Carnival Venezia Review

4.5 / 5.0
96 reviews

Ship layout is subpar & cigarette smell horrible

Review for the Caribbean Cruise on Carnival Venezia
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Cruisin with kiddos
First Time Cruiser • Age 30s

Rating by category

Value for Money
Public Rooms
Fitness & Recreation

Additional details

Sail Date: Mar 2024
Traveled with children

Although the Carnival Venezia is a ship with good accommodations, great crew, and an excellent kids club, it overall remains subpar with its buffet food choices and ship layout. Let’s start with the bad:

Ship Layout: The ship is laid out a bit strange, and not necessarily by where things are located, but rather the flow of moving from one place to another. For example, Deck 3 goes through the ship forward to aft, but you have to go through a restaurant located in the middle. Deck 4 and 5 both go through the ship forward to aft just fine. Deck 10 (Lido) also goes through forward to aft just fine. Deck 11 however (where Camp Ocean is located) is broken up and can only be accessed by elevator in the middle of the ship. Otherwise you have to take the stairs. Want to get to Waterworks on Deck 12, mini golf, or the fitness center? You can only do that via the forward elevator, some stairs located in the very aft of the ship outside, or through the arcade (stairs and access to arcade only located right next to Camp Ocean). Very strange and I never got used to it. But that is not a deal breaker.

What is a deal breaker was the horrible smell of cigarette smoke through much of the ship. Decks 2 (our cabin location), 3, and 4 mostly smelled like cigarette smoke due to the proximity of the casino on Deck 4, which did not have a door and apparently extremely poor ventilation. Because of this, I avoided the beautiful atrium on Decks 3, 4, and 5 for the majority of the cruise. Deck 5 (inside) was mostly fine except for the atrium portion. The stairwells reeked of cigarette smoke as well. The crew finally put some fans out on Deck 2, which helped clear the smell away from the hallway where our room was, but the other aforementioned decks smelled horrible the whole time. It was very disappointing for what otherwise was a good trip. My wife is extremely sensitive to smoke (she got lots of headaches throughout the voyage from it) and we try to avoid second hand smoke as much as possible for us and our small kids. This was by far the biggest issue and a deal breaker. I will not travel on Carnival Venezia again.

Cabin Review

Port Reviews

St. Thomas

The port at St Thomas was rather a dump. Shopping in the immediate area was just ok with not much else around. Most of the town looked poorly maintained. There were no clear instructions on where to get a taxi either. We ended up just asking someone and got pointed to two different drivers.

We wanted to go visit Magens Bay. The ride there was extremely expensive for my family of 6 (rides were $12 per person, 1 way) and very unsafe. No seat belt, open air truck. Some might find the ride fun or exciting. Some might find it very stressful and unsafe.

The bay and beach themselves were very nice. The water color was beautiful though not clear. The kids had fun jumping the waves and building sand castles. There is a changing room/bathroom, showers, and one restaurant on site. The restaurant is very expensive, but there are no other options, which was a letdown.

If I have St Thomas as another port visit for a future cruise, I might opt to spend some extra money to do a visit to St John instead.

St. Maarten

St Maarten’s port was well unkept, large, and had a few bars a food options. It was easy to find taxis or water taxis and the prices were very reasonable. We took a water taxi to Great Bay beach right by Phillipsburg. The crew was very nice and helpful and drinks were offered on the short ride.

The beach was very nice with plenty of umbrellas and chairs to rent. I would recommend looking at your options as some vendors give out WiFi and free drinks with their rentals while other vendors do not. You might get a better deal at another location. The water was very calm as well and good for the kids to play in. There were a ton of restaurant and bar options as Great Bay beach is located next to the town’s boardwalk. I ventured only a couple of blocks into town before not feeling super comfortable and heading back. The only thing we really didn’t like were the peddlers constantly walking by and want you to buy their stuff. One person grabbed my foot and asked me if I wanted a massage! I don’t like being touched by strangers and politely refused! Not a dealbreaker by any means, but can be an annoyance.

San Juan

Old San Juan is absolutely beautiful and the colorful homes reminded my wife and I of Spain. We walked about 1.5 miles (in the rain!) to a nice coffee shop with excellent coffee and pastries, then visited Castillo San Felipe del Morro. We spent a couple of hours there and didn’t even get to see the whole place! Very picturesque and plenty of good photo opportunities. A cool piece of history to visit. Even my small kids enjoyed looking around the fort. The place is know for its windy conditions and kite flying, which some people were doing that day. We then walked to lunch (in the rain again!) and had some delicious food before shopping a bit and going back to the ship. My family and I really enjoyed this port and would go back again.

Amber Cove (Puerto Plata)

The port itself is very clean and has some great staff members. The pool was fun and although large, I would say it is too small for the amount of cruise guests. It felt super crowded. The kids splash area is also fun but very small. Then you get nickeled and dimed. I expected to have to pay to rent an umbrella; however, you also have to pay to use the water slide. That just seems ridiculous since the water slides are free on the ship. The food was just ok. Not a lot of choices. The alcoholic drinks we tried were terrible. Just tasted like sweet syrup which was disappointing because the drinks on the ship were good. The coffee on the other hand was the highlight for my wife and I. We got so cappuccinos at the Sky Bar and then got some more later it was so good. I bought two bags of coffee beans on the way out of the port!

Although we enjoyed Amber Cove and would have fun coming back, I would not be heartbroken if it was not on the itinerary.

Grand Turk

The Grand Turk cruise port was large and well laid out. It was easy to go find a taxi (I went to go scuba diving) and the nearby SunRay beach (where the rest of my family spent their day). The water was amazing and super clear. Grand Turk, hands down, had the most amazing water I have ever seen in my life. The scuba diving to Finnbar Reef and the Gorgonian Wall was absolutely fantastic (I booked with Blue Water Divers and they were awesome!). I saw a ton of fish, barracuda, coral, sea cucumbers, reef sharks, and eagle rays.

SunRay beach was fun too. My kids had a blast playing in the sand and swimming in the crystal clear waters. There were plenty of old coral to grab and use in their sand castles too! The food was excellent and probably some of the best on the trip. There were a few peddlers too, which was annoying and they were extremely inconsistent with umbrella rental prices between people which was sketchy. Despite that, Grand Turk was probably one of my favorite stops on the trip and I would love to go back.

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