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chenj78

Carnival vs RCI and NCL

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Hi all,

 

Considering a Carnival cruise after cruising mostly with RCI and a couple times with NCL over the years.  We have been very happy with both RCI and NCL.  Can anyone provide any feedback as to how Carnival compares to them as far as condition of ship, overall cleanliness, overall service, food quality, kids activities, onboard prices, onboard activities, etc.?  My initial research seems to point in the direction of them being comparable, but I am interested in hearing from those who are more familiar with Carnival.

 

Thanks in advance!

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Just now, chenj78 said:

Hi all,

 

Considering a Carnival cruise after cruising mostly with RCI and a couple times with NCL over the years.  We have been very happy with both RCI and NCL.  Can anyone provide any feedback as to how Carnival compares to them as far as condition of ship, overall cleanliness, overall service, food quality, kids activities, onboard prices, onboard activities, etc.?  My initial research seems to point in the direction of them being comparable, but I am interested in hearing from those who are more familiar with Carnival.

 

Thanks in advance!

I sail in Australia so things may vary, but

 

Ship condition seems pretty much the same, and really the variable is age and time since dry dock.

 

Carnival I’d say tends to younger ave demographic with more family groups.

 

 

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We prefer Royal Caribbean to Carnival.  Carnival has a lot of children and a lot of parts and noisier.  In my opinion I like the cabins on Royal Caribbean better too.  Shows were also better on Royal. Larger Adults only area with pool.  Carnival ship we were on only had hot tub, no pool in adult only area. Grandkids didn't seem too excited about the children's programs on Carnival so we are doing Royal with them Christmas 2019.  

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Its been some years for me but when I did them it was nicer 7/8 night sailings.  Might want to consider Carnival but read reviews for that particular ship.

 

Back then, Carnival Magic, Dream and Freedom seemed to have good food, enjoyed Steakhouse and Indian food on buffet........... but some recent reviews seemed to mention maybe food slipping so that would be diappointing. 

 

If I were comparing two ships for a particular week wanted to sail, and the RCCL ship I was looking at had shows I've seen before, that might make me more inclined to select Carnival if the price was good.

 

One of my biggest complaints with Carnival was a smaller ship like Freedom taking so long to just exit ship compared to the efficiency of RCCL Oasis class ship. Just no excuse to wait 45 mins in line when ship docked but not enough crew and machines to "ding" your way off; and nearly miss private excursion.

 

I have some concerns Carnival larger ships don't quite have everying down the way RCCL Oasis class does when it comes to sailing with lots of pax.  Lately when comparing price and sailings I've been on RCCL or NCL but not opposed to going Carnival again.

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I find food better and more choices on Carnival except for the Oasis class and above. Entertainment better on RC. I enjoy both but there are differences. Carnival is much more casual in dress. 

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I have been on Carnival Vista and RC Oasis and Allure and it's true there's aren't the bells and whistles and variety of entertainment on Carnival.

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Haven't been on any newer Carnival ships. We used to cruise Carnival frequently, but feel like we've "graduated to RCL". I found all of my cruises on Carnival enjoyable, but it is a bit of a different experience. Carnival a little younger in demographics,  and a few more kids; also a little more blue collar.  If you have younger children, we did really like the Carnival camp program and I think our kids enjoyed that a bit more than on Royal. Has a bit more of a party vibe but not just a drinking vibe, a little more of a fun focus. That's a little bit of a mixed bag in my view, I like some things about that, but some of it also can get annoying as the days on the ship wear on (mainly a few individuals who don't act well after imbibing a few adult beverages). Pool areas on Royal are setup a little more to accommodate those that want to relax. 

 

I'm not a big "show" person on ships, but I believe shows on Royal are a step up from Carnival.

 

I also disagree from the comments of others - I like Royal's food a bit better. I don't really like buffet style dining anywhere, but it's a must on cruise ships at times, and the one on Mariner of the Seas was much more tolerable than those on our Carnival experience. Better quality food and a bit more concern for cleanliness. Main dining room is closer call, but I'd also give a slight edge to Royal, although we had a good experience in the MDR on one of our cruises aboard Carnival Splendor.

 

It also depends on which ships/class of ship. Carnival had advantage on earlier classes with waterslides, and other deck activities, but RCL is closing the gap on that in recent years. Conversely, RCL used to have many more balcony rooms than Carnival, but Carnival is beginning to compete in that area with some of newer, larger ships. The sacrifice there is you may lose some outer deck space to enjoy. 

 

I don't think the differences are enormous, and they clearly vary from ship to ship (and probably even from sailing to sailing), but on the whole we prefer RCL. I would probably first look at specific ships, pricing and itinerary, and if all else is equal maybe let some of these thoughts help break the tie. 

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Just off the Horizon. The food choices that are included were far better, and of much greater variety on Carnival.

 

The ship had fantastic shows, and with the exception of the Broadway shows on Royal, I liked these shows much better. Nothing even comparable when it comes to the ice show, or Aqua theater show on RCI. 

 

I have a lot of fun at the 70's party on Royal, but there was more fun to be had every night on the Horizon... more trivia, more karaoke, more comedy, and a far better piano bar experience. So I think there is more to do on CCL.

 

Royal has amazing ships with the Voyager and up class, however even though I thought I really loved the Royal Promenade, I finally realized it was missing something... views of the Ocean. Oh well, I still like them. 

