Inside Carnival Firenze: My First Look at Carnival’s Newest Ship [PHOTOS]

While wandering around Carnival Firenze, a typical Carnival cruiser will experience familiar venues mixed with new ones. But how do they all stack up?

CARNIVAL FIRENZE AFTER VIEW

What Makes Carnival Firenze Different?

It has been less than a year since we were introduced to the Carnival Venezia, a ship that, like Firenze, was imported from Carnival Corporation’s Italian division, Costa Cruises.

EXTERIOR CARNIVAL FIRENZE

Both ships were a cultural mishmash, given that they were Italian-themed vessels built for the Chinese market. Complicating matters was the extensive dry dock each ship underwent as part of its transition into the Carnival Cruise Line fleet.

While the two Italian imports are in many ways different from other Carnival Cruise Line ships, they’re similar. Think of them as less identical twins than fraternal ones, each sharing traits with their Carnival and Costa parents.

POOL DECK CARNIVAL FIRENZE

After the christening ceremony in Long Beach, I had a chance to sail Carnival Firenze for seven nights to get a firsthand look at Carnival’s 27th ship, and their “Carnival Fun, Italian Style” product. These are my first thoughts.

The Atrium on Carnival Firenze

CARNIVAL FIRENZE ATRIUM

You’ll notice immediately that this isn’t a traditional Carnival ship. Why? Because as we’re accustomed to, we go from the gangway to the atrium.

At first glance, it looks like your traditional Carnival atrium… until you look up and notice that the space is anchored not with a dreamscape funnel — as on other Vista-class ships — but rather a towering pillar topped by a large, gold lion.

Odd? Not really, as the ship’s name, Firenze means “Florence,” and a large Marzocco lion watches over the Italian city after which the ship is named.

The three-deck atrium is retro by design, with dark reds, gold-plated elements, and a ceiling painted like a skyscape. (I was reminded of the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, which features a similar ceiling.) Surrounded by marble columns, the area feels more refined than other ships in the fleet.

CARNIVAL FIRENZE ATRIUM SHIP

Never fear. Things aren’t entirely unfamiliar here. After all, beneath the lion sits the bar you’d find on any other Carnival ship, and the floors overlooking the atrium are various shops, including the sweet tooth-top, Cherry On Top. This is also where you’ll find the entrance to one of the main dining rooms. In other words, as on other Carnival ships, the atrium remains a vital hub.

My Take: The atrium’s size compares well with similar spaces across other Carnival ships. It’s cozy, with ample seating and drink railings on decks three and four. This makes it perfect for enjoying the view without having to be actively involved in whatever happens on deck three. If anything, this atrium feels like it has more seating.

Carnival Firenze Lido Deck

SEA DAY LIDO CARNIVAL FIRENZE

The lido deck is one of the biggest changes to the standard Carnival experience. As in Venezia, the pool area sits beneath a retractable roof, ideal for bad weather days. But because of how the space is designed, it’s better for those looking to avoid the sun than those chasing it while they’re by the pool.

There are numerous loungers and sun chairs on multiple decks, including unexpected locations like deck 11 between the midship pool and the back of the ship, and deck 5 forward.

CARNIVAL FIRENZE AFT POOL 1

Venue-wise, this is where you’ll find the Java Blue Cafe and Guy’s Burger Joint (which offers a few Italian-themed options unavailable on any ship other than Venezia). There’s also the new Rococo bar, which serves up a variety of frozen cocktails, and Tomodoro, which replaces the BlueIguana Cantina and serves an odd mix of Italian and Mexican dishes, including meatball subs.

Oddly, there are no hot tubs by the Lido pool. Perhaps, given the unconventional nature of the space, that’s a good thing. It can feel tight when busy, especially if themed events are being held poolside.

TUSCAN LOUNGE CARNIVAL FIRENZE

On the last night of our cruise, the rooftop was closed due to inclement weather. It was a nice space, and you couldn’t tell. If anything, the closed roof made for better acoustics for the action movie playing on the big screen.

My Take: Sun-seekers prefer the aft pool on deck 10 for more expansive sunbathing areas. While the Lido seemed as popular as one might expect, I found the area to be a case of form over function. It’s a beautiful design, but it didn’t feel comfortable.

The JavaBlue Cafe saw its share of people between 7:00 and 9:00 a.m. Other venues around the ship serve specialty coffee drinks, like on deck five at the Tuscan Lounge and the Modo Bar. Coffee machines are also available at other bars, although the selections may be limited. Coffee, latte, and espresso shots can be found at any bar with a coffee machine.

New Dining and Food on Carnival Firenze

IL VIAGGO

Like nearly every other aspect of the ship, dining on Firenze combines familiar favorites with enticing new offerings.

