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14 things I loved and hated about Carnival Jubilee

Carnival Jubilee

They say everything’s bigger in Texas - and that’s certainly the case for the newest cruise ship in town, Carnival Cruise Line's Carnival Jubilee!

As the sister-ship to Carnival Celebration and Mardi Gras, the glamorous Carnival Jubilee made her eagerly-anticipated debut in December 2023. She is the third cruise ship to be built in Carnival’s ground-breaking Excel Class.

While her sister ships are only a few years older, Carnival Jubilee isn’t the first vessel in the cruise line's fleet to be named as such. The original MS Jubilee was built in 1985 for Carnival Cruise Line; at the time, Jubilee was the second ship for the then-innovative Holiday Class of ships. Jubilee was the biggest ship for the cruise line at the time and sailed for the company until 2004.

Carnival Jubilee Comparison

(Left: Original Carnival Jubilee docked in Key West. Right: Carnival Jubilee docked in Honduras in 2024) 

Now, the new Carnival Jubilee has embodied a bigger and better ship. The 183,000 gross ton vessel towers 20 decks above the ocean. Filled with six different zones of fun, Carnival Jubilee has an endless amount of dining, bars, entertainment, and activities!

While there are many things to love about this cutting-edge cruise ship, not everything was a slam-dunk for me during my fun-filled spring break cruise on Carnival Jubilee. Here are 14 things that I loved and hated about Carnival Jubilee.

Loved: Tons of tasty dining options

Big Chicken

Carnival Cruise Line is known for its mouthwatering dining options - and Carnival Jubilee was no exception. With 21 restaurants onboard, we barely scratched the surface of Jubilee’s array of dining during our short 7-night sailing. 

My absolute favorite restaurant on Carnival Jubilee is Big Chicken, which serves up incredibly delicious, crispy chicken tenders and sandwiches. I couldn’t help myself from going back for more and more during my cruise - everything we tried was served hot and flavorful!

Other quick dining options include Guy’s Burger Joint for juicy burgers, fresh tacos from BlueIguana Cantina, Guy’s Pig and Anchor Smokehouse BBQ, Java Blue Cafe, Beach Buns with sandwiches, and Coastal Slice for pizza.

Pig and Anchor

For sit-down options, Carnival Jubilee has plenty of included options for dinner in the evenings. This includes the main dining rooms (named Pacific and Atlantic), the Asian-Mexican fusion at Chibang, and homestyle Italian at Cucina del Capitano. 

I won’t sugarcoat the fact that I had a hearty appetite on this cruise - and for good reason! Everything we ate onboard was fantastic, and the dining experience was definitely a highlight of our cruise.

Hated: Boring Lido Marketplace buffet

Lido Marketplace

One area where Carnival Jubilee fell short was the Lido Marketplace buffet. Aside from the freshly made gelato (where flavors rotate daily) and some of the yummy layered cakes, the Lido Marketplace buffet was disappointing.

I’ve never loved Carnival’s buffet from my prior cruises, including sister ships Carnival Celebration and Mardi Gras. Although there are many different stations for food, every station serves the same items. 

With a lack of variety, the food here never appealed to me. I also avoided the Lido Marketplace buffet in the mornings for breakfast due to the long lines and crowds. Luckily, there are tons of other places to eat onboard.

Read more: The one place I'll never eat at again on Carnival cruises

Loved: Shows at Center Stage

Rio Carnival

Carnival Jubilee has been built with technology at its core. Spanning over three decks in the middle of the ship, Grand Central is one of the most unique zones onboard. 

Along with bars and restaurants surrounding Grand Central, the heart of the ship’s entertainment is at Center Stage. Floor-to-ceiling windows and dazzling LED screens come together to create Center Stage, which is home to some of the best entertainment I’ve seen from Carnival Cruise Line.

The main production show at Center Stage was Rio Carnival, which was a new-to-me production show. The flashy headliner show was filled with over-the-top costumes, bright colors, and Latin music. The high-energy spectacle included incredible singing, dancing, and even aerialists. I loved every moment of it!

Hated: Lack of new production shows


After being so impressed with the entertainment on Carnival Celebration and Mardi Gras, I was eager to see the new production shows onboard Carnival Jubilee. Unfortunately, many of the headliner shows were repeats from other Excel Class ships.

For example, production shows like Celestial Strings and We Are One are not unique to Carnival Jubilee, as these can be found on all Excel Class ships. The only new Playlist Production shows on Carnival Jubilee are Dear Future Husband and Soulbound. Since we were not interested in Soulbound, we only watched Dear Future Husband, which was a fun, upbeat, and easy-to-watch show.

