Carnival Cruise Lines® is the world's largest cruise line, with a fleet of colorful an exciting "FunShips®". From starting out cruising the Caribbean with three old ocean liners in the 1970's and 80's, the cruise line has kept building new, big ships especially designed for the Carnival way of cruising. The growth to a fleet of 23 cruise ships proves just how much the cruising public loves Carnival.
While in the beginning Carnival might have been known as the cruise line to party around the clock on, it has today become the undisputed leader in family cruising. As recently as 2000, for instance, Carnival Cruise Lines was projecting 250,000 participants in its kids program. Today, that number will approach 600,000.
Fleetwide, Carnival’s ships get big points for their roomy and well laid out cabins, which all have equally roomy bathrooms. In the public areas, you can expect some pretty over-the-top decor — especially on the line’s older ships, which sport things like oyster shell wallpaper, furry barstools, wacky chandeliers, neon-bright dining rooms, and fanciful spaces themed on ancient Greece and Rome. Ships built over the past decade have toned things down a bit, but they’re still bright, busy, and playful. Almost everywhere you look, you’ll get an eyeful of wildly collaged textures, shapes, and images.
Carnival ships have all been are designed around a couple of very important recurring concepts, the most important ones being its pool area and the indoor promenade concept. Lots of fun is featured around the pool area, with a resort style pool, various kinds of giant waterslides, and on many of the new Carnival ships even the outdoor Seaside Theatre - a giant 12 ft by 22 ft jumbo LCD screen for movies, concerts, sports events, and more. The Carnival indoor promenade runs the length of the ships and has a number of the bars and lounges integrated into the design. This makes for a feeling of constant activity and of something always happening. If one takes a seat in a chair along the promenade, it seems every other person on the ship will sooner or later pass by.
Carnival ships are buzzing with entertainment options, from flamboyant song-and-dance revues in giant theaters to large glitzy casinos, live bands and hilarious late-night stand-up comedy shows offered fleetwide on every cruise. The pool decks rock, pumping out loud Caribbean-style favorites throughout the day.
You won’t find much in the way of classes and seminars, but there are plenty of audience participation games and contests. You can also head to the huge gyms and spas, take a dance class, watch a movie on a giant outdoor screen, surf the web in the Internet center, whack some golf balls into a driving net, play laser tag (for a $5 fee), or head to the adults-only sunbathing deck that most of the ship offer for some quiet time. Kids get big children’s centers with high-energy counselors and activities, plus great water slides and water parks.
The Caribbean Experts
Carnival Cruise Lines is the leader in Caribbean cruising, with more Caribbean cruise ships departing from more U.S. home ports than any other cruise line. The advantage of this is that many Carnival passengers have the convenience of driving to the cruise ship, instead of having the added cost and time of flying to the port of departure. Carnival also, by far, has the most cruise ships on year-round Caribbean cruises. No matter the time of year, it is easy to find a Carnival cruise.
Carnival Cruise Lines' spectacular showlounge productions feature Las Vegas style shows with talented singers and dancers. In addition to a different main show each evening, you can enjoy the rhytm of the night with live music in Carnival's many colorful and exciting bars and lounges.
Cabins and Suites on Carnival Cruise Ships
Cabins and Suites on Carnival Cruise Lines feature a spacious design, with all the extras a modern cruise ship has to offer. On a weeklong Caribbean cruise balcony cabins and suites are especially comfortable for private relaxation on your private balcony during lazy days at sea.
Carnival is the clear cruise line winner for family vacations. Kids obviously love the "Fun Ships", judging from the more than half a million who cruise with Carnival each year, and it’s easy to understand why. Carnival’s ships are equipped with enough toys, games, excursions and shipboard programs to keep the fussiest tots or the most cynical teens happy, and Carnival is a consistently excellent value for families.
Camp Carnival® is Carnival's year-round activities program for children between the ages of 2 and 11, with activities divided into age groups of 2-5, 6-8, and 9-11 years old. There is also supervised "free play" and babysitting service.
For teenagers, there is Circle C® for 12 to 14 year olds, and Club O2® for 15 to 17 year olds.
