CARNIVAL VS DCL: The discussion and comparison thread!

mevelandry

DIS Veteran
Joined
Aug 22, 2013
Welcome to the comparison thread!

Here is the story:

When I decided to start this thread, DH and I had sailed on the Disney Dream twice. Our first cruise was a 3 nights Bahamas Cruise and the second cruise was a 4 nights Bahamas Cruise.

In 2016, we picked a 4 nights Bahamian cruise (Freeport-Nassau-Sea Day) on the Carnival Victory. Embarkation date: October 9, 2016. Since then, we have been on three DCL cruises, four Carnival cruises and have three more coming (1 Carnival, 1 Royal Caribbean and 1 with Celebrity. We have postponed DCL cruises until the new ships arrives in 2021 and/or after.)

This thread started with a cruise ship comparison... And slowly became the "official" thread for general information and getting to know the main differences between Carnival and Disney Cruise Line ships & experience.


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WHY DID YOU CREATE THIS THREAD?

We created this thread because...

...some of DCL past cruisers can't afford cruising with DCL anymore and wonder if they can enjoy a different cruise line after being spoiled by DCL...

...some people want to cruise more often but can't afford to do DCL cruises every time...

...some people want to experience something different.


WHAT WILL I FIND ON THIS THREAD?

-Reviews from (mostly) DCL cruisers who have tried both cruise lines. Most of those cruisers love(d) DCL too but cruise with Carnival in between DCL cruises.

-A lot of information on the Carnival ships that we have sailed on with many pictures, advices, tips and recommendations.

-Discussions regarding our upcoming cruises, pricing between the two cruise lines and information regarding itineraries.



CAN I WRITE A REVIEW ON THIS THREAD EVEN IF IT IS NOT POSITIVE?

-Absolutely. As long as you have sailed on a Carnival ship (No, being docked next to a Carnival ship doesn't count! :rolleyes1). Please give us as many details as possible like the name of the ship, the year of the sailing, the length of the cruise and the itinerary would be very much appreciated and would give us a better idea of your experience.

WHAT IS CARNIVAL'S POLICY WHEN IT COMES TO BOOKING SEPARATE CABINS FOR KIDS?

On Carnival, as long as the kids are in a cabin very close from adults (the policy varies with the age of the kids), they can have their own cabin. However, kids under 12 cannot be in a verandah cabin:
https://help.carnival.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/2544/~/minor-guest-policy


I HAVE HEARD THAT THE CARNIVAL CRUISE SHIPS ARE PARTY BOATS AND THAT THEY ARE LOADED WITH HARD PARTIERS... IS IT TRUE? WHY COMPARE IT TO DCL? THEY LOOK SO DIFFERENT!

Experiences may vary. While some cruisers may have experienced tipsy/drunk crowds during shorter cruises, a lot of us have never encountered that type of behavior, even during short cruises.

It is common belief between Carnival cruisers that if you stick to longer itineraries and go to bed before midnight, your chances of experiencing a "quiet" cruise are extremely high.

While the cruise line is not 100% focussing on children like DCL, Carnival has been on their way to break free from their "party cruise" reputation for a few years now, focussing more and more on being family friendly. The new ships (Vista, Horizon, Panorama as well as upcoming Mardi Gras and Celebration) definitely reflect that new orientation while older ships have been upgraded to be consistent with that new orientation.

I HAVE HEARD THAT THE CARNIVAL CRUISE SHIPS HAVE A TOPLESS DECK... IS IT TRUE?

There was a time where the topless deck was a thing but it's been eliminated in 2007 when Carnival decided to take a "family friendly" turn.


I HAVE HEARD THAT THE STAFF OF CARNIVAL IS RUDE ... IS IT TRUE?

Quite the contrary. Most Carnival cruisers encounter friendly and helpful staff. We have noticed in the reviews that the experience with staff seem to be very similar to what DCL offers in the dining room when people pick a dining time on Carnival ships instead of Your Time Dining (where you can meet different servers every night).

DO CRUISERS DO FISH EXTENDERS ON CARNIVAL?

They do not... However, there is a new trend on Carnival: people hide rubber duckies (some of them are decorated and/or really original) on the ship so other passengers can find them. When you find one, you can either keep it or hide it somewhere else. It's fun! It's still unclear whether there are actual "groups" for that yet.


CAN I DECORATE MY DOORS?

Yes you can, as long as you follow the rules regarding decorations. Guests on Carnival do not decorate their doors as much as guests on DCL do but some of them are.


I LOVE THAT DCL CRUISE SHIPS LOOKS BRAND NEW... WHICH CARNIVAL SHIP SHOULD I SAIL ON CARNIVAL IF I WANT A SHIP THAT LOOKS BRAND NEW?

Carnival Vista, Horizon, Panorama, Mardi Gras and Celebration are either brand new or fairly recent and have all the bells and whistles.

Some of us would recommend to avoid the older ships, especially the Fantasy class (Ecstasy, Sensation, Elation and Paradise) because they are the oldest, their age is showing and there are not as many activities to do on board.


DOES CARNIVAL HAVE ACCESS TO A PRIVATE ISLAND, LIKE DCL WITH CASTAWAY CAY?

Yes, they do.

HALF MOON CAY

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Half Moon Cay is Carnival's own version of Castaway Cay. It is also located in the Bahamas. As of now, the island requires tendering but they announced in 2019 that they would add a dock at some point (TBD). Half Moon Cay is not separated in different sections like Castaway Cay. There are many excursions available but there are also a lot of free activities that are listed in the Fun Times/the Carnival Hub app.

They offer regular cabanas rental (good for 4 guests) and Two-story beach villas rental (good for 8 guests, includes a hot tub)... And a private oasis: 1,620 square foot grand cabana good for 12 guests, which also includes a hot tub, the package includes the services of a butler, a personal chef, a bartender, a cabana Steward, and a lifeguard plus food and beverages!)




