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What’s Included in Carnival Cruises Fare?

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Unlike traditional resorts, cruising is not all-inclusive. Many cruise lines offer additional add-ons to increase onboard spending and generate additional revenues.

If you’ve booked a cruise, you might wonder, what’s included in Carnival cruises fare?

Carnival cruises typically include a variety of onboard amenities and activities, such as:

  1. Accommodations in a private stateroom or cabin, ranging from standard interior rooms to spacious suites with balconies.
  2. Multiple dining options, including the main dining room and casual venues
  3. Entertainment, such as live music, comedy shows, and stage productions.
  4. Pools, hot tubs, fitness centers, and a sports court.
  5. Kids’ clubs and youth programs for children between 2 and 17.

What’s Included in Carnival Cruises Fare

Top deck of the Carnival Conquest with the red whale tail funnel and ocean horizon in the background

Food and Beverages

Carnival’s cruise ships provide plenty of complimentary restaurants and dining options. Even restaurants by Guy Fieri and Shaquille O’Neil are included in your Carnival cruise fare.

Complimentary restaurants on Carnival Cruise Line include, but are not limited to:

  • The main dining room
  • Lido Restaurant
  • Guy’s Burger Joint
  • Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse
  • Blue Iguana Cantina
  • Street Eats
  • Lucky Bowl
  • Big Chicken
  • Mongolian Wok
  • Ol’ Fashioned BBQ
  • Seaday Brunch
  • Swirls
  • The Carnival Deli
  • Pizzeria Del Capitano

*Note: Not all restaurants are available on every ship.

Shaquille o'neil's the big chicken restaurant
The Big Chicken (Render Courtesy: Carnival Cruise Line)

You’ll never go hungry on a Carnival cruise. The main dining room offers a traditional sit-down experience with nightly three-course meals and a more relaxed pace of service. The Lido Restaurant is the ship buffet offering BBQ, sandwiches, salads, pasta, desserts, Asian dishes, and more.

In addition to offering a large selection of food and dining experience, the following beverages are included on a Carnival Cruise:

  • Water
  • Coffee & Tea
  • Hot Chocolate
  • Ice Tea
  • Juice
  • Milk

Activities and Entertainment

A late night pool party on Carnival Breeze. Passenger dancing and drinking on the Lido Deck

Carnival is known as the “fun cruise line” thanks to its extensive offering of onboard activities and entertainment. The Lido deck is a popular spot during sea days with a vast pool and several hot tubs. 

Throughout the day, the entertainment staff hold games and activities on the pool deck that are free for guests. Think line dancing, belly flop competitions, and late-night pool parties.

Dozens of loungers surround the main pool, and a big screen is used for movies under the stars.

The ship’s frozen yogurt and soft-serve ice cream machines are usually found near the pool. The ice cream station can get busy during the hot afternoon if you sail in a tropical climate.

Orange and yellow waterslides at the water park on Carnival Breeze

There are several fun activities for teens, kids, and active adults. Carnival’s ships offer some of the largest water parks at sea. Those not afraid of heights can participate in the SkyCourse – a challenging ropes course designed for guests of all ages.

Kids and adult passengers climbing the SkyCourse rope course on Carnival Breeze

The ship’s top decks are home to the sports court, used for basketball, soccer, and mini golf.

A cruise vacation is always an opportunity to indulge in lots of food and drinks by the pool. But if you’re looking to burn off the lunch buffet, the cruise ship’s fitness center is included. However, some fitness classes may cost extra.

Mardi Gras Grand Central
Mardi Gras Grand Central (Photo Credit: Carnival Cruise Line)

When the sun goes down, there’s no shortage of entertainment options and late-night shows. Live music plays throughout the ship, from spinning DJs, cover bands, and jazz piano; there’s music for every passenger.

Carnival offers some of the best live shows in the cruise industry. After dinner, head to the theatre to enjoy a theatre show from Playlist Productions, comedy acts, and musicians. You can also participate in a Lip Sync Battle, Trivia, Family Feud, and other live game shows.

If you’re a fan of comedy, the Punchliner Comedy Club offers incredible entertainment. The complimentary entertainment venue offers family-friendly and late-night comedy shows with guest entertainers.

Kids Programs

Camp Ocean kids club on Mardi Gras cruise ship
(Photo Credit: Carnival Cruise Line)

Carnival is one of the best cruise lines for families and offers an excellent kids program. Their children’s and youth program divides kids into several age groups providing age-appropriate activities.

Children between the ages of 2 to 11 can take part in Camp Carnival. The Camp Carnival kids club is free during the day and is staffed by trained youth professionals.

You can pay an hourly fee to leave your kids in the Night Owls babysitting service between 10 pm to 1 am. The service allows you to enjoy the ship’s nightlife without worrying about your children.

