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Last Salmon Man

Carnival or Norwegian... Advice?????

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I have not read all your responses, and it looks like everyone is saying, try Norwegian. Now, I will say otherwise, no.  It is possible Norwegian has changed, but years ago, my friend and I went on a "brand new Norwegian ship, and to say the least, not only us, but MANY of the people that were on the ship, and also coming back on the same airline with us, were very UNhappy with their cruise.  I said I would never go on one of their ships again, unless it is given to me.  I have done Princess, RCCL, Holland American and Carnival up to this point.  I know they all have their perks, and I'm sure you will think this is funny, but in all the "beds" I have slept on the different cruise lines, I have found Carnival's the BEST!
 

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I've sailed Vista class ships on Carnival and have sailed the NCL Bliss, Escape, and am booked on the Joy. There is no way I'd ever book the Panorama over the Joy when prices were that similar where you got nothing on the Panorama versus all the extras on the Joy. Do not take advice from those who haven't sailed NCL or the ship types you are comparing. The NCL Joy/Bliss ships are superior to Carnival Vista Class ships and the food and entertainment is better on NCL. No brainer to choose the Joy.  

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On 8/6/2019 at 4:41 PM, Last Salmon Man said:

thank you all for the replies!

 

I did a mock booking, but as suggested, I completed the mock booking all the way to the payment page and the price jumped to 3250.  So, the final price is about $25 more than the panoroma.  Even with the additional $300 in gratuities, we are still going to pull the trigger and book the Joy before the take 5 promo ends.  As I understand it, we can cancel with no penalties up to 120 days out if we change our mind.  

 

Will definitely be back on carnival.  Kids will be bummed because they were excited to get gold sail and sign cards on their next carnival, but they will get over it!!

 

Thank you for all the advice!!

Did you include the Cheers package and 3 Specialty dining dinners when looking.

 

If you have checked those factors AND cabin equivalent you will get your answer.

 

Have sailed both lines and prefer NCL now. It's been my experience that NCL's pricing has been better.

 

Many have said try a different cruise line to see for yourself! You will find more things in common rather than different. Except for NCL has the freestyle dining down.  No getting pager. You just go to MDR give hostess your name and are usually seated quickly. If you have to wait NCL, conveniently has a bar right between the 2 MDR's.

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We haven't been on Carnival in over 15 years, but very excited for our Panorama cruise in December.  We were on the Bliss in April, and I did a solo on Joy in June.  Loved both the NCL ships.  The Concierge Lounge on deck 15 is wonderful, very easy to spend the whole day there, with comfortable chairs and couches, small buffets, a bar, and the Joy Concierge Lounge even has a Starbucks.  Service was wonderful.  If you have a Balcony or above there is a coffee maker in the room which was a huge plus for me.  With all the perks I ended up walking off of my solo cruise w/ more cash than I started with, (I had the $50/port excursion credit, as well as $100 Latitudes and $100 from my TA).  

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16 hours ago, Cruzaholic41 said:

 

I think several did, including me. In fact, that info was so exaggerated, I question her honesty about cruising Escape, which conveniently isn’t in her signature. Oh wait, she hasn’t updated it. Yeah, right. 

 

 

Yup.  The mainstream lines are all so remarkably similar in their business model.  I just can't understand how you can find so many negative differences that are so substantial they wouldn't 'go even if it was free'.

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On 8/7/2019 at 5:19 AM, ronbe65 said:

 

Although the Joy isn't a ship I would recommend, it's a good move to try it instead of Panorama (another ship I wouldn't recommend).

Nothing is worse in cruising than to stay with the same cruise line all the time - does not matter which one. The "golder" your card is, the more cruise life you miss.

These are a few tips for NCL newbies. It's related to the Breakaway (currently NCL best ship), but it works for all NCL mega ships in general.

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2684704-ncl-newbie-here-must-try-foods-recommendations/?tab=comments#comment-58037645

Happy cruising!

Interesting that you would not recommend a Carnival ship which has not sailed yet. I am guessing you are not a fan of the larger cruise ships such as NCL Joy. I do agree with you about trying different cruise lines as the way to go if you enjoy variety. 

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On 8/9/2019 at 6:01 AM, Tom-n-Cheryl said:

Through our cruising years, we've migrated to sailing in (almost exclusively) suites. It's there were significant differences become obvious between (mainly) Carnival, and all others.

 

On NCL ships (Epic and newer) they have "The Haven", which is basically a ship within a ship for suite guests. Pool, bar, restaurant, butlers, etc. The restaurant is pretty much like specialty dining for all meals, though it's "included". Disclaimer: you're going to be paying more for suites on NCL, and other lines, compared to Carnival... nothing comes without an associated cost.

