Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
Sign in to follow this  
Candace8789

Carnival for a first cruise? (vs Royal Carribean or Norwegian)

Recommended Posts

Hello,

 

I am seeking thoughts and advice on choosing a cruise line for a first cruise.  Yes, I have read many threads, reviews, and opinions online already, but wanted to ask given my specific limitations for this cruise which are:

- departing from Port Canaveral - so leaves us with Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and Disney

- we are bringing and paying for grandma, so this affects cost

- I prefer a kids club for this age group, or some babysitting I can pay for during excursions and otherwise (Note: this is why I originally chose Carnival as they have the Ocean Club and an age group of 2-5, so my kids (ages 2 and 4) would be together when they are there)

 

The Exotic Eastern Carnival on the Breeze seems to fit the bill.  It has the kids program, and we can get a suite for us and a room for grandma for a very reasonable price.  However, I showed my husband videos of the Breeze on You Tube and we have an impression that it is a little less elegant that what we prefer for travel, and we are not looking for a "party" ship (I know the crowd varies with the length of the cruise, time of year, etc.).  He is against this cruise after seeing the videos of the ship.

 

Norwegian has a similar cruise (on the Norwegian Breakaway) on the same date where we can book a Haven Suite, with many more perks (exclusive access to Haven Private restaurant, sundeck/lounge, dining and sitting areas).  However, with this option grandma is not in a suite, so she would not have access to this, nor is there a kids club for the youngest, and the guppies nursery (where you can drop younger children off vs. having to stay) is not on this ship.

 

With grandma in tow, Disney is too expensive and given the age of our children they will not appreciate it. Royal Caribbean did not seem to have anything better than what Carnival offers in terms of rooms/perks for a similar cruise on the Harmony of the Seas. It does have kids Adventure Ocean club, but the age group is 3-5, so the 2 year old would have to go into the Royal Baby and Tots program.  This is not a deal-breaker - we don't plan to use the services all the time.

 

I am not trying to spark a debate, or offend anyone who loves Carnival.  Please remember that this is our first time cruising, and perhaps the lines are all quite similar and I should not be so fussed.  So my question for all of you experts out there is, should we go with Carnival that fits most of our parameters and accept it might not be what we are used to, or Norwegian or Royal Caribbean to enjoy more amenities?  Are these cruise lines more similar than not?   It is really my husband I need to convince who is not thrilled at trying a cruise to begin with.

 

Thanks in advance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've sailed all three lines and they are much more alike than they are different. I don't know what videos you saw but I've read much positive about the Breeze.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Since your husband didn't like the videos of the Breeze and it seems a little less elegant than  you usually travel, I would choose Royal.  It appears that Royal will meet your needs as far as the child care even though your children will be in different groups.  The only issue I can see is if you think they would feel more comfortable and less likely to be upset if they were in the same group.

Carnival is my favorite line, but that's because they offer the things that I look for in a cruise line such as constant comedy shows, etc.  I just got off of a Carnival cruise and have another one booked for September. However, I think my cruises on RCL were fancier and more toned down energy-wise.  RCL has very good shows, good food, and the ships that I have been on were very nice and never felt crowded.  Your family might prefer this line over Carnival.  The only negative I found with RCL was their hard sell for dining.  We were interrupted a couple of times by staff members trying to sell things.  But this in no way affected our enjoyment of the cruises.  Everything else was wonderful.

Edited by TNcruising02

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Carnival is a fine cruise line to start out with.  We've cruised Carnival many times.  And after a number of Carnival cruises, we sailed Royal Caribbean, which is just a bit above the Carnival experience.  But we still sail both and enjoy them both.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Harmony is an Oasis class ship with RC.  So much to do for the entire family including great entertainment. My preference would be the Harmony; nothing compares to an Oasis class ship!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You have never cruised before.  Stop looking for perfection.  Choose the cruise that best fits the needs of your family.  No matter how much you read of others experiences, or watch videos, the first cruise is a learning experience.  An 8 day cruise is not going to have as many partyers as a 7 day, which will not have as many as a 5 or 4 day...  There are plenty of places to go to avoid crowds.  You do realize that your 2 y/o will not be allowed in the pools unless toilet trained?   That is one thing Oasis class would have - a splash zone for the diapered set.  EM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I’ve cruised all 3 lines, and on all the ships sailing out of PC. I recommend Royal Caribbean first, especially if Oasis Class. 

 

Oasis Class are the worlds largest cruise ships with the most options and best entertainment at sea. Nothing compares. It’s a great option for all age groups.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We think that it very much depends on the ship and the time.  We have had a few very good cruises on Carnival with service, food etc. as good as Princess, Celebrity, HAL, or RCI.   We never select based only on the cruise line.

 

Plus...it is the luck of the draw.  One can have a great or a not so great cruise on any of the mass market cruise lines.  Consistency is not a particularly strong attribute of any of them.

