Carnival Cruise Line has an active fleet of twenty-three ships with a further three ships due to join the fleet in the near future (Carnival Celebration and Carnival Jubilee are both new builds and a currently unnamed ship will transfer from sister brand Costa Cruises in late-2022.
The fleet is primarily based in the United States and sails frequently from the ports of Jacksonville (Florida), New York, Port Canaveral (Florida), San Francisco (California) and others.
Introduction to Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival Cruise Line is often mistaken for the parent company Carnival Corporation. The brand is the biggest of the Carnival Corporation brands and is the first cruise line that started the business back in 1972, by founder Ted Arison.
Carnival primarily caters to the North American market with a lot of onboard activities, dining and entertainment geared towards the American clientele.
Back in 1972, Ted Arison founded the cruise line with just one ship – a former transatlantic liner under the name Empress of Canada. It was renamed Mardi Gras and marketed to young fun-loving individuals – a market that was not catered for at this time by cruise lines.
It proved very popular and the business grew quickly to take on a second ship in 1975 (calling it Carnivale) and the third ship in 1978.
It wasn’t until 1982 that Carnival had its own first purpose-built cruise ship, Tropicale. This is also the first ship where the iconic ‘winged funnel’ first appeared and is now a trademark part of every Carnival cruise ship that people first spot when arriving at a cruise port.
By the 1990s, Carnival had introduced further classes of ships and kept on growing quickly throughout the 2000s too, by 2020 the company had 28 ships in its fleet.
Carnival Cruise Ship Frequently Asked Questions
Carnival Cruise Ships by Size (from largest to smallest)
|Ship Name||Tonnage (GRT)||Passengers (Max)||Length (Metres)||Decks|
What does ‘Tonnage (GRT)’ mean?
GRT (Gross Registered Tonnage) is a term used to calculate the volume inside a ship. It is a measure of cubic capacity and is calculated by the total volume from inside the hull and decks of the ship. 1 GRT = 100 cubic feet of space. In essence, the bigger the GRT – the more ‘space’ the ship has for passengers, cargo, etc.
How are ‘Passengers (Max)’ calculated?
You’ll see multiple numbers for passengers on ships – this is because many ships include extra beds in cabins (such as the sofa/couch can convert to a pull-out bed) – but the majority of cabins usually have 2 people in them. the ‘Max’ number is if every cabin used their additional pull-out bed, etc. This number is unlikely to be reached very frequently.
Carnival Cruise Ships by Age (from newest to oldest)
|Carnival Jubilee||Due 2023||-|
|Carnival Celebration||Due 2022||-|
|Carnival Ecstasy||1991||2017 (Due to retire Oct 2022)|
Carnival Cruise Line has one of the biggest gaps between its youngest and oldest cruise ships. The oldest ship in the fleet (Carnival Ecstasy) entered service in 1991 and the latest ship (Marda Gras) entered service in 2021 – three entire decades later.
Whilst the recent events in the world stopped the cruise lines in their tracks, Carnival will take the longest to get back on its feet as it was spending the most every month during the global cruise shutdown.
This is because it had the largest fleet at the time and one of the reasons why it sold off some of its older ships (Carnival Fantasy, Carnival Fascination, Carnival Imagination, Carnival Inspiration and Carnival Sensation) to other cruise lines or for scrap to save money.
Carnival does refurbish its ships and has undergone a large program to modernize its fleet – calling the newly refurbished ships ‘Fun Ship 2.0’ and adding the same bars and restaurants to the ships as found on some of their newer vessels.
Carnival is seen as a ‘fun’ cruise line – but it also has a reputation as a party line that attracts more budget-friendly cruisers. In the last few years, the cruise line has found a niche of cruisers who enjoy really fun things on their cruises, but also want a little luxury too.
Carnival Vista, Carnival Horizon, Carnival Panorama and now Mardi Gras all have a new class of cabin called ‘Havana Cabins’ which offer a more upmarket-style cabin in an area of the ship called the Havana Retreat.
This exclusive area offers its own pool, hot tubs and bars and is only accessible to passengers staying in the Havana Cabins. It is often located at the rear of each ship, affording excellent views from the aft out to sea and offering a tranquil area to rest from the rest of the fun onboard the ship.