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TravelCarnival Firenze cruise ship review: A complete guide

Carnival Firenze cruise ship review: A complete guide

Editor’s note: TPG’s Ashley Kosciolek accepted a free trip to sail on Carnival Firenze for the ship’s naming ceremony and inaugural cruise. The views expressed below are entirely hers and were not subject to review by the cruise line.

When Carnival Cruise Line first announced it was adopting ships from sister cruise line Costa Cruises for a product it now calls “Fun Italian Style,” I wondered, given Carnival’s usual vibe, if it was possible for the ships to feel even a little bit authentic. Would they be fun or refined? Luxurious or tacky? Carnival Firenze is all of those things — and that’s exactly how Carnival passengers like it.

When you step on board, you’re welcomed into what feels like an Italian theme park. It’s an alternate universe’s version of Italy, where you’re likely to hear “That’s Amore” in some form daily, take part in a street festival that features a gelato-eating contest and watch as waiters in ruffle-sleeved costumes perform in the dining room to Justin Bieber songs while a giant fig leaf-clad version of Michelangelo’s David towers over the whole scene, awash in colored strobe lights.


It’s chaotic and a lot to take in, but somehow it works. Passengers can have their photos taken with a Vespa-style scooter and grab Italian-themed burgers and meatball sandwiches at new iterations of some of Carnival’s most popular eateries. A giant replica of Donatello’s Marzocco towers above the Piazza del Duomo atrium that serves as the location of Carnival Firenze’s massive welcome party. During the event, officers and crew scatter around the atrium’s three-deck balcony and wave signs that say “Ciao” and “Benvenuti.” The high-energy party starts a sailing off on the right foot.

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Juxtapose the over-the-top Italian elements with elegant design choices — such as a pool deck that features charming bar facades designed to evoke Italian architecture, well-designed cabins and service that’s off-the-charts friendly — and you’ve got Carnival Firenze.

Want to learn more about what to expect during a sailing on this new-to-Carnival ship? Here’s my review of Carnival Firenze with everything you need to know.

Carnival Firenze overview

Carnival Firenze docked in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Carnival Firenze debuted as Costa Firenze, the second ship in Costa Cruises’ Venezia Class (similar to Carnival’s Vista Class), in 2021. The 4,126-passenger, 135,156-ton ship was originally designed for the Chinese cruise market, meaning it houses more casino and retail space than the average North American cruise ship. Plus, its pools are smaller than most, with tons of shaded areas around them — a nice touch for anyone who doesn’t want to bake in the sun.

In early 2024, the ship transferred to the Carnival fleet and underwent a two-month refurbishment to tweak some of the public spaces and add Carnival’s trademark blue wave paint scheme on the hull. Notably, the ship is keeping its yellow Costa smokestack, which is emblazoned with a giant letter “C,” and won’t be outfitted with Carnival’s signature red, white and blue whale tail funnel.

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On board, a large number of your fellow passengers will be West Coasters who often drive to the departure port in Long Beach, California. You’ll also find Carnival stalwarts who don’t mind making the trip from farther afield to sail on the new ship.

Unfortunately, the vessel often seemed crowded, with 4,200 passengers on my sailing — about 1,000 people fewer than maximum capacity. I can’t imagine how it would have felt if my sailing were full.

A crowd gathered around the stage at the Tuscan Lounge on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

As is the case on other Carnival vessels, the food provides excellent value for money, with the number of included options far exceeding the number of specialty restaurants that charge extra. Cuisines run the gamut from Italian and Asian to seafood and steak, and despite some longer-than-average wait times in the dining room, the service is friendly and generally efficient.

Cabins are furnished in neutral colors and laid out in ways that make sense, with comfortable convertible beds; closets that feature several layouts with drawers, hanging bars and collapsible shelving; bathrooms with plenty of storage space; and a plethora of electrical outlets for charging.

A rubber duck sitting on a trivia sheet on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Carnival Firenze is full of activities, including trivia, movies and games. The spa, salon and fitness center offer ways to care for your mind and body, and top-deck waterslides and a ropes course provide opportunities for adventuresome travelers to find their adrenaline fix.

The Italian vibe carries through everything you do on board. It will either make you smile or roll your eyes. Regardless, it’s a lot of fun.

What I love about Carnival Firenze

The design elements

A view of the Lido Pool from above on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

I wasn’t sure what to expect on Carnival Firenze, but what I found immediately upon boarding was a grand three-deck atrium, Piazza del Duomo, that’s both over the top and beautiful. In the center is a bar, from the middle of which rises a faux marble pillar with a replica of Donatello’s Marzocco golden lion statue on the top. Your eyes can’t help but follow it up toward the ceiling, which is painted to look like a blue sky with fluffy white clouds.

As you move between decks, you’ll spy Italian-style art in the stairwells and elevator banks. Walls in the cabin hallways are printed with snippets from photos of famous Italian statues; photos of Florentine landmarks like the Duomo serve as headboards in non-suite cabins.

But the most impressive element of the ship’s design is the Lido Pool area, which is set up to resemble a courtyard with the pool in the center and several Italian building facades overlooking it. Those facades, which are equipped with wrought-iron balconies, house everything from bars and board game areas to a deli, Guy’s Burger Joint (with an Italian twist) and a combination Mexican-Italian burrito and taco bar, as well as the ship’s JavaBlue Cafe. It’s the first time I’ve ever visited a cruise pool area and not felt like I was on a ship.

