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How does Carnival Jubilee compare to Carnival Celebration and Mardi Gras? A complete guide

Carnival Cruise Excel Class comparison

Carnival Cruise Line is one of the most popular cruise lines in the world, best known for having the most fun ships at sea. Although the cruise line operates a large fleet with vessels of all sizes, Carnival’s Excel Class offers an unparalleled cruising experience.

With cutting-edge technology, expansive dining options, elevated entertainment, spacious accommodations, and a big emphasis on fun, the Excel Class has been revolutionary for Carnival Cruise Line. While each ship in the Excel Class was built to be nearly identical, each vessel has unique features that differentiate the sister ships.

Mardi Gras was the first vessel in Carnival’s Excel Class - making quite the splash for the cruise industry back in 2021. The mega-ship redefined the Carnival cruising experience with new attractions, headliner shows, restaurants, and more.

Carnival Jubilee

Much of the excitement was because the cruise line had never built anything quite as massive, stylish, or innovative. Mardi Gras represented a new era of cruising for Carnival. Following the massive success of its flagship vessel, Carnival Celebration was introduced to the cruise line shortly after.

The latest ship to debut in the Excel Class is the brand-new Carnival Jubilee, which hit the seas for the first time in late 2023. Sailing year-round from Galveston, the Texas-themed cruise ship offers an unforgettable cruise experience for its guests.

Although she might look similar to her sisters, Carnival Jubilee has her own set of features and amenities that you won’t find on other Excel Class ships. In this article, we will review some of the key identifiers for Carnival Jubilee and explore how she compares to her sister ships in the Excel Class.

Overview of Carnival's Excel Class

Excel Comparison

Carnival’s Excel Class is home to the newest and biggest cruise ships for the cruise line. The Excel Class encompasses three ships: Mardi Gras, Carnival Celebration, and Carnival Jubilee.

However, the Excel Class extends beyond the Carnival Cruise Line brand, as it's a subset of the parent company Carnival Corporation’s Excellence Class. Other Excellence Class ships include vessels from German-based AIDA Cruises, UK-based P&O, and Italian-based Costa Cruises.

For Carnival, however, the Excel Class was a huge shift in cruise design and innovation. For example, Mardi Gras was nearly 40% bigger than anything else in Carnival’s fleet when the ship was first introduced. The flagship vessel was the first to be designed with zones - or designated spaces onboard with dining, bars, lounges, and entertainment available.

Sailaway Party Carnival Celebration

There are six zones on Carnival’s Excel Class ships, and each vessel has two uniquely designed zones. This helps compartmentalize the large ships and alleviates crowding with upwards of 6,000 guests onboard.

Comparatively, Carnival Jubilee is identical in size to Carnival Celebration in terms of weight and capacity. Both vessels are slightly larger than Mardi Gras and hold about 100 more passengers. Consider each of the Excel ships to be fraternal rather than identical twins.

All of Carnival’s Excel Class ships are reused names from older Carnival ships, paying homage to Carnival’s longtime history. Mardi Gras was Carnival’s first cruise ship, which set sail in 1972. Similarly, the original Carnival Celebration was built in 1987, whereas the MS Jubilee first sailed in 1986.

Carnival Jubilee

  • 183,521 gross tons
  • 5,374 guests at double occupancy
  • 15 passenger decks
  • 2,687 total guest staterooms
  • Inaugural cruise: December 23, 2023
  • Homeport: Galveston, Texas

Carnival Celebration

Celebration Carnival
  • 183,521 gross tons
  • 5,374 guests at double occupancy
  • 15 passenger decks
  • 2,687 total guest staterooms
  • Inaugural cruise: November 6, 2022
  • Homeport: Miami, Florida

Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras
  • 180,800 gross tons
  • 5,282 guests at double occupancy
  • 15 passenger decks
  • 2,641 total guest staterooms
  • Inaugural cruise: July 31, 2021
  • Homeport: Port Canaveral, Florida

How is Carnival Jubilee different than Mardi Gras and Carnival Celebration?

Jubilee Exterior

At the end of the day, Carnival’s Excel Class ships are more alike than they are different. Almost all of the same amenities, attractions, and dining options are found on each of the three Excel Class ships. 

Let's take a closer look at how Carnival Jubilee stands out when compared to her sister ships, including unique theming, zones, restaurants, bars, and more. 

Read more: Carnival Celebration vs. Mardi Gras: A complete guide

Theme and Decor

Carnival Jubilee

(Stairway from The Shores to Currents on Carnival Jubilee)

Each of the Excel Class ships has its own distinct theme. This is one of the biggest differentiators between the three sister ships, as the decor is centered around the ship's specific theme. To start, Mardi Gras is designed with New Orleans in mind while Carnival Celebration has a celebration theme to pay homage to Carnival’s history as a brand. These design elements are found throughout the vessel.

