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rsharp83

1st time on Carnival, small ships vs big ships, Carnival vs Royal

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Carnival Glory was my first cruise that wasn’t Royal Caribbean. I likely would not have booked Glory on my own and I likely would not have chosen to sail out of New Orleans. Those choices were made by the convention planners and I was along for the ride. So, Carnival it was, and we were on the Glory.

 

In June 2019 I sailed on Royal’s Harmony of the Seas, one of the largest and newest ships in the world. To compare Glory and Harmony head to head is completely unfair. Glory is an older, smaller ship that has limited amenities. Harmony is a mega-ship with all the gee wiz stuff you could ever want. They are just different kinds of ships.

What I do want to do is note some differences between the two lines and compare and contrast. These are just my observations. My sample size from Carnival is obviously limited while my Royal knowledge is broader. Royal ships I’ve sailed: Oasis, Alure, Harmony (All mega ship Oasis Class), Liberty, Adventure and Jewel. The most comparable RC ship to Glory is the Jewel. I found Glory and Jewel to have a similar layout and some of the same limitations that the newer larger ships don’t have.

 

The one HUGE difference I noted between Carnival and Royal

“Washy Washy”. Any Royal cruiser will know exactly what this phrase means. You simply cannot escape Washy Washy. It is everywhere all the time. There is a song, a video, announcements, and crew members who constantly say it to you. Sometimes they even post crew members in the bathrooms to remind you, “Sir, could you please wash your hands.” In the newer Royal ships, you cannot even enter the buffet without going through a washing station where the crew will make sure you wash your hands and then sanitize them.  Sanitizer is everywhere.

 

On Carnival, not a single word. Nothing about washing your hands was said. There were some sanitizer dispensers, there were some small towels by the bathroom door exits to use as you grabbed the door handles. But other than that, no emphasis at all on hand washing and prevention of spreading noro virus or other germs.

Now, should I conclude that Carnival cruisers are just cleaner and have better hygiene practices than Royal folks? I doubt that is the case. And when I first cruised, I was stunned at the number of times I heard a crew member tell someone exiting the bathroom to, “Please wash your hands”.

This was just interesting to me. I am not bashing Carnival for its policies or practices concerning hand washing. I was just surprised. But it did make me think twice as I navigated the buffet lines.

 

Sell me something!

I can’t be sure of the “why”. I only know that the Carnival crew did almost no “upselling”. I was only advised a few times the first day or so that I could buy a drink package or eat at a steakhouse. No crew came to my table at lunch trying to sell me something. No one was hawking upsells in the hallways.

On Royal the upsell is constant and sometimes unrelenting. Buy a specialty dining package, a drink package, excursions, etc. Especially on the big ships where they have a lot of things to upsell. And maybe that is the “why” of the Glory’s limited upsells. Glory just doesn’t have much to sell. They have a steakhouse, chefs table and a drink package as the only real upsell opportunities. Perhaps on other larger Carnival ships there are more upsell things to offer? But the hard sell was pretty much non-existent on Glory. I liked not being hounded.

 

Apps, Tech and Internet

Both Royal and Carnival have Apps for your phones. You can do a variety of things on the apps and you can communicate by texting through the apps while on board for a small fee. We had iPhones on both recent trips, so we bypassed the app and used iMessage instead. We also purchased internet plans on both cruises.

I give the edge on the app to Carnival HUB. It’s easy to use and navigate. The schedules for everything going on were there and they were correct! Royal never had the right things on the app schedule and there were a lot of things showing up that just made no sense on our trip. At one point nearly all the shows and entertainment were showing up only on day 7! It wasn’t reliable. Carnival HUB did its job and only a couple of times did it not load, and I had to try again. Royal always tries to be flashy with their tech but often they overreach what they can reasonably deliver. While we are talking tech, the Carnival website was easy to use, and it seemed to actually work. The Royal website is notoriously awful.

