Perhaps The Best Senior Cruise Travel Value Of 2015-16


When it comes to having a good time sailing in the Caribbean, the Fun Ships of Carnival Cruise Lines have it down to a science.  Their engaging website very closely emulates what cruise travelers will experience when sailing any ship in the fleet.  On board, that expectation is exceeded with one of the highest guest satisfaction rates in the business.   A good choice for first-timers, families, couples, singles and seniors; Carnival is one of the few cruise lines that enables us to say “‘I’m going on a cruise!” with as few as three days to spare.  Travelers looking for a good time, regardless of what that might mean to them, find it on Carnival.  Now, Carnival Cruise Lines will offer a series of longer sailings in 2015-16 that should be of special interest to seniors.  Actually, these unique itineraries could add up to the best senior cruise travel value of the 2015-16 season.

The lions share of Carnival Cruise Lines’ sailings range from 3- to 7-days; perfect timing for those who have somewhere between a free weekend to a week’s vacation time available.  That covers solo travelers, couples and families quite well. But long ago we realized adding one more day,  choosing an 8-day cruise,  cuts down the number of children on board dramatically. Families generally just can’t spare the time.  Make that one of a series of 10-14 day voyages and we see a whole lot of seniors and not so many young families on board.  That means onboard programming is focused less on the young and more on the young at heart.

Are you with me so far?  Good, now take a look at what Carnival Cruise Lines has for 2015-16 on six different ships and 11 different itineraries, many with overnight calls in some of the most beautiful places in the Caribbean, Bermuda, Mexican Riviera and The Bahamas.

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Carnival Miracle– 13 days- Jan. 31- Feb. 12, 2015
This one-time 13-day Mexican Riviera voyage sails round-trip from Long Beach, California stopping at Cabo San Lucas for two days before visiting La Paz, Mazatlán, Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa, Manzanillo, and Puerto Vallarta on an overnight call. Significant here, two days in Cabo San Lucas enables Carnival passengers to experience the nightlife normally missed as ships sail off into the sunset as does overnighting in Puerto Vallarta.  Add in a stop in beautiful Mazatlan and Carnival is playing our song.  When cruise ships had all but abandoned Mazatlan several years ago, we went to see what all the fuss was about and found a warm, welcoming people and some of the best culinary experiences on the planet.  That stop in La Paz? This is a place that is most commonly visited by small ship adventure cruise lines, if at all.  An unspoiled peaceful city, a visit to La Paz brings the Sea of Cortez; one of the most beautiful and unique places possible to visit by cruise ship.

Compare pricing on a per person, per day basis and Carnival almost always has the lowest price.  Add new, relevant features brought by the line’s Funship 2.0 initiative and value is there too. This Carnival Miracle sailing has prices starting at $1099 per person (+ tax), a solid value.

Carnival will also offer extended sailings on Carnival Dream, Carnival Glory and Carnival Sunshine which depart from five convenient U.S. homeports and visit more than two dozen tropical destinations, including less traveled ports like Bonaire, Martinique, Dominica, Grenada and, for the first time on a Carnival ship, Trinidad & Tobago.

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Carnival Sunshine – 10, 11 or 21 days – Late 2015, Early 2016
One of our favorite ships in the Carnival Fleet, new Carnival Sunshine sails from Port Canaveral on three different sailings, ranging from 10- to 13-days

  • November 28-December. 2, 2015 is an 11-day Caribbean/Bahamas voyage from Port Canaveral to San Juan visiting Grand Turk, St. Thomas, Tortola, St. Kitts, Dominica, St. Lucia, Antigua and St. Croix. Of special interest here are the stops in St Croix and St Lucia; two ports that rarely see large ships.
  • December 9-19, 2015 brings us a  10-day Caribbean cruise from San Juan to Port Canaveral featuring St. Thomas, Antigua, Dominica, Martinique, St. Croix, and Grand Turk- Stars of this lineup are St Croix, Dominica and Martinique.  We especially like the call in French-speaking Martinique as a very good taste of France, done in an easy way.  When visiting the southern Caribbean port earlier this year with Star Clippers, we were impressed that the city had easy-to-spot English-speaking guides posted on every street corner, making navigating the place a breeze

