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We are considering a last minute cruise the week after Thanksgiving being that I just found out I'm off work that week. We have cruised Carnival exclusively 9-10 times and never cruised with NCL. We are considering the Epic out of Canaveral because it's priced attractively compared all of carnivals sailings that week at this point close to cruising. I am wondering what differences I will encounter good/bad, extra charges once onboard, etc.


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We are considering a last minute cruise the week after Thanksgiving being that I just found out I'm off work that week. We have cruised Carnival exclusively 9-10 times and never cruised with NCL. We are considering the Epic out of Canaveral because it's priced attractively compared all of carnivals sailings that week at this point close to cruising. I am wondering what differences I will encounter good/bad, extra charges once onboard, etc.



That is a great deal on the epic, go for it you won't regret it. I haven't since NCL offers the promo of beverages. You will have a service charge of $199 for beverage promo two people but well worth it. There is lots of good food without spending extra on the upscale restaurants. Not sure what carnival charges for gratuities now but they are 13.50 pp a day here. I'm loving NCL!

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Cruised twice on Carnival (Victory and Inspiration) and three times on NCL (Spirit, Pearl, Getaway). Overall I found them pretty comparable, but I prefer NCL, especially after cruising on Getaway. Does Carnival have large ships? (Getaway and Epic are both around 4,000 people). I'm now ruined and can no longer cruise on small ships.


Here are the differences I can think of:


Water/Soda/Booze - does Carnival still allow bringing bottled water/soda/two bottles of wine (for free) on board? NCL no longer does, so this one goes to Carnival (unless they banned it as well).


Entertainment - much better on NCL on all of the cruises I've been on. It seems that Carnival does a lot of game shows and not as many main theater shows. NCL does plenty of game shows as well, but in addition to the production theater shows. The quality of the main shows on NCL is excellent. Not so much on Carnival. Both NCL and Carnival now have comedians (at least there were some on Getaway and I'm sure they will be on Epic as well). In addition, Getaway had two charge shows. Extra charges are annoying, but I was still glad to have that option. All main shows are comedians are free on NCL.


Buffet food - much better on NCL, always. I find that buffet food sucks on Carnival and great on NCL. That's important since I never have time to go to the MDR for breakfast or lunch (and sometimes quick snack at night).


Room service - NCL now charges $7.95 per order, not sure if Carnival does or not? I remember it being free.


Main Dining Rooms - equally good on both cruise lines, including selection, quality of food, and service. I don't believe NCL has assigned dining times or tables, but you can always request a reservation for a specific time and you can ask for a specific server.


Specialty Dining - not my thing typically as the MDR is always excellent. However, I was forced into it on the last cruise (Getaway) since I had to pick something for free, and it seemed like the best option. Can't compare it to Carnival since I never tried speciality dining on Carnival. NCL speciality dining was excellent - hibachi grill, rodizio grill, french, Italian, steakhouse, etc. Many good choices


Cabins - I think those are pretty comparable between NCL and Carnival.


Entertainment Staff - on the last NCL cruise it was great, however Carnival did better job than my first two NCL cruieses. I think they pick the best staff for their larger ships.


Nightlife - not a party animal, can't really compare. I enjoyed a couple of late night parties I stopped by on my last NCL cruise, but I didn't stay long.


Activities - somehow on Carnival activities seemed more superficial, and were mostly targeted towards selling you stuff. I enjoy activities on NCL a lot more. There are sales presentations on NCL of course, but there are a lot more activities that are just to entertain the passengers and not to sell them stuff.


On Getaway specifically there was ropes course, great rock climbing wall and excellent water slides (better than some of the land parks I've been to).


So I would very definitely recommend going on NCL epic vs. Carnival.


However, I feel that both cruise lines are more similar than different. I enjoyed Carnival cruises as well.

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I'm Platinum on Carnival and have taken three NCL cruises. I like NCL better, but they're far more alike than they are different. If you to up to the search box and type in "Carnival" you'll find many threads comparing the two lines.