 

There are still plenty of great things which Carnival offers but we know that, when sailing with them, we're sacrificing many appealing amenities -- with full room service hot breakfast being one which comes to mind, if only because it's one of the first orders of the day.

 

That said, when we do sail with Carnival, there's little incentive to sail in a suite... other than having a larger room or a slightly larger balcony. I think that Carnival is ever so slightly starting to acknowledge that they might be missing out on some business, as evidenced by the Mardi Gras - with suites on all corners forward and aft and a suites only sun deck area. Hey, it's a start! 🙂

 

Thus, from my perspective - the gulf between Carnival and NCL is even wider than it is for many others. Moral of this story then, I suppose, don't take my word for it !!! LOL

 

Tom

I agree Tom there is a wider gulf in the suite experience between cruise lines. I am going to try the Carnival suite experience again in 2020 since the Panorama will be new and larger. Like you I was not impressed with the suite experience on Carnival but I enjoy Carnival ships. BTW we just sailed MSC YC and that suite experience is to die for! And for those that think we are rolling in dough..nope we also sail in balconies. 

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1 hour ago, Linda the Book Lover said:

Interesting that you would not recommend a Carnival ship which has not sailed yet. I am guessing you are not a fan of the larger cruise ships such as NCL Joy. I do agree with you about trying different cruise lines as the way to go if you enjoy variety. 

 

Vista class has been out for some time now....

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5 minutes ago, BNBR said:

 

Vista class has been out for some time now....

I was referring to this line in your quote "Although the Joy isn't a ship I would recommend, it's a good move to try it instead of Panorama (another ship I wouldn't recommend)". I  thought it was the ship - Panorama which you did not recommend which is not finished yet. I had not realized your statement was in reference to the class of ship. 

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On 8/6/2019 at 11:24 PM, jbethel11 said:

That is the exact same with me! My one and only cruise with NCL was in 2013 when I speculate the prices were much cheaper then!

 

What is the criteria you use for picking cruises? Price itinerary, port, itinerary, cruise line,newness of the ship, etc?

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Carnival is my pick.  I have been on 1 Carnival and 1 NCL on the Epic.  Carnival food was much better.  I felt very nickeled and dined on NCL.  I have booked another Carnival.  I have been on 3 RCL and I think the Carnival food was much better than RCL also.

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3 hours ago, Ellaleah said:

Carnival is my pick.  I have been on 1 Carnival and 1 NCL on the Epic.  Carnival food was much better.  I felt very nickeled and dined on NCL.  I have booked another Carnival.  I have been on 3 RCL and I think the Carnival food was much better than RCL also.

Food is so subjective and you mentioned it twice. Food on all lines is massed produced and will run hot and cold. Haven't noticed that much of a difference between Carnival and NCL.

 

i do agree Carnival has more free lunch venue's available to pax besides Buffet and MDR.

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3 hours ago, Ellaleah said:

I felt very nickeled and dined on NCL. 

 

By what exactly?

 

In my experience they sell the same things Carnival does.

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8 hours ago, Illbcruzn4life said:

 

What is the criteria you use for picking cruises? Price itinerary, port, itinerary, cruise line,newness of the ship, etc?

In priority, price, newness of ship, port itinerary, cruise line.

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Just now, tallnthensome said:

I've sailed Vista class ships on Carnival and have sailed the NCL Bliss, Escape, and am booked on the Joy. There is no way I'd ever book the Panorama over the Joy when prices were that similar where you got nothing on the Panorama versus all the extras on the Joy. Do not take advice from those who haven't sailed NCL or the ship types you are comparing. The NCL Joy/Bliss ships are superior to Carnival Vista Class ships and the food and entertainment is better on NCL. No brainer to choose the Joy.  

Try the different lines, we are Diamond on Carnival and have been on almost all their ships and loved them all, ( won't go back on the Sunrise, adding more passengers was a BIG mistake) can't wait to do the 15 day Mardi Gras next sept and nobody parties like carnival, none of the other lines are at carnivals level for fun.... We have  done over 10 NCL trips, and loved everyone of them and have 4 more trips with them coming up,, also have done 6 R/C trips and loved them,  each line is different so try them all if you can... Ncl is somewhat close to carnival party wise but their new boats are really nice... Enjoy your next cruise !!!!!!!!

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1 hour ago, luvsboozecruises said:

....and nobody parties like carnival, none of the other lines are at carnivals level for fun...