 

Service is about the same on both, and I have seen just as many partiers on Royal as on CCL. The standard cabins are FAR better on CCL. This last cruise I had an ocean view, which had two bathrooms... one regular as expected, and one with a tub, and a sink. The room was so comfortable, and showering/getting ready at the same time in two different bathrooms was very nice. Only a couple ships have this, but the standard inside & ov, cabins are still bigger than on RCI. 

 

Cleanliness of the ships is about the same. The only ship I ever thought was dirty was the Enchantment of the Seas the first time I went on her in April 2016. This last time a few months ago it was as clean as can be. 

 

I also like the older ships on CCL, like the Fantasy class... but the Horizon made me wish my next few were on CCL instead of RCI. Then again, I really like the Majesty of the Seas as well... and she is as old as dirt, so basically I am no help because I would go on either line, any time. 

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Of the 3 I liked RCL best for entertainment, but I was surprisingly delighted with the food in Carnival’s MDR.

 

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We started our cruise experiences on Carnival and the moving on to RCL, we really enjoyed the trips we had with Carnival  however we feel that we have taken that step forward going onto RCL. Both are good at what they do and have pro's and con's to each. It really depends on what you want and how you want to spend your time. I would have no hesitation booking a Carnival trip over an RCL one if the itinerary was what I wanted but do prefer RCL. 

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We like the carnival breeze. We think the food choices and quality is better on carnival than royal. Royal ships are more glamorous and the entertainment is superior but we still go back to carnival. There is good and bad to both. Now I would not do a 3-4 night cruise on carnival because of the young Rowdy  people. 

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2 hours ago, renza said:

We like the carnival breeze. We think the food choices and quality is better on carnival than royal. Royal ships are more glamorous and the entertainment is superior but we still go back to carnival. There is good and bad to both. Now I would not do a 3-4 night cruise on carnival because of the young Rowdy  people. 

Your last sentence is spot on, made that mistake and it really was a rowdy cruise.

Edited by Rickshaw, Cabs & Taxis

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We have sailed both and IMO:

RCCL-better food [other than pizza (CCL's pizza was exceptional to me)], better/more comfortable rooms, cabin steward was friendlier and attempted to get to know you (met ours once on CCL and not again but our room was clean daily), more entertainment and trivia offered, nicer feel to the ships, much larger and nicer adults only area (with a pool)

 

CCL-best poolside food (burritos for breakfast?  yes please!), better and more fun bar staff at most bars (especially by the pool), waitstaff was excellent and little to no wait for their "my time dining" or whatever it is called (can't remember which is called what on each line)

 

For what it's worth, we would sail CCL again and probably will at some time but every time a Royal ship passed us or ported next to us we were longing to be on it.  More similarities than not when it all shakes out but RCCL is our favorite so far.

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Granted, its been over 3 years since i've been on Carnival (and my last 6 cruises were on Royal Caribbean since then), but they are more alike than different.

 

I found food in the MDR to be slightly better on Royal Caribbean, but found the buffet/quick service food better on Carnival.

I found service to be more consistently good on Carnival, but feel there is a wider level of service on Royal Caribbean (lower lows, and higher highs depending on crewmember). 

I found entertainment to be about the same, but the broadway type shows, Royal Caribbean is superior.

Activities, I have to give it to Carnival as they have far superior cruise directors.  But in terms of innovation, (Escape rooms, ice rinks, flow riders, etc) Royal Caribbean takes the cake.

 

They are evenly matched, but my take is if you want a more relaxing cruise, go on Royal Caribbean.  If you want a more energetic cruise, go with Carnival.  It really depends on how you enjoy your vacation.

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On 1/12/2019 at 4:31 PM, chenj78 said:

Considering a Carnival cruise after cruising mostly with RCI and a couple times with NCL over the years.  We have been very happy with both RCI and NCL.  Can anyone provide any feedback as to how Carnival compares to them as far as condition of ship, overall cleanliness, overall service, food quality, kids activities, onboard prices, onboard activities, etc.?  My initial research seems to point in the direction of them being comparable, but I am interested in hearing from those who are more familiar with Carnival.

 

Thanks in advance!

 

I think it depends on the ship.  I cruised Carnival Liberty and I had a great time, but I found the ship quite lacking.  The stateroom was a weird color of pink and most of the ship was designed in very loud, hideous colors.  It felt kinda cheap.  

 

Food quality and service was, in my opinion, exactly the same as RCI.  However, I think Steakhouse blows away RCI's Chops.  

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I had been meaning to post my comparison of the three, but hadn't finished writing it. This thread inspired me to do so, and post it here. You'll see it on the RCCL boards.

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Burger King - Carnival (They try hard, but something always seems amiss)

 

Wendy's - Royal (It's clearly different than Burger King, but still quite similar)

 

KFC - Norwegian (They sell another product all together, but it tastes alright)

 

 

 

Random opinions 

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Hello! My DH and I just did our first Carnival cruise over the Christmas holiday. We have previously been on 2 RCCL cruises. Here is what we noticed as the major differences:

1. They really push drinks on you - no matter where we were, we had a waiter asking if we wanted a drink every 5 minutes. That includes the dining room.

2. We expected a lot of kids, being the holidays, but there weren't any enforced curfews and we saw a lot of kids left on their own to wander - as young as 8/9 yrs. old.

3. The service wasn't as good. My guess is that Carnival has a higher staff to passenger ration than Royal, making more work for less people the real issue.

 

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