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Carnival Firenze Review

4.0 / 5.0
7 reviews
See all photos
Editor Rating
4.0
Very Good
Overall
Chris Gray Faust
Executive Editor, U.S.

Ready for Carnival Fun, Italian Style? Carnival Firenze is the second ship within the Carnival Cruise Line fleet to sport the tagline (the first was Carnival Venezia), and it’s one that the line takes to heart. Odes to Florence -- Firenze is the Italian name of the Tuscan city -- are front and center throughout the ship, in ways both classic and kitsch.

The megaship, which carries 5,210 passengers at maximum capacity, gives Carnival another alternative for the popular Mexican west coast sailings from the Los Angeles-area port of Long Beach (these itineraries are often sold as Mexican Riviera cruises).

The Italian-inspired décor aboard Carnival Firenze will be familiar to anyone who frequents Las Vegas and has stayed at gaming hotels like The Venetian or Caesars Palace, where elaborate decor themes are carried through an entire property.

Hallways on Carnival Firenze (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

Walking through Carnival Firenze, you’ll find a lot to look at. Large glossy photographs of Florence hang in the stairwells, as well as often-silly takes on Renaissance paintings featuring comically morose faces. A huge statue of David with a strategically placed fig leaf stands in the grand black, white and gold Michelangelo dining room that resembles a Florentine palace.

The Atrium is a baroque Italian fever dream with gold-topped marble columns, a blue painted sky, red and gold carpet and a lion with a red fleur de lys-bedecked shield overseeing the whole thing. Love it or hate it, you’ll take – and share -- a lot of pictures of the ship's decor (see our photo gallery from Carnival Firenze).

Funnel on Carnival Firenze (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

The Italian theme has its roots in the real thing: Carnival Firenze started its life as Costa Firenze for Carnival sister line Costa Cruises. Originally set to sail in China, the ship was retrofitted for the North American cruise market before its 2024 relaunch, but it still has some unusual touches that Carnival regulars will notice (beyond the fact that the ship still sports a yellow funnel with Costa's signature branding on it).

Sailaway party on Carnival Firenze (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

The pool areas aboard Carnival Firenze are smaller, for one thing, and the main Lido area – built like an Italian courtyard, of course – offers more shade than sun. There are fewer hot tubs on the ship overall, with none in the central Lido. The Casino is slightly larger than you’d find on a similar Carnival Vista-class ship, although nowhere near as big as on the more recent Excel class ships such as Carnival Jubilee. Many popular bars and restaurants have been rebranded to fit the ship’s Italian theme too.

Not everyone likes change, and on our inaugural sailing from Long Beach, we heard grousing from some Carnival faithful that Carnival Firenze strayed too far from the Fun Ship formula. We disagree. Behind the Italian trappings, we found a cruise ship that still delivered Carnival value and vibe, as well as tasty food and nightlife -- la dolce vita, indeed.

The Carnival Firenze Deck Plan has an Atrium, But You’ll Probably Spend More Time in Smaller Gathering Spaces

Carnival Firenze’s deck plan does have a three-story Italian-themed atrium, with a central bar. But it’s much less of a “hang out” space than on other Carnival ships. That’s primarily because seating is only on Deck 3, and there are only a few bench seats on the upper deck where you can listen to the action below (and you can’t see it, due to benches being farther back from the balcony).

Covered Lido seating on Carnival Firenze (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

You’ll find yourself more likely to take advantage of smaller spaces. The Lido Deck courtyard is more intimate than on other ships, but the advantage is that you can use it for quiet conversation, as well as cards and games (which we saw many families and groups doing).

The Heroes Tribute Bar, tucked down on Deck 4, proved to be a popular gathering place during sports events (and a quieter getaway when no big games were playing).

The glamourous Moda Lounge attracted the karaoke and Latin music set. It was hard to get a seat in the busy Piano 88 bar. And the Tuscan Lounge, with its nice sized dance floor, proved to be a gathering place for those who wanted to get down to live music.

Tuscan Lounge on Carnival Firenze (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

The flow of the ship is interrupted on Deck 4 by the Casino, which does allow smoking (there’s a non-smoking annex, but it’s off to the side and not a venue that people pass through). So if you want to avoid your hair smelling like smoke, you need to cross the ship on Deck 5 or Deck 6.

Rooms on Carnival Firenze Also Have an Italian Theme

The Florentine theme carries from the public areas into the cabin corridors and the rooms themselves. Soft gray pictures of Michelangelo’s David and other Italian scenes line the hallways. Every cabin has a large color photo of Florence behind the bed.

Towel animal on Carnival Firenze (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

The room sizes on Carnival Firenze mirror those on Carnival Vista and other Vista-class ships. While the cabins don’t have a ton of storage, it’s enough for the short cruises that Carnival Firenze will be doing (and we had no problem with two people on a weeklong sailing).

The rooms have attractive woodgrain neutral tones for the desk and closets, and the walls and carpets had low-key Florentine patterns. In our balcony room, we loved having the bed next to the window in our cabin so we could catch the morning sunlight.

Terrazza cabins on Carnival Firenze (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

For those who want some exclusivity, the Terrazza rooms are separated from the rest of the ship and come with extended porch-style balconies, similar to the Havana Cabanas on other Carnival ships.

There is also an exclusive sundeck with two hot tubs and the outdoor portion of the Moda Bar, all of which are just for Terrazza passengers until 7 p.m. One of the downsides of the Terrazza versus the Havana area is that there is no private pool, but the area still seemed much more calm and quiet on a busy sea day.

With most public venues on Deck 5, we noticed that some of the music bled upstairs in the hallways right above on Deck 6. So if you go to bed early – unusual on a Carnival cruise – make sure you study the deck plan so you can avoid any cabins that are directly above a music venue or the theater, or below the Lido.

