Cruises 101

by Sherri Eisenberg

Carnival Cruise Lines

Number of ships: 22
Ship capacity: 1,450 to 2,970 passengers
Price range: Inexpensive

The audience: This is a mainstream line of megaships that caters to a broad group, from retirees to booze cruisers to young families—just about anyone looking for a casual ship in a lower price range.

Strengths: Folks who love the energy of a big, loud, family-filled ship will love it here. Impressive kids' clubs cater to the many children, and the food—formerly a weak point—has markedly improved in recent years, partly thanks to three-star Michelin chef Georges Blanc, who advises on menus. Depending on your point of view, the atmosphere is either fun and unpretentious or downright silly, like the competitions to see who has the hairiest chest and who can stuff the most ping-pong balls down their bikinis.

Weaknesses: Those who equate mainstream cruises with cattle calls will find their fears confirmed. Picture breakfast and lunch buffets, loud announcements on the PA system, lines for the dining room, and long waits to embark and disembark.

Insider tip: Soft drinks aren't included, so if your kids (or spouse) drink a lot of soda, spring for the $40 all-you-can-drink "Fountain Fun" card. (Sadly there's no booze equivalent.)

Itineraries: Mostly Caribbean, with cruises of varying lengths. A typical seven-day trip leaves from Miami and passes through Grand Cayman, Honduras, Belize, and Mexico's Costa Maya (from $649 per person, based on double occupancy).

Carnival Cruise Lines
Tel: 888 227 6482

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.



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