The artwork

A crone as part of the wall art on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

During my first night on Carnival Firenze, as I was walking from my cabin down to dinner, I stopped in my tracks and burst out laughing. The aft stairwells on the ship are bedecked with floor-to-ceiling prints that seem innocuous at first, but as you look more closely, you can pick out some exceptionally odd characters. In this particular case, it was two young women who clearly tested the limits of their drink package.

Throughout the rest of my sailing, I made sure to study each print carefully, turning up a creepy crone who needs dental work and some pasties, a woman pulling a centaur’s hair, another woman choking on plants and a sad dog standing on top of the table in a chaotic version of “The Last Supper” as Jesus nonchalantly looks on.

Similarly amusing art was positioned on several walls in the ship’s two main dining rooms. At Rococo, the bar that serves the Lido Pool, you’ll find the walls plastered with late Baroque-style art featuring subjects that have been embellished with modern twists like sunglasses and pithy text. Women in frilly dresses are overlaid with exclamations like “Don’t rush me,” “Dogs before dudes” and “Swag.”

The energy

An Italian-themed “welcome on board” party in the atrium of Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

I wasn’t a fan of some of the cheesiness on board (see below), but it’s clear that both passengers and crew were excited to be there. From the second we were welcomed aboard with a raucous atrium party, the crew was smiling and friendly, and my fellow cruisers were always ready to strike up a conversation.

Every waiter asked how my day was, and my room steward greeted me by name whenever he saw me in the hall. The crew at JavaBlue went out of their way to make sure my coffee order was right each morning, and the genuine cheerfulness didn’t go unnoticed.

What I don’t love about Carnival Firenze

The layout


Flow can be a problem on Carnival Firenze, with galley placement cutting off access from one end of Deck 3 to the other. Passengers traversing the lower decks often have to walk up a deck, over and back down to get where they’re going.

The Lido Marketplace buffet is also a problem at peak dining times. The main walkways through the venue feel narrow, making it difficult for two-way traffic to flow through the space, especially for people using wheelchairs, scooters or walkers.

In some spots, the layout was simply confusing. For example, the Tuscan Lounge has two entrances — a primary one that allows traffic to naturally flow from one venue to the next and a hidden secondary one that most people only find by accident, usually after taking a wrong turn.

The fig leaf

A replica of Michelangelo’s David statue stands in the Michelangelo Restaurant on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Although I’m a fan of much of the art on Carnival Firenze, one piece in particular disappoints me. In the Michelangelo Restaurant, one of the two main dining rooms on board, a giant copy of Michelangelo’s David stands on the landing of the grand staircase that connects the restaurant’s two decks.

Previously housed on Carnival Pride, the statue was relocated to Carnival Firenze. It still dons a carefully fashioned fig leaf that was made and attached to cover its groin area after a bunch of pearl-clutching Karens complained about having to see — gasp! — a piece of art that’s been around for more than five centuries.

Festa Italiana

Flags hanging over the pool deck during Festa Italiana on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Festa Italiana is a big, loud, cheesy Italian-themed street festival-type celebration that’s held one night during each Carnival Firenze voyage. The Lido Pool area is strung with red, white and green flags, and the event, which lasts more than two hours, kicks off with a talented violin trio.

Following that, the cruise director moves into what the line calls a “traditional” opening ceremony, involving members of the Playlist Productions cast in cartoonish-looking versions of Italian dress parading around the deck. They perform several times throughout the night, alternating with activities like gelato-eating contests, Italian lessons (where the audience learns a couple of phrases that they scream back and forth at one another) and competitions where participants have to maneuver, blindfolded, around terra cotta pots.

The night ends with a DJ, who plays music (think: interesting mashups like “Funiculi Funicula” and Lady Gaga’s “Rain on Me”) while servers walk around with trays of Italian sausage sandwiches and bites of salami and cheese pastry.

Parts of it are fun, but overall, it feels like an amalgamation of stereotypes instead of an ode to one of the world’s most beautiful countries.

Carnival Firenze cabins and suites

A balcony cabin on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Carnival Firenze cabins range from insides with no natural light and outsides with a window to balcony accommodations and suites, including those in La Terrazza, a special zone that offers private cabana, bar and sun deck access.

One odd cabin type to note is the ship’s inside cabins with windows and portholes. Normally, they’d be considered outside cabins, but because the views are partially obstructed, the line sells them as insides. Book one of these cabins, and you can snag a room with natural light for less money.

The ship offers no solo cabins, but it does have 44 accessible accommodations sprinkled throughout all basic categories. The rooms are a mix of fully accessible (access to both sides of the bed), fully accessible single-side approach (access to one side of the bed) and ambulatory accessible (for people who can walk with assistive devices like walkers or canes).

Fully accessible rooms are stair-free, flat-threshold cabins, which offer wider (32-inch) doorways, turning space and bathrooms equipped with grab bars and shower seats.

The vanity and closet in a balcony cabin on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Even the most basic of cabins offers a queen bed that converts to two twins and two nightstands with cabinet storage and reading lamps. Some also sleep up to four people with either a sofa bed or a mix of a sofa bed and a pull-down bunk.