HALF MOON CAY VS CASTAWAY CAY review and pictures by @mevelandry (post #2754):

https://www.disboards.com/threads/carnival-vs-dcl-the-discussion-and-comparison-thread.3540991/page-138


PRINCESS CAYS

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Take note that some of Carnival sailings also go to Princess Cays, also in the Bahamas which is mainly used by Princess (also part of Carnival Corp.) Princess Cays has an "adult only" section called "Adults Sanctuary".

They have private cabanas (good for 4 guests) available for rental in the Adults Sanctuary, which has its own separate section (and beach!).

Review and pictures of Princess Cays (with a cabana):

https://www.disboards.com/threads/carnival-vs-dcl-the-discussion-and-comparison-thread.3540991/page-178



In addition to Half Moon Cay & Princess Cays, Carnival has also developped three exclusive cruise ports: Amber Cove (Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic), Grand Turk (Cockburn Town, Turks and Caicos) & Mahogany Bay (Roatan, Honduras).


AMBER COVE

Amber Cove is situated in Dominican Republic, near Puerto Plata. You can rent cabanas. While there are no beaches in the port, there is a pool with waterslides and a lazy river, shops, restaurants (take note that the food is NOT INCLUDED) and a zipline. Ocean cabanas, pool cabanas and hillside cabanas are also available for rental. ***Under construction***


GRAND TURK

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The Cruise Center is situated in Cockburn Town (on Grand Turk Island - Turks and Caicos). Grand Turk is famous for its Margaritaville, Flow Rider, a beach and huge pool. You can rent cabanas near the Margaritaville pools. Take note that the food at Margaritaville is NOT INCLUDED.

Grand Turk is getting mixed reviews. Some love it, some others like @mevelandry did not enjoy it as much as they thought they would, according to this mini-review here in post #2732: https://www.disboards.com/threads/carnival-vs-dcl-the-discussion-and-comparison-thread.3540991/page-137).

PICTURES OF GRAND TURK (post #2757) by @mevelandry : https://www.disboards.com/threads/carnival-vs-dcl-the-discussion-and-comparison-thread.3540991/page-138



MAHOGANY BAY

Mahogany bay is situated on the island of Roatan (Honduras)... ***Under construction***



DOES CARNIVAL HAVE CONCIERGE CABINS?

Carnival will introduce its first concierge cabins in 2020 with the brand new Carnival Mardi Gras. The guests staying in Concierge cabins will also have access to a private area described as such: Located on the ship’s highest deck, Loft 19 is a brand new concept for Carnival Cruise Line – a secluded retreat modeled after the world’s finest resorts with full bar service, a private pool surrounded by sun loungers and spacious cabanas, available for rent. Cabanas are fully stocked with beverages, plush robes and chilled towels, fresh fruit, lunch delivery and dedicated concierge service. Carnival Excel suite guests will receive priority when reserving Loft 19 cabanas.

While we do not have reviews or comparisons yet, we have compared the offers and pricing from DCL and Carnival when it comes to Concierge cabins here: https://www.disboards.com/threads/carnival-vs-dcl-the-discussion-and-comparison-thread.3540991/page-177


DOES CARNIVAL HAVE CABINS THAT GIVES ACCESS TO EXCLUSIVE DECKS OR SPECIAL EXPERIENCES?

CLOUD 9 SPA CABINS

Located near the Cloud 9 spa, the Cloud 9 Spa cabins gives you unlimited access to the Cloud 9 spa thermal suite, priority spa reservations, free fitness classes, discounts on spa treatments. There will be Elemis toiletries, spa-branded bathrobes and slippers in your cabin. The cabins' decor is different than the regular cabins. Cloud 9 Spa Cabins can be found on: Breeze, Celebration, Dream, Horizon, Magic, Mardi Gras, Panorama, Sunrise, Sunshine, Vista

HAVANA
Located near the aft of the ships, Havana cabins, Havana cabanas (cabins with a patio that borders the deck) and suites gives you exclusive access to the Havana Retreat, which includes a pool, 2 hot tubs, a towel booth, an outdoor bar, chairs, loungers, clam shell beds... and a breathtaking aft view! All occupants of the Havana cabins must be at least 12 years old. The cabins decor is themed (Cuba) and there will be special toiletries, bathrobes and slippers in your cabin. Havana cabins can be found on: Celebration, Horizon, Mardi Gras and Vista.


IS CARNIVAL AS KID FRIENDLY AS DCL AND WHAT WOULD BE THE MAIN DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE TWO CRUISE LINES REGARDING ENTERTAINMENT DESTINED TO CHILDREN?

Here are descriptions left on this thread by cruisers (some of them have cruised with DCL too, some did not):

@hdrolfe : "I have not cruised on Disney so perhaps not a true comparison, however I have cruised on Carnival and their kids program is great. It starts at age 2 (I don't think most start until 3?). The program is quite well structured, they have the kids broken into age groups and they do activities at a certain time. My son loved it because he likes to know what exactly he'll be doing. They have a parade and story time which was a lot of fun, and also of course the Green Eggs and Ham breakfast ($5 per person). They also usually have a Build a Bear activity (for a fee) at least once. [...]"

@trvlgirlmq : "I also can't provide a comparison because we have only cruised Carnival. My kids went on their first cruise at ages 14, 8 and 7. We primarily have cruised the Dream and Vista class. They love all of the outside activities like the Ropes course, mini golf and now the SkyRide. They participated in the clubs only on our first cruise. They are not interested in meeting new friends although they do talk to other kids at the pools, etc. They prefer to be active and out in the sunshine instead of indoors with movies and games. The larger Carnival ships are perfect if you like to be really active. The crew is always amazing with kids and we have had nothing but good experiences."

