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The Best Carnival Cruise Ships of 2024!

Embark on a journey through the vibrant world of Carnival Cruise Line, where the allure of the sea meets unparalleled adventure and relaxation.

Whether you’re a family seeking fun-filled escapades or a solo traveler looking for an unforgettable escape, join us as we set sail on this detailed exploration of the best Carnival cruise ships!

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Understanding the Carnival Fleet

The Evolution and Diversity of Carnival’s Ships

Carnival Cruise Line, renowned for its vibrant and fun-filled voyages, boasts one of the largest and most diverse fleets in the cruise industry. With 27 ships that vary in size, age, and amenities, the fleet offers a plethora of experiences for every kind of traveler.

From the nostalgic charm of the older vessels to the state-of-the-art features of the newer giants, Carnival’s fleet has evolved significantly over the years.

This section delves into the history of Carnival’s fleet, highlighting how it has grown and transformed to meet the ever-changing demands of cruising enthusiasts.

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Ship Classes and Their Significance

Carnival’s fleet is segmented into several classes, each representing a specific design and set of features. These classes include:

  1. Fantasy Class: The oldest in the fleet, known for their intimate and classic cruise experience.
  2. Spirit Class: Offering a balance of size and amenities, popular for their exotic itineraries.
  3. Conquest Class: Featuring more spacious designs and varied onboard activities.
  4. Splendor Class: A unique class with a distinct design, offering a blend of luxury and fun.
  5. Dream Class: Larger ships with enhanced features, catering to a more modern cruising experience.
  6. Sunshine Class: Revitalized ships with upgraded amenities and more dining options.
  7. Vista Class: Introducing groundbreaking attractions like the SkyRide and IMAX Theatre.
  8. Excel Class: The newest and largest, boasting the most innovative features like the first roller coaster at sea.

Each class holds some of the best Carnival cruise ships and reflects Carnival’s commitment to innovation and guest satisfaction, continuously pushing the boundaries of what a cruise can offer.

Formal Night on Carnival Cruise

Key Features of Carnival Ships

Carnival ships are renowned for their lively atmosphere and a wide array of onboard activities. Key features across the fleet include:

  • WaterWorks: Aquatic fun with waterslides and splash zones.
  • Serenity Adult-Only Retreat: A tranquil escape for relaxation and quiet.
  • Guy’s Burger Joint and BlueIguana Cantina: Popular dining options offering delicious casual eats.
  • Cloud 9 Spa: Luxurious spa treatments and wellness programs.
  • Carnival’s Seaside Theatre: Outdoor movies under the stars.
  • Youth Programs: Age-appropriate activities for kids and teens.

With each ship offering a unique combination of these features, the Carnival fleet ensures a memorable and enjoyable experience for all guests, regardless of their preferences of the best Carnival cruise ships or age.

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Mardi Gras: A Deep Dive into Carnival’s Family-Friendly Titan

Overview of Mardi Gras

The Mardi Gras stands as a jewel in Carnival Cruise Line’s crown, representing the pinnacle of family entertainment at sea.

As one of the newest and largest vessels in the fleet, Mardi Gras sets a new standard in ocean cruising, blending innovative design with an array of activities and amenities that cater to families and children of all ages.

Family-Friendly Features

  • Bolt: The First Roller Coaster at Sea: Mardi Gras boasts the groundbreaking Bolt, offering thrilling rides with stunning ocean views, a definite highlight for adventure-loving families.
  • Expansive Kids Club: The ship’s kids club provides a safe and engaging environment for young cruisers. Activities range from scavenger hunts and arts and crafts to video games, ensuring endless entertainment for children.
  • Ultimate Playground: This area is a paradise for kids and includes a ropes course, waterslides, and more, offering a perfect blend of fun and physical activity.

Dining Delights for Families

  • Dr. Seuss-themed Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast: A whimsical dining experience that brings the magic of Dr. Seuss to life, ideal for younger guests.
  • Varied Dining Options: From Guy Fieri’s burgers to Shaq’s fried chicken, the dining choices are designed to please even the pickiest eaters. The ship also offers special menus for kids in the main dining rooms.