 

And in my experience we had the most disappointing cruise on Carnival.  The deck party wrapped up at 9 pm and then there wasn't much going on that we considered a fun party.  We couldn't believe it "The Fun Ships" theme was severely lacking on that sailing.

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3 hours ago, Sauer-kraut said:

 

And in my experience we had the most disappointing cruise on Carnival.  The deck party wrapped up at 9 pm and then there wasn't much going on that we considered a fun party.  We couldn't believe it "The Fun Ships" theme was severely lacking on that sailing.

You must have had a bunch of newly Weds or the ship..😄

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16 hours ago, Sauer-kraut said:

 

And in my experience we had the most disappointing cruise on Carnival.  The deck party wrapped up at 9 pm and then there wasn't much going on that we considered a fun party.  We couldn't believe it "The Fun Ships" theme was severely lacking on that sailing.

 

I find Carnival true to being a "Fun" ship, but NCL to be more of a "Party" ship.  Connotations will vary depending on life experience and region a person lives, and for me party and fun are not the same (although can overlap).  My differences:

~party - drinking, loud music, often late night, usually dancing, usually adult focused

~fun - games, silliness (not taking yourself too seriously), adult or child focused

 

We found Carnival offered enough fun during the day that having most venues closing around 11-1 was fine for us, and there were usually several options on lower decks that didn't end at 9.  If your version of fun though is party then Carnival can be lacking (especially depending on passenger demographic).

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On 8/8/2019 at 10:28 PM, Stick93 said:

The new vista class ships have smaller venues than the dream class ships. 

 

The sunshine, sunrise and radiance will have or have had their aft lounges  where comedy was removed and places in smaller venues. Their main showrooms were also made smaller. 

 

There are mixed reviews on all this. 

 

Vista class ships do have smaller comedy clubs but that was part of the original design. The Sunshine series of ships are more of a re-design and rename vs a refurb.

 

I thought you were referring to the general drydock work the ships go through every 5 years or so. 🙂

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On 8/10/2019 at 6:35 AM, tallnthensome said:

The NCL Joy/Bliss ships are superior to Carnival Vista Class ships and the food and entertainment is better on NCL. No brainer to choose the Joy.  

 

Superior how?

 

Both food and entertainment are subjective so we can eliminate those as a factor.

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On 8/6/2019 at 12:21 PM, Last Salmon Man said:

Morning all!

 

We have narrowed down our next cruise, will be March 2020 Mexican Riviera.  We have done 4 carnival cruises (Splendor, Miracle, Vista and Magic)  and we have loved everyone of them.  We have our eye on the Panorama, but also noticed the Norwegian Joy has the same cruise, same dates, and today they have a sale for 5 free upgrades including beverage package, 3,4 guest free, excursion credit...etc

 

For the four of us on the panorama, balcony we want is $3,200.  On the joy, $3,000.  On paper, seems like Norwegian is a no brainer, but I have heard mixed things about food on Norwegian, and everything costs extra once your on board.  

 

Would really appreciate any info or advice from any of you cruise veterans that have sailed both lines, or possibly on the Joy.  It's hard to stray from Carnival when we have always had our expectations met or exceeded.

 

Thanks in advance!

 

First off, I think you're doing the right thing by comparing lines. The loyalty programs for all these lines are so ridiculously meagre that you should absolutely shop around for the best value without regards to the line. My experience having done NCL, Carnival, and RCCL is that they have basically the same elements with some things that vary.

 

NCL has gone almost entirely to the "FREE AT SEA" or "TAKE ALL OFFERS" sort of cruising, which is the way for them to make sure they are driving up the cost of the cruise from the jump. The best way to find out what your cruise will actually cost is to make a spreadsheet, and then tabulate what you actually plan to do on Carnival (ie - if you plan to do excursions and drink packages with some specialty dining, price those out). Then compare that to the fare of the NCL cruise which includes the perks. The key thing is for NCL, they price the perks out for you, but you have to pay taxes and gratuities on those perks. That's why it's key to do a mock booking on their site, price it all the way through with the perks to the end, and you'll get a real cost.

 

Comparatively between the two lines here's what I noted:

 

Carnival has more included complimentary food (Guys, Blue Iguana, Pizza, etc.), the atmosphere is more "fun" which mostly means a lot of people drinking, younger, tons of tattoos and very interesting clothing choices, better comedy (imo) with more flexible show hours, the stage shows are rather ridiculous and not very good, the music is okay, and the for-fee dining isn't really worth it for me. The drink package on Carnival is too restrictive for my tastes. I don't like I don't like the fact that you're limited to one beverage at a time, and when I was cruising they wouldn't give me a bottle of water and a drink at the same time. Having a 15 minute waiting period or whatever it is when you and your shipmate are both on a package is silly.

