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6 things I wish I knew before sailing on Carnival Jubilee

What I wish I knew about Carnival Jubilee

Carnival Jubilee is the latest Texas-sized cruise ship to debut for Carnival Cruise Line. She is the third ship in the Excel Class, preceded by Mardi Gras and Carnival Celebration. As the newest “fun” ship, Carnival Jubilee packs a punch when it comes to entertainment, dining, and onboard thrills.

For many years, I scoffed at the thought of cruising on Carnival. Horror stories of crazy parties and rowdy crowds kept me from stepping foot on any Carnival cruise. However, after sailing on Carnival Celebration in late 2022, I was blown away by the cruise line’s new ship class.

Gone are the days of cramped ceilings and outdated decor! Carnival’s Excel Class ships rival some of the mega-ships from the cruise industry’s biggest competitors, such as Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line.


I’ve sailed on six Carnival cruises, although I’ve been on more than 40 cruises in my lifetime across many different cruise lines. I love Carnival’s laidback and casual atmosphere onboard. 

The cruise line’s emphasis on fun is apparent throughout the cruising experience, cultivating an energetic and lively atmosphere onboard.

After sailing on her sister ships last year, I was eager to see how Carnival Jubilee compared to other Excel Class ships. I booked a 7-night Caribbean sailing on Carnival Jubilee in early March. The cruise departed from Galveston, Texas, which was somewhere I had never cruised from.


Come along as I share my experience on Carnival Jubilee, including these six things I wish I had known before the cruise.

1. I would hate cruising from Galveston


One of the biggest disappointments about my Carnival Jubilee cruise had nothing to do with the ship itself. Instead, my biggest gripe about the experience was sailing from Galveston, Texas.

As someone who lives in the Florida panhandle, I am conveniently located near many cruise ports. I can easily cruise from ports like Mobile, Jacksonville, Port Canaveral, Tampa, and New Orleans. In fact, all of these ports are within six hour's driving distance, which saves me money on airfare.

Because Carnival Jubilee sails exclusively from Galveston, I had no choice but to journey to the Lone Star State. The nearest airports to Galveston are in Houston, which include William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) and George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH). Both of these are located far from the port. Not to mention, hotels in Galveston are expensive.


I opted to fly into Hobby, located on the south side of the city. We spent the night in a rundown airport hotel the night before our cruise. The following day, we sat in traffic for an hour before arriving at the cruise terminal.

I was shocked by the congestion and infrastructure of Galveston, as it didn’t seem to accommodate the heavy flow of traffic. Considering Carnival Jubilee can hold nearly 6,000 passengers for each voyage, that’s about 12,000 passengers funneling in and out of the cruise port.

Disembarkation was also unorganized and stressful. We waited 45 minutes for an Uber to take us to the airport after our scheduled driver canceled on us. Luckily, our flight wasn’t until the late afternoon. Overall, I hated the experience of cruising from Galveston, and I won’t be jumping at the chance to return.

2. The ship would feel crowded


When I decided to book this cruise on Carnival Jubilee, I didn’t realize it would be a spring break sailing. It didn’t take long for that to change once we saw the abundance of families and college kids onboard! This wasn’t my first spring break cruise, so I anticipated we would have a busy sailing with longer lines and crowds.

With such a full ship, we found ourselves waiting in lines for almost everything. Whether this was the nightly headliner show or Java Blue Cafe in the morning for specialty coffee, the crowds were ruthless. I refused to wait 30 minutes for an overpriced latte!

We also had to wait longer to get an available table for dinner. This included a 45-minute wait for Pig & Anchor Smokehouse, even though we arrived right after the venue opened!

Read more: Spring break cruises: are they fun and should you try one?

Deck Party

Because of the longer wait times, we had to plan our evenings accordingly. We made sure to arrive early for the headliner production shows - otherwise, we wouldn’t have a place to sit. 

This was especially true for the shows that took place at Center Stage, as seating is quite limited. Additionally, we planned for two hours each night to have dinner since we always had to wait for a table.

Overall, the crowds were manageable. Carnival Jubilee is designed to accommodate a large flow of passengers, which helps alleviate some of the crowding.

3. Bar service would be slow

Alchemy Bar

Having a poolside cocktail is one of my favorite cruise pastimes! Carnival Jubilee has a multitude of bars onboard, including the new Dr. Inks, Marina Bar, and Golden Mermaid venues. There are other classic Carnival bars as well, such as the Red Frog Tiki Bar and Alchemy Bar.

When I’m on a Carnival cruise, I usually have about one drink each day. This could include a happy hour beverage or a fun drink while lounging at the pool.

Unfortunately, the bar service on Carnival Jubilee was pretty slow. With a packed sailing and understaffed venues, this meant waiting around 20 minutes anytime we wanted a drink from the bar. I felt bad for the bartenders trying to keep up with the spring break crowd onboard!


