Carnival vs other Cruise Lines

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#1
24 Posts
Joined Jul 2014
I have sailed with Carnival many times and have been very happy for the most part. I have been told by many people that Carnival is not as good as other cruise lines. Does anyone have experience with Carnival and others and can offer me some specific comparisons? What do other cruise lines offer that I am missing with Carnival? TIA
#2
Coastal GA USA
21,487 Posts
Joined Nov 2007
Every cruise line is a little bit different - or they try to be. We enjoy what ever differences we find. We like Carnival because often we can drive to the port, and we can sail more due to the costs. But we are bargain hunters, and when something drops into my inbox and the price is right, and the itinerary okay, we go for it. We don't have a favorite. Variety is the spice of life. EM
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#3
Ontario, CA (The one WITH the Palm Trees!)
22,582 Posts
Joined Jan 2011
We sail almost exclusively West Coast.
We prefer Carnival's atmosphere to the other cruiselines. We will sail Princess if they have an interesting weeklong itin. Would go stir crazy on anything longer.

Specifics- a funny comparison. The fastest karaoke song on Princess is Blue Suede Shoes and My Way is sung way too often.
Have heard many interesting things on Carnival including Baby Got Back.


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#4
Virgina
4,162 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
The majority of our cruises have been on Carnival. My first cruise was on RCI and we have 2 Princess under our belt.

This is MY opinion and others are certainly free to disagree. I will attempt to give the OP and honest answer based upon my experiences and observations. I will use the word "class" but before we begin, let me say that I refer to the informal use of the word to describe elegance, grace or dignity as reflected in behavior and dress and it is not a comment on social, political or economic status. So here we go...

I did not care for my RCI cruise. The food was a disappointment and the staff appeared disinterested/put out. In reading a lot of comparison posts, there is a theme that the MDR food on Carnival is better and the Lido buffet better on RCI. So as we eat primarily in the MDR this comes as no surprise to me. I also have found my staff observations to be consent as well. Don't get me wrong, the service is fine, just lacking the smile and energy. Also, shows on RCI will get the nod every time....especially when you take into considerations the options offered on Oasis and such. There are a lot more "bells and whistles" like rock walls and flow riders on their larger ships. Overall the vibe is family oriented.

Carnival is definitely the fun ship and this is reflected throughout and even into the comedy club. The staff are warm and welcoming. And I can always find something I enjoy eating, and really like the newer additions from guys to blue iguana that keep appearing. Carnival has hairy chest contests and a party atmosphere particularly on shorter cruises. Where I think Carnival is beginning to lose out for me is not enforcing things like dress code. I think tank tops, sweaty baseball caps and flip flops just do not belong in MDR and are lacking class. I also feel that there is a small element that is creeping in that voices repeatedly I paid for my cruise so I am going to do what I want....including drink all 15 alcoholic beverages whether or not I should. When you encounter these selfish overindulgent idiots, it does take away from the cruise.

Princess is rapidly turning into our favorite line. The staff is very attentive but not as playful as on Carnival. Princess is more of what I consider a classic cruise experience from the staff to the decor to the clientele. They still have formal evening and most men still have on jacket and tie if not a tux. The food on Princess is just as good as Carnival. The biggest difference is one I feel and can see when reading the boards...and the best word I have to describe it is the passengers as a whole have more class. I have not run into the "I'm drunk and do what I want" on Princess. I am sure it is there, but not to the same degree. On the boards people aren't posting asking how to break the rules - smuggle alcohol, get around Cheers rules etc. They also are not asking "how causal can I dress and still get away with it." Again, not saying it never happens, it's just much reduced.

In all my cruise searches it appears on RCI you are paying more generally for the bells and whistles. On Princess, you are paying more - it is considered a step up from Carnival. And most Princess cruises are 10+ days; people who can afford the cost of those cruises and the time away are more likely to be older and more seasoned travelers....and people looking for a classic, traditional cruise. Carnival with its short $200 cruises is in a whole different place, and drawing a segment that at times simply lack class.