Accommodation and Budget Considerations

  • Family Harbor Staterooms: These rooms are specially designed for families, featuring a nautical theme and ample space to accommodate at least four guests comfortably.
  • Family Lounge Area: Exclusive to Family Harbor guests, this area provides a cozy space for families to relax, with easy access to snacks and entertainment options.

Comparison with Carnival Celebration

The Carnival Celebration, Mardi Gras’ sister ship, mirrors many of the same family-centric features and amenities with minor variations in themes and venues. Both ships exemplify Carnival’s commitment to providing unforgettable family vacations at sea.

In this section, we have explored the Mardi Gras in detail, highlighting why it is Carnival’s ultimate family-friendly cruise ship and one of the best Carnival cruise ships.

Its blend of exhilarating entertainment, diverse dining options, and comfortable accommodations make it an ideal choice for families seeking a fun-filled and memorable cruise experience.

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Carnival Horizon: Best Ship for Luxury Lovers

Overview of Carnival Horizon

Carnival Horizon, while part of a brand not traditionally known for luxury, carves out its own niche of upscale experiences.

As the second vessel in Carnival’s Vista class, it offers a sophisticated ambiance coupled with exclusive amenities. This ship caters to those who seek a touch of luxury while enjoying the vibrant atmosphere that Carnival is famous for.

Luxury and Exclusive Offerings

  • Havana Cabana Staterooms: These exclusive accommodations offer guests a taste of luxury with private patios equipped with loungers and hammocks. Access to the Havana Bar and Pool area is a privileged perk, providing a secluded retreat away from the ship’s bustle.
  • Cloud 9 Spa: The onboard spa presents an extensive menu of treatments for guests seeking relaxation and rejuvenation. The spa cabins offer additional perks like complimentary thermal suite access and free yoga or Pilates classes, adding a layer of pampering to the cruise experience.
  • Adults-Only Serenity Deck: An oasis of tranquility, the Serenity Deck is a top-deck, adults-only area perfect for guests looking to unwind in a more peaceful setting.

Dining and Entertainment

While Carnival Horizon may not compete with luxury lines in terms of suite sizes or butler services, it excels in providing a high-quality dining and entertainment experience as one of the best Carnival cruise ships.

Upscale cabin options, including the Havana Cabana and Grand Suites, enhance the luxury feel, offering more spacious accommodations and priority services.

Comparison with Other Ships

Carnival Horizon stands out in the Carnival fleet as a ship that balances the brand’s characteristic fun and energy with more refined, exclusive experiences. It’s an ideal choice for those who love the Carnival vibe but desire a touch of luxury and exclusivity in their cruising experience.

In this section, we’ve explored the luxurious side of Carnival through the lens of Carnival Horizon, highlighting its unique offerings that cater to luxury-seekers. Next, we’ll look at Carnival Conquest, a ship that offers an entirely different appeal – value and affordability.

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Carnival Conquest: Best Ship for Budget Travelers

Description of Carnival Conquest

Carnival Conquest stands as a testament to Carnival’s ability to offer enjoyable experiences at an affordable price.

As one of the line’s older ships, it combines the essence of traditional cruising with the energy and fun that Carnival is known for. The ship’s shorter Bahamas and Caribbean voyages are perfect for budget-conscious travelers looking for a vibrant holiday without breaking the bank.

Budget Considerations and Offerings

  • Affordable Pricing: Starting from attractively low per-person rates, Carnival Conquest makes cruising accessible to a wider audience.
  • Shorter Itineraries: The ship’s shorter sailings are not only budget-friendly but also a great option for those looking for a quick getaway.
  • Departures from Miami: Operating from one of the world’s largest cruise hubs means competitive pricing and more options for budget travelers.

The Fun Element

Despite being an older ship, Carnival Conquest doesn’t compromise on entertainment and fun. Guests can enjoy lively dance clubs, poolside activities, and complimentary dining options like Guy’s Burger Joint, adding value to their cruise experience.

Unique Design and Atmosphere

Carnival Conquest features distinctive interiors designed by Joe Farcus, known for his quirky and bright designs. This adds a unique flavor to the ship, making it stand out among the more modern vessels in the fleet.

Comparison with Other Budget Options

While Carnival offers several budget-friendly options, Conquest’s blend of affordability, fun, and shorter itineraries make it a top choice for budget travelers. Its lively atmosphere and array of activities ensure that guests enjoy a quintessential Carnival experience without a hefty price tag.