Dining on Carnival Cruise Ships
In the dining department, Carnival’s food quality and presentation are much better than a lot of people expect on a mainstream cruise. The low-fat, low-calorie, low-salt Spa Carnival fare is also surprisingly tasty. At dinner, guests can go traditional or casual in the main restaurants, either choosing a fixed early or late seating or just dropping in whenever they like between about 5:45 and 9:30. Dress codes are flexible too, and even on formal nights nobody will get upset if you show up in jeans and a polo shirt. If you want to go super-casual, you can dine buffet-style for every meal, choosing among everything from burgers and fries to burritos, pasta, fried rice and Indian food. You can get pizza 24 hours a day, too, plus sushi, deli sandwiches, and more. For a special night out, about half the line’s ships offer extra-cost specialty restaurants with superior service and cuisine.
Dining on Carnival Cruise Lines is known as "Your Choice Dining". This means that Carnival provides a choice of three different dinner seating options in their main restaurants. There are the traditional 1st and 2nd seatings at assigned tables, plus the "Your Time" open seating option. The preferred type of dining is selected at time of booking, subject to availability. Lunch and dinner are also available buffet style on the Lido Deck.
Traditional dining in the main restaurants with 1st and 2nd seatings at assigned tables means that one dines at the same time and the same table every night. The benefit of this is that one meets other passengers and can make new friends. The 1st seating starts at 6:00 p.m., and 2nd seating at 8:15 p.m. (and dinner service begins promptly at those times).
"Your Time" Open Seating dining is available on all Carnival ships. It should be emphasized that it is important to select this type of dining at time of booking, because if one has selected the traditional dining it is not possible to change to "Your Time" once onboard the ship. Passengers on "Your Time" open seating may dine any time in the main dining room between 5:45 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., and can request any table size or waiter. Seating is on a first come, first served basis depending on the size of the party. Like at many restaurants ashore, pagers are provided in case a short wait time is required. In most cases seating can be accomodated within 20 minutes, which gives just the right amount of time for a pre-dinner drink.
The open seating option is definitely on its way to becoming the most popular dining option, and not only on Carnival Cruise Lines. For larger parties traveling together, and for families with small children the traditional 1st and 2nd seating is still the best option. For everyone else it depends on personal preferences. Just remember that on Carnival Cruise Lines "Your Time" dining cannot be selected once onboard the ship. It has to be selected at time of booking.
Dream, Conquest, and Spirit "class" ships also offer an exclusive steakhouse for special evenings. Reservations are recommended, and a nominal fee applies.
Carnival Cruise Lines Cruise Ship Reviews
Carnival Cruise Ships
Carnival Cruise Lines' cruise ships come in five different "classes". New cruise ships are usually ordered from shipyards as a series of cruise ships of similar design. This helps keep the cost of construction down. Cruise ship "classes" are used to describe such series of similarly designed ships.
by Geoff Edwards. Geoff is a veteran radio and television broadcaster with an Emmy and an Emmy nomination.
Carnival’s Dream is at Pier 90 in NYC scheduled to depart at 4 p.m.
I took the red eye on AA from LAX to Dallas and then on to La Guardia. I know not to get in town the day of the sailing, and for a minute I thought I should have listened to myself. Our flight leaving Dallas was an hour and a half late leaving the gate. Some problem with the temperature aboard and for awhile we weren’t sure we’d go at all.
I am alone on this trip as my photographer wife, Michael, broke her leg taking the perfect shot from a folding chair. Well, at least the chair did what it was supposed to do. It folded.
It seems that everyone that inquires about her injury has an “I broke” story. It’s the same with DFW. Tell someone, anyone, you had a delay or cancellation at DFW and the horror stories pour out. I’m coming back through St Louis.
I reserved a car through Carmel Limo and was picked up 5 minutes after my bags arrived. Get this: Luxury sedan for $28 plus tip. That’s less than a taxi.
The drive to Manhattan goes through some low income areas, and given the clouds and chill, a dreary ride indeed. Once in town the traffic was horrendous. A siren screamed at the cabs and trucks, but no one paid much heed. The large fire truck looming in rearview mirrors and the blasting horn finally got some attention, but not a lot. Ah, New York.