Carnival Mardi Gras
The Gateway ​ Carnival Celebration
(Top: French Quarter on Mardi Gras. Bottom: The Gateway on Carnival Celebration)

As the newest ship from the cruise line, Carnival Jubilee draws inspiration from the ocean. The cruise line shared how an ocean theme was on Carnival’s horizon for a while, as it focuses on embracing and celebrating the sea. The ocean is Jubilee’s home, after all!

Carnival Jubilee
(Currents on Carnival Jubilee, home to the new Dr.Inks Bar)

As for the theme, the Excel Class of ships represents a new era for the cruise line. Because of this, all of the Excel Class ships have a strong tie to Carnival’s history. 

Carnival Celebration has the heaviest emphasis on the history of the cruise line, but Jubilee and Mardi Gras also have elements that pay tribute to the cruise line's history. You can find pictures of Carnival’s ships and historical moments throughout the ships. 

History of Cucina
(Painting depicting the original MS Jubilee and MS Celebration at Port of Galveston in 2012)

For instance, the Cucina del Capitano restaurant on Carnival Jubilee is filled with pictures on the wall representing the cruise line’s history. I love this personal touch from the cruise line, as it makes the family-style restaurant feel even more intimate. 


(Center Stage Bar on Carnival Jubilee)

As mentioned, the massive Excel Class ships are broken into six separate zones; this is where you can find the most discrepancies between the vessels. Two of the six zones are designed specifically for each ship, although the location and onboard experience are essentially the same. 

Here is a breakdown of the six different zones on the Excel Class ships, including the respective names of each zone by ship:

  • The Ultimate Playground
  • Lido
  • Summer Landing
  • The Shores (Jubilee), 820 Biscayne (Celebration), and La Piazza (Mardi Gras)
  • Grand Central (Jubilee and Mardi Gras) and Celebration Central (Celebration)
  • Currents (Jubilee), The Gateway (Celebration), and French Quarter (Mardi Gras)

Excel Class ships feature a themed walkway spanning across Decks 6 and 7 with bars, lounges, and restaurants. However, this zone offers the same onboard experience on all three ships as a great place to grab a drink and listen to live music. You'll find yourself walking through this area as you navigate the ship from bow to stern. This zone is also where guests can sign up to cook at Carnival Kitchen or enjoy a specialty dining meal at Emeril’s Bistro.

(Emeril's Bistro on Mardi Gras)

On Carnival Jubilee, this midship zone is known as Currents with a magical underwater design. Guests can actually descend into the underwater world from another different zone - The Shores - through a glistening staircase with swirling fish! The LED screens surrounding Currents play into the underwater theme with mesmerizing shows and projections.  

Carnival Jubilee
(Currents zone on Carnival Jubilee)

Comparatively, the French Quarter on Mardi Gras feels like you’re walking through the streets of New Orleans while The Gateway on Carnival Celebration is an ode to celebrating travel. You can still find the same immersive elements with LED screens and themed projections on Mardi Gras and Carnival Celebration. 

The Gateway ​ Carnival Celebration
(The Gateway zone on Carnival Celebration)

Above Currents is another unique zone on Carnival Jubilee known as The Shores, located on Deck 8. Similarly, the zone is filled with more bars and lounges for guests to enjoy. The Shores is meant to feel like walking on a seaside boardwalk with fair-style games and beach views. The many windows with sweeping views of the ocean truly play into the boardwalk theme!

Carnival Jubilee
(The Shores zone on Carnival Jubilee)

This zone on Carnival Celebration is known as 820 Biscayne and draws inspiration from Miami with neon colors and bright lights. Guests are greeted with a bold “Welcome to Miami” sign while entering the zone. The 820 Biscayne zone was designed based on Carnival's longstanding history with Miami,  which is also the homeport of the ship. 

Welcome to Miami Celebration
(820 Biscayne Zone on Carnival Celebration)

Likewise, the space on Mardi Gras is the Italian-style La Piazza with the bars, eateries, and restaurants all featuring an Italian theme. A real Vespa and Fiat are on display, perfectly aligning with the zone's theme. 


Golden Mermaid Bar
(Golden Mermaid bar on Carnival Jubilee)

There is no shortage of bars on Carnival’s Excel Class ships if you’re looking for a quintessential cruise cocktail! While most of the bars are similar onboard, there are two bars unique to each Excel Class ship.

Carnival Jubilee’s newest bars, Golden Mermaid and Dr. Inks (Ph.D), are located in Currents. Each of these bars also features new ocean-themed drink menus with crafted cocktails that you won’t find on other ships.

