Is a Carnival cruise right for you?

by Fran Golden

Is a Carnival cruise right for you?

by Fran Golden

Carnival Cruise Line has a fleet of two dozen ships that are big, affordable, and geared toward fun in the sun. These ships — whether they sail from Miami, Galveston, Norfolk, or New Orleans — are designed to appeal to a broad, regional American audience of all ages, but especially those who fantasize about a vacation that blends sand, surf, and cold drinks in the sun.  But are they right for you? Answer these questions to find out.

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Carnival Glory sailing from Miami / Kristen Boatright
Dance party on Carnival Glory
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Is your idea of a good time big and boisterous?

Fun is delivered in flamboyant fashion on these ships, the same way it is in Las Vegas. Expect exceptionally silly games (the hairy back contest is an event), lots of drinking, and waiters who jump on the table to do the Macarena. Onboard entertainment runs morning to night, and includes live bands and spin masters trained by the Miami Heat's DJ Irie. The Punchliner Comedy Club attracts some of the best comics at sea, and the show productions present a fun diversion. Best of all? If you want to dance the night away, you’re more than welcome to — and with an enthusiastic group of fellow revelers.

Fun is delivered in flamboyant fashion on these ships, the same way it is in Las Vegas. Expect exceptionally silly games (the hairy back contest is an event), lots of drinking, and waiters who jump on the table to do the Macarena. Onboard entertainment runs morning to night, and includes live bands and spin masters trained by the Miami Heat's DJ Irie. The Punchliner Comedy Club attracts some of the best comics at sea, and the show productions present a fun diversion. Best of all? If you want to dance the night away, you’re more than welcome to — and with an enthusiastic group of fellow revelers.

Carnival Elation's Lido Deck
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Do you like crowds?

Carnival ships carry thousands of passengers and are all about packs of people having a good time — around the pool, in the show lounge, at the casino, at the buffet, and heading off the ship at ports. This is a big group experience.

Carnival ships carry thousands of passengers and are all about packs of people having a good time — around the pool, in the show lounge, at the casino, at the buffet, and heading off the ship at ports. This is a big group experience.

Carnival Freedom's Seuss-a-palooza Story Time
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Are you traveling with kids?

Youth counselors keep kids and teens happily occupied at Camp Carnival, one of the best kids programs at sea, giving parents the opportunity to enjoy some grown-up time. The ships also have attractions like waterslides and waterparks that are designed for families to enjoy together, as well as activities like parades and a "Green Eggs and Ham" family breakfast, part of a partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises.

Youth counselors keep kids and teens happily occupied at Camp Carnival, one of the best kids programs at sea, giving parents the opportunity to enjoy some grown-up time. The ships also have attractions like waterslides and waterparks that are designed for families to enjoy together, as well as activities like parades and a "Green Eggs and Ham" family breakfast, part of a partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises.

Neon, Carnival Ecstasy's piano bar
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Do you enjoy flash?

The line's older ships are loud with neon, and not just in the casino. Even on the slightly more subtle newer ships, the decor is anything but sedate. Deck areas are lively, and some ships have competing poolside rum and tequila bars. (Fortunately, adults-only Serenity areas offer respite when you need it.)

The line's older ships are loud with neon, and not just in the casino. Even on the slightly more subtle newer ships, the decor is anything but sedate. Deck areas are lively, and some ships have competing poolside rum and tequila bars. (Fortunately, adults-only Serenity areas offer respite when you need it.)

Guy's Burger Joint on Carnival Liberty
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Is formality your thing?

Carnival doesn't even try to be fancy — and that's just fine with the line's devoted fans. Greasy-good burgers by Food Network star Guy Fieri are a big hit with a crowd that would be less excited by, say, refined French cuisine. Yes, you can splurge on a craft cocktail or a decent massage at the spa, but don't come on board expecting a posh experience, even in the suites.

Carnival doesn't even try to be fancy — and that's just fine with the line's devoted fans. Greasy-good burgers by Food Network star Guy Fieri are a big hit with a crowd that would be less excited by, say, refined French cuisine. Yes, you can splurge on a craft cocktail or a decent massage at the spa, but don't come on board expecting a posh experience, even in the suites.

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