I think it should come as no surprise when I say that I love cruising with Carnival Cruise Lines. I love to travel and I have found that the easiest and most economical way to see as many destinations as possible is by cruising! Cruising really offers the entire package when it comes to a vacation: the opportunity to visit multiple destinations on the same trip, fantastic food, fun and games onboard, and of course, a sweet place to rest your head once the day is done. On a recent cruise on the Carnival Freedom, Angeline said, “A cruise is like an awesome hotel that takes you places!” I couldn’t have said it better myself!
When planning a family vacation (or any vacation, for that matter), there are four price components you have to keep in mind: travel (airfare or car/gas/tolls), lodging, food and entertainment. On a cruise, the lodging, food and entertainment are built into one price, making it an extremely affordable vacation option! And with so many close-to-home embarkation ports, many people can drive to board their cruise, getting to and from your vacation more affordable than ever, particularly for families.
Let’s focus on the food on a cruise, shall we? I am a total foodie and look forward to the dining options every time I cruise. I am sure that I am not the only one who considers the food one of the best parts of a vacation!
The Dining Options are Limitless!
Take JiJi Asian Kitchen on the Carnival Sunshine as an example. Served family style, a meal cost $15 per person and you have the option to choose as many menu items as you’d like. My favorite meal included pork belly, spare ribs, an assortment of rice and veggies as well as dessert – a meal like this would easily cost you $50-$70 in a restaurant back home!
Some of our other Carnival favorite specialty dining experiences are Guy’s Burger Joint and BlueIguana Cantina. If you consider the price you would pay for a gourmet burger or burrito in a local restaurant, you will realize just how much you are saving when it comes time to chow down on that juicy cheeseburger!
We pay about $12 for a cheeseburger and fries at our local eateries (I am not counting fast food because Guy’s burgers are nothing like fast food!), for a family of three, that’s $36 plus a tip if we went out to eat…if you have a larger family, your savings are astronomical! You can also go back for seconds…or thirds…if you like, and you will never pay a cent out of pocket.
Just about every cruise line has a steakhouse. For a fee of around $35, you are treated to a five course meal that would easily cost $75 at a local steakhouse - if not more! While I always order the filet, there are different options available including roasted chicken, rib eye, etc.
At cruise line steakhouses, the waiter or waitress will come by and present a selection of meats and explain your options before you place your order to ensure that you are ordering the perfect meal.
Tip: If you are too full for dessert, order it to go! They will happily plate your dessert to take back to your stateroom for later.
While not all cruise ships offer a wide number of specialty dining restaurants they all have a buffet, deli, pizza station, and main dining room, which offers at least five appetizer, salad and entrée choices for breakfast, lunch and dinner each day and all included in the price of the cruise.
I bet your mouth is watering and your stomach is growling now, isn’t it?
The value of the dining options on a cruise is just the beginning!
Treat the Family to a Laugh at No Additional Cost
My husband and I have been fans of live comedy for years. An evening at the comedy club is a great way to kick back, relax and belly laugh the night away. However, entrance fees and two-drink minimums at the local comedy club can quickly add up to an expensive night out! At Carnival’s Punchliner Comedy Clubs, there is no entrance fee, no drink order required – and the laughs are guaranteed!
There are family-friendly shows in the early evening, which are perfect for the entire family, as well as adults-only shows later in the night. A night at the comedy club is a great way to share a laugh with the family and introduce your children to the art of the live performance – at no cost!
Did Someone Say FREE Childcare?
Long past are the days when I had to worry about what I was going to do with my daughter when I needed down-time on vacation. Cruise ships offer fantastic childcare programs, such as Carnival’s new Camp Ocean program (formerly known as Camp Carnival). The cruise camp programs offer a wide array of activities throughout the day to keep the children entertained and having fun – and of course they can always spend time with the family at the pool or dining, then go back to the camp for fun and games with their friends!
Most children’s programs are available for children ages 2-17, and are broken down by age groups. Angeline falls into Carnival’s Club O2 program, which caters to teens ages 15-17. Yes, my teenager goes to camp when we cruise! She loves the activities and parties that the program provides, the directors, and making new friends from all over the country.
There is also the option to bring your child to the program later in the evening after the daytime program ends for a nominal hourly fee. This is a great way to share a little alone time with your significant other while the kids are happily playing with their friends and well taken-care of.
The Club Has No Cover Charge!
While my clubbing days are long behind me, I do like the idea of getting all dressed up and dancing the night away with my husband. Living in Miami, the clubs of South Beach are close…yet so far away! One of the biggest draws to a club on a cruise ship is that while I can still dress up and have that “club experience,” it’s low key and there are no lines at the door and no cover charge to get in!
Hit a Broadway Show at Sea!
I have a confession to make: I’ve never been to a show on Broadway. I always look forward to the Broadway-style shows on cruise ships because they are completely free of charge and based on the opinion of friends who HAVE been to a show on Broadway in NYC, the quality is just as good.
