Both are Royal Caribbean International (RCL) And Carnival Cruise Line (CCL) Operate mega cruise ships full of family-friendly activities. Most ships on the two largest US cruise lines offer water slides, theme park rides, climbing walls, cool kids’ clubs, multiple swimming pools, and countless dining and drinking options.
If you sail similar ships in the Royal Caribbean or Carnival fleet, you’ll get a pretty similar experience at the surface level. However, there are some key differences between the two cruise lines.
In the broad sense, it is important to realize that no two voyages are the same, even successive sailings on the same ship can see one voyage full of families and the other with a much larger crew. The ship doesn’t change but the makeup of who’s on board can affect sailing (so keep in mind whether you’re booking while on school leave or during a major holiday).
But, while sailing is a social thing where the combination of passengers can influence your trip, there are some key factors to consider when choosing between Royal Caribbean and Carnival.
Here’s what Royal Caribbean does best
The largest of Royal Caribbean’s Oasis class ships have two large open air “lives” unlike anything Carnival has to offer. The first, the Boardwalk, offers a carousel show, outdoor dining, and an aquatic theater where some very unique performances are staged. The second, Central Park, is an actual park on the boat dotted with a casual café, upscale restaurants, and a quiet bar.
In addition to offering those unique ships, Royal Caribbean widely has dining options at more additional fees than its competition. And while some might argue, it’s fair to say Royal Caribbean has fairly excellent food in the main dining room.
In addition, Royal Caribbean offers an adults-only solarium on many of its ships, Solariums on Oasis and Quantum Class ships are really cool setups with pools, hot tubs, a bar, and a more hygienic insulated option than the main buffet.
And for adults looking to grab a serious drink, the Royal Caribbean Drinks Pack offers a truly unlimited experience (as long as you’re not clearly weak) while Carnival tells you 15 alcoholic drinks.
Royal Caribbean also offers actual Broadway plays on some ships, which Carnival does not. The cruise line also offers acoustic guitarists playing rock, folk, pop and country covers in British pubs on most of its ships, which provide a low-key alternative to major production shows.
And for coffee lovers, Royal Caribbean has an added Starbucks fee (SBUX) Locations on many of the ships and the chain’s coffee served in the on-board cafes.
Here’s what carnival does best
While the Royal Caribbean may have a better main dining room and more dining options with an additional fee, Carnival is free and casual really well. Her partnership with Guy Fieri has led the celebrity chef to put his Burger Bar concept on most Carnival ships while his grill (which sometimes costs extra) is on a few.
Most Carnival ships also have a free, casual Mexican poolside restaurant, and while the Royal Caribbean does a similar offering, Carnival’s is open for breakfast with a unique menu. Carnival also has fairly impressive desserts in its main dining room which are generally better than the competing offerings.
At night, the carnival offers more music box-style reviews (think “90s songs” or “love songs”) that may have a broader appeal than some Royal Caribbean productions. In addition, many Carnival ships offer dedicated comedy club spaces, while Royal Caribbean offers this only on its largest ships.
And while both cruise lines offer plenty of fun bar concepts, the Alchemy Bar on most Carnival ships offers a fusion experience that its competition can’t match. Additionally, Carnival’s pool bar area offers several bar concepts that differ while Royal Caribbean has more of a basic pool bar that only has a variety of locations.
In a broad sense, carnival also has a reputation for having more party crowds. This can be positive or negative, but it is also relative with shorter sailings on medium-sized ships being too heavy for both cruise ships, while longer cruises on larger, newer (and more expensive) ships are less likely. vibration.
How do you choose between a Royal Caribbean cruise and a Carnival cruise?
There are a lot of similarities between the two cruise lines. The pool decks, casinos, and cruise cabins are almost the same on both Royal Caribbean and Carnival. The crew is also attentive and friendly on both companies’ ships, and kids’ clubs offer similar services.
While you are choosing a cruise, you have to consider a few factors including ship size/age, destinations and price. Bigger and newer ships generally cost more while older and smaller ships may cost less than the basic Caribbean sailing itineraries (or more if they really stop interesting).
Before choosing, you should check what you get for similar prices on each cruise line. If you can book an Oasis-class ship for the same price as a similar and smaller Carnival ship, your choice might be easy. The opposite would be true if you were booking Carnival’s flagship Mardi Gras and the upcoming celebration on any Royal Caribbean ships outside of the Oasis or Quantum classes.
Prices can vary from less than $500 for two people booking an interior cabin on a three-day Caribbean weekend on a mid-sized, mid-sized ship on any two lines to thousands of dollars for the same room on a new ship for an entire week. short trip.
Experiencing a short cruise on a mid-level vessel of both lines is an excellent way to gauge the main differences between the two. If that’s not possible, it’s really important to understand what you value most – is it food? drinks? entertainment? pools? price? Once you know that, you can narrow down your options and set sail on a trip that is likely to be your dream vacation.