The tourist venues on the piers were a captivating sight from the ship: a nuclear sub, an aircraft carrier . . .
. . . and the final landing place of the “we’ll get there before you leave” airplane.
This is Carnival’s newest and largest ship. At 130,000 tons, she holds more than 3,646 passengers. We have 3,600 aboard for this cruise. As with the larger ships, check in can take some time. Just zone out — it will all be over soon.
My cabin is lovely and, huge props to Carnival, there is actually light in the spacious closets. The bathroom, (I’m sorry, head) is no frills, but the towels are large and absorbent. What you need is want you get.
Dream’s lifeboat drill is a departure from the usual, which is when you wear your lifejacket to the muster station, and then someone shows you how to put it on. But I have it on. Oh, never mind.
On Dream, we go to our muster stations sans lifejackets and are shown how to put on what we don’t have. The poor cruise director was having a tough time getting folks out of the lido buffet line to gather at muster stations. My muster is in the deck three theater.
Everywhere you go on Dream there is music and dancing.
There is not a spot on the boat that doesn’t have something happening.
Michael and I had reserved a table for two, but with her cancellation, I ended up with a table for ten, all of whom were traveling alone. The man next to me refused to talk.
The man across from me refused to stop talking. The food however, made up for any discomfort. I had an incredible Indian vegetarian dinner, and all the others seemed to be happy with their choices. I don’t know about the man next to me.
As we sailed down the Hudson, the Statue of Liberty was elegant in the evening haze. Because of the lighting, the rain, the ship’s movement, and my camera, the photo is lame, but here she is.
I was as fuzzy as she, and choose a soft pillow and duvet over the welcoming show.
Carnival Dream, A Day At Sea
We are two days out of NY headed for Port Canaveral tomorrow on Thanksgiving, then to Nassau, from there to Freeport, and back to NY. I surmised there would be a lot on New Yorkers on board, but I never guessed they’d bring their weather with them.
The ocean has been smooth, but there are people who insist on wearing those sea sickness patches behind their ears. These patches contain Scopalomine. Cruisers of a certain age may not remember the trip. Scopalomine was used in WWII as a truth serum. There are newlyweds on board wearing them. Not going to be pretty.
Last night was “Elegant” dress code, which means a lot of folks, including me, skipped the dining room for the casual Lido buffet.
Lido serves about the same menu as the dining room, just lacking a bit of chic. I had one of the best pieces of duck I can remember; but then I can’t remember who won the World Series.
Once again I passed on the show, and headed for bed. Dream’s bed, duvet, and pillows are soft and snuggly. Yes, I know I’m alone, but hey, snuggling with a pillow is PC, no?
Today, I ate at the Grand Buffet. There have been some gripes on cruise boards from those who did the two day cruise to nowhere a few weeks ago when Dream first got to NYC. Whatever the problems were, I can’t find them now. It amazes me that with 3,600 passengers, including swarms of children, the lines are easily tolerable.
Dream has kids programs, and has devoted 19,000 square feet to keep them busy. They also have the giant slide.
This duo slide is 300 feet long; that’s a football field! It has a drop of four decks. I’m now doing the math as to how many Pina Coladas I’ll need to get up the nerve to make the trip.
Those into sports have all they need. Beer and seven screens of play,
or a round of golf
or perhaps the Hairy Chest contest qualifies as a spectator sport. I didn’t do the math for this one either.
As I’ve mentioned the kids on board are not a problem, but still there is an escape plan.
Adults only please, and we’ll tell you when it’s time for dinner.
Tonight I am going to try the Family Comedy at 7:30 in the Burgundy Lounge. Then at 9:45, the Adult Comedy. A report tomorrow.
Yes, again no show for me. I will not see hypnotist Asad Mecci in the main theater. I hear he is an excellent hypnotist, but not for me. I might go see him. I want to see him, I’m gooooing to seeeee him. Please, someone snap your fingers!!!
Last night rack of lamb was on the menu and looked so tempting I overlooked it was braised in garlic. I am allergic to garlic. (I know, I’m on an Italian hit list somewhere). But how bad could braising be?
