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Is a spring break cruise with Carnival too crazy? I went onboard to find out

Carnival Spring Break

Spring break is one of the most popular - and expensive - times of the year to take a cruise. With kids and college students off school, it’s the perfect opportunity to let loose and have some mid-semester fun on vacation.

Because of this, cruise ships are typically filled to capacity with spring breakers from March to April, cultivating a rowdier-than-normal crowd onboard. And, if there’s any cruise line that spring breakers gravitate towards, it’s Carnival Cruise Line.

With the cheapest cruise fares and the self-proclaimed "Most Fun Ships at Sea," spring breakers can’t go wrong with a Carnival cruise. The party never stops on Carnival’s fun ships. From the wild Sailaway Party to the mega deck parties, spring breakers love to sail with Carnival Cruise Line.


For some, sailing on a Carnival cruise for spring break sounds like a nightmare with crazy college students and out-of-control children. If you prefer a quiet ambiance onboard, this certainly isn’t the best time to take a cruise.

However, you might be wondering what it’s really like taking a spring break cruise with Carnival Cruise Line. Could it really be that bad of an idea? Will the crowd onboard be unmanageable and unruly?

Here’s what it was really like taking a Carnival cruise during spring break onboard Carnival Jubilee - and whether I would book this cruise again. 

Not my first rodeo

Allie Carnival Cruise Line

I’ve sailed with Carnival Cruise Line six times now, and most of these cruises were actually during spring break; this wasn’t my first rodeo on a spring break cruise with Carnival.

My first Carnival cruise was on Carnival Destiny, which has since been gutted and renamed to Carnival Sunshine. This was in high school for a 4-night spring break sailing with my parents, and I remember the ship was absolutely packed. We had a ton of fun, though!

Carnival Destiny

Later in college, I sailed with my now-husband during spring break on the Carnival Fantasy, which is now retired and scrapped. The 4-night cruise was a quintessential spring break cruise, and we were not the only college kids onboard! 

Although we were both 21, we were too cheap to buy any alcohol onboard other than one bottle of wine to share during formal night.

Read more: What's the cost of a drink package on Carnival? (2024)

Spring Break

Last spring break, I sailed on one of Carnival’s newest ships, Mardi Gras, towards the end of spring break. While there were many families onboard, it didn’t feel like a more rowdy crowd. Because this was a 7-night sailing, I would guess many college students were deterred by the price and length.

Fast forward to this spring when I embarked yet again on a spring break cruise with Carnival Cruise Line. This time, I would be sailing on their newest cruise ship, Carnival Jubilee. The massive cruise ship is a far cry from my first spring break cruises on two of the cruise line’s oldest and smallest ships.

Carnival Jubilee

When booking my recent cruise on the brand-new Carnival Jubilee, I didn’t really think about early March as being spring break. Growing up, my spring breaks were always later in March. After getting onboard my 7-night Caribbean cruise last week, it was clear that this would be a spring break cruise!

Insane Sailaway Party


Carnival’s cruise ships are packed with parties from the minute you get onboard. One of the biggest parties you’ll find on a Carnival cruise ship is the Sailaway Party at the start of the cruise. The drinks start flowing with music blasting as nearly every Carnival guest crowds around the pool deck.

After more than 40 cruises, I can say with confidence that Carnival has the best sailaway parties. And while I’ve seen some pretty crazy sailaway parties, this one was the wildest! I have never seen so many people crowd around the pool on a cruise ship. 

In fact, at one point, I thought about whether the pool deck could safely handle that many guests! The cruise director, Kyndall Fire, facilitated a lively Sailaway Party with the help of her DJ to pump up the crowd. The dance floor was filled with adults and kids alike, along with a group of frat boys!


At this point, I was a little concerned about how crazy our spring break cruise would actually be. If this Sailaway Party was any indication, it was going to be a wild week. I’m not one who likes to stay up late and party the night away on a cruise. Instead, I prefer to relax and enjoy the entertainment and dining options aboard.

Many families onboard

Pool deck

While the energy from the Sailaway Party was through the roof on Carnival Jubilee, the ship was mostly filled with families. Although there were certainly college students onboard, this was not the majority of passengers. In fact, I was surprised by how many grandparents and older passengers were sailing onboard!

It should be no surprise that Carnival Cruise Line attracts many families onboard, as it’s considered one of the most family-friendly cruise lines in the industry. With its fun ships and well-established youth programming, there’s something for everyone on a Carnival cruise.

Read more: 5 Kids' Cruise Lines the Whole Family Will Love


In this way, Carnival Jubilee appeals to all generations while still targeting families looking for an affordable vacation. Booking the newest cruise ship is also enticing since there is so much to do onboard for every family member - from entertainment to late-night parties and family-themed activities.

Busy, somewhat crowded ship


Holding upwards of 6,000 people, Carnival Jubilee is a floating city. Even with 17 bars, 21 restaurants, and six zones onboard, the ship felt crowded often during our cruise.

While Carnival Jubilee was designed with crowd control in mind, we found ourselves standing in lines for the restaurants and bars. For example, there was always a long line at Java Blue in the mornings for specialty coffee. This made it easy for me to save money on my lattes because I refused to wait 30 minutes for a paid coffee. 

Carnival also requires guests to request tables for dinner using their HUB app. While this would allow us to request a table from the comfort of our cabin, we had to wait anywhere from 30 to 40 minutes for some of the restaurants. Luckily, the main dining room was always able to seat us quickly.


Additionally, we had to arrive early to most of the headliner shows if we wanted to get a seat. The shows in Center Stage, one of the main entertainment venues, were particularly difficult to get a seat. We would arrive upwards of 30 minutes before a show started so we could secure a spot!