Although I had never seen Rio Carnival before, the headliner show is apparently on Carnival Celebration as well. Both Mardi Gras and Carnival Celebration have exclusive shows that are only offered onboard those ships, so I was disappointed to see that Carnival Jubilee does not have its own exclusive show at this point.

Loved: Cove balcony cabin

Cove Balcony

During our 7-night cruise on Carnival Jubilee, we booked a cove balcony cabin on Deck 5. This was my first time cruising in a cove balcony, which is slightly different than a traditional balcony. Cove balconies have an arch, cove-style enclosure and offer a more private verandah space. These cabins are also closer to the ocean compared to other balconies, so it’s a more unique cabin experience as well.

While I normally stay in a cheap interior cabin, splurging to have a cove balcony was totally worth the cost. It was an additional $300 per person to upgrade to the cove balcony from the cheapest interior cabin.

We loved having more space in our cabin with 200 square feet inside and 50 square feet on the cabin. The cove balcony was functional, stylish, and modern. We particularly appreciated the well-designed bathroom and expansive walk-in shower.

Hated: Cabin temperature control


I had read online that others had struggled with temperature control in their cabins onboard Carnival Jubilee. This was not an issue that I had encountered on other Excel Class ships, so I was interested to see if we would find our cabin to feel stuffy or hot.

From the start, we had our air conditioning running nonstop in our balcony cabin. While the room was cool for the most part, there were times in the night when I did feel hot and struggled to sleep. Even with the air conditioner running constantly, I was surprised that the room was not able to stay cooler. 

Loved: So much included in cruise fare


One of my favorite aspects of cruising with Carnival Cruise Line is having so much included in your cruise fare. Not only is Carnival Cruise Line one of the most affordable cruise lines, the cruise fares include so much.

For example, almost all of the onboard attractions are complimentary other than the $15 rides on Bolt: The Ultimate SeaCoaster. Complimentary attractions include a thrilling ropes course, miniature golf, waterslides, a sports court, and more.  

Almost everywhere onboard is included in your fare with only a few specialty restaurants onboard, which require an additional charge. It was so easy to not spend extra money onboard Carnival Jubilee, other than the occasional cocktail here and there.

Hated: Long lines and busy crowds


Our cruise on Carnival Jubilee was sailing at around 90% capacity with 5,900 passengers onboard. With so many guests, I hated having to wait in lines all the time and deal with the busy crowds.

For example, if I wanted a morning specialty latte from JavaBlue Cafe, there was a huge line. While I was willing to fork out $7 each morning for a latte, the line deterred me almost every time. Even though the service was quick, there were simply so many people wanting to get specialty coffees in the morning. This made it easy for me to save money, at least!

Additionally, we had to arrive at the headliner shows anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes beforehand to get a spot. With such a crowded cruise, there was never enough seating for everyone. This was especially true at Center Stage, which has always been a sore spot for crowd control on Excel Class ships.


Finally, we had the longest wait times for dinner on Jubilee compared to any other Excel Class ship. We waited 40+ minutes to dine at Guy’s Pig and Anchor Smokehouse; this was the case both times that we wanted BBQ for dinner. Moreover, Sea Day brunch had wait times upwards of 45 to 50 minutes. We loved Sea Day brunch for our first morning onboard but found the wait times to be too long for other mornings.

Loved: Texas-style touches onboard


Carnival Cruise Line was the first major cruise line to sail from Galveston, Texas back in 2000. Now, Carnival Jubilee is the first-ever ship that was built specifically to sail from Texas. With Carnival Jubilee being home-ported in Galveston, there are plenty of special Texas-style touches onboard.

Around every corner, you can find small touches that pay homage to Texas. When boarding the ship, there was a cute sign that said, ‘It’s a Jubilee, y’all!” In addition, you could find appropriately themed Carnival Jubilee merchandise with all things Texas in the Carnival Shop! You can even find the Texas star on Carnival Jubilee’s bow, showcasing the cruise line’s commitment to Texas.

As for entertainment, Carnival Jubilee has a brand-new event called the Lone Star Tailgate. Taking place multiple times throughout the itinerary, this Texas-sized deck party could be found on the top deck. The Lone Star Tailgate has head-to-head sports and traditional country tune twang in an extraordinary, Texas-sized festival.

Jubilee Merch

Finally, no one embodies Texas more than Carnival Jubilee’s very own cruise director, Kyndall Fire. As the youngest cruise director in Carnival’s history, Kyndall brings the Texas heat with her spunky, bold personality. She is one of the biggest gems of Carnival Jubilee and is the perfect cruise director for this Texas-styled ship.

