10 Greatest Variations Between Carnival and Royal Caribbean

When evaluating a Carnival vs Royal Caribbean cruise many will ask which one is healthier. However the reply relies upon closely by yourself private style and what you need out of your trip.

I’ve heard it mentioned that it is best to select Carnival if you wish to get together and have enjoyable, and select Royal Caribbean if you wish to play such as you’re a baby however nonetheless really feel subtle.

However are these generalizations true?

Photograph Credit score: Cruise Fever

On this article I’ll level out the 10 largest variations between Royal Caribbean Worldwide and Carnival Cruise Line so you’ll be able to higher make this determination your self.

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Keep in mind, you’ll be able to at all times sail each and luxuriate in each. Every has its perks and quirks, and typically it comes all the way down to which crusing has a greater itinerary or matches your schedule and finances.


First, a couple of issues the cruise traces have in widespread

In plenty of methods Carnival and Royal Caribbean have extra in widespread than most individuals suppose, particularly in the event that they haven’t tried each traces.  I’ve sailed on each many occasions.

Each traces have mega-ships now that Carnival has the 180,000+ gross ton ships Mardi Gras and Carnival Celebration. These two ships provide a a lot completely different Carnival expertise than the road’s different ships.

After all, Royal Caribbean nonetheless has the biggest cruise ships on the earth, which we’ll speak about later.

Each of those cruise traces cater to households and provide each affordability and tons of issues to do on board. Some would name them floating, bustling resorts which can be jam filled with facilities and actions.

They each have water parks (on a few of their ships), free leisure within the theater, comedy reveals, casinos, and free or specialty eating places for an additional cost.

Most first-time cruisers will select one in every of these two cruise traces, so it’s an excellent comparability, though followers of every will inform you how unhealthy the opposite is.



decor of Carnival Horizon and Harmony of the Seas cruise ships
Carnival Horizon on the left and Concord of the Seas with Central Park on the proper. Photograph Credit score: Cruise Fever

The 2 cruise traces have barely completely different vibes while you step on board. This one is pretty subjective although, so I’ll admit you might need a special perspective on this level.

Typically, a Carnival cruise may have a full of life, enjoyable, and infrequently party-like environment at sure occasions and locations on the ship.  They’re referred to as the “enjoyable ships” in any case.

A Royal Caribbean cruise can really feel extra subtle and upscale however positively with a playful and adventurous vibe.  With all these water slides, FlowRiders, and trampolines it’s a playground for adults in lots of respects.

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The environment on a cruise can come from the decor and design of the ship in addition to how the ship is operated. cruise director can actually improve the on board expertise as effectively.  On a Carnival ship you’ll know your cruise director, and there’s a higher emphasis on the leisure and actions onboard.

I’ve had some superb cruise administrators on Royal Caribbean ships as effectively, and so they are likely to make fewer bulletins and be seen extra within the theater and through sure ship occasions.

Royal Caribbean’s decor is extra resort-like and understated with wooden tones and a standard maritime really feel whereas Carnival has a extra vibrant contact with colours and glamor.

Though it’s simply design it does mirror the temper and really feel of those two cruise traces.

The solariums on Royal Caribbean ships are a few of my favourite locations to chill out and discover some quiet.  However if you need continuous motion and enjoyable, Carnival is likely to be extra your taste.



Carnival and Royal Caribbean cruise ships in port in Nassau, Bahamas

A Royal Caribbean cruise will sometimes have a better value level than Carnival.  On common Royal Caribbean might be wherever from 15%-20% costlier for a 7 day cruise with this proportion being decrease for shorter cruises.

The charts under are for the father or mother firms of Carnival and Royal Caribbean.  We broke down these prices in one other article on the price of a cruise.

The figures for Carnival symbolize all of the cruise traces underneath Carnival Company & plc which incorporates Princess, Costa, Holland America and others, with Carnival being the biggest.

Royal Caribbean Group’s cruise traces embody Royal Caribbean Worldwide, Celeb Cruises, and Silversea.

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Whereas these charts embody all of the cruise traces underneath that model, it nonetheless offers an honest concept of prices throughout the board, together with onboard spending.