OP, I hope that helps. Really they are similar and it is in the details that create a different environment/ culture between the lines. It's always good to step out and try something new. As we will have exhausted the majority of departure ports and ports of call on Carnival we are ready for my time with Princess. Time for Europe and beyond in the coming years.




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#5
Chicago
9,608 Posts
Joined Mar 2010
OP you can always book something and find out for yourself.
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#6
24 Posts
Joined Jul 2014
Thank you so much for your carefully thought out and detailed post. I completely understand what you mean about "class."
Originally posted by A&Jfamily
The majority of our cruises have been on Carnival. My first cruise was on RCI and we have 2 Princess under our belt.

This is MY opinion and others are certainly free to disagree. I will attempt to give the OP and honest answer based upon my experiences and observations. I will use the word "class" but before we begin, let me say that I refer to the informal use of the word to describe elegance, grace or dignity as reflected in behavior and dress and it is not a comment on social, political or economic status. So here we go...

I did not care for my RCI cruise. The food was a disappointment and the staff appeared disinterested/put out. In reading a lot of comparison posts, there is a theme that the MDR food on Carnival is better and the Lido buffet better on RCI. So as we eat primarily in the MDR this comes as no surprise to me. I also have found my staff observations to be consent as well. Don't get me wrong, the service is fine, just lacking the smile and energy. Also, shows on RCI will get the nod every time....especially when you take into considerations the options offered on Oasis and such. There are a lot more "bells and whistles" like rock walls and flow riders on their larger ships. Overall the vibe is family oriented.

Carnival is definitely the fun ship and this is reflected throughout and even into the comedy club. The staff are warm and welcoming. And I can always find something I enjoy eating, and really like the newer additions from guys to blue iguana that keep appearing. Carnival has hairy chest contests and a party atmosphere particularly on shorter cruises. Where I think Carnival is beginning to lose out for me is not enforcing things like dress code. I think tank tops, sweaty baseball caps and flip flops just do not belong in MDR and are lacking class. I also feel that there is a small element that is creeping in that voices repeatedly I paid for my cruise so I am going to do what I want....including drink all 15 alcoholic beverages whether or not I should. When you encounter these selfish overindulgent idiots, it does take away from the cruise.

Princess is rapidly turning into our favorite line. The staff is very attentive but not as playful as on Carnival. Princess is more of what I consider a classic cruise experience from the staff to the decor to the clientele. They still have formal evening and most men still have on jacket and tie if not a tux. The food on Princess is just as good as Carnival. The biggest difference is one I feel and can see when reading the boards...and the best word I have to describe it is the passengers as a whole have more class. I have not run into the "I'm drunk and do what I want" on Princess. I am sure it is there, but not to the same degree. On the boards people aren't posting asking how to break the rules - smuggle alcohol, get around Cheers rules etc. They also are not asking "how causal can I dress and still get away with it." Again, not saying it never happens, it's just much reduced.

In all my cruise searches it appears on RCI you are paying more generally for the bells and whistles. On Princess, you are paying more - it is considered a step up from Carnival. And most Princess cruises are 10+ days; people who can afford the cost of those cruises and the time away are more likely to be older and more seasoned travelers....and people looking for a classic, traditional cruise. Carnival with its short $200 cruises is in a whole different place, and drawing a segment that at times simply lack class.

OP, I hope that helps. Really they are similar and it is in the details that create a different environment/ culture between the lines. It's always good to step out and try something new. As we will have exhausted the majority of departure ports and ports of call on Carnival we are ready for my time with Princess. Time for Europe and beyond in the coming years.




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#7
kalamazoo, mi
102 Posts
Joined Jul 2009
My opinion is that comparing a cruise line against another does not really tell the whole story. There are many differences between ships within the same cruise line. There are also differences as cruise lines change over the years and what you really like about a cruise line or ship could quickly change.

We have been on six different cruise lines and consider Royal Caribbean our favorite. Last year I went on the Carnival Conquest with friends and was surprised by how much I liked it. I am taking my husband on it this winter. He is going to like the ports, dining options and comedy club.

