Taking a Carnival cruise is like visiting old Vegas. It’s cheap, a little cheesy, but can be a whole lot of fun. I have taken three Carnival cruises: one to test it out, one for New Year’s, and the last for my 30th birthday. One thing is for sure- Carnival knows how to throw a party.
I must note that I have only taken the 3-day and 4-day excursions. I have heard mixed reviews of their 7-day voyages. Some have told me that the longer cruise was nice. Others have told me their experience was downright dreadful. I can only speak to the short weekend adventures out of Long Beach, CA. The cruise terminal is immediately adjacent to the majestic Queen Mary. A nice bonus before departure: The perfect view of that Art Deco vessel.
The ships are not always in top shape. Sometimes the paint is even peeling. The decor leans towards the tacky. The rooms are very basic in design and the look is bland. I always feel like I am in a college dorm. The bed is wedged against the wall so you might have to climb over your mate for a midnight pee. The simple, tight quarters means this space is meant mostly for sleeping.
As with most cruises, there are a lot of activities. The pool is usually packed during the day and the nightclubs are bumpin’ at night. The food is pretty basic, the service is okay, and the shows are better with a drink in your hand. And in true Vegas fashion, there is plenty of gambling.
I mentioned that I once sailed with Carnival for New Year’s. The crowds were wild and the booze was plentiful. They passed out complimentary champagne, hats, and noisemakers. At the top of the atrium, a net holding hundreds of balloons awaited the final count. Our group of four danced and hollered as we said hello to another 12 months. It was a fantastic frenzy. During that same trip, we ran into a travel group that opted to dance in their bathrobes. Good times.
For my 30th birthday, my husband surprised me with a group of 16 friends. For one of the nights, he coordinated a cabin crawl. Friends decorated their rooms in a specific theme and provided a specialty beverage to go with it. At each stop, I got a new trinket to wear. Boas, beads, a tiara, and shot glasses. Because our cabins were spread out, we ended up running from room to room. It was a total frat party and I loved it.
Like my birthday extravaganza, expect to see bachelor/bachelorette parties, groups of young college students, and those looking to just cut loose. This is a very inexpensive excursion and it’s best taken with a group of pals ready to stay up late. That said, you are bound to meet other party goers. As I noted in my Princess Cruises article, boring people don’t usually cruise. Carnival is a fun ride. Go have a blast!