south. This meant a $20 taxi ride to get to the beach. The captain said it was too windy to pull in alongside another Carnival ship already in port. It did not seem particularly windy to us passengers.
The other problem was that my partner, who booked the cruise directly with Carnival, asked specifically for dining room seat with or near 16 other relatives and friends in our group. The others all were clustered together, while we were put into another dining room altogether. The maitre did manage to switch us to a closer table a night later, but it still was a major disappointment.
Some other aspects of the cruise were below the level we experienced on 3 previous Carnival cruises, particularly in dining room food. We also disliked the smoke odor that permeated the casino and nearby areas. Our balcony enjoyment was marred acouple of times by smoke wafting up from the deck below.
I'm an early-morning walker but one stroll on Deck 5 at 6 a.m. was downright dangerous when I found the prow of the ship plunged in darkness. (The sides and aft areas were well-lit). A fellow walker had a flashlight which helped us fumble our way to safety. Theater shows were mostly excellent, but daytime entertainment seemed a little lame (mostly trivia games).
Nothing in the way of educational activities. My partner became sick the last 3 days with a flu-like illness, and Alex, one of the activities staffer,s was kind enough to summon a wheelchair for us and speed us around the lines. This was in contrast to a young woman who berated us for sitting illegally on a lobby couch when my partner became too weak to stand.