Great prices now for a family, but would you cruise Carnival?

A mom sent me note wanting to talk about Carnival Cruises. She writes that after the cruise lines problems earlier this year, the prices have dropped making it more affordable for family to take a cruise, but would you want to cruise on Carnival?

The mom said her adult son was set to cruise with Carnival recently but his cruise was cancelled due to the earlier problems. She says he would never sign up for another cruise with Carnival again.

While Carnival’s pricing has been affected by the problem, USA Today reports other cruise lines are not dropping their prices as well.

From USA Today:

“It used to be that ‘as goes Carnival, so goes the rest of the contemporary market,’ but now it’s to a much lesser degree,” said Kevin Weisner, vice president of CruiseDeals. Weisner said that while Carnival pricing can “create a drag” on lines like Norwegian and Royal Caribbean, those companies have more of their fleet in Europe where they source locally.

“Carnival remains primarily a domestic brand drawing from a U.S. population that’s been witness to their media exposure,” he explained.

“Jill Rosenberg, manager of group and executive services for AAA Travel in Garden City, N.Y., said that Royal Caribbean and Norwegian were avoiding price-dropping by offering onboard amenities and cabin upgrades rather than discounts. And Joe McClure, president and co-owner of Montrose Travel, said his agency had noticed “only minor price modification for competing cruise lines, but nowhere near the level of discounting Carnival has been forced to make.”

So what do you think: Would you cruise Carnival? Would you take advantage of the price drops to take your family? How low would a cruise need to be for you to go?

33 comments Add your comment

Eileen Flynn

April 18th, 2013
5:40 am

Based on my personal experience I will never pay for another cruise on a ship owned by Carnival. My husband and I paid to cruise on the Caribbean Princess and balked at boarding because of Hurricane Sandy. We called and requested a refund but were treated with disdain and subjected to a short lecture about the contract of travel. The Caribbean Princess left port in Red Hook, Brooklyn, NY on October 27, 2012 and sailed into Hurricane Sandy. The ship could not travel north, south or east and avoid the super storm. Voyage B 237 turned out to be a trip from hell for those passengers who went ahead rather than lose their money. I don’t know how many seniors fell and suffered serious injuries because this information is not publicly available. I do know that those who parked on the pier in Brooklyn lost their cars due to flooding and that the cruise was days late returning to NYC. I suspect that if the Coast Guard had been called upon for a rescue operation during the worst of the storm it would have been impossible because of gale force winds and 30 foot waves. Why did Carnival/Princess disregard passenger safety and put people at totally unnecessary risk? The most likely explanation is corporate greed embedded in a corporate culture devoid of ethics.


April 18th, 2013
5:53 am

“A mom sent me note wanting to talk”
” after the cruise lines problems earlier this year”
“The mom said her adult son was set to cruise with Carnival recently but his cruise was cancelled”


April 18th, 2013
6:37 am

The idea of being trapped on a ship with hundreds (or thousands) of other people in close quarters for days has no appeal to me at all. I don’t care if it’s the Caribbean, Alaska or Greece. Besides the recent Carnival issues, we hear about nasty bugs like the norovirus breaking out on these ships. Not saying plane travel is much better, but it’s for a shorter period of time. So no, Carnival and other cruise lines will not be getting my business anytime soon no matter how much they slash their prices.


April 18th, 2013
7:07 am

Maybe not this year, but I will if the opportunity arises. We sailed Carnival on our first cruise over to the Bahamas. No problems, but that was about 10 years ago.

We sailed with Holland America when we went to Alaska. 5 Star ship. Service was excellent, food was awesome, and the onboard activities kept us all busy for 7 days.

We won’t be cruising for a few years. We have other vacation ideas.


April 18th, 2013
7:38 am

We love cruises and have sailed on Carnival five times. And yes, this year we will make it six. If fact, we’ll be booking our cruise on the Carnival Dream within the next week or so. It has nothing to do with price drop, which I haven’t noticed. We try to go on a cruise every year.

FYI – In additional to Carnival Cruise Line, Carnival Corporation also owns Princess Cruises, Holland America, Cunard, and Seabourn.


April 18th, 2013
7:48 am

Carnival = Walmart of cruise lines. Pony up and take a trip on a legit line like Royal Caribbean, the differences are astounding.


April 18th, 2013
7:57 am

@x – I actually noticed very little difference between Carnival and Royal Caribbean. Been on both and I think it has more to do with ship size than anything else (quite frankly, I think the staff on Carnival is nicer than RC).