 

NCL has again imo, worse complimentary food, but much better high-end for fee food, alot of which will be included in your free at sea package. The beverage package on NCL is great because you can get 2 drinks at a time on one card, but it has some higher end restrictions on what liquors are included and that can piss some people off if you like a certain higher end brand. NCL tended to be a little older, a little less "intense" with the crowd type. I liked the fact that NCL does have much higher quality shows, but they are a bit too risque for me (but others would likely enjoy). The music is one of real separators for me in the two lines. If you like good bands, duos, singers, live music in all areas of the ship, etc. NCL is the way to go. Their entertainment from a musical standpoint is the best of any of the lines.

 

If you're close on price, I'd book NCL over Carnival assuming you're okay with being in an older crowd. In my mind, it's a generally better line on the things I enjoy (food, drinks, music). However, if it's an atmosphere decision then go with the line you think provides that fun atmosphere, which is definitely Carnival.

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1 hour ago, NightOne said:

 

Superior how?

 

Both food and entertainment are subjective so we can eliminate those as a factor.

I usually say that tastes are subjective, not the food.

Happy cruising!

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1 hour ago, Paelos said:

 

First off, I think you're doing the right thing by comparing lines. The loyalty programs for all these lines are so ridiculously meagre that you should absolutely shop around for the best value without regards to the line. My experience having done NCL, Carnival, and RCCL is that they have basically the same elements with some things that vary.

 

NCL has gone almost entirely to the "FREE AT SEA" or "TAKE ALL OFFERS" sort of cruising, which is the way for them to make sure they are driving up the cost of the cruise from the jump. The best way to find out what your cruise will actually cost is to make a spreadsheet, and then tabulate what you actually plan to do on Carnival (ie - if you plan to do excursions and drink packages with some specialty dining, price those out). Then compare that to the fare of the NCL cruise which includes the perks. The key thing is for NCL, they price the perks out for you, but you have to pay taxes and gratuities on those perks. That's why it's key to do a mock booking on their site, price it all the way through with the perks to the end, and you'll get a real cost.

 

Comparatively between the two lines here's what I noted:

 

Carnival has more included complimentary food (Guys, Blue Iguana, Pizza, etc.), the atmosphere is more "fun" which mostly means a lot of people drinking, younger, tons of tattoos and very interesting clothing choices, better comedy (imo) with more flexible show hours, the stage shows are rather ridiculous and not very good, the music is okay, and the for-fee dining isn't really worth it for me. The drink package on Carnival is too restrictive for my tastes. I don't like I don't like the fact that you're limited to one beverage at a time, and when I was cruising they wouldn't give me a bottle of water and a drink at the same time. Having a 15 minute waiting period or whatever it is when you and your shipmate are both on a package is silly.

 

NCL has again imo, worse complimentary food, but much better high-end for fee food, alot of which will be included in your free at sea package. The beverage package on NCL is great because you can get 2 drinks at a time on one card, but it has some higher end restrictions on what liquors are included and that can piss some people off if you like a certain higher end brand. NCL tended to be a little older, a little less "intense" with the crowd type. I liked the fact that NCL does have much higher quality shows, but they are a bit too risque for me (but others would likely enjoy). The music is one of real separators for me in the two lines. If you like good bands, duos, singers, live music in all areas of the ship, etc. NCL is the way to go. Their entertainment from a musical standpoint is the best of any of the lines.

 

If you're close on price, I'd book NCL over Carnival assuming you're okay with being in an older crowd. In my mind, it's a generally better line on the things I enjoy (food, drinks, music). However, if it's an atmosphere decision then go with the line you think provides that fun atmosphere, which is definitely Carnival.

 

To be fair in regards to drink packages.  You were upset Carnival wouldn't give you a bottle of water with your drink, but didn't mention the fact that NCL doesn't even include bottled water on their package.  For what it's worth, I've never been denied a bottle of water at any point or told I needed to wait for my second drink more than a few minutes.  They handed me a water with my drink every time I asked.  Now Carnivals 15 drink limit can be a real problem for some people.  I hit that limit often and it's always at the worst time in the evening.

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Passenger demographic can vary from ship to ship within the same line, also itinerary and time of year will be a factor.  Our Norwegian from Miami in May 2016 (possible college had just let out and younger schools still in session) was a younger crowd with more of a party vibe versus our 2018 Carnival Pride cruises from Baltimore (Feb/March & Sept).

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