Each room offers a vanity with a mirror, a desk, a stool or chair, a phone, a minifridge, a hair dryer and plenty of outlets. Rooms also come with ample closet space that includes shelving, drawers and bars for hanging clothes of various lengths. Inside each closet is a code-operated safe for which you can program a four-digit pin. (On the first couple of days of my voyage, I had trouble with my in-room safe. After a quick phone call to my room steward, someone arrived at my cabin within minutes to fix it.)

The bathroom in a balcony cabin on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Bathrooms at the basic level are shower only, and they’re made of cheap-looking white plastic. Each shower has a fiberglass door instead of a curtain and a single dispenser for all-in-one shower gel and shampoo. They’re also equipped with a toilet, a sink, fluffy white towels and plenty of shelving for storing personal grooming items.

As cabins increase in category, they also increase in size and amenities.

An Ocean Suite on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Suites come with additional perks, such as priority check-in, boarding and disembarkation; preferred dinner times in the main dining room; pillow-top mattresses; two large bottles of water and bathrobes; upgraded bathroom toiletries; and extra square footage, some of which is dedicated to larger balconies and even walk-in closets.

The bathroom of an Ocean Suite on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Some bathrooms at the suite level include bathtubs in addition to shower facilities. Additionally, passengers booked in Ocean suites and La Terrazza cabins (Carnival Firenze’s version of Havana Cabana cabins) have access to the exclusive Terrazza Moda sun deck with loungers, hot tubs and a bar, as well as private waiter-served breakfast each morning in the adjoining, indoor Moda Bar and Lounge.

A cruise ship balcony on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

When I sailed on Carnival Firenze, I sailed alone and stayed in a balcony cabin outfitted with a double sleeper sofa and a balcony with two metal and mesh chairs and a small drinks table. Its size was more than enough for me and another person, but it would have been tight quarters sailing with the room’s maximum occupancy of four passengers.

I was particularly impressed by how comfortable the bed was and the number of outlets available for charging devices. (The only minor issue is that only one side of the bed has USB ports for phone charging at night.) One thoughtful touch was the motion-activated nightlight that turns on when it senses movement in a dark room. It’s a lifesaver if you find yourself needing to walk to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

A nightlight under the closet automatically turns on during the night in cabins on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

I also enjoyed the decor, which is less over the top than on some of the older, more colorful ships in Carnival’s fleet but less bland than some of its newest ships. It’s a happy medium of neutral whites, light browns and beiges with soothing blue hues and floor-to-ceiling prints of some of Italy’s famed landmarks.

Dislikes for me included a shower door that leaked, soaking the floor each time I turned on the water, plus “Snoozin'” door hangers that often got caught in my door when I closed it. For the latter, I would’ve preferred a “Do not disturb” button like many other new ships have.

Carnival Firenze’s cabins require you to put something in the slot near the door in order to turn on the lights. (I used my room steward’s business card.)

Speaking of room stewards, mine was fantastic, and he came once a day to clean my room between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. He always did a wonderful job, and he was quick to help when I had clothing to send out for pressing.

Carnival Firenze restaurants and bars

Carnival Firenze food

Quiche and hash browns from the exclusive La Terrazza breakfast on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

The food on Carnival Firenze is largely tasty, with lots of options, including no-fee dishes and fancy choices that cost extra.

In keeping with the ship’s Italian theming, Carnival has added a twist to other vessels’ favorite eateries, such as Guy’s Burger Joint and BlueIguana Cantina, which appears as Mexican-Italian hybrid Tomodoro. The standard Carnival deli outpost has also been given an Italian spin.

Il Viaggio on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Additionally, Cucina del Capitano, the added-fee Italian restaurant on several other Carnival ships, has been replaced on Carnival Firenze with Il Viaggio, an absolutely phenomenal take on modern, upscale Italian food.

Overall, the food offerings on the ship are a great blend of old favorites — like the Lido Marketplace buffet, Pizzeria del Capitano, the Fahrenheit 555 steakhouse, Bonsai Sushi and Bonsai Teppanyaki — and these new takes on existing restaurants.

Alfresco seating on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Plus, the ship has so many places to sit outside for an alfresco bite. Check out Deck 5, near Bonsai Sushi and Bonsai Teppanyaki, for example. You can enjoy a meal with sea views to boot.

Note: Hours for most restaurants vary based on whether it’s a sea day or a port day. Check the daily schedule or Carnival’s Hub app for details.

Free food

The Medici Restaurant’s main dining room on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Carnival Firenze has two main dining rooms: Medici Restaurant (Deck 3, mid) and Michelangelo Restaurant (decks 3 and 4, aft).

Michelangelo Restaurant is dedicated to passengers who select Your Time Dining, which lets you eat anytime between 5 and 9 p.m. (The dedicated YTD restaurant can vary by sailing, depending on how many people choose that option.) Medici Restaurant is used for set seating, with two dining times: one at 5:30 p.m. and one at 7:45 p.m.

Vanilla French toast from the Michelangelo Restaurant on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Both serve the same menu for dinner, but only the larger Michelangelo Restaurant is open for Sea Day Brunch on sea days and breakfast (but not lunch) on port days. It also serves afternoon tea on sea days. Meanwhile, the Medici Restaurant serves a pasta bar for lunch on select sea days.

