The Best Carnival Ships For 2019

best carnival cruise ships 2019 caribbean
Which Carnival ships are worth your attention in 2019? - Photo by Carnival Cruise Line

Looking to take a Carnival cruise in 2019, but aren't sure which ship to choose? We calculated the best Carnival ships for cabins, dining, entertainment and more based off of thousands of reviews submitted in the last year.

 

Cabins

best carnival ships 2018 cabins breeze
Balcony cabin on Carnival Breeze - Photo by Carnival

1. Carnival Horizon - 4.47
2. Carnival Freedom - 4.44
3. Carnival Splendor - 4.44
4. Carnival Breeze - 4.43
5. Carnival Dream - 4.42
6. Carnival Valor - 4.41
7. Carnival Vista - 4.40
8. Carnival Elation - 4.40
9. Carnival Glory - 4.37
10. Carnival Pride - 4.37
11. Carnival Victory - 4.37
12. Carnival Conquest - 4.37
13. Carnival Legend - 4.36
14. Carnival Liberty - 4.36
15. Carnival Paradise - 4.36
16. Carnival Magic - 4.33
17. Carnival Fantasy - 4.33
18. Carnival Ecstasy - 4.31
19. Carnival Sunshine - 4.28
20. Carnival Fascination - 4.27
21. Carnival Miracle - 4.27
22. Carnival Triumph - 4.27
23. Carnival Imagination - 4.26
24. Carnival Inspiration - 4.23
25. Carnival Sensation - 4.22

 

What We Expected: Carnival Horizon made up for a few lackluster performances in other categories by dominating the cabins portion. We suspect the popular family harbor cabins and Havana staterooms helped propel it to the number-one spot.

What Surprised Us: Nothing, to be honest. This is pretty much what we expected.

What Changed From Last Year: Carnival Splendor moved up from 17th to 3rd, but there wasn't too much fluctuation in this category.

 

Food & Dining

best carnival ships dining 2018 burger
Guy's Burgers - Photo by Carnival

1. Carnival Freedom - 4.29
2. Carnival Dream - 4.27
3. Carnival Breeze - 4.26
4. Carnival Pride - 4.24
5. Carnival Splendor - 4.24
6. Carnival Valor - 4.24
7. Carnival Glory - 4.22
8. Carnival Triumph - 4.20
9. Carnival Paradise - 4.18
10. Carnival Elation - 4.18
11. Carnival Vista - 4.17
12. Carnival Liberty - 4.17
13. Carnival Conquest - 4.15
14. Carnival Legend - 4.15
15. Carnival Fantasy - 4.14
16. Carnival Ecstasy - 4.12
17. Carnival Magic - 4.11
18. Carnival Imagination - 4.11
19. Carnival Sensation - 4.10
20. Carnival Sunshine - 4.06
21. Carnival Fascination - 4.06
22. Carnival Horizon - 4.06
23. Carnival Inspiration - 4.05
24. Carnival Victory - 4.05
25. Carnival Miracle - 3.93

 

What We Expected: Breeze, Dream, and Freedom repeated their top 3 finishes from 2018.

What Surprised Us: New ships can struggle in this category as the crew learns to work together, but Carnival Horizon still raised some eyebrows.

What Changed From Last Year: Carnival Miracle fell from 9th to last, falling more than a tenth of a point behind the rest of the pack.

 

Service & Staff

Bartedner at the Alchemy Bar - Photo by Carnival

1. Carnival Splendor - 4.63
2. Carnival Dream - 4.62
3. Carnival Freedom - 4.59
4. Carnival Breeze - 4.59
5. Carnival Paradise - 4.58
6. Carnival Pride - 4.58
7. Carnival Valor - 4.56
8. Carnival Triumph - 4.55
9. Carnival Legend - 4.53
10. Carnival Glory - 4.53
11. Carnival Conquest - 4.53
12. Carnival Elation - 4.53
13. Carnival Liberty - 4.53
14. Carnival Fantasy - 4.51
15. Carnival Ecstasy - 4.51
16. Carnival Imagination - 4.50
17. Carnival Sunshine - 4.50
18. Carnival Magic - 4.50
19. Carnival Vista - 4.50
20. Carnival Horizon - 4.49
21. Carnival Sensation - 4.49
22. Carnival Fascination - 4.47
23. Carnival Inspiration - 4.46
24. Carnival Miracle - 4.45
25. Carnival Victory - 4.43

 

What We Expected: Breeze, Dream, and Freedom are cementing their position as the top dogs in Carnival’s fleet.

What Surprised Us: Carnival Splendor really did something right in 2018. Despite being over a decade old and not usually being talked about as one of the best ships in the fleet, its crew propelled it to another first-place win. Carnival Horizon and Vista struggled again, failing to place in the top 10.