Because of this, I didn’t bother going to the bars as often. While this saved me money in the end, it was disappointing. If I had purchased a drink package, I would have been more frustrated by the understaffed bars.

Read more: 15 Best Carnival Drink Package Tips

4. There are only two new shows on Carnival Jubilee


Carnival Jubilee has top-notch entertainment, similar to other Excel Class ships. One of the coolest venues is Center Stage, which spans across three decks with an outward-facing design. Thanks to large LED screens, the expansive space transforms into an impressive venue for some of the cruise line’s best entertainment.

When I first sailed on Carnival Celebration, I was shocked by the outstanding entertainment! It was obvious that Carnival Cruise Line had upped its game for production shows and headliner entertainment. 

Having a new venue with more space allowed the cruise line to create dazzling shows that other vessels couldn’t accommodate.


I was eager to see the entertainment that would be offered on Carnival Jubilee! However, I was surprised to learn that Jubilee only featured two new production shows. This included a show called The Residency, which is a tribute to resident artists of Las Vegas; the show is only offered on Carnival Jubilee.

However, the description of the show left us feeling uninspired, so we opted to skip that evening. Sadly, this was the only night The Residency was offered onboard, so we didn’t get another chance to see it. We didn’t realize this was one of two new production shows on Jubilee!

Read more: Photos show Carnival Cruise Line's newest and most impressive ship yet


The other new production was a cute show called Dear Future Husband. This storyline revolved around one couple getting married onboard a cruise ship. The music was fun and upbeat, although the show wasn’t anything to write home about.

Other production shows were repeats from other Excel Class ships, including We Are One, Rio Carnival, and Celestial Strings. Regardless, we enjoyed all of these performances!

5. Book specialty dining early


Carnival Jubilee has nearly one dozen different dining options that are included in your cruise fare. Because of this, I never really considered booking specialty dining. I’ve always enjoyed the complimentary dining options, especially eateries like Big Chicken and Guy’s Burger Joint!

However, halfway through the cruise, my sister and I toyed with the idea of booking a meal at one of the specialty restaurants onboard. We had onboard credit that needed to be spent by the end of the cruise, so we thought this would be a good way to spend that money.

Specialty Dining

Since my sister and I have sailed on other Excel Class ships, we’ve already eaten at all of the included restaurants, but we rarely splurge on specialty dining. In fact, Carnival Jubilee only has a handful of specialty dining options anyway, including Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse, Rudi’s Seagrill, and Bonsai Sushi & Teppanyaki.

Looking through the reservation options, we discovered every restaurant was booked for the rest of the cruise! Considering there are only a few specialty options available, we should have planned ahead if we wanted to dine at one of these up-charge venues. Because everything was booked, we opted to stick to complimentary dining options instead.

Specialty Dining

Next time I sail with Carnival, I will plan ahead to book specialty dining restaurants during my cruise.

Read more: 16 hidden cruise ship extra charges you should know about

6. Carnival Jubilee isn’t a carbon copy of other Excel ships


When cruise lines design ship classes, the vessels are typically designed to be nearly identical. There might be a few minor adjustments, but ships within the same class normally have the same look and feel.

Carnival Jubilee is the third Excel Class vessel, and she has her own unique theme and decor compared to her sister ships. While Mardi Gras pays homage to New Orleans and Carnival Celebration quite literally celebrates Carnival’s history, Carnival Jubilee honors both the ocean and Texas!


To start, Carnival Jubilee has an ocean theme throughout the vessel, but you can find the ocean theme to be most prominent in two of the ship’s unique zones: Currents and The Shores. Currents is an immersive walkway on Carnival Jubilee, filled with bars and lounges.

Currents is where you can find Dr. Inks (Ph.D) - a new bar exclusively found on Carnival Jubilee. Fun cocktails are garnished with special touches, such as edible glitter and sea foam. Another unique bar on Carnival Jubilee is the Golden Mermaid, which also serves ocean-themed cocktails.

Carnival Jubilee

Similarly, The Shores has a boardwalk theme where you’ll find quick bites like pizza at Coastal Slice and paninis at Beach Buns.

Finally, Carnival Jubilee has a strong sense of pride for Texas! I learned that Carnival Jubilee will call Galveston her home now and forever. Carnival stated that the newest ship was built specifically for her new home in Texas. You can even see Jubilee’s bow proudly display the Texas star!

Related: I booked the cheapest balcony cabin on Carnival's newest ship for $2,600

Jubilee Sign

With this in mind, you can expect to find a crowd of mostly local Texans onboard. Carnival Jubilee offers new activities for its Texas crowd, including the first game-day style party called Lone Star Tailgate, filled with games, food, and fun. Don’t be surprised when you hear country music playing throughout the ship. Even Jubilee’s very own cruise director, Kyndall Fire, is a proud Texas resident!

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