If I had a choice between the 2 same ports and everything I would choose NCL. I prefer freestyle cruising to traditional. We meet more people and sometimes tablemates can put a bad turn on a cruise. We have been with wonderful tablemates on carnival but have also had the horrible ones. Don't get me wrong I am sailing on the glory in Aug but also on the Sun in OCt. I feel I get better treatment on NCL as a past Cruiser than I do on Carnival. NCL has a slightly older crowd and is not as loud. For some reason they make me feel appreciated.
I pick my cruise for the itinerary not the cruise line and can say I have never been on a cruise I didn't have a good time.
I would lean toward NCL if the itinerary and price were similar. In all fairness to Carvival I haven't sailed her in a long time, but have toured a couple of the ships and was not impressed at all. I found them to be a little to gaudy for me and a little to big. That's just my opinion and everyone has their own. NMnita
Yes, I've cruised on both. Carnival's cabins are larger and I've always found Carnival's food to be much, much better. Carnival also provides the top entertainment. If you liked Carnival, you may be disappointed in NCL.
We sailed Carnival Destiny to the Caribbean and NCL Star last month to Mexican Riveria. We had a great time on both cruises. The rooms were larger on Carnival, the food better on Carnival and entertainment comparable. We had a great time. We liked the cruise director better on NCL. They didn't seem to be pushing you to buy something every second. There was a better mix of all ages on NCL. Carnival was a big party boat - to many college drinkers for us. We choose NCL over the other lines to Mexico because it went to four ports. We liked all of them. I'm not sold on freestyle cruising - I think it's a big pain to have to think about making reservations to specialty restaurannts the day before. It's easier for me to just know what time dinner is and if I choose to go elsewhere I can. One restaurant we couldn't get into until 9:30. Half of our children were asleep at the table by then. I don't like having to pay extra for food that's just not that great. We would probably cruise NCL again to the Mexican Riveria beacuse of the ports. People say food is not great - its not, but it in no way ruined our vacation.
I've sailed both and there are advantages and disadvantages to freestyle cruising. Freestyle lets you eat when you want, where you want and with whom you want. You do not need reservations for the regular dining rooms only the specialy ones and that is true on all cruise lines. NCL is a bit tamer than Carnival and i have found the food better on NCL than Carnival - I realize other posters have said the opposite but that takes into account differant tastes, differant ships and differant staffs on the same ship. I don't think the food differance is huge, though. You will find fewer children on NCL so if you're travelling with little ones they may enjoy Carnival more.
I don't think you can make a bad choice here. Pick the itinerary you like and then compare prices.
Itienerary and price are our 2 considerations. I am surprised at those who think the food is better on Carnival. We sailed twice and probably wouldn't again because of food and service even though the cabins were larger. The dinner was similar but the lunches and breakfast were really no comparison, especially breakfast. Of course if you are a pizza lover, Carnival does have good pizza. NMNita
The answer to your question is in the above posts. All of the posts are correct. Read them all over a couple of times and you will see that either ship is a good choice here.. NCL gives you 4 ports which is nice, but they are both like "peas in a pod".. Anyway, they both take you to the Wal-Mart in PV and that's worth the trip.. OM
I've been on both ships (Conquest - Western Carib; Star-Hawaii). I loved both ships. Seemed to me the portions were larger on the Star (don't know if that's a good or bad thing, just an observation).
I personally think freestyle cruising is tough for groups. On the Star we were just 3 couples so deciding restaurants and times was not that involved or hard.
On the Dream last year we had a group of about 30 people and everyone was asking me when & were we were eating everyday (I was group leader). I know that you can book a certain time and table - but the options were 530pm and 9pm. Too early and too late.
So just keep that in mind if a group is involved.
I had balcony cabins on both. The Star bathroom was nicer than the Conquest. The room was bigger on the Conquest, but the Star had a coffepot and a fridge. I do think the Conquest will have more party action.
