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robindina

Carnival vs Royal Carribean

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The hubby and I have been on two cruises Ncl and Carnival! We loved both those cruises so now we are looking at Royal Caribbean.  Who has been on Carnival and Royal Caribbean ?   What are the differences?   My favorite things on Carnival was tea time and the cooking demonstration.  Anything like that on Royal Caribbean?  

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Hi Robindina,

It's important to know what RCI ship you have in mind. RCI ships are very different, so is cruising experience.

As to proper afternoon tea, it's not a part of RCI tradition. However they offer selection of sweets  at "tea time" in the buffet.

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I have been in Explorer and Oasis in RC. While we enjoyed both I can't say they were significantly better than my Carnival experiences. For example: I'm doing carnival Breeze this summer.

 

Of course YMMV and things will vary greatly from cruise to cruise.

I think Royal has better shows. Food can be hit or miss on both lines in the MDR. Chops on Royal is amazing but I haven't tried the steakhouse on Carnival yet. My daughter has enjoyed the kids club on both lines (she's 6). 

 

my big pet peeve with Royal is that I feel like they are pushing on board sales and upcharges much more aggressively than other lines I've been on. 

 

My bottom line opinion is Royal is a good line and worth a visit. Oasis class is a pretty cool experience ship-wise. Carnival is less costly overall for a similar vacation with perhaps a little lower quality entertainment.

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Plenty of topics on this, feel free to utilize the search tool in the corner

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I just completed my first cruise with Carnival on the Dream after a long run with Royal and I was pleasantly surprised how similar the lines really are. Off course the newer ships are going to have better amenities and that goes for both lines. I booked another cruise with carnival in the spring of next year and another on royal that fall. If I had to be super picky, I was slightly disappointed with the offerings in the buffet on the Dream, but no deal breaker there. And I do prefer the openness of the Royal ships - the royal promenade concept is really cool.

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39 minutes ago, kctwinmommy said:

Here's my report about it...
 

 

Thank you! 

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I have been on 1 Holland

                           1 NCL

                            2 Princess

                            3 RCL

i enjoyed the RCL entertainment.  The shows are way better than what I saw in Carnival, but I have booked another Carnival with the whole family because I thought the food was very good on my one Carnival.  I gave my grandchildren the choice of which was more important to them and they picked the food.

                             

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We have had 4 carnival cruises and I wad thinking about considering RC for our next cruise... Do you feel like RC has as many inclusive amenities/food as Carnival..we don't drink or do dining thats not inclusive..so those not included upgrades dont really appeal to us.

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Oasis Class has much more.

Majesty has less.

Different RC ships have different amenities, food options, sports facilities, entertainment, prices - all different.

Quantum class, Freedom class, Radiance class, Sovereign class are like four different cruise lines.

 

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Posted (edited)

This is a legitimate question and it's often hard to find exactly what you're looking for in a search. Sometimes different people respond and fresh perspectives are helpful. Below is what I posted for some friends on FB who had wanted to know the differences, after I cruised my first Carnival cruise following many Royal Caribbean cruises. To give you an idea of how similar they are, next year, I have 1 Carnival and 2 Royal Caribbean cruises booked, just based on which ship had the dates I need.

 

Check-In: Both are fine, RC is a bit smoother. Carnival started checking our passports and boarding passes in the parking garage, before we even got into the terminal, which was a little weird with a line of people forming in the garage, and annoying because I didn't have the documents out yet. This was at Port Canaveral, FL, and may not happen everywhere.

 

Sailing Card: RC gives you your Sea Pass Card at check-in. On Carnival, the Sailing Card (I forget what they call it) was in the mailbox outside our stateroom. I prefer getting it at check-in.

 

Ship Decor: More ornate on Carnival, and stateroom colors are a bit more dated (this was on Liberty). More modern on RC. However, the newer Carnival ships may be more modern, and the refurbished Sunrise, which I'm cruising next year, looks very modern and quite my taste.

 

Stateroom: Carnival has more stateroom lighting, which is nice. Also a removable luggage mat to protect the bedding when you put the suitcase on it. Bed, pillows, and bedding are more comfortable on Carnival. Maybe more closet storage. Smaller balcony. RC has a better in-room safe, with a code pad. Carnival's safe requires sliding your credit card (not to charge it, just to match the card on your account) to open, which means . . . you can't store that card in the safe, which is what I would typically do, because you only need your room card for on board charges.

 

Bathroom: Carnival bathroom is slightly bigger, including the shower. Longer countertop and a lot more shelves for storage.

