Regular and first-time cruisers will recognize brands such as Carnival or Royal Caribbean. Both are two of the most popular cruise lines in America and offer plenty of fun, adventure, and sun for passengers.
Which is better: Carnival or Royal Caribbean? Is there a big difference? It all depends on where you want go and what kind of experience that you want.
There are many cruise vacation options, and there is a debate between Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise.
This is a detailed comparison to help you decide between Carnival and Royal Caribbean.
Type and size of your fleet
Winner: Royal Caribbean
Both cruise lines offer a variety of ships, with many new and more elaborate vessels. Both companies are leaders in the market for fleet size.
Royal Caribbean has more ships than any other company, and they are often larger. This means that there is more food, entertainment, and lodging for their passengers.
Royal Caribbean currently has 27 ships and more are on the way. Royal Caribbean has 27 ships, with more on the way. While size doesn’t necessarily make a difference in which ship is best, it tends to have larger ships and better amenities. Based on passenger capacity and gross tonnage, Royal Caribbean actually has five of the biggest passenger ships in the world.
Wonder of the Seas is the largest of the fleet at the moment. It can carry more that 9,000 passengers and crew members and weighs in at 235,600 gross ton. The Grandeur of the Seas is the oldest ship in the fleet, having been launched in 1996. The ships can accommodate between 2,400 and nearly 7,000 guests.
Carnival currently has 23 ships in its fleet, with many more under construction. Carnival Sunshine is the oldest ship in its fleet. It was launched in 1996.
The ships can accommodate between 2,100 and 5,200 guests. Carnival Celebration, the line’s newest and largest ship, has a gross weight of approximately 180,000 tons and can accommodate over 5,200 passengers.
It is difficult to compare as the cost of travel varies depending upon the date and destination. As with hotels and airlines, the demand can change, so prices can also vary.
Other factors that could influence the price include cabin type, holiday period and advance purchase.
Both lines are in the same market. Although other lines such as Silversea, Regent Seven Seas, and Seabourn may target the more upscale market, Carnival and Royal Caribbean are open to all price ranges.
Royal Caribbean pricing
Royal Caribbean offers a wide variety of cabin types and more expensive decor. This is why you might see higher prices.
Royal Caribbean offers a 3-night Bahamas cruise starting in Miami on August 2023 for $403 per person. This includes taxes and fees. You will pay $609 for a suite before taxes and fees.
The price for the interior cabin is more expensive than Carnival, but the cost for the suite is lower.
Prices for Carnival and Royal Caribbean are in the same range. However, on many dates and itineraries Carnival tends to be more expensive than Royal Caribbean.
Carnival offers interior rooms starting at $274 per head before taxes and fees for a three-night Bahamas cruise. It departs from Miami in August 2023. The cost of a suite is $786 per person, excluding taxes and fees.
Winner: Royal Caribbean
Each line offers a variety of accommodation options, including inside cabins and top-notch suites with luxury extras.
The category would be tied if it weren’t for the unique features Royal Caribbean has put on its newer ships at both ends of their pricing scale.
Royal Caribbean cabins
Royal Caribbean’s newer ships have interior cabins that offer the feeling of a balcony, but without the temperature or breeze. This is an innovative way to balance experience and price, but nothing can replace a real balcony.
Some of the most luxurious suites offer in-room slides and games rooms on two floors.
The cruise line, like its rival, has something for everyone. However, it doesn’t offer the same amenities as Royal Caribbean.
Winner: Royal Caribbean
You can find plenty of entertainment on both lines without ever leaving the ship. You will find a daily schedule of contests, games shows, and casino specials.
Although not all ships have the same amenity, both lines are great at creating variety. Royal Caribbean is the winner of this category due to its unique and additional activities.
Royal Caribbean onboard activities
This line is the winner in this category because it offers special amenities other lines don’t have, like the FlowRider surfing simulator where guests can take a free lesson.
Simulated skydiving is possible. You can also enjoy trapeze lessons, ice skating and climbing walls. The SeaPlex offers indoor activities such as roller skating, bumper cars, and basketball courts.
Royal Caribbean is a major producer of live entertainment. It hosts more than 13,000 performances each year, which is more than Broadway and London’s West End combined. These include those performed in or under water at the AquaTheater cruise line’s AquaTheater. This is the only place in the world where aqua acrobatics can be performed in the deepest pool at sea.
Guinness World Records also lists the tallest cruise ship viewing deck.
Carnival onboard activities
This line offers family-friendly activities, including pools with waterslides, kids’ clubs, and playgrounds, ropes course, and mini golf.
There are many entertainment options for evening entertainment at Carnival, from musical productions and Broadway-style shows to comedians and headliners to comedy acts. For added entertainment, there are also game shows like Family Feud that guests can participate in.
Carnival Mardi Gras and Celebration Ships offer rides on the first sea-based roller coaster, and three ships have SkyRide (aerial biking).
Both cruise lines offer children’s programs, swimming pools, and waterslides for families who sail with them. Both have private islands in Bahamas that offer swimming pools and water parks.
