The Best Carnival Cruise for Families

A cruise vacation package is a perfect catalyst for a memorable family escapade or reunion. It's a refreshing experience and is typically filled with entertainment, amenities and destinations that have something for everyone in the group.
There's also a great range of affordable and luxury options that you can book depending on the occasion.
Granted everyone's on board and you already have enchanting destinations penciled in, then your likely next step is choosing a family-friendly cruise ship that can take everyone for a sweeping cross-cultural adventure—and that's we're we come in!

More specifically, that's where our selection of the best carnival cruise lines for family vacation can help you most in planning that dream vacation.

You can also read about Best Royal Caribbean Ships for Families here.

Or read up on our Disney holiday cruise experience.


7 Best Carnival Cruise Lines for Families

Whether you're a bucket list traveler or an adventure seeker, we're confident that we have something below that fits your personality. In fact, we have excellent recommendations that can host your family's range of personalities and preferences.


Carnival Vista top rated carnival cruise ships

Carnival Vista

Carnival Vista is perfect for cruising with kids... and grown-ups! Vista offers real variety when it comes to onboard activities and a real sense of wonder through its established destinations across Alaska, The Caribbean, Hawaii, The Bahamas and more! Families are able to book multiple rooms or secure staterooms that can host up to five with flexible bedding configurations. 

Sails To: Bahamas, Caribbean
Sails From: Galveston, TX; Port Canaveral (Orlando), FL
Duration: 2 - 5 Days, 6 - 9 Days


Carnival Mardi Gras top rated carnival cruise ships

Carnival Mardi Gras

Carnival Mardi Gras is one of Carnival cruise ships to feature Family Harbor, a set of cabins configured with families in mind. This sounds cheesy but when you're out with the whole family, the experience and quality time spent with each other offset the destination.

If you are ever going to have a good time in the middle of the ocean, then the first order of business is all about booking a comfortable arrangement and finding a cruise ship that has activities to offer for all age groups.

The fun-fueled Carnival Mardi Gras checks all these boxes and more. Plus, it's home to BOLT®, the first-ever roller-coaster at sea. But if you're looking for a more grounded way to enjoy the cruise, then there's the aptly named Fortune Teller bar to raise your spirits.

Sails To: Caribbean
Sails From: Port Canaveral (Orlando), FL
Duration: 7 Days


Carnival Panorama top rated carnival cruise ships

Carnival Panorama

Family-friendly dining, the only trampoline park you’ll find at sea and a murder-mystery? Carnival Panorama offers the traditional Carnival experience and then some. If the kids are at the heart of your trip, then you definitely would want to consider the wildcard Panorama cruise line and it's roster of cheeky onboard activities for kids... OF ALL AGES. don't quite get this

Sails To: Mexico, Transpacific
Sails From: Long Beach (Los Angeles), CA
Duration: 2 - 5 Days, 6 - 9 Days, 10+ Days


Carnival Sunrise top rated carnival cruise ships

Carnival Sunrise

Carnival Sunrise sails from Ft. Lauderdale, which is a family-friendly location if you're coming from nearby cities. The thing we like the most about Sunrise is that it has a balanced set of amenities for kids and adults. Thus, you can have fun with the young ones all day and wind down with the rest of the adults coming later. Even better, you can invite everyone poolside and enjoy blockbuster films at the Dive-In Movies at Carnival Seaside Theater.

Sails To: Bahamas, Caribbean
Sails From: Miami, FL
Duration: 2 - 5 Days


Carnival Horizon top rated carnival cruise ships

Carnival Horizon

Carnival Horizon has its fair share of family-friendly entertainment in the form of trivia games, karaoke and lip sync battler, song and dance showcase and its own poolside theater. There's even a kids club with experienced counselors to provide supervision as you cheat a few hours without worrying about the kids. So, if you're heading out to the Caribbean, then Horizon is one the best carnival ships for the entire family.

Sails To: Caribbean
Sails From: Miami, FL
Duration: 6 - 9 Days


Carnival Dream top rated carnival cruise ships

Carnival Dream

Carnival Dream has a range of activities for kids and teens sailing with their parents through the Caribbean. Plus, it's quite the celebrity among Carnival cruises when it comes to family-friendly dining options. There's no shortage of family-themed activities onboard so everyone is bound to have a great time. But overall, we see Dream's appeal more suited for parents traveling with teens!