@
we"reofftoneverland : "I definitely say Carnival is an excellent cruise line for kids. The entire vibe is fun and kid friendly. There are activities going on everywhere that kids enjoy. The food is kid friendly and delicious. One of our kids ate at Guy's burgers every day. Lol. Fresh pizza open all night. Family friendly movies at night on deck with free popcorn and lots of seating. The decor is bright and cheery, the kids club is the best we have experienced at sea. Yes, DCL's kids clubs have more bells and whistles, but our kids preferred CCL's. We liked Carnival, but we are interested in trying all lines--- not the kids. They are sold.

The kids club on Carnival is structured but flexible. We find DCL's clubs generally unstructured. Our kids liked DCL clubs but sometimes got bored. Other kids in general were different on CCL than on DCL, more down to earth, less (hate to make this generalization, but) spoiled. Our kids fit in better and made more friends at the Carnival kids club than on any of our Disney cruises. The counselors on Carnival are much more attentive and caring. The DCL counselors are more remote. On a couple of DCL cruises, we have seen a couple of male counslers who were very engaged in the clubs, usually leading more physical activities, but in general we find DCL counselors a bit more jaded, very nice, but not really into it. This is our experience only and may be different for others.

Obviously, CCL is superior for value. Just no contest. The food puts DCL to shame. The decor isn't as "cute" as Disney's but the kids don't seem to notice at all. Lol. The water park and pools are less crowded. The staff is on a par with DCL's. It is hard for us to consider DCL again. Over the next 2 years we have CCL, NCL, and RCL scheduled. We do WDW every year too, so we are huge Disney fans, but their cruise line needs to learn some from its competitors."


*** More will be added soon ***

MY KIDS LOVE CHARACTERS, DOES CARNIVAL HAVE CHARACTERS ON BOARD?

They do! Each sailing has a Seuss-a-palooza parade and story time. For 5$/pp you can also participate to a very colorful Green Eggs and Ham breakfast where Cat-in-the-Hat, Sam-I-Am and Thing 1 and Thing 2 will stop by the tables to take pictures.

There is Elephant Towel Animal and Mr & Mrs Potato Head.

There are also scheduled photo sessions with those characters.


IN ORDER TO KEEP OUR CRUISE AS FAMILY FRIENDLY ("À LA DCL") AS POSSIBLE, WHICH ACTIVITIES SHOULD WE AVOID?

- Stick to Comedy Shows PG and avoid Comedy Shows 18+ (clearly stated in the fun times and they usually happen later in the evening)

- The Quest (it's usually late at night so... Very easy to avoid!)

- The "Hairy Chest Contest" on the main deck is a contest where men sometimes do suggestive dances. It's the only 18+ activity that happens during the day, and it happens only once per cruise

- The Love and Marriage Show is not really hardcore but I would not recommend to conservative families because they ask contestant indiscreet questions.

Take note that the schedule for those activities are listed in the Fun Times/Carnival Hub app.


WHICH FAMILY FRIENDLY EVENTS WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?

-Dr. Seuss Green Eggs and Ham Brunch ($) (5$/pp)

-Seuss-a-palooza Parade

-Seuss-a-palooza Story Time

-Hasbro The Game Show

-Trivia (Side Note: On some ships, this activity is happening on the promenade near the casino, while the casino is closed. While Trivia activities are not "children oriented", they are family friendly.)

-Hasbro's games

-Hasbro the Game Show`

-Lipsync Battle

-Dive-in Movies (Side Note: the pop corn is free!)

-All the musical revues are family friendly

-Comedy Shows ("PG" show only)

Take note that the schedule for those activities are listed in the Fun Times.

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CARNIVAL CRUISE SHIPS REVIEWS

Here is a list of all the Carnival Cruise ships that we have compared with DCL's ships and some reviews:


CARNIVAL BREEZE

-Carnival Breeze review by @we"reofftoneverland starting on page 161:

https://www.disboards.com/threads/carnival-vs-dcl-the-discussion-and-comparison-thread.3540991/page-161



CARNIVAL CONQUEST

-Carnival Conquest by @belle032 : https://www.disboards.com/threads/carnival-vs-dcl-the-discussion-and-comparison-thread.3540991/page-134#post-59831045


CARNIVAL ELATION

-Carnival Elation vs DCL comparison by @diseverestfan:
https://www.disboards.com/threads/carnival-vs-dcl-the-discussion-and-comparison-thread.3540991/page-141#post-59914179



CARNIVAL LIBERTY

-Carnival Liberty (2018) by @tigerchic89:
https://www.disboards.com/threads/carnival-vs-dcl-the-comparison-thread.3540991/page-86

-Carnival Liberty (2019) by @mevelandry :

https://www.disboards.com/threads/carnival-vs-dcl-the-discussion-and-comparison-thread.3540991/page-178


CARNIVAL MAGIC

***Take note that problems with the A/C in mid-ship cabins on Deck 7 (including cabin #7376) have been reported by @Ben E N ***

-Carnival Magic VS DCL (2018) - Mini-review by @ToyStory3 : https://www.disboards.com/threads/carnival-vs-dcl-the-comparison-thread.3540991/page-111

-Carnival Magic VS Disney Dream by @Ben E N :
https://www.disboards.com/threads/carnival-vs-dcl-the-discussion-and-comparison-thread.3540991/page-119

-Carnival Magic (2019) by @BrookeMQ:
https://www.disboards.com/threads/carnival-vs-dcl-the-discussion-and-comparison-thread.3540991/page-182

CARNIVAL VALOR

-Review and pictures by @Monykalyn : https://www.disboards.com/threads/carnival-vs-dcl-the-discussion-and-comparison-thread.3540991/page-138



CARNIVAL VICTORY

-Carnival Victory VS Disney Dream (2016) by @mevelandry : From Post #1 to #44 (Pages 1 to 3) *Take note that the Carnival Victory went under major dry dock in January 2018 so the comparison of 2016 do not represent the Victory as it is right now. New review coming in April 2018.

