5 Best Carnival Cruise Ships Ranked (2023)

Best Carnival Cruise Ship

Carnival cruise ships are famous for being the “fun ship” on the block, with great parties, awesome people, and many activities. Whether this is your first cruise or you’re a cruising pro, Carnival offers a world of fun. Get ready to sail the stunning blue seas, engage in adventurous excursions, and have the vacation of a lifetime!

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What Is The Best Carnival Cruise Ship?

Carnival Cruise Line currently has 25 carnival ships in its fleet, with the newest Carnival ship — “Carnival Jubilee” — launching in December 2023. Now, I’ll admit, with 25 ships to choose from, planning a Carnival cruise might feel a bit overwhelming. That’s why we’ve created this top 5 guide so you can compare and contrast options such as rooms, dining options, onboard entertainment, and more.

The good news is with live shows, stunning casinos, world-class food, and unforgettable destinations, there’s sure to be a carnival cruise ship that will blow you away.

1. Mardi Gras

Carnival Mardi Gras

The Carnival Mardi Gras is our #1 choice for the best Carnival Cruise ship for several reasons. For instance, where else can you ride a roller coaster while you’re sailing on the ocean!? That’s right, this ship features the first ever roller coaster at sea, the BOLT.

And when you’re finished feeling that rush of adrenaline, you can relax and pamper yourself in the world-class Cloud 9 Spa. Then, pop on over to Emeril’s Bistro 1396 for some delicious food, or head to the pool to soak up the sun while sipping on Mai Tais.

This ship’s atmosphere — inspired by the famous New Orleans celebration — is lively, fun, and festive. No matter where you’re at or what you’re doing, you’re guaranteed to feel the excitement.



Transatlantic (Spain)

Rooms Highlight

Havana Staterooms

Carnival Havana Pool

You can imagine the Havana stateroom on the Mardi Gras as your private island retreat. This room’s location — right next to the Havana Bar & Pool — is what makes it special. This serene pool is reserved for a select few, complete with a members-only cabana and bar. It’s a great way to take a break from the hustle and bustle of this fun-filled cruise.

On Board Entertainment Highlight

BOLT: Ultimate Sea Coaster

Carnival Bolt Coaster

A super cool ride on the Carnival Mardi Gras, this is the very first roller coaster at sea! Zoom around the ship’s top deck, twisting and turning while enjoying amazing ocean views. And the coolest part of this coaster is that you get to control how fast you go. So, whether you love high-speed thrills or are just looking for a unique experience, it’s a fantastic ride.

Dining Option Highlight

Emeril’s Bistro 1396

Emeril’s Bistro 1396

Named after the ship’s hull number, the famous chef Emeril Lagasse created this New Orleans-inspired restaurant. Here, you can enjoy a mix of traditional and modern dishes like fried oysters, duck & sausage gumbo, po-boy sandwiches, and fresh ceviche. Emeril’s has a welcoming atmosphere, making it a perfect spot for a special dinner or a celebration with friends.

What Past Cruisers Have Said About This Ship

My family chose this ship. All of the restaurants and food stations was good. I can honestly say that! We was told there is over a thousand employees. They ALL did an phenomenal job keeping the whole ship spotless and catering to passengers needs.. This cruise ship is truthfully family orientated. They cater to children astonishingly. The musical performances was breathtaking. I felt like I was on Broadway. Bingo, family feud, all the games was fun to watch and participate. There was something to do all the time. My favorite was 90’s night. The comedy night show for adults only was a lot of fun. Overall I would highly recommend this cruise ship. I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️-Missy H

2. Carnival Horizon

The Travel Breakdown Take

Choosing to stay on the Carnival Ship Horizon is a great decision for a fantastic vacation. This ship has something for everyone, including sky-high water slides, world-class entertainment, and delicious dining.

Want to have a romantic dinner at Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse or play a quick round of mini golf? How about catching some world-class live entertainment or lounging in an adults-only spa? On the Carnival Horizon, the options for a good time really do feel endless.



Western Caribbean

Rooms Highlight

Family Harbor Deluxe Ocean View

Let your whole family, including the kids, enjoy a room with a fantastic view — the Family Harbor Deluxe Ocean View stateroom. You can gaze at the beautiful sky, sea, and sights from your window. Plus, these rooms have a relaxed, nautical-inspired design. As you sail, the whole family can use the exclusive Family Harbor Lounge and get other great perks on the ship, too. And for extra convenience, these rooms have a full bathroom with a separate washroom.

On Board Entertainment Highlight

Thrill Theater

This theater makes you part of the action. You’ll laugh, cheer, and maybe even scream a little. They use 3D effects to get you started, but it goes further than that — you’ll feel the wind in your hair, get a few splashes, and your seat moves to make you feel like you’re right in the movie. It’s a bit like going on a roller-coaster ride but in a small theater. During your cruise, they have different shows — some are funny for kids and adults, while others are awe-inspiring. And if you’re 17 or older, you can add some scary chills that make that “spine-tingling” feeling more of a reality. (Also available on Carnival Vista)

Dining Options Highlight

555 Steakhouse

This menu has top-notch cuts of beef — cooked to perfection —along with a fantastic selection of seafood, main dishes, delicious appetizers, and an award-winning wine list recognized by Wine Spectator. The Steakhouse’s atmosphere goes hand-in-hand with the gourmet dishes prepared by their skilled chefs, making it a fantastic dining choice for a memorable evening on your cruise.

