Done them both found food to be an advantage with Carnival, entertainment and activities Carnival all the way but it all depends on who is going and what your lifestyles are like.
Carnival offers alot more night time entertainment/activities, where RCI is more quiet in the evenings after the main show. (of course this is my opinion as I have been on 29 cruises)
Food- More choices on Carnival as they have the deli sandwich area, chinese food, sushi, 24 hour ice cream, a much larger salad bar, they just offer more variety. RCI also has the pizzeria and grill as Carnival does but does not offer the others. Dinner I found an edge up on Carnival.
Service- Sometimes Carnival could be a hit or miss but if you have a problem in the dining room always mention things immediately to the maitre d' you will find the problem to be fixed immediately! Service is a bit better on RCI.
RCI offers the rock climbing wall, ice skating but do know there are certain times that you can go ice skating and how many times can one climb on rocks and you need to wait on long lines/reservations. Both have wonderful game rooms for the kids. Carnival has a teen disco, air hockey on all ships and Camp Carnival in my opinion is much more better than RCI.
Staterooms- My saying is why pay for a window just to look outside? I know what the ocean looks like..... Balconies are nice if you think you will sit out on your balcony and use it enough. I do not want to sit on a balcony in my room, I enjoy going to the shows, seeing all the entertainment and dancing. I am only in my room to sleep, shower and dress. I tried the balcony once and to me it was a waste of money. If your children are young and take naps that probably would be the way to go though.
I would consider price a factor also...I always found RCI to be much higher than Carnival, don't forget your soft drinks, liquor, shore excursions and tips to name a few are not included. You will need more money for that so as I do, save and get that inside room (I do get a high deck either a stateroom just below the entertainment or above) and save the money for the other expenses (especially if you have children going along).
If you are planning to have more than two people in a stateroom do choose Carnival their staterooms are larger!
Carnival has midnight buffets daily even though they aren't as huge as they were years ago they still have it, and 24 hour pizzeria.
Carnival is more informal....you will find people on formal night to have dinner go back to their stateroom and get back into their shorts. You are allowed shorts in the lounges, but do keep in mind lounges for the shows are a bit chilly and sometimes the casino also and other public areas. Bring along a sweater or something just in case.
If you have children and they drink soda do get the soda cards, both cruise lines offer them to adults and children at a rate. Carnival does offer lemonade, iced tea and fruit punch cannot recall what RCI offered but remember iced tea.
I find myself always going back on Carnival, we just have so much fun, and it is a cruise line with people of every age!
SH, I have to agree with lyndamr. That is exactly my feeling and we have done about 16 CCL cruises and 6 RCI cruises. I honestly think she has nailed it perfectly and very accurately. Understand I like both but her reasoning and observations are spot on.
Do you have kids sailing with you? My kids love Carnival. They do not have anything to compare to Carnival because this is the only cruise line that they have been on. I understand RCL is trying to become more family oriented.
Do you like being very active? Or are you just going to relax? It depends on what you are looking for. Carnival has the fun. No doubt about it. Although, you take that fun with you aboard the ship. You see your frame of mind makes or breaks your cruise experience regardless of the line you choose.
A good day at sea is better than an excellent day at work!
I vote Carnival. I've only been on Carnival and Royal Caribbean, and while the RCL ship was pretty, Carnival had the most fun! So basically I agree with the other posters. I guess it depends on your age and what you're looking for. We're mid 40's, and on Carnival we found mostly people our age. On RCL, there seemed to be more older people (and don't get me wrong--they're wonderful to be with). But because of this demographic, the ship was quieter at night. So if you're looking for lots of late night action, go with Carnival.
Also, it helps if you decide whether you are into more Las Vegas style action (I am) or a quieter, (supposedly) classier atmosphere. I LIKED the fact that when inside the ship, you were in Vegas, then step outside and you're in another world. Whereas on RCL, you have light and ocean views in the atrium and other areas. This is pretty, but I like the glitz of Carnival ships. It's definitely not for everyone.
I did find that on formal night on the Destiny, people were very dressed up, whereas on RCL you saw any variety of wear, from very casual to formal. I figure if you're on a cruise, why not dress to the nines on formal night, have a photo, and enjoy the few times in your life when you might do this. I know others feel very differently, and I respect this. I just don't think this is what cruising was originally. I think Windjammer cruises, where you can where shorts all day long, are for those people who don't want to have to bring dressy clothing.
Hope you choose the right cruise for you, and have a lovely time!
BJ, RCI Voyager Class ships have a lot for the kids to do onboard and are a favorite of them and they do seem to have an excellant kids program as well. Carnival also has a wonderful program and are trying to improve it all the time to include those in the 'awkward' ages. <G> Disney is of course probably #1 with kids but that is their specialty and of course you pay more for it as well.
The spirit-class ships of Carnival (of which the Spirit, obviously, is one) is a favorite of many Carnival cruisers, BTW. Big enough to have all the bells and whistles, but easy to negotiate.
Haven't cruised RCL, so can't help with a comparison, but I DO know the rooms are bigger on Carnival and brochure price-wise Carnival comes in a little cheaper.
Our first cruise was Carnival (my 13 year old son and I); we went back to Carnival for our 2nd with my dh in tow and darned if we aren't booking our third on - you guessed it - Carnival!
A good product for the money.
CarnivalSensation February 2015
Carnival Dream November 2015
Carnival Fascination April 2014
Carnival Elation March 2011
Carnival Imagination Sept 2007
Carnival Sensation Dec 2006
RCI Sovereign of the Seas Sept 2006
Carnival Miracle Sept 2005
Carnival Glory Sept 2004
Carnival Fantasy Jan 2004
I enjoy Carnival the most. I'm in the 40 age group my self and found Carnival to be more fun. I like the balcony rooms due to the fact I smoke and can go out on to the balcony and not smoke in the room.My room mate is a non smoker.
I always go with a group and we have a blast.
There seems to be more activities on Carnival. The RCCl that we went on did not have the ice rink it only had the rock wall and well at my age I don't want to climb. I enjoy the Art auctions and bingo. I also love the shows. The food and the formal nights are great. We always eat in the dinning rooms for dinner. we vist the other food place's for the other meals and snacks.
Room service is good on both. Carnival does have a laundry on each deck so If you do run short of outfits you can do the laundry on the sea days.
That way I have more room to take the neat things I buy home and not be over weight.
Everyone has their own reasons for the ships they like. So good luck you only learn from doing and the only bad cruise is one not taken.
Pride of America
We sailed both with our children. While we all enjoyed the RCL cruise, we had much more fun on Carnival. We found the food and entertainment was better on Carnival, plus they had larger rooms. We're sailing again in April 2005 and have chosen Carnival again.
Celebrity Century 1/09
Carnival Destiny 10/07
Carnival Destiny 9/06
Monarch of the Seas 3/06
Carnival Inspiration 8/05
Carnival Miracle 4/05
Carnival Inspiration 4/04
Sovereign of the Seas 4/03