-Carnival Victory VS Disney Wonder (2017) by @mevelandry (page 40, comment #786): https://www.disboards.com/threads/carnival-vs-dcl-the-ultimate-comparison-thread.3540991/page-40#post-58230449

-Carnival Victory review (2018) post-refurbishments by@mevelandry :

https://www.disboards.com/threads/carnival-vs-dcl-the-comparison-thread.3540991/page-93#post-59115820

CARNIVAL SENSATION

-Carnival Sensation vs DCL by @mevelandry :

https://www.disboards.com/threads/carnival-vs-dcl-the-discussion-and-comparison-thread.3540991/page-138

Note by @mevelandry: If you are looking for an experience that is closer to what you would experience on DCL cruise ships, I would avoid the Sensation. Not only it is very old but IMO, it doesn't have that much to offer.


CARNIVAL SUNSHINE

-Carnival Sunshine by
[B]@PrincessTrisha[/B]
has made a review of the ship on this thread at page 27 (comment #538), pictures starting on page 28:

https://www.disboards.com/threads/carnival-vs-dcl-the-ultimate-comparison-thread.3540991/page-27#post-57693528



CARNIVAL VISTA

-Carnival Vista VS Disney Dream (2017) by @mevelandry :
(P.46 to 49 of this thread) starts at post #917 here: https://www.disboards.com/threads/carnival-vs-dcl-the-comparison-thread.3540991/page-46

Pictures of the Carnival Vista (2017) can be found here: Starting at page 47 (from page 47 to page 49).

https://www.disboards.com/threads/carnival-vs-dcl-the-comparison-thread.3540991/page-47

I would also invite you to take a look at the wonderful review that Club Disney Chandler has done in June 2016. The thread is now closed to comments but there are nice pictures and great informations about the ship:

https://www.disboards.com/threads/thoughts-on-the-new-carnival-vista.3521334/



OTHER CARNIVAL CORPORATION COMPARISONS & REVIEWS (HOLLAND AMERICA, PRINCESS, SEABOURN, P&O and CUNARD)

REGAL PRINCESS -Review by @tidefan:

https://www.disboards.com/threads/carnival-vs-dcl-the-discussion-and-comparison-thread.3540991/page-167#post-60408459



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GENERAL INFORMATION



THE WEBSITE


Carnival website is generally user friendly. Once you connect to your account, links for your planning (booking info, excursions, drink packages, internet plans, fun shops (gifts), specialty dining reservations, photography packages, cruise check list) are on the first page.


THE BOOKING

With Carnival you usually have to make a deposit of about 50% the total of the cruise before taxes and other fees. However, they run tons of promotions where you can sometimes book your cruise for as little as 49$/pp (promotions are usually announced on the first page of the Carnival Website) which is a nice way to secure your cabin a long time in advance.

You can save a lot of money on your Carnival cruise by booking "Early saver": while the deposit is non-refundable (and can't be changed...make sure your plans are pretty much set in stone), you end up paying less for your cruise and if the price of your cabin category gets lower as you are getting closer to your sail date, you can fill a form and get some money back in the form of OBC, or a cabin upgrade, which is quite nice.

For more info please see post #3 of this thread (by PrincessTrisha).



THE BOARDING (embarkation)

Port Canaveral tends to be busy but the terminal is very wide and there is little wait even though the lines seem to be long. Carnival has also just added a brand new cruise terminal that will welcome Mardi Gras.

In Miami, the cruise terminal is also very wide and the process quite efficient! They may take your picture before your board the ship, but there is also a "No picture" line.

Unlike DCL, they do not announce your family when you board the ship, which seems to make the boarding process faster. Once the boarding process starts, they call a new group with a (more or less) 1 minute delay between each group. Fast and efficient!



"FASTER TO THE FUN" OPTION

Faster to the fun is an "upgrade" that you can buy (price per stateroom) that gives you:

- Priority Security, Check-in and Boarding with a dedicated security and check-in lane. You will board right after VIFP Diamond, Platinum and guests traveling in deluxe suite accommodations;

-Your stateroom will be ready when you board;

-FTTF luggage receive priority delivery (which is also a benefit for VIFP Diamond and Platinum guests);

-A dedicated phone extension and a dedicated line at Guest Services (which is also a benefit for VIFP Diamond and Platinum guests);

-Regarding dining reservations, FTTF guests will be cleared after VIFP Platinum guests. This benefit does not include specific time reservations for 'Your Time Dining'.
Note: VIFP Diamond guests and guests traveling in deluxe suite accommodations are guaranteed their dining in the Main Dining Room;

-Tender priority when the ship uses tendering;

-Disembarkation: you can pick early or late disembarkation time upon arrival to your homeport.


THE CABINS

Some people care about square footage, some don't... It seems like there are no real consensus whether DCL cabins are bigger or smaller than Carnival, so we'll stick to the obvious:

Carnival cabins may vary. I would invite you to do a little research as some oldest ships cabins have not been refurbished recently.

The best cabins (with the best decor) can be found on the new ships. Not as chic as DCL but very cute with a lot of storage space. They have a fridge and a flatscreen tv. The separate twin beds (which can be put together in order to form a queen bed) are really useful if you are travelling with friends or family members that are not your spouse. Some cabins are equipped with bunk beds.

Carnival has recently introduced Family Harbor cabins and suites on their new ships (Celebration, Mardi Gras, Horizon and Vista). They have a super cute nautical decor and some of the cabins also have split bathrooms and separate sleeping quarter for the kids. Family Harbor cabins have access to the Family Harbor Lounge where there is a buffet. In the Family Harbor Lounge, they are hosting some activities daily and you'll find video games and board games.

Families staying in the Family Harbor cabins will receive 1 free night of Night Owls babysitting service at Camp Ocean (for kids that are 11 and under) and kids (11 and under) will eat free at most of the specialty dining restaurants, as long as they are accompanied by an adult. There’s also concierge service (in the lounge, from 3:00 to 5:00 PM) to help you with your plans.