In this section, we explored Carnival Conquest as the go-to option for budget travelers for one of the best Carnival cruise ships. Up next, we will delve into Carnival Sunrise, offering insights into why it stands as the best choice for singles seeking a mix of excitement and affordability.

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Carnival Sunrise: Best Carnival Cruise Ship for Singles

Overview of Carnival Sunrise

Carnival Sunrise offers a dynamic and engaging atmosphere ideal for singles looking for fun and connection.

This ship, formerly known as Carnival Triumph, underwent a complete transformation in 2019. The renovation breathed new life into the vessel, making it a vibrant choice for solo travelers.

Features Suitable for Single Travelers

  • Serenity Adults-Only Sun Deck: This area provides a relaxed environment where singles can unwind and mingle in a more serene setting.
  • Vibrant Nightlife and Activities: With a variety of lounges, nightclubs, and daily activities, Carnival Sunrise is brimming with opportunities for solo travelers to meet others and enjoy an active social scene.
  • Short and Affordable Voyages: Operating primarily short voyages from Miami, the ship offers an economical option for solo travelers, with pricing that remains accessible even when considering the single supplement fee.

Overcoming the Single Supplement Challenge

While Carnival’s ships don’t feature solo cabins, and the single supplement fee is a consideration, Carnival Sunrise strikes a balance between cost and experience.

The ship’s atmosphere and itinerary make it a compelling choice for singles.

Why Carnival Sunrise for Singles?

Carnival Sunrise’s size and array of amenities create a perfect setting for singles.

The ship’s renovation has added modern touches while retaining a sense of intimacy that facilitates social interactions and connections, essential for a fulfilling solo cruise experience.

Comparison with Other Ships for Singles

While other ships in the fleet offer attractions for solo travelers, Carnival Sunrise stands out for its blend of lively atmosphere, array of activities, and affordability, making it a top pick for singles.

In this section, we’ve highlighted why Carnival Sunrise is a great choice for solo cruisers. Next, we’ll explore Carnival Pride, a ship that offers a distinctly different atmosphere, making it ideal for retirees seeking a more relaxed and enriching cruise experience.

cruise deck Carnival Magic

Carnival Pride: Best Ship for Retirees

The Appeal of Carnival Pride for Retired Travelers

Carnival Pride offers a unique blend of leisure, adventure, and relaxation that resonates well with retired travelers.

Its longer itineraries and smaller size compared to the newer giants in the fleet make it a favorite among those looking for a more laid-back cruising experience.

Features and Itineraries Suited for Retirees

  • Longer Voyages: Carnival Pride frequently embarks on nine- and 12-night itineraries to destinations like the Baltic, British Isles, and Iceland, offering more in-depth exploration and a slower travel pace favored by retirees.
  • Smaller Ship Advantage: Being one of the older and smaller ships in the fleet, Carnival Pride provides a more intimate and less crowded environment, ideal for those seeking a more relaxed atmosphere.
  • Joe Farcus Designs: The ship’s interiors, designed by the renowned Joe Farcus, evoke a sense of nostalgia and charm, appealing to travelers who appreciate a touch of classic cruising elegance.

Activities and Amenities

While Carnival Pride may not boast the latest cutting-edge features, it compensates with a variety of activities and amenities that cater to a more mature audience which earn it a spot on the list of the best Carnival cruise ships.

The ship features a comedy club, an onboard spa, adults-only sun deck, and a range of bars and lounges, ensuring there’s always something to suit every taste.

Catering to Different Preferences

Carnival Pride’s longer voyages tend to attract fewer families and younger crowds, creating a more serene environment.

This aspect makes it an excellent choice for retirees who might want to bring their grandchildren along for a multigenerational trip, without the overwhelming hustle typical of larger, family-oriented ships.

Comparison with Other Ships

Carnival Pride stands out in the Carnival fleet as a ship that offers a balanced cruising experience. It combines the fun and lively atmosphere Carnival is known for with the tranquility and relaxed pace that many retirees desire.

In this section, we explored why Carnival Pride is particularly well-suited for retirees. Next, we will delve into an overview of the entire Carnival fleet, ranking each ship based on customer reviews and unique features, to help you find the perfect match for your cruising preferences.

