Carnival is all about lounging by the pool, drink in hand (or bucket of beers at foot), and soaking up the sun and some loud music or whatever goofy contests may be taking place. On sea days, you can get a hoot out of watching (or joining, if you're not the wallflower type) the men's hairy chest contest or similar tomfoolery, participate in a trivia contest, or sign up for some group dancing lessons. A blaring band will play a few sets by the pool, and on nearly half the fleet (including all newbuilds going forward), a giant video screen smack-dab in the center of the pool area broadcasts movies, concerts, and various shipboard activities at eardrum-shattering decibels (and do we mean loud -- don't expect to have a conversation without shouting). Currently, there's one on the Carnival Dream, Splendor, Liberty, Freedom, Conquest, Glory, Valor, Victory, Destiny, and Triumph.
There's a quieter pool and sunbathing area at the stern called Serenity; the adults-only retreat is found aboard all eight Fantasy-class ships as well as the Carnival Dream, Carnival Splendor, and Carnival Glory. Spirit-class vessels have a second midships pool separated from the main action by a bar and solid dividers that keep most of the noise out and provide a more serene lounging space; one of the four pools on the Conquest-class ships is quieter and covered by a retractable glass roof.
Slot machines begin clanging by 8 or 9am in the casinos when the ships are at sea (tables open at 11am), and servers start tempting passengers with trays of fruity theme cocktails long before the lunch hour. Expect to hear the ubiquitous art auctioneer shouting into a microphone about some Peter Max masterpiece. There are line-dancing and ballroom classes, trivia contests, facial and hairdo demonstrations (intended to entice passengers to sign up for expensive treatments), singles and newlywed parties, game shows, shuffleboard, bingo, art auctions, and movies. Overall, though, there's not as much variety of activities as aboard lines such as Norwegian, Holland America, and Celebrity (read: absolutely no enrichment lectures on history or other cerebral topics).
You can spend some time in the roomy gyms on the Fantasy-, Destiny-, Spirit-, and Conquest-class ships (and take the handful of free aerobics classes or the ones that cost $10, such as Pilates, yoga, and spinning) or playing volleyball on the top deck, or treat yourself to one of dozens of relaxing (and expensive) treatments in the Steiner-managed spas. All ships have covered and lighted golf driving nets, with golf pros sailing on board to give lessons with video analysis starting at $25 for a 15-minute session and $80 for an hour. Pros also accompany guests on golf excursions on shore, and clubs, golf shoes, balls, gloves, and other paraphernalia are available for rent.
If you want to escape it all and find a truly quiet nook for awhile, retire to the subdued libraries/card/game rooms and 24-hour Internet centers on each ship; you'll find Wi-Fi service fleetwide as well. You can also now use your cellphone while at sea or in port. The Funhub on the Carnival Dream is the fleet's updated version of an Internet center. It's got a funky decor and Internet access, and passengers can also surf for shore-excursion information and ship announcements, news and weather, as well as view all the ship's daily activities.
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Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.