The Michelangelo Restaurant on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

I had YTD, and I dined three times in the Michelangelo Restaurant. The first time was for brunch, where I had a vegetable omelet with a side of chef Emeril Lagasse’s signature beignets. The second time was for a dinner of a simple but lovely Caprese salad and an Indian vegetarian sampler, which included spiced paneer dumplings, chana madra, peas pulao and rice. (Indian dishes are a little-known Carnival specialty.) The final time was disembarkation morning, when I enjoyed delectable vanilla French toast with maple butter and caramelized bananas.

A plate of Indian food from the Michelangelo Restaurant on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

The service was friendly but slow; I had to wait longer than expected between courses at dinner. Both breakfast and brunch were served at a perfect pace, though, with items appearing quickly and looking and tasting fresh.

Lido Marketplace is the ship’s complimentary Deck 10 midship buffet that is open daily for breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night snacks like cookies and other finger foods. For breakfast, you can expect cereal, an omelet station, eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, cold cuts and cheeses. Lunch offers a salad bar, various hot entrees and sides, plus a selection of desserts. Dinner is similar, with salads, a carving station and hot items that might include things like Cornish game hen, rice, roasted potatoes, green beans, egg rolls, fried shrimp and Asian noodles.

A seating area in the Lido Marketplace buffet on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Although the buffet is fine for a meal on the go, I largely avoided it due to crowds. It’s a shame, too, because it’s one of the prettiest buffets I’ve ever seen, adorned with faux vegetation lining the walkways and tables set up indoors with umbrellas and lanterns hanging over them, mimicking the feel of an outdoor bistro.

I did pop in once in a while to enjoy a cone of soft serve ice cream from the two Swirls locations, which are small alcoves with machines that also serve frozen yogurt. At one point, both sets of Swirls machines were broken, and it was a comical scene as several officers and engineers stood around them looking confused.

A burrito from Tomodoro on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Elsewhere on Deck 10, near the Lido Pool, you’ll find two complimentary venues, Tomodoro and Guy’s Burger Joint, both with an Italian spin. Tomodoro serves as the Mexican-Italian stand-in for Carnival’s popular BlueIguana Cantina. Both walk-up counters are open for lunch and dinner.

One of two Italian-themed menu items at Guy’s Burger Joint on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

I tried both of the Italian burger options from Guy’s — one with mozzarella, balsamic, tomatoes, basil and Donkey Sauce and another with pepperoni, marinara sauce, Donkey Sauce, mozzarella, provolone and Parmesan cheeses. Both were just OK, and I was sad to see that my favorite burger, the Pig Patty, was absent from the menu on this ship.

At Tomodoro, the menu lists tacos and burritos, as well as Italian meatball heroes, Sicilian chicken wraps and tortas de Milanese. The burritos were fantastic, as always, but my hot take on the changes made to both BlueIguana Cantina and Guy’s Burger Joint is if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Venture aft and you’ll run into Pizzeria del Capitano, which is open 19 hours a day and makes some of the best pies at sea. (Seriously.) I often waited 20 minutes on sea days, but it was well worth it. (If you don’t want to stand in line, you can order pizza to be delivered to your cabin via room service for a $6 fee.) You can choose from Margherita, pepperoni, four cheese, mushroom and prosciutto. You can also order a couple of extra-fee specialty pies, such as teriyaki chicken and Korean steak barbecue.

Room service pizza delivery on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

I was pleasantly surprised by Il Mercato, Carnival’s take on an Italian deli that is open from lunchtime until late. Usually, the deli is located inside Lido Marketplace, but it was moved to a quieter and less crowded area on Deck 11, just above the Lido Pool, to make room in the buffet for an added-fee chicken wing stand.

Il Mercato looks like a bit of an afterthought, given its portable-looking booth area, but the alfresco atmosphere and the food are great. The menu consists of meatball sandwiches, hot dogs and Italian sausage sandwiches. Eight options for both hot and cold sandwiches include grilled ham and cheese, a Reuben, cheese steak, tomato and mozzarella with arugula on focaccia, chicken salad, and turkey and Swiss. I tried the cheese steak with peppers and onions; despite its rather sad appearance, it was delicious and could rival just about anything found in Philadelphia.

A chicken sandwich from Chicken Shack on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Carnival has also done something interesting with Seafood Shack on this ship. Instead of only serving seafood, this Deck 10 venue starts as the Breakfast Shack in the morning and then turns into the Chicken Shack for lunch. Both are complimentary and serve up a variety of chicken sandwiches with fries, pasta salads and other sides. (Carnival Firenze doesn’t have Shaq’s Big Chicken like some of the other vessels in the fleet, so this was a nice way to utilize the space and offer a similar dining experience to passengers.)

Avocado toast from the exclusive La Terrazza breakfast on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Although I wasn’t staying in a suite, I was able to try the private breakfast for La Terrazza and Ocean Suite passengers offered daily in Deck 5’s Moda Bar and Lounge. If you’re staying in one of those cabins and have access, trust me when I say you won’t want to miss the quiche or avocado toast.