What Changed From Last Year: Carnival Paradise rocketed from 23rd to 5th.

 

Onboard Activities

best carnival ships 2018 sky course
Sky Course - Photo by Carnival

1. Carnival Breeze - 4.26
2. Carnival Dream - 4.24
3. Carnival Freedom - 4.16
4. Carnival Triumph - 4.16
5. Carnival Vista - 4.15
6. Carnival Splendor - 4.15
7. Carnival Valor - 4.13
8. Carnival Horizon - 4.12
9. Carnival Glory - 4.11
10. Carnival Liberty - 4.11
11. Carnival Paradise - 4.09
12. Carnival Magic - 4.08
13. Carnival Conquest - 4.08
14. Carnival Elation - 4.08
15. Carnival Fantasy - 4.07
16. Carnival Pride - 4.06
17. Carnival Sunshine - 4.06
18. Carnival Legend - 4.06
19. Carnival Imagination - 4.06
20. Carnival Ecstasy - 4.03
21. Carnival Victory - 4.03
22. Carnival Sensation - 4.02
23. Carnival Fascination - 3.99
24. Carnival Inspiration - 3.99
25. Carnival Miracle - 3.89

 

What We Expected: Cruisers are getting spoiled with the huge selection of onboard activities found on modern ships, so we weren’t shocked when Breeze, Dream, and Vista all placed in the top 5, with Breeze and Dream out in front by a wide margin.

What Surprised Us: Carnival Horizon was supposed to be the best ship in the fleet for onboard activities, but it only managed an eighth-place finish. Perhaps the SkyRide wasn’t all it was hyped up to be, or the large number of passengers created a few too many lines on sea days.

What Changed From Last Year: Carnival Miracle dropped from tenth or last, while Carnival Paradise went from 24th to 11th.

 

Entertainment

best carnival ships 2018 entertainment
Playlist Productions - Photo by Carnival

1. Carnival Dream - 4.33
2. Carnival Breeze - 4.29
3. Carnival Liberty - 4.27
4. Carnival Triumph - 4.26
5. Carnival Valor - 4.25
6. Carnival Pride - 4.23
7. Carnival Paradise - 4.23
8. Carnival Splendor - 4.22
9. Carnival Freedom - 4.21
10. Carnival Elation - 4.21
11. Carnival Horizon - 4.21
12. Carnival Magic - 4.21
13. Carnival Legend - 4.20
14. Carnival Sunshine - 4.19
15. Carnival Vista - 4.19
16. Carnival Conquest - 4.18
17. Carnival Ecstasy - 4.17
18. Carnival Glory - 4.17
19. Carnival Sensation - 4.16
20. Carnival Imagination - 4.13
21. Carnival Inspiration - 4.12
22. Carnival Victory - 4.12
23. Carnival Fantasy - 4.11
24. Carnival Fascination - 4.08
25. Carnival Miracle - 4.00

 

What We Expected: Dream and Breeze continued to dominate, and Vista improved upon its 21st-place showing last year.

What Surprised Us: For all the hype about newer ships like Vista and Horizon being built from the ground up for the now-standard Broadway performances, it doesn’t always translate into higher scores from passengers.

What Changed From Last Year: Scores were down significantly fleetwide (about an average of 0.2 per ship) for reasons we can’t quite put our finger on.

 

Children's Programs

best carnival ships 2018 childrens programs
Dr. Seuss Bookville - Photo by Carnival

1. Carnival Splendor - 4.29
2. Carnival Vista - 4.28
3. Carnival Dream - 4.23
4. Carnival Breeze - 4.16
5. Carnival Paradise - 4.14
6. Carnival Victory - 4.09
7. Carnival Legend - 4.07
8. Carnival Liberty - 4.06
9. Carnival Valor - 4.06
10. Carnival Elation - 4.06
11. Carnival Sensation - 4.05
12. Carnival Triumph - 4.04
13. Carnival Glory - 4.03
14. Carnival Fantasy - 4.01
15. Carnival Freedom - 4.00
16. Carnival Fascination - 3.99
17. Carnival Magic - 3.99
18. Carnival Sunshine - 3.98
19. Carnival Horizon - 3.98
20. Carnival Conquest - 3.98
21. Carnival Pride - 3.98
22. Carnival Ecstasy - 3.97
23. Carnival Inspiration - 3.92
24. Carnival Imagination - 3.92
25. Carnival Miracle - 3.86

 

What We Expected: Carnival Vista and Dream maintained their 2nd and 3rd place positions from 2018.

