Jump to content

Celebrity vs Princess vs HAL vs Norwegian vs Royal vs Carnival vs MSc vs Costa

Recommended Posts

Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Tree_skier said:

I thought the entertainment on Royal was much better. 


My sister and DBIL used to sail on Costa, but stopped when Costa ran out of toilet paper on a cruise.  They now cruise on MSC.  DBIL was born in Italy and speaks/reads Italian fluently, English less so.  I doubt that we will sail on MSC.


Edited by Tom47
Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, drsel said:

I am most interested in entertainment activities and shows

RCI and NCL have the best entertainment,  but it can be very ship dependent.   The Oasis and Anthem class ships in the RCI fleet have a wide variety but the smaller vision and radiance and smaller class ships have very limited entertainment.


Activities wise, RCI, NCL and CCL all have a large quantity of activities and it is highly ship dependent, so ultimately, you will need to do some research regarding the individual ship you would be booming.  The entertainment on X, HAL, And Princess are not bad, it’s just that the more family focused lines have a wider variety of entertainment and activities.  

Link to post
Share on other sites

Is it really necessary to start multiple threads on RCI board, on Princess board, on MSC board, on Carnival board, etc. I have already seen this topic from you for many times on various boards. If you really want others to provide some meaningful insights, please narrow down the question to just 2-3 cruise lines on a specific aspect (dining / entertainment / itinerary / service). If anyone can really write a full comparison between 8 cruise lines on all aspects, that will become a book with hundreds of pages.

Link to post
Share on other sites










Too many years since we cruised twice on Costa to place it. This is my opinion of the entertainment only on these lines. But to each their own.

(Of course, I recommend three to five cruises on each line to judge for yourself)





Link to post
Share on other sites
22 hours ago, drsel said:

Can anyone  do a comparison of the pros and cons of some or all of these mass-market Cruise lines?


How would you rank them based on quality of entertainment, shows, activities, food in the main dining room and buffet, state room, crew service and other facilities. Thanks!

Just wondering.  Which ones have you done and how do they compare to you?


By coincidence, our first cruise was on RCI Monarch OTS in August 2010 (3nt Bahamas cruise).  We had no idea what we were getting into, but we just needed to get away for a short break.  We had a blast.  One of my cruising co-workers overhead me talking about it when we got back and suggested we book another one.  

I started doing my research and discovered the Flowrider was exclusive to RCI.  I didn’t know of any land based Flowrider installations at the time and I was determined I wanted to learn how to do it.  So, we booked a 7nt on Liberty OTS and have been hooked ever since.  The ship staff were awesome, shows were spectacular, food was good, rooms more the sufficient, ship flow and passenger to space ratio we’re great.   I could keep going, but basically we haven’t wanted to try anything else. Granted Celebrity’s Edge and Apex look intriguing so maybe we’ll try them some day.  

I’m enjoying reading other’s experiences/opinions.  

Link to post
Share on other sites

I would rate the five lines I have sailed thus:


1. Princess; quality of service is a full cut above any other line, and I like their loyalty perks. 


2. RCI; Best for trivialists, sometimes 6/day. I do like that. 


3. HAL; I am old and like the quiet life, and they have the best classical performers every night. 


4. NCL; was surprised with their entertainment. 


5. Celebrity; I enjoy like any other line, but they have left my [frugal] budget. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have sailed on all these lines multiple times (except never on Costa, Royal only once, and MSC only in the YC)...if entertainment and activities are your main priorities, I would say NCL has great nighttime shows (although RCL “looks” great according to the Compasses I have read online).  Carnival makes comedy a priority along with fun ship wide entertainment that gets all passengers involved.  


 They all have decent daytime “sea day” activities...I was pleasantly surprised on MSC how involved the cruise director and his staff were in regards to simple activities like bingo and trivia...  what else makes the experience fun for you?  Celebrity and HAL have lovely rooms and public spaces.  Carnival has great “included” food options.  In fact, I would say that the “main stream” lines you have inquired about all have their pluses and minuses, but frankly have more in common than they are different.  I don’t think you can really go wrong...I know I personally can’t wait to get back to cruising.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The shows on the big RCCL ships are great, we live the ice shows, the high diving shows and the main theatre but on the smaller ships like Brilliance and Jewel we have walked out of shows because the performance was so bad. After a particularly bad Elton John impersonator we learnt to sit at the back so we could escape quietly . I have never had that problem on either NCL or Carnival .


