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Carnival customer now sailing NCL


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My husband and I are Platinum carnival cruisers looking forward to trying another cruise line. We’re booked on the Getaway next month, and we are so excited! I enjoyed reading all the comparisons, so thanks to those that replied to the OP. 🙂

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On 11/18/2019 at 8:21 AM, wecca said:

For those of you have sailed both Carnival and NCL, what are the differences.  I have sailed multiple Carnival sailings and will be sailing NCL this spring.


Not a cheerleader for any cruise line but we took a cruise on the NCL Epic in 2016 and fell in love with NCL.  After 133 days on Carnival we took our last cruise in 2016 on Carnival and won't be back.  Carnival use to be good many years ago but it went so far downhill that I am glad we made the switch. When Carnival started serving fried chicken and meatloaf in the MDR that made me start looking elsewhere, I get that all the time at home and I like to try different things for dinner on a cruise.


We like the drink package on NCL, the food is way better but that is a personal preference, the entertainment puts Carnival to shame.  That being said our next 21 day cruise (next week) is on MSC, 😂 which we also like. We do have 21 days booked on the Breakaway in January and can't wait!!! We also are trying Holland America next year for the first time.


OP, I say try it, you might just like it.  Never could understand being loyal to one cruise line.



Edited by ready2cruzagain
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After 20 some-odd cruises on Carnival we found we were getting "bored" of the itineraries/food/entertainment so we gave NCL a try.  We are now also Platinum on NCL.  We use NCL for more "exotic" longer itineraries - Hawaii, Med., Venice/Greece, Baltics. We swore we would never like free-style dining/cruising, but found we enjoy it.  Shows are good, having a nice choice of dining opportunities is nice.  I have found that the balcony cabins are smaller on NCL, but the buffets are better imho.  We love the dueling piano bar on the ships that have them, and O'Sheehans pub.  We now bounce back and forth between CCL and NCL going more for itinerary than anything.  Just a hint - if you want to eat in a specific restaurant at a specific time on NCL, book it online when the bookings open - or you may not get the time slot you want if you wait until you are on the ship.

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On 11/20/2019 at 12:49 PM, Greek Boss said:

Preferences on a certain cruise line is really subjective and simply comes down to the individual. I tried cruising on Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and NCL before deciding which one I honestly liked the most. 


Between Carnival and NCL, here are notable "differences" between the two:


-Carnival has much more diverse itineraries and ports of call than NCL for 7 Day cruises out of the Northeast. While the majority of weeklong NCL cruises out of New York travel to Bahamas/Florida, Carnival often adds in Turks & Caicos and seems to alternate between their private island of Half Moon Cay and Princess Cays.


-I personally enjoyed the beach more at Carnivals private island at Half Moon Cay more so than NCLs (Great Stirrup Cay), however the Bacardi Rum Bar - which is free if you have a Drink Package - is a huge plus.


-NCL will not have singing waiters and wait staff in the main dining room like Carnival and RCCL have.


-Carnival seems to have more activities during the day on the Pool decks.


-NCL has better daily activities and nightly entertainment is far better than Carnival.


-While it is the most subjective of them all, the food on NCL is much better than on Carnival. While the food in the main dining room was good when I cruised with them, their daily buffet was horrendous and I found myself settling for Guy's Burger Joint on the Pool Deck almost every single day. 


-There are much more food options on NCL than on Carnival. In addition to their amazing Specialty Dining choices, NCL ships typically have 3 main dining rooms (Manhattan Room, Taste, and Savor), a complimentary Asian restaurant, Garden Café, and a 24 hour Pub (O'Sheehans or The Local) with a wide variety of pub food.


-NCL wins with late night cravings hands down. I was never a fan of Carnival only having a late night pizza option, and NCL really blows them away in this category. As stated above, all NCL ships have a 24 hour Pub-style restaurant serving wings, nachos, fish and chips, burgers, hot dogs, etc. 


-Unless traditional cruising is something you prefer, NCL prides itself with "Freestyle cruising" where you go at your own pace and essentially go by your own schedule. It really is catered to dining reservations. Whereas Carnival and RCCL have set Dining times and in many cases seat you with other travelers, NCL has a much more laxed dress code with optional formal nights, and you can always show up to dinner whenever you desire.


-While Carnival is much more economical and tries to cater to families, the majority of people I have met and cruised with say that children's programs and entertainment for the youngsters is far better on NCL than Carnival.


-In terms of nightlife I have found both NCL and Carnival to be about the same. While I admit that my friends and I are drinkers and really love the nightlife, one thing I really am bummed about is the fact that newer NCL ships seem to be getting rid of their Clubs altogether. Not saying there isn't evening nightlife, but on the newer ships they are getting rid of Club Bliss and having the late night club parties in other venues such as the comedy clubs.


Overall while Carnival has its perks, I always preferred NCL and it is by far my favorite cruise line. If you are a drinker, I would recommend taking advantage of the Beverage Package under their Free at Sea promotion they always run. While you are still paying for gratuities, the overall cost of the package is much lower than ones on other ships. Have a great cruise!


You are completely right about your choices as being very subjective. What works for one may not for someone else. It has more to do with attitude, what you expect to get out of your cruise and why you are cruising. Oh and btw, RCI has now added gratuities to their drink package, but it isn't 20% only 15% this information comes from our travel agent. 

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On 11/20/2019 at 9:44 PM, blakeamy said:

My husband and I are Platinum carnival cruisers looking forward to trying another cruise line. We’re booked on the Getaway next month, and we are so excited! I enjoyed reading all the comparisons, so thanks to those that replied to the OP. 🙂

The Getaway was our first NCL after CCL and we really enjoyed the ship! LOVED that we could get margaritas at Margaritaville with the drink package!

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