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In and of themselves, these are nice itineraries that stop at interesting places are a good choice.  Better yet, the above two cruises can be combined to create a 21-day voyage round-trip from Port Canaveral, appealing to Florida residents who can effectively drive to the port and end up seeing over a dozen places at a leisurely pace.  In fact, several of the 10- and 11-day voyages can be combined into three-week-long Caribbean adventures providing “an unmatched combination of breathtaking ports of call, amazing experiences ashore, and fun-filled sea days, all at an incredible value,” promotes Carnival in a recent press release.   We agree, don’t have the time to spare, but wish we did.  Apparently, other travelers agree too.

“Based on feedback from our guests and travel agent partners, we’re delighted to offer these longer length voyages which provide vacationers an opportunity to visit some of the world’s most breathtaking destinations while enjoying all the wonderful on-board innovations and features found aboard Carnival’s ships,” said Terry Thornton, Carnival’s senior vice president of itinerary planning and revenue development.

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Carnival Dream – 10-11 days – Fall 2015, Early 2016
For many cruise travelers, this might be the one they are waiting for,  focused on an overnight call in Bermuda, sailing from the convenient drive-to port of New Orleans.   Even more interesting, two of the itineraries serve as proof of Carnival’s commitment to providing unique itineraries to their guests, stopping at the (rival) Royal Caribbean-built port of Falmouth in beautiful Jamaica.

  • October 4-15, 2015: 11-day Caribbean/Bermuda cruise from New Orleans to San Juan featuring Nassau, King’s Wharf, Bermuda (overnight call), St. Maarten and St. Thomas.
  • October 15-25, 2015: 10-day Caribbean cruise from San Juan to New Orleans with calls at St. Thomas, St. Kitts, St. Maarten, Grand Turk, and Falmouth, Jamaica (the above two cruises can be combined to create a 21-day round-trip voyage from New Orleans).
  • January 3-14, 2016:  11-day southern Caribbean cruise from New Orleans to San Juan with stops at Grand Turk, Aruba, Bonaire, St. Kitts, Antigua and St. Maarten.
  • January 14-25, 2016: a 10-day Caribbean cruise from San Juan to New Orleans calling at St. Thomas, Dominica, St. Kitts, Grand Turk and Falmouth (the above two cruises can be combined to create a 21-day round-trip voyage from New Orleans).

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Carnival Glory – 10-, 11-, and 14-days – Fall 2015, Early 2016
Southern U.S. cruise travelers will like sailing from Miami , deep into the Caribbean visiting such magnificent places as Grenada, Bonaire, Antigua, Martinique and more.  This one will probably end up being the best value too on a per person, per day basis.

  • October 31–Nov. 13, 2015: 14-day Caribbean cruise round-trip from Miami visiting Aruba, Bonaire, Grenada, Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Thomas and St. Maarten.
  • January 23-Feb. 2, 2016: 10-day cruise from Miami to San Juan calling at the private Bahamian island of Half Moon Cay, Grand Turk, Antigua, Martinique, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and St. Thomas.
  • February. 2-13, 2016: 11-day cruise from San Juan to Miami visiting St. Croix, St. Maarten, Dominica, Grenada, Bonaire, Aruba, and Curacao (the above two cruises can be combined to create a 21-day round-trip voyage from Miami).

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The Hidden Value
Much of what we do here is aimed at matching the right traveler with the right cruise line and ship. That might be a big ship with abundant top-deck features that works for every member of the family, a little ship that enables travelers to check off items on a bucket list, or some ship in-between that does a combination of both.  That Carnival Cruise Lines is making a commitment to offer sailings in the Caribbean that go beyond the standard fare answers the call of those who want more.  Overnight and two-day calls on big ships, something unheard of not all that long ago, further support the notion that Carnival is paying attention with unique offerings that have the senior market written all over them.

The Potential Bonus Value
If Carnival offered no shore tours whatsoever, simply riding one of these ships from place to place on these interesting itineraries would be a win.  But a potential bonus value would be if they have interesting and engaging shore explorations that also appeal to seniors as well.   Get that right and they can knock the experience out of the park and have their passengers booking the next one before they disembark their current sailing.  We hope that happens.