Carnival Cruise Lines

I have cruised nine times with Carnival and I am Platinum (giving you some extra perks, like faster check-in, captain , this is the most I have travelled with any cruise lines. The second-most cruise lines I travelled with were Cunard (Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria) and Royal Caribbean. Number four is Princess.
Why did I travel with Carnival? First of all, my first cruise was with Carnival, a church cruise for four days out of Tampa that was supposed to go to Key West and Cozumel. Well, we did not go to Key West as a barch was stuck under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and we could not leave until late at night. So at dinner we still looked through the window of the dining room at the Channelside Entertainment Area.
I had never cruised before and I definately wanted an outside cabin with a window (the older Carnival ship) did not have balconies. We had a lot of fun and my wife and I decided that cruising is really something for us.

Why is Carnival so successful? First of all, nobody has more cruise ships than Carnival and the cruise line offers more local ports than anyone else. I live in the Tampa area, just 25 minutes from the cruise port, and in summer we only have two Carnival ships there, in winter Holland America, Royal Caribbean, and now Norwegian Cruise Lines are joining the Carnival ships. In summer most cruise lines do not keep their ships in Florida to go to the Caribbean because of Hurricanes and as they need ships in summer in Alaska and Europe. It would not make sense to keep ships year-round in the Baltic Sea to go to Northern Europe, as they have (like a local told me in a joke) only two seasons, July and winter.

In Tampa we have two Carnival cruise ships, the Legend and the Inspiration. The Inspiration will soon be replaced by a sister ship, just to offer something different. I like the Inspiration as it offers a cruise from Thursday afternoon to early Monday morning, so you can be back in the office at 9 am, if you take the suit cases yourself and walk off the ship. I also like the decor of the smaller ship better than that of the larger and newer Carnival Legend as the Legend has more the Carnival-typical pop-art styling. For newer ships Carnival changed the design again.
It is a personal preference, but I really like the look of a Grand Ocean Liner (maybe it is the fault of the movie Titanic???), like you find on cruise ships from Princess and Cunard. If you ever have been on the Emerald Princess, the Queen Mary 2, or Queen Victoria, you will understand what I am talking about.

When I accompanied a church group this Easter week on the Carnival Legend, I realized that Carnival adapted what you find daily on Princess and Cunard - the afternoon tea. It was slightly different, Cunard and Princess are very proud of their superior service and style, their teas are pretty much identical, on Pricess it is located in the dining room, on Cuarnd in the Queens room (their ball room).
On the Legend the tea was in the dining room and they served very similar food, but was not served by white-gloved butlers. Still the atmosphere was nice, a piano player played songs from the movie Titanic and others - but hardly anyone knew about it.

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