We chose Carnival Cruise Line for our special family vacation because of its reputation for liveliness and kid-friendliness. In many ways, Carnival lived up to this with a variety of food options and excellent teen areas. The excursion advisors were top-notch, providing us with honest and helpful advice that made our off-boat activities memorable.
However, the experience was far from seamless. A last-minute change in boarding time left us scrambling to get our luggage onboard. Once on the ship, all elevators were commandeered for luggage, causing delays for hundreds of passengers. These logistical issues persisted through disembarkation, where we had to vacate our rooms by 8:30 am but didn't get off the ship until around 12:30 pm. In the interim, we found a crowded food area with no available seating for our large family.
The ship was clean but dated, especially compared to Royal Caribbean. Staff were competent but lacked the personal touch we had come to expect. For example, my kids still remember the names of the staff from our Royal Caribbean trip six months ago, but not from Carnival.