A couple things I like better about NCL:


  • Wider variety of dining options (I love the specialty restaurants)
  • Better entertainment
  • Ship's decor isn't as garish as Carnival's
  • There are fewer announcements
  • No hairy chest contests and such


If the itinerary and price were right, I'd sail Carnival again, but I definitely prefer NCL.


As mentioned, about the only thing you'll have to pay for on NCL that they don't charge for on Carnival is room service. Continental breakfast doesn't incur the service charge, but other room service does.

Edited by Quilting_Cruiser
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Im a bit of an NCL nerd, I love NCL. Reading the other comments it seems like everybody else does too! Here are my favourite things about cruising with NCL http://cruisingisntjustforoldpeople.co.uk/2016/10/08/my-favourite-10-things-about-cruising-with-ncl/ :-) hopefully that'll be of interest.


Have a fabulous cruise!!!!



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Im a bit of an NCL nerd, I love NCL. Reading the other comments it seems like everybody else does too! Here are my favourite things about cruising with NCL http://cruisingisntjustforoldpeople.co.uk/2016/10/08/my-favourite-10-things-about-cruising-with-ncl/ :-) hopefully that'll be of interest.


Have a fabulous cruise!!!!



Sent from my iPhone using Forums


Very interesting I saved it as well for new cruisers to read. Thanks

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We've done several Carnival cruises and only 1 NCL - the Epic. We much preferred Carnival, but not enough to never do NCL and we're booked on the Getaway in January now.


Here's what I wrote when I first got off the Epic:


This was our first NCL cruise but our 8th cruise over all. Previously we have sailed 1x on Princess, 5x on Carnival and 1x on RCL. We have loved all of our past cruises. We were so excited to try a new cruise line and were optimistic about the Epic, but unfortunately the Epic just didn’t give us the cruise experience we’ve had on other lines. We won’t be back on the Epic and maybe not even on NCL. We have enjoyed the 3 other cruise lines and will stick to those in the future. Don’t get me wrong, we did enjoy ourselves and we believe a vacation with family is what you make it, but for the purpose of helping others plan I will point out the great, the good and the not so good.




Great: O’Sheehans, ice cream, cabins quiet with comfortable beds, food always open, cirque show

Good: buffet, getting on/off the ship, kids program, blue man group

Not so good: staff seemed disinterested, ship appeared in poor shape (stained towels, rust spots, etc), ship layout weird, ship unappealing, cabin layout terrible, extra charges for a lot of stuff, activities closed a lot of the time,




The Ship:

The Epic looks nice enough on the outside but the inside isn’t very impressive. Never once did I walk into a space and think “wow this is beautiful”. I’ve had that feeling on many other ships with beautiful atriums, beautiful promenades, etc, but not on the Epic. It’s rather dark and gloomy. Further this ship seemed run down. There were lots of rust spots, the pool towels were almost all stained.

The layout of it is poorly planned. With stairs/elevators only at the two far ends of the ship, you have to walk through tight cabin hallways, or through the pool deck where you can only walk single file or you’ll trip over pool chairs, or single file through the very narrow casino that goes on for ever. In most spaces I couldn’t even walk through hand in hand with one of my children. One of the main dining rooms opens up to the casino above which means increased noise and smoke in the dining room.


Further, the sports deck with the kids climbing and jumping activities is on top of the adults only quiet deck and the children have to walk past the adults only sign and through the bar area to get to the sports deck. I’m sure the people really wanting an adult’s only quiet space didn’t appreciate kids traipsing through regularly.


The running track is located on one of the decks on one side. I don’t think many people even found it and I really missed being able to walk around the ship on an upper deck like on other ships.


