5 reasons why you should book a Carnival family cruise

Family Travel, Cruise lines,

It’s no secret that there are plenty of cruise lines out there to choose from. The industry has expanded so much in recent years that, wherever you wish to go and whatever you want out of a holiday at sea, you will always be able to find an itinerary that meets your needs.

Carnival Destiny cruise ship

Many young families who don’t have any previous experience of cruising, however, may be forgiven for thinking that the sector isn’t really geared towards them. It’s probably fair to say that the traditional perception of cruise passengers is of older, wealthier couples, and that children would not be made to feel at all welcome on most ships.

Fortunately, anyone who does still think that is in for a pleasant surprise! There are a number of cruise companies which now make a conscious effort to appeal to the younger generation, with some ships exclusively designed for parents and their families to discover the joys of sailing the oceans.

One of the most popular lines which specialises in catering for the whole family is Carnival. With a vast fleet of incredible ships taking young and old alike to some of the world’s most exciting destinations since 1972, the Miami-based fleet is now widely regarded as perhaps the very best provider of family cruises around.

In this article – and with the help of a number of experts - we will share with you five reasons why family cruising in general is a great option for those looking to enjoy the perfect getaway, as well as how Carnival ticks every one of these boxes.

1) Show your kids the world

Kids at Trillium Lake

We all know that family holidays are a great opportunity for mum, dad and the kids to spend quality time with each other and to create some amazing memories. Let’s be honest, though – being cooped up in a small cottage or caravan, relying on the unpredictable British weather with only one town to explore and none of our home comforts to hand can be a challenge!

This is one of the many ways in which family cruising comes into its own. Cruising is so popular partly because it allows passengers to discover a whole range of destinations on the same trip, without the need to constantly move from one kind of accommodation to another. This aspect of taking to the seas is especially relevant to those with children, as seeing an exciting new place almost every day is sure to keep even the most restless young minds entertained for the duration of your holiday – and that’s even before all the on-board activities are taken into account.

We spoke to a number of family holiday experts about their experiences of cruising with the little ones, and all mentioned the convenience of being able to introduce their family to brand new places whilst staying in the same high quality accommodation as a particular highlight.

Claire, who runs the popular family travel blog Tin Box Traveller, told us about her recent family cruising experience with Carnival and why she would be happy to book up again: “Cruising was an experience that stuck with me from my childhood, so it was wonderful to take my own children on their first cruise last year. We sailed from Barcelona with Carnival Cruises and had six ports of call around the Western Mediterranean. The great thing about cruising with kids is you have the opportunity to show them so many wonderful destinations in bite-sized chunks, which is essential when they are young like mine. When they had had enough of the history of Pompeii or sightseeing at Pisa we headed back to the ship for fun in the splash park and a delicious meal.”

Family on beach

Another expert who has personal experience with Carnival is Penny Alexander, author of the fantastic Parentshaped blog. Penny, her husband and two children have enjoyed Carnival cruises to the Mediterranean and Caribbean, and wrote this great article about the former which should help to answer any other questions about family cruising you may still have. We asked Penny what she most enjoyed about her family cruise experience: “We were amazed how brilliantly cruising with Carnival worked for our family. Waking up each day with somewhere new to explore satisfied our grown up wanderlust and made seeing some incredible sights in a short time, with kids, a breeze. The kids loved our daily adventures, and returning to the security of our floating hotel each day made them feel really settled.”

We also heard from Kevin Wagar of the Wandering Wagars site, another informative portal for anyone looking to find out more about the joys of family travel. This article, written by Kevin’s wife Christina, is a particularly great resource for any couples thinking about exploring the beautiful US state of Alaska – somewhere Carnival regularly travels to – but we were most interested to hear what the Wagars had to say about family cruising in general: “Cruising is one of the few family travel activities where the mode of transportation is as big a part of the adventure as the destination. Cruises offer a place to relax, enjoy the views, eat great food and participate in incredible activities all before you even get to the port of call! And is there an easier way to experience so many amazing places in such comfort? All while someone else does the driving!”