Carnival Jubilee
Dr. Inks bar on Carnival Jubilee)

For Carnival Celebration, these bars include the travel-inspired Latitudes and cruise-themed Golden Jubilee. Moreover, the bars on Mardi Gras are known as the jazz-style Brass Magnolia and quirky Fortune Teller.

Latitude Bar Celebration
Fortune Teller Bar
(Top: Latitudes Bar on Carnival Celebration. Bottom: Fortune Teller bar on Mardi Gras)

Similarly, Carnival Jubilee debuted the brand-new Marina Bar in The Shores zone, serving up seaside cocktails and specialty coffees. On the other hand, Carnival Celebration’s bar is known as the Cuban-themed Bar 820 while Mardi Gras’s Bar Della Rosa is designed after a classic Italian cafe.

Read more: 15 Best Carnival Drink Package Tips


Carnival Jubilee
(Rio Carnival performance on Carnival Jubilee)

Carnival’s Excel Class ships are home to some of the best entertainment at sea for the cruise line. Between production shows at Center Stage and other headliner shows at Carnival’s theaters, the entertainment is top-notch on Excel Class ships. 

Center Stage, with its massive, LED screens, is where you can find the biggest shows with aerialists, singing, and dancing. Carnival’s Playlist Production shows are smaller and performed in a traditional theatre.

Carnival Mardi Gras
(Voodoo Nights on Mardi Gras)

The three Excel Class ships have their own distinct production shows while also sharing some of the same headliner shows across the ship class.

Carnival Jubilee only features two new shows, The Residency and Dear Future Husband. While The Residency pays tribute to Las Vegas’s most well-known resident performers, Dear Future Husband is a fun Playlist Production show about a couple getting married on a cruise ship.

(Dear Future Husband performance on Carnival Jubilee)

Similarly, Carnival Celebration has The Most Magnificent Circus at Center Stage and Color My World in the theatre as a Playlist Production show. 

Mardi Gras’s main production is VooDoo Moon and Vegas Nights, which can only be found onboard Mardi Gras. Finally, Carnival Jubilee and Carnival Celebration both showcase Rio Carnival at Center Stage.

Carnival Celebration Circus

(The Most Magnificant Circus on Carnival Celebration)

You might be surprised to find many of the same production shows on the Excel Class ships, including the electrifying Celestial Strings and heartwarming We Are One. The interactive gameshows are also identical across the Excel Class with popular showings of Deal or No Deal and Family Feud.

Texas Style

Jubilee Merch

Carnival Jubilee’s homeport of Galveston, Texas plays a big role in the onboard experience. Carnival Cruise Line has a longstanding history with Texas, and now, Carnival Jubilee is the largest ship to sail year-round from the Port of Galveston.

To honor Texas and its pivotal role in Carnival’s history, Jubilee was specifically designed to cater to the local population. Because of this, you’ll find Texas elements across Jubilee that you won’t see on other Excel Class ships.


For example, Carnival Jubilee proudly sails with the large-and-in-charge Texas star on its bow. The star signals Carnival’s commitment to the Texas market, as Jubilee’s homeport will be Galveston forever. Even the music played onboard is from Texas-born artists.

Additionally, you can find special Texas-themed merchandise at the Carnival Store onboard. Everything from sweatshirts to T-shirts and tumblers feature a fusion of Texas and Carnival. This exclusive merchandise can only be found on Carnival Jubilee, as the other Excel Class vessels do not have the same relationship with the state of Texas.

Texas Merch

Finally, Carnival Jubilee’s Texas audience will appreciate the special tailgate-style activities hosted onboard the newest Excel Class ship. The three-hour Lone Star Tailgate Party brings the game day fun and can only be found on Carnival Jubilee. The party is meant to bring fierce competition among family and friends, with games and giveaways that the whole family will enjoy.



All three of the Excel Class ships are sailing 6-night to 9-night itineraries to the Caribbean, meaning the itineraries offered are very similar. Currently, Carnival Jubilee only sails to the Western Caribbean on 7-night sailings with stops in Mahogany Bay, Cozumel, and Costa Maya.

On the other hand, Carnival Celebration and Mardi Gras have more varied itineraries. Both ships make regular visits to Amber Cove, which is Carnival’s private destination in the Caribbean. Some itineraries visit Southern Caribbean ports like Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao while most itineraries make stops throughout the Bahamas and Virgin Islands.

Prices for the Excel Class ships start around $500 per person and increase to about $1,000 per person for higher-demand sailings.

What does Carnival Jubilee have in common with Mardi Gras and Carnival Celebration?

Carnival Jubilee

Considering Carnival Jubilee is the third vessel in the Excel Class, the newest cruise ship for Carnival is very similar to her sister ships. Other than the differences listed above, you’ll find nearly the same layout onboard, along with the same bars, lounges, restaurants, amenities, activities, and staterooms offered.

Here is a breakdown of the similarities found on all three Excel Class ships, including the new Carnival Jubilee.

