Smallest Carnival Cruise Ships – Worth Considering & Why? (2024)

Carnival Cruise Line is well known for some of its huge “Fun Ships,”  full of amenities, activities, and entertainment options.

But what about the smallest Carnival ships in the fleet?

Often overlooked but brimming with their own unique charm.

What are the Smallest Carnival Cruise Ships?

Here we take a look at the individual ships as well as who they might be best suited for.

Do they offer the same Carnival experience in a more intimate setting?  Are they still fun.

Here we take a look at the smallest Carnival cruise ships in the fleet and whether they might be suitable for you.

What Is The Smallest Carnival Cruise Ship?

The smallest ships in Carnival Cruise Line’s fleet are the Carnival Elation and Carnival Paradise, both identical in size and offering intimate cruising experiences without compromising on amenities.

SpecificationsCarnival ElationCarnival Paradise
Gross Tonnage70,36770,367
Length (Feet)855855
Total Guest Capacity2,6062,606
Number of Staterooms1,0261,026
Number of Guest Decks1010
Space Ratio3434

Fantasy Class – The Smallest Carnival Class of Ship

Carnivals Fantasy class was launched with the Carnival Fantasy in 1990.   Ultimately comprising eight vessels, all much smaller than the mega-cruise ships of today with each exuding its own charm.

Now, in 2023, only 2 of the Fantasy Class ships remain:

  • Carnival Elation
  • Carnival Paradise

Constructed with precision in Helsinki, Finland, these ships blended the classic ocean liner design with modern amenities. 

As it happens, these were the only 2 ships of the 8 to be built with Azipod azimuth thrusters for propulsion.

The majority of the cabins are housed within the ship’s hull, a design choice that evokes memories of traditional ocean voyages. 

This ensures passengers get a unique cruising experience, combining the nostalgia of old-world travel with the comforts of the modern age.

Ships like the Mardi Gras come equipped with expansive water parks, themed zones, and even roller coasters. But what the Fantasy class lacks in grandeur, it makes up for in intimacy, charm, and a sense of nostalgia.

What Is Carnivals Smallest Ship?

There are two ships left in the Fantasy Class, both identical in size and in the majority of features, namely Carnival Elation and Carnival Paradise.

Carnival Elation

Carnival Elation cruise ship sailing
Carnival Elation (Photo Credit: Carnival Cruise Line)

Carnival Elation was built in 1998, one of the last of a series of eight sister ships and one of only two with Azipod azimuth thrusters, ensuring a vibration-free cruising experience and smooth journey. 

Externally there is no Promenade deck, which means means that certain areas can feel particularly crowded, especially when the ship is fully booked.

 However, the aft section offers a quieter respite, as it’s distanced from the bustling activities around the main pool and AquaPark.

For those seeking tranquility, the adults-only Serenity retreat on deck 9 provides a peaceful haven for guests over 21. 

The Elation’s interior design is a tribute to mythical muses and renowned composers, creating an ambiance that resonates with their timeless compositions.

Dining aboard the Elation offers both fixed and flexible options. While the food is satisfactory, it might not be the highlight of the Carnival experience. 

However, guests can look forward to lively entertainment during meals, complete with singing, dancing, and parades. And for those feeling lucky, the onboard casino offers a range of entertainment options.

As the day transitions into night, the Elation comes alive with vibrant energy you’d expert on a Carnival fun ship. 

The ship boasts multiple bars and lounges, a library, and a reading room. As evening progresses, the atmosphere shifts to party mode, promising fun-filled moments.

Carnival Paradise

Carnival Paradise cruise ship at sea
Carnival Paradise (Photo Credit: Carnival Paradise)

As the last of the eight sister ships in the renowned Fantasy class, it was built in 1998 and sails to destinations like the Bahamas and the Caribbean from Tampa, FL. 

The ship was just one of two in the class built with its vibration-free cruising, a result of the advanced Azipod azimuth thrusters used for propulsion. This ensures that guests enjoy a smooth journey, free from the disturbances that can sometimes mar sea voyages.