For older children aged 12 to 17, there’s the Circle “C” and Club 02 teen club. The teens club is more self-led but provides an opportunity for kids to meet new people and develop lifelong friendships.

Cabin Accommodations

Rendering of Mardi Gras' balcony cabin
Mardi Gras’ Balcony Cabin (Render Courtesy: Carnival Cruise Line)

Your carnival cruises fare the cost of your cabin accommodations. Additionally, your fare includes the price of the cabin steward who cleans your room daily.

When booking your cruise, you’ll have a choice of cabin category. There are several cabin categories, including interior, oceanview, balcony, and suites.

Staterooms have different prices depending on the cabin category, size, and other features. Some cabins have larger bathrooms, more balcony space, bunk beds, Pullman beds, and other perks.

You’d expect to pay more for a balcony than an interior cabin without windows.

All cabins include a TV, basic channels, a small stateroom safe, a full bathroom, climate control, outlets, and ample storage space.

Some staterooms like The Haven, Cloud 9, and other suites come with exclusive perks.

Private Islands

Carnival Cruise Line's Half Moon Cay
Carnival Cruise Line’s Private Island Half Moon Cay

If you’re sailing in the Caribbean or Bahamas, you may have a stop at one of Carnival Cruise Line’s private islands, Half Moon Cay and Princess Cays. The islands are free for guests to visit and explore. And there are several complimentary restaurants and activities on the island, with additional shore excursions and private beaches at an added fee.

Half Moon Cay is a largely undeveloped island in the Bahamas. The island is famous for its stunning crescent-shaped, white sand beach. Along the shore are hundreds of free chairs, hammocks, and loungers for guests to relax and soak up the sun.

Free activities at Half Moon Cay include swimming, snorkeling, volleyball, basketball, the kids’ playground, and the aquapark. Lunch at the island tropical restaurant includes burgers, tacos, chicken, and more.

View from the beach of Carnival Cruise Lines private island Princess Cays wih beach chairs and princess cruise ship in the background

Princess Cays is another Carnival-owned private island located in the Bahamas. The 100-mile-long island pays special attention to the island’s calm waters, coral reefs, and natural beauty.

At Princess Cays, guests receive a complimentary buffet offering BBQ favorites like burgers, hot dogs, and ribs, along with sides and dessert. The North and South beach allows guests to swim, snorkel, or lounge by the ocean.

What’s Not Included in a Carnival Cruise

Alcoholic Beverages & Some Non-Alcoholic Drinks

Hawaii mai tai drinks beside a cruise ship pool
(Photo Courtesy: Carnival Cruise Line)

Like most mainstream cruise lines, alcoholic beverages are not included with your Carnival cruise. You can purchase drinks individually or purchase Carnival’s CHEERS! beverage package.

Drinks on Carnival are more expensive than you’d find back home. The drink package might be worth it if you plan on drinking six or more beverages daily.

The CHEERS! beverage package includes beer, wine, cocktails, soda, juice, bottled water, energy drinks, specialty coffee, and premium teas. The beverage package is one of the most affordable compared to other lines.

Whether your purchase drinks individually from Carnival’s drink menu or buy a drink package, the cruise line adds an automatic service charge at checkout.

Princess Cruises Classic Soda Package

Soft drinks, juice, water bottles, energy drinks, specialty coffee, and tea. These drinks can be purchased individually through your onboard account. You can use the CHEERS! beverage package, but if you won’t be drinking alcoholic beverages, The Bottomless Bubbles package is a better option.

JavaBlue Café and the Coffee Bar serve specialty coffee and tea. While basic tea and drip coffee are complimentary, cappuccinos, lattes, espressos, and other specialty coffees are available at an extra cost. 

Specialty Restaurants

Guy’s Pig & Anchor Smokehouse Brewhouse
Guy’s Pig & Anchor Smokehouse Brewhouse (Photo Credit: Carnival Cruise Line)

Although Carnival provides plenty of complimentary restaurants, several dining options are available at an extra cost. The specialty dining venues offer an exclusive dining experience, with unique menu items not found in the ship’s free restaurants.

If you’re a foodie, dining at the ship’s specialty restaurants offering upscale menus may be worth the money.

Below is a list of specialty restaurants found on Carnival cruise ships:

  • Chef’s Table
  • Emeril’s Bistro 1396
  • Carnival Kitchen
  • Bonsai Teppanyaki
  • Steakhouse
  • Seafood Shack
  • Guy’s Pig & Anchor
  • Rudi’s Seagrill
  • Cucina Del Capitano
  • Jiji Asian Kitchen
  • Bonsai Sushi Express
  • RedFrog Pub & brewery
  • Chibang!
  • Dr. Seusse Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast
  • Pizza Delivery

Insider Tip: You can get a free meal for two at a specialty restaurant when you reach the diamond status as part of Carnival’s VIFP Club loyalty program.

