Cruising has rapidly ascended the ranks as one of the most sought-after vacation experiences, offering an all-in-one package of luxury, adventure, and entertainment. Among the giants in this booming industry stands Carnival Cruise Line, a name synonymous with unparalleled sea experiences. They’ve got a ship for just about every kind of traveler. Fancy or laid-back, they’ve got you covered.

But today, we’re flipping the script. Forget the biggest Carnival cruise ship with over-the-top features; we are embarking on a unique journey to explore the charm of the smallest Carnival ship. This often-overlooked gem provides an intimate, cozy setting, promising a voyage unlike any other. As we set off to uncover an untapped gem in the Carnival fleet, fasten your seatbelts.

Sizes of Carnival Cruise Ships by Order

Set of ships in a port dock

When it comes to cruising with Carnival Cruise Line, the first thing that might come to mind is their vast fleet, each ship with its own set of unique features and sizes. The experience you get depends a lot on the ship you choose. Let’s demystify the fleet by taking a look at the sizes of these ocean marvels, ordered by their gross tonnage, to help you better understand your options.

Carnival Jubilee and Carnival Celebration

Starting at the top, the Carnival Jubilee and Carnival Celebration are the titans of the fleet, both weighing in at a whopping 182,800 gross tons, stretching 1,130 feet in length, and boasting 17 guest decks. With a maximum guest capacity of 6,500, these ships are a swarm of nonstop activities.

Mardi Gras and Carnival Venezia

Not far behind are Mardi Gras and Carnival Venezia, each with an impressive gross tonnage of over 135,000 and able to accommodate more than 5,000 passengers. The Carnival Panorama, Horizon, and Vista form another trio, each with a gross tonnage of 133,500 and roughly 5,000 guest capacity.

Carnival Breeze, Magic, and Dream

For those interested in a slightly more intimate experience, Carnival Breeze, Magic, and Dream are your go-to choices, each with a gross tonnage of around 130,000 and guest capacities under 4,000.

Carnival Splendor, Conquest, and Glory

Dropping further down the scale, we have ships like Carnival Splendor, Conquest, and Glory, with gross tonnages hovering around 110,000. They feature 13 guest decks and can accommodate over 3,700 passengers.

Carnival Luminosa, Miracle, and Pride

But if you’re searching for an even more intimate setting, look no further than ships like the Carnival Luminosa, Miracle, and Pride. These ships sit comfortably with a gross tonnage below 100,000 and capacities of fewer than 3,000 guests.

Carnival Paradise and Carnival Elation

Finally, at the end of our list, we find the cozier vessels like Carnival Paradise and Carnival Elation. With a gross tonnage just above 71,000, these ships offer 10 guest decks and have capacities that barely touch 2,600.

Whether you opt for the grandeur of the Carnival Jubilee or the intimacy of the Carnival Elation, knowing the ship sizes can drastically influence your cruising adventure. So, which one floats your boat?

Carnival Ship Classes from Largest to Smallest

When it comes to cruising with Carnival, one of the most important decisions is choosing the right ship. With a diverse fleet of ships, each offering a unique set of features, activities, and dining options, Carnival Cruise Line caters to every type of traveler. To help you make an informed choice, here’s an updated guide to Carnival ship classes, complete with average gross tonnage and key features.

Excel Class

Carnival Mardi Gras cruise ship on water

Leading the fleet in terms of sheer size and grandeur is Carnival’s Excel Class. This newest class includes Mardi Gras and Carnival Celebration. With a whopping size of approximately 181,000 gross tonnes, these ships are designed to carry around 6,500 passengers. Given its premium stature, the Excel Class comes with a premium price tag.

However, the elevated cost provides access to unprecedented features like the first-ever roller coaster at sea and a secluded retreat known as Loft 19, complete with a private pool. Specialty dining options abound, making these ships a haven for those who seek luxury and innovation in their cruising experience. In line with this, guests will find that the bar menus on these ships offer an extensive range of options, from classic cocktails to exclusive specialty beverages, each crafted to enhance the luxurious experience.