Apparently, the only downside of those cabins is that they are situated on deck 2. So, unless you pick a cabin that are completely Forward, most of the cabins are right under the galley (between the aft elevator/stairs and the mid-ship elevator), the lobby or the dining rooms and guests staying in those cabins have reported hearing noises:

- @braysmommy had a bad experience in cabin 2429, which is situated right under the galley and very noisy. She complained to Guest Services: they moved her and her family in another cabin, gave her OBC and contacted her after the cabin change to make sure they were satisfied with their new cabin.



ITINERARIES

These ports are visited by Carnival cruise ships: Icy Straight Point (AK), Juneau (AK), Ketchikan (AK), Seattle (WA), Sitka (AK), Skagway (AK), Victoria (Canada), Bimini (Bahamas), Freeport (Bahamas), Half Moon Cay (Bahamas), Key West (Bahamas), Nassau (Bahamas), Princess Cays (Bahamas), Bermuda, Halifax (Canada), Portland (ME), Saint John (Canada), Vancouver (Canada), Amber Cove (Dominican Republic), Antigua, Aruba, Barbados, Belize, Bonaire, Cartagena (Colombia), Charleston (SC), Colon (Panama Canal), Costa Maya (Mexico), Cozumel (Mexico), Curaçao, Dominica, Grand Cayman (Cayman Islands), Grand Turk (Turks and Caicos), Grenada, La Romana (Dominican Republic), Alesun (Norway), Athens (Greece), Barcelona (Spain), Belfast (Northern Ireland), Bergen (Norway), Catania (Sicily), Corfu (Greece), Cork (Ireland), Dubrovnik (Croatia), Funchal Madeira (Portugal), Gibraltar, Gothenburg (Sweden), Kotor (Montenegro), Le Havre (Paris, France), Lerwick (Shetland Islands), Lisbon (Portugal), Livorno (Dover, England), Malaga (Spain) Marseilles (Provence, France), Hilo (HI), Kauai (Nawiliwili, HI), Kona (HI), Honolulu (HI), Maui (HI), Cabo San Lucas (Mexico), Catalina Island (CA), Ensenada (Mexico), Huatulco (Mexico), Mazatlan (Mexico), Puerto Vallarta (Mexico).


TRANSPORTATION


To and from Port Canaveral, Miami, Fort Lauderdale.


You can book transportation through Carnival's website. Some packages offer different activities before you get to the airport.


EXCURSIONS

With Carnival, excursions may appears in their own time but we are usually able to book them as soon as we book. They have to be paid for right away. They are usually a little less expensive than DCL.

Carnival tends to have a little more choices of excursions than Disney.

What I like about Carnival is that they sometimes offer deals (20% off) when you book a "bundle" (one excursion for each port of call) 24 hours after you booked or on Black Friday.




SPECIALTY DINING

Most Carnival cruiseships offer at least a special steakhouse menu (for an extra fee) that you can order in the Dining Rooms, and the Chef's table (they start with appetizers and cocktails, you visit the galley and finish with a signature dinner).

Dr. Seuss theme breakfast Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast has special decorations, a special menu and characters.

Bigger and newer cruiseships also have:

-Cucina Del Capitano (italian restaurant, which reminds me of Palo).*

-Jiji Asian Kitchen (amazing asian restaurant!).*

-Bonsai Sushi or Bonsai Teppanyaki

-Farhenheit 555 (steakhouse), which offers you a free bottle of wine (or 50% off a better bottle from the wine list) if you book on the first night...

...and more!

*Both Cucina & Jiji offer a complimentary lunch menu, not to be missed.




THE DINING ROOMS

Carnival ships have two very similar dining rooms and three seating options: Early Dining (6:00 PM), Late Dining (8:15 PM) and Your Time (anytime you want between 5:45 and 9:30). One of the two dining rooms is used for those who picked Your Time Dining.

Both dining rooms have windows.

If you want to keep the same server team every night, I recommend you pick Early or Late dining assignments, because with YTD, you could be seated in a different section every night.



ROOM SERVICE

On Carnival (as of mid-january 2019) room service offers some included items but charges for certain items (with a range from $2 to $6). No room service on debarkation morning but guests have the option of enjoying breakfast at the Lido deck restaurant, at Ocean Plaza (on newer ships) and in the dining room. Continental breakfast from 6:00 AM to 10:00 AM remains complimentary.


THE FOOD COUNTERS

On Carnival Ships, the buffet is called Lido. Around the Lido you will find many counters like:

-Pizza Pirate/Pizzeria Del Capitano (pizza 24/7)
-Carnival Deli (sandwiches)
-Comfort Kitchen (hot dogs, mac'n'cheese, meatloaf, apple pie...)
-Swirls (self-serve ice AND frozen yogourt).
-Ships who do not have Jiji Asian Kitchen usually have Chopsticks (Asian Food) or Mongolian Wok


On select Carnival ships you will also find:

-Guy Fieri's Guy's Burgers
-Guy Fieri's Pig and Anchor
-Big Chicken
-Blue Iguana Cantina
-Seafood Shack ($)



CAFÉS

On the Carnival Ships, there is a always a Café where you can find gourmet coffee, iced cappucinos, spiked coffees and a good selection of tea and different desserts, snacks, ice cream and gelatos. There is a fee for all those products but it's less expensive than what you'd pay on land. Tea and coffee go from $1.95 to $5.95 and desserts go from 1.25$ to 3.95$.


CANDY SHOP

Carnival has Cherry on Top candy shop. Some Cherry on Top also have ice cream and lovely outdoor seatings.


SHOPS

I cannot give much information about shops because I am not a shopper...

But overall, the souvenirs are much more affordable on Carnival (because you don't have the mouse on it). There are usually t-shirt from the port of call on sale. Also, there is usually a huge sale at the end of the cruise where souvenirs are even more affordable.