We have some family who just got back from a Carnival cruise two weeks ago and had no issues. It’s quite unfortunate for Carnival that they’ve had two very prominent issues back-to-back. But I do think in a year or so, assuming they have no other major issues, they’ll be back to the same level of business.

Personally I like travelling places and being there to experience them- not herded like cattle through straw markets 20 yards from the dock and charged crazy prices for drinks (cruises are NOT all inclusive like most all-inclusive resorts). We have gone on a couple of cruises and I did have a blast last year on a girl cruise, but our family vacations don’t typically include cruises. We have some friends who love them and only cruise just as we have friends who return, year after year, to Disney (again, not for us).


April 18th, 2013
8:00 am

Oops, meant: “girls cruise” – a bunch of moms decided we needed an extended “girls night out”.


April 18th, 2013
8:08 am

We don’t use cruises for vacations. With a house in Jamaica we spend a large portion of our vacation time there. When we decide to travel elsewhere, such as Germany in June, we fly and go from there. We don’t overly enjoy the activities provided on the ship and any of the ports we wish to visit can be reached via some other means of transportation.


April 18th, 2013
8:08 am

Why does the Mom of the adult son want to discuss this? I would think if the son were an adult he could make his own choice.

Personally I have never had a desire to get on a big ship at sea. Long before I ever saw Titanic or White Squall I knew I had no desire to go on a cruise. Those distance ports on Love Boat never held a draw for me of let’s get on a boat and go.

On the other hand, I like to travel. I just prefer to go by plane. Get there fast and explore. I love the ocean too…but am happy to enjoy it at the beach.


April 18th, 2013
8:38 am

I went on one cruise, a Royal Caribbean, four years ago. It was ok, but by the end of the week, I was bored out of my mind. The novelty quickly wore off, I didn’t like the cramped quarters, and after exploring the ship (one of the biggest ones in the world), and doing a few things — there we were, floating around the Caribbean along with several other boats full of people floating around the same sea. going to the same touristy places, etc. The drinks were exorbitant, the shore excursions were fun, but expensive — I dunno, I guess I’m just not a cruise person. I’ve tried it — and now I don’t have to do it again, on either Carnival or any other cruise line.


April 18th, 2013
8:52 am

Our preferred method of travel is still the car. We love road trips and go often. Exploring back roads is a blast. One year, we were going to Destin, and we got “lost” if you will (We never really get “lost”, we go on “adventures”), somewhere in Alabama, and saw the most georgeous Azaleas in full bloom, as we were driving down a lonesome country road. We had no idea where we were or even how to get back there. My mom and I were travelling alone, and we decided to get off the highway. That road we were on had the older predominate Azaleas and they were prettier than I have ever seen anywhere.

Give me a road trip any day!!!!

Real Life

April 18th, 2013
9:07 am

Carnival, in the past two days, announced a significant upgrade to the technology on board the ship. That is tantamount to an admission that they have problems in that area. Too many ships with problems indicates a failing in the company and Carnival is now taking steps to remedy that.

I am a frequent cruiser but have never sailed on Carnival ships–though I have sailed on other Carnival corporation ships including Princess, Holland America, Seabourn and Cunard. Princess did not appeal and I have never been back.
Cruise problems are heavily publicized because they attract viewers to the different stations. Coverage of Noro-virus outbreaks are especially common as cruise lines are one of the few travel industry groups required to report such outbreaks. A number of cruise lines have never had an outbreak because of the heavy preventative measures they take.

Travel disasters make for good news days for the media. But in this instance the coverage has made Carnival take a hard look at its ships. But all the improvement in the world will not get me to sail on a Carnival ship.


April 18th, 2013
9:16 am

I’ve never really wanted to go on a cruise — looks boring. Seems like just a floating mall/hotel with teeny tiny rooms. I’d rather fly to a Carribean Island and spend my vacation time there than spend most of my time at sea. I don’t road trip a lot but when I do, I enjoy wandering along back roads like Mayhem.

And if I changed my mind, no, I would not go on Carnival. It’s most likely not just bad luck (or “unfortunate”) that they’ve had a couple of incidents back to back. Makes me think their ships are not in great shape, and their response to these nightmare scenarios appeared to be inadequate.


April 18th, 2013
9:23 am

I have always heard you get what you pay for. I wlll not feel sorry for anyone else who gets stranded on a Carnival ship.