Vista Class

Carnival Horizon Cruise Ship on water

Following closely in size is the Vista Class with vessels boasting about 133,225 gross tonnes. This class consists of Carnival Horizon, Carnival Panorama, and Carnival Vista. These ships, which have a capacity of about 3,934 passengers, are more expensive and come into the high-end category.

What sets the Vista Class apart are features like SkyRide, an exhilarating open-air cycling experience high above sea level, and the Family Harbor, which offers an exclusive sanctuary tailored for family vacations. With a perfect blend of adventure and relaxation, the Vista Class presents a well-rounded cruise package for its guests.

Dream Class

Carnival Breeze Cruise Ship on water

Next in line is the Dream Class, which accommodates approximately 3,646 passengers and has a size nearing 130,000 gross tonnes. The ships that are a part of this class include Carnival Breeze, Carnival Dream, and Carnival Magic. While not as grand as the Excel or Vista classes, the Dream Class offers an array of amenities and activities that provide a high-value experience for its price.

With numerous dining options, expansive spa facilities, and entertainment venues like the Seaside Theatre, this class of ships offers a balanced cruise vacation that doesn’t compromise on quality or excitement. For those looking to stay connected, the Dream Class also offers various wifi packages, with costs varying depending on the level of access and duration of use, making it easy for guests to choose an option that suits their needs.

Conquest Class

Carnival Liberty Cruise Ship on water

The Conquest Class is a staple in Carnival’s lineup includes Carnival Conquest, Carnival Freedom, Carnival Glory, Carnival Liberty, and Carnival Valor., featuring ships that measure around 110,000 gross tonnes and can accommodate roughly 2,980 passengers. In comparing two ships in this class, Carnival Freedom and Carnival Liberty, guests will find subtle differences in themed decor and some specific onboard amenities, though both offer a similar range of experiences and activities.

Although they are smaller than their Vista and Dream Class counterparts, Conquest Class ships provide a rich variety of amenities, including signature pools, multiple dining establishments, and expansive casinos. These ships fall into the mid-range category, making them an excellent choice for those who seek a balance between cost and features.

Sunshine Class

Carnival Sunrise Cruise ship on water

The Sunshine Class represents a unique offering in Carnival’s lineup: Carnival Radiance, Carnival Sunrise, and Carnival Sunshine. With ships of about 102,853 gross tonnes and a capacity for 3,002 passengers, Sunshine Class vessels strike a balance between the larger and smaller classes.

Recently refurbished, these ships offer modern amenities such as the Serenity Adults-Only Retreat and Carnival’s WaterWorks aqua park, making them a compelling option for those looking for updated features at a mid-range price. However, when booking a room on Carnival Sunshine, it’s advisable to avoid rooms near the engines or in high-traffic areas to ensure a more peaceful stay.

Spirit Class

Carnival Pride Cruise Ship on water

The vessels making up this class are Carnival Legend, Carnival Miracle, Carnival Pride, and Carnival Spirit. The Spirit Class provides an intimate cruising experience, with ships around 88,500 gross tonnes in size and a passenger capacity of approximately 2,124.

While they may lack some of the flashier amenities of larger classes, Spirit Class ships excel in offering cozy atmospheres and specialized experiences like unique dining options that reflect various global cuisines. These ships are generally more budget-friendly, but they don’t skimp on quality or entertainment.

Fantasy Class

Carnival Elation cruise ship on water

Even more compact is the Fantasy Class, the smallest in Carnival’s fleet, with ships around 70,367 gross tonnes and a capacity of about 2,056 passengers. The ships included in this class are Elation and Paradise. They are smaller in size, but they provide a highly personalized experience. Ideal for budget-conscious travelers, the Fantasy Class offers basic but well-maintained amenities like saltwater pools, a range of dining options, and smaller-scale shows and entertainment. For those wondering what food and drink can be brought onboard, Carnival allows a limited amount of non-alcoholic beverages and pre-packaged snacks, subject to their specific policies.