Food, service and cabins I found tended to be better on the smaller RCCL ships but across the fleet on NCL was a close second, having said that my husband loved Guy's Burgers on Carnival but the family noise in the MDR was over powering.


I can't comment on the other lines 


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi drsel,


Honestly speaking, it all boils down to personal preference.  I've cruised with Norwegian, Carnival, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean.  I prefer Royal Caribbean for many reasons acceptable to me.  All them cruise lines companies has two primary goals.  Make profits (lots of profits)  and please the guests.  It is a difficult goal to achieve both but they try and successful achieving these goals.  Of course, guests satisfactions  varies from different individuals and because of this personal preference prevail. 


Born-To-Cruise (Diamond)
One 2020 and Three 2021 Cruises Canceled
(funds permitting, always looking forward to great cruises)

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've sailed Celebrity, Carnival, NCL, Royal Caribbean, and Princess.  We love the food and elegance of Celebrity.  Their drink and wine menus are amazing, but a large variety of nightlife is lacking. We have sailed many different Celebrity ships.  When we cruise with our children, Royal is our preference. The oasis class ships are wonderful.  Royal is a nice balance.  Carnival can be so hit or miss.  Our first cruise ever was on a new carnival ship, and it was great and hooked us on cruising. Our last carnival cruise ever was a 4 night cruise on an old ship.  Never again. The ship was medicore, and the clientele was scary (a fist fight broke out in the dining room).  Our only princess cruise was on an older ship (and I was pregnant).  I'd happily cruise Princess again, but don't think that experience was totally representative.   NCL had terrible food in the main dining rooms, but the breakaway was a FUN ship.  I'd say best entertainment of any cruise. We loved the dueling piano bar and comedy club the most.  I'd cruise NCL again, but budget for many specialty restaurants.  


Overall, I think the ship is more important than the cruise line in many instances. For example, I wouldn't cruise an old NCL ship without the great entertainment options of the breakaway class. But in a very port intensive cruise like Europe, I'd pay much more attention to itinerary and ports and time in port rather than cruise line. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 month later...
On 2/28/2021 at 12:11 PM, drsel said:

Specifically entertainment shows and activities.

These are the most important for me


Royal has CATS, Aqua Theater, and Studio B



Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/28/2021 at 9:50 AM, matj2000 said:

Quite a hefty request to ask.


Do you really think someone is going to sit down for 2 hours.


Just to put together an analysis of 8 cruise lines?


If you are interested in something particular,


Go read the member reviews of that cruiseline/ship...

ha! here I am! nothing better to do than remember the good old days of cruising.

I've been on quite a few lines, not Costa, MSC, or Holland America.

Easiest way to do this is say, find a good travel agent and really think through what you want and expect and communicate that... and read these boards!

Here's my 2 cents: (all this will be an opinion and a reflection of an experience that can change due to many variables... and heads up, RCI gets most of my sailing time)
Think of cruise lines like hotel chains that you like.  You'll find Days Inn to Hyatt to Holiday Inn to Ritz Carlton and everything in between, higher and lower. Even within a cruise line... so check the ship you are studying too!

Decor - Carnival is very zany... Royal more upscale contemporary. and Celebrity more than that.. NCL used to look more cruise ship traditional but the last ship I was on had it share of zaniness too .  Holland America has the reputation of upscale traditional.

Entertainment - You are the boss here.  Figure out what you like, then check each ship floor plans. I think Royal wins for active families or people enjoying watching active people! ha!... ice skating, flowrider, wind tunnels, trampolines, bumper cars, zip line, diving/pool show... check each ship... they all offer something different..  Shows are generally good and I feel fairly close on NCL/Carnival/RCI... will have magician, juggler, some Broadway... Also have seen the worst shop ever on Royal... "the gift" sooooo depressing.  Why would you want to go on a cruise to see something sad.  But on the same cruise some folks loved it. Go figure.
Look at the differences in pools if you are into that.  They all are small.  Some ships have multiple ones...an adult only  one too.  Some have water park experiences for the kids.
Look at casino size and games if that's important.  Disney doesn't have one.
Look at type of exercise equipment.
Many times you can see the daily sailing sheets  on these boards, which detail activities and musical offerings.