Sails To: Caribbean, Panama Canal
Sails From: Galveston, TX
Duration: 6 - 9 Days, 10+ Days


Carnival Horizon top rated carnival cruise ships

Carnival Miracle

The refurbished Carnival Miracle promises to take everyone to another world. While that's definitely overselling its boarder-crossing destinations, there's some truth to it for adults who may want to spare themselves an hour or two away from kids via Miracle's Serenity Adult-Only Retreat™ for sunning and shading "grown-up style" as they say. Miracles offer pretty much all standard Carnival amenities, so it's a great cruise line to test the waters (no pun intended, really) with family and friends.

Sails To: Alaska, Caribbean, Hawaii, Mexico, Panama Canal
Sails From: Long Beach (Los Angeles), CA; San Francisco, CA; Galveston, TX
Duration: 2 - 5 Days, 6 - 9 Days, 10+ Days


What Activities are Available for Kids in Carnival Cruise Ships?

Carnival has made a name for its range of creative and surprising onboard activities and diverse dining options. Some of their most sought-after activities for kids are listed below:


Things for Babies and Toddlers to Do

Night Owls 

At an additional fee, you can leave your kid to a slumber party (6 months to 11 years) under the supervision of a counselor (at Camp Ocean) while you make the most of the night elsewhere on the cruise ship. The service is available each night from 10:00pm to 1:00am.


Things for 2 to 5 Year Olds to Do

Space Cruisers 

Space Cruises offers a variety of hands-on astronomy-themed activities for budding astronauts (2 to 11 years) and physicists! Kids can enjoy building and racing Mars Rovers, designing and testing bridge physics and more. Additionally, children will earn an exclusive mission patch as a precious memento for completing missions. Houston, we don't have a problem!

Camp Ocean 

A creative-infused, ocean-themed camp for kids! Kids are supervised by trained counselors in age-based groups aptly named: Penguins (2 to 5 years), Stingrays (6 to 8 years) and Sharks (9 to 11 years). Activities include singing, dancing, crafting and video games!


Things for 6 to 11 Year Olds to Do


A staple in any Carnival ship featuring activities such as mini-golf, rope course, ping-pong, basketball, volleyball, etc. It's for all ages, really!


According to Carnival, Skyride is just "like riding a bike" except you're high above the deck and even higher above the seas. The biking part must be referring to the pedal-powered go-mobile mechanics that let you zip around the ship's two-lane suspended course. The catch? You, I mean your kids, will need to work on that lower-body strength a little bit.

Ropes Course 

Your thrill-seeking kiddos will either love the rope course or hate you for it. Jokes aside, they'll be safely strapped in as they traverse a course unlike any other. Here's a tip, the difficulty can be adjusted.


Things for 12 to 14 Years Old to Do

Circle “C” 

We don't know what the "C" stands for and at this point we're too afraid to ask. What we know is that Circle “C” is a dedicated hangout spot for teens (12 to 14 years) where they can meet new friends and enjoy awesome activities such as outdoor movies, games and dance parties!


What is the Newest Carnival Cruise Ship?

The newest entry in the Carnival fleet (as of this writing) is the Carnival Celebration, the second Excel-class vessel in the fleet, joining Mardi Gras which was introduced in 2021. The third ship in the same class, will arrive in December 2023: Carnival Jubilee.


Which is the Best Carnival Boat for Kids?

Only certain Carnival cruise lines offer Family Harbor staterooms, where kids and parents can have fun being together. These rooms are close to the Family Harbor Lounge, where you can have breakfast, snacks and activities. Carnival Celebration, Carnival Horizon, Carnival Jubilee, Mardi Gras, Carnival Panorama and Carnival Vista are the only cruises that offers these rooms.


Which Cruise is Bigger Royal Caribbean or Carnival?

As of this writing, the biggest cruise ship in the world is Royal Caribbean Group's Wonder of the Seas which can host up to 6,988 passengers. Meanwhile, the biggest fully operational ship from Carnival Cruise Line is Carnival Celebration which can accommodate 6,500 passengers at full capacity.


Choosing the Best Carnival Cruise Ship

The best carnival cruise ships aren't necessarily the latest entries in the fleet since all active ships have their own unique identity that makes them fun ships in their own right. However, when it comes to "family fun" we're quite confident that the ships we've listed above carry a slight advantage by virtue of having more family-friendly accommodation and activities.

All things considered, we hope this post can do you a solid as you prepare to book that next vacation with your family. Wherever that may be, it's the quality time together that will make all the effort worth it!

Thinking of bring your stroller with you on your next cruise? Read here on our guide to traveling with a stroller.

Here's an article on the best travel stroller bag to store and protect your stroller whilst traveling.


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