 

Safety/Muster Drill: RC wins the safety drill, hands down. Carnival's was chaotic, unorganized, and took longer. On RC, you're instructed to walk down the stairs holding your sea card face out, so the crew in the stairwells can see your muster station and direct you where to go. They are very well trained and organized at this. On Carnival, you better review the guide on the back of your stateroom door to know where you're going, and there are fewer crew members assigned to muster if you need help finding your way.

 

WiFi: Slower on Carnival, but Carnival has a fantastic on-board phone app for keeping up with activities, menus for every night, and a walkie-talkie feature. RC doesn't have that.

 

Ship Layout and Traffic Flow: Both are far better on RC, with more open floor plans. On this Carnival ship, you can't walk all the way across the ship on every deck, so sometimes we have to go up/down a deck or two, walk all the way across, then up/down a deck or two, to get where we're going. I hated this the first two days but got used to it as I figured out where everything is.

 

Elevators: Carnival has twice as many elevators and larger elevator waiting areas.

 

Food: SURPRISE of all surprises! I didn't not expect this, but Carnival is the overall winner here. Most all cruise food is hit or miss, but the food is consistently better on Carnival than RC, EXCEPT the buffet is better on RC. Carnival buffet is minimal and just okay, but there are more "included/no extra charge" restaurants, which are really good. Carnival's main dining room food blows RC out of the water, especially desserts which are the low point of an RC cruise.

 

Shows/Entertainment: For the most part, RC wins here. Carnival's Welcome Aboard show was at 10:15 pm, whereas it's a prime time/post-dinner show on RC. We were too tired to see it on this cruise. RC is better about scheduling its prime time shows, often twice per night, starting right after the early and late dinner seatings finish up. Carnival's show times seem more random and don't line up with finishing dinner, but it also has multiple nightly standup comedy shows in one of the large lounges, with family friendly shows earlier in the evening.

 

Gluten Free: Both cruise lines have plenty of gluten free options and can modify other things to be gluten free, except the Carnival buffet doesn't have quite as many GF options as RC's, probably because the buffet is more limited to begin with.

 

Overall, I can't say one is totally better than the other. Price and itinerary are probably still bigger considerations, and Carnival isn't always the cheapest. 

Edited by emory2001

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8 hours ago, kyboymom said:

We have had 4 carnival cruises and I wad thinking about considering RC for our next cruise... Do you feel like RC has as many inclusive amenities/food as Carnival..we don't drink or do dining thats not inclusive..so those not included upgrades dont really appeal to us.

 

There are not as many included restaurants on RC, but the buffet is much bigger, with more variety including global cuisines, and better tasting. 

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With 91 cruises under my belt, RC blows Carnival away in every way!  I still go on both, but we mostly cruise RC because we love the oasis mega size ships and there is no comparison.  Carnivals steakhouse though is our most favorite specialty restaurant out of all of RC.  Buffets and choices on places to eat as well as entertainment, RC is the way to go, not mentioning, no limit on the drink packages, and specialty dining/wi fi discounts offered multiple times during the year with up to 30% off.

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Only been on one RC cruise and not sure you can compare that cruise with Carnival as it was a cruise to Bermuda out of Baltimore. The average age was 300 and a small ship so by 10 at night the ship was in a coma. Not many places to get anything to eat the buffet was closed and the casino I think was the only bar open after 10-11. It was a nice ship just nothing to do, and I found their food wasn't great but that was just me. Now they have much bigger ships and many things to do, but I'm sticking with Carnival 

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2 hours ago, anewell28 said:

Here is my take on the two cruise lines!

Thank you, great review

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I had 14 cruises on Carnival.  I have always had an excellent time on Carnival.  My 15th cruise was on RCL Anthem of the Seas.  I thought RCL was great overall, some things better than Carnival like the shows, some things not as good as Carnival like better food options on Carnival (Guys, Blue Iguana, Steakhouse, Bonsai Sushi, Deli and Pizza and Sea Day Brunch to name just a few).  

 

In the future, I will be cruising on both cruise lines because of their schedules and pricing out of New York City but Carnival will still be my preferred cruise line.  😎

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1
2 hours ago, JohnSpo said:

I had 14 cruises on Carnival.  I have always had an excellent time on Carnival.  My 15th cruise was on RCL Anthem of the Seas.  I thought RCL was great overall, some things better than Carnival like the shows, some things not as good as Carnival like better food options on Carnival (Guys, Blue Iguana, Steakhouse, Bonsai Sushi, Deli and Pizza and Sea Day Brunch to name just a few).  

