I was a loyal Carnival cruiser for years until I sailed Celebrity. I'm never going back, especially now that my kids are grown.
From 2012 and 2022, my family and I sailed on nine Carnival cruises.
We had fun with Carnival, but the vibes and rowdy children we often saw on board got to us.
Celebrity is definitely a more grown-up line, and I prefer its laid-back vibes and offerings.
I fondly remember my family's first cruise — it was with Carnival.
My husband and I took our three children — who were 11, 12, and 13 — on the Carnival Conquest for a seven-day cruise to the Eastern Caribbean. We were hooked, and eight more cruises on Carnival followed. The last one, in 2022, was just me and my husband, as my children had grown and were off at college.
Although we had a marvelous time, Carnival Cruises wasn't always perfect, so we were ready to try something new, especially now that we'd be sailing without kids.
Celebrity Cruises is known for catering to adults who want a more grown-up experience, so when I received an email about a deal for the Celebrity Constellation, I wanted to give it a try. Our experience with Celebrity was so different from our trips with Carnival, and the line felt like a better fit for us.
Here's why we're saying goodbye to Carnival and sticking with Celebrity.
There were hardly any kids on the Celebrity cruise
The first thing that struck me about the Celebrity cruise was the absence of kids running around and screaming.
I knew our ship, the Constellation, was sailing under capacity, but I hardly ever saw children on the ship. At one point, I overheard an officer say only six kids were on board. Six kids!
It's a different story on Carnival. On every Carnival cruise we've gone on, kids have been everywhere. They'd crowd the pools and hot tubs, and some would run wild while their parents played.
To be fair, Carnival is known for being one of the best budget cruise lines for families — kids can sometimes sail for just $1. Kids are to be expected.
Because my kids share my quiet nature, they never wanted to attend Carnival's kids' programs or swim in the main, kid-packed pools. Instead, they hung out with us. We explored the ship, read, and played lots of family games.
Each ship has a few adult-only areas, but the number of kids can feel overwhelming.
In 2022, Carnival updated its code of conduct and pre-boarding emails to cruisers to include a polite reminder for guests to supervise their children and keep noise in the hallways to a minimum.
The energy level on Celebrity was much chiller — cruisers seemed to want to relax more than party
Carnival cruises aren't exactly known for being relaxed, and the company has a reputation as a high-energy and upbeat line. In my opinion, Carnival's belly-flop and hairy-chest competitions epitomized the party energy on the Carnival cruises I went on — Carnival has since done away with those events last year.
Both ships had nightclubs, but I found that Celebrity's entertainment offerings were right up my alley and featured lots of '70s music. On Carnival ships, I found lots of '90s music and entertainment catering to younger crowds.
I think the music volume on the ships also says a lot about their respective vibes. For me, the volume was just right on Celebrity — no earplugs required. On Carnival ships, I often found myself reaching for my earplugs to avoid the chest-thumping music throughout the ship.
Don't get me wrong — I like to party. And we did party on our Celebrity cruise, mainly by drinking a lot and listening to lots of live music. Even so, the vibe on the Celebrity ship was much more relaxed than our Carnival cruises.
Celebrity can cost a little bit more than Carnival, but I found it to be a better value — especially for drinks
Our price for the 11-night Celebrity cruise was about $240 a night for each person. It included food plus the classic drinks package, which included "select beers, spirits, cocktails, liqueurs, frozen drinks, and wines by the glass for up to $10 per serving." For drinks over $10, we just paid the difference. Specialty-coffee drinks were included in the package, too.
Carnival, on the other hand, does not include drinks in its prices. The price of our last Carnival cruise, a seven-nighter, came out to about $213 a night for each person, not including drinks.
Celebrity cost us just an extra $27 per person per night — but my husband and I drank way more than $27 worth of spirits, wine, and coffee each day.
Speaking of beverages, another bonus — and a big deal to me and my husband — was Celebrity's streamlined drink-buying process. On Carnival, servers usually handed us two tiny receipts with each beverage order — one slip to sign, one to keep. We were so pleased not to deal with that process on Celebrity.
On Celebrity, all we had to do was tell the server our room number and show our SeaPass cards so they could see we were on the classic drinks package. No wet slips of paper or signatures required.
Carnival served us well while our kids were young, but we're Celebrity cruisers now
There are many good things to be said about Carnival, and I'm sure it's still a great fit for certain people. We've immensely enjoyed most of our cruises with the line, particularly Carnival's New Year's Eve cruises. We boarded those cruises ready to P-A-R-T-Y, and Carnival made it easy.
But we're older now. Our kids have grown, and we're ready to sit back and relax. Above all, Celebrity impressed me with its entertainment and perks while eliminating some issues we've always had with Carnival cruises.
Celebrity ticks all my boxes at this point in my life, so I'm ready to bid farewell to Carnival.
Representatives for Carnival didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
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