April 18th, 2013
9:33 am

I did a study on them in grad school. They will always be the bottom of the barrel until they get new management. It takes a long time to turn a ship around.


April 18th, 2013
9:50 am

Has anyone ever been on a “relocation” cruise, where they moving the ships from like Alaska to the Carribean???? They are like half price but you are on the ship for at least a month I believe. and not but one or two ports for maintenance….


April 18th, 2013
9:51 am

My dad took all of us, 10 in all, on a week-long cruise for his 65th birthday (back in 2002). It was okay, an RC ship, at that time the largest in the world.The ports of call were too touristy, the food pretty good, the servce excellent, but 7 days with the whole family was a bit much. There is a reason why I live 2000 miles from them!


April 18th, 2013
10:00 am

@Mayhem — I totally understand your point related to the “back roads” — I simply don’t have the patience to “stop and smell the roses” so to speak. A definite fault on my part to which I will admit but I’m glad you are able to enjoy this!!


April 18th, 2013
10:09 am

I was on the Carnival Triumph in Feb. Yes, the one that got stranded at sea for five days. Was it bad? Yes. Was it as horrible as most people saw on the news? Not for us. We had a first level cabin so the fire was right down the hall from us. We had smoke in our room and obviously could not stay there so we slept on the deck. The toilet situation was obviously the worst problem. You could always pretty much find a working toilet, but you had to look for it. We did not go hungry. There was plenty of food. I never felt “in danger” after the inital first few hours. I just knew it was going to be uncomfortable, which it was. We made the best of it and its now a story to tell. My son was with us, who is five. He had a blast and said “cruising is fun”. So there you go.

Yes, it was cheap. That’s why we went. We figured we do a little four night porthole cabin for a little get away. We had cruised four times previously and had really enjoyed it. In my experience, people either love them, or hate them. We are not high maintenance people and enjoy them. We have done both Royal Carribean and Carnival, and honestly had better experiences on Carnival. It does depend on the ship you take.

We got our money back, all expenses on board paid for (except casino, art auction and gift shop), a credit for a future cruise and $500 per person. I thought that was fair for OUR situation. We made the best of the situation we were in. What else could we do?

And yes, we will use our free future cruise credit. We are just going to get on a newer boat and will have a balcony this time :)


April 18th, 2013
11:02 am

Not even if it was free.


April 18th, 2013
12:07 pm

Check out the video from the latest Carnival cruise; what fun!


April 18th, 2013
12:21 pm

Cruise lines tend to treat passengers like cattle.

They load 3000 souls on a tacky oversized Indian casino, stuff them with non-stop rich fattening food, dump them in some nasty port for 3 hours to buy an ugly necklace made in Taiwan or some booze you can get at any liquor store on the planet, surround you with crew from every 3rd world country known, and charge you for the pleasure of it all.

It’s amazing that more passengers don’t get sick when there are 3000 other chumps all swimming in the same fecal-soaked pool and sneezing on each others pizza.

K's Mom

April 18th, 2013
1:25 pm

I had no desire to cruise before all of the newsworthy cruises of late, now the only way you would get me on a boat like that would be if God sent us a message similar to the one he sent Noah.

We do not vacation often because we have little ones, but give me one night at the Ritz or Four Seasons over a week on an inexpensive cruise.


April 18th, 2013
2:15 pm

If I ever did another cruise (and that’s a big if), I think I would steer away from Carnival simply because of the association I have of them from when I lived in South Florida. Back in the 80’s, we used to call it “the Love Boat” because the frequent 3-day weekend “cruises to no-where” out of Miami and Fort Lauderdale was usually filled with 20-somethings looking for a weekend of alcohol, casino gambling and hookups with equally drunk and sunburned strangers. (This was before AIDS was a cautionary tale.) I dunno, it just seemed pretty low-rent to me, and I’ve never been able to shake that association, even though I’m sure the larger ships are very nice.

We were playing with the idea of taking a family cruise to Bermuda — there was one that left, spent a day getting over there, spent three days in port, and then a day coming back. I’d love three days in Bermuda, two days of the cruise experience would be just enough, and since hotels in Bermuda can be pretty pricey, it seemed like a reasonable alternative.


April 18th, 2013
2:19 pm

Don’t plan to ever cruise. Just not interested. Both daughters have done so; they were okay with it. Not for me.


