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Carnival Cruise Lines

Plan Your Carnival Cruise Lines Vacation

The world's largest cruise line originated the Fun Ship concept in 1972 with the relaunch of an aging ocean liner, which got stuck on a sandbar during its maiden voyage. In true entrepreneurial spirit, founder Ted Arison shrugged off an inauspicious beginning to introduce

superliners a decade later. Sporting red-white-and-blue flared funnels, which are easily recognized from afar, new ships are continuously added to the fleet and rarely deviate from a successful pattern. If you find something you like on one vessel, you're likely to find something similar on another.

Each vessel features themed public rooms, ranging from ancient Egypt to futuristic motifs, although many of those elements are being replaced with a more tropical decor as older ships are upgraded. Carnival is also introducing features either branded by the line itself, such as the poolside Blue Iguana Tequila Bar with an adjacent burrito cantina and the Red Frog Rum Bar that also serves Carnival’s own brand of Thirsty Frog Red beer, or in partnership with well known brands, such as EA SPORTS to create EA SPORTS Bars at sea and Guy’s Burger Joint, in partnership with Food Network star Guy Fieri. Implementation of the new features is scheduled for completion in 2015.

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Key Carnival Cruise Lines Tips

Are you a first-time cruiser? View our helpful hints and tips on Your Shipmates, Dress Code, Junior Cruisers, and much more! See Tips

Top Reasons To Cruise

  1. Fun Not surprisingly, the fleet delivers a high-energy cruise vacation for passengers of all ages.
  2. Kid's Stuff Each Carnival ship has a water-park area and children’s facilities and programs designed to appeal to the pickiest youngsters as well as their parents.
  3. Lack of Hierarchy Every Carnival passenger enjoys the same service and attention, including nightly turndown service, room service, and 24-hour pizzerias.
  4. Quieter Zones For adults only, each ship has a Serenity Deck dedicated to kid-free relaxation.
  5. Diversions Casinos, spas, and fitness centers are some of the most extensive at sea.

Is This Line Right For You?

Choose This Line If

  • You want an action-packed casino with a choice of table games and rows upon rows of clanging slot machines.
  • You don't mind standing in line—these are big ships with a lot of passengers, and lines are not uncommon.
  • You don't mind hearing announcements over the public-address system reminding you of what's next on the schedule.

Don't Choose This Line If

  • You want an intimate, sedate atmosphere. Carnival's ships are big and bold.
  • You want elaborate accommodations. Carnival suites are spacious but not as feature-filled as the term suite may suggest.
  • You're turned off by men in tank tops. Casual on these ships means casual indeed.

What To Expect On Board

Food

Carnival ships have both flexible dining options as well as casual alternative restaurants. Although the tradition of two set mealtimes for dinner prevails on Carnival ships, the line’s open seating concept—Your Time Dining—is available fleet-wide.

Choices are

numerous, and the skill of Carnival’s chefs has elevated the line’s menus to an unexpected level. Although the waiters still sing and dance, the good-to-excellent dining room food appeals to American tastes. Upscale steak houses on certain ships serve cuisine comparable to the best midrange steak houses ashore.

Carnival serves the best food of the mainstream cruise lines. In addition to the regular menu, vegetarian, low-calorie, low-carbohydrate, low-salt, and no-sugar selections are available. A children's menu includes such favorites as macaroni and cheese, chicken fingers, and peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches. If you don't feel like dressing up for dinner, the Lido buffet serves full meals, including sandwiches, a salad bar, rotisserie chicken, Asian stir-fry, and excellent pizza.

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Entertainment

More high-energy than cerebral, the entertainment consists of lavish Las Vegas–style revues presented in main show lounges by a company of singers and dancers. Other performers might include magicians, jugglers, acrobats, passengers performing in the talent show, or karaoke.

Live bands play a wide range of musical styles for dancing and every ship has a nightclub, piano bar, and a comedy club. Adult activities, particularly the competitive ones, tend to be silly and hilarious and play to full houses. With Carnival’s new branding initiative, look for the introduction of Hasbro, The Game Show, and performances created by Playlist Productions.