 

As for internet, the advantage here goes squarely to Royal. The VOOM packages they offer are very good. Connections even on the huge ships are solid and reliable. Plus, the Royal mid-level internet is far superior to the Carnival mid-level service. Carnival’s top level was described as the one you needed to skype and stream video and movies etc. I didn’t need to Facetime or watch Netflix, so I chose the midlevel that described itself as being appropriate for social media, emails etc. Well, Carnival considers streaming not just things like Netflix. Any video of any kind is blocked on the mid-level package. So, any little Facebook clip or Twitter video would be blocked. Loading anything was very slow.

 

Food…

I hesitate to even mention food. It’s such a divisive topic and people get all crazy about food. I am not a particularly picky person when it comes to food. I’m in no way a foodie and I can usually find something to eat on a cruise that I like without much problem. I’ll highlight some things I liked and didn’t like about the food on the Glory and compare a little bit to food I’ve had on Royal.

 

Lunch on Carnival was great! Not that Royal is bad, but the Carnival quick food lineup is fantastic. You can go get a custom-made burrito or go to the deli for a sandwich made on the spot.  Yes, the buffet is open for lunch, but you can largely ignore it. Go upstairs and get BBQ, real honest to goodness BBQ. I’m from the Kansas City area, we have BBQ. Carnival had very good offerings and signatures sauces that were excellent. The pizza has long been a downer for me on Royal. It’s just not very good. Carnival pizza was very good. Thin crust, some variety (although I’d like one other meat besides pepperoni), fresh and hot because it doesn’t last long when it comes off the oven. And they’ll deliver to your room for $5.

But the star of the lunch lineup is Guy Fieri and his burger joint. Those burgers are the bomb and the fries are outstanding. I could eat at that place every day; I came really close to doing that. Royal only wishes they had a place this good for lunch. While Royal goes for named chefs on their specialty dining venues, Carnival offers up Guy’s burgers for no extra cost. PS – The signature BBQ sauces also belong to Guy.

 

The buffet. Here the advantage goes to Royal. At least on the Glory the buffet offerings were pretty limited and often they were the same things being served in the main dining room. I always look at the main dining menu and expect the buffet to offer alternatives. If I didn’t find it appealing on the main menu then why would I want it in the buffet? My observation was that at least two of the dishes each night were the same at the buffet and in the dining room. I also noticed a lack of ethnic foods being served. Royal just has a wider variety of foods in their Windjammer buffet each night, alternatives to the main dining menu, ethnic offerings for the non-Americans, and themes for their nightly dinner.

Carnival sea day brunch is a big hit. Some very good choices for lunch and breakfast foods. Yes, it’s busy and you must wait, but the wait was rewarded with a good meal.  A great banana cream pie was on the menu and that was worth the trip all by itself.

 

Dinner is up and down on both Royal and Carnival. I had nothing terrible or awful. It was mostly good on Carnival and Royal. For some, the main dining will never be good enough but I’m not one of those people. I cannot really give an advantage here either way. However, Carnival did feature unique items on several nights and encourage you to try a small portion. I had Braised Ox Tongue one night. It was delicious and I would certainly have it again. They also offered some dishes that were related to the places we were visiting. I didn’t try one of those offerings but maybe next time I will. The Carnival wait staff seems to perform more often than on Royal. This is a negative for me, but I know a lot of people like the singing waiters thing.

 

Steak

We hadn’t planned on eating at the Steakhouse, but we wound up there and I am glad we did. I’ve eaten at Royal’s Chops steakhouse several times. Each time has been a little less satisfying. Lot’s of cuts to the menu, the portions, and the service over the last few years. They have also continually added extra fee things to the menu which is another upcharge over the upcharge you are paying to eat at Chops in the first place! I’m not a big fan of Chops. It’s an average steakhouse at best.

The experience at Carnival’s steakhouse was first rate. The sea salt bread was melt in your mouth good, so good that a meal of bread and butters would be fine! I had the pork belly and wow. The sauce was delicious, I could have simply had the sauce it was so good. We also were treated to a “complements of the chef” appetizer. I know they do this for everyone, but it still felt special when it was delivered to the table as a surprise. It was some sort of fried wonton kind of thing with cherry jelly. So good. When it came to the steaks, fantastic. A cowboy and a ribeye that are both 18 oz monsters! The filet mignon was really nice as well. All our steaks were cooked perfectly. The sides were also excellent; parmesan onion rings, wasabi whipped potatoes, BBQ beans, etc.  For a finisher we chose “Art at your Table.” It’s an all or nothing choice, meaning everyone at the table must do it. JUST DO IT! A chef brings out a large flat surface and begins drawing on it with creams and syrups, making designs. Then more little candies and fruity things. Then large white chocolate globes filled with cake, creams, ice cream etc. It’s a feast of flavors. Everyone just digs in and eats!

