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Is the Carnival “Fun Ship” Family Friendly? What I Liked and Disliked Based on our Experience

cruise ship

If you at all interested in travel, chances are you’ve considered taking a cruise at some point or another. I have to admit the idea of lodging, entertainment, meals and most transportation (other than costs associated to and from the port) included in one, sometimes very low-price, may sound a bit tempting.  In fact, you may even think it sounds too good to be true.

I have taken two Carnival cruises with my family. Our first cruise was to the Western Caribbean and another to Alaska. While there were features that I really liked about both cruises, there were also a few annoyances which made me think maybe I should have focused on a more family-friendly vacation option.

Things I Enjoyed on a Carnival Cruise

Progreso Mayan Ruins

 

1. I was thrilled that the price was so affordable! The cost for my family of five, both of my parents’ and my mother-in-law was just under $2500, which included pre-paid gratuities. Not too shabby.

2. Once we traveled to the port and boarded the ship, we didn’t need to worry about anything else- the ship captain took over from there.

3.The food was pretty good- not as amazing as I’d expected with the exception of the Chocolate Melting Cake. Oh.MY.Goodness. I ate one every night for desert.  My kids loved the 24-hour a day ice cream and the pizza bar.

4. The service was phenomenal.

5. The excursions to the Mayan ruin, Dzibilchaltun in Progresso,  and snorkeling with the stingrays in Cozumel were unforgettable. Though not included in the price of the cruise, if my family ever takes another cruise, we will splurge on excursions.

Things I did not Enjoy on our Carnival Cruise

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I guess hearing the nickname “Fun Ship” wasn’t a tip off enough for me- I should have realized that there would be elements of the cruise that I would not consider family friendly. I’ll mention them here, incase, like me, there were a few aspects that you haven’t considered.

  1. There was a lot of drinking onboard and many references to drinking by the crew and activities director. I do have a drink or two on occasion but the constant in-your-face-all-the-time-drinks were a bit much.  My husband tired very quickly of telling the servers that we did not want to buy a drink in a cute fake coconut.
  2. I did not appreciate leaving the dining room our first night on board to be greeted by a showgirl posing for a photo op. If I wanted to see the showgirls or felt my family was missing out by not seeing them, I’d go to the shows.
  3. To add to #2, we found some of the dancing and costumes for the Vegas style shows a bit too sensual.
  4. My kids really enjoyed the teen clubs but they are still set up as adult clubs, minus the alcohol. As a parent who went a wee bit crazy with the party life, I don’t want that atmosphere glorified to my children.
  5. While Carnival assured passengers that they would NEVER serve alcohol to an underage passenger, they did caution us that wouldn’t be the case in port and to keep an eye on our children. While waiting for an excursion, we were offered drinks- and so were our kids.
  6. Though I knew there would be bars and a casino on board but naively thought they’d be confined to one deck. Not only were they not confined, to one deck, our ship was a smaller vessel so you often walked through one or both on the way to another area.
  7. I found the entertainment on the ship lacking. I was told by our travel agent that there would be so much to do on the ship we wouldn’t even sleep. Guess what? We slept. A lot. I guess I should add that as a benefit- we were well rested by the end of the trip.
  8. Finally, we went on this cruise the end of August/early September and shared the Caribbean with a tropical storm- which made for a very bumpy ride at times, but I won’t hold this against Carnival.

We left the ship thinking that we probably wouldn’t go on another cruise ever. There are people that enjoy that type of vacation and those that don’t. Clearly we fall into the latter category- or do we? Last year we gave cruising another try. Want to know what we thought of our Alaskan cruise? Stop back next week when I share my thoughts and give you the verdict- will the Prater’s cruise again?

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Have you been on a cruise? What aspect did you like/dislike?  

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Jen

Friday 13th of April 2012

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. We did a Carnival cruise a long, long time ago but we didn't have kids and were definitely in a different stage in our lives. I wondered how the cruises have evolved since that trip. I am looking forward to reading about your Alaska cruise because that is a cruise we are thinking about taking in a few years.

Tonya

Monday 16th of April 2012

We've actually toyed with the idea of booking another cruise on a different cruiseline to see if our experience would be much different. I really hate to say that we dislike cruises based on two experiences, and have heard that the cruise line you select can really make or break your experience.

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