Here’s a table below showing the carnival cruise ships by class from the smallest to the largest.

Class Ships Average Gross Tonnage
Fantasy Class Elation, Paradise 70,367
Spirit Class Legend, Miracle, Pride, Spirit 88,500
Sunshine Class Radiance, Sunrise, Sunshine 102,000
Conquest Class Conquest, Freedom, Glory, Liberty, Valor 110,000
Splendor Class Splendor 113,300
Dream Class Breeze, Dream, Magic 130,000
Vista Class Horizon, Panorama, Vista 133,500
Venice (Vista) Class Venezia 135,225
Excel Class Mardi Gras, Celebration 181,000

What Makes the Smallest Carnival Ship Special

When it comes to cruising, size isn’t everything. Carnival Elation, the smallest ship in the Carnival fleet, offers unique advantages that make it special. Here’s why it stands out.

White ships docked on a port

Compact Design

One of the most appealing aspects of the Carnival Elation is its compact design. Unlike its larger counterparts, the ship’s more manageable size allows for unique architectural features and a layout that maximizes space efficiency. This design philosophy translates to rooms and public spaces that feel both intimate and functional, offering a uniquely cozy atmosphere.

Limited Crowd, Maximum Enjoyment

One of the notable advantages of a smaller ship is the limited crowd, leading to maximum enjoyment for passengers. With fewer people on board, lines for activities, dining options, and excursions are generally shorter.

Ease of Navigation

Another perk of the Carnival Elation is the ease of navigation throughout the ship. With a more straightforward layout and fewer decks, getting from one point to another is far less daunting than on a larger vessel. This ease of movement adds an extra layer of comfort to your cruising experience, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the activities and amenities offered on board.

Personalized Services

The smaller crowd size not only benefits the guests in terms of reduced wait times but also in the level of personalized services that the staff can provide. With fewer passengers to attend to, the crew can offer more individualized attention, leading to a highly personalized experience that is hard to match on larger vessels.

Overall, Carnival Elation may be the smallest ship in the fleet, but it packs a big punch when it comes to offering an intimate, enjoyable cruising experience.

Comparing the Smallest Carnival Ship with Larger Counterparts

crowd of people offboarding two cruise ships

When you’re trying to choose the perfect Carnival cruise, size really does matter. While it’s tempting to think bigger is always better, each class of ship offers its unique perks and limitations. Let’s dig into the notable differences between Carnival’s largest and smallest vessels, so you can make a well-informed decision for your next sea adventure.

One might assume that smaller ships lack the extensive list of amenities found on their gargantuan siblings. However, Carnival has invested half a billion dollars over five years to standardize its fleet. This means even the smaller classes now feature hallmark venues like the Alchemy Bar, Guy’s Burger Joint, and the Punchliner Comedy Club. Some even offer barbecue options and microbrewed beers.

Smaller ships often have a more vintage feel, displaying the flamboyant designs of renowned architect Joe Farcus. These vessels are a riot of color, featuring whimsical art installations and neon lights, including the line’s iconic “whale tail” funnels. On the other hand, newer and larger ships present a more modern, subdued decor.

Generally, the smaller the ship, the more budget-friendly the fares. These vessels are more likely to offer shorter, more affordable trips. However, there are exceptions, such as Carnival’s special Journeys voyages. These are infrequent, longer itineraries, lasting two weeks or more, offering a different pricing structure altogether.

In summary, whether you opt for a smaller, more intimate experience or go all out with a colossal cruiser, Carnival ensures you’ll enjoy a blend of comfort, entertainment, and gastronomical delight. The choice, ultimately, comes down to your personal preferences and what you’re looking to get out of your cruise vacation.