 

Sweets that stood out over the week: Vanilla creme brulee, S’Mores parfait, tiramisu cake, hummingbird cake. In fact, every day there are lots of cakes at the lunch buffet. They are really good, and they don’t serve them at dinner. At dinner it is back to the gelatinous desserts and spongy cake things.

 

Big Ship Vs. Little Ship

My bias is up front, I love the big Oasis class ships that Royal offers. I have sailed 2 of their smaller ships in Jewel and Adventure. Glory seems to fall in between these two but is more closely comparable to Jewel. I have the same issues with both Glory and Jewel compared to all the other ships I’ve sailed. I don’t like the design of traffic flow or the way you must navigate around on them.

 

Glory has decks 3, 4, and 5 that are the main hubs of the ship. Those decks house shopping, guest services, excursion desk, casino and the main walkway from the theater at the bow to the dining and lounge areas on the stern. The casino is right in the midst of the path everyone uses. The casino is wide open as you pass by and that means the smoke goes everywhere. There are some lounge type seats and couches along the opposite wall but those are totally exposed to the constant smoke. There is a performance stage tucked along that wall and I pity the poor performers that have to sing and play there. If you want to sit and listen, you do so from either side. In front of the performer is a casino and all the noise that accompanies gaming action. In-between is the main walkway, and it’s pretty narrow. What makes it even narrower is the fact that just beyond the performance area is the photo area. At least 4 photographers are set up along the walkway each evening with various backdrops and all their lighting and flash equipment. Oh, and let’s not forget the Art salesman hawking his wares that are also displayed in this same area. By the time you get all that stuff set up and start taking pics and showing off artwork, there is no room to actually walk! It’s beyond ridiculous. And the way the entertainment schedules are set up you have people walking to the theater and then back to the comedy club or piano bar every hour or so.

 

That brings me to a point. I hear people all the time say something like, “I never want to sail on one of those big ships, they must be so crowded.” Well I will tell you right now that NOTHING I have experienced on the big Oasis ships even compares to the crowdedness I experienced on Glory trying to make it through the casino/art/photography gauntlet multiple times every night. And god forbid there is someone on a scooter or that has mobility issues in your path. Yes, the big ships have more passengers, but they have way more open space to maneuver around. They also have higher ceilings and a variety of paths to use to get from A to B. On Glory the only way to avoid the gauntlet was to go up to one of the higher floors (at least deck 6) and walk the stateroom hallways to avoid smoke and crowds.

 

One area that Glory had a good design for was the outside smoking section. You could completely avoid that area with no issues of getting where you wanted to go. In fact, it was several days before I actually happened upon the outside smoking area while roaming in places I hadn’t looked at yet. That was a nice positive for Glory.

 

Entertainment

Again, I have a bias here. The mega ships on Royal have an insane amount of topflight entertainment. I compare it to a floating version of a Las Vegas resort hotel. A rundown of just the production show options would include: 2 ice skating shows; 2 full stage production musical shows, one of the being a former Broadway hit show the other being an original show unique to the ship; a massive outdoor acrobatic and water show with divers and aerialists. Comparable to Cirque de Soleil shows. There is also another show in the aqua theater during the day that is more playful and comedic. Beyond all that you have comedy club, headliner performers, bands, piano bar, individual musicians, etc. Unless you have seen it you really just cannot understand the level of activities and entertainment that are available on an Oasis class ship. Yes, I have high expectations when it comes to the entertainment on board.