What Surprised Us: Carnival Valor won an unexpected Victory in 2018, and Carnival Splendor continued the trend in 2019 with another upset. We can’t be sure why, but we suspect that a few standout employees and some happy parents are all it takes to catapult a ship to the front of the pack.

What Changed From Last Year: The fleetwide average score went up by 0.2 points, which clearly helped Carnival seize the honors of “Best Line for Kids” in our 2019 Members’ Choice Awards.

 

Ship Quality

serenity deck carnival breeze ships 2018
Serenity Deck - Photo by Carnival

1. Carnival Dream - 4.51
2. Carnival Freedom - 4.45
3. Carnival Breeze - 4.44
4. Carnival Horizon - 4.43
5. Carnival Elation - 4.39
6. Carnival Legend - 4.39
7. Carnival Glory - 4.37
8. Carnival Paradise - 4.36
9. Carnival Valor - 4.36
10. Carnival Magic - 4.35
11. Carnival Pride - 4.33
12. Carnival Liberty - 4.32
13. Carnival Splendor - 4.32
14. Carnival Conquest - 4.31
15. Carnival Imagination - 4.30
16. Carnival Vista - 4.29
17. Carnival Ecstasy - 4.29
18. Carnival Fascination - 4.28
19. Carnival Victory - 4.27
20. Carnival Triumph - 4.26
21. Carnival Inspiration - 4.26
22. Carnival Fantasy - 4.20
23. Carnival Sunshine - 4.19
24. Carnival Sensation - 4.18
25. Carnival Miracle - 4.13

 

What We Expected: Newer generally means better when it comes to ship quality, so it makes sense that newer ships like Dream, Breeze, and Horizon are at the top of the list.

What Surprised Us: The only new ship that didn’t find itself in the top 10 was Carnival Vista. We had heard layout gripes about Vista, but it did raise our eyebrows when all 3 vessels from Carnival’s Dream-class (Breeze, Dream, and Magic) easily beat out a new ship.

What Changed From Last Year: Carnival Elation skyrocketed from 22nd to fifth, and Carnival Miracle fell from 10th to last.

 

What We Learned

- Carnival Dream and Breeze were the all-around winners, and should be the first ships you look at if you’ve never sailed on Carnival. Carnival Freedom also had a strong 2018, making it a great option for Texas-based cruisers.

- Carnival Horizon and Vista have a ton of potential with strong performances in the Onboard Activities and Cabins categories, but they can’t rely on their high-tech ships and new onboard activities to deliver a quality experience. They need to turn their dining and service scores around or they’ll continue to find themselves falling outside the top 10, getting beaten out by ships that are ten years older.

- Carnival Splendor went from a middle-of-the-pack ship to one of the top ships in the fleet. Its first-place finish in the Children’s Programs and Service categories show that even an older ship can be a strong competitor as long as it has a great crew.

- Carnival Miracle and Carnival Inspiration struggled in just about every category. Miracle actually performed fairly well in 2018, which left us scratching our heads over its multiple last-place finishes.

Join The Discussion

What's your favorite Carnival ship?

4 Comments

Posted by Gwbigdog

We have traveled on the Splendor several time once to Alaska, the staff makes the difference. Pending is the Vista in late August to W. Caribbean.

Posted by travisd441

My wife and I just went on the Carnival Miracle and the food selection wasn't the best. The salad bar had everything we would want for salads but it was only on there for the morning time and not lunch. The theatre shows were the same we had seen before and kind of boring. On the plus side. The crew was all amazing except the bartender at the serenity deck after day 2 was very rude to his coworkers and guest. When I ordered a soft drink he gave me a warm drink and glass of ice 1/4 full. When I asked for more ice he puffed and did it very reluctantly. It's why I wish we could put our own tip on the ticket. Why tip for rudeness. The ports of call were great. With Belize being my least favorite due to the long rides to get to any excursion you'd want to do. The band that played in the Red Frog pub was great. We danced every night with them. Excellent group of singers and players. They were called the Daft Sailors. A++++ Our stateroom was great, even if it was interior. We usually stay in a balcony room, but the cruise before this one we had a couple next to us that fought the entire cruise. Over all the cruise was good, just wish the food choices were better.

Posted by LonePalmcruiser

We cruised on the Miracle in Jan 2019 before it left California. It was our seventh, and least favourite, cruise on Carnival. We weren't big fans of the ship in general, and the staff for whatever reason just wasn't as friendly as usual. I think that the combination of ship age (or age since dry dock) and the crew make all the difference. We were on the Magic last month and I'm surprised to see the ranking it received. Thought it might have been higher...

Posted by Jetett

I'm sorry, you talk about fleet wide but don't appear to include Spirit? Interesting that Legend consistently rates mid range considering she (currently) spends half of each year in Australia.

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