While this wasn’t the end of the world, it was a little frustrating having to fight the crowds constantly. However, the ship did not feel like it was overrun with children. We also found the ship to be more enjoyable during port days when most guests went ashore. This allowed us to use more of the amenities without having to accommodate large lines.

Thrilling deck parties

Deck Parties

Although not as crazy as the Sailaway Party, Carnival Jubilee hosted multiple parties on the top deck in the late evenings. These were the wildest events that took place during our cruise, and the spring breakers came out to party!

The first party on the top deck was the White Hot Night Party where the pool deck was decorated in all-white. The music was blasting so loud that I joked about the fish in the ocean not being able to sleep! There was a huge turnout, although not as much as the Sailaway Party.

Another top deck party was the 80’s Rock-N-Glow Party, which was described as a totally bodacious party with awesome giveaways and a rad ‘80s dance contest. This had a more diverse demographic, likely because older passengers enjoy the 80’s music.

Deck Party

However, the partying on the top deck was concentrated just to the pool area. We couldn’t hear the noise from our cabin, nor could we hear the music elsewhere on the ship. This was appreciated, as I didn’t always want to stay up late listening to the party’s ruckus.

Noisy hallways


While the top deck parties didn’t create any noise near our cabin, the hallways were still very noisy. Our cove balcony was located on Deck 5, not too far from the elevators. While we couldn’t hear people around the elevator, there was noise from people walking or running up and down the hallway.

With such a lively crowd, it wasn’t uncommon to hear yelling, screaming, chanting, or singing in the hallway at all hours of the night. This did not keep me awake since I brought my portable sound machine, which is impressive considering I am a light sleeper.

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Sound Machine

I’m unsure if the cabins had thin walls or if the crowd onboard our spring break cruise was particularly noisy. Regardless, I was grateful that I didn’t have any issues sleeping with some of the hallway noise. Booking a cabin a little further from the elevators would have helped prevent this too.

Too much fun in Cozumel

Pier Runners

Our 7-night sailing had three different port stops during the itinerary: Mahogany Bay, Cozumel, and Costa Maya. Since our cove balcony cabin was located on Deck 5, we had a perfect view of the pier in Cozumel.

My sister and I had visited this port many times, so we opted to sit on our balcony and watch the pier runners return late to the ship. The term ‘pier runners’ has been coined in the cruising world to describe passengers who literally need to run back to the cruise ship for all-aboard time. As any cruiser should know, a cruise ship will not wait for late passengers!

The all-aboard time was 3:30pm, so we sat on our balcony around 3:00pm to start watching the pier runners. While returning to our cabin, we saw one woman on our floor totally slumped over in a wheelchair. We assume this was due to excessive drinking considering it did not look like a medical emergency. Nevertheless, we had never seen anything like this on a cruise before!

Pier Runners

From our balcony, we saw many, many passengers stumbling back to the ship after an apparently very fun day in Cozumel. It was clear that the nearby bars in Cozumel during our port stay were popular. I was surprised to see another guest, this time much younger, stumbling back to the cruise terminal who needed to use a wheelchair to get back on the ship. 

During this time, the ship waited nearly 30 minutes to accommodate the pier runners! Many of these guests franticly ran down the Cozumel pier back to the ship. There were probably around 50 people who returned late to the ship in Cozumel. Based on this, I would guess pier runners become more common during spring break!

Expensive cruise fare


When a new cruise ship is launched, cruise fares are typically higher due to increased demand. This was certainly the case when we booked our Carnival Jubilee cruise, as the brand-new ship only started sailing in December 2023.

Being only three months old, there was higher demand to sail on the latest and greatest Carnival cruise ship. Our cruise fare for two guests was $2,600 for a cove balcony, while the cheapest cabin available was a windowless, interior stateroom for $2,000.

Comparatively, Cruise.Blog writer Elizabeth booked a 5-night spring break cruise on Carnival Elation for $1,480. Keep in mind, Carnival Elation is a Fantasy class ship, making her one of the oldest ships in Carnival’s fleet at 27 years old.


In this way, college students are more apt to book a cheaper and shorter cruise, just as I did back in college. Most of Carnival’s short itineraries can be found on their oldest ships, which lack the bells and whistles you can find on the newest vessels.

Because of this cost discrepancy, our crowd consisted of more families with children than college-aged students. According to one crew member, our cruise was sailing at 90% capacity with 5,900 passengers onboard. For reference, Carnival Jubilee has a maximum capacity of 6,500 passengers.

Would I do it again?


With the lowest cruise fares and the most fun ships at sea, Carnival cruises attract a party-oriented crowd. Compared to my other Carnival spring break cruises, this was the most tame experience; however, it was far from boring.

The biggest parties onboard Carnival Jubilee were the Sailaway Party and the deck parties late at night. I was also surprised to see how many pier runners we witnessed in Cozumel, along with seeing two guests being taken in wheelchairs.

Overall, there were more families on this spring break cruise than anything. The college crowd was minimal, which is likely due to the 7-night sailing and the cost of cruising on a brand-new ship.

Carnival Cocktail

If anything, the biggest gripe I had about our spring break cruising was navigating the crowds onboard. Carnival Jubilee was almost at maximum capacity, so it was frustrating waiting in line or struggling to find a chair during the headliner shows. At least this made it easy to say no to splurging on my morning lattes!

I would definitely sail with Carnival again during spring break, but I would prioritize booking a longer itinerary on a newer ship to ensure the onboard experience is more tame. I love having fun, but my college days are over, and partying all night during spring break is no longer my priority!

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