Entertainment and Lounges


There is no shortage of entertainment onboard Excel Class ships. You’ll probably run out of time before you have the opportunity to try everything onboard these massive ships! You can find signature Carnival entertainment options, including daily comedy shows, along with Excel-exclusive offerings, like BOLT: Ultimate Sea Coaster.

Below is a list of entertainment and lounges available on all three Excel Class ships:

  • Punchliner Comedy Club: Daily comedy shows with rotating comedians
  • BOLT: Ultimate Sea Coaster: For-fee rollercoaster, costing $15/person
  • Heroes Tribute Lounge: Patriotic lounge with couches and TVs for sport viewing
  • Piano Bar 88: Sing-a-long bar with pianist
  • LimeLight Lounge: Versatile lounge for activities like trivia and karaoke
  • WaterWorks: Onboard waterpark with slides and splash zone. Included in the cruise fare.
  • Ropes course: Obstacle course across top deck. Included in the cruise fare.
  • Miniature golf: Goofy golf for the whole family. Included in the cruise fare.
  • Sports court: Full-size court

Restaurants and Bars

Carnival Jubilee

The Excel Class ships have a huge variety of eateries, bars, and lounges onboard. In fact, most of the restaurants are included in the cruise fare, and they’re delicious! Carnival’s Excel Class ships have some of the best cruise food in the industry, especially the variety and quality of quick casual eateries.

Here is a comprehensive list of complimentary restaurants on all Excel Class ships:

  • Lido Marketplace: Main buffet onboard with breakfast, lunch, and dinner available
  • JavaBlue Café: Coffeehouse with specialty coffees, shakes, and grab-and-go snacks
  • Big Chicken: Homemade crispy chicken tenders and sandwiches. Available for breakfast too.
  • Guy’s Burger Joint: Juicy burgers and fresh-cut fries
  • BlueIguana Cantina: Mexican food with freshly-made tacos and burritos. Available for breakfast too.
  • Guy’s Pig and Anchor Smokehouse: BBQ buffet served for lunch and sit-down style for dinner. In-house beers from brewhouse cost extra.
  • Main dining room: Serves multi-course meals for dinner. SeaDay brunch available on sea days. (Pacific Restaurant on Jubilee. Palm Restaurant on Mardi Gras. Festivale Restaurant on Carnival Celebration.)
  • Cucina del Capitano: Italian cuisine. First visit is complimentary on Mardi Gras and Celebration. Currently, all visits are complimentary on Jubilee.
  • Chibang!: Menu with Mexican and Asian dishes. Second visits on Mardi Gras and Celebration are subject to an additional fee. Currently, all visits are complimentary on Jubilee.
  • Swirl’s Ice Cream: Self-serve frozen yogurt and ice cream machines
  • Street Eats: Food-stall style with casual and quick snacks
  • Fresh Creations: Located in Serenity, build-your-own salad bar

Read more: Carnival menus 2024: Main dining room, specialty restaurants & more

Bonsai Celebration

Below is a list of specialty dining venues that can be found on all Excel Class ships:

  • Fahrenheit 555: Signature, upscale steakhouse
  • Bonsai Sushi: Sushi and Asian cuisine
  • Bonsai Teppanyaki: Interactive Asian dinner
  • Rudi’s Seagrill: Seafood restaurant
  • Emeril’s Bistro: Low-key restaurant with creole favorites
  • Seafood Shack: Quick seafood bites on the pool deck
  • Cherry on Top: Candy and sweets shop
  • Carnival Kitchen: Follow along cooking classes in a state-of-the-art kitchen

Many of the bars onboard are the same across all Excel Class ships, including many of Carnival's signature venues. 

  • RedFrog Tiki Bar: Tiki-themed, multi-level bar on the pool deck
  • Alchemy Bar: Features chemistry-inspired craft cocktails
  • Havana Bar: Cuban bar with Latin music
  • The Watering Hole: Poolside bar with bar favorites
  • Tide Pool Bar: Aft-facing bar with classics
  • Serenity Pool Bar: Located in the adults-only area

Other Similarities 

Carnival Jubilee

Along with many similarities in bars, lounges, activities, and lounges, Carnival Jubilee has many of the same venues and spaces as Mardi Gras and Carnival Celebration across the six zones.

Here are other venues that you can find on all three Excel Class ships:

  • Lido: Pool Deck
  • Cloud 9: Spa and fitness center
  • Tides Pool: Top deck, aft-facing pool with hot tubs
  • Serenity: Adults-only retreat area
  • The Patio: Outdoor, aft-facing relaxation space with infinity pool
  • Casino
  • Youth and teen programming: Camp Ocean, Club O2, Circle C
  • Shopping at various Fun Shops
  • The Warehouse arcade
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