I knew Glory would not be able to match that level of entertainment, it is just not designed to do something like that. We went to the first night’s production show called Epic Rock. It was fine and not unlike many other shows on a variety of cruise ships. The staging was minimal except for a larger video backdrop that did most of the work for setting the tone for whatever song was being sung. The performers did do some interactive things with the video which was good. Overall the show was fine. We didn’t go to the other production shows that week for a couple of reasons. The next one was Motown music and they weren’t going to dance or do any performance other than singing. Perhaps because the seas were rough and the boat was rocking quite a bit. We did catch a few minutes of the Latin music show later in the week. It looked to be staged much like the rock show. Content of the shows didn’t interest us enough to make a point to rush from dinner to get to the show. And dinner was delayed at least once preventing us from getting to the show because the wait staff was too busy singing and dancing around the dining room to actually get our food to us in time for us to get to the show.

 

The other reason we didn’t see many production shows was comedy. The comedy club area was aft and held about 300 people in a lounge kind of seating arrangement. Instead of doing an hour-long comedy set the schedule was multiple 30-minute sets. Moving back and forth between the theater and comedy club would result in not getting a good seat for comedy. Lots of people either stayed in the comedy club between shows or didn’t venture very far so they could get back to the club at least 20 minutes ahead of time and before the theater show ended. Thus, in order to get a good comedy seat, we skipped the shows. The comedians were great. Over the cruise we had four different ones, and each was funny in their own way. Early shows were family safe, later shows were 18+ and for people not easily offended. We especially enjoyed the later shows. Therefore, comedy took up most of our evening time since we usually saw all three sets which took us past 11 pm each night.

 

Little Things

Distilled water was available as a room service item and not from your cabin steward. They also charge $3.81 for the gallon of distilled water.

 

One electrical outlet. That is all you get so you’d better plan for that reality. Actually, there is a second outlet in the bathroom that is pretty much useless for anything but an electric razor.

 

My wife and mother-in-law both thought that the balcony cabins on Glory had more storage room than any other ship they’ve sailed on. They put everything away with lots of room to spare! And we are NOT light packers.

 

I had the bubbles soda package, but I really missed the Coke Freestyle machines with the soda mug that Royal has on most of their ships. Carnival is now serving Pepsi and they serve it all from cans.

 

Guest services desk was open 24/7 and were very helpful since we had some special needs concerning a scooter.

 

Balconies are very small compared to newer ships. Balconies are also where you see a lot of the age of the ship because of rust.

 

The Glory was very clean, and you can see they work very hard to keep it looking nice. The décor is a bit dated. Not as much artwork and decoration as the Royal ships have.

 

Glory staff were very good. Cookie the cruise director is an up and coming young CD who will be on the Glory for the next 3 years. His Q&A session was really good, and you shouldn’t miss it.

 

Serenity area is nice and mostly away from the noise and action elsewhere on the pool deck. We got lucky and scored a clamshell on both of the sea days to start the cruise.

 

Final Thoughts

Would I sail from New Orleans again? No. If I am picking my own port it wouldn’t be NOLA. We must fly to any port we sail from so Florida is the first choice since it offers so many more options on ships and cruise lines. I’ve been to NOLA twice and it’s fine but not a place I really need to visit again.

 

Would I sail on Glory again? No. Nothing specifically against Glory. But, for the same price point there are lots of newer better ships out there. If Glory and NOLA are within a short drive, then it’s understandable why you might sail Glory multiple times. However, if you can afford to go to another port and try some newer ships it would be worth your time and money to do that at least occasionally.

 

Would I sail on Carnival again? Yes. In fact, I am booking Carnival Mardi Gras with our big group in June of 2021. One reason we are sailing Carnival is that Royal simply priced us out. The same cruise we did in June of 2019 is now almost $2,000 more expensive. The rate on Symphony out of Miami is over $4,600 for an ocean balcony. That’s out of our price range. So, we have decided to go on the new Mardi Gras. I was holding off booking until I took the Glory cruise as a “test run.” There are certainly things I will miss about a Royal cruise on an Oasis class ship, but Mardi Gras looks to be a close alternative at a much better price. As information on Mardi Gras rolls out over the next year or so I will be reading all I can get.

Any day on a cruise is likely better than being at home working. Glory was a more laid back than most of our cruises have been. We had a small group of people and there wasn’t the pressure to see everything and do everything. I noticed lots of people playing cards and other games on the ship. A relaxed atmosphere.