Common quantity passengers paid with a Carnival Corp cruise final yr

Cruise Fare $890
Onboard Spending $678
Fare + Onboard Spend $1,568
Fare Value Per Day $126/Day
Fare + Onboard Spend Per Day $222/Day
Avg. 7-Day Cruise $1,554
Avg. 3-Day Cruise $667
primarily based on final 4 earnings experiences averaged collectively


Common quantity passengers paid with Royal Caribbean Group final yr

Cruise Fare $1,041
Onboard Spending $564
Fare + Onboard Spend $1,605
Fare Value Per Day $163
Fare + Onboard Spend Per Day $252
Avg. 7-Day Cruise $1,764
Avg. 3-Day Cruise $756
primarily based on final 3 earnings experiences averaged collectively


In actuality, while you cruise with both Carnival or Royal Caribbean you’ll be able to anticipate to pay rather less.  You may pay as little as $30-$35/day with Carnival and $40-$50/day with Royal Caribbean in case you select an older ship and an inside cabin.  However that’s simply the bottom value with out taxes and charges, and once more, plenty of variables go into the price of a cruise.


Eating choices

johnny rockets and la cucina restaurants

You will see dozens of eating choices on both line, however Carnival does are likely to have extra eating places which can be complimentary.  Locations like Man’s Burger Joint, BlueIguana Cantina, Pig & Anchor Bar-B Que, and Shaq’s Massive Hen are all included within the cruise honest.  And that’s to not point out a few of the eating places which can be free for lunch however have a surcharge for dinner.

With Royal Caribbean a few of the free eating choices embody Sorrento’s Pizza, Cafe Promenade, Wipe Out Cafe, and Park Cafe.  A Johnny Rockets burger is actually good however will value you additional.

Eating places which have a surcharge with Carnival embody Fahrenheit 555, Seafood Shack, Jiji Asian Kitchen, Bonsai Teppanyaki, and Emeril’s Bistro. Costs vary from $18 to $48, and the Chef’s Desk will be $80 or $99 relying on the ship.

Royal Caribbean specialty eating places embody Chops Grille, Giovanni’s Desk, Izumi Sushi, Hooked Seafood, Jamie’s Italian, Wonderland, 150 Central Park, and Playmakers with costs that vary from $25 to $60.  Some venues have a la carte pricing.

Royal Caribbean has a few of the most inventive and progressive eating places on it’s ships with Wonderland being a whole expertise that blew me away once I was on Oasis-class ships.

You gained’t go hungry with both cruise line, and whereas Royal Caribbean has extra innovation in its eating places, Carnival has extra complimentary choices.

Drink packages with every line is completely different as effectively.  These packages permit passengers to drink as a lot as they need with out having to fret about the price for every drink.

Carnival’s CHEER drink package deal begins at $59.95 per day and permits for as much as 15 alcoholic drinks per day with limitless non-alcoholic drinks.  If one individual in a stateroom has the drink package deal everybody else in the identical stateroom over 21-years-old wants to purchase it as effectively.

With Royal Caribbean the drink packages come in several varieties.  You should buy a water package deal to have 24 packs of water delivered to your stateroom, a soda package deal for less than bubbly drinks, a refreshment package deal for nearly all drinks which can be non-alcoholic, or the deluxe package deal that features all the things each alcoholic and non-alcoholic.

Royal Caribbean additionally has dynamic pricing for some issues, so the Deluxe Beverage package deal will value wherever from $48 to $79 per day, relying on the ship and dates of the cruise.



Symphony of the Seas with Quantum of the Seas and Carnival's Mardi Gras cruise ship

Royal Caribbean at the moment has extra ships than Carnival: 26 to Carnival’s 24.   And it additionally has the biggest cruise ships on the earth.  The Oasis-class vessels, of which there might be six, have a gross tonnage of 225,000.  These ships can carry 5,400 passengers at double capability and are 1,181 toes lengthy and as extensive as 198 toes.

Icon of the Seas, set to debut in 2024, might be even bigger at 250,000 gross tons.

This type of dimension permits for plenty of area for every kind of facilities that we’ll speak about in a later level.

In 2020 Carnival Cruise Line constructed its personal mega-ship.  The Excellence-class ship, Mardi Gras, is a 181,000 gross ton vessel and the sister ship to the newest Carnival Celebration.

These ships can carry 5,374 passengers at double capability and are 1,130 toes lengthy with a beam of 137 toes.

Each traces have older and smaller ships nonetheless in service as effectively.  These ships have a a lot completely different really feel than the newer ships so when evaluating two cruise traces you really want to check previous with previous and new with new.

Carnival Elation is 25-years-old and only recently got here out of dry dock.  The 71,909 gross ton ship has a capability of round 2,000 and is the oldest within the fleet.

Royal Caribbean’s oldest ship is 27 years previous.  Grandeur of the Seas is a Imaginative and prescient-class cruise ship, has a gross tonnage of 73,817, and might carry 1,996 passengers at double-capacity.

So, each cruise traces provide massive and smaller ships.  Nonetheless, Royal Caribbean dominates within the dimension class which additionally permits for extra facilities than nearly every other line.