Also... Carnival sells Tortuga Rum Cakes.
:D


SMOKING POLICY

Carnival: TOBACCO AND MARIJUANA SMOKING POLICY (U.S.)
Carnival Cruise Line is dedicated to the safety of all guests and crew. We want all our guests to have a safe, fun and memorable vacation.

Smoking is a fire and safety hazard on a ship. Consequently, it is strictly limited to specific exterior deck areas and designated casino/night club spaces that can be monitored. All guests are expected to adhere to the following safety guidelines:


  • All staterooms and suite accommodations, including outside balconies, are NON-SMOKING. This policy applies to all forms of smoking, including but not limited to cigarettes, cigars, pipes, vaporizers, electronic cigarettes and marijuana.
  • Carnival recognizes that some state and local governments in the U.S., and in the destinations we visit, might allow marijuana use. However, Carnival Cruise Line follows U.S. federal law, which strictly prohibits possession and use of recreational/medicinal marijuana and other illegal controlled substances.
  • Any violation of this policy will result in a $500 charge, per violation, posted on the guest’s Sail & Sign® account and may also result in the disembarkation of all guests in the stateroom.
  • Guests who are disembarked for violating our policy will be responsible for all financial charges and expenses to return home, and no refund of their unused cruise fare will be provided. Additionally, they may be prohibited from sailing with Carnival Cruise Line in the future.
Source: Carnival.com

In July 2021, Carnival has announced that they had removed bars from the Casino of Carnival Horizon and Vista to make sure that smokers do not hang out in the casino without playing and had made one half of each casino « non smoking ».

BARS

Most Carnival cruise ships have at least ten bars, including the Funship 2.0 Alchemy bar, Blue Iguana Tequila Bar, Red Frog Rum Bar and/or Red Frog Pub.


MAIN POOLS

Carnival ships have 1 to 3 pools: 1 main pool + a quiet pool in the back of the ship that is sometimes adult only*). The Aft pools tend to be more quiet. The most recent cruise ships also have an exclusive area called Havana, that includes a pool and 2 hot tubs, which can only be used by Havana guests.

Most cruise ships have a whole splash zone with Waterworks (with 2 to 3 water slides or thrill water slides).



ADULT ONLY SECTION

On the Carnival ships, the adult only section is called Serenity Deck. With the exception of the Carnival Sunshine and Mardi Gras, there are usually no pool on that deck but one or two large jacuzzis. While there is a lot of seats and loungers, most of them are under the sun. That is something that IMO, Carnival could do better: adding some more spaces with shade. They are usually on the top deck of the ship and provide great views. Some of the cruise ships's serenity deck also have a small buffet and different type of seats and loungers.


THEATERS AND SHOWS

On the Carnival ships, bigger productions are presented in the biggest lounge. Performers go from very good to amazing. Themes and budget will vary. Some productions are more impressive than others but there is usually at least one big production per sailing and they are not to be missed.

One of the highlights of Carnival cruises are certainly the comedy shows. Comedy shows are usually presented in the smaller lounge and there are comedy sets almost every night with two to three different comedians. They usually have a set that is classified "PG" and sets happening later in the evening that are classified 18+. If you are easily offended, you should avoid the 18+ shows. The 18+ shows are usually the most popular are always end up with guests standing in the back of the lounge.



MOVIES

On Carnival, the offer will vary. Some have IMAX movie theaters but there is a fee for the movies (pretty much the kind of prices you'll find on land) and the snacks.

However, they will present movies in a theater once in a while and/or, if there is a big screen near the main pool, they will present what they call "Dive-In Movies" every night (usually two to three movies per night) and you can watch movies in the pool or comfortably installed on one of the lounging chairs.
The pop corn is FREE. :D

For a few, some Carnival cruise ships also offer the Thrill theater, which is more or less a 4-D ride. You will sit in a 20 seats theater with 3D glasses for a 3 short films program (it lasts more or less 15 minutes total). Enjoy the ride! It is SO MUCH FUN!!!


MINI-GOLF

There is a mini-golf on all Carnival cruise ships.


OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES (SPORTS AND RECREATION)

Carnival ships usually have a gym, ping pong tables, a basket court, a jogging track and shuffle board... The offer may vary depending on the ship you sail on. Most ships have much more activities available, like volley ball, dodge ball, rope course (called Sky Course), sky ride, pool tables, soccer pool, mini-bowling alleys, etc. Carnival Mardi Gras has a roller coaster.


CRUISE CASH/ON BOARD CREDIT

You can add on board credit online with Carnival. You buy it as "Cruise Cash" or "Cruise Cash Bar" (only good for drinks you'll buy at a bar) or "Cruise Cash Photo" (that you can use to buy pictures taken aboard) and you receive a confirmation by e-mail right away. You have to use it all because there are no refunds officially no refund.


GIFTS

With Carnival, you can order your gifts online. You receive a confirmation number by e-mail for your purchase. Carnival in-room decorations packages are a little more affordable than DCL’s. There are various options with Carnival. Carnival offers different decoration packages that may include cookies/a cake/a bottle of wine.

Also, there are so much more choices of gifts and with the exception of flowers (which have very similar prices) and there is a lot of affordable choices. The Dr. Seuss packages are adorable!




EARLY CHECK-IN

With Carnival, you can do your early check-in sometimes more than six months in advance. You will print all your documents. Those documents contain the health survey and the luggage tags (Yes, you have print to print those too!). They recently introduced an assigned port arrival time as well.


FIRE DRILL

A fire drill is a fire drill (aka boring). However, in 2021, they have introduced a "self-serve" fire drill. You will either watch a video on your app or in your cabin. When you are done watching the video, you will go straight to your station to check-in with a staff member. As an incentive for guests to participate to the fire drill earlier on boarding day, Carnival will not sell their guests more than two drinks for as long as they have not completed the fire drill.