 

Excursions

A word about our activities on the land. We didn’t venture as far as we typically do on a cruise. My father-in-law is recovering from bypass surgery, so we stayed pretty close to the ship on this trip.

 

We had planned a beach day at Mahogany Bay. However, the rain and weather wasn’t cooperating. We did a spontaneous zip line trip that was located just outside the port area. It’s a good zip line but the better one in Roatan is located elsewhere on the island, South Shore Zip Line.  

 

We never book ship sponsored excursions and therefore we typically get a more intimate experience. We booked a trip to the Mayan Ruins at Lamanai with King David tours. We got to navigate rivers for over an hour looking at crocs, birds, plants, and iguanas in a small boat with 6 people on the tour. We arrived at Lamanai and we were able to avoid the big cattle call groups and get to places ahead of those crowds. Our guide got us to the top of the high temple with just 4 of us in the group! We were up there all by ourselves, it was fantastic. We also got a simple but tasty lunch while other tours just looked at us getting to eat. Good tour I would highly recommend.

 

In Cozumel the weather did corporate and we had a very nice beach club day at Mr. Sanchos. It’s a clean and well-run beach club along the strip of clubs in Cozumel. The food, service and amenities were great for the price. We had a very relaxing day at Sanchos. My favorite Cozumel excursion is The Bar Hop bus that takes you on a tour of beach bars on the undeveloped side of the island. If you’ve never gone to the “other side” it is a must see and the Bar Hop bus is the best way to experience it.

 

Hopefully this review will be useful for a couple of different audiences. Maybe it gives some insights into Carnival for those that only cruise Royal and vice a versa. I hope it might also give a few tips for those who only want to sail on small ships to maybe give one of the mega ships a chance.  

 

Thanks for reading and I hope I don’t get flamed to much…but I probably will.

 

 

 

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What an outstanding review, and comparisons of the two ships! Thank you, and what an interesting read! 👍👍

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Thank you for posting such a detailed review of the differences. I’ve been on several sizes of Carnival ships but only one size (two ships) on Royal.

 

I will be cruising on Harmony in March and the Magic in April. It will be interesting to experience an Oasis ship. The downside to me is that I have to make reservations for so many things. I really like to wing it, but there is no winging it on the Harmony. I’ve booked five shows and the Escape Room. I can’t even book the comedy show until I get in the ship and then I think I can only book one show. I love comedy shows, so this is annoying.

 

On Carnival I can decide the day of a show that I want to see it and I just need to get there early to get a good seat. No doubt about it that Royal has much better shows though, except for comedy. Carnival wins with comedy. The other shows on Royal are very good.

 

i also noticed the Washy washy and the lack thereof on Carnival. I simply wash my hands right before I eat. 
 

I also noticed the constant upsell in Royal and had been interrupted several times while eating in the buffet. That’s never happened on Carnival.

 

I cruised on Liberty of the Seas and another Royal ship and loved the cruises. The lack of comedy shows is the biggest negative for me. When I cruise, I really just want to visit ports, see some comedy shows, and relax. I don’t want to make reservations or do a million things. 
 

I do think Royal is great for people who want to go, go, go. There is so much to do and so many good shows. It all depends on what each person is looking for. I am taking my grandson on the Harmony because I know he will love all it has to offer.  But my husband and I will stick with Carnival when it’s just the two of us

 

Edited by TNcruising02

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Great comparison.  I agree on the Oasis class, they truly are a class of their own.  Hoping Magic has enough to keep us entertained, since we are not party people at all, and like to be active.  Went on Jewel, and while the ship was beautiful, there was not much to do, but since it was a southern caribbean (5 ports on a 7 day) There wasn't that much time on the ship overall.

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Some really good posts in this thread. In my opinion one of the biggest differences between Royal and Carribean is Royal ships have the “wow” factor that Carnival ships lack. Hopefully, this changes with Mardi Gras.
 

My wife and I tend to spend a lot of time on the ship even on port days, since we have been to dozens of ports in the Caribbean multiple times. There is a lot more to do during the day on Royal ships than Carnival ships. 