My recommendation would be to try different ships and cruise lines and different ports. They all have more similarities than differences. I have never had a bad cruise on any ship.


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#8
Quincy Il
1,566 Posts
Joined Aug 2005
Originally posted by Sauer-kraut
OP you can always book something and find out for yourself.

OP's question is why this site exists. Why would you dismiss their question out of hand when they are looking for other people opinions are before spending money on a vacation the may not enjoy
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#9
Chicago, IL
914 Posts
Joined Dec 2007
Here's my comparisons between Carnival and RCI...

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2526532
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Cindy

Past Cruises:
*Royal Caribbean - Independence of the Seas 2017 - Southampton, Le Havre, Hamburg, Oslo, & Bruges, and time in the UK/London

Trip Report - http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showt...1#post53711073
* RCI & Carnival cruise comparison post - http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2526532
* Carnival Magic 2016 - Curacao, Aruba, Grand Turk
Trip Report http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2427055

* Carnival Legend 2016 - Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan, Victoria
Trip Report http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2382500
Pre-cruise trip report (Seattle) http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2381435



* Carnival Valor 2015 - Bahamas, (detoured to) Dominican Republic, Grand Turk, Puerto Rico
* MSC Melody 2002 - Key West, Costa Rica, Panama Canal, San Blas Islands, Jamaica
* Carnival Fantasy 2005 - Bahamas
* Carnival Glory 2006 - Bahamas, St. Thomas, St. Maarten




#10
Minnesota
272 Posts
Joined Jun 2010
I have been on 2 RCI cruises and 1 Carnival. I am going on another Carnival cruise again in a couple of months. What I found was that the food overall on RCI was better, as was the entertainment. I still managed to gain weight on the cruise though, so it couldn't have been that bad! However, what I liked better about Carnival was the atmosphere. The other customers and crew were all much more friendly and laid back. I do like the fact that on RCI not everyone in the cabin has to get the drink package.
Overall, they were both fun, just for different reasons.
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#11
Tampa, FL
1,069 Posts
Joined Jul 2006
Some background, we have done 25 cruises on Carnival, 22 on Royal, three on Holland and one on Celebrity. The Carnival cruises are more fun, but you are likely to see more intoxicated people. Royal is more fitness oriented, so you see a lot of fit people out having a good time. As a rule, I think the Royal ships are prettier. Royal has a curfew for underage cruisers, Carnival does not.

Holland has incredible food. We loved the Eurodam, it is a classy ship with a wonderful crew. Can't recommend the other Holland ships we sailed. And the demographics on Holland are vastly different from Carnival or Royal. Think geriatric unless school is out, then you see more families.

As to Celebrity, beautiful ships and everything is a bit nicer than Royal or Carnival. But if you are a night owl, stay away from Celebrity. Other than the casino and a bar or two, there is nothing to do after 11:00. Loved the food and drinks on Celebrity but I can't get past the fact there is little nightlife.

We haven't tried the other lines, but I am interested in the new builds for Norwegian and MSC. good luck with your decision and happy cruising.
#12
USA
6,441 Posts
Joined Dec 2011
Originally posted by A&Jfamily
The majority of our cruises have been on Carnival. My first cruise was on RCI and we have 2 Princess under our belt.

This is MY opinion and others are certainly free to disagree. I will attempt to give the OP and honest answer based upon my experiences and observations. I will use the word "class" but before we begin, let me say that I refer to the informal use of the word to describe elegance, grace or dignity as reflected in behavior and dress and it is not a comment on social, political or economic status. So here we go...

I did not care for my RCI cruise. The food was a disappointment and the staff appeared disinterested/put out. In reading a lot of comparison posts, there is a theme that the MDR food on Carnival is better and the Lido buffet better on RCI. So as we eat primarily in the MDR this comes as no surprise to me. I also have found my staff observations to be consent as well. Don't get me wrong, the service is fine, just lacking the smile and energy. Also, shows on RCI will get the nod every time....especially when you take into considerations the options offered on Oasis and such. There are a lot more "bells and whistles" like rock walls and flow riders on their larger ships. Overall the vibe is family oriented.