La Strada Grill on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Other free food options include La Strada Grill (Deck 5 midship), Fresh Creations salad bar (Deck 15 forward on the adults-only Serenity sun deck) and room service (free continental breakfast). I didn’t try any of these because La Strada is only open from noon to 2:30 p.m. on sea days, Fresh Creations was way too crowded when I stopped by and I didn’t eat in my room for breakfast.

Of these three options, the most compelling menu is La Strada’s. It lists a Sicilian chicken hero, roast beef on a roll, Italian sausage, smoked pulled pork and macaroni and cheese, with a choice of salads and sides.

Extra-cost food

Burrata from Il Viaggio on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

On many of its ships, Carnival already has an Italian restaurant, Cucina del Capitano, which offers a homey ambience and family-favorite recipes from the Italian captains across the line’s fleet. Oddly, the restaurant appears on neither Carnival Firenze nor sister ship Carnival Venezia (another vessel that offers the “Fun Italian Style” experience).

Instead, it has been replaced by one of my new favorites: Il Viaggio, an upscale Italian eatery with a $42 per-person cover charge, nearly double what most ships with Cucina del Capitano charge passengers to dine. Il Viaggio’s decor is elegant but understated, and it opens for dinner only. It doesn’t drip with red, white and green or stereotypical Italian adornments, offering a refreshing escape from other areas of the vessel where the theming is intense.

A chicken crust pizza from Il Viaggio on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

The menu, which is billed as “a culinary voyage through Italy’s diverse regions — one plate at a time,” includes some of the best food I’ve ever had on a ship. I thoroughly enjoyed the house-made burrata; the pollo parmigiana pizza, which has a crust made of chicken; the gnocchi with goat cheese and truffle oil; and the mile-high gelato pie.

Filet mignon from the Fahrenheit 555 steakhouse on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

For anyone looking for a decent steak dinner that won’t break the bank, Fahrenheit 555 on Deck 5 is it. Not only is it one of the most consistently superb oceangoing steakhouses from ship to ship, but its cover charge of $49 per person is nominal compared to what you’d pay at a steakhouse ashore.

I ate an incredible filet mignon with onion rings, broccoli and chimichurri sauce, and it was absolutely worth the price.

The interior of the Fahrenheit 555 steakhouse on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Interestingly, the steakhouse was added after the ship left China. It’s in what used to be a hot pot restaurant, so the vibe is decidedly Asian, featuring black counters and tables with deep red carpeting and chairs. Black latticework in part of the space adds to the ambience.

The sushi counter at Bonsai Sushi on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Bonsai Sushi and Bonsai Teppanyaki, positioned near one another midship on Deck 5, are both open for lunch (on sea days only) and dinner.

Sushi from Bonsai Sushi on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

I had a light dinner of sushi during one night of my voyage, and it set me back just $11 ($3 for an order of edamame and $8 for a California roll).

On a different night, I opted for the teppanyaki experience, which involved a chef cracking jokes, singing songs and making flaming onion volcanoes and snakes out of rice as he cooked. Thankfully, we didn’t have to try to catch flying food in our mouths. For the $42 flat-fee cover charge, each passenger receives white shrimp, pork belly yakitori, spicy tuna and a choice of either miso soup or kabuki salad to start.

A chef prepares food at Bonsai Teppanyaki on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

From there, you choose from entrees like lobster tail, shrimp, spiced grilled chicken, grilled tofu, black cod and filet mignon or a combination of them. I chose the filet and was pleased with my decision. The meat and accompanying rice and vegetables were exceptionally flavorful.

Bonsai Teppanyaki is also open for lunch with a similar menu for $38 per person.

JavaBlue Cafe on Deck 10, just off of the Lido Pool courtyard, is one of my favorite places on any Carnival ship. In the warm Mexican weather, I wasn’t always a fan of its alfresco location on Carnival Firenze — most JavaBlue locations are indoors — but I was able to grab my daily pick-me-up just the way I like it.

Although coffees at JavaBlue come with an extra charge, the price is nominal compared to Starbucks. Plus, if you ask for a punch card, you’ll earn yourself a free coffee after you buy six, which isn’t hard to do on a weeklong sailing.

JavaBlue, the cafe on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

JavaBlue also sells cupcakes, cookies, doughnuts and other pastries for a fee.

Room service is offered for a per-item fee (except for continental breakfast, which is free each morning). Door hangers are no longer offered, so you’ll have to order via your cabin phone or the Hub app. The menu on the app for Carnival Firenze seemed smaller than it does on other ships, listing items like pizza and sandwiches. On a particularly busy sea day when I didn’t want to wait in line at Pizzeria del Capitano, I ordered a pie to my cabin. For $6, it arrived hot, fresh and fast, and it tasted wonderful.

All Things Wings in the buffet on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

The places I didn’t try were All Things Wings and Seafood Shack. Carnival Firenze has a new walk-up counter in the Lido Marketplace buffet that sells wings, with prices ranging from six pieces for $5 to 24 pieces for $18. You can choose from several flavors like barbecue, Parmesan garlic, chipotle honey, hot barbecue and buffalo, which increase in heat respectively. All orders come with bleu cheese dressing and celery sticks.

Seafood Shack, found on Deck 10 aft, opens at 3:30 p.m. and stays open late at the same walk-up counter where Breakfast Shack and Chicken Shack are located earlier in the day. It sells for-fee seafood bites, such as lobster rolls and crabcakes, for a la carte prices.

