Carnival is a line that likes to be noticed. It has a reputation for bold themes and lively entertainment, and boasts not only the biggest fleet in the world but also some seriously big ships within that fleet. After a period of rapid expansion, it now operates 27 ships, each carrying between 2,000 and 5,400 passengers. Some are larger than others, but all have a big ship feel about them and Carnival is at the forefront of the race to add an ever more extravagant range of leisure, dining and entertainment options to what it brands as the most fun fleet at sea.
If any line epitomises mass market cruising, it is Carnival. At any one time it carries over 80,000 passengers and it well understands the importance of appealing to a wide cross-section of the market in order to keep all all of its ships full. You wouldn't describe Carnival as a budget operation, but it's certainly right up there in terms of offering a value proposition.
If you're going to appeal to the mass market, you need to be able to cater to every different age group, and that is exactly what Carnival does. It delivers well in terms of offering something for everyone, although the general vibe is definitely a younger one than on most other lines and accordingly the proportion of older guests is lower.
There is enough retro styling on board most Carnival ships to give the impression that at least some emphasis is being placed on tradition, but that certainly doesn't extend to the entertainment and you're far more likely to find guests dancing the night away in a bar or nightclub than waltzing across a ballroom.
As might be gathered from the frequent references to fun in Carnival's marketing materials, its ethos is a laid back one and there is precious little of the formality that can sometimes be found on other ships. There are no shortage of venues to enjoy a smartly dressed night out, but modern style tends to prevail over tradition.