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If you like Carnival then you'll like......

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I'm looking to book a cruise for this summer carnival is on top of my list but I would like to look at other lines just in case I don't find something. What other lines should I look at if I really like carnival? I know people will say that RCCL is the comparable but I don't like them as much because they have less food options, my top favorite thing to do on vacation is eat. Also I will be bring my 7 year old, so kid friendly is on top of the list.

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If I couldn't cruise Carnival, I'd pick RCCL but since you said that's out, I probably would forgo a cruise. That's just me though. Obviously Disney would be at the top of my list, then Carnival second. But you can take 2 Carnival cruises for the cost of 1 Disney cruise almost.

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We've had a great time on our NCL cruises. Freestyle cruising is fun too. I'd say they are sort of "in between" Carnival and RCL in "wow" factor. Maybe have a few more "wow" things than Carnival, but not as over the top as RCL. I've cruised all three.

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For me, Carnival, Norwegian and Royal are all very similar. So, look at:

 

Home port

Itinerary

Cost

Specialty Dining Options

Kids' Programs

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We recently booked a cruise for Oct. on MSC. They are one of the biggest lines in the Mediterranean and are trying to break into the US market. I've heard some really good and a few bad comments on them. However---their ships are almost brand new and uniquely designed, they have competitive pricing (or they did when trying to enter the market) and some unusual themes and restaurants. The one aspect which attracted us was they would match your status on any other cruise line---we are diamond on Carnival, and they gave us their top designation. I think that if I were a regular MSC passenger I'd be furious that all my hard earned perks were now going to others from CCL, RCCL, etc., but as a first timer I'm very happy!

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If you like Carnival, you'll enjoy NCL. Tad pricier, but they throw in their drink package and/or dining package, so the prices are actually about the same when you compare apples to apples.

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Don't overlook RCL based on dining. The dining options are considerable on Oasis Class ships. You will also find a lot of great onboard facilities like an ice skating rink, FlowRiders, rock climbing walls, wet and dry slides, etc. I personally think that the entertainment on RCL Oasis Class is the best at sea. To your point, dining options are limited on most of their other ships.

 

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NCL is a tad pricier but they have specialty dining.

 

I've found that not to be true when pricing out many cruises the past few years. AND NCL gives you a drink package almost standard. So figure that being like an extra $1K plus for two adults on a week cruise if you drink.

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So carnival is really the only line that has lots of free dining options besides the buffet and dinning room like, Guy's burgers, cantina, pizza place, deli place, pasta place and taste bar?

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NCL has tons of free food options on at least the Getaway/Escape. My kids love cruising NCL. Eat when you want, entertain when you want, relax when you want. With the Free At Sea Perks you can get Unlimited Beverages for around $270 on a 7 night cruise for 2 people, which is just the gratuity on the package. If you don't drink as much, do the free Specialty Dining.

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We recently booked a cruise for Oct. on MSC. They are one of the biggest lines in the Mediterranean and are trying to break into the US market. I've heard some really good and a few bad comments on them. However---their ships are almost brand new and uniquely designed, they have competitive pricing (or they did when trying to enter the market) and some unusual themes and restaurants. The one aspect which attracted us was they would match your status on any other cruise line---we are diamond on Carnival, and they gave us their top designation. I think that if I were a regular MSC passenger I'd be furious that all my hard earned perks were now going to others from CCL, RCCL, etc., but as a first timer I'm very happy!

We've been considering MSC as well for a Caribbean itinerary. The pricing and the large, newer ships as well as the motivation to do things to appeal to U.S. customers is interesting.

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We have done several NCL and one Celebrity cruise. I would say NCL is the most comparable. Never done RCCL (and no plans to do so) because we don't view the ship as the destination.

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We've been considering MSC as well for a Caribbean itinerary. The pricing and the large, newer ships as well as the motivation to do things to appeal to U.S. customers is interesting.