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Ranking Carnival’s Fleet

Methodology for Ranking

To provide a fair and comprehensive ranking of Carnival’s fleet, we’ve analyzed average customer reviews from trusted sources like, Cruise Critic, and TripAdvisor.

These reviews offer insights into the real experiences of cruisers, covering aspects such as onboard amenities, dining, entertainment, service quality, and overall value. Additionally, unique features and offerings of each ship were considered to break any tie scores.

The 10 Best Carnival Ships by Reviews

  1. Carnival Breeze: Tops the list for its well-rounded amenities, interesting itineraries, and great value. A favorite for all ages.
  2. Carnival Valor: Known for its Caribbean itineraries and blend of Fun Ship features, appealing to a wide range of travelers.
  3. Carnival Panorama: Offers a variety of onboard activities and dining options, catering to cruisers of all ages.
  4. Carnival Pride: Popular for its smaller size, unique charm, and longer voyages.
  5. Carnival Miracle: Stands out for its passenger-to-space ratio, offering a more relaxed cruising experience.
  6. Carnival Glory: Despite showing its age, the ship remains popular for its fun atmosphere and WaterWorks water park.
  7. Carnival Dream: Praised for its relaxed vibe and variety of itineraries.
  8. Carnival Vista: Known for its innovative features like SkyRide and the IMAX cinema.
  9. Carnival Celebration: A new entry, packed with amazing features but with some service challenges.
  10. Carnival Horizon: Offers onboard technologies and amazing features, with a slightly more modern feel.

Choosing the Best Carnival Ship for Your Needs

Selecting the best Carnival ship depends on individual preferences. Families might prefer ships with extensive children’s programs and family-friendly amenities, while couples might look for ships with more intimate spaces and adult-focused activities. Solo travelers and party enthusiasts might lean towards ships with vibrant nightlife and social opportunities.

In this section, we provided a ranked overview of Carnival’s fleet based on customer reviews and unique features, aiming to assist you in finding the ship that best suits your cruising style and preferences.

Next, we will explore specific features across the fleet, like water slides and specialty dining, to further guide your choice.

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Special Features Across the Carnival Fleet

Carnival Cruise Line’s ships are known for their wide array of unique and exciting features. These attractions vary from ship to ship, but they all contribute to the fun and memorable experience that Carnival is famous for.

Here, we delve into some of the most notable features found across the fleet, helping you decide which ship might offer the kind of experiences you’re looking for.

WaterWorks: Aquatic Fun for Everyone

  • The WaterWorks water parks are a highlight on many Carnival ships, featuring thrilling waterslides, splash zones, and more. Ships like Carnival Celebration and Mardi Gras boast some of the best collections of water slides, ensuring aquatic fun for both kids and adults.

Adults-Only Serenity Retreat

  • For those seeking peace and quiet, the Serenity Adult-Only Retreat offers a tranquil escape. Available on most ships, this area provides a relaxed atmosphere with comfortable lounging, often accompanied by a bar for refreshing drinks.

Dining Experiences: From Casual Eats to Fine Dining

  • Carnival ships offer a wide range of dining options. Guy’s Burger Joint and BlueIguana Cantina are popular for casual meals, while fine dining experiences can be found in specialty restaurants like the Fahrenheit 555 steakhouse, available on select ships.

Entertainment: Shows, Casinos, and Nightlife

  • Carnival’s ships feature a variety of entertainment options, including Broadway-style shows, comedy clubs, and bustling casinos. The Vista Class ships, such as Carnival Vista, Horizon, and Panorama, are known for having some of the best casinos in the fleet.

Unique Attractions

  • Ships like Carnival Vista introduced the first SkyRide, an aerial attraction, and the first IMAX Theatre at sea. The newer Excel Class ships, such as Mardi Gras and Carnival Celebration, upped the ante with the first roller coaster at sea, BOLT.

Children’s Programs and Family Amenities

  • Carnival is well-known for its family-friendly offerings, including Camp Ocean, a program for kids with a variety of age-appropriate activities. Ships like Carnival Panorama and Mardi Gras offer extensive facilities and programs for children, making them top choices for family cruising.