What Past Cruisers Have Said About This Ship

Havana cabanas are a must do. The privacy of your own deck , pool and hot tubs, from all the commotion, of all the people, was just awesome. The Banzai Hibachi grill is so good and so much fun. For 35 dollars a person. There is so much food, you have leftovers to take back to room. The chefs, doing this are so entertaining, and talented. You also need to make reservations before boarding. This way you get a good time. We do a 12 lunch, because you are so full it hurts. Lol… If you want a outstanding steak, the Fahrenheit 555 steak house is a little pricey, but for a dress up dinner with husband, was the best. Very romantic. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️-Ava M

3. Carnival Vista

The Travel Breakdown Take

The Carnival Vista cruise ship has activities for guests of all ages. You can pedal through the sky on the thrilling SkyRide, cool off at the WaterWorks water park, or catch the latest movies in the 4D IMAX theater.

When it comes to dining, there are several options, including special places like JiJi Asian Kitchen and the Cucina del Capitano Italian Restaurant.

The comfy cabins make you feel at home as you explore exciting destinations. With exciting entertainment, fantastic activities, and delicious food, the Carnival Vista ensures your cruise is full of great adventures, relaxation, and wonderful memories.



Eastern Caribbean


Rooms Highlight

Cloud 9 Spa Suite

The Cloud 9 Spa Suite is the ultimate combination of a comfortable living space and spa luxury. It gives you a big room with a balcony and a walk-in closet. After enjoying a relaxing spa treatment, you can keep the tranquility going with a soothing in-room whirlpool tub. And, like all suites, you get VIP check-in, making it easy to get to your fantastic stateroom without any hassle.

On Board Entertainment Highlight

Cloud 9 Thermal Suite

Finding the right setting on the thermostat can be awesome. Well, Carnival’s Cloud 9 Spa Thermal Suites handle that for you. These suites are designed to be peaceful zones, and they offer different settings, each carefully crafted by temperature experts to deliver the perfect experience.

You can choose to chill in the dry heat of the Laconium or Tepidarium, or if you like a bit of moisture in the air, try the Oriental or Aroma steam baths. No matter how you like your temperature, one of these rooms will surely offer you the experience you deserve. (Also available on Carnival Horizon, Carnival Panorama, and Carnival Mardi Gras)

Dining Options Highlight

JiJi Asian Kitchen

JiJi Asian Kitchen is a modern restaurant that draws inspiration from Asian culture with a long history. It offers a variety of delicious dishes in a beautifully designed setting that’s not just about enjoying great food but also about bringing good luck and perhaps a little surprise. You’ll dine surrounded by Asian prayer rolls and fabrics with a touch of Mongolian style, creating a unique dining experience. The menu at JiJi features a mix of both exotic and familiar dishes that aim to excite and satisfy your taste buds.

What Past Cruisers Have Said About This Ship

This is our 7th Cruise…. all of our cruises have been with Carnival except for one…. that I will not name…. but let’s just say we will never stray from Carnival again. We had a great time on this Cruise….really enjoyed the ship, staff, and all of the activities…there is always something to do. This is the first time we stayed in a balcony room and we loved it! — it was amazing going out on your balcony just to enjoy the view and the peace and quiet. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️- James T

4. Carnival Panorama

The Travel Breakdown Take

Whether you’re interested in some splashy fun at the WaterWorks water park or itching to challenge yourself at the Sky Zone indoor trampoline park, the Carnival Panorama cruise ship is packed with exciting things to do.

For adults, be sure to treat yourself to special restaurants like the Bonsai Teppanyaki, listen to live music in the ship’s lobby bar, or catch a hilarious show at The Punchliner Comedy Club.

The rooms are comfy and spacious, giving you a cozy place to relax after you explore amazing destinations. With lots of entertainment, fun activities, and delicious dining, the Carnival Panorama ensures your cruise vacation is a mix of adventure, relaxation, and memories you’ll talk about for years to come.



Transpacific (Alaska, Japan)

Rooms Highlight

Havana Premium Vista Balcony

This is the room with the biggest balcony, and it’s filled with classic Cuban decor, rich in flavor. The wrap-around balcony gives you plenty of space to step out into the sea breeze and take in all the views. Plus, you have exclusive access to the Havana Pool area if you want a change of scenery during the day. Just keep in mind that all Havana stateroom guests must be 12 or older.

On Board Entertainment Highlight

Sky Zone

Guests of all ages can visit Sky Zone for exciting challenges and trampoline fun. Take a look at the schedule to join dodgeball games that seem to defy gravity and basketball sessions that let anyone become a slam-dunk star. They even have nighttime glow parties with blacklights! If you’ve got a toddler, they have special sessions for the little ones to have fun by exploring and stacking oversized soft blocks while enjoying their first bouncing experiences.

