What’s Included on a Carnival Cruise?

To help cruisers planning a vacation with Carnival, we have put together this complete guide to What’s Included on a Carnival Cruise.

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For one set fare, a cruise vacation allows travelers to see multiple destinations while enjoying most of the onboard amenities. However, what’s included in each cruise line’s standard price can fluctuate. To help cruisers planning a vacation with Carnival Cruise Line, we have put together this list of what’s included on a Carnival cruise.


What’s Included on a Carnival Cruise? (2024)

Like most cruise lines, there are certain things that are always included in your cruise fare. These include accommodations, food and drinks, onboard activities, and entertainment. Of course, not everything in each category is free as cruise lines have begun to charge for more and more add-ons over the years.

While some might want to splurge on these add-ons, you can still have a great vacation without paying extra. Carnival Cruise Line has a large fleet of ships offering several amenities across varying price points to suit all budgets.


Your cruise fare covers the cost of your stateroom for the duration of the trip. Included with your accommodations, you will have a friendly cabin attendant who will make up your room once each day. 

All Carnival ships offer a variety of different room categories from interior cabins to suites and everything in between. Choosing your cabin type will be the main driver of your total cruise costs.

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Certain cabin categories provide cruisers access to exclusive areas of the ship like the thermal suite and free fitness classes for the Cloud 9 Spa staterooms to an exclusive pool area for Havana staterooms. Some ships even feature Family Harbor staterooms which offer special perks for families.

So, make sure to review all of the benefits for each cabin category before selecting the perfect fit for your next Carnival cruise.

Food and Drinks

What food is included on a Carnival cruise?

Regardless of the Carnival cruise ship you choose, you can enjoy three meals a day (with some snacks in between) at the casual Lido Marketplace. This buffet is part of your cruise fare and offers a variety of menu items in the morning, midday, and in the evening.

Other casual food that is included on a Carnival cruise varies from ship to ship. Some of these options include Guy’s Burger Joint serving up some of the best burgers at sea and a newer offering, Big Chicken by Shaquille O’Neal.

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There is also the BlueIguana Cantina for some Mexican favorites, a pizzeria, grab-and-go items from the JavaBlue Café, and soft-serve ice cream.

Not to mention, some specialty restaurants might offer complimentary fare at lunchtime, such as the Captain’s Pasta Bar at Cucina Del Capitano and an Asian noodle bar at JiJi Asian Kitchen or Chibang. On the Serenity adults-only sundeck, there’s also a complimentary lunchtime salad bar.

In addition to this casual fare, cruisers can also dine in the Main Dining Room for free. Carnival Cruise Line offers the traditional early and late dining as well as Your Time Dining which gives more flexibility to dine whenever you want.

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Many of the larger ships will have two complimentary dining rooms that are always open for dinner. The menu does change nightly with a few always-available items, like the famous warm chocolate melting cake. You can even get lobster in the main dining room on one of the line’s elegant nights.

The main dining room is also open on select days/hours for a sit-down breakfast. On sea days, don’t miss out on the popular Seaday Brunch.

On Carnival’s newer ships Mardi Gras, Carnival Celebration, and Carnival Jubilee, favorites like Cucina del Capitano and Guy’s Pig & Anchor Smokehouse are even free for dinner.

Are drinks free on Carnival cruises?

You might be wondering what drinks are included on a Carnival cruise.

When it comes to beverages onboard the ship, you will have the option of select drinks like iced tea, lemonade, filtered water, some juices, milk, hot chocolate, and drip coffee/tea.

While these items are complimentary, soda, bottled water, specialty coffee, alcoholic beverages, and mocktails will cost you extra money. This is when purchasing a Cheers drink package might come in handy.

Onboard Activities

Your cruise ship is a hub of activity and events. The Carnival FUN Squad (the entertainment/activities staff) want to ensure you are having a good time. So, you will always find something to do on the ship that will not cost you a dime.

All Carnival Cruise Line ships have a large pool deck for all cruisers to enjoy. Offering at least one main pool, hot tubs, and loungers, the pool deck is the ideal place to spend your days at sea. You might even want to spend your evening watching a Dive-In Movie by the pool.

Various poolside activities and deck parties also occur when the weather permits. And we can confirm that Carnival deck parties are some of the liveliest and most fun at sea.

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Many of the newer ships in the Carnival fleet also offer additional pools and other pool deck amenities like the Waterworks AquaPark with waterslides. For adults looking for ultimate relaxation, there is also the adults-only Serenity Retreat.