Spa and Wellness

  • The Cloud 9 Spa, available on select ships, offers a range of treatments and therapies for those looking to relax and rejuvenate. Ships like Carnival Horizon and Carnival Breeze feature expanded spa facilities with thermal suites, various treatment rooms, and fitness classes, catering to guests seeking a wellness-oriented cruise experience.

Outdoor Activities: Sports and Recreation

  • For the active traveler, Carnival ships provide a range of outdoor activities. From mini-golf and basketball courts to high-energy attractions like ropes courses and the SkyRide, guests can enjoy a variety of sports and recreation options.

Technology and Connectivity

  • Carnival continues to integrate technology into the cruise experience, with features like the Carnival Hub app for easy access to ship information and activities. Ships like Carnival Horizon boast advanced onboard technologies for guest convenience and entertainment.

Special Themed Cruises and Events

  • Carnival occasionally offers themed cruises or special events onboard, ranging from music festivals at sea to culinary-focused voyages, providing unique experiences for guests with specific interests.

Each Carnival ship has its own set of special features, catering to different interests and preferences. Whether you’re looking for high-energy fun, relaxation, gourmet dining, or family activities, there’s a Carnival ship that’s perfect for your next vacation.

FAQs on the Best Carnival Cruise Ships

Selecting the right Carnival cruise ship can be a delightful yet daunting task, given the variety of options available. To assist you in making an informed decision, here are some frequently asked questions and their answers, along with helpful tips:

What Is the Newest and Biggest Carnival Cruise Ship?

  • The newest ship in the Carnival fleet as of 2023 is Carnival Celebration, launched in November 2022. It is part of the Excel-Class, similar in size and amenities to its sister ship, Mardi Gras.

What Is the Most Luxurious Carnival Cruise Ship?

  • While Carnival is not typically known for luxury cruises, ships like Carnival Dream offer more upscale experiences, with features like the Cloud 9 Spa and more relaxed atmospheres.

Which Carnival Cruise Ship Is the Best for Partying?

  • Ships such as Carnival Sunrise are known for their lively atmosphere and are great for those looking to enjoy a party scene, especially on shorter itineraries to destinations like the Bahamas.

Which Carnival Cruise Ship Has a Roller Coaster?

  • The Carnival Mardi Gras and Carnival Celebration, both part of the Excel-Class, feature BOLT, the first roller coaster at sea.

Which Carnival Ship Has the Best Water Slides?

  • Carnival Celebration and Mardi Gras boast impressive water slide collections, including Blue Lightning and Orange Thunder, offering thrilling aquatic fun.

What Is the Best Carnival Cruise Ship for Families?

  • Carnival Panorama and Carnival Glory are excellent choices for families, offering a wide range of activities, family-friendly accommodations, and programs for children of all ages.

What’s the Best Carnival Cruise Ship for Couples?

  • For couples, older and smaller ships like Carnival Conquest offer a more intimate and relaxed experience, while those looking for more excitement might prefer Carnival Sunrise or Carnival Radiance.

Which Carnival Ship Has the Best Food?

  • Mardi Gras stands out for its culinary offerings, with 22 different dining venues including specialty options like Emeril’s Bistro.

Tips for Choosing the Right Carnival Cruise Ship

  • Consider the Itinerary: Look at the destinations each ship travels to and choose one that visits places you’re excited to explore.
  • Think About Ship Size: Larger ships offer more amenities but can be more crowded. Smaller ships provide a more intimate experience.
  • Check Recent Reviews: Look at recent traveler reviews for insights into the current condition and atmosphere of the ship.
  • Identify Your Priorities: Whether it’s dining, entertainment, relaxation, or adventure, pick a ship that aligns with your interests.

By considering these FAQs and tips, you can narrow down your options and select a Carnival cruise ship that will offer you the most enjoyable and fulfilling experience.


As we conclude our journey through the vibrant world of Carnival Cruise Line, it’s clear that there’s a perfect ship for every type of traveler.

From the thrilling decks of Mardi Gras to the serene spaces of Carnival Horizon, each vessel offers a unique blend of entertainment, relaxation, and adventure.

Whether you’re a family seeking fun-filled activities, a couple in pursuit of romantic escapes, or a solo traveler looking for new friendships and experiences, Carnival’s fleet has a ship that will transform your vacation dreams into reality. Embark on a Carnival cruise and set sail towards unforgettable moments and endless horizons.