Still featuring two main dining rooms and the buffet, the ship is also home to Il Viaggo, a premium Italian dining experience (first introduced on, say it with me now, Venezia) that quickly won me over with its chicken crust pizza and mile-high gelato pie—well worth the $42 surcharge.

CHICKEN PIZZA IL VIAGGO

A new venue called Empanada Pie was opened in the Tuscan Lounge. It’s catty-corner to the Tuscan Lounge bar and is open in the evening. I didn’t get to try this one because it wasn’t open when we played trivia (that was the only time I was in the lounge).

I’ve been told they are considering opening it to follow the entertainment schedule in the Tuscan Lounge.

EMPANADA BAR CARNIVAL FIRENZE

The newly added Il Mercato (market) on deck 11 by the pool is a welcomed addition. Known as Carnival Deli on other ships, this one also has an Italian slant beyond the name. It offers different types of meatballs to try, along with standard deli favorites like hot dogs and sandwiches. The Philly cheesesteak and pretzel rolls at the deli were both a home run!

MERCATO CARNIVAL FIRENZE

I also have to note that opening up the Mercato market on deck 11 does help pull from the lido deck crowds, but it’s safe to say that if you go to the buffet during peak hours, it will be packed (like every other cruise line) but you won’t have an issue finding a seat.

The Seafood Shack has been transformed into a versatile venue. By day, it serves breakfast items and transitions to a lunch spot similar to Shaq’s Big Chicken (although the menu is different) and a traditional seafood restaurant by night.

CHICKEN SANDWICH CARNIVAL FIRENZE

Across from Seafood Shack is Pizzeria del Capitano, which offers the same fresh pizzas across the fleet but with two new pies to try: Terayaki Chicken and Korean BBQ, each costing $6.

My Take: Carnival’s consistency in food quality remains, with the new dining concepts nodding to the Italian-style brand. This was my third time dining at Il Viaggio (twice on Venezia), and this menu was much more approachable. Some favorites were the chicken-crusted pizza (it’s legit!) and the mile-high gelato pie. I believe that the fee is justified because it provides an experience.
CHICKEN PIZZA CARNIVAL FIRENZE

If you plan on getting pizza, it’s best to stick with the complimentary pizzas offered at the pizza place. I once ordered the Teriyaki Chicken pizza for dinner and only managed to eat half of it. The taste was akin to a Healthy Choice microwave meal dumped on a piece of dough.

New Bars on Carnival Firenze

CARNIVAL FIRENZE AMARI BAR

When Carnival began talking up its new Italian-themed ships, I was disappointed to learn that they would not feature the Alchemy Bar. But as it turns out, they didn’t erase the bar.

Instead, they rolled some of the most popular Alchemy cocktails into the menu featured at Amari. So yes, you can still get your Cucumber Sunrise. But this is also the space to try something new, including drinks made with Italian bitters, which can be an acquired taste.

FRIZZANTE BAR CARNIVAL FIRENZE

Just outside Il Viaggio is another bar you’ll only find on the Italian-themed ships, Frizzante. This bar features a wide variety of sparkling wines. Location-wise, it’s the perfect place to grab a pre-dinner drink, especially if you happen to be eating at Il Viaggio.

APEROL SPRITZ

One of the best spots on board is the Moda Bar and Lounge, part of the Terrazza area. While the outdoor bar, hot tubs, and lounging area are reserved for guests staying in Terrazza staterooms during the day, they are open to all in the evenings. You’ll find some of the best views on the ship back here, and it’s seldom crowded.

Deck 11 has the Pergola Bar, which helps alleviate some of the bar lines on Deck 10. I found myself stopping by there numerous times because it wasn’t busy. This is mostly a poolside bar with fun sail-away drinks like margaritas, lemonades, and mixers.

My Take: The onboard bar options are a nice touch, although when talking to guests throughout the cruise, many missed the full Alchemy Bar menu. On the other hand, it’s a way for guests with the drink package to expand their palette with Italian liquors. The Frizzante Bar, on the other hand, was a hot spot, and guests hopped throughout the cruise, using both the bar and lounge areas in front of the spot.

Final Thoughts of Carnival Firenze

CARNIVAL FIRENZE DECK 5

Carnival Firenze marries Italian elegance with the fun atmosphere Carnival is known for, making it a unique addition to their fleet.

At first, I was skeptical of the product and how I would like it because it differs from other ships. But after spending a week onboard, Carnival Firenze grew on me, and most guests enjoyed it, while some will always resist change.

You’ll enjoy this ship if you want Carnival’s take on a fun Italian experience. If you want an authentic Italian experience, go to Italy.

Carnival Venezia Review: Everything You Need to Know Before Cruising

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