A small empanada counter is hidden away in the back of the Tuscan Lounge. I never saw it open, but several passengers told me it only operated at night, selling added-fee options that include shrimp sofrito, chipotle chicken with cheese, beef picadillo, and spinach and mushroom with cheese. Sweet empanadas are also available, including chocolate, banana and coconut; dulce de leche cheesecake; guava and cream cheese; and Nutella and hazelnut varieties.

Carnival Firenze bars

The Heroes Tribute Bar on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Unlike the version of the Heroes Tribute Bar that’s tucked away in a corner on Carnival’s Excel Class ships, the version on Carnival Firenze is much brighter and more centrally located on the main promenade area along Deck 5 mid. Designed to honor service men and women who sail, it has a relaxed vibe and a sports bar ambience. The seating at the bar counter is the perfect spot to watch the big games on multiple TVs.

The bar in the Tuscan Lounge on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

I was a regular at the Tuscan Lounge, also centrally located on Deck 5 aft, mainly because it’s where the ship’s daily trivia games take place. The space features a lounge area with tables, a dance floor and a projection screen. Across the walkway that runs through the space is a bar set up with stools and nearby tables with black and white striped umbrellas.

A Frizzante Spritz from Frizzante on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Frizzante is one of my absolute favorite bars. There, you’ll find various spritz-style drinks. I enjoyed a Frizzante Spritz (made with dry vermouth, moscato wine, triple sec and club soda) on my second night on board and kept heading back to the bar to try more cocktails. It’s a terrific place to grab a pre-dinner drink if you have a reservation at neighboring Il Viaggio.

I admit that I misjudged the Amari Bar at first. Found smack in the middle of Deck 5’s main thoroughfare, it serves cocktails made with, as the name suggests, amari — herbal Italian liqueurs.

The Amari Bar on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

For days, I didn’t see it crowded, but perhaps I was merely passing by at the wrong times. By day four or five of my seven-night sailing, it was packed. I was also initially upset to learn that Amari replaced the Alchemy Bar on Carnival Firenze, but I found out later that you can still order some of the most popular Alchemy drinks, such as The Remedy and the Cucumber Sunrise, there.

Bartender Drazen shows cruisers how to mix drinks at the Amari Bar on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

I was fortunate to sit in on a mixology class at the Amari Bar and was fascinated to learn some of the finer points of mixing drinks with an eye — or a tastebud — toward balancing the flavors of each ingredient. For $30 per person, the head bartender, Drazen, will impart some of that knowledge as you belly up to the bar to try samples of what he concocts.

Rococo, a pool bar on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Rococo is a fun, partially enclosed pool bar area by the courtyard around the Lido Pool on Deck 10. In addition to the fun art mentioned previously, it also has palate-pleasing beverage selections, including fruity libations with an Italian bent like bellinis, as well as pistachio and limoncello cocktails.

The hallway leading out of Moda Bar and Lounge on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Other onboard bars include the centrally located one on Deck 3 in the Piazza del Duomo. The Moda Bar and Lounge on Deck 5 evokes a high-fashion mood with an entryway that feels like a model’s catwalk as stylish seating areas flank the sides; it’s often the home base for karaoke. Meanwhile, the shockingly red, white and black Piano Bar 88, also on Deck 5, plays host to live piano music daily.

The Versilia Pool Bar on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Heading up a few decks, the Versilia Pool Bar serves fruity, beachy drinks near the aft Versilia Pool on Deck 10. Finally, the Pergola Bar, found adjacent to Il Mercato and overlooking the opposite side of the Lido Pool, feels like a complete afterthought. It’s so sterile and nondescript it’s almost not worth mentioning, but I’m putting it in here because the seating area around it is lovely, featuring fake topiary-style pillars and lots of seating that makes for a great place to read.

Carnival Firenze entertainment

Carnival Firenze activities

Slot machines in the casino on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Carnival Firenze offers a large number of daily activities on each voyage.

Passengers might choose to head to the casino (or the smoke-free casino, both on Deck 5), enjoy an alcohol tasting, participate in a sports tournament, mingle at a deck party, play miniature golf, take a dance class or attend a spa, jewelry or shopping seminar.

Supplies at the Cloud 9 Spa on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

The Cloud 9 Spa on Deck 12 forward is equipped to perform a menu of services, including massages and facials. The connected fitness center is on the small side but features for-fee personal training and organized fitness classes, as well as equipment that’s free for passengers to use. Carnival Firenze does not have a thermal suite.

The Cloud 9 Fitness Center on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

The Cloud 9 Salon, found in a different area of the ship on Deck 5 mid, offers manicures, pedicures and hairstyling, haircuts and color. Be warned that you’ll pay huge markups for services on board versus on land.

Looking to find a group of like-minded travelers on your sailing? Check out meetups for solo travelers, singles, people in recovery, veterans and members of the LGBTQ+ community listed in the daily program.

The Versilia Pool on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

If you’re interested in spending time outdoors working on your tan, you can do so at one of two onboard pools: the Lido Pool on Deck 10 midship and the Versilia Pool on Deck 10 aft. Both are ridiculously small for the number of people on board but have more shade than most cruise ship pools.