Dining Options Highlight

Bonsai Teppanyaki

The teppanyaki chef’s dedication to their craft takes center stage, and it’s right at your table! It offers a special break from your vacation routine where you and your family gather around a large, shared table for an extraordinary meal. The experience starts with a thoughtfully chosen selection of traditional flavors, followed by a variety of tasty appetizers. Then, your chef skillfully prepares the main course, which includes options like filet mignon, grilled tofu, or a mouthwatering assortment of fish, shrimp, and lobster. Highly recommended for birthdays or special occasions.

What Past Cruisers Have Said About This Ship

Panorama is a beautiful ship with so much to do. The shows on this cruise were far better than others I had seen on Carnival. I always say that NCL and Royal are the big leagues and Carnival is the minor leagues but on this cruise the entertainment was top notch. My favorite were the shows in the main theatre who nightly put on top notch performances. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️- Kat P

5. Carnival Conquest

The Travel Breakdown Take

Complete with a Las Vegas-style casino, dine-in movies at the Seaside Theater, and sun-up to sun-down sports viewing at the Skybox Sports Bar, the Carnival Conquest offers fun at all hours of the day.

The roomy and cozy cabins are your home away from home where you can kick up your feet and relax after a long day of partying and exploring once-in-a-lifetime destinations. Whether you’re looking for adventure, relaxation, or a bit of both, the Carnival Conquest is the ideal place for a memorable and enjoyable cruise vacation.




Panama Canal

Rooms Highlight

Captain’s Suite

Short of rooming with the ship’s captain, the room is as good as it gets. A Captain’s Suite on the Carnival Conquest offers a room with a lot of space and a big balcony. Inside, there’s a king-size bed, two full bathrooms (one with a whirlpool tub), and a separate living room that can sleep three more people. And yes, you get VIP check-in as well.

On Board Entertainment Highlight

Alchemy Bar Martini Tasting

Like unique and tasty drinks? Invite your friends and family to join you at the Alchemy Bar for a special cocktail-tasting experience. You can choose a flight of mini-martinis from a variety of flavors, like Spicy Chipotle Pineapple or Curative Peach Cosmopolitan. Then, once you find one you love, you can order a full-size version.

Dining Options Highlight

Guy’s Burger Joint

Carnival joined forces with famous Food Network star Guy Fieri to create Guy’s Burger Joint, a fantastic poolside spot for tasty burgers and hand-cut fries. You can go for a burger made just the way Guy likes it, or you can get creative at the toppings bar and customize it however you want. It’s like having a roadside burger shack right on the ship!

What Past Cruisers Have Said About This Ship

We had an amazing time on the Conquest. This was our first experience on a cruise. The food was amazing in The Steak House was absolutely lovely very elegant type of set up. I had the crab risotto for my appetizer, the surf an turf was so delicious the lobster an steak was cooked to perfection. The staff made us feel like we were royalty. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️- Jen M

Full list of activities to do on Carnival cruise ships Mentioned


  • Alchemy Bar (All Ships)

  • Redfrog Tiki Bar (Mardi Gras)

  • Redfrog Rum Bar (Vista, Panorama)

  • Havana Bar (Mardi Gras, Vista, Panorama)

  • The Brass Magnolia (Mardi Gras)

  • Hero’s Tribute Bar (Mardi Gras, Panorama)

  • Fortune Teller (Mardi Gras)

  • Piano bar (All Ships)

  • Skybox Sports Bar (Horizon, Conquest)

  • Blue Iguana Tequila Bar (Horizon, Conquest, Panorama, Vista)

All the ships offer the following

  • Casino

  • Arcade

  • Swimming Pools

  • Pickle Ball

  • Serenity Adult Only Retreat

  • Cloud 9 Spa

  • Dine in Movies

  • Deck Parties

  • Bingo

  • Karaoke

  • Live Music

  • Night Club

  • Kids Clubs

  • Mini Golf

Best Carnival Cruise Ship FAQ

Q: Which ship is Carnival’s newest?

A: The newest Carnival cruise ship is the Jubilee, scheduled to launch on December 23, 2023, out of Galveston, Texas, to the Caribbean.

Q: How Much are Drinks on Carnival Cruise?

A: Guests can purchase drinks individually (price will vary) or via the Cheers Drink package at $59.95 a day per person

Q: How Much is Wifi on Carnival Cruise?

A: Carnival offers 3 types of internet plans: Social Wifi ($12.75 per day), Value Wifi ($17.00 per day), and Premium Wifi ($18.70 per day)

Q: Is Carnival Cruise Good For Families?

A: Carnival cruises are perfect for a family vacation no matter the ages of your family members

Marshall Dean

Meet Marshall Dean, a dedicated full-time blogger whose wanderlust has led him to discover more than 30 prime destinations, including Alaska, The Bahamas, Grand Turks, and Cancun. While exploring these enchanting places, Marshall enjoys savoring the delectable local cuisines, a passion that adds a flavorful twist to his travel experiences.

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