Come aboard the new Carnival Venezia for ‘Italian-style’ fun

Never underestimate the value of a cruise from a home port.

Not only does it eliminate the fatigue of a flight and the need to arrive a day early for, can we just say, regular-size toiletries and a bottle of wine in the carry-on.

Add the arrival of a new ship, and there’s twice the cause for celebration. Carnival has this covered with the launch this June of its snazzy ship Carnival Venezia, now sailing from the Manhattan cruise terminal.

The 15-deck, 4,977-guest-capacity Venezia was originally part of the Costa Cruises line, the Italian company that was purchased by Carnival in 1997 (and, ahem, later infamous for the Costa Concordia capsize in 2012).

Built in 2019 with the intention of sailing the China seas, she was transferred from the Costa line to Carnival’s bucket in March and is now taking off on her inaugural cruises to Bermuda, the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Florida, New England and Canada.

Exterior of the Venezia ship docked at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal.
Venezia sails from the Manhattan Cruise Terminal to Bermuda, the Bahamas, Canada and more.
Courtesy of Carnival Cruises

Soon to be joined by sister ship Firenze, which will be based in LA, the company is placing the ships as a sub-brand called “Carnival Fun Italian Style.” As the name suggests, there’s Italian theming throughout, with gold romanesque pillars, lots of green and red, and generous usage of the word “ciao.”

There’s even a genuine gondola (one of only 500 in the world, we’re told) parked outside the Canal Grand main restaurant for that now-compulsory Instagram moment. (And, in keeping with the theme, rather than the customary godmother, the ship was even dedicated by a godfather — Jay Leno, in case you were wondering.)

There’s no signature whale tail on the ship, but there is a big overstamp of everything you already know about Carnival — lots of RelayComp-Black font, “art” sales and gargantuan lines for karaoke and the omnipresent Guy Fieri burger bar. Added to this, though, is an airy feel to the ship, with subtle decor touches like Murano glass ornaments, beachy color palettes in the nicely appointed rooms and the classy Frizzante bar for your prosecco fix.

Interior of the ship's casino space.
Get your game on: Built for the Chinese market and retrofitted for the US, the ship has extra casino space.
Courtesy of Carnival Cruises

Venezia also features the unique-to-this-ship restaurant, Il Viaggio (“the voyage”). Sporting stylish decor in white and gold, its goal is to serve authentic dishes from various culinary regions of Italy. Expect dishes like pollo parmigiana pizza from Lombardy, or mile-high gelato pie from Tuscany. Your waistline won’t thank you, but your taste buds will.

In fact, worthy of note (and, perhaps, because the company’s chief culinary officer is Emeril Lagasse) you’re not going to be disappointed in any of the food and beverage options, all of which are fresh and varied — an important plus on any cruise.

Interestingly, differences in the Chinese market for which the ship was designed included a desire for more shops and casinos at the cost of less pools and dining. So while Venezia has been re-jiggered to include all the Carnival Horizon-class upgraded dining, entertainment options and adults-only Serenity deck, they couldn’t fix everything. So, there’s only a small pool at the front and another in the center of the ship, and on a full cruise it’s standing room only. 

Interior of a bar area on the ship.
There are plenty of watering holes aboard — so please, leave the illegal flower on shore.
Courtesy of Carnival Cruises

However, the main Lido pool has a retractable roof, nicely tall and non-confining. Surrounded by roomy lounging areas and bars in a design inspired by the Italian Riviera, it’s a comfortable spot that comes in handy when the rain comes in sideways. 

For kids, there’s also the splash pool and well-attended sports areas, as well as a kids club. An afternoon G-rated comedy show at Punchlines is a nice touch, too.

The extra retail space leaves room for some Italian finery — think Gucci, Fendi and Bulgari. I’m not sure who, on a cruise, is looking for “lightly used” leather handbags, but they’re here at What Goes Around Comes Around, and they’re very nice.

Aerial shot of the Carnival Venezia in the waters of NYC at night.
Set sail on your next cruise from NYC under the cloak of night.
Carnival Cruises

Carnival has positioned itself with low-entry prices, so you’re looking at $559 per person for the long weekend cruise from New York to Bermuda, which we took — worth the price of entry just to sail past Lady Liberty at sunset. Little wonder that our cruise was sold out and boasted its fair share of birthday bashes and bachelorette parties. 

Just one other thing: Don’t think about bringing your weed. It might be legal in this home port, but it’s not allowed on board and anyway, there’s a $500 fine for any illicit smoking or vaping. This didn’t seem to stop some of our neighbors, but there is a sniffer dog on board, so, just don’t.

Venezia will sail 22 itineraries from New York now through winter 2024, ranging from 4 to 15 days to Bermuda, the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Florida, New England and Canada. Prices start at $439 per person. For more information visit

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