2) Amazing on-board entertainment

Carnival Sunshine water slide

As Kevin alluded to, there is much more to family cruising than the different towns and cities you will visit on your journey. He also told us a little more about some of the many highlights that cruisers young and old will have to look forward to on their next trip: “With kids clubs, great organised activities, theatres, waterparks and more, today’s modern cruise ships are full-on resorts at sea. A family cruise offers a respite for both parents and children as well as the chance to build lasting memories without the hassles.”

Carnival is surely the ultimate choice when it comes to providing family-friendly on-board entertainment, with the extraordinary range of activities on offer ensuring that kids and adults alike would be guaranteed to have a great time even if the ship didn’t leave its port for the duration of their holiday! Don’t just take our word for it, though – here’s what someone who knows what it’s like to take their children on a Carnival cruise, Penny from Parentshaped, had to say about what’s available: “We loved the entertainment options on board - water play, arcades, cinema, mini golf, table tennis, high ropes”. Penny also added that their family cruise experience was “one holiday that ticked everyone's boxes”.

Little girl playing mini golf

What exactly you’ll find by way of activities differs slightly from ship to ship, but just some of the features widely available throughout the Carnival fleet include:

Seuss at Sea: The Dr. Seuss books are still as popular today as when they were written many decades ago, and Carnival’s ships feature an amazing range of themed experiences which draw on the series’ most popular characters. Just a few examples of what you can look forward to include parades, arts and crafts sessions and interactive stories, all featuring Seuss’s much-loved creations.

Hasbro, The Game Show: An incredibly immersive show which encourages you to take part in giant versions of classic games like Connect 4 and Yahtzee, competing against other families for brilliant prizes. All quite different to the traditional cruising image of sunbathing and grazing at the buffet!

WaterWorks: Carnival’s famous waterpark-style attractions can be found across their fleet. An impressive array of waterslides will keep even the most adrenaline-fuelled kids and teenagers            happy; a few highlights that you won’t want to miss include the huge Twister Waterslide, the Speedway Splash racing experience, the aptly-named Drainpipe ride, and the PowerDrencher – the biggest bucket of water you will have ever been soaked by!

SportSquare: Kids (and plenty of parents) love their sports, so you’ll be pleased to know that a number of Carnival ships feature a whole host of both leisurely and highly active games to                choose from. You can take your pick from mini-golf, basketball, volleyball, pool, ping-pong and even jogging or weightlifting – plus much more – with the help of one of the world’s most extensive        cruise ship sports offerings.  

Kids clubs for all ages: Whether your son or daughter is 2 or 17, there will be the perfect kids club for them on a Carnival cruise. The ships’ expert teams are highly experienced at providing          engaging entertainment for both tots and teens and, most importantly, they love what they do! Carnival’s range of long-established kids clubs – from Camp Carnival to Circle “C” and Club 02 –          provide age-appropriate fun and games for all.  

And the best thing about all these activities? Every single one is included within the upfront price of your Carnival cruise! That means you and your children can enjoy limitless entertainment for the duration of your cruise at absolutely no extra cost. 

3) Enjoy a few date nights! 

Couple holding hands

As much as we love our little ones, let’s face it: every couple needs a bit of alone time, especially on holiday! Once again, Carnival is more than able to deliver on this front.

There are plenty of spots on Carnival’s ships which are reserved just for adults, including an extensive, Vegas-style casino, a wide range of spas offering everything from massages to Botox treatments, and even mixologist competitions. And if you’re worrying about what the kids will do whilst you’re living the high life, there’s no need – children up to the age of 11 can be looked after at the special Night Owls club until 1am!

Parentshaped’s Penny Alexander, an experienced Carnival cruiser, told us that her children “couldn’t get enough of the Carnival kids club and so we had lots of opportunity to enjoy the incredible dining options, the spa and the piano bar together”. These thoughts were echoed by Claire at Tin Box Traveller, who said that “being able to use the kids club during the evening meant there were even a few date nights for my husband and I!”