 

We considered MSC but ultimately cancelled because of several reviews. We were most put off by the following issues:

1. On the Seaside they built common spaces too small so that it is difficult to get into the theater to see shows (5179 passengers/ 934 seats with not much else to do at night) and the main dining room cannot accommodate all passengers. They tell some passengers that they cannot eat in the mdr and send them to the buffet (which they have converted to dining) in the evening.

2. There is effectively no buffet dining for dinner except for a very small buffet designed for children.

3. Their buffet (at other times) is very limited and consists mostly of pizza and pasta. Food options overall are bleak by American standards.

4. They do not usually refill things at the buffet and people advise getting there early for best selection.

5. Their cabins are small and set up poorly with little storage and even though they can technically sleep more than 2 in a room, people report that it is incredibly uncomfortable and do not advise it.

6. People report that guest services are basically non responsive and that the lines are usually insane.

7. Most systems and processes on the ship do not make sense and sound exhausting (for example, carrying around drink coupons which btw are sometimes accepted and sometimes not. lol.)

 

Those are the issues that pop into my mind right now, but there is more. The big one for us was the reported overcrowding on the ship. In the end the fare we got was discounted because we got it before the Seaside hit the market, but even so we just decided it sounded like ikea at sea and cancelled. Now most of their fares seem pretty comparable to other lines and we personally would not even give them a second look.

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Never done RCCL (and no plans to do so) because we don't view the ship as the destination.

 

Thats a shame :( RCL has some very nice ships besides Freedom, Quantum and Oasis class, which a lot of people see as the destination. IMO, the Radiance class is a great class of ships. They are absolutely beautiful inside and out and the perfect size to me at 90,000 GRT and +/- 2500 guests.

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Thats a shame :( RCL has some very nice ships besides Freedom, Quantum and Oasis class, which a lot of people see as the destination. IMO, the Radiance class is a great class of ships. They are absolutely beautiful inside and out and the perfect size to me at 90,000 GRT and +/- 2500 guests.

I don't doubt that, and the size does sound ideal. It's just that, from what I have read, RCL packs more "things to do" and has better looking interior spaces, and charges a premium over CCL for that.

 

We just don't value the cosmetics and activities as much as others might. We like to be off the ship during the day. The larger ships seem to have more sea days, which are fine in moderation, but I would rather be on a nice beach somewhere than on a ship during the day.

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I'm looking to book a cruise for this summer carnival is on top of my list but I would like to look at other lines just in case I don't find something. What other lines should I look at if I really like carnival? I know people will say that RCCL is the comparable but I don't like them as much because they have less food options, my top favorite thing to do on vacation is eat. Also I will be bring my 7 year old, so kid friendly is on top of the list.

 

If you are looking for Caribbean, Carnival has the most ships so the most options.

 

If food is a priority, then I would look at Princess - they have some upscale dining options, but maybe not kid perfect. But Princess is more of a classic cruise experience - less of a crazy fun trip and more relaxing. The price tag may be higher but if you can get the beverage package, it works out cheaper than Carnival at times. My then 9 year old son loved their kids program.

 

The best Carnival ship for food IMHO is Sunshine. Havana has free cuban breakfast and lunch treats. Then for a small fee there is Cucina and Jiji - the latter being especially worth the nominal up charge. And they have steak house and sushi. Any ship with 2.0 upgrades will have Guys, Blue Iguana etc.

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We considered MSC but ultimately cancelled because of several reviews. We were most put off by the following issues:

1. On the Seaside they built common spaces too small so that it is difficult to get into the theater to see shows (5179 passengers/ 934 seats with not much else to do at night) and the main dining room cannot accommodate all passengers. They tell some passengers that they cannot eat in the mdr and send them to the buffet (which they have converted to dining) in the evening.

2. There is effectively no buffet dining for dinner except for a very small buffet designed for children.

3. Their buffet (at other times) is very limited and consists mostly of pizza and pasta. Food options overall are bleak by American standards.

4. They do not usually refill things at the buffet and people advise getting there early for best selection.

5. Their cabins are small and set up poorly with little storage and even though they can technically sleep more than 2 in a room, people report that it is incredibly uncomfortable and do not advise it.