It was quite a night for me. First, the “family” comedy night with Marvin Bell. He was at once charming and very funny. The neat thing is, when I went up to chat with him after the show, he recognized me as “The Game Show Guy.” Actually that was better than my female tablemate who said, “I swear you have a twin brother.” Yes, and he’s on TV, I thought.
“He,” she said, “is a Roman Catholic Priest.”
I did stop by the hypnotist’s show and stayed for a bit until I had this urge to jump up because my seat was hot. From there to the “adult” comedy. The great thing about Marvin is he is funny! He doesn’t try to get laughs out of raunchy. If you have a chance, don’t miss this guy.
Next the heralded laser show on the main pool deck. Nothing stops the dancers on this ship.
It was pouring rain!
We docked at Port Canaveral Thanksgiving morning; I slept. Thanksgiving afternoon, I slept. So I now list “braising with garlic” right after “oysters in August” on my “It’s Going to Get You List.”
I did manage to do some laundry. Dream has three launderettes, but bring quarters; 12 will get you a washer, 12 more a dryer, and 5, soap. Altogether one load will cost $7.25. It probably would have been more expedient to bring extra underwear.
All the major Thanksgiving football games made it to Dream on the huge screen with booming sound.
I couldn’t face mass made turkey, so the Chef’s Steak House got the nod. This is a $30 alternate dining site high on the top deck. It is lovely.
To start, I had the best ahi tartar I’ve ever tasted. I asked the chef to send five pounds of it to my cabin. He didn’t.
The steaks looked incredible, but, remembering my rack of lamb, I chose lobster.
The Steak House is well worth the asking price.
From there, tryptophan deprived, to the lonely cabin. By the way, the thing about traveling alone is I can have any combination of anything without someone going “arrrrrgh.” For instance, for breakfast I’ve had eggs over-easy with two slices of cheese on top, and, on top of the cheese, a dollop of peanut butter.
But then who says I am alone. There’s always Bertram.
I love Nassau because I love conch. Those big beautiful shells that now house the sound of the ocean once were home to conch.
In Nassau there is a restaurant that specializes in conch. The last time I visited was a year or so ago and I was excited to be back.
A local beer, Kalek, and some fries and fritters just waiting for me to savor.
Oh no! The conch was tough and fairly tasteless. The adult conch is fast disappearing into tummies, and hard now to find. OK, we’ll just grab the young ones. But, they are not at all ready to be harvested. The good news is, if I am in Nassau again, I can have a burger.
My other quest was to find a camera store. I have a Flip video cam and wanted to find a waterproof case for it. Why? Because I’m going to be in the Guinness book of records as the oldest person to go down the giant slide and they’ll want proof.
I asked for directions and was told to go down one block, turn right and it will be on the left. Close to a mile later, I was leaving town and no camera store. Again I asked and was told to go two blocks to the traffic light, turn left and it would be on the right. Nope.
As I did this futile footwork, I saw one of those t-shirts that change in the sun stores across the street. I wanted to get some for the grandkids back home so I took that side of the street on the way back. I swear the store had completely disappeared.
There was one thing that I always wanted to try; that didn’t work either.
Suddenly inspiration! I would put Saran Wrap tightly around the Flip and waterproofed it. Tomorrow the slide!!
I finally figured out why I am so intent on going down this slide. Yes, it’s the largest at sea, but that is not reason enough. I think it was the guy in Nassau who said, “Do you want a horse carriage ride . . . daddy?”
So here it is:
From the top.
For some reason my video won’t load. it is a full trip down from the inside.
I stopped by Wasabi for some pre-dinner sushi. Don’t expect an actual sushi bar. There are three choices only, and the three are served to you without you requesting a choice. The spicy tuna was the best of the three, but none were tempting enough to warrant another visit.
The casino opened after we left port. I had three quarters left from my laundry money, and so decided to play the 25 cent machine. That, it seems, is not possible. There are no places to put the money in. You can use your “Sail and Sign” card and charge the amount you play. You can put in dollar bills but that means you will play at least 4 quarters. Three quarters was my limit. I still have them.
I miss the clank of money going in and, more importantly, coming out. The money won gets credited, but does not come pouring out into the tray. There is no tray.