The kids’ splash area and waterslides are also poorly located as parents can’t really sit and watch their children. The waterslides all end at different places so you can’t keep track of more than 1 child at once and if your little one is in the splash pad you have to fight for the few chairs in the area to sit and watch them while you get dripped on from the above waterslides. On other ships I’ve really enjoyed being able to sit and watch all of my different aged children enjoy the water activities at the same time.


Certain things are so tucked away you have to go searching for them – ie the shops. I think they missed a huge opportunity to sell to guests by putting the shops in a place where people didn’t happen upon them very often.



What a weird layout. We had an inside and a family balcony. The family balcony was nice except that you had to walk around the bed to get anywhere. This meant only one person could stand at a time in the room. The inside cabin was way worse. We’ve done insides before but this one was tiny. Also, the bathroom experiment that they did clearly didn’t work very well. The sink is on the desk/table and it’s the size of a mixing bowl. It’s impossible to wash your hands/face, etc without splashing water on all your stuff. The electrical outlet is on this desk which means anything you’re charging is close enough to get wet. Also, you get out of the shower into the room. Awkward for those sharing rooms with anyone other than their spouse. If someone walks in your room when you get out of the shower you’re standing right at the door. Also it’s impossible to use the toilet or sink at night without waking up everyone in the cabin b/c there’s no bathroom door and the little toilet door and shower doors are very noisy. It’s like sleeping in a bathroom. Also the tv was placed in such a position that when the bunks were pulled down the tv was covered. We usually like to watch some tv after kids are in bed but this was impossible. Further, the tv was seriously lacking in variety. Not that we go on a cruise to sit and watch tv but it’s nice to be able to put a show on for the children while we’re getting ready for dinner. There was 1 channel for kids which played repeating episodes all week long. On a positive note, the cabin was very quiet and the beds were great!



I loved that there was always somewhere to eat. I found on other lines there would be times of the day where nothing was open but on this ship there was always somewhere to eat which was nice with kids off their normal routine.

O-Sheehan’s pub is great. The food is good. The service is pretty good. Nice ambiance and it’s wonderful that there is no charge. We loved the wings, mozzarella sticks, cheesecake, burgers, pot pie, and banana bread/fruit plate.

The buffet is actually quite good. Lots of choice, clean, well stocked, never very busy, etc. Sometimes I thought the placement of things was odd and you had to go searching for stuff ie, pancakes in one area and syrup quite far away, etc. Great staff in the buffet!


The Dining rooms – The dining room menus were mediocre. Many nights not much seemed appealing. Food often came out the wrong temperature. The taste and quality of the food was just okay, not great. We experienced very slow service in the dining rooms every time we were there (dinner every night and breakfast 2x). The Manhatten room was better but not by much. The hostess that seated people seemed grumpy al l the time and sometimes gave attitude. The staff were hardly around, they didn’t say more than two words to the guests it was so different from our past dining room experiences (even when we’ve done the freestyle method). I’m used to the servers asking how our day was, where are we from, making menu suggestions, etc. On this ship this never happened. I heard the specialty restaurants were great but we never tried them. Also we had to specifically ask for children’s menus (our children are obviously of the age they’d want them) and despite the fact that the menus were activity sheets for kids, they didn’t have any colors to use. If they want happy, quiet kids in the dining room a few crayons would go a long way. We started bringing our own to dinner.



While the ship had several neat activities for kids (spider climb, jumpy thing, rock wall, etc) they were closed a lot of the time. They would open for a few hours here and there. We had 3 seas days and lots of time to kill it would’ve been nice to have these open more.


The waterslides were fun. The pools were tiny, with so much weird open space around them.


The planned activities were pretty few and far between, especially on the first 2 sea days. I missed previous ships with planned scavenger hunts, general trivial rather than all American History trivia.


The kid’s club was pretty good although they were oddly strict about things like children having their own card to sign in. Once my son left his card in his cabin and they had to get a manager to let him in, even though I was signing him in, he was registered, I had my card and I could see that they punched his room number in and pulled him up on their computer.


