Ship: Carnival Dream
Cruise Line: Carnival Cruise Lines
Itineraries: Seven-night Western Caribbean and Eastern Caribbean cruises from Port Canaveral, Florida
Price: From $794 per person based on double occupancy; third and fourth berth fares from $519
Standout Perk: A whopper of a water park
With a mighty fleet of 23 ships (and a 24th in the works), Carnival carries more kids than any other cruise line. In 2009, with the debut of Carnival Dream, the line introduced five-berth, two-bath staterooms—a more affordable alternative to adjoining rooms or suites for families with three children. It also unveiled its largest aqua park yet, featuring a 303-foot-long spiral slide. The 3,646-passenger Carnival Dream also boasts an 18-hole mini golf course; a video arcade; a massive poolside LED screen showing movies, sporting events, and more; and separate, age-appropriate facilities for 2- to 11-year-olds, 12- to 14-year-olds, and 15- to 17-year-olds. Camp Carnival, designed for the youngest group, is further divided into sections for children ages 2-5, 6-8, and 9-11. Club O2, designed for the oldest group in partnership with The Coca-Cola Company, includes a dance floor with a DJ and a “Coke-tail” lounge serving non-alcoholic specialty drinks.
Parents who like to party will appreciate Carnival’s group babysitting service, available from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. nightly for $6.75 per child per hour plus gratuity. All ships host three late-night kids parties at least once each voyage. They’re geared toward different age groups and cost $13-33 per child plus gratuity.
Carnival Dream offers weeklong sailings to the Caribbean year-round. It makes its home in Central Florida, not far from Orlando, so consider tacking on time for Walt Disney World. Its newer sister ship, Carnival Magic, is based in Barcelona for now but will soon relocate to Galveston, Texas, for year-round Caribbean sailings.