Caribbean Cruise Lines (Part 2) by Paul Motter January 19, 2009
Various cruise lines excel in certain cruising regions; a look at the better Caribbean cruise lines.
For many people the word cruise is synonymous with Caribbean, but which cruise lines are the best at Caribbean cruises? Obviously, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines has the word Caribbean in its name, and Norwegian Cruise Lines was once known as Norwegian Caribbean Cruise Lines.
The Best Caribbean Cruise Lines
Since Caribbean cruising is integral aspect of the cruise industry, let's summarize the differences between the cruise lines offering the Caribbean cruises.
Carnival Cruise Lines: Carnival offers the most cruises in the Caribbean throughout the year and rightfully claims the moniker "the Fun Ships." This "fun ship" concept includes plenty of pool games, daily trivia games, singing waiters and plenty of children's options including a lovable character known as "Funship Freddie."
Carnival's cruise offerings begin with three and four-day cruises on the smaller Fantasy-class ships. Carnival Imagination sails out of Miami to Nassau and Key West. Carnival Sensation sails out of Port Canaveral to Nassau. Carnival Fascination sails out of Jacksonville to Nassau and Freeport, Carnival Fantasy sails out of New Orleans to Cozumel, Carnival Inspiration sails out of Tampa to Cozumel. The older Holiday, the oldest ship in the modern cruise fleet, sails out of Mobile, Alabama to Cozumel.
Although these Fantasy class vessels are smaller and older, most of them have benefited from a Carnival upgrade project called "Evolutions of Fun." The program in progress means upgrading these ships with new kids' facilities including extensive water parks. For adults there are new sushi bars, adults-only "serenity areas," specialty coffee bars, enhanced food services in the Lido area and stateroom amenities such as plusher towels and softer mattresses.
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For the best Carnival cruises, however, you want to step up the larger ships sailing at least 7-day voyages. A general rule for the quality of Carnival ships is "newer is better," since the tendency of the line has been to build successively larger and fancier ships beginning with Carnival Destiny in 1996 at 101,000-tons and leading up to Carnival Splendor at 113,000-tons in 2008. 2009 will bring Carnival Dream, the biggest Carnival ship yet.
These are known as the Carnival megaships and they mostly sail 7-day cruises out of Florida, specifically Miami, Ft Lauderdale, Port Canaveral and Tampa. Other homeports include Galveston, Texas and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The Carnival megaships earn top ratings for great Caribbean cruise vacations at a phenomenal value. It is hard to describe the exact Carnival difference from other Caribbean cruise lines, but the term "fun ship" really sums it up. Carnival's forte is getting people involved in the cruise experience. The stage shows include audience participation games, and every day at sea features hours of poolside games such as "sexy legs" or the "hairiest chest" contests.
At night the waiters get into the act by dressing in costumes and doing everything from Caribbean dance routines to Elvis imitations. Nighttime entertainment includes Karaoke contests and sing-along piano bars. On Carnival, all the ship's a stage and all the people its players. Naturally, nothing is mandatory and curmudgeons will not be tossed overboard, but a sense of humor goes a long way on a Carnival Caribbean cruise.
Carnival ships also have water slides; extensive children's programs, miniature golf and sports decks with basketball, etc. Most of their ships now have or will soon have large outdoor movie screens for watching recent release movies in or near the pool day and night.