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Carnival Jubilee Review

4.0 / 5.0
22 reviews
See all photos
Editor Rating
4.0
Very Good
Overall
Colleen McDaniel
Editor-In-Chief

Carnival’s flagship, Carnival Jubilee, is a Texas-sized ship for a Texas market. The cruise ship, which holds 5,374 guests at double occupancy (6,631 when full), debuted in 2023 and calls Galveston, Texas, home.

Carnival Jubilee is a perfect pick for guests who want the ship to be the destination. It offers lots to do for travelers of all ages. Highlights include the Ultimate Playground, which encompasses BOLT rollercoaster, a huge ropes course, minigolf course, waterslides and a splash park for the kids.

It’s also a great value, as many of the items you’d pay extra for on other cruise lines (activities like minigolf, a ropes course, some specialty dining) are included in the price of your cruise fare on Jubilee. Even those things that do come with an extra cost are reasonably priced. (This is one of the reasons Cruise Critic Editors named Carnival Cruise Line the Best Value for Money in 2023.)

Food on Carnival Jubilee is good, with some fun surprises that border on great, and the variety is excellent. Entertainment, and a schedule packed with daily activities, is wildly fun and hits on a range that will appeal to almost everyone.

We also love its fun ocean theme, which is especially evident thanks to whimsical touches like interactive screens that bring the sea to life with sea creatures and scenes, as well as themed bars, like Dr. Inks, a bar that has an octopus as its namesake.

Where we struggle with Carnival Jubilee is the volume of passengers in any given space pretty much 24/7. It’s a big ship, but it also holds a lot of passengers. This creates lines for virtually anything, from a drink at the bar to a sandwich at one of the ship’s fast-casual restaurants or a slice of pizza.

We stood in line a lot on our cruise and heard from older passengers who said they couldn’t eat at outdoor venues like Big Chicken or Guy’s Burger Joint because standing so long in hot, humid conditions was difficult for them. Many of the lines do move quickly, but our wait times ranged from 5 to 30 minutes.

Service also was spotty on our holiday cruise, with some greats (our room steward and main dining room waiters) and some real misses. It was enough of an issue that it affected our enjoyment of the overall cruise experience.

Carnival Jubilee is an excellent option for families who want to be spoiled for choice, cruisers who can drive to Galveston and anyone who wants to cut loose and have fun on their vacation.

Carnival Jubilee Deck Plan Offers Action on Nearly Every Level

The Carnival Jubilee deck plan centers around the top decks for outdoor activities. The lido deck (Deck 16) is where the bulk of those activities take place. Here, you’ll find the ship’s main swimming pool, flanked by casual grab-and-go food options, bars, lounge chairs and seating nooks. The pool sits below a giant movie screen, and films are shown occasionally throughout the cruise.

Carnival Jubilee also offers a fun space up top on Deck 18 called the Ultimate Playground. And it is. Here, cruisers can try out the ship’s BOLT rollercoaster, scale the vertigo-inducing ropes course, play minigolf or basketball and more.

Most of the ship’s restaurants are located aft on the Carnival Jubilee deck plan, with the ship’s Jubilee Theater forward. Rooms are located on every deck, except for decks 6, 7, 18 and 19. On decks that offer both cabins and public spaces, rooms are located at the front of the ship.

Inside, the heartbeat of the ship is the sprawling Grand Central atrium, a massive space that climbs from Deck 6 to Deck 8. With a giant LED screen, stage and plenty of seating, Grand Central offers shows, activities and entertainment at all hours. Nearby bars and eateries make it the kind of spot passengers will stop even if no activities are being offered at the time.

Carnival Jubilee is a family ship, and as such, kids are found nearly everywhere, though kids clubs are located on decks 4 and 17. The ship also is vibrant, and finding a spot for a little peace and quiet is difficult, though the adults-only Serenity outdoor deck as well as the Summer Landing, on Deck 8, are lesser-trafficked areas.

Carnival Jubilee Rooms are Efficient, Offer Options

Carnival Jubilee rooms are designed for comfort and efficiency, and they especially appeal to families and groups traveling together. Whereas other cruise lines offer over-the-top suites, Carnival Jubilee’s focus is on comfortable cabins that fit a variety of travel styles. That’s not to say the ship doesn’t offer suites – 181 of the ship’s 2,687 rooms are suites. But the suites aren’t as large as some offered by other big megaship cruise lines, and most cabins are designed to accommodate more than two guests.

One of our favorite aspects of Carnival Jubilee is its approach to private enclaves – areas that are exclusively for guests staying in that “ship within a ship.” The ship offers a Havana Experience enclave, a private area on the ship that requires keycard access. Guests staying in one of the 98 Havana Cabana rooms get a variety of private perks, including a small pool, a sundeck, patios and outdoor bar.

Likewise, the ship has a Family Harbor section, which also has some exclusives, including access to a private lounge. It’s also convenient to the kids club designated for the youngest cruisers onboard.

Carnival Jubilee rooms to avoid include those on Deck 5, directly below the Jubilee Theater or Grand Central, as noise could be a bit of an issue. Likewise, those on Deck 15, below the main pool, could have some noise, especially late at night or early in the morning, when the crew set up lounge chairs. If seasickness is an issue, avoid staterooms on high decks or at the very front or back of the ship. Instead, bow low and midship for smoother ride.

Carnival Jubilee balcony rooms are available in multiple categories from Deck 5 on up. Even Standard Balcony Staterooms have relatively spacious verandas. We stayed in a balcony cabin on our voyage and used our balcony a lot, thanks to a little extra space and a nice-sized table – relative rarities on some cruise ships.