 

Similar to what a previous poster mentioned, it is not an issue of one cruise line being better than the other. It is more of an issue of what appeals to you when you are on a cruise, which can change from cruise to cruise. Both cruise lines continue to sail all their ships close to capacity, so they are both doing something right. 

Edited by PhillyFan33579

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Great comparison. Very detailed! Sometimes, what you hear about these brands isn't always the 100% complete truth. Each one is a fantastic product, with its own pros and cons.

 

We keep coming back to Carnival mostly because it has nearly everything we want at a great price.

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Couldn't agree more about King David tours in Belize.  We were at Lamanai right when they opened and had the entire complex to ourselves.  The next private group of people, about 6, showed up when we were on top of the last ruin.  Then as we were leaving all the big tour buses showed up.

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Thank you for your detailed review. Very informative. We’ve sailed both lines and some others and each time we begin researching our next cruise, we look at all the lines, generally looking at destinations and cost. Our last cruise was on one of Holland America’s new ships. We chose it b/c of itinerary and believe it or not it was cheaper than Carnival. We enjoyed the cruise but I’m not sure we will cruise with them again. We didn’t quite feel that we fit in, even though we liked the food, ship, crew and ports of call.

 

There are ships we’ve been on that we would not do again. Generally for us, there is a lot of factors to consider when deciding on a cruise. We’re not settled on one line so we’re still playing the field, so to speak...

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12 hours ago, rsharp83 said:

The pizza has long been a downer for me on Royal. It’s just not very good. Carnival pizza was very good. Thin crust, some variety (although I’d like one other meat besides pepperoni), fresh and hot because it doesn’t last long when it comes off the oven. And they’ll deliver to your room for $5.

 

 

This was a really nice review with a lot of great information. I've never been on one of the really big RCI ships, but I have been on the Freedom of the Seas and I agree with most of what you had to say. Just an FYI about the pizza though - there is one other meat you can get. The prosciutto pizza is my favorite one they have on Carnival.

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Love the review, definitely a good resource for those that are debating!  

 

We flip back and forth between Royal and Carnival.  We just did the Symphony in Nov and planning a trip on the Breeze in April! 

 

Couple of things not mentioned - the "fun factor", Carnival wins HANDS DOWN.  We showed up to the sail away party on Royal to a crowd of 10 and super boring.  Carnival sail away parties and pool deck dance parties are not to be missed!  The cruise directors make such a bigger impact on Carnival with the fun factor.  I don't even know the cruise directors on Royal, they really are a non-impact.  

 

Piano Bar - so much more fun on Carnival!  

 

Also, my family really enjoys the dive-in movies on Carnival.  We anxiously await the movie list for the month and love sitting on the pool deck under the stars and enjoy a movie together.  They do have movies on Royal, but the bigger ships have now been delegated to the aqua theater and not as much fun.  

 

Royal has a leg up in a number of areas also, but we do enjoy our Carnival cruises and comment on some of the things we miss when we are on the royal ships.  

 

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Well hello there Carnival party people!

I’m a loyal to Royal (and a bunch of other smaller cruise lines that go to places other than the Caribbean) but I’m anxious to read this review from my friend Randy because he’s trying to convince us to try out a Carnival cruise with his group soon. 

I’m going to dig in, Randy, and see what I think! I’m sure I’ll have lots of comments 🤣🤣

 

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3 hours ago, rukkian said:

Great comparison.  I agree on the Oasis class, they truly are a class of their own.  Hoping Magic has enough to keep us entertained, since we are not party people at all, and like to be active.  Went on Jewel, and while the ship was beautiful, there was not much to do, but since it was a southern caribbean (5 ports on a 7 day) There wasn't that much time on the ship overall.

This exactly! I’m also hopeful Mardis Gras will have more to “do” as we tire quickly of the “go to a lounge and drink” scene.  I agree with you about Jewel, we loved our S Caribbean port intensives on Jewel, but Hubby says no more of that kind of ship because there’s not enough to do at night. I mean we just got off a ship with only 50 passengers, nothing but a pair of small hot tubs and a bar, but had an amazing time because we were off the ship having excursions twice a day and only wanted to watch a lecture and go to sleep afterwards 🤣

But in the Caribbean, where we’ve been many times and with such short port of calls, I want something on the ship to do at night and on sea days other than the typical pool all day, dinner for two hours, and hanging in a lounge all night that the smaller mass market ships offer.  I’m hopeful that Mardis Gras delivers! It’s all on Randy if not 🤣🤣

Edited by Familygoboston

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26 minutes ago, miamimere said:

Love the review, definitely a good resource for those that are debating!  