So, as you can see, Carnival are spot on when they say that the parents and kids will enjoy their holiday every bit as much as each other. How often can we honestly say this is the case? This is possibly the greatest advantage of booking up a family break on one of Carnival’s unbelievably well-equipped ships – whether your kids prefer meeting new friends their own age or spending time with their folks, you can be sure there will be enough on board to keep everyone having a great time. 

4) Fine food for all the family

Burger and chips

All of Carnival’s cruises depart from the US and, as you will see from our food lovers’ guide to New York article, there is no shortage of high-class restaurants for you to choose from once you arrive in America.

However, you may be wondering what the dining options will be like once you have committed to being on board a cruise ship for several days at a time, especially if you have one or more fussy eaters in your party!

By now, it should come as no surprise that Carnival boasts a vast array of food and drink options. There is so much variety at the restaurants and bars on board that we can assure you your next great meal is only ever a few hours away. Here is a bitesize selection of the almost limitless choices that await you, whichever Carnival ship you choose to sail on:

Guy’s Burger Joint: The project of American celebrity chef Guy Fieri, famed for his nationwide restaurants and several successful TV shows, Guy’s Burger Joint is exactly as it sounds. Built in the style of a roadside diner and available on every Carnival ship, these restaurants (bound to be a hit with kids) allow diners to order their burgers as they come or to build their own creations at the toppings bar.

Seafood Shack: A cruise wouldn’t be a cruise without a great seafood restaurant, and Carnival’s Seafood Shack fits the bill perfectly. Whether you’re looking for crab, lobster, oysters or prawns, the shack will help you net your catch of the day.

Steakhouse: If you’re after fine dining for the adults, look no further than the Carnival Steakhouse. For a set fee, you and your dining companions will enjoy a sumptuous feast comprising of an appetiser, salad, main course, side dish and dessert of your choice. One example menu would be beef carpaccio to start, followed by a classic Caesar salad, spice-rubbed prime ribeye steak with three peppercorn sauce and a side of Yukon gold mash with wasabi horseradish, before finishing it all off with caramelised Washington apples. An extensive wine list is also available, ensuring that your meals will always be paired with the most delicious accompaniment. A word of warning, though – the steakhouses are very popular, so advance booking is most definitely recommended!

5) Great value for money

Piggy bank

Finally, the issue which many of us need to consider more than any other before booking a holiday, whether it’s a cruise or just a weekend break: will it all be worth the expense?

The short answer, when it comes to a Carnival cruise, is ‘yes’. Despite boasting an almost unrivalled number and variety of activities and dining options, as well as travelling to some of the world’s most exclusive destinations, you will be pleased to learn that Carnival’s cruises are at the more affordable end of the scale.

It is no accident that this is the case, as the company’s founder, Ted Arison, established the line with the specific view of creating a more realistically priced product for whole families to enjoy. One of the ways in which this was achieved was by offering cruises of a shorter length than were generally being sold around the world at the time – although, as you can see from everything that’s available on the ships, this does anything but limit the amount of fun you’ll be able to have on-board!

Like you, we are always on the look-out for great cruise deals and have no doubt that Carnival offer some of the best on the market, especially for parents who plan to travel with their children. Once again, though, there’s no need to take our word for it – this Cruise Critic article from September 2017 was written to answer the specific question of ‘Is Carnival good value for money?’ and the conclusions were very positive: “Carnival Cruise Line offers considerable bang for your buck, with competitive fares and plenty of inclusions…Passengers can enjoy exceptional value for good quality accommodation, plenty of activities, facilities, entertainment and dining choices. With so many great inclusions it is easy to have a fun holiday without paying more than the upfront standard fare.”

So, what are you waiting for? Take a look at which Carnival cruises are available now and start planning your dream family holiday!

Image Credit: Tomas Fano, Roberto Nickson, IamNigelMorris, Freestocks.org, Robin Stickel, Natalya Zaritskaya, John Noonan