Carnival Jubilee Food Offers Plenty of Variety and Value

With 22 dining options – plus room service – Carnival Jubilee has food for any appetite. The food on Carnival Jubilee is very good, with a couple of misses but mostly hits. Even better, most of the food options are included in the price of your fare. Those that aren’t have a reasonable fee, rather than the exorbitant fees we’ve seen pop up lately on some cruise ships.

Many of the restaurants are more casual in nature; you walk up, order or self-serve, then take it away to your table. This fits the Carnival “Fun Ship” approach perfectly, as guests can dine how they like.

The most popular restaurants (and the ones with the longest lines) are Shaquille O’Neal’s Big Chicken, Guy Fieri’s Guy’s Burger Joint as well as his Pig & Anchor Smokehouse | Brewhouse. If you can bear the wait – no more than 30 minutes in line for any of them – you’re rewarded with delicious, belly-busting food. (We went to Shaq’s Big Chicken three times on our cruise.)

More formal options exist as well, including two main dining rooms (both serving the same thing each night). Carnival historically has done a good job of offering accessible favorites as well as more exotic options (think alligator, for example). Jubilee is no exception. We enjoyed our dinners here, especially the gala dinner, which included steak and lobster tail.

Service on Carnival Jubilee is Overwhelmed, Inconsistent

One of the highlights for us when we cruise is interacting with the crewmembers who work onboard a ship. We often leave with new friends and photos of the people who made our cruise so special. On Carnival Jubilee, we encountered service issues that left us feeling like that piece of our cruise was missing.

We certainly had some highlights: Our room steward was super friendly, always willing to help and efficient, and our main dining room waiters were much the same.

There was a sense of crew onboard being overwhelmed, though: We waited for a drink for 20+ minutes at the Red Frog Rum Bar while two bartenders scrambled to keep up with the bar crowd and the servers who were waiting on drink orders to deliver to other guests; two people handled orders at the ship’s pizza joint, Slices, and the lines subsequently were consistently 30+ people deep; waiters in the main dining room had multiple tables all seated at once, and guests waited 30 minutes for even a drink or first course.

On top of that, we encountered some crewmembers who were borderline rude: At the one restaurant, the schedule said it opened at 9, but when we showed up at 10:30, it was still closed. A crewmember was there prepping, ignoring us until finally turning around and barking “we’re not open yet.” At another restaurant, a customer asked, “I know you don’t open for 5 minutes, but when you do, will you have waffles?” The waiter responded with, “We’re not open yet.” (He did give an answer after the guest asked a second time.) We heard similar stories from several other passengers.

It’s a shame, as Carnival has always been one of my favorites in terms of service, as crewmembers often let loose a little more and let their personalities shine through.

Pros

The ship is a blast, with lots of activities and little nickel and diming

Cons

You’ll wait in line for everything from food to entertainment and bar service; service is spotty

Bottom Line

Carnival Jubilee offers a great value for your cruise vacation dollar, if you don’t mind some crowds

About

Passengers: 5374
Crew: 1735
Passenger to Crew: 3.11:1
Launched: 2023
Shore Excursions: 96

Sails To

Sails From

Inclusions

Included with your cruise fare:

  • Main dining rooms, some specialty dining, buffet, casual dining venues

  • Iced tea, lemonade, tap water, coffee and some juices

  • Ropes course

  • Mini-golf

  • Waterslides

  • Splash park

  • Adults-only Serenity deck, pool and hot tub

  • Entertainment

  • Most activities

  • Use of the fitness center and jogging track

Not included with your cruise fare:

  • Specialty dining

  • Gratuities (tips)

  • Spa treatments

  • Thermal suite access

  • Shore excursions

  • Drinks, including beer, wine, spirits, specialty coffee and soft drinks

  • Wi-Fi

  • Photos and artwork

  • Fitness classes

  • BOLT rollercoaster

  • Casino play

Fellow Passengers

Carnival Jubilee’s homebase in Galveston means you’ll find a lot of Texans onboard the ship as well as others from drivable range, like Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi.

The ship is one of the more diverse that we’ve sailed, with guests of all races, ages and socio-economic onboard. Every sailing will have a heavy dose of families onboard, especially summer and holiday voyages.

The ship offers 82 accessible rooms, and elevators are located forward, midship and aft, as well as small, single-floor elevators to help guests move between decks 18 and 19.

Carnival Jubilee doesn’t have any solo cabins, but it does offer gatherings for solo guests and LGBTQ+ passengers.

Find a Carnival Jubilee Cruise from $751

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More about Carnival Jubilee

Where does Carnival Jubilee sail from?

Carnival Jubilee departs from Galveston

Where does Carnival Jubilee sail to?

Carnival Jubilee cruises to Galveston, Roatan, Costa Maya, and Cozumel

How much does it cost to go on Carnival Jubilee?

Cruises on Carnival Jubilee start from $751 per person.
Carnival Jubilee Cruiser Reviews

Jubilee! Never thought we would like XCEL ships!

Hubby even said he would do the Jubilee again just because he enjoyed the ship so much. You just can't go wrong with the Jubilee. Start to finish, FANTASTIC CRUISE. Thanks Carnival!!!Read More
ABQrobin

many10+ Cruises

Age 68s

Had a Great Time of a Great Ship

I'd take a cruise on the Jubilee again. I just wish they would vary the ports of call the ship goes to.Read More
LolaEtype

many10+ Cruises

Age 74s

Great vacation but ship needs to fix AC

Was an Elite player's club sailing, which I've heard many of the Jubilee sailings are these days.Read More
aswmammoth

many10+ Cruises

Age 26s

Big Beautiful Ship

Pros of Carnival Jubilee: Excellent dining options and excellent food! The dining room is very good, especially the Emeril menu and formal night. The service was a bit inconsistent.Read More
CruisingtheC

few6-10 Cruises

Age 62s

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