I've been on four Carnival cruises and I'm wondering how Royal Caribbean compares to Carnival.
My husband and I enjoy the number of activities available on Carnival although, for our next vacation, I would like to try another cruise line. We're in our late-20's & early-30's, have no children, and we don't gamble or drink much, so we don't require a big party atmosphere. I say this only because I know Carnival has that reputation and it's not necessary for us.
Is Royal Caribbean more formal? Are there activities scheduled for "at sea" days? How do the ships compare? Which are the newer ships? Any recommended ships or itineraries? I've been to the Western Caribbean a few times and southern once, but I'm not very particular about destinations. I can find something to do just about anywhere, although I do have to admit that I'm not a huge fan of Jamaica.
I am also in this dilemna. I will be going on my 6th Carnival cruise on Sep.1 (Victory out of NY). We have done the Caribbean the previous cruises.
We are planning a cruise next year with friends and family. We will several children, teenagers and adults range from 40's-50's. My experiences so far with Carnival have been favorable , but I think its tinme for a change even if for only one cruise.
I have been looking at the larger RCCL ships and their itineraries and ship layout looks promising. Just want to make sure that RCCL has activities for the teens and nighlife isn't dull.
I'm sure many here have done both cruise lines and I would appreciate feedback
I wouldn't say that RCCL is a bit nicer, I think it is a lot nicer. It isn't so much more formal, as more classy (they don't blast you cabin with announcements, you can turn the speaker off if you don't want to hear them, etc.). They have great entertainment, lots of activities, service is excellent, ship design can't be beat, food is very good (much better than what I've had on Carnival, but I'm not a gastronome). It's not stodgy at all if that is your concern. If you look at the Voyager-class ships, I can't imagine Carnival comparing in the list of activities for kids and teens (especially Navigator and Mariner which were redesigned a bit to be even better for kids). I think they have the best children's program on the seas, unless you're really into Disney characters and then I'd suggest another line :-)
Oh, and their pubs and lounges are excellent. They have awesome 2 story disco's too. Check Cruise-addicts.com to see some pix of the NoS and the disco called the dungeon (I love the pix there of the skeleton wielding a guitar)
It's hard to go into all of the details, but RCCL is a great choice (especially voyager-class) for families and active adults that are looking for an upscale vacation choice without losing the fun of more formal lines (e.g. Celebrity). BTW: I've been on Carnival, RCCL, Celebrity, Princess, and RCCL is tops on my list.
Having said all that, I do think Carnival "main theatre" entertainment is a notch above RCCL's, but not by much. I really like the comics and other acts that Carnival flies in, RCCL acts are very good, just Carnival seems to be a bit better for my taste. Its a questin of their style/act, not ability.
For every one yes there is a no. From what you said I think you'll enjoy RCL very much. I do not think it is any better than Carnival and IMHO blah as well as tasteless (literally not figuratively - I am a foodie). Sure the ship is "classier looking" but activities aren't as well planned or executed. Many activities you may be the only one there. The food is blah, read cruise critic especially articles about the "ranch steak" if you need verification, and shows aren't even in the same class. Sorry food is subjective and I enjoy taste, quality and selection...guess that's why I enjoyCarnival over RCL. Year's ago I wouldn't have ever thought I'd feel like this but so goes the times and quality of product. Oh and I too have sailed RCL, CEL, CCL, and NCL.
I have cruised both Carnival and RCCL. My first was RCCL (1998) which there were no complaints at all, it was the best vacation we had ever taken. Then the second time we cruised we did Carnival (2000), because the ship we went on was the newest and the biggest they had at that time. Carnival has good ships and the cruise was really nice. But the service and the crew were not as plesant and helpful as on RCCL. RCCL's food was much better, it was cleaner and the crew and service made you really feel special. In 2002 we decided to try Carnival again, (only because it is less expensive) and hoped that maybe the first Carnival was just a one time thing (everyone has there bad days/weeks). It was even worse than the other Carnival, (as far as food and service). It's not to say that I would never do another Carnival, but I guess it messed me up to start with the best (RCCL) then do Carnival. Carnival is a great vacation and it cost less than RCCL. But we are Cruising again in April 2004 and this time we are taking my parents and children, so we are forking it out for what we think is the best which is RCCL. The Voyager Class ships I have heard are great for adults and children (I have teenagers). They have (Miniture golf, Ice skating rink, rock climing wall,
teen clubs, outdoor basketball court). They are a little more in price but its worth it ! ! ! ! ! !
Obviously, this is a very subjective thing. I would not say any line is "better" than any other. They simply offer different flavors and options. Judging by the way you categorize yourself, I think you will enjoy RCL as much or more than Carnival. There are plenty of children's activities (Ice skating, full court basketball/volleyball, roller blading, etc), which is good for the adults since it keeps them out of sight and out of trouble. The entertainment options for adults is also very extensive (Shows, music, art auctions, golf simulators, etc). My wife and I particularly enjoy the English pub, where they have a one man band who does a sing-a-long.
The food on the Voyager class ships is very good but you must not be shy if you do not like a particular entree. In my experience (8 vger class trips), I have always found an entree to enjoy but sometimes my initial selection gets discarded for a second choice. The pasta dishes tend to excel. So if you order the "ranch steak" and it tastes like cardboard, tell them you would like to try the pasta or the fish or the chicken. They are very eager to please and will find you something you will like.
RCL is not necessarily more formal and it is certainly not stiff. It just markets to a less "fraternity" type of crowd. Carnival has actually done a terrific job of shifting there focus but the reputation and stories of beer bongs by the pool is hard to shake.
We have been on there 74,000 ton (vision class?) Grandeur and Enchantment and they were excellent. But we love the new voyager class. I would reccomend any of them (Voyager, Explorer, Adventure, Navigator, Mariner). They are designed to be more or less the same other than some decorative elements. Naigator offers an extra dining option with a steak house ($20/pp extra) which may also be offered on Mariner (due Nov). If you have not done an Eastern, I would give that a try. Very nice itinerary. Heading there myself next week. Can't wait!!
How big are the pools on the voyager class ships? We just came back from a Carnival cruise. The pools were so small my kids could not use them. They were big enough for a few people to stand in only. This ended up being a factor for my kids. They love to play in a pool. Until then, I had never given it a thought.
Pools are good size. The main pool is actually consists of 2 sides split in half. There is also a kiddie pool for smaller children. Pretty busy to 'play in' but they are probably the largest pools afloat.
I wrote a recent review that actually compares both the Carnival Imagination and the RCI Enchantment of the Seas. Both ships are of similar size, passenger and crew, age, etc. If you would like to read the review just ask at : firstname.lastname@example.org
Everyone has their own opinion!! I'm 15 and have been on 4 Carnival cruises with my family. one old ship, one kind of new ship, and one brand new ship. Each one was AWESOME!!! Everyone in my family had a great time. One of our friends is going on the Sovereign Jan 16 and we decided to try that since it was cheap and 3 days. That will be our first RCCL cruise, and i think my parents said we're going on the Mariner June 6. I know Carnival is awesome, and i'm sure RCCL will be too. I'm sure for our summer cruises to come, we will go back and forth between carnival an d RCCL. You will have a great time on either line.
Thanks to everyone who has offered an opinion! I very much appreciate the input!
One last thought...has anyone cruised with Norweigan? I looked into NCL a few years back, but honestly, I haven't heard much about them in recent years. I know they're still around, but I'm wondering if they're dying out or if they're comparable to Royal Caribbean in terms of quality.