If you’re looking for loungers in the sun and don’t mind being a bit farther from the pools themselves, head up two decks to 12, where loungers are so plentiful they block part of the jogging track. (Four laps equal 1 mile.)

One of two hot tubs in the private La Terrazza area on Carnival Firenze, plus an accessible lift. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Oddly, the Lido Pool has no hot tubs. If you want to soak, you’ll have to go to the Versilia Pool, which has two of them. The adults-only (21 and older) Solarium area on Deck 15 forward also has two hot tubs, and the La Terrazza exclusive outdoor area also has two. Neither Serenity nor La Terrazza has a pool.

Pool lifts accommodating up to 300 pounds are available for passengers with limited mobility. Lifeguards are on duty, and children’s life vests are available near the Lido Pool.

A mobile library and board games on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

If you’re looking for some wholesome fun, head to Deck 11 mid, where a portable cabinet serves as both the book and board game library. The open-air space offers plenty of tables where you can set up that chess or Scrabble board. In nearby alcoves, you’ll also find pingpong and foosball tables. Or, simply grab a snack or drink from the Pergola Bar or Il Mercato and take in a movie on the poolside screen.

The ropes course and miniature golf course on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

If you’re a water baby who loves thrills, head to WaterWorks, which offers waterslides and a splash area for kids on Deck 12 (the slide entrance is on Deck 15). Kids and adults who aren’t afraid of heights will also enjoy the top-deck ropes course on Deck 15 mid. Just beneath it is the ship’s miniature golf course.

Additional activities for youngsters take place on Deck 11 in Camp Ocean, Carnival’s kids club. The kids club splits children into four groups: Turtles (up to 2 years old), Penguins (2 to 5), Stingrays (6 to 8) and Sharks (9 to 11). The camp facility connects to an enclosed outdoor playground area that’s used on days when the weather is nice.

Part of the Camp Ocean kids club on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Fun pursuits on the daily schedule might include arts and crafts, themed parties, science experiments, games and story time, depending on the age group. Group babysitting is available as part of Camp Ocean’s Night Owls program, which runs until 1 a.m. at a cost of $9 per child, per hour. (Daytime Camp Ocean activities are free.)

The ship also has Carnival’s Dr. Seuss tie-in, featuring Bookville — a reading room inside Camp Ocean that hosts story time — and the Thing 1 and Thing 2 Birthday Brunch, which is offered at least once per voyage for an extra fee.

Tweens and teens have their own dedicated hangout spaces, too: Circle C and Club O2, both found on Deck 3 forward. Activities there are less structured, and participants can come and go as they please. An onboard arcade offers video games for a fee.

Carnival Firenze shows

The “Color My World” show in the theater on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

The entertainment on Carnival Firenze is squarely OK. I was hoping for something new, but instead, I found shows like “Color My World” and “Dear Future Husband,” both of which are already on other vessels in the fleet. Cruise ship standards, such as the “Love and Marriage Show” and adult scavenger hunt “The Quest,” are fun the first time you experience them, but I was hoping for something new for Carnival’s loyal and repeat guests. The titles on Firenze’s proverbial marquee felt tired to me, despite the abilities of the immensely talented entertainment staff.

Members of the Carnival Jubilee production cast perform in the new show “Dear Future Husband.” ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

“Dear Future Husband” is at least relatively new. It debuted on Carnival Jubilee in late 2023 and is rolling out to more vessels. It’s based on a couple who decides to have their wedding on a cruise ship, and they bring along several of their friends. They sing and dance to pop songs as they board, dress for the festivities and go through the ceremony. Afterward, a “reception” with the cast is held in an onboard lounge. (On my sailing, it was in the Tuscan Lounge.)

A clown waits at the entrance to the Limelight Lounge on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

An out-of-this-world violin trio performed one night in the theater, but otherwise, shows were limited to a lot of comedy, usually held in the perpetually freezing Limelight Lounge. Everything, including the walls, is decked out in crushed blue velvet, and you’re greeted by a creepy clown statue that still gives me nightmares.

On a positive note, I found plenty of terrific live music throughout the ship each night. Carnival has also stepped up its game lately in the magic department. On my last two Carnival sailings, a roving magician wandered from table to table during dinner to impress us with tricks that had me questioning reality.

Carnival Firenze itineraries and pricing


Carnival Firenze is offering three- to seven-night voyages from Long Beach, near Los Angeles, along the Mexican Riviera. Itineraries include such ports as Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

At the time of publication, the least expensive price for a sailing was $214 per person ($54 per person, per night) for a four-night cruise departing in November 2025.

Note: Prices are subject to change without notice and do not include crew gratuities, taxes or port fees.

What to know before you sail on Carnival Firenze

Required documents


If you’re a citizen of the U.S. on a cruise that starts and ends in the same U.S. port, you’ll need a current passport, a driver’s license or other government-issued photo identification along with a birth certificate to sail. Some other forms of identification, such as a passport card, are also acceptable. However, other cruises, including ones that begin in the U.S. and end in a different U.S. port, require a passport or passport card.

Passports must be valid for at least six months from the day your sailing ends. For cruises from international ports, you’ll need a passport. Note: It’s crucial that the name on your booking is exactly as printed on your passport or other proof of nationality. We suggest visiting Carnival’s website before sailing to view the latest requirements.

