7 Things to Skip on Carnival Ships

by Fran Golden

7 Things to Skip on Carnival Ships

by Fran Golden

Carnival ships offer an affordable holiday, with plenty of fun amusement park- and resort-style entertainment, such as waterslides, poolside games and contests, live music, some great casual restaurants, and discos that hop into night. Still, even if you love the wackiness and irreverence, not every experience is created equal. Here, our picks for what to skip, and what to do instead.

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Carnival Inspiration / Carnival Cruise Line
Green Eggs and Ham French Toast
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1. Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast

Available: Across the fleet

We love that Carnival has brought our favorite Dr. Seuss characters, including Cat in the Hat and Thing 1 and Thing 2, to sea. It's just that this breakfast can be kind of gross. The pancakes and waffles are overly sweet, and the eggs are, well, green. The appearance of costumed characters may enthrall the kids, but there will be food left on their plates (and yours). Fortunately, if your little ones have their hearts set on going, it will only set you back $5 per person.

Instead: Participate in the Seuss-A-Palooza parade through the promenade (costumes provided) and Story Time event in the theater. Both are complimentary, and sugar free.

Available: Across the fleet

We love that Carnival has brought our favorite Dr. Seuss characters, including Cat in the Hat and Thing 1 and Thing 2, to sea. It's just that this breakfast can be kind of gross. The pancakes and waffles are overly sweet, and the eggs are, well, green. The appearance of costumed characters may enthrall the kids, but there will be food left on their plates (and yours). Fortunately, if your little ones have their hearts set on going, it will only set you back $5 per person.

Instead: Participate in the Seuss-A-Palooza parade through the promenade (costumes provided) and Story Time event in the theater. Both are complimentary, and sugar free.

Beer and wings at RedFrog Pub
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2. Food at RedFrog Pub

Available: Carnival Breeze, Carnival Freedom, Carnival Legend, Carnival Magic, Carnival Miracle, Carnival Pride, Carnival Sunshine, Carnival Valor, Carnival Vista

This pub is on many of the line's ships, serving Carnival's own ThirstyFrog Red Ale. And on Carnival Vista, three different craft beers are made right on the ship. It's worth the $6 or so for a pint, and the atmosphere is fun and lively. Just don't bother with the less than thrilling bar snacks. 

Instead:  Every evening there are complimentary tapas at the nearby Taste Bar, where the line showcases a different restaurant in the fleet each day. You might get sushi from Bonsai, dumplings from JiJi, or even mini crab cakes from the steakhouse.

Available: Carnival Breeze, Carnival Freedom, Carnival Legend, Carnival Magic, Carnival Miracle, Carnival Pride, Carnival Sunshine, Carnival Valor, Carnival Vista

This pub is on many of the line's ships, serving Carnival's own ThirstyFrog Red Ale. And on Carnival Vista, three different craft beers are made right on the ship. It's worth the $6 or so for a pint, and the atmosphere is fun and lively. Just don't bother with the less than thrilling bar snacks. 

Instead:  Every evening there are complimentary tapas at the nearby Taste Bar, where the line showcases a different restaurant in the fleet each day. You might get sushi from Bonsai, dumplings from JiJi, or even mini crab cakes from the steakhouse.

Thrill Theater on Carnival Breeze
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3. Thrill Theater

Available: On Carnival Breeze and Carnival Vista

Feeling like there’s no way to get to do everything on the ship? Consider skipping this 4D movie experience. Yes, the floor may move and there are wind and water effects, but you've probably experienced better thrills at theme parks and there are more interesting things to do onboard. Plus the 10- to 20-minute movie experience comes with a price tag of $7.95 per film, or $14.95 for an unlimited pass.

Instead: On Carnival Vista, head to the ship's real IMAX Theatre and see a current blockbuster movie in 3D for $12.95. Or — on any of the ships in the fleet — catch a free flick poolside, at night, on the giant Carnival Seaside Theater screen. It’s an experience you can’t have on land anyway.

Available: On Carnival Breeze and Carnival Vista

Feeling like there’s no way to get to do everything on the ship? Consider skipping this 4D movie experience. Yes, the floor may move and there are wind and water effects, but you've probably experienced better thrills at theme parks and there are more interesting things to do onboard. Plus the 10- to 20-minute movie experience comes with a price tag of $7.95 per film, or $14.95 for an unlimited pass.