Carnival Firenze’s Food is Tasty, with Old Favorites Onboard – Plus Some New Dining Options

True to any Carnival cruise ship, Carnival Firenze has no shortage of places for a quick bite – and while we wouldn’t call the selections healthy, it’s always tasty.

Seating for diners on the Lido deck of Carnival Firenze (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

On Deck 10 and Deck 11 alone, you can choose from the Lido Marketplace buffet, Guy’s Burgers, Tomodoro (essentially a rebranding of BlueIguana with a few new menu items). Pizzeria del Capitano and Il Mercato, a new area that serves meatballs, hot dogs and hot and cold sandwiches.

Breakfast and a chicken-heavy lunch were offered for free at the Seafood Shack (renamed the Breakfast Shack and the Chicken Shack during those hours). We didn’t see it until the last sea day, but another complimentary outpost, La Strada Grill, serves what it calls "Italian Street Food" -- sandwiches, salads and, oddly, BBQ (mac and cheese seems more like Guy Fireri's Pig and Anchor to us than Italian). The venue is tucked away on the right side of Deck 5.

And yes, if you can convince yourself to eat healthy on a Carnival cruise, there’s a free salad station in Serenity, the adults-only sun deck.

CarnivaSea Day Brunch in Carnival Firenze's main Michelangelo dining room (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

One freebie that you won’t want to pass up: the Sea Day brunch. While this highly anticipated meal in the main dining room can get chaotic during the busiest times, it’s worth the wait for the extended menu, which also includes a few for-fee options from Carnival partner Emeril Lagasse, like beignets and shrimp and grits.

For fee chicken wings station on Carnival Firenze (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

Cruise lines are always testing new for-fee dining options, and Carnival Firenze has a few. Passengers were surprised to find a for-fee chicken wing station in the middle of the Lido Marketplace (our verdict: there’s better options elsewhere). Empanadas & Pie sold small snacks from a station in the Tuscan Lounge on Deck 5.

We weren’t quite as sold on Il Viaggio, the new upscale Italian specialty restaurant onboard that replaces Cucina del Capitano. The menu draws from across Italy, rather than southern, and we missed having pasta options. That being said, the mile-high gelato pie is already well on its way to becoming a smash hit.

Mile high gelato pie in Il Viaggio on Carnival Firenze (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

Far more reassuring to us were the Carnival specialty restaurant favorites, that still deliver high quality for reasonable fees (generally under $50 per person). Fahrenheit 555 remains one of our favorite mainstream cruise line steakhouses, with the quality of my filet coming in higher than on recent luxury ships.

The popular Bonsai Teppanyaki is a stand alone restaurant on Carnival Firenze, one of the line’s largest. And it’s hard to beat the value of Bonsai Sushi, especially when compared to what you might pay at home.

Pros

Italian décor throughout the ship sets the Carnival vibe into elevated surroundings; larger casino

Cons

Outdoor pools and sun areas are smaller than usual; venues can feel crowded

Bottom Line

Fans of Las Vegas-themed hotels will enjoy this Florentine take on a Carnival Fun Ship, while diehards might prefer the original

About

Passengers: 4208
Crew: 1278
Passenger to Crew: 3.29:1
Launched: 2024
Shore Excursions: 110

Sails From

Inclusions

Included with your cruise fare:

  • Main dining rooms, buffet, most casual dining venues

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

  • Ropes course

  • Mini golf

  • Splash park

  • Adults-only Serenity deck and hot tubs

  • Entertainment

  • Most activities (including kids club)

  • Use of fitness center and jogging track

Not included with your cruise fare:

  • Specialty dining

  • Gratuities (tips)

  • Wi-Fi

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

  • Shore excursions

  • Spa treatments

  • Casino play

  • Photos and artwork

  • Shops

Fellow Passengers

Dance class on Carnival Firenze (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

Because Carnival Firenze sails short itineraries to Mexico, many people on the ship will be taking their first cruise. Generally, expect cruisers with a wide range of ages, from young 20somethings having fun in groups to families taking a short vacation to seniors who can take a mid-week getaway.

Carnival Firenze’s Long Beach homeport attracts people who not only live in southern California, but within states within driving distance, such as Nevada and Arizona. There are also a large amount of Spanish speakers onboard.

Carnival Firenze has a host of meetups onboard, including daily gatherings for sober cruisers, LGBTQ+ meetups and even a nightly get together for solos over 40.

Carnival has a full range of accessible rooms and options for those traveling with mobility restrictions or other limitations. Collapsible scooters are allowed (and must be stored in the cabin) and the line also has a vendor where people can rent scooters (arrangements must be made in advance).

Sensory inclusive sign on Carnival Firenze (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

Carnival has partnered with the non-profit KultureCity to become the first cruise line billing itself as “sensory inclusive.” We saw signs warning people about flashing lights and excessive noise at the front of the theater, for example. Passengers can check out KultureCity Sensory Bags during their cruise (free, on a first-come, first-serve basis) that contain items to help people with sensory overload relax, including noise-canceling headphones, fidget tools, a visual feeling thermometer and a lanyard to help staff identify guests who might need special care.

Menu Mate food sensitivities station on Carnival Firenze (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

We were also impressed with the degree to which Carnival handles food allergies. The Menu Mate program enters a guests’ allergies into the program, which then displays all the options that are allergen-free, which dishes can be modified and which dishes should be avoided. We were asked about food sensitivities and allergies at every meal, and the Menu Mate booth in the Lido Marketplace was staffed most days.

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More about Carnival Firenze

Where does Carnival Firenze sail from?

Carnival Firenze departs from Los Angeles

Where does Carnival Firenze sail to?

How much does it cost to go on Carnival Firenze?

Cruises on Carnival Firenze start from $214 per person.
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