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If the United States has a national cruise line, it is Carnival.
The self-described “fun ship” line is the king of short, affordable, fun-focused cruises from U.S. ports to the Caribbean, Bahamas, Mexico and other nearby destinations. No matter where you live in the U.S., you’re probably within a few hours of a Carnival ship.
Where you won’t find Carnival ships is in Asia, South America or — for the most part — Europe. Unlike other big cruise brands such as Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line and Princess Cruises, Carnival doesn’t spread its vessels around the world to draw a fly-in crowd. Aimed squarely at Americans, it’s all about cruising close-to-home — and at a reasonable price.
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Chances are, if you’re going on a Carnival cruise, you’re driving to the ship, not flying, and you’re probably not paying much more than you would for a trip to a local beach town.
You’re also not going for anything too highbrow. Carnival ships are all about fun in a very laid-back, unpretentious, nothing-too-fancy sort of way. Entertainment at times is as lowbrow as the line is low-cost. This is, after all, the brand that famously holds a Hairy Chest Contest