While the Carnival Paradise boasts a plethora of amenities for its size, it’s worth noting that it doesn’t have a walk-around Promenade deck. 

On particularly busy days, this can lead to a bit of a squeeze in outdoor spaces. However, for those who prefer quieter areas travelers have found the aft of the ship tends to be less crowded, given that most activities are centered around the main pool and AquaPark areas. 

For those seeking a quieter experience still, the adults-only Serenity retreat, reserved for guests over 21, offers a peaceful space away from the hustle and bustle.

The ship’s interior design is a nod to the grandeur of ocean liners from years gone by, evoking a sense of nostalgia while providing all the modern comforts. 

As evening descends, the Carnival Paradise truly comes alive. Guests can expect the fun to amplify, with shows and music reaching higher decibels, ensuring that every night is a as fun as you’d expect on a Carnival cruise.

Upper Deck Lifeboats

Upper deck lifeboats on Carnival Elation

Interesting both Carnival Elation and Carnival Paradise were the last cruise ships to be built with lifeboats only available on the upper decks.

You can see this is the close up of Carnival Elation:
You might also be interested in whether cruises ships have enough lifeboats for everyone.

Comparison of Smallest Carnival Cruise Ship to the Largest

The smallest Carnival Cruise ships are more than half the size of the largest in the fleet, currently Carnival Celebration.

Carnival Cruise Line boasts a diverse fleet, ranging from more intimate, smaller vessels like Carnival Elation to massive floating cities that push the boundaries of maritime engineering, of which Carnival Celebration is a prime example.

This variety ensures that travelers have options, whether they prefer a cozier cruise experience or a mega-ship’s grandeur and extensive amenities.

The following table offers a side-by-side comparison, highlighting the differences in size, capacity, and features between the smallest and the largest ships in Carnival’s lineup.

SpecificationsCarnival Elation
Carnival Celebration
Gross Tonnage70,367183,521
Length (Feet)8551,130
Total Guest Capacity 2,6066,631
Number of Staterooms1,0262,687
Number of Guest Decks1015
Space Ratio3434
Smallest Carnival to Largest Compared

Comparison of Smallest Carnival Cruise Ship to the Titanic

Smallest Carnival Cruise Ships compared to the Titanic

When it comes to cruise ships, it’s interesting for some people to compare modern-day cruise ships to the size of the Titanic.

The RMS Titanic, once the world’s largest and most luxurious ocean liner, has long been a benchmark for maritime grandeur. 

However, in today’s context, even the smallest ships in major cruise lines like Carnival often surpass the Titanic in terms of size, amenities, and technological advancements.

The Titanic, with its length of 882 feet and 9 inches and a gross tonnage of about 46,328, was considered colossal in its era.

 In contrast, the smallest ships in Carnival’s fleet, such as those from the Fantasy class like the Carnival Elation and Carnival Paradise, boast a length of 855 feet but have a gross tonnage of 70,367. This indicates a more efficient use of space, with more amenities packed into a slightly shorter length.

While the Titanic could accommodate around 2,435 passengers and 892 crew members, the smallest Carnival ships can comfortably house over 2,600 passengers, with modern amenities ranging from expansive water parks to multiple dining venues and entertainment options.

In essence, the evolution of cruise ship design and engineering over the past century means that even the “small” ships of today would be considered giants in the Titanic’s era, both in terms of size and the range of experiences they offer to passengers.

SpecificationsCarnival ElationTitanic
Gross Tonnage70,36746,328
Length (Feet)855882.5
Total Guest Capacity2,6062,435
Number of Staterooms1,026840
Number of Guest Decks109
Space Ratio34Not Known
Smallest Carnival Compared to Titanic

Although shorter in length, even the smallest Carnival cruise is larger overall than the Titanic, with a much larger gross tonnage, an extra guest deck, more staterooms and subsequently higher guest capacity.

Advantages of Sailing on a Smaller Ship

Choosing a smaller ship comes with its own set of advantages. The intimate atmosphere ensures personalized attention, making every guest feel special. 

The smaller size also allows for quicker embarkation and disembarkation, saving passengers valuable time. 

