Carnival gets a bad rap in the cruise circles, it’s considered the “Holiday Inn” or the “Walmart” of the cruise lines, I disagree and here is why. I think the cruise experience you get is very much dependent on the cruise ship, the itinerary, and how many days you are sailing.
I have sailed on Carnival 10+ times to the Caribbean, Alaska, Europe, Central America, and Canada. We have done shorter 3 night cruises and longer 8-10 night cruises. The length of the sailing and destination really do determine the “mood” of the cruise. If you are sailing on a 3 or 4 night cruise you are most likely going to experience a “party ship” vibe versus a 9 night cruise in Europe is going to be a more “cultural” experience.
I think Carnival is a great cruise line to sail for families with kids. They have fantastic kids programs, very flexible dining options (something for everyone), and great entertainment for kids. If you sail on a 7 or 8 night cruise you will be sailing mostly with other families or extended family groups. I have found that the service, food, and overall value of Carnival has continued to improve over the years and we always have a fun vacation and take home great memories.
I can’t say I remember every ship I have been on with Carnival, but they all have a somewhat similar feel and layout. The bigger “mega” ships can at times feel crowded during peak times (shore days, debarkation day, sea days) but my family loves the ships with burger joint on the pool deck!
I have sailed on Breeze, Celebration, Dream, Elation, Fantasy, Liberty, Miracle, Paradise, Sensation, Splendor, Sunshine (best Adults only area), Valor, Victory, and Vista (great outside activities on sky deck and movie theater).
Any questions about Carnival please comment and I will gladly share my advice!