Retired Small Carnival Ships

The cruise industry is ever-evolving, and part of that evolution involves saying goodbye to old favorites. Such is the case with several ships from Carnival Cruise Line’s Fantasy Class, which have been retired over recent years. A staple of the 1990s, these vessels were among the smallest in the fleet and hold a special place in the hearts of many who sailed on them.

Here’s a look back at some of these iconic small ships that have bid adieu:

  • Carnival Fantasy: Active from 1990 to 2020 with a gross tonnage of 70,367. Its journey ended in the scrapyard in Aliağa, Turkey.
  • Carnival Fascination: Operated from 1994 until 2020. Also clocking in at 70,367 gross tons, this ship was sold and renamed “Century Harmony.”
  • Carnival Imagination: In service from 1995 to 2020, it currently awaits scrapping in Aliağa.
  • Carnival Inspiration: This 70,367-ton ship, active from 1996 to 2020, met the same fate as Carnival Fantasy, being scrapped in Aliağa.
  • Carnival Sensation: With years in service from 1993 to 2022, this ship was scrapped after the COVID-19-induced shutdowns. It had a gross tonnage of 70,367 GT.
  • Carnival Ecstasy: This ship operated from 1991 until 2022 and was sold for scrapping after the pandemic. Like its siblings, it had a gross tonnage of 70,367 GT.

Although these ships are no longer part of the Carnival fleet, their impact on the cruising industry and the vacation experiences of countless travelers will not be easily forgotten. They were popular for their intimacy and classic, old-school charm—qualities still sought after by many. The good news is that similar experiences can still be found on the remaining small ships in the fleet, even as Carnival continues to innovate with larger and more modern vessels.

So, whether you’re a first-timer looking to experience Carnival’s unique brand of fun or a nostalgic sailor missing the Fantasy Class, the cruise line offers a diverse range of options to cater to all preferences.

What Are the Oldest and Newest Carnival Ships?

The Carnival fleet is a mix of both seasoned veterans and fresh-faced newcomers, each offering its own set of unique experiences. If you’re trying to decide between setting sail on the newest, state-of-the-art ships or opting for the seasoned charm of older vessels, it’s crucial to understand what each brings to the table.

The Carnival Luminosa, Carnival Celebration, and Mardi Gras are the most recent additions to Carnival’s fleet. These ships are the epitome of modern cruising luxury, featuring cutting-edge technology, innovative designs, and a plethora of contemporary amenities. They’re likely to include the latest dining venues, entertainment options, and even eco-friendly technologies.

While the Carnival Sunshine holds the title of being the oldest ship in the fleet, its story is one of transformation and rejuvenation. Originally named the Carnival Destiny, the ship underwent an extensive 49-day makeover in 2013, to the tune of $155 million. This revamp was so significant that it warranted a name change, and thus the Carnival Sunshine was reborn. While she may be the oldest, she now offers amenities and features that rival her younger siblings.

The newer ships will often offer the latest and greatest features, while the older ships—like Carnival Sunshine—still offer a modern experience, thanks to their significant overhauls. The question then becomes, are you looking for an adventure that includes the newest innovations in cruising, or are you interested in sailing on a ship that combines a history of travel with modern upgrades?

Is Bigger Necessarily Better in the Carnival Cruise?

When it comes to choosing a Carnival cruise ship, size does matter, but bigger isn’t necessarily better for everyone. Larger vessels like those in the Excel Class boast a plethora of amenities—from expansive water parks to a myriad of dining options—that make for an action-packed vacation. However, this often comes with larger crowds and a potentially higher price tag. Smaller ships, like those in the Fantasy or Spirit classes, offer a more intimate experience and often navigate to less frequented ports. Though they may lack some of the flashier amenities, they make up for it with unique charm and a sense of community.

How to Book a Cruise on the Smallest Carnival Ship

If you’re looking for a more intimate and perhaps traditional cruising experience, booking a voyage on Carnival’s smaller ships may be the perfect choice for you. Whether you’re a first-time cruiser or a seasoned voyager, the process of securing your spot can be straightforward if you know your options.