Instead: On Carnival Vista, head to the ship's real IMAX Theatre and see a current blockbuster movie in 3D for $12.95. Or — on any of the ships in the fleet — catch a free flick poolside, at night, on the giant Carnival Seaside Theater screen. It’s an experience you can’t have on land anyway.

Carnival Breeze's Library Bar
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4. Library Bar

Available: On Carnival Breeze, Carnival Sunshine and Carnival Vista

The concept is a quiet, cushy getaway spot for conversation and self-service wine. It’s not a bad idea, but it hasn't caught on with the Carnival crowd and the space is often empty. If you really wanted people to hang out wouldn't you add a friendly bartender, plug outlets for laptops and, uh, a few more books on the shelves?

Instead: Head to the Piano Bar for a nostalgic evening of live music, and the opportunity to sing along with a jovial crowd.

Available: On Carnival Breeze, Carnival Sunshine and Carnival Vista

The concept is a quiet, cushy getaway spot for conversation and self-service wine. It’s not a bad idea, but it hasn't caught on with the Carnival crowd and the space is often empty. If you really wanted people to hang out wouldn't you add a friendly bartender, plug outlets for laptops and, uh, a few more books on the shelves?

Instead: Head to the Piano Bar for a nostalgic evening of live music, and the opportunity to sing along with a jovial crowd.

Carnival Vista's casino
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5. Casino Bar

Available: Across the fleet

The only reasons to go to this bar are to observe those at the numerous slot machines and gaming tables throwing away their money … or if you're a smoker. Unfortunately smokers dominate the spot all day long and, as a result, non-smokers will not be pleased.

Instead: Hang out at the Alchemy Bar instead. There, you can order cool concoctions from friendly mixologists and do some great people watching without the halo of smoke hanging over your head.

Available: Across the fleet

The only reasons to go to this bar are to observe those at the numerous slot machines and gaming tables throwing away their money … or if you're a smoker. Unfortunately smokers dominate the spot all day long and, as a result, non-smokers will not be pleased.

Instead: Hang out at the Alchemy Bar instead. There, you can order cool concoctions from friendly mixologists and do some great people watching without the halo of smoke hanging over your head.

Surf and Turf at Carnival Glory's Emerald Room Steakhouse
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6. Steakhouse Selections in the Main Dining Room

Available: Across the fleet

It's not that the filet mignon, New York Strip, lobster or surf & turf you can add for $20 at dinner in the main dining room isn't good, it's just that the experience in the fancier and more intimate Carnival steakhouse restaurants is that much better.

Instead: Make a reservation at the Steakhouse and — for $35 per person ($10 for kids) —you can start with crab cakes or escargot, followed by a great steak served with classic sides such as creamed spinach and wasabi mashed potatoes, and a luscious dessert.

Available: Across the fleet

It's not that the filet mignon, New York Strip, lobster or surf & turf you can add for $20 at dinner in the main dining room isn't good, it's just that the experience in the fancier and more intimate Carnival steakhouse restaurants is that much better.

Instead: Make a reservation at the Steakhouse and — for $35 per person ($10 for kids) —you can start with crab cakes or escargot, followed by a great steak served with classic sides such as creamed spinach and wasabi mashed potatoes, and a luscious dessert.

"Destination Unknown"
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7. Stage Shows

Available: Across the fleet

Yes, the new 45-minute nighttime Playlist productions are better than the older shows and some of the dancers and singers have some talent. But we're not talking Broadway —  some shows include pre-recorded soundtracks, and these medleys just aren’t very coherent.

Instead: Head to the Punchliner Comedy Club and see how naughty the comedians get at sea. Just remember: the later the show, the more R-rated the routine.

Available: Across the fleet

Yes, the new 45-minute nighttime Playlist productions are better than the older shows and some of the dancers and singers have some talent. But we're not talking Broadway —  some shows include pre-recorded soundtracks, and these medleys just aren’t very coherent.

Instead: Head to the Punchliner Comedy Club and see how naughty the comedians get at sea. Just remember: the later the show, the more R-rated the routine.

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