Hated: Difficulty getting to Galveston


I had never cruised from Galveston before, so I was eager to see how the embarkation and disembarkation process would go. I did not realize that Galveston was quite far from Houston, especially with traffic. From our hotel near Houston Hobby Airport, it took almost an hour to get to the cruise port in Galveston.

While Houston’s Hobby Airport (HOU) is located within 45 minutes of Galveston, George Bush International (IAH) is further north of the city with a 90-minute drive. If you’re planning to fly into Houston, HOU is more convenient for cruises departing from Galveston. However, you will be more limited with flight options from HOU unless you fly on Southwest.

Because of this, my only flight option was at 5:30pm after disembarking Carnival Jubilee. It took nearly an hour for us to successfully grab an Uber or Lyft from the port. I was thankful that my flight was not earlier, as the congestion in Galveston and competition for ride sharing was stressful.

Boarding Pass

I much prefer to cruise from Fort Lauderdale with the airport’s proximity to the cruise port. I can easily take a flight at 10am and get back to my home in the Florida panhandle by 3pm. Even cruises from Miami feel easier to access compared to Galveston. For this cruise, I wasn’t able to get back home until 11pm, which made for a long day.

Loved: Stylish, modern design

Jubilee Design

After sailing on Carnival Celebration back in November 2022, I was absolutely floored by Carnival’s ability to design a modern, stylish cruise ship. I had only ever cruised on older Carnival ships, such as Carnival Fantasy and Ecstasy, which were very outdated.

For years, Carnival resisted the industry’s shift towards building bigger, more innovative ships. This resulted in ship classes that were nearly identical but lacking innovation. With the debut of the Excel Class, Carnival Cruise Line has started a new and exciting era of ship design.

Carnival Jubilee, much like her sister ships, is stunning. The design onboard is centered around the ocean, such as the new Currents zone designed to be under the sea. It is evident that Carnival focused on the ship’s design, decor, and ambiance. I would describe the design as modern 90s retro with just enough pops of color and neon throughout.

Hated: Windows covered in Grand Central

Center Stage

Speaking of Carnival Jubilee’s zones, one of my favorites is Grand Central. This is the heart and soul of Carnival Jubilee with the multi-story venue called Center Stage. While the production shows here were excellent, one of the design elements of the area that I loved most on sister ships is the floor-to-ceiling windows.

I hated that Carnival Jubilee did not have these windows uncovered during the day, as this provides beautiful natural light. Only once did I see the windows uncovered - and it was apparently so monumental that the cruise line posted about it on social media.

This leads me to believe the windows had yet to be uncovered on Jubilee, but the reason remains unknown. Either way, I prefer having these windows open during the day as it's a wonderful space to relax.

Loved: Lively onboard parties

Deck Parties

Carnival Cruise Line is known for having the most fun ships at sea. In fact, they refer to their vessels as ‘Fun Ships,’ and all of the onboard activities are facilitated by the “Fun Squad”. With fun being the center of Carnival’s onboard experience, it should come as no surprise that the cruise line has massively fun parties.

Of course, the fun starts from the moment you get onboard and set sail during Carnival’s iconic Sailaway Party. While you might have attended other sailaway parties on other cruise lines, you won’t want to miss the craziness of Carnival’s Sailaway Party. With the DJ playing all of your favorite party hits and everyone onboard ready to have a great vacation, it’s a wild party.

In addition, two of the biggest parties onboard took place on the top deck including the White Hot Night Party and the 80’s Rock-N-Glow Party. During these mega parties, the pool deck transformed into a nightclub at sea. And the people came ready to party, that’s for sure! The pool deck was blasting music with hundreds of guests dancing the night away.

Deck Party

While this typically isn’t my scene, it was amusing to be on the top deck and join in on the fun. If you’re sailing on Carnival Jubilee, make sure to check your FunTimes daily agenda to see when these parties take place.

Hated: Rowdy spring break crowd

Sailaway Party

Cruising during spring break is one of the peak times during the year to set sail for vacation. When I booked this cruise, I didn’t connect the dots that this was a spring break sailing. However, I quickly learned that our cruise was filled with spring breakers!

While most of these were families sailing during spring break, we did see plenty of college students looking for a good time too. We noticed a huge increase in security presence onboard, which certainly signified this was going to be a rowdy crowd.

Nothing ever felt out of control, but the onboard vibe was definitely amplified. For example, we saw multiple people needing wheelchairs after our visit to Cozumel. Additionally, the hallways were very noisy in the night with drunk passengers. Luckily, I packed a portable sound machine to play white noise in the night - but, I was surprised to hear the noise before going to bed each night.

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