We have seen musical routines centering around different musical genres and I am always blown away by the caliber of the dancing and the accompanying music. It’s a great way to catch a high quality show without the price tag that accompanies shows you would see back home – because like every sort of entertainment on a cruise ship, it is all included in the price!
There are also fantastic interactive game shows with no admission fee, like the Hasbro Game Show! It’s great fun for the whole family and only available on Carnival Cruise Lines!
If you are looking for a way to get outside with the family and have already spent an entire day at the pool , many of today’s larger ships feature mini golf courses allowing you to enjoy a fun round of golf…seaside!
There are so many things to do and see on a cruise that are completely complimentary, and while shows are a lot of fun, there are small things here and there that are equally enjoyable – things that most don’t consider until they step foot on a cruise ship.
For instance, have you ever been to a Dive-In Movie? Each evening on the top deck, you can take the family to enjoy a complimentary movie presented on the big screen. Say goodbye to high movie ticket prices and hello to free popcorn and ice cream!
If you’re a trivia fan, there are several trivia games throughout the length of a cruise, and of course, there are no entrance fees to pay! You can even win a trophy to take home as a memento!
If you love live music, then you are in luck, because there is live music aplenty on today’s floating resort ships! With soloists playing around the Lido Deck on bright and sunny days, free karaoke in the lounge, to performers in the Atrium serenading you during happy hour – there is never a shortage of music on the high seas.
Doesn’t this sound like the perfect vacation? Check out Carnival.com and find a great deal on a cruise – and remember, all of this fun is included in the price!
This post was created as part of my collaboration with Carnival. As always, all of the opinions, thoughts, and ideas in this post are my own.
Wow, all of this food looks so delicious! I can't wait to go on a cruise sometime!
I'd love to go on a Carnival cruise. It seems like the perfect way to just totally, completely relax.
Carnival needs to create a Great Lakes cruise or a Mississippi River cruise. Can you ask them to get started on that? I'd happily be their first customer.
Cruises just look like so much fun! I have only been on one day cruises
I love Carnival Cruise line. The food is always great and you are never board. I am going on a Carnival Cruise next week to Cozumel.
I've had those Guy Burgers! I love traveling with Carnival and will be doing so again in September to celebrate my mom's 60th birthday!
I have never been on a cruise, but after reading this, I am thinking I need to badger my hubby into booking us a Carnival Cruise! The food alone should be incentive enough for him 🙂
one day i will be able to take my family on a cruise. hopefully it'll be a carnival- it just seems like they "GET IT" with family programs and activities and kids have so much fun!
TerriAnn @ Cookies & Clogs
Wow, there are just so many options. Now it makes sense why the costs seem high at first but, with everything included, it ends up being less than a traditional vacay.
Robin (Masshole Mommy)
I haven;t been on a cruise in years. I have been dying to go on another one.
We are looking at planning our first Caribbean cruise. I have been to Alaska a few times but not to the warm weather in winter. I will check out Carnival.
Chrystal @ YUM eating
I've been wanting to take a cruise forever! Maybe we'll have to find one that is kid friendly like this one.
Find one that is kid friendly? Carnival is kid friendly. I will find one if you are still looking for one.
Oh man! This post makes me LONG to go on a cruise! This looks relaxing, fun, exciting and awesome all in one!
I can't believe that I've still never been on a cruise. Seeing this makes me even more determined to get that checked off my bucket list!
I have never been on a cruise, but I really want to go on one. If only I can find a way to convince my husband...
I use to write little articles for them when I first began writing. I have always wanted to go on a Carnival Cruise since then. I'd love to take the whole family and a cruise is a place you will do more than you've ever done or tried. Dishes you wouldn't dream of eating otherwise. Love the pictures.
You know, I have actually never been on a cruise before. I think I need to correct that, this looks wonderful and the food is making me hungry!
Mama to 5 BLessings
sounds amazing from the food to the entertainment. What a great vacation for the whole family!
Cruises do sound like the perfect vacation. It is great that you don't have to bring a bunch of extra cash for food, drink and club covers. Thanks for the great review.
I would love to take my family on a cruise. Looks like so much fun.
Thanks for the great rundown of an all inclusive cruise, we are planning our first to Alaska for next Summer! I think the food really would be one of my biggest attractions.
Oh I am so excited for you! I just took my first Alaskan cruise last month and it was amazing!
Looks like so much fun! Plus the food looks amazing!
I have never been on a cruise but this looks like a fun vacation option! Maybe when my kids are older?
While my daughter is a teenager, there are a lot of kids on cruises whenever we go! They have great camp programs that give the kids lots of fun activities to do. 🙂
I was kind of scared to go on a cruise. The more I hear about them though, the more I want to go!
What scares you about a cruise?
I would love to take my kids on a cruise. It sounds like so much fun!
How adorable. I love Dr Seuss Bookville. I would love to take another cruise. It's been a while since I've traveled the seas with my husband.
Oh wow, this looks like so much fun for the whole family! How cool that they have child care!!! That's my kind of cruise!
Have been on 6 Carnival cruises, everyone a new experience, the food is great the places they stop, a real value for the price, going again in July.