April 18th, 2013
2:34 pm

@K’s mom, vacationing with the little ones is what it’s all about. We took our 3 everywhere. They’ve been all over this country, Alaska & Hawaii included. We are a travelling family, and travel often. Now though, it’s usually me and the hubs. They kids are all too busy with work, school, and their friends.

And cruising with kids is easy. Most ships have KidsKlubs catered to specific ages. On our trip to Alaska, we never saw my youngest niece, who was about 10 at the time. She stayed with the KidsKlub and hung out with kids her own age. They did all kinds of activities and one or two nights it didn’t end until midnight. She is still in contact with a couple of the kids she met, and that was back in 2007. Ironically, we also met some of my parents neighbors on that cruise. We joke that we had to travel to Alaska to meet the neighbors….


April 18th, 2013
3:38 pm

Can have my toilets overflow and be forced to sleep in my hallway for free. Thanks but no thanks. They need to just go out of business and be replaced by a company that knows what it is doing (and that cares about its customers).


April 18th, 2013
3:39 pm

HAHAHA! I am the mom with the son. I do not think that was the exact way I put it to TWG but I guess she was not mentioning my name, unless I wanted it mentioned.

I was at the beach all last week and read an article about Carnival being the Motel 6 of cruises. I sent an e-mail to TWG and suggested that she might use it as a blog topic and see what everyone here thought. I had run into some teachers who had booked Carnival for spring break and they were nervous. My son’s friend booked them on a cruise over their spring break. They all graduate next month. He did not do the planning but was looking forward to one last trip with his friends before they scatter for their jobs. I was in Orlando when I contacted him to see if he was still going. He told me, ” NO and I will never go on Carnival again. ” His ship was one that had problems and they cancelled. Bummer for him. Plus, it took a while to get the $$$ back. I offered to front him some money but he passed. He had been on RC cruise before and liked it.

My husband and I went on NCL in December and that was out first cruise together. It was OK but I was not enamored with it. We had a balcony room but I still thought it was VERY tiny. I went with my family, as a girl…a LONG time ago. I love to travel but not so much in close quarters. We enjoyed our week in St. Augustine in a condo we rent, with a full kitchen and 2 bdr/2 ba. Lots of room and I do not feel cramped.

I am in SC now and walking down the hall of the hotel yesterday, there was a husband and wife with a cart full of things. They had just walked out of a room and she was obviously mad. I was going to let them take the elevator alone but they held the door for me. I asked, ” Are you having a bad day?” She replied, “Yes, we have checked in and out of 6 hotels and none of them are suitable!” This one had a stain on the sofa. WOW….that man is a SAINT to traipse with her and all of her stuff. Some people may need to stay home or be prepared to pay $200-$300 per night for a hotel. I am usually in the $100-$150 per night range and really just want clean, quiet and safe.

DB, I would like to go to Bermuda too and saw some of those cruises. I would also like to cruise Alaska but my husband does not want to. I have been twice but not on a cruise.


April 18th, 2013
4:31 pm

We have cruised on Carnival several times (including the week after all the problems on the Triumph this winter), Holland America, Royal Carribbean, Princess and Celebrity – all are about the same service wise and food wise, though I did think the food on Holland America was not as good as on the other lines, though I agree that Carnival is the “Motel 6″ of the cruise industry, yet I really did not find their ships to be really any worse than the other lines – maybe older though not any less clean.

But, then again, we are price conscious, and we go when the best deals are available, no matter what the line. As retired travel industry persons, we are very flexible, so we can wait to the last minute to make decisions on when or where to go.

Disney is too expensive and too family oriented (mainly a cruise for families with both money and little kids), while Seabourn, Cunard, and Crystal are too “high class” and expensive, so we will stick with the lines mentioned initially, though we are looking to try NCL if we can find a “cheap” price..


April 18th, 2013
6:29 pm


Forget about Carnival. What about the Titanic II? I hear they are building it exactly like the first and they will sail the exact same route as the first one. Think it will be popular? Will they make it?

mother of 2

April 18th, 2013
9:38 pm

No, I won’t cruise on Carnival. But I wouldn’t cruise on Carnival before their latest problems, so they didn’t lose my business – they never had it to begin with. I’ve taken several RC cruises and enjoyed them, but I’m pretty much done with cruising. I prefer land trips, where I can spend more time in a city.

Cruising is a nice option if you want to visit several places in a short span of time. But, be sure your boat isn’t too new or too old.

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