Carnival Cruise Lines: 6 things to know before you book

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Carnival Cruise Lines: 6 things to know before you book
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Vacation cruises are enjoying unprecedented popularity these days. If you’ve looked to book a cruise online, you’ve doubtless run across offerings from Carnival Cruise Lines.

Carnival, as the name implies, is known as the industry’s “party” line. Indeed, Carnival prides itself on offering an assortment of activities and experiences. More people took a cruise to spend time with family in 2018 than they did the previous year, according to the Cruise Line International Association, the world’s largest cruise industry trade association.

Carnival Cruises: What to know before you go

Carnival is the world’s largest leisure travel company and among the most profitable in the cruise and vacation industries. That means that the Carnival name is one of the most recognizable in the $46 billion global cruise market.

Carnival is made up of two entities, Carnival Corp., which was incorporated in Panama in 1972 and Carnival PLC, which was incorporated in England and Wales in 2000. Today the company has headquarters in Miami, Florida and London, England.

1. What U.S. ports does Carnival sail out of?

Carnival ships visited 90 destinations around the world in 2017. Cozumel, Mexico is the most-visited port of the cruise line. Carnival has the following departure ports in the contiguous U.S.:
  • Baltimore, Maryland
  • Charleston, South Carolina
  • Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • Galveston, Texas
  • Jacksonville, Florida
  • Long Beach, California
  • Los Angeles, California
  • Miami, Florida
  • Mobile, Alabama
  • New Orleans, Louisiana
  • New York, New York
  • Norfolk, Virginia
  • Port Canaveral (Orlando)
  • San Diego, California
  • Seattle, Washington
  • Tampa, Florida

2. What are the dining options on Carnival?

Carnival has several restaurants on board their cruise liners. The main thing to remember is that some of the eateries cost extra to eat in while others have their prices included in the cruise fare. Here are some of the most popular dining options:

Typical restaurants with prices included in fare: Lido Restaurant, Swirls, the Dining Room, Seaday Brunch, Carnival Deli, Breakfast Grill, Chef’s Choice and Kids’ Meals for Campers.

Typical restaurants that cost an additional: Green Eggs & Ham Breakfast, the Chef’s Table, Steakhouse selections, among others.

Some restaurants, like Guy’s Burger Joint and BlueIguana Cantina, may or may not cost you anything additional, depending on the ship.

3. What other cruise lines are owned by Carnival?

Carnival Corp. & PLC owns a number of the popular cruise lines around the world. The corporation carries nearly half of the world’s global cruise guests and has operations in North America, Europe, Australia and Asia.

Carnival owns 25 ships under its namesake brand. It also owns AIDA Cruises (12 ships), Costa Cruises (14) as well as Cunard (3), Holland America Line (14), P&O Cruises UK (7), P&O Cruises (5), Princess Cruises(18), and Seabourn Cruise Line (5).

4. What are Carnival Cruise’s ship classes?

Carnival operates 103 ships as of December 2017, with more on order, the company says in a news release. Their 2018 fleet is made up of eight classes, including:
  • Fantasy Class: Eight ships, including the Ecstasy, Sensation and Paradise, that go from Mobile to the Caribbean and Panama Canal. Amenities include the Serenity Adult-Only Retreat, Carnival WaterWorks, the Twister Waterslide, Splash Park and more.
  • Triumph Class: The Carnival Victory departs from New Orleans to the Caribbean. Amenities include Guy Fieri’s Burger Joint, the Alchemy Bar, SkyBox Sports Bar, the RedFrog Rum Bar and BlueIguana Tequila Bar and more.
  • Spirit Class: Four ships, including Pride, Legend and Miracle, that depart from Australia to Pacific islands.  The ships all have the largest waterpark at sea in Australia, mini-golf, a two-deck fitness center,a jogging track and a Serenity area (adults-only), day spa and pools and spas.
  • Conquest Class: Four ships, including Glory, Freedom, Valor and Liberty, that sail from Miami and Fort Lauderdale to the Bahamas, Bermuda the Caribbean. Amenities include the Alchemy Bar, a Punchliner Comedy Club as well as two Guy Fieri restaurants.
  • Splendor Class: The Splendor sails from L.A. to Mexico and Hawaii. which include El Morocco Lounge comedy shows, musical performances, karaoke, the Pinnacle Steakhouse and more.
  • Dream Class: Three ships, including the Dream, Magic and Breeze, that sail from New Orleans and Galveston to the Caribbean. Amenities include the RedFrog Rum Bar, the BlueIguana Tequila Bar as well as two dual-level dining rooms, a gourmet steakhouse, Bonsai Sushi and two Guy Fieri restaurants.
  • Sunshine Class: Two ships, the Sunshine and Sunrise, sail from Charleston and Port Canaveral to Cuba, the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Caribbean. Amenities include activity-oriented features like three decks, recliners, a waterfall, Carnival WaterWorks, an onboard waterpark, Speedway Splash slide and more.
  • Vista Class: Three ships, including the Vista, Horizon and the Panarama, sail from Galveston to the Caribbean. Amenities include SkyRide at SportSquare, the Havana Bar & Pool and two Guy Fieri restaurants, Burger Joint and the Pig & Anchor Smokehouse.

5. How does Carnival Cruise rank among cruise lines?

According to ConsumersAdvocate.org, an editorial site that specializes in product reviews, Carnival came in first among top cruise lines for 2018. The full list is as follows:
Ranking 2018 Cruise Line
1 Carnival
2 Princess Cruises
3 Holland America Line
4 Royal Caribbean
5 Disney Cruise Line
6 Celebrity Cruises
7 Regent Seven Seas Cruises
8 Cunard

6. How to save money on Carnival cruises

Because cruises can get expensive, here are some ways to sail for less on a Carnival cruise.

  • Sign up for the VIFP Program: Carnival’s VIFP Club (Very Important Fun Person Club) is the cruise liner’s loyalty program. Get deals sent to your inbox or address when you register.
  • Book early: As with most forms of travel, booking as early as you can will save you money because cruise line will raise prices as cabins fill up, so check those travel sites.  Booking in the less busy months — generally late summer and fall — will also save you some coin.
  • Cruise deals for seniors: Carnival has a Senior Savings page with a calendar that shows deals for older travelers.
  • Save on vino: If you’re a wine lover, instead of being charged for a glass of wine at restaurants, you can save by purchasing Carnival’s Cruise the Vineyards Program. The package comes with at least four wines and if you haven’t opened a bottle, you can take it home.
  • Skip the paid tours: Once you dock in a port, you will be tempted to sign up for a shore excursion. If you’re traveling with family, those can be quite expensive. Save money by exploring your destination in a group of your own.
  • Stick to complimentary restaurants: Carnival offers a number of dining options included in the fare. Take advantage of these. If you want specialty eats, it will cost you extra. You’ll also be charged for drinks on an a la carte basis.

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Craig Johnson is a conscious money-saver who still reads paperback books and listens to vinyl. He likes to write about how technology is making things easier and more affordable — but also sometimes more dangerous — for the modern consumer. You can reach Craig at [email protected]
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