Booking options

When it comes to booking, there are essentially two main routes you can take: booking directly through Carnival’s website or going through a travel agency. Booking directly on the Carnival Cruise Line website is arguably the most straightforward method-

  1. You start by navigating to their official site, where you can use the search function to input your departure city, destination, and dates.
  2. A useful feature here is the option to filter your search to only show smaller ships, matching your specific preference.
  3. Once you’ve chosen your cruise, the site walks you through selecting your stateroom and any additional extras like shore excursions.
  4. Lastly, you’ll enter your payment details to finalize the booking.

Alternatively, you could opt for a travel agency.

  1. The first step is to find an accredited agency that specializes in cruises.
  2. Once you’ve found an agent you can trust, make sure to specify that you’re interested in Carnival’s smaller ships.
  3. Travel agents frequently have access to special offers and can provide a variety of options that you might not otherwise uncover.
  4. After you’ve reviewed your options and decided on a cruise, the agency will handle the rest, including payments.

Before you book, there are several planning considerations to keep in mind. Smaller ships often run shorter and more affordable itineraries, making them a suitable choice for certain types of travelers. While smaller ships may not offer as wide a range of amenities as their larger counterparts, they still feature Carnival’s staple attractions like Guy’s Burger Joint and the Alchemy Bar. Also, think about what type of stateroom will meet your needs, whether that’s an interior room, an ocean view room, or even a suite. Additionally, for those interested in places to cruise without a passport, many Carnival itineraries, especially those departing from U.S. ports and traveling to select destinations, may not require a passport, but it’s always best to confirm with the cruise line or a travel advisor.

Planning and considerations

Timing can be crucial when it comes to booking your cruise. You have the early bird option, where booking far in advance can secure you better rates and more room choices. On the flip side, last-minute bookings can sometimes result in great deals, but it’s a riskier option, especially if you’re particular about the type of room you want or have specific travel dates in mind.

As for packing, your luggage should include casual clothes for daytime activities and swimwear for when you’re hitting the pool or beach. Carnival cruises typically feature at least one formal night, so make sure to pack some formal attire as well. Don’t forget other essentials like travel-sized toiletries, any necessary medications, and specialty items that you may require during your voyage.


Choosing the smallest Carnival ship doesn’t mean you’re sacrificing quality for intimacy. While you may miss out on some of the high-octane amenities found on larger vessels, the smaller ships provide a unique and personalized experience that can be equally rewarding. These ships often feature fewer crowds, allowing for a more relaxed atmosphere and easier access to onboard activities and dining. They also frequent less crowded ports, offering a different kind of adventure. Moreover, Carnival has invested substantially to ensure that hallmark amenities, like the Alchemy Bar and Guy’s Burger Joint, are present fleet-wide.


What is the smallest P and O cruise ship?

The “Aurora,” a ship in the P&O Cruises fleet with a capacity of roughly 1874 passengers, is the company’s smallest vessel. Despite being modest by today’s standards, it provides a close-knit experience with a focus on location immersion, enabling it to visit less popular ports.

Is Carnival Magic a small ship?

No, Carnival Magic is not considered a small ship. It is a part of the Dream Class, one of the bigger classes in Carnival’s fleet. With an average gross tonnage of 130,000 and the capacity to accommodate over 6000 passengers, it offers a range of amenities that smaller ships may lack.

What is the smallest cruise ship?

The title of the smallest cruise ship often changes, but as of now, some claim it’s the “Celebrity Xploration,” which accommodates just 16 passengers sailing around the Galapagos Island.

What size ship is Carnival Glory?

Carnival Glory belongs to the Conquest Class, with an average gross tonnage of 110,000. It can accommodate approximately 2,980 passengers and offers a variety of amenities. Though not the smallest, it is smaller than the newer, more massive ships in the Carnival fleet.