Carnival is definitely the fun ship and this is reflected throughout and even into the comedy club. The staff are warm and welcoming. And I can always find something I enjoy eating, and really like the newer additions from guys to blue iguana that keep appearing. Carnival has hairy chest contests and a party atmosphere particularly on shorter cruises. Where I think Carnival is beginning to lose out for me is not enforcing things like dress code. I think tank tops, sweaty baseball caps and flip flops just do not belong in MDR and are lacking class. I also feel that there is a small element that is creeping in that voices repeatedly I paid for my cruise so I am going to do what I want....including drink all 15 alcoholic beverages whether or not I should. When you encounter these selfish overindulgent idiots, it does take away from the cruise.

Princess is rapidly turning into our favorite line. The staff is very attentive but not as playful as on Carnival. Princess is more of what I consider a classic cruise experience from the staff to the decor to the clientele. They still have formal evening and most men still have on jacket and tie if not a tux. The food on Princess is just as good as Carnival. The biggest difference is one I feel and can see when reading the boards...and the best word I have to describe it is the passengers as a whole have more class. I have not run into the "I'm drunk and do what I want" on Princess. I am sure it is there, but not to the same degree. On the boards people aren't posting asking how to break the rules - smuggle alcohol, get around Cheers rules etc. They also are not asking "how causal can I dress and still get away with it." Again, not saying it never happens, it's just much reduced.

In all my cruise searches it appears on RCI you are paying more generally for the bells and whistles. On Princess, you are paying more - it is considered a step up from Carnival. And most Princess cruises are 10+ days; people who can afford the cost of those cruises and the time away are more likely to be older and more seasoned travelers....and people looking for a classic, traditional cruise. Carnival with its short $200 cruises is in a whole different place, and drawing a segment that at times simply lack class.

OP, I hope that helps. Really they are similar and it is in the details that create a different environment/ culture between the lines. It's always good to step out and try something new. As we will have exhausted the majority of departure ports and ports of call on Carnival we are ready for my time with Princess. Time for Europe and beyond in the coming years.




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Thanks for your post.

We are Diamond on Carnival and just turned Platinum on Princess.

Both cruise lines are good and offer a great cruise but overall we are going more toward Princess as many of our cruises are too see the world and Carnival does not offer that.

Will say that Princess buffet is much better than Carnival.

Entertainment is mixed. Production shows far superior on Carnival but Carnival offers more comedy shows and a better piano bar
#13
Georgia
1,842 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
I have been on each of the big 3 several times. They all do some things well, some things okay, and some not as good as other lines. However, I have found the experiences remarkably similar and certainly could not pick a clear winner if you asked. I still shop by value and am willing to cruise on any of them.
#14
Atlanta GA
719 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
Originally posted by Micah's Grandad
Thanks for your post.

We are Diamond on Carnival and just turned Platinum on Princess.

Both cruise lines are good and offer a great cruise but overall we are going more toward Princess as many of our cruises are too see the world and Carnival does not offer that.

Will say that Princess buffet is much better than Carnival.

Entertainment is mixed. Production shows far superior on Carnival but Carnival offers more comedy shows and a better piano bar
We cruise a little. Started in 1998. We have 340 days on RCI, 146 on Carnival, 71 on NCL and Cele X we have 183. (1 on Princess).
We stay away from 3 or 4 day cruises on any line. Reason its a blow off some steam cruise for most going on them. anything 6 or more days and there's a more subdued crowd and not many kids running wild. We pick RCI or CeleX when its a learing type cruise-- Canal or Europe or even AK. When we go with our kids it's more Carnival and RCI-- gives kids and grand kids more options for their fun and younger crowd. Carnival has the best kids camp. When grand kids were younger they would beg to go---.