Further, most elements of the SportSquare sports deck are included on a Carnival cruise. Activities like a basketball court, mini golf, ping pong tables, and the ropes course are all complimentary and fun for cruisers of all ages. On Vista-class ships there’s also the SkyRide, a suspended bicycle course that’s free for guests to take a spin on.

On Carnival Cruise Line, you can enjoy modern fitness facilities, an outdoor jogging track, and on some ships the 18+ SkyFitness outdoor gym offering great views and ocean breezes during your workout.

Other onboard events like trivia, cooking demonstrations, karaoke, and games are also part of the cruise fare. So, be sure to check the Carnival HUB app or a paper copy of the daily schedule for the exact events occurring on your cruise. Even if you do not participate, these daily activities are usually equally as fun to watch.

Nightly Entertainment

At night, your Carnival cruise ship comes alive with plenty of entertainment options that won’t cost you anything. The signature evening entertainment can be found in your ship’s main theater. Here, there will be featured Playlist Productions, signature shows featuring the cast of singers and dancers.

what's included on a Carnival Cruise

Several Carnival ships also feature family-friendly entertainment such as Family Feud Live.

The great thing about Carnival Cruise Line is that shows don’t require advanced reservations.

Carnival Cruise Line also features dedicated venues on select ships for piano music, comedy shows, sporting events, and more. If that’s not enough, there will be plenty of other live music around the ship including a DJ that spins tunes until the wee hours of the morning.

Youth Programs

Included in the cruise fare on Carnival Cruise Line are youth programs for children aged 2-17 years old.

Camp Ocean offers kids 2-11 supervised, age-based activities like arts and crafts, games, movies, and more.

  • Penguins: 2-5 years old
  • Stingrays: 6-8 years old
  • Sharks: 9-11 years old

Circle C is the supervised hangout for those 12-14 years old, while Club O2 is for those 15-17 years old. These areas include dance parties, games, video games, and movies, with other activities also taking place around the ship.

what's included on a Carnival Cruise

Several Carnival ships also offer Seuss at Sea with special Dr. Seuss programming including character parades, interactive storytime, the Bookville library, and more for a truly unforgettable family vacation.

What is NOT Included in Your Carnival Cruise Fare

While cruises do provide a great vacation value, not everything is included in the cruise fare. On Carnival Cruise Line, there are other amenities that can be purchased if cruisers choose to do so.

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These add-ons listed below are not part of what’s included on a Carnival cruise. They will all cost you additional money. Some can be purchased in advance of your cruise via the online cruise planner, or you can purchase once you are onboard the ship.

  • Alcoholic and Some Non-Alcoholic Beverages
  • Most Specialty Dining
  • Gratuities
  • WiFi
  • Shore Excursions
  • Some Activities (BOLT rollercoaster, IMAX movies, SkyZone trampoline park, etc.)
  • Some Entertainment (bingo, cocktail tastings)
  • Carnival Kitchen cooking classes
  • Cloud 9 Spa and Thermal Suite
  • Room Service
  • Casino
  • Shopping
  • Laundry
  • Photos

Alcoholic and Some Non-Alcoholic Beverages

As mentioned previously, alcoholic beverages are not part of the cruise fare. On Carnival cruise ships, beer, wine, cocktails, mocktails, soda, specialty coffee and tea, and bottled water will all cost extra.

Depending on your drinking habits, purchasing the Cheers beverage package might be a better option than paying the a la carte pricing. This package includes a variety of non-alcoholic beverages, beer, wines by the glass, cocktails, and a wide selection of high quality brand-name spirits priced up to $20 per serving.

Carnival Celebration Bars

Soda, juices, specialty coffee, energy drinks, and bottled water are also included in this package. While there is a limit of 15 alcoholic beverages per 24-hour period, nonalcoholic drinks are unlimited.

Bottomless Bubbles is Carnival Cruise Line’s soda package which is also an upcharge. This Carnival drink package includes soft drinks and juices only.

Specialty Dining

While there are many dining venues covered in the Carnival cruise fare, the cruise line also offers up-charge dining options and experiences.

Specialty venues like Fahrenheit 555 steakhouse, Bonsai Sushi and Teppanyaki, Seafood Shack, JiJi Asian Kitchen, Cucina del Capitano (complimentary on Excel Class ships), Emeril’s Bistro, and Rudi’s Seagrill will all cost additional fees.

Some of these restaurants have a flat fee cost while others are a la carte pricing. 

