(10:18 a.m. EST) – Moving beyond its bread and butter of three- to eight-night sailings, Carnival Cruise Line is expanding its offering of nine-night or longer sailings beginning this fall. The longer Carnival Journeys sailings will stop at a variety of ports of call, including many rarely visited by Carnival ships and will feature special onboard experiences.
The 28 sailings, collectively known as Carnival Journeys, will range from nine- to 15-nights and will visit 40 ports throughout the Caribbean, Central America, Hawaii, Mexico and the Bahamas.
"We have received a tremendous amount of feedback from our guests and travel agent partners about the importance of consistently offering new Carnival cruise experiences," said Carnival president Christine Duffy.
Carnival Journeys have been designed for passengers looking for longer cruise options on a Carnival ship that provide a variety of port calls, rather than just doing back-to-back sailings, which visit the same ports. Among the less-visited ports of call are Tobago, Grenada, La Paz, Martinique, Bonaire and Ixtapa.
Unusual ports of call and lengthier sailings aren't the only factor setting these cruises apart from other Carnival sailings. All Carnival Journeys will include a variety of shipboard experiences designed specifically for that sailing -- all offered free of charge. Authentic Eats experiences, for example, will give passengers the chance to observe onboard cooking demonstrations by local restaurants and chefs. Participants also will have the opportunity to dine at the chef's restaurant on land for a small fee, and even accompany the chef as he or she visits local markets for ingredients. Such shore-side experiences will be sold as shore excursions.
Similar enrichment offerings will come through the Academy of Fun, which will provide presentations by guests on topics ranging from cooking and arts and crafts to celestial navigation, digital photography and social media.
"Local-tainment" will bring local musicians aboard to perform the music or dance of the destination visited, like calypso and Bahamaian Goombay.
Other onboard entertainment will include Throwback Seadays, where Carnival sets the "way back machine" to 1987 for some old-school pool and deck fun, 80s movies on the big screen, and even retro dining options like Baked Alaska and the infamous midnight buffet. A Carnival spokesman told Cruise Critic that passengers on sailings with Throwback Seadays will be contacted ahead of time, so they know to bring along their Members Only jackets, lace gloves and other attire of the era.
Among the Carnival Journeys on offer in 2015 are an 11-night Eastern Caribbean cruise on Carnival Dream from New Orleans to San Juan departing October 4, an 11-night Southern Caribbean cruise on Carnival Triumph from Galveston to San Juan departing October 24 and a 15-night Hawaii cruise sailing roundtrip from Los Angeles on October 17.
Several more Carnival Journeys sailings are available in late 2015 and early 2016. Departure ports include Los Angeles, Galveston, New Orleans, Miami, Port Canaveral, New York, Baltimore and San Juan.
--By Dori Saltzman, Cruise Critic Editor