Tomorrow at sea and tons to do. Whee
Dream at Sea to NYC
There’s a lot happening on Dream today.
The show band musician’s held an hour jam session in the Ocean Plaza that was a nice surprise. There are some very good players in the group. The trumpet player is so inventive it’s scary. It’s hard to believe he’s on a ship and not wailing at a NY club.
There are now seven people at our dinner table. Tonight, the first seated greeted each new arrival with “It’s show time!” (The servers put on a song and dance this “Elegant” night.) The second to take his seat said, “I had three martinis.”
It went something like this:
“It’s show time”, “I had three martinis.”
“It’s show time”, “I had three martinis.”
“It’s show time”, “I had three martinis.”
“It’s show time”, “I had three martinis.”
“It’s show time”, “I had three martinis.”
Finally, all seven were seated.
The real show, “Extreme Country,” was at 8:45 PM in the Encore Theater. The place was full by 8:15.
Well not quite full; lots of seats were saved. Dream kindly requests that seats not be saved. Yeah, right. The ones that really got to me were the people who used part of their cabin gear to save up to seven seats.
Maybe my attitude was wrong. People loved the show, but for me, it did not live up to the usual Carnival presentation. I just don’t care much for choreography that has no rhyme or reason. Just a bunch of waving, head snapping, and nerve-racking splits.
Next, comedy. I went to Family Comedy with Tommy Drake as the headliner. Very funny, and a terrific hour performance; all clean material with kids laughing along with their parents. The comics on Dream have been remarkable.
The only problem I had was with the MC. As the audience burst into a thunderous ovation at the end of Tommy’s act, he said, “Let’s hear it one more time for Tommy Drake!”
This plea came in the middle of our applause. So what to do now?
Do we clap all over again after we are finished applauding??
Next, a wrap up of Carnival Dream.
Carnival Dream; That’s A Wrap
First off the Internet on Dream is very fast, and the price is right. The top package comes to 33 cents a minute.
The service both from room stewards, waiters, and 24-hour room service is prompt and friendly. One note about room service, a tip (I’m sorry, gratuity) is suggested. This is the one area where friendliness was lacking, even though “gratuitied.”
The purser’s desk works hard to please not only with a great attitude, but they know what they’re doing. When I needed Saran Wrap for my Flip video cam, Katerina, literally ran from the desk and disappeared. Minutes later, she came bustling back, wrap in hand. That kind of service from the main desk is seldom found.
It turns out, with kids, we had 4,300 passengers, and yet lines at buffets were never a problem. Dream appeals to families, and children love it. Dream even offers special family cabins.
When you go to the Lido buffet, go through to the second area. Most people stop at the first, and the second is always less crowded. Continue on to the rear deck and you’ll find the Deli open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Also aft, Tandoor Station, with a small Indian buffet, and a 24-hour pizza and ice cream top it all off.
You might not find the pasta station. It’s upstairs off the Gathering (lido food area) and serves what you want as you like it.
One thing I found strange was the difficulty in making eye contact when passing fellow passengers. I pride myself on getting a return smile when I go by another person.
Most times that didn’t happen, as a matter of fact, people would walk right at me without seeming to have any indication that there was a live person in their way. Then I got it. Most of the passengers were New Yorkers, many of them from NYC and that’s the way you walk on the NYC sidewalks; completely disconnected.
Remember it is Carnival, so cabin amenities are less than moderate, but the robes are luxurious. AND, the closets have lots of room and light.
Dream’s big screen on the pool area is always showing something from the cocktail making contest to National Geographic films. On the last day as I was planning my dash to LGA, I saw this:
Tags with the numbers 2 through 37 are distributed. The lower the number the sooner you get off the boat. To get off first, carry your own luggage and go with the “unassisted” group.
Next best thing is get a low number from the Purser’s desk. Don’t wait to have one distributed to your cabin. I had number five, which for some reason went after 2. The #5 bags were grouped with the #7 bags. There were more than 200 bags to sort through to find mine. Today I bought and electronic gizmo that when you press it your bag beeps.
Congratulations to Carnival. Their largest ship may well be their best. She says goodbye to NY and is now doing the Caribbean.