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See checklist of each Carnival ship right here.
See checklist of each Royal Caribbean ship right here.

What about cabins?

Along with the usual cabin choices, each Royal Caribbean and Carnival provide specialty cabins that cater to completely different preferences.

As an example, Carnival offers Cloud 9 Spa rooms, which supply unique entry to numerous spa-related facilities, and the newer Havana cabins that include a non-public Havana-class pool and deck, providing a novel and opulent expertise.

Royal Caribbean presents a variety of specialty cabins on their ships, together with suites with unique facilities and separate residing areas, Boardwalk and Central Park view cabins that present distinctive views of the ship’s sights, digital balcony cabins that give the phantasm of getting a balcony, family-connected cabins for added area and privateness, and accessible cabins that cater to company with disabilities. The precise cabin choices and options range relying on the ship.

Associated: How to decide on the most effective cruise cabin


Departure ports

Cruise capital of the world, PortMiami with a Carnival and Royal Caribbean ship prepared to start out their voyage. Photograph Credit score: Cruise Fever

One of the crucial necessary classes when cruising is the placement for the beginning of your cruise.

Carnival presents extra departure ports from the US, particularly when crusing from smaller ports like Cellular, AL or New Orleans, LA.

But when crusing out of Fort Lauderdale, FL or Bayonne, NJ Royal Caribbean is the one cruise line of the 2 that provides cruises.

I checked out each Royal Caribbean and Carnival cruise departing from the U.S. from now till spring of 2025 to interrupt down which ports are used most frequently by these two cruise traces.

The desk under reveals the variety of cruises departing from that cruise port with that specific cruise line over the following 2 years.  If left clean it signifies that cruise line doesn’t provide cruises departing from that port metropolis.

Carnival Royal Caribbean
Anchorage, AK 19
Baltimore, MD 108 93
Bayonne, NJ 146
Boston, MA 6
Charleston, SC 137
Fort Lauderdale, FL 279
Galveston, TX 389 289
Honolulu, HI 9
Jacksonville, FL 171
Los Angeles, CA 353 170
Miami, FL 740 542
Cellular, AL 26
New Orleans, LA 283
New York, NY 77
Norfolk, VA 37
Port Canaveral, FL 602 465
San Francisco, CA 31
Seattle, WA 101 82
Tampa, FL 226 230



Ports of name

royal caribbean and carnival in Nassau

If the vacation spot of your cruise is an important component to you then choosing the right cruise line makes all of the distinction.

When you’re desirous to cruise to Asia or Europe, Royal Caribbean is your best choice and has extra sailings obtainable.  If you wish to cruise to the Mexican Riviera or Australia, Carnival has extra cruises to select from.

Each cruise traces provide many sailings to common locations just like the Bahamas and the Caribbean.

As soon as once more, I checked out each cruise supplied for the following two years and made a desk so you’ll be able to see how usually every cruise line visits these locations.

Every quantity represents what number of cruises that cruise line has obtainable to that area of the world via April of 2025.

Carnival Royal Caribbean
Alaska 124 191
Asia 4 106
Australia 231 92
Caribbean 1723 1351
Central America 367 332
Europe 23 371
Hawaii 13 13
Mexico 1301 849
Baja Mexico 352 169
Center East 44
Panama Canal 11 7
Tahiti / South Pacific 88 48
Transatlantic 5 23



Actions and facilities on board

Carousel on Harmony of the seas, theater, and pool deck with waterslides on Carnival Horizon

Each cruise traces can maintain you busy on a sea day.  However every presents barely completely different sorts of issues to do on board.

Carnival ships sometimes have a mini-golf course, water park, basketball courtroom, and jogging monitor.  The newer ships also have a first for cruise ships, an unimaginable roller-coaster at sea.   Vista-class ships have a SkyRide monitor (suppose flying bicycle) and a ropes course.   A pair ships even have an IMAX however this area could also be changed with one thing else within the close to future.

Royal Caribbean Oasis-class and Quantum-class ships provide extra actions and facilities than I may even checklist there.  Listed here are only a few issues you are able to do on some Royal Caribbean ships: zip lining, browsing on FlowRider, rock-climbing partitions, bungee trampoline, sky-diving simulator, bumper vehicles, ice-skating, laser tag and extra.

Quantum-class ships even have a glass-enclosed capsule that can take you 300 toes above the ocean and supply epic 360-degree views.

There’s positively extra tech and innovation with regards to Royal Caribbean ships, whereas Carnival’s “enjoyable ships” emphasize a few of the occasions and actions that the cruise director will function.

