Courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line
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Seven Seas Bar
Seven Seas Bar / Carnival Cruise Line / Andy Newman
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Indian Library
Indian Library / Carnival Cruise Line / Andy Newman
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Irish Sea Bar
Irish Sea Bar / Carnival Cruise Line / Andy Newman
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Twister Waterslide
Twister Waterslide / Carnival Cruise Line
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Carnival Radiance (Formerly Carnival Victory)

Our Ship Review
Deal Expert / Travel Blogger

The 13-deck Carnival Victory (yes, this is a Carnival Radiance review) was one of the largest cruise ships in the world when it debuted in 2000. It’s no longer anywhere near the largest — in fact, it’s about half the size of Carnival’s newest Mardi Gras-class ships — and it’s also no longer named Victory. In 2021, Carnival Cruise Line refurbished the ship, renaming it Carnival Radiance. The ship is now part of the Sunshine class, along with Carnival Sunrise and Carnival Sunshine.

Now accommodating 2,984 guests and refitted with some of Carnival’s most popular dining venues and activities, Carnival Radiance cruises from the West Coast to Mexico and Hawaii. Multiple dining and drinking options and the usual “fun ship” lineup of daily games and contests, plus four swimming pools (and a WaterWorks aqua park with the Twister waterslide), a spa and health club, three kids clubs, and an adults-only retreat. There are also mini-golf, poolside “Dive-In Movies,” a three-deck show theater, and a 9,000-square-foot casino. And it's all decorated in the vivacious style Carnival has become known for: If you like an energetic vibe and gambling, this could be your ship.

What We Love

The Included Food Options: Not everyone loves a buffet and Radiance has plenty of options for couples and families who prefer their food fast and casual — and included in the cruise fare. The ship features four of Carnival’s most popular eateries: Guy’s Burger Joint (for delicious burgers and fries in partnership with Food Network star Guy Fieri); Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que (for open-air pulled pork, smoked round of beef, and smoked sausage); Big Chicken (a fried chicken joint by basketball great and  Carnival’s “Chief Fun Officer” Shaquille O’Neal); and BlueIguana Cantina (for tacos, burritos, and an add-it-yourself salsa bar). Prefer a slice? Radiance also has Pizzeria del Capitano.

The Bar Line-up: No matter what adult beverage quenches your thirst, there’s a bar for you on board Carnival Radiance. Love a creative cocktail? Head to the vintage-style Alchemy Bar. Is craft beer your thing? The RedFrog Pub makes its own private-label brew, Thirsty RedFrog. The RedFrog Rum Bar serves rum-based drinks while the BlueIguana Tequila Bar serves…you guessed it. There’s a Piano Bar, where you can drink whatever and request a tune, and Nightclub for anyone with energy to burn. There’s even a Heroes Tribute Bar & Lounge that honors the valor and sacrifices of members of America’s armed forces.

It's a Haven for Kids: Camp Ocean, which serves kids ages 2 to 11, is one of the top kids programs at sea. It’s divided into three age groups, and tweens and teens have separate clubs (Circle “C” and Club O2, respectively) as well. Little ones can enjoy Seuss at Sea programs, with parades as well as character breakfasts with the Cat in the Hat, Sam I Am, and Thing 1 and Thing 2. Order the green eggs and ham or the towering stack of pancakes, which alternate between plain and red to look like a certain iconic chapeau.

Best Known For

Lively Ambiance: Carnival ships feature a line-up of activities and entertainment that keep the merriment — and the decibel level — up both day and night. This is not a ship for serenity-seekers.

Serenity Adults-Only Retreat: Okay, so there is one place where grown-ups can escape the near-constant hoopla, although if there are bachelor or bachelorette parties onboard, the adults-only ambiance won’t be as serene. Serenity features a small pool, but the retreat’s location on deck 12 next to the three kids clubs isn’t ideal.

Who It's Best For

Budget-Minded Cruisers: The price is right if you are looking for an inexpensive way to cruise to the Mexican Riviera. While Carnival Radiance’s cabins are fine for the price, most Carnival regulars don't plan to spend much time in their staterooms

Families: If you are planning on bringing the kids, the boisterous, active atmosphere on board will keep everyone entertained. And while the little ones are making new friends at the kids club, parents can head to the somewhat quieter adults-only area.

Don't Say We Didn't Warn You

Sales Pitches: From the moment you board the ship, crew members will try to sell you extras: photos, videos, cocktails, artwork, shore excursions, and even teeth whitening. The constant barrage of offers can feel overwhelming. Just remember that this helps keep the base price low, and you can always say, “No, thanks.”

Kids Take Over the Pool Deck: Don't be fooled by the fact that kids have a WaterWorks area on this ship. They rarely stick to it, and you likely won't find peace and quiet anywhere there is water.