FINANCIAL GESTION

Carnival sends you a bill on the last night the cruise but they also have automated machines where you can review and print your account anytime you want and you can consult your account on your tv in your cabin and on the Carnival Hub as well.


TOWELS

Carnival has towels in the room that you can bring to the pool or on land during port days. On some ship, you can borrow towels at the pool too. However, they will charge 22$ per towels that are not returned. Don't forget to bring your towels back!


INTERNET

Carnival offers different packages including a very affordable (7$/day) Social Media plan that gives you the possibility to visit different social media pages like FB, instagram, etc. They also have a few computers that you can use. We have found the wifi to be a bit spotty at times but it works reasonably well. There are two other packages available: The Value Wi-Fi Plan (includes e-mail, news, sports, weather, banking and finance) and the Premium Plan which is faster and can even support videoconferences depending on the location.


DISEMBARKATION DAY

With Carnival, you can have breakfast in the dining room or at the Lido. The disembarkation time will depend on the deck you are staying at. You will receive a notice on the last night inviting you to disembark at a certain time. Your number will be called. There are designed areas where you can wait.

There is express check-out (usually happening in the Main Theater) but the first people to get off the ship will be those who bought the Faster to the Fun Option, the guests staying in suites, then the rest of the passengers.




PLEASE LET ME KNOW IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTION OR DETAILS YOU'D LIKE ME TO ADD!



:jumping1::beach: ROLL CALL pirate::jumping1:


2021

JULY

AUGUST

SEPTEMBER


@belle032 will sail on the Carnival Miracle to Alaska

OCTOBER

NOVEMBER

DECEMBER



2022

JANUARY


@mevelandry will sail on the Carnival Mardi Gras to San Juan (Puerto Rico), Amber Cove (Dominican Republic) and Grand Turk (Turks and Caicos)

FEBRUARY

MARCH

APRIL

MAY

JUNE

JULY


@trvlgirlmq will sail on Carnival Pride to the British Isles

AUGUST

SEPTEMBER

OCTOBER

NOVEMBER

DECEMBER




2023

JANUARY


@mevelandry will be sailing on Carnival Horizon to Ocho Rios (Jamaica), Georgetown (Grand Cayman) and Cozumel (Mexico)

FEBRUARY

MARCH

APRIL
 
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houseofduck

DIS Veteran
Joined
Feb 16, 2013
THE WEBSITE

I find the the Carnival website to be more user friendly than DCL's website.
It's interesting that you say that the Carnival website is friendlier. My reaction to it was the opposite. I didn't think it would be possible to find a site worse than Disney's, but I had a difficult time navigating Carnival's.

Maybe, it was because I was looking for something specific or because it was my first time on the Carnival site. I have a relative getting married in Cozumel in the Spring. We have a large family and I am entertaining the idea of taking a cruise instead of flying everyone there, getting accommodations, ... Carnival has a few ships in port that day, so, I was looking for a specific cruise. I knew the ships and the date they would be in Cozumel, but I didn't know the start dates for the cruise, origination port, length of cruise, or cruise type (Caribbean, Mexican...). I did find the cruises eventually, but I found the interface a little cumbersome.

Looking forward to reading about your experiences in October!
 

PrincessTrisha

DIS Veteran
Joined
Dec 10, 2004
Just to clarify - Carnival cruise deposits are based on the number of cruise days.

2 days - deposit is $100 USD per person
3 days - deposit is $100 USD per person
4 days - deposit is $150 USD per person
5 days - deposit is $150 USD per person
6 days - deposit is $250 USD per person
7 days - deposit is $250 USD per person
8 days - deposit is $250 USD per person
9 days - deposit is $250 USD per person
10 days and longer - deposit is $400 USD per person

Alaska - deposit is $400 USD per person
Europe - deposit is $400 USD per person
Transatlantic - deposit is $400 USD per person
Panama Canal - deposit is $400 USD per person

https://help.carnival.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/481/~/deposit-and-final-payment-requirements
 

mevelandry

DIS Veteran
Joined
Aug 22, 2013
It's interesting that you say that the Carnival website is friendlier. My reaction to it was the opposite. I didn't think it would be possible to find a site worse than Disney's, but I had a difficult time navigating Carnival's.

Maybe, it was because I was looking for something specific or because it was my first time on the Carnival site. I have a relative getting married in Cozumel in the Spring. We have a large family and I am entertaining the idea of taking a cruise instead of flying everyone there, getting accommodations, ... Carnival has a few ships in port that day, so, I was looking for a specific cruise. I knew the ships and the date they would be in Cozumel, but I didn't know the start dates for the cruise, origination port, length of cruise, or cruise type (Caribbean, Mexican...). I did find the cruises eventually, but I found the interface a little cumbersome.

Looking forward to reading about your experiences in October!
I agree with you for the cruise search part.

... but when it comes to adding or changing stuff to an existing reservation, I like the way they did it.
 

Ofinn

DCL Platinum
Joined
Feb 18, 2013
I love the Carnival Website. NCL is ok. DCL and RCCL are horrible. The old DCL website was ok this new one is just awful. I like that you can cancel a cruise online on Carnival. Money is back in the account in 2 days or less.
 

Club Disney Chandler

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jun 18, 2013
I would have to rank websites, best to worst:

Carnival
DCL
NCL
RCCL - their has to be one of the worst ever! Their old one was so much better.

I look forward to reading more of this.
 

mevelandry

DIS Veteran
Joined
Aug 22, 2013
Breaking News: Sounds like we are boarding late due to staterooms refurbishment. I have seen the difference between the old cabins and the new ones. The refurbished cabins look very good (they are changing the red carpet for a blue one and the bathroom is completely refurbished).