The cruise company and the passengers on board can have a significant impact on the overall experience. However, both companies are great at offering entertainment for all ages. This category is won by Carnival for its relaxed atmosphere and number of child-specific activities.
Royal Caribbean for families
CocoCay’s Perfect Day Island is Royal Caribbean’s private island. It offers a variety of water activities, dining options, and plenty of beaches. It boasts the largest wave and resort pools in the region.
Young guests can enjoy the adventure science laboratory or 3D puppet shows onboard.
Royal Caribbean offers so many unique amenities that it is hard to beat. However, most activities are accessible to all ages. It offers less youth-oriented activities.
Half Moon Cay Carnival’s private island offers horseback riding on the sea, mock pirate ships, water activities, villas for rent, and a coastline with loungers.
Seuss at Sea offers fun activities for young travelers such as costume parties and themed breakfasts featuring Dr. Seuss characters. Teenagers can even get a spa treatment.
A NASA-inspired space program is also available for children, as well as an IMAX theater and a thrill theatre that allows you to feel like you’re on hair-raising rollercoasters.
Both cruise lines offer great dining options that cater to a wide range of tastes, but Royal Caribbean offers more choices if you are looking for special dining.
However, if you are looking for variety, it is difficult to choose between the two brands. Although Carnival deserves credit for providing more well-known foods without extra fees,
Royal Caribbean food
Because of the variety of dining options and specialties, it’s difficult to go hungry aboard a Royal Caribbean ship. Name recognition is one area that it lacks. There are fewer celebrity chefs who have their brands onboard the ship’s restaurants. One of the most popular is Jamie Oliver, while Johnny Rockets is another. Carnival has many specialty venues.
Carnival Cruise Food
This brand is known for its delicious food and celebrity partnerships, such as Guy Fieri or Emeril Lagasse.
Even if the names don’t mean anything, brands can still be remembered with partnerships such as Guy’s Burger Joint or Guy’s Pig & Anchor Smokehouse. These celebrity chefs and specialty restaurants offer complimentary service, which is not the case with Royal Caribbean.
Both lines have extensive itineraries that take them to many places around the globe. There are many interesting options, including the Panama Canal and transatlantic crossings.
Royal Caribbean itineraries
The route map of Royal Caribbean ships covers the entire Caribbean, Mexico, Alaska and Hawaii as well as Europe and Australia.
There are many North American departure points. It even offers a South Pacific sailing, which visits Vanuatu or New Caledonia.
Carnival has many Caribbean and Mexico itineraries, departing from more than a dozen North American port of call. It sails all over the globe, even to exotic places such as Greenland and Papua New Guinea.
Winner: Royal Caribbean
Both cruise lines have plenty of entertainment options after sunset, from karaoke and live entertainment to comedy clubs and dance clubs. Royal Caribbean offers more exciting evening activities for night-owls.
Royal Caribbean nightlife
Royal Caribbean has many options for after-dark entertainment, from soaring jazz clubs to lively nightclub venues.
Boleros, a Latin-themed club with music, dance, and cocktails, is one of its offerings. Many ships also have robot bartenders who can make special cocktails with a touch of a button, and a bar which levitates inside the ship.
There are many places that offer live music, but the best is the one in the nightclub where the DJs keep the party going late into the night.
You can also find places to learn dance moves and piano bars. Havana Bar adds Cuban flavors to cocktails hour, while the tiki bars switches to a South Pacific theme.
However, after-hours entertainment seems less glamorous and sophisticated.
Winner: Royal Caribbean
Each line offers loyalty programs that offer substantial perks based on your status. Even if you aren’t a member of the program, you can still choose to pay more for these perks.
It’s still better to get perks as part of a loyalty program. Royal Caribbean is the winner in this arena — it has a reciprocal relationship with sibling companies such as Celebrity, which can increase the benefit opportunity.
Royal Caribbean loyalty program
Members of Royal Caribbean’s loyalty program Crown & Anchor Society can enjoy special onboard events, discounts, and other benefits. Based on your status, the number of perks increases.
Royal Caribbean members can earn status by sailing with them often. Status matches are available for elite Celebrity Cruises status, which makes it easier to achieve status.
Carnival loyalty programme
Carnival’s loyalty program, cleverly called the Very Important Fun Person Club or the VIFP Club, operates in a similar way. You will get perks the more you cruise and earn more points.
This Carnival World Mastercard is a great way to earn points. However, with very few non-cruise perks it’s not the best choice to use for other purchases.
VIFP Club’s size is smaller because it doesn’t offer reciprocal perks for sibling brands. It is a drawback that can be compared between the two. However, it makes sense to join the VIFP Club if you sail frequently with Carnival.
Carnival vs. Royal Caribbean: Recap
Which is better, Royal Caribbean or Carnival? If both cruise lines are able to accommodate your dates, destination, and amenity preferences, Royal Caribbean is the better choice. This is especially true if you can afford the interior cabins at a higher price and/or if you don’t have children.
Carnival may be a better choice for couples or solo travelers who are more sensitive to their budgets. You can enjoy a wide range of specialty dining and activities, as well as a great experience at a lower price. Although suites can be more costly for families traveling together, young cruisers will not be disappointed by the quality of entertainment.
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