 

We flip back and forth between Royal and Carnival.  We just did the Symphony in Nov and planning a trip on the Breeze in April! 

 

Couple of things not mentioned - the "fun factor", Carnival wins HANDS DOWN.  We showed up to the sail away party on Royal to a crowd of 10 and super boring.  Carnival sail away parties and pool deck dance parties are not to be missed!  The cruise directors make such a bigger impact on Carnival with the fun factor.  I don't even know the cruise directors on Royal, they really are a non-impact.  

 

Piano Bar - so much more fun on Carnival!  

 

Also, my family really enjoys the dive-in movies on Carnival.  We anxiously await the movie list for the month and love sitting on the pool deck under the stars and enjoy a movie together.  They do have movies on Royal, but the bigger ships have now been delegated to the aqua theater and not as much fun.  

 

Royal has a leg up in a number of areas also, but we do enjoy our Carnival cruises and comment on some of the things we miss when we are on the royal ships.  

 

This is awesome news! As Randy will tell you his group likes to dance (we gotta a couple of Zumba instructors and a bunch of enthusiasts in the group) I love dance parties and hubby always enjoys a good piano bar! The one on our last RCL “smaller ship” Cruise the piano bar was too close to the casino and the cigarette smoke wafted out into the piano bar, honestly I felt bad for the singer, could not have been great for his voice. On Harmony the piano man is in the Schooner bar off the promenade which is a much better location. 

Does anyone know where the casino will be on Mardis Gras, I really don’t like second hand cigarette smoke?  (No flaming , you do you, and I’ll pick a ship where I’ll be comfortable!) 

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23 minutes ago, miamimere said:

Love the review, definitely a good resource for those that are debating!  

 

We flip back and forth between Royal and Carnival.  We just did the Symphony in Nov and planning a trip on the Breeze in April! 

 

Couple of things not mentioned - the "fun factor", Carnival wins HANDS DOWN.  We showed up to the sail away party on Royal to a crowd of 10 and super boring.  Carnival sail away parties and pool deck dance parties are not to be missed!  The cruise directors make such a bigger impact on Carnival with the fun factor.  I don't even know the cruise directors on Royal, they really are a non-impact.  

 

Piano Bar - so much more fun on Carnival!  

 

Also, my family really enjoys the dive-in movies on Carnival.  We anxiously await the movie list for the month and love sitting on the pool deck under the stars and enjoy a movie together.  They do have movies on Royal, but the bigger ships have now been delegated to the aqua theater and not as much fun.  

 

Royal has a leg up in a number of areas also, but we do enjoy our Carnival cruises and comment on some of the things we miss when we are on the royal ships.  

 


I agree with your point that CDs can make a big difference, IF you attend a lot of events they host. You mentioned the sail away party and deck dance parties. As many times I have cruised on Carnival, I have never attended even one of these. On the other hand, I rarely miss a 70s, 80s, Motown, etc. party hosted by the CD in the Lobby Bar at night. 
 

I personally prefer the piano bar setup at the Schooner Bar on Royal, although the best piano player I have seen, Patrick Duffy, was on a Carnival ship. 
 

When comparing any cruise lines the bottom line is what appeals to you is important in deciding what cruise line to select, along with other obvious factors like price, home port, ports of call, etc.  

 

I don’t think there is anything on any ship that is a must do. For example,  you stated deck parties are not to be missed, yet I have never attended one and likely never will. My favorite place to be at sail away is the Alchemy Bar.  Although I have always had fun on Carnival cruises, I wouldn’t say they are  hands down more fun.  Just considering the dozen or so cruises I have been on over the last two years, the most fun I had on any cruise was on a Royal ship, which also included the best Quest I have seen on any ship.  

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Ok, last post , lol! 

