Carnival Cruises Review
Each Carnival Cruise Lines ship is slightly different, but most Carnival cruises rank high in expert and consumer reviews for value and overall experience; of particular note are the Liberty (out of Miami), Splendor (out of Los Angeles), and Miracle (out of New York). Budget travelers report getting value for their money given the quality rooms, good food, inclusions, and overall experience. Passenger capacity: 2,000+ (depending on ship).
This line of ocean-going vessels consistently wins acclaim in Carnival cruise reviews on sites such as Cruise Critic and Orbitz for affordability. The former site named Carnival Cruise Lines its Editors' Pick for budget-friendly cruising. Carnival does seem to have lost some of its luster since the Costa Concordia accident; Costa Cruises and Carnival Cruise Lines are both owned by Carnival Corporation. The ill-fated Concordia struck rocks off the coast of Isola del Giglio, Italy, causing it to capsize and resulting in more than two dozen deaths. The tragedy prompted the company to order a comprehensive audit and review of all safety and emergency response procedures across its nine leading cruise lines.
For the vast majority of Carnival passengers, though, cruising has been a carefree expedition. Each ship is slightly different and garners more or fewer favorable comments; industry experts recommend researching the particular ship before choosing a cruise. That said, most Carnival cruise reviews give high marks for value, cleanliness, and an overall pleasant experience. Many say the crews are friendly and keep staterooms in good condition. Three ships that stand out for budget cruising include the Liberty (out of Miami), Splendor (out of LA), and Miracle (out of New York). Travelers report getting good deals on quality rooms, food, and inclusions.
The Splendor, however, garnered more negative publicity for Carnival recently when a group of passengers was robbed at gunpoint during a shore excursion in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. We also read plenty of critical Carnival cruise reviews. The biggest sources of complaint were food and overpriced alcoholic drinks. On Yelp and the Cruise Reviews site, for example, passengers on a variety of ships describe the food as more than disappointing -- some call it inedible. Others say it rises to the standard of what you'd expect in a high school cafeteria and some report that the buffets tend to run out of many items. A few travelers consider the decor on some ships dated and some find the high-octane party atmosphere a bit overwhelming. Older passengers hoping for a quiet respite note with disappointment the large numbers of families on board and the difficulty of finding a pool that isn't always jam-packed with kids.
Carnival is the largest cruise line in the world and operates megaships (2,000+ passengers) that ply the waters around the Caribbean, Hawaii, Mexico, Canada, Alaska, and the Panama Canal. Trips range from quick, two-night getaways to voyages of 10 days or more. You can depart from several ports around the U.S. and Canada, making it one of the more accessible cruise lines. Passengers have the option of researching and booking onshore excursions ahead of time through the company website.
What it comes down to with Carnival Cruise Lines is the value. With trips starting at less than $50/person/night, meals included, on-board entertainment options for all ages, and a wide variety of shore excursions (for an additional fee), passengers rarely get bored. Experts add that stateroom sizes and decor are better than expected at this price point.