I've always wanted to go on a cruise. This post makes me even more excited to take a Carnival Cruise one day. "Hotel that takes you places" is an amazing way to look at it 🙂
This cruise looks like a lot of fun. That food looks totally delicious. Also, I know the kids would love the Dr. Seuss section.
A cruise looks like a great family vacation. I would be sure to take advantage of the child care.
Tammi @ My Organized Chaos
That's my kind of vacation, a little for everyone! I've never been on a Carnival Cruise but would love to one day!
Janel (A Mom's Take)
I want to take my family on a cruise one day. I've only been on one cruise and it was before I had children. I agree, a cruise is the way to go.
Ive NEVER been on a cruise! That is totally on my bucketlist I love all your pics (especially the food) and would love to experience a cruise myself soon!
I never thought I'd ever go on a cruise, because for one thing I never liked the idea of being on water (yet I used to go boating a lot as a kid). I also don't know how to swim if something were to happen. I know, I know - negative thinking! However, I'm so glad that I was able to surpass that fear in spring by going on a cruise. It was one of the most enjoyable experiences for me. I'm hoping to going on another one someday! I wouldn't mind going on this vegan cruise next spring that I had read about in one of my vegetarian magazines. 🙂
This looks like a lot of fun. I think it would be really fun to go on a cruise again. I haven't been on since I was little.
You guys make me want to go on a cruise so bad, Love this!
we had an amazing band on theFantasy in July. Each night was a different genre and they nailed it each time
Cruising is my favorite...especially since you can put down a deposit and then pay as you can before you cruise. I also love the childcare!
I didn't know the childcare was free! That would be such a benefit for me!
It is free during the day, pretty much through dinner. But there is childcare available "after hours" for a nominal charge. It's cheaper than hiring a babysitter for a date night at home! LOL!
Robin (Masshole Mommy)
I love cruising. I haven't been on one in a while, though, so I am definitely due!
I am so with you on the cruising.. we came back about a month ago, we went on the NCL Breakaway heading towards Bermuda, except there was a hurricane in the way.. cruising to us in the best vacation anyone can take!
I travel a lot but never on a cruise. This does make it enticing to go on a cruise.
Aisha Kristine Chong
I've never been there - but the food looks so yummy and fulfilling and everything seems fun!
We've never been fans of cruising, we always prefer to fly and get there quicker. But I have a few friends that swear by it, and love to go on cruises.
This looks like it was a fantastic cruise. I'd love to go on it with a bunch of friends.
We have been talking about going on a cruise for a long time and after seeing your pictures I think it is time that we bite the bullet and go. Thanks for sharing about your experience.
I've been on a few cruise vacations and Carnival is the cheapest for me to take my family on. Being I have a family of 6 it's my best choice.
Jen Temcio @dapperhouse
I am shopping around for cruise info because I want to take my 3 children on one. This sounds SO FUN!!
Mama to 5 BLessings
This looks so family friendly. So much to do and see.
I haven't tried to ride/travel in a cruise. I've only heard many friends and relatives tell how great their experiences are. Carnival Cruise Lines must be providing with good rates and great packages with tours.
I've heard so many horror stories about cruises I think I've been turned off of them forever. I'd be more inclined to go on one if they were more price competitive wit h all-inclusive resorts.
I actually think that they ARE competitive with all-inclusive resorts. I have only been to a few resorts like that, but they all ranged around $150 per day, per person. Granted, I don't have to fly to do most cruises because I live in Miami and have Port of Miami and Port Everglades within driving distance, but most cruises (I'm talking about Carnival Cruise Lines because that is who I usually cruise with) are similar in price to a resort.
So many good comments make think that this is fake. Lol..
It's not fake. I really love cruising. 🙂 We have cruise with Carnival so many times that sometimes I get a welcome basket in my room when we check in. I think the reason a lot of my readers are friends are saying "good" things is because cruising is one of those things that people in land=locked states always want to do.
Now I am convinced that this is fake...lol
Why do you think it's fake? What, exactly, do you think is fake? I'd love to tell you more about the places I've cruised- there are some really beautiful places in the Caribbean!
Love Carnival! As a single Dad I have taken all three kids on three Carnival Cruises over the years. Each vacation was nothing short of spectacular! Easiest and most economical way to travel to exotic destinations that you might never go to in an entire lifetime! Love the food, activites, entertainment, staff, cleanlyness, amenities and excursions. Best thing about cruising is you choose what or don't want to do! Five star hotel on the sea! Can't wait to book our next vacation!
I have been on four cruises, three on Carnival and one on Royal Caribbean. They were all good trips. I will say there were some minor issues on some of them, such as cancelled shore excursions due to the itinerary being reversed, but that was due to weather. Just like with any land based trips, hiccups are going to occur and you just roll with it. It's really a cost effective way to see different places without have to worry about getting to each location. The food on board it excellent, the staff very friendly, the entertainment memorable. Cruising is my vacation venue of choice. The rule of thumb that I have discovered is $100-$125 a day per person for the cruise cost is the reasonable rate. If you time your purchase right, you can even get it for less.