Evening movies on spice deck were nice but they didn’t have any towels available for warmth, they often packed up the lounge chairs so it was hard to get comfy and the children themed movies started way too late for the children to stay and watch.


The bowling alley was a nice touch and it didn’t require any staff to run it, so why charge $7 for it?



Cirque Dreams show was excellent and this was the best meal of the cruise!

Blue Man Group was interesting. A little slow at some parts, but over all very enjoyable.

I heard the hypnotist was quite entertaining.

I heard negative things about Second City.

I heard Howl at the Moon was a great time.

We didn’t make it to the other shows due to life with kids.



While we did encounter some wonderful staff, this crew had such a different vibe than we’re used to. They were quiet and kept to themselves. I can’t remember a single staff asking how our day was, where we were from, what we had planned that day, etc. They just didn’t interact. They were all about business and even that wasn’t very efficient. Usually when I come back from a cruise I feel like my children were treated special by the crew as were we. Also, I feel like tipping my cabin steward, dining staff, etc. This time the only staff that stood out were Ravi on the spice deck and the Nickelodeon coordinator from Toronto (name?). Also the staff spraying everyone with hand sanitizer before entering all eating spaces was great! "Washy Washy, Happy Happy". I felt better knowing pretty much everyone entered the restaurants with clean hands.

Embarking and Debarking were very smooth!

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We have been bouncing back and forth between Carnival (#21 coming up in Feb.) and NCL. (#6 coming up in Dec.) We have sailed on Epic. If you have cruised CCL 9-10 times I would definitely book Epic for a change. Entertainment is totally different, as are food choices. We love the specialty restaurants! O'Sheehan's pub is great, and open 24 hours. Love Howl At the Moon dueling piano bar, and they also have comedy shows. Ship felt more crowded than CCL ships, but there are plenty of quiet places on deck if needed. Spice H20 is their Serenity area. Nice - no kids if that is what you want. Like their buffet better than some of the CCL ships. Go try Epic!

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I haven't sailed NCL in over 10 years but we are on that cruise! We are doing a b2b on the Epic then jumping over to the Sunshine.


The biggest thing that I can see is entertainment. I have been so disappointed in Carnival's entertainment the last few years and NCL seems to have a lot more of it than Carnival. Also, love that the UBP is included where as Carnival's is $50 per day plus 18% gratuity. That was a no brainer for us.

Edited by ready2cruzagain
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We are Platinum on Carnival and just tried our first NCL cruise last month on the Escape and LOVED it!! They are comparable in a lot of ways. Some of the differences that stood out to us and we enjoyed is the entertainment is excellent on NCL, way above Carnival. We also enjoyed the extra perks that came with booking (even if we did have to pay the taxes on them) for the dining & beverage program. We also enjoyed the food more then on Carnival (don't care for their new menus), especially the buffet that we are not a fan of on Carnival. A small thing that we really liked and don't know if it is on the Epic, is the bathrooms are glass enclosed, no nasty shower curtain sticking to you, lol;)

We booked the Escape again for May and can't wait!

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As an experienced CCL, you're probably aware of how different their old ships are from their newer ones. I'd never consider cruising without a balcony which on some CCL ships are practically nonexistent.



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My first cruise was on the Epic, so I think I have a different point of view than a lot of people. Both of my cruises have been with NCL, but I genuinely can't recommend the Epic enough. I LOVED it. Everything about it, honestly. I didn't mind the bathroom set up, though I can see the inconvenience if you were traveling with someone other than your spouse/immediate family. There was always something to do, to the point of having to skip some things just because there wasn't enough time in the day.


In comparison, our cruise on the Jade, while amazing in some ways, was underwhelming in others. I felt like the ship shut down at 11pm, ended up spending too much in the casino just for something to do, lol.


Seriously, give the Epic a try. I read a lot of negative things before sailing and had to make myself go into it with an open mind, and I was absolutely not disappointed!


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