Additionally, Royal Caribbean ships have Broadway type reveals like Hairspray, Mamma Mia, Grease, and Cats on their Oasis-class vessels.  The reveals within the Aqua Theater and on the ice skating rink are a few of the finest you’ll be able to witness at sea.

Royal Caribbean ought to positively be your choose if you wish to see nice reveals.  Though Carnivals comedy reveals are very talked-about as effectively.

Each cruise traces provide enjoyable issues to do on board.  It’s only a matter of what you and your group care about most.


Thermal suites

Spa on Carnival Horizon cruise ship
Thermal suite on Carnival Horizon

It is a class I needed to point out.  In my expertise, thermal suites on Carnival ships are a lot nicer, provide extra choices, and have higher views than on Royal Caribbean ships.  This can be as a result of Royal Caribbean cruisers aren’t as on this space of the ship so it has not been a precedence for the cruise line.

Even a few of the older Carnival ships provide a free dry sauna close to the locker rooms, and a few of the thermal suites on Vista-class and newer ships have a number of thermal rooms.

I’ve been within the thermal suites for Oasis-class ships and whereas they do have heated loungers and thermal areas, it’s on the inside of the ship so that you don’t have any views of the open ocean.

Thermal suite entry has an additional surcharge, and this may not even be an space of curiosity for you.  It’s simply one thing to remember for these wanting to spend so much of time within the spa.


Laundry Choices

When you’re on a 7-day or longer cruise laundry will begin to change into a difficulty.  Carnival ships often have a self-service laundry room on a number of decks.

These “launderettes” may have a couple of washers and dryers that value about $3.50 per load.  There’s additionally an iron and ironing board.  I like to recommend not making an attempt to make use of the iron proper earlier than dinner as it can hardly be obtainable.  Iron throughout late or early hours in case you can.

Royal Caribbean ships don’t have self-service laundry, until you rely washing your shirt within the stateroom sink and hanging it over the bathe clothes-line.  The road states that it doesn’t provide self-service laundry because of security considerations however it can wash and fold your laundry for a charge.

Each cruise traces provide valet laundry that may be paid by the merchandise or by the bag.

When you want the cruise line to press an article of clothes for you each of those traces are about the identical value.  It’s going to value $4 for a pair of pants or skirt and one other $4 for a protracted sleeve shirt.

A two-piece go well with will value about $15 to have dry-cleaned and pressed, and a gown will value about $9.

Carnival Luminosa and Carnival Venezia are the one Carnival vessels that don’t have irons or self-service laundry, whereas there aren’t any Royal Caribbean ships which have irons obtainable for passengers.


Personal Islands

Royal Caribbean actually turned heads when it turned it’s non-public island at CocoCay into an action-packed water park with a few of the tallest water slides in North America.  The corporate spent greater than $250 million on Excellent Day at CocoCay.

There are 13 water slides at Thrill Waterpark, and the island additionally hosts a helium balloon trip that takes you as much as 450 toes into the air.

It’s free to discover and luxuriate in a number of seashores and the big contemporary water pool ,however the water park does include a cost.  And the quantity Royal Caribbean costs can change relying on the season and ship in port.  It might vary from $84 to $129 for full entry to the water park.

An adults space for rest is being added to CocoCay as effectively, and there are nonetheless loads of locations to take it simple.

Half Moon Cay, alternatively, is a way more subdued non-public island, belonging to Carnival.  There aren’t any water slides and zip traces, however you will see that an extremely stunning seashore, cabanas, and water sports activities tools.

The island may be very common with Carnival passengers and has been voted finest non-public island by many shops for years.

Carnival Cruise Line can be growing a brand new “port vacation spot,” Grand Bahama Port, on the south facet of Grand Bahamas. The port will be capable to accommodate two of Carnival’s largest ships at a time and can characteristic a nature reserve, an inside pool, seashore entry, and plenty of meals choices.

Whereas this gained’t technically be an island, it can play the position of a non-public island in all different features, and passengers will be capable to discover the remainder of the realm outdoors of the port if they want as effectively.


Remaining Ideas

Which cruise line do you like?  Or do you sail each relying on what works finest together with your schedule?

All of us cruise for numerous causes, and typically a cruise line simply fits our wants a bit of higher than one other.

I’ve heard some say that Carnival is like Walmart and Royal Caribbean is like Goal.  I wouldn’t essentially say that is true or honest, particularly since I’d quite be on a cruise ship with both line than any retail retailer.

When you’re cruising on a finances and like a extra full of life, care-free environment in your cruise, select Carnival. If you need a extra upscale really feel to your cruise with a mixture of rest and journey, select Royal Caribbean.

Depart us a remark under to inform us which cruise line is healthier for you.

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