Edited by iancal

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You can’t go wrong with any of those 3 cruise lines for a First Time Cruise .

They cater to First Timers and kids very well .

Chose by  dates , length  , itinerary , price . 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks again all.  I appreciate the insight.

 

Essiesmom, there is nothing wrong with seeking perfection when planning a trip or doing anything else in life for that matter.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Candace

Welcome to cruise critic.

 

Since this is your first time cruising, I would suggest, if all other things are equal, pick based on price. Total price...some cruise lines include "freebies" (such as drink packages). These only have value if they are something that you would otherwise pay for. 

 

Get an idea of extra costs involved with things you might consider opting for on any given ship. Some ships have many bells and whistles (somewhat like a theme park), but many things may are not always included with the base price. 

 

You mention your husband doesn't want to go on the Breeze because he saw something on YouTube. I have been on the Breeze, It's a really nice ship. If he has made up his mind already, he might just make sure he has a terrible time (I don't know him). I would just like to point out that Carnival has built it's brand as a "Fun Ship", and that's the way most people leave feeling "that they had fun", this would include families like your own. People on all cruise lines are going to be "enjoying themselves". You can point out to him that NCL for instance, routinely offers included drink packages...do you think many of those people won't be "partying". The party atmosphere is more a product of short 3-4 day weekend cruises where very many onboard are specifically looking to "party". This is not the norm on any 7 day or longer cruise. These ships are large, if you see a crowd "enjoying" themselves too much, it's not hard to avoid them.

 

good luck 

have a great cruise

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Nic6318!  Such a thoughtful response. You are right, I think my husband has made up his mind about cruises in general, but I'm a fan of trying anything once.  Incidentally we looked at virtual tours of the Harmony of the Seas and his view was that it was too big with too many people.  So no pleasing him on this one!  I think he anticipates the experience to bee too commercial and Disneyland-esque. Which is funny because we're going a week early to do Disney World.

 

I like the itinerary on Carnival, the kids club, and the price overall is better, so while I personally like the look, vibe and activities on the Harmony better, we'll probably end up on Carnival to give it a try.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Pick Carnival as the introduction to cruising, if you like them do it again 

 

If not, then try to do another mass line like NCL or RCCL.  Note the similarities between the different brands, as well as what will then be new on the latest cruise to you.   Decide what you liked best among the different lines.

 

Remember that even ships within the same line can be vastly different.  Contrast the RCCL Oasis class vs. the Radiance, or on Carnival, the Horizon vs. the Fascination.

 

If cost is a factor, avoid the oldest ships, as well as the newest and settle for a mid range ship in age and cost.

 

If you are only going to cruise once every 10 years, then go newest and best.

Edited by evandbob

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/3/2019 at 12:16 PM, Candace8789 said:

Thank you all! 

 

Grandma Dazzles, can you tell me what makes an Oasis class ship better?

 

Primarily the size  amenities of the Oasis class ships.  Although carrying so many passengers RC has done an excellent job with the design and splitting the ships into specific neighborhoods.  Other than when a show lets out or sometimes lines in the Windjammer buffet at prime times, ships handle the crowds well.

 

More pools and a splash zone for non-toilet trained kids. 

 

Shows are excellent, including high diving water show in the aqua theater and ice show (RC only one to offer these). 

 

Carousel for younger kids and those young at heart! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
52 minutes ago, Candace8789 said:

Thanks Nic6318!  Such a thoughtful response. You are right, I think my husband has made up his mind about cruises in general, but I'm a fan of trying anything once.  Incidentally we looked at virtual tours of the Harmony of the Seas and his view was that it was too big with too many people.  So no pleasing him on this one!  I think he anticipates the experience to bee too commercial and Disneyland-esque. Which is funny because we're going a week early to do Disney World.

 

Something to keep in mind...Carnival Breeze has a lower space to passenger ratio than Harmony.  Breeze is 34 while Harmony is 41.  Ratio means square feet per passenger.  Ships in the 30s, especially lower 30s can feel very crowded.  So while Harmony might have a lot more people, it's also a much less crowded ship.  Just something to think about.  

Edited by Aquahound

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We have been on the Carnival Magic, which is the sister ship to Breeze, and will be on the Breeze later this month. These class ships are laid out really well, IMO. Have you checked out the Thalassotherapy Spa? It's pretty amazing and no kids allowed, so it's a good place for some quiet relaxation.

 

We've been on both Carnival and RCI and think there are many more similarities than differences. Considering your overall requirements, I'd go with Carnival. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Harmony is a great ship, and if you are looking for a bit more upscale, check out one of the aqua theater suites.  You could easily fit the whole family and grandma in one of those, and then you would all get access to Coastal Kitchen and Suite Lounge.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...