Related: Which documents do you need for a cruise? From passports to printouts, here’s what to take


Carnival Firenze passengers will automatically have $16 per person, per day added to their onboard accounts as service charges. Cruisers staying in suites will pay $18 per person, per day. (Children younger than 2 are exempt from gratuities.) An 18% gratuity is also added to bar and cafe purchases, spa services and the Chef’s Table.

Related: Tipping on a cruise: What to know about cruise ship gratuities



Carnival Wi-Fi is generally fast and reliable. However, don’t be surprised if you find yourself repeatedly and automatically disconnected, which is annoying.

Packages have increased significantly in price in recent years, and each plan is only for one device. (You can log out of one and into another with the same account, but you can’t connect more than one at the same time unless you buy additional plans.)

Three package tiers are available:

  • Social: Access to most social media, airline websites and apps for $18 per day ($126 for a weeklong cruise)
  • Value: Same as Social, plus access to financial and news websites and apps for $23 per day ($161 for a week)
  • Premium: Everything from the Social and Value packages, plus Skype access and video calling for $25 per day ($175 for a week)

Passengers can also choose 24 hours of Premium access for $35.

Carnival claims that its packages don’t allow FaceTime, iMessage or streaming from popular apps like Netflix and Hulu. However, TPG writers have had success using all of those services with the Premium package.

Related: Wi-Fi on cruise ships: 5 things to know about internet use on board

Carry-on drinks policy

Passengers can carry on one bottle of wine or Champagne per person (21 years and older), which will incur a $15 corkage fee for consumption in public areas. Each person can also bring up to 12 standard cans or cartons of nonalcoholic beverages like juice or soda. Alcohol-free drinks in plastic and glass bottles aren’t allowed.

Related: Can I bring alcohol on a cruise ship? A line-by-line guide

Smoking policy

A hand holding a smoking cigarette. RATTANKUN THONGBUN/GETTY IMAGES

Smoking (including e-cigarettes and vapes) is allowed but only in designated outdoor areas on Deck 11 on the starboard side. Smoking is also allowed in the main casino, but it’s for cigarettes only. (For passengers who don’t light up, a separate nonsmoking casino is available but is much smaller.) All types of smoking are forbidden in cabins and on cabin balconies. A $500 fine will be assessed for cruisers who break the rules of the smoking policy.

Related: Is smoking allowed on cruise ships? A line-by-line guide


Carnival Firenze does not have self-service laundry rooms or pressing rooms. Instead, passengers can send out their clothing for washing, pressing and dry cleaning for a per-item fee.

Related: Everything you need to know about cruise ship laundry services

Electrical outlets

USB ports near the bed in a balcony cabin on Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Carnival Firenze has a mix of 110-volt North American outlets, 220-volt European outlets and 220-volt Chinese/Australian outlets in its cabins, as well as plenty of USB ports. In my balcony room, I had two North American outlets, one European outlet, one Chinese/Australian outlet and two USB ports at the vanity, plus two additional USB ports under one of the bedside reading lamps. If you bring a couple of universal adapters, you’ll have more than enough spots to charge all your electronics.


The currency on Carnival Firenze is the dollar. The ship also operates without cash. Passengers link credit cards to their onboard accounts or put up a set amount of cash to charge against, using their keycards as a means of making purchases. However, you might want to have some bills handy to tip your bartender, room steward, shore excursion guide, luggage porters or room service delivery folks.

Drinking age

You must be at least 21 years old to drink alcohol on Carnival Firenze.

Dress code

A group of friends in formal wear on a cruise. ER PRODUCTIONS LIMITED/GETTY IMAGES

Carnival Firenze does not have a specific daytime dress code, and people dress casually. Mexico is largely a warm-weather destination, so looking like you’re going to the beach is perfectly acceptable. Pack T-shirts, shorts and bathing suits (with a cover-up to go inside on sea days or back on board on port days).

During the evenings, the official dress code is only loosely enforced. Most nights are “cruise casual,” which generally involves khakis or jeans, polo shirts, sundresses and the like. Ultra casual items like cutoff jeans, men’s sleeveless shirts, T-shirts and gym shorts are supposedly not permitted, but I saw plenty of them in the dining rooms during dinnertime on Carnival Firenze.

A weeklong cruise will generally schedule two formal nights — known as “elegant nights.” If you’re bound for the dining rooms or specialty restaurants, men should turn up in dress slacks and a dress shirt; Carnival recommends a sports coat, and a suit would not be out of place. The suggested attire for women on such nights is cocktail dresses, pantsuits, elegant skirts and blouses. If you want to avoid dressing up, seek out the casual eateries, including the Lido Marketplace, or order room service to your cabin.

Related: What to wear on a cruise: Cruise attire and cruise line dress codes

Bottom line

A view of the wake from the aft of Carnival Firenze. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Despite some overly stereotypical moments that made the ship feel like a floating caricature of Italy, I had an amazing time on board this new-to-Carnival ship.

The food was excellent, the decor was gorgeous and the crew worked hard to make sure passengers had the best vacations possible.

Is Carnival Firenze gaudy and, at times, maybe even a little cringey? Yes, but I found myself taking limoncello shots and stuffing my face with pizza alongside everyone else. Embrace “Fun Italian Style” for what it is, and you’re sure to have a great time on board.

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