 

In the future, I will be cruising on both cruise lines because of their schedules and pricing out of New York City but Carnival will still be my preferred cruise line.  😎

Royal has a steakhouse, pizza, sea day brunch, small deli at cafe promenade and Johnny Rockets for burgers (though it's not complimentary) and El Loco fresh matches Blue Iguana.  The food options are pretty much the same.  The hours to get them on Carnival might be more expansive, but that's because Royal provides more overall entertainment besides eating and bean bag toss.

 

Been on 18 Carnival cruises, last one being as recent as July 18 Pride sailing.  Aside from a great day in Half Moon Cay, it was a very lackluster vacation.   Carnival has been going downhill in my opinion over the last 5 years.  I 

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We have been on a whole bunch of Royal cruises and one Carnival cruise. The Carnival cruise was on Horizon.  We really liked the food options on Carnival Horizon (particularly the included options - a lot of variety) and the variety and quality of live music. 

 

On Royal the ice skating shows and aqua (diving etc.) shows on the ships that have them are excellent.  We do love their newer, larger ships.


There are obviously many other factors but those things struck us the most. 

 

Happy cruising! 

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I have sailed both and while they target similar "markets" their approaches are different.  Royal is about the ships.  The high level Royal ships are hard to beat.  Along those lines, Royal's business model is to get you to spend more coin on the ship.  They have many more pay restaurants as an example.  This should be their model as there ships cost more to build and they have to get that capital cost back.  Also look at the cost of Perfect Day.  Another Royal cash cow.  Carnival is more about the overall experience.  While a solid price point, Carnival is a great experience and solid cruise line.  Truly the fun ships.  I often sail Carnival as I almost always find them cheaper when comparing apples and apples.   Hard to beat Carnival IMO for the price point.  CCL also dominates the overall market and has other lines (Holland, Princess, etc) if you want a different experience.  I have been on Celebrity (RCCL) and it is for sure nice than Royal.  Highly recommend Celebrity if you want something a step above.  Bottom line you can't go wrong with any of these lines.

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I've done one on RCI and the rest on Carnival.  The RCI cruise was with some graduating seniors and our Girl Scout troop leader wanted to do RCI because her history was on RCI and some perception about Carnival ships being more dangerous.

 

This time next week, I'll be on a Carnival ship for our anniversary.  Wife prefers Carnival...I prefer not being at work.

 

I found the RCI ships to be a little nicer overall.   But not enough for the extra money.   One thing was the theater -  Carnival ships have a lot of areas where you have an obstructed view - don't recall that on the RCI ship.

 

Foodwise - about the same to me.   The aft dining room on the RCI had a vibration from the engines which really affected my stomach, so that didn't help.  

 

Roomwise - on the RCI, we were in an interior interior cabin off a connecting hallway.  We had 3 adults in our room.  One of us had to sleep on a pulldown bunk bed.  The room just felt very tight - good thing we've all been friends for years!   Maybe it was just the ones we were in for price reasons, but that has tainted my view of the RCI experience.

 

Entertainment - a toss-up.  Have been to different things on different ships.  Had a good time on both.  Our CD on RCI (Mark Walker) was probably the best CD I've had.  The RCI version of the Carnival Quest game was a let down.

 

But overall, I think I prefer Carnival - it just seems more down to earth to me, more alive, more color.

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On 6/15/2019 at 9:10 PM, Jared100 said:

Plenty of topics on this, feel free to utilize the search tool in the corner

This comment adds nothing productive to the thread.  Yes, someone could use the search function, but someone may not want to do that, or find the process confusing.  Would it have been so hard to actually answer the question asked?

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I have cruised both; in fact this year I have done 1 each.

 

Carnival is more of a party ship.  That's not a bad thing.  There are more activities through the day, and those activities are pretty varied.  I think the bars and lounges on Carnival are a bit better as well.  You cannot beat the Alchemy Bar.  The Cruise Director and staff are always visible and accessible.  Didn't find that on any of my RC cruises.  Shows can be hit or miss, but that really depends more on the cast than the show itself.  I have seen really good and just passable.  More comedy shows if you enjoy that.

 

RC seems a bit less family oriented and is more laid back in general.The new AMPED ships are great.  Shows were all very good.  

 

Food is totally subjective.  On my last RC cruise, the food was fantastic.  But I have also had great food on Carnival.  Personal taste.  Cabins on both are very nice and have plenty of storage.

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