Carnival Celebration Restaurants with Menus

If you do want to dine at one or more of these restaurants, reservations are highly recommended and can be made prior to your sailing on the Carnival website. Reservations can also be made on the ship, but space is limited.

The Dr. Seuss Green Eggs and Ham breakfast and room service also have associated fees.


Cruise gratuities are service charges that are not included in your standard cruise fare, similar to a hotel resort fee. These additional fees are a per person, per day dollar amount that are charged to all guests, usually automatically, across all stateroom categories.

These charges serve as a means to reward the hard-working crew for the excellent service provided during your cruise vacation.

At the time of writing, gratuities are currently:

  • Standard Staterooms: $16.00 USD per person, per day
  • Suite Staterooms: $18.00 USD per person, per day

This fee can be pre-paid, or it will be charged daily to your onboard Sail & Sign account. Of course, you can always tip special crew members above and beyond this required amount.

Some Entertainment and Onboard Activities

While there are several included activities and entertainment, many ships offer additional classes and activities that cost an upcharge. These can include Bingo, Deal or No Deal, fitness classes, cocktail tastings, the video arcade, and Build-A-Bear Workshop at Sea.

Some onboard attractions like the IMAX movie theater, SkyZone trampoline park, and the BOLT sea coaster cost extra as well.

For cruisers looking to up their cooking skills, some ships offer Carnival Kitchen cooking classes led by the chefs onboard. These small, intimate classes range from cupcake decorating and learning how to host the perfect tailgate to creating a delicious pasta dish, but they do incur an additional fee.


You will need to purchase an internet package if you want to stay in touch with family and friends, as neither WiFi nor the Carnival HUB app chat feature are part of the cruise fare. However, it is important to note that every other function of the Carnival HUB app, which includes things like viewing restaurant menus and deck plans, making reservations, and going through the day’s schedule are free to guests and do not require an internet plan to use.

Carnival offers different WiFi packages at varying prices depending on your needs. From social media packages to streaming packages, you will want to check your cruise planner for the current rates on your sailing. It is usually cheaper if you pre-purchase these plans prior to your voyage.

Spa Services

Spa services and access to the thermal suite are also an additional fee on a Carnival cruise.

The Cloud 9 spa on Carnival ships offers a variety of treatments including massages, nail services, teeth whitening, hair services, facials, and more.

There is also a thermal suite with heated chaise lounges, steam and sauna grottos, and a Thalassotherapy Pool. Cruisers will need to purchase passes to access this thermal suite area.

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Shore Excursions

Your Carnival cruise ship will transport you to several exciting ports of call. Unfortunately, shore excursions are not part of the base fare. These tours and additional experiences can be booked through the cruise line or through third-party retailers at additional costs.

Shore excursions can range from inexpensive walking tours to several hundreds of dollars for unique experiences. These prices are also very dependent on the destination, with Caribbean and Bahamas tours usually being a bit cheaper.

Other Add-Ons

Of course, any shopping in the retail stores onboard the ship or gaming in the casino are all at your own expense. If you would like clothing washed or pressed, these laundry services will cost you extra money as well.

carnival cruise casino
(Photo courtesy of Carnival)

Likewise, photo packages, special celebration packages, and pre/post cruise travel expenses are not included on a Carnival cruise.

Thus, when determining your cruise budget, you will need to account for expenses like airfare, a pre or post-cruise hotel, and transportation to and from the cruise terminal.

Does Carnival Cruise Line Have All Inclusive Packages?

Now that you know what’s included on a Carnival cruise and what’s not, you might be wondering if Carnival Cruise offers all inclusive packages.

Unlike some other cruise lines that offer bundles that include some of these add-ons to make your cruise vacation more all inclusive, Carnival does not offer such packages.

While the price point of a Carnival cruise may lure you in, you will have to consider the cost of adding on these additional items at a la carte prices. If you are planning to purchase any of these extra charge items, we do recommend that you purchase them pre-cruise to help save some money.


Have you sailed with Carnival Cruise Line? What are your thoughts about what’s included on a Carnival cruise (and what’s not)? Drop us an anchor below to share your experiences cruising with this brand.

Heidi is a physical therapist by profession, cruise enthusiast at heart, and Princess all the time! She is a self-confessed thrill seeker, obsessive planner, and over-packer. She is always looking for the latest and greatest adventures onboard and ashore, enjoys researching top things to do in ports of call, and loves dressing up for formal nights.
Heidi Bucolo
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