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Fitness and Recreation

Manned by staff members trained to keep passengers in shipshape form, Carnival's trademark spas and fitness centers are some of the largest and best equipped at sea. Spas and salons are operated by Steiner Leisure, and treatments include a variety of massages, body wraps,

and facials; salons offer hair and nail services and even tooth whitening. Fitness centers have state-of-the-art cardio and strength-training equipment, a jogging track, and basic exercise classes at no charge. There's a fee for personal training, body composition analysis, and specialized classes such as yoga and Pilates.

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Carnival Cruise Lines

Key Cruising Tips

  • The line's "Fun Ship 2.0" improvements are toning down the noisy, brash style in lieu of something more relaxed and tropical.

  • New features introduced in partnership with recognized brands (Hasbro, The Game Show, a diner crafted by Guy Fieri) have stepped up the complimentary elements of the onboard experience.

  • Casinos are good, and you can use your onboard charge card for casino play.

  • Carnival's great online planning tool (www.carnivalconnections.com) offers planning tips, cruise reviews, and a message board.

  • Most activities for children are free, but fees attached to their late-night party program can add up, in addition to the charges for video games.

Your Shipmates

Carnival's passengers are predominantly active Americans, mostly couples in their mid-thirties to mid-fifties. Many families enjoy Carnival cruises in the Caribbean year-round. Holidays and school vacation periods are very popular with families, and you'll see a

lot of kids in summer. More than 710,000 children sailed on Carnival ships in 2012—a six-fold increase in just 12 years.

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Dress Code

Two "cruise elegant" nights are standard on seven-night cruises; one is the norm on shorter sailings. Although men should feel free to wear tuxedos, dark suits (or sport coats) and ties are more prevalent. All other evenings are "cruise casual," with jeans

and dress shorts permitted in the dining rooms. All ships request that no short-shorts or cutoffs be worn after 6 pm, but that policy is often ignored.

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Junior Cruisers

Camp Carnival, run year-round by professionals, earns high marks for keeping young cruisers busy and content. Dedicated children's areas include great playrooms with separate splash pools. Toddlers from two to five years are treated to puppet shows, sponge painting, face

painting, coloring, drawing, and crafts. As long as diapers and supplies are provided, staff will change toddlers. Activities for ages six to eight include arts and crafts, pizza parties, computer time, T-shirt painting, a talent show, and fitness programs. Nine- to eleven-year-olds can play Ping-Pong, take dance lessons, play video games, and participate in swim parties, scavenger hunts, and sports. Tweens ages 12 to 14 appreciate the social events, parties, contests, and sports in Circle C. Every night they have access to the ships' discos, followed by late-night movies, karaoke, or pizza.

Club O2 is geared toward teens 15 to 17. Program directors play host at the spacious teen clubs, where kicking back is the order of the day between scheduled activities. The fleetwide Y-Spa program for older teens offers a high level of pampering. Staff members also accompany teens on shore excursions designed just for them.

Daytime group babysitting for infants two and under allows parents the freedom to explore ports of call without the kids until noon. Parents can also pursue leisurely adults-only evenings from 10 pm to 3 am, when slumber party–style group babysitting is available for children from ages 6 months to 11 years. Babysitting is available for a fee.

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Service

Service on Carnival ships is friendly but not polished. Stateroom attendants are not only recognized for their attention to cleanliness but also for their expertise in creating towel animals—cute critters fashioned from bath towels that appear during nightly turndown service.

They've become so popular that Carnival publishes an instruction book on how to create them yourself.

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Tipping

A gratuity of $11.50 per passenger per day is automatically added to passenger accounts, and gratuities are distributed to stewards and waitstaff. Passengers may adjust the amount based on the level of service experienced. All beverage tabs at bars get an automatic 15% addition.

Past Passengers

After sailing on one Carnival cruise, you'll receive a complimentary subscription to the company email magazine, and access to your past sailing history on the Carnival website. You are recognized on subsequent cruises with color-coded key cards determined by points or

the number of days you’ve sailed—Red (starting on your 2nd cruise), Gold (when you’ve accumulated 25–74 points); Platinum (75–199 points); and Diamond (200+ points)—which serve as your entrée to a by-invitation-only cocktail reception. Platinum and Diamond members are eligible for benefits including priority embarkation and debarkation, priority dining assignments, supper club and spa reservations, a logo item gift, and limited complimentary laundry service.

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