I think ours is not refurbished yet... But knowing they will work for at least four weeks before our cruise... Who knows... we might get lucky. *Fingers crossed*


image.jpeg
 

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  • Love2Cruz

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 13, 2014
    I loved the Victory, it has an "under the sea" theme and she has a beautiful emerald green ceiling in the lobby. The cafe is nice too with a nautical theme on the tables. They have abstract "under the sea" art on the 5th deck near the casino (The Promenade) that is made with glass mosaic pieces. It's a beautiful ship,, will be even nicer after the refurb....too bad they're not adding all the 2.0 features.
     

    mevelandry

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 22, 2013
    I loved the Victory, it has an "under the sea" theme and she has a beautiful emerald green ceiling in the lobby. The cafe is nice too with a nautical theme on the tables. They have abstract "under the sea" art on the 5th deck near the casino (The Promenade) that is made with glass mosaic pieces. It's a beautiful ship,, will be even nicer after the refurb....too bad they're not adding all the 2.0 features.
    Yes, not gonna lie to you I would have loved that. Especially since we (originally) were supposed to sail the Sunshine to the Bermuda and had to change plans. I was absolutely sold on the Fun 2.0...

    But the truth is I won't know what I am missing. I hear mixed reviews about the ship (some say it's in good shape, others said it should be dry docked) I'm really anxious to see for myself.
     

    Frozen2014

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 12, 2014
    Great comparison so far....and good to see how they compare.

    Btw...we did a Blue Lagoon excursion with our Royal cruise (beach day with lunch). Lovely place. Really peaceful waters, you get use of the standard beach floats...and you can rent other stuff plus the Aqua park. It was also nice to walk over and see the Dolphins (we didn't participate but could watch another group). The ferry ride over is nice too.

    I've never been on Carnival but have been on Disney and Royal ships. Carnival sounds similar to Royal wrt dining times/my time vs traditional, excursion booking, etc

    Enjoy your upcoming cruise.
     

    mevelandry

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 22, 2013
    Great comparison so far....and good to see how they compare.

    Btw...we did a Blue Lagoon excursion with our Royal cruise (beach day with lunch). Lovely place. Really peaceful waters, you get use of the standard beach floats...and you can rent other stuff plus the Aqua park. It was also nice to walk over and see the Dolphins (we didn't participate but could watch another group). The ferry ride over is nice too.

    I've never been on Carnival but have been on Disney and Royal ships. Carnival sounds similar to Royal wrt dining times/my time vs traditional, excursion booking, etc

    Enjoy your upcoming cruise.
    Thank you. I can't wait to be able to give you more info (the real feel of it) and show pictures.

    I plan on showing a realistic point of view. With Disney, at least on the Disney Dream, I have been used to a «looking brand new» cruiseship. From what I understand, I can't expect that from the Victory who is apparently showing her age from «a little» to «a lot» depending on the reviews.
     
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  • mevelandry

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 22, 2013
    I updated a few sections: Restaurants, Dining Rooms, Cafes... And started working on the Bar section too (not completed) and also added "Shops", "Candy Shops" and "Theater" and "Pools" sections (not completed).

    Please let me know if there is another section you'd like. (Take note that since DH and I have no kids, we won't be able to review nursery, kids club and kids sections.)
     
    Last edited:

    mevelandry

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 22, 2013
    Just updated the "Early Check-In" section as I just printed my documentation and luggage tags for our Carnival cruise.
     

    Krissynae

    Florida Frequent Flyer
    Joined
    Dec 24, 2005
    /We just cruised on the Victory 8/21/16-8/25/16 the same cruise it sounds like you are going on. The adult area is very nice. I was traveling with a toddler and my mother who is older. So was not able to escape to it very often. Made it there the night we left Nassau after the Latin party. The kids pool is nice but we never saw it filled. I am not sure why. My little guy like the play place but the last night was not into it. I think he was done with the hold cruise thing. it got to be too much for him. We were room 8361 and it is a little tight.. The ship is older and is in need of an update. But truthfully you are not in there enough to car. We did dinner at the Atlantic dinning room. The night we made it there the food was AMAZING. I had a grilled chicken on Alfredo and it was so delish.. My mother had steak and it was PERFECT. The day at sea we did the Dr. Suess Breakfast and it was a blast.. My grumpy child only lasted a few minutes after we entered the room.
    here are the pictures https://c9114eone.shutterfly.com/ it is the second album..

    On carnival gratuity is taken ahead of time while DCL they give you envelopes at the end.
     

    mevelandry

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 22, 2013
    Thanks for the review and pictures! :) We will be on the samed deck.

    You can prepay DCL's gratuity in advance as well. We did it both times.
     

    tlprice

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 5, 2014
    I find it interesting that you said the excursions are less money on Carnival. I looked up all 3 excursions I have booked for my upcoming DCL cruise on the Carnival site and they were all either more money or basically the same price. On Carnival my daughter wouldn't be able to go on the Tranopy Adventure in Jamaica because theirs is only 12 and up. I also looked at their (Carnival's) room decorations and see why they are cheaper. They LOOK cheap. Mostly streamers and cardboard cut-outs.
     

    mevelandry

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 22, 2013
    I find it interesting that you said the excursions are less money on Carnival. I looked up all 3 excursions I have booked for my upcoming DCL cruise on the Carnival site and they were all either more money or basically the same price. On Carnival my daughter wouldn't be able to go on the Tranopy Adventure in Jamaica because theirs is only 12 and up. I also looked at their (Carnival's) room decorations and see why they are cheaper. They LOOK cheap. Mostly streamers and cardboard cut-outs.

    About the excursions, not saying all of them are less expensive but those we were interested in, prices were similar but Carnival were few dollars less to begin with...

    BUT, if you read the entire section, I mention that Carnival also offers deals on them. When I originally booked (although we changed plans afterwards), I saved 20% on my excursions (60$ less!)




    As for the DCL vs Carnival decorations...

    EDIT: Look for post #41 for pictures of the decorations. They did a good job.
     
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