Additionally, these ships can access ports that might be off-limits to larger vessels, ensuring unique and off-the-beaten-path experiences.

Retired Small Ships from the Carnival Fantasy Class

The Carnival Fantasy class, a hallmark of Carnival Cruise Line’s fleet from the 1990s, has seen several of its iconic ships retire over recent years. 
Among the smallest ships in the Carnival fleet and similar to the last 2 existing smallest Carnival cruises ships they will be missed by those who sailed on them.

Here’s a brief summary of the ships from the Fantasy class that have been retired in the last couple of years.

Ship NameYears in ServiceGross TonnageReason for Leaving Fleet
Carnival Fantasy1990–202070,367Scrapped in Aliağa
Carnival Fascination1994–202070,367Sold, renamed “Century Harmony”
Carnival Imagination1995–202070,367Awaiting scrapping in Aliağa
Carnival Inspiration1996–202070,367Scrapped in Aliağa
Carnival Sensation1993–202270,367 GTScrapped post-COVID shutdown
Carnival Ecstasy1991–202270,367 GTSold for scrapping post-COVID

Frequently Asked Questions

How Does The Smallest Carnival Cruise Ship Compare In Price To The Larger Ships?

Generally, the smallest Carnival cruise ships, like those in the Fantasy class, might offer more affordable rates due to fewer amenities and older designs.

Prices for Carnival cruises can vary based on several factors, including ship size, itinerary, duration, and time of year. 

However, larger, newer ships with more features and specialty dining options might command higher prices. It’s essential to compare specific itineraries and dates to get an accurate price comparison.

How Does The Stability Of The Smallest Ship Compare To Larger Ships, Especially In Rough Seas?

Larger ships typically offer more stability in rough seas due to their greater mass. 

However, modern stabilization technology ensures that even smaller ships, like those in Carnival’s Fantasy class, provide a comfortable experience. 

Nonetheless, passengers might feel more movement on smaller vessels during turbulent conditions.

What is the Smallest Class of Carnival Cruise Ship?

Fantasy class is the smallest Class of ship in the Carnival fleet, currently comprising 2 vessels, Carnival Elation and Carnival Paradise, of an original 8 vessels.

Is Carnival Magic a Small Cruise Ship?

No, at 130,000 gross tonnes the Carnival Magic is not considered a small ship.

It belongs to the Dream class of Carnival Cruise Line’s fleet, which consists of larger, more modern vessels. 

The Carnival Magic offers a wide range of amenities and has a larger guest capacity of 3,690 compared to ships in the earlier Fantasy class.

Is Carnival Breeze a Small Cruise Ship?

The Carnival Breeze not considered a small ship.  Being part of Carnival Cruise Line’s Dream class, which consists of larger vessels in the fleet. 

With a gross tonnage of approximately 130,000 and a guest capacity of over 3,600 passengers, it is significantly larger than ships in the earlier Fantasy class and offers a wide range of amenities and activities.

Is Carnival Spirit a Small Ship?

The Carnival Spirit is part of Carnival Cruise Line’s Spirit class. With a gross tonnage of approximately 88,500 and a capacity to accommodate over 2,100 passengers, it is mid-sized when compared to the entire range of Carnival’s fleet. 

While it’s larger than ships in the Fantasy class, it’s smaller than the vessels in the Dream class.

The same applies for other Spirit Class ships:

  • Carnival Legend
  • Carnival Miracle
  • Carnival Pride

Is There a Difference in the Quality or Variety of Dining Options on the Smallest Ship?

The quality of dining remains consistent across the Carnival fleet. As for variety, the smaller ships offer both fixed and flexible dining options. 

However, due to their size, there are fewer restaurants and dining options on the smaller ships compared to the larger vessels.


Only two ships remain in Carnivals smallest Fantasy class.  How long they will remain we will just have to wait and see.  

While they are sailing there’s no doubt they offer a compact and all round fun Carnival cruising experience to still be enjoyed if you get the opportunity and cruising on one of the smallest Carnival cruise ships appeals to you.

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