Thanks for your post. I have been trying to find someone that has experience with the group dining. When can you make the reservations? All on the first day? the day before? or the day of? Why was it 5:30 or 9:30? Is that the only choice they give groups or was that all that was left when you tried to make the reservations?
Were you able to get the group reservations for the non-pay and pay restaurants?
Which ones do you recommend.
Also did you have a balcony on the Star. What I loved about the conquest was how our group could open up all the balcony partitions and have one big long balcony. The partitions layed almost flush to the side of the ship. On the Carnival pride this was not the case-the partitions opened at angles and the effect was not nearly as great.
Do you know if the partitions open on the star and how they open
I would love to hear more of your opinion on the star. Did you write a review?
I've been on Carnival 3 times and NCL 4 times. Going on NCL my 5th time in less than 2 weeks. NCL beats Carnival by a long shot. Every time I've been on Carnival (different ship/itinerary each time) - the beds are worn out/sink in and the entertainment isn't nearly as good as the NCL shows.
We have been on Carnival and Norwegain and are booking another Norwegian cruise tomorrow. I agree with some of the things that have been said already. Norwegian definatley attracts a different more sedate crowd of people than Carnival. I have benn on Carnival Destiny and Carnival Sensations. Both ships although very different in size and "glitzy" appearance, attracted a very young family crowd. They were very much party ships. We had no complaint with food or cabin but are over 50 and felt uncomfortable with the younger crowds. On Ncl we were on one of theeir older ships, Norwegian Sea.
We were very comfortable with the crowd that was on board. The cabins were definately smaller but this was an older ship. The one we are booking tomorrow is brand new, Norwegian Jewel so i will be interested in the cabin size on it. It makes its first voyage in August.
WE felt pros and cons to the Freestyle cruising. We loved being able to eat when we wanted and did not really experience any long line ups. However, we felt that we never really got to know anyone which can be good or bad I guess. Each meal consisted of "Hello. i"m _____ from ________. And the proverbial What do you do for a living routine.
We found a wonderful pasta cafe on board and we had a lot of our meals there.
We are going to try it again because we found the price excellent and want to experience a new ship.
Any way, some pros and cons. Having said this we will not travel Carnival again. We have cruised high end with Cunard QE2 and Caronia (no longer around) and
mass market with Norwegian, Carnival and also RCL.
Hope yu can add this to the other responses you have received.
Enjoy the journey of the wonderful chosces that are out there.
Freestyle is OK, but I like the idea of getting to know a group -- if there is a problem, the headwaiter can change table assignments -- I have never been on a ship where all seats were assigned. Carnival plusses: Slightly larger cabins and somewhat newer ships (generally) -- negatives: Carnival "fun ships" attract loud, somewhat boisterous, heavy drinking crowds -- sort of like sophmores in a frat house -- also parents of younger children seem not to keep an eye on them -- pretty poor behavior -- ships usually are very big - 3,200 - plus passengers is too many - overwhelming port facilities, making tendering a pain.
Norwegian plusses - smaller crowd - generally a mix of all ages, less loud-mouth idiots. somewhat better service and, I think, slightly better food - more promptly served.
Negatives: slightly smaller cabins - but not seriously so - freestyle dining (if you prefer assigned seating).
If you are sophmores looking for a "Spring break" atmosphere - go Carnival -- otherwise, Norwegian is probably a better bet.
I know freestyle is not for everyone, but actually when I hear passengers say, I like to be at a table where I can get to know everybody, I think of some really bad experiences and prefer freestyle. I do like Carnival's larger cabins. As for ship ages, I think it is a ttoss up as Carnival has some pretty old gals out there and NCL seems to be cumping the old ladies, but this is probably a toss up. I still think the food on NCL is better, let's face it food is mass produced regardless of the line and it also a very subjective topic. NMNita
I have been on both lines & I really disliked Carnival. Never again will I cruise with them. The cabins mat be bigger on Carnival, but most people don't stay in their rooms the whole time anyways. I felt the staff is much better on NCl.