Randy... great review! I think you make valid points about older vs newer block buster ships.  It would not be fair to compare lines older ships vs new per ships.  Like 🍏 vs 🍊 Sounds like you are favorable towards the Carnival experience but would appreciate a newer ship with more amenities! Hopefully, Mardis Gras will be that! 

Things I'm excited  about:

  • you know me, I don’t like to spend a lot of time in the main dining room, so I like the idea of GOOD PIZZA! (Available all the time!) and other yummy free food places. 
  • Deck parties...love to dance! How was the mix of music? Modern? oldies? Country? 
  • Comedy...really that sounds like fun, I can get into a comedy show every night! 

What worries me:

  • can I exist without my Diamond status? 🤣🤣 [of course I can, we cruise all kinds of ships where I don’t have status, that’s just a joke! ] Besides you have my diamond pin now,  so I won’t get special treatment anyway! 
  • will we have enough to do onboard sea days? 
  • Will it be smokey? What’s the balcony smoking policy? Where is the casino? 

So, let’s see what our terrific TA can do for us and what the happy Carnival peeps have to say about the “big” Fun Ships! I’m down for some FUN! 

Edited by Familygoboston

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33 minutes ago, Familygoboston said:

What worries me:

  • Will it be smokey? What’s the balcony smoking policy? Where is the casino? 

No smoking on balconies. Casino is on deck 7, mid-ship. Most of the ships we've been on the casinos have been smoky. Maybe being a brand new ship the ventilation in the casino will be improved. (Hope, hope, hope)

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13 minutes ago, tandemcruzr said:

No smoking on balconies. Casino is on deck 7, mid-ship. Most of the ships we've been on the casinos have been smoky. Maybe being a brand new ship the ventilation in the casino will be improved. (Hope, hope, hope)

Thanks!! That’s good news about the balconies! I don’t like the older style ships with smoke coming out of the casinos, and several cruise lines with old ships have it set up that way.
🤞🏻 About better ventilation on new ships.  Even on harmony the non smoking “side” of the casino was not bad! Probably that newer venting system at work?! 

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Fantastic review! I have only ever sailed on Carnival, and really I see no reason to change. Not that I have anything against other cruise lines like Royal- but I am comfortable with Carnival. I am sure one day I will branch out and I have always wondered what it would be like going on a Royal cruise. So thank you for the wonderful comparison!

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Thank you for your highly detailed review and comparison.  It will come in handy if I ever sail on Royal in the future.

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20 hours ago, rsharp83 said:

Sometimes they even post crew members in the bathrooms to remind you, “Sir, could you please wash your hands.” In the newer Royal ships, you cannot even enter the buffet without going through a washing station where the crew will make sure you wash your hands and then sanitize them.

I couldn’t give a bigger “like” to this statement. This is one my biggest pet peeves, no matter where I go. Way too many times I see people walk right out of a stall, skip washing their hands, and leave the restroom. One time on a Holland America cruise I was in a public restroom and I watched a man skip hand washing (after obviously going #2) and he proceeded straight to the buffet and ended standing in line right in front of me. No thanks. I left.

 

Because if my job, I travel on a weekly basis. Needless to say I spend a lot of time at airports, airplanes, and hotels. I used to get sick fairly frequently, being exposed to so many germs in enclosed spaces, until I started becoming more diligent about washing and sanitizing my hands before putting them anywhere near my mouth. “Magically”, I stopped getting sick. So yes, I’m a HUGE supporter of any initiative like this one. 

Edited by Tapi

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One thing I forgot to mention:

Big difference between Mahogany Bay and Royal's private ports of Labadee or Coco Cay. On Royal the private ports are all inclusive to the extent that your drink package works, internet works, and you get free food. No so at Mahogany Bay, nothing is included. It's just like any other port stop except people from the outside can't get into the area or beach. If you are considering a cruise that goes to Labadee or Coco Cay then you must consider that your costs to visit Royal's ports is almost nothing! No charge for chairs or food. And it makes buying a drink package much more reasonable since you can use it all day long on a "port" day. The typical 7 day cruise with 3 islands means you really get 4 days of drink package instead of the usual 3.

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