Room Service

A crew member delivers room service on Norwegian Jewel cruise ship
(Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line)

Carnival’s room service menu has an additional cost between 10 am to 6 am. The a la carte menu was introduced on October 1, 2022, removing several complimentary items.

The complimentary continental breakfast menu is still available from 6 m to 10 am and includes a la carte options for an additional fee.

There’s no delivery fee when you order from room service on a Carnival cruise. You just pay the menu price, and it’ll be delivered to your cabin in 20-30 minutes.

Some Activities and Entertainment

Rendering of Carnival's BOLT roller coaster with two passengers riding
Rendering of BOLT (Rendering Credit: Carnival Cruise Line)

While most activities and entertainment are included in your cruise fare, several activities are available at an additional charge.

The Bolt roller coaster is available on Carnival’s Excel class cruise ships; Mardi Gras, Carnival Celebration, and Carnival Jubilee. Bolt is the first rollercoaster at sea and provides incredible views of the ship and the ocean horizon. The activity cost’s $15 per ride, and we recommend doing it at least once for the experience. The added cost means you won’t find long lineups to ride Bolt: Ultimate Seacoaster.

Some Carnival ships offer an IMAX theatre. The theater is home to Hollywood blockbusters and IMAX documentaries. You can watch a show for around $12.95 per adult and $9.95 for children under 12.

It goes without saying that you’ll have to spend money to play at the cruise ship casino. Carnival’s casino is one of the most popular venues at night. The casino offers slot machines, table games, and tournaments for every budget.

Shore Excursions

Shore excursions are the best way to explore the ports of call. Cruise lines offer a wide range of excursions and tours for all passengers. You’ll often find hiking tours, snorkeling, bus tours, and other excursions to explore the local environment, people, and culture.

But shore excursions are not included in Carnival cruises fare. And they can be pretty costly.

Shore excursions generally range from $50 to $500. But some tours, like helicopter rides, maybe even costlier.

When factoring in how much your cruise costs, putting aside some money for shore excursions is a good idea. 

WiFi

woman texting on smart phone on a cruise ship during sunset

WiFi is not included on Carnival cruises. Carnival offers three WiFi packages:

  • Social WiFi Plan – Starting at $10.20 /person per day
  • Value WiFi Plan – Starting at $14.45 /person per day
  • Premium WiFi Plan – Starting at $17.00 /person per day

The Social Plan provides basic access to social media sites, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. If you want to browse the web, you’ll need to upgrade to the Value or Premium plan. The Premium WiFi plan offers faster internet speeds and access to streaming services.

WiFi speeds on Carnival are slower than you’re used to using. While you can browse the web, email, and video chat, we recommend purchasing the Premium WiFi Plan for its faster internet speeds.

Even with the Premium Plan, web pages are sluggish to load, and videos take a while to buffer. But at a low cost, the internet plans provide access to the web for work, school, or entertainment.

Carnival Hub Chat

Carnival’s Hub app is available for free to schedule activities, book dinner reservations, view daily activities, check in online, and complete the virtual muster drill.

The best part is that you don’t need a WiFi plan to use the app on the ship.

But, if you want to use the app chat to connect with family and friends, it costs extra. Carnival’s Hub Chat costs an additional $5 per person. If you’re traveling with kids, it’s a great way to keep in touch while giving them the freedom to roam the ship.

And it’s excellent for large groups to arrange meet-ups and find each other. Cruise ships are massive, and the chat makes it easy to keep track of loved ones without wasting precious vacation minutes searching the vessel.

Gratuities

Laundry crew member on a cruise ship folding towels
(Photo Courtesy: Royal Caribbean)

First-time cruisers are often surprised to see automatic gratuities charged to their onboard spending account. Like other mainstream cruise lines, Carnival charges a $14.50 daily gratuity for standard staterooms and $16.50 for suites.

The service charges go towards the hardworking crew that makes your cruise vacation truly special.

You’ll also pay gratuities on drinks, drink packages, and spa purchases. The tips from these purchases go towards the bartenders and spa staff who don’t partake in the regular gratuities.

Other Items Not Included with a Carnival Cruise

  • Arcades
  • Sky Zone at Sea, Carnival’s trampoline Park
  • Spa and wellness treatments
  • Some fitness classes
  • Laundry services
  • Photos and photo packages
  • Medical services
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Author

Marcello De Lio

I’ve been cruising since I was 11 years old. I love the freedom that cruising provides, meeting new people, and exploring amazing new ships. I love to share my passion for cruising and travel with readers.

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