6. People report that guest services are basically non responsive and that the lines are usually insane.

7. Most systems and processes on the ship do not make sense and sound exhausting (for example, carrying around drink coupons which btw are sometimes accepted and sometimes not. lol.)

 

Those are the issues that pop into my mind right now, but there is more. The big one for us was the reported overcrowding on the ship. In the end the fare we got was discounted because we got it before the Seaside hit the market, but even so we just decided it sounded like ikea at sea and cancelled. Now most of their fares seem pretty comparable to other lines and we personally would not even give them a second look.

Thank you, that is all meaningful feedback. Were the reviews you saw here on CC?

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I see you have plenty of answers in regard to your question. I have cruised over 25 years, and done several ship lines. The only thing that I liked more about RCCL was the ice skating they had. I see several people have mentioned NCL, but unless it was given to me free, I probably would not do it again. I may have changed since we did it, but I called it the LAZY Ship. They really didn't have many activities to do, IF we wanted to, like Carnival, etc. What really got me about NCL, instead of having beautiful "fresh" flowers in the atrium area, which is supposed to be the NICE area, they had "plastic" flowers that I could have pulled up, that looked like they got them at K-Mart. Things may be different, but that is just me. I know when we left NCL and flew back, we never heard so many people complaining about this NEW ship.

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To me all the mainstream lines are similar. They all have things they do better or worse than the competition but the end product is remarkably the same.

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I'm looking to book a cruise for this summer carnival is on top of my list but I would like to look at other lines just in case I don't find something. What other lines should I look at if I really like carnival? I know people will say that RCCL is the comparable but I don't like them as much because they have less food options, my top favorite thing to do on vacation is eat. Also I will be bring my 7 year old, so kid friendly is on top of the list.

 

 

 

Then NCL is for you! For the most food options book only the newest of NCL ships. We sailed the Getaway, and were amazed at the complimentary and specialty food options. O’Sheehans Irish Pub has a complimentary 24 hour full menu. The Garden Cafe buffet is the very BEST we’ve had at sea. It reopens from 9:30-11:30 pm for late night snacks. Shanghai Noodle Bar is also complimentary for Asian food, opened from 5:30-9:30pm. There are 3 MDRs to choose from each night, so no set dining room the size of banquet halls like other cruise ships, or only one MDR if you chose MTD or ATD on Carnival or RCCL. You eat wherever and whenever you want, that’s the beauty of Freestyle Cruising. Then their specialty restaurants are fabulous, and the most I’ve seen offered. But a little advice, if you want a specialty, reserve prior to your cruise to be able to get in at the time you want.

 

 

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Just did my first Carnival cruise (first cruise as an adult too) over NYE, I cruises Disney and Royal Caribbean as a kid/ teen with my family

 

I was told if I loved Royal I should have picked NCL over Carnival, but I loved Carnival and had the time of my life

 

Wanted to book another cruise for June, I looked at NCL and Carnival and I ultimately went with Carnival because of how much fun I had. I’m not sure what it is but I just couldn’t get myself to book NCL

 

 

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but even so we just decided it sounded like ikea at sea and cancelled.

 

Funny enough, when my Husband and I was at IKEA a couple months ago, we joked about the idea of an IKEA Cruise Line. The fares are really low, but you have to put your cabin together yourself. The only dining options are an overcrowded cafeteria or a snack bar, but it's only a $1 or 2 an item, so hey, can't beat that. Oh, and the ship will never look as good as it did online.

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Another vote for NCL. We love NCL, though just sailed Carnival last month because the itinerary was great and the price was right. Prefer the service, ships, and food on NCL to Carnival, though we found them more similar than different. So if you enjoy Carnival, you'd likely enjoy NCL.

 

RCCL is would be the third choice for us as we didn't care for the food at all (we aren't foodies by any means, but the food was just not good anywhere) and we didn't feel like we got as great of service as we'd gotten on NCL (and now Carnival).

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