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#15
Upstate NY
1,190 Posts
Joined Feb 2010
I have sailed a good 50/50 split between NCL and CCL (one time on RCL, so no opinion on that line)...
I am also a bargain hunter....and we prefer to drive to port from Upstate NY...that leaves pretty much NYC, Boston, NJ and Baltimore...
In that past, I have always said...NCL for the entertainment and CCL for the larger cabins....but with NCL's newer ships, the cabin sizes have almost evened out...our CCL cruises have mostly been on the Pride...and that ship is getting pretty old and worn...but we love the Vista Suite....
NCL still wins in the entertainment department..the broadway style shows on the newer ships are pretty awesome.
CCL needs to make some changes...bring new/newer ship up north...and upgrade the entertainment....(trivia and karaoke seem to be their staples with the same old song and dance in the main theater)
Destination is not a huge factor when we book a cruise....we cruise for the cruise, not the ports....if we end up at an undesirable/overdone port (Port Canaveral/Nassau/Freeport) we might just stay on the ship and enjoy the things that are usually too crowded for our liking (water slides, hot tubs, etc)
Every body cruises for different reasons....relaxation, destination, perks, price....you will just have to try out what appeals to you and make adjustments as you go along!!
HAVE FUN!!
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#17
USA
6,441 Posts
Joined Dec 2011
Originally posted by Micah's Grandad
Thanks for your post.

We are Diamond on Carnival and just turned Platinum on Princess.

Both cruise lines are good and offer a great cruise but overall we are going more toward Princess as many of our cruises are too see the world and Carnival does not offer that.

Will say that Princess buffet is much better than Carnival.

Entertainment is mixed. Production shows far superior on Carnival but Carnival offers more comedy shows and a better piano bar
Under oops dept.

Production shows far superior on Princess. Playlist shows close to bush league compared to Princess
#18
United States
14,136 Posts
Joined Aug 2013
I think Carnival has an atmosphere most like your local sports bar on a Sunday football afternoon. Lots of people gathering to have a good time, some get out of hand once in a while, when they do it can really negatively impact those around them. Carnival pushes the fun; bright colors, whimsical decor, loud music, bars and activities going on late. As you move up with different brands you're likely to find decor, service, entertainment that is more refined, a little more space per person, etc. Brands like Princess and HAL, due to many more varied and longer itineraries, tend to attract some more experienced travelers seeing the world, not just on vacation. I view Carnival as more of a vacation than as traveling, if that makes sense. If a bit of rowdy fun doesn't bother you, Carnival is fine. I think Carnival has great food and very nice rooms. After that I think NCL and RCI offer nicer ships and more refined, upscale experiences.
#19
Wv
163 Posts
Joined Jun 2012
Originally posted by gaillyn518
I have sailed with Carnival many times and have been very happy for the most part. I have been told by many people that Carnival is not as good as other cruise lines. Does anyone have experience with Carnival and others and can offer me some specific comparisons? What do other cruise lines offer that I am missing with Carnival? TIA
Be a BIG SPENDER and try them all..... then tell us what you think!
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#20
South Florida
1,697 Posts
Joined Sep 2008
Originally posted by A&Jfamily
And most Princess cruises are 10+ days; people who can afford the cost of those cruises and the time away are more likely to be older and more seasoned travelers....and people looking for a classic, traditional cruise.

Carnival with its short $200 cruises is in a whole different place, and drawing a segment that at times simply lack class.
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You are certainly entitled to your impression of any cruise line based on your experiences, but here are some Fun Facts.


In the next year (52 weeks), from US and European ports, there are only 47 Princess cruise departures with itineraries of 10-14 days. With 17 ships in their fleet sailing weekly this is a far cry from most.

With the exception of the short 3 day Florida/Bahamas cruises on the Victory and Liberty and short 3 day Los Angeles/Ensenada cruises on the Imagination and Inspiration, you'd be hard pressed nowadays to find a Carnival cruise on any of their other 21 ships for under $300 per person.

The insinuation that "Class" is somehow measured by the amount of money a person may have in the bank or has spent for a short, fun weekend getaway with friends or family is totally misguided and insulting to those who don't look or dress like you.
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