Things to consider that will affect your cruise experience, along with cruise line differences...
time of year - think school break, kids rule lots of ships then... Stay away from that unless you have kids with you!

itinerary - Caribbean, younger, more families, more partying because it's hot and people drink more! where Alaska/New England/Med brings generally an older traveler.

length of cruise - shorter cruises, generally more partying... people feel the need to put it all out there for the limited time they have, also more younger people because traditionally they can't take as much time from work. Worst cruise I ever went on was a 5 night cruise from Miami on a Carnival ship... it followed a 2 night cruise, where the ship was trashed... every thing smoky... nightmare for someone with allergies. Made me stay away from Carnival for a while.  Then sailed on two 7 day cruises with a new ship... and had an awesome time.

Style of ship... large or small.  You can walk yourself to death on big ships... but you'll have more variety of restaurants, shops, etc. Earlier, I loved the big ships... now I'm enjoying the smallish to midsize ones when I have a choice...

Attitude - if you are picky... be very picky in choosing a cruise.  Don't tell your agent you want the cheapest... because you don't want that.  When you go to a restaurant, do you specify lots of changes to the menu like make this extra crispy, leave out that, etc. you better check out food reviews.  Unless you are doing specialty restaurants on the mega ship or higher priced cruise lines... you aren't going to be happy.  Flexible people have more fun! 🙂

Well... guess that's all my brain will allow me to share.
My first cruise was in the rustiest ship in the port.... Amerikanis.  We loved it.  Couldn't wait to take a more glamorous one...  which we often thought wasn't as good as our first one! ha!

Try to cruise all you can and let us know your thoughts.  I think it will certainly be different in the future...


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/28/2021 at 5:55 AM, rimmit said:

Been on all on that list except costa and MSC.


It would take a post a mile long to encompass all the differences and similarities between the lines.  Could you be maybe a little more specific as to what you are specifically looking for and what is important to you? 

I agree.  Or, perhaps the OP could do a little independent research, rank the cruise lines first with more specific questions.  What we now have is someone throwing a fishing line out in an ocean with about 1,000 different varieties of fish!!


But, anyway...........................


I have heard bad things bout MSC's customer service.  I had a friend sail with them and she couldn't find anyone at the service desk who spoke English, when most of the passengers were from the US, Canada, and the UK.


On the other hand, I loved our Costa cruise (many years ago).  The food was amazing, and they had the head waiter making fresh pasta sauce as you came into the dining room.  If you like Italian food, and they are still emphasizing it in the dining venues, then you would enjoy Costa.


I've avoided Carnival since 1973 when we first started cruising.


Love Princess, HAL, Celebrity, and above all RCCL.  Princess and HAL cater more to and older demographic, as does HAL:  Princess is more lively.  Celebrity is classy.  RCCL is more family oriented, but there are fewer children during school season.  


Norwegian is a mixed product.  I had one of the best cruises ever in Europe on the Spirit.  It was a combination of good food, a great ship, and an outstanding itinerary.  Went on another NCL cruise out of the US, and it was mediocre.


RCCL is my favorite, and now that they are back on the West Coast the end of this year, they just might edge out Princess for CA sailings.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've never been on HAL or MSC, so I can't comment on those lines.  However, I have been on Celebrity, Princess, Norwegian, and Royal.  Royal and Celebrity are owned by the same company, so if you like one, then you will most likely like the other.  I love both lines, and have never had a problem with either one.  Customer service for both is top-notch!


I liked Princess as well, but they can be a bit pricey.


I HATED NCL, I will never cruise with them again.  Terrible customer service!

Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, want2go said:

My first cruise was in the rustiest ship in the port.... Amerikanis.  We loved it.  Couldn't wait to take a more glamorous one...  which we often thought wasn't as good as our first one! ha!


Wow didn't the Amerikanis belong to the Greek Chandris lines which was later bought by Celebrity?  If so, you go waaaay back.  

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, livingonthebeach said:


Wow didn't the Amerikanis belong to the Greek Chandris lines which was later bought by Celebrity?  If so, you go waaaay back.  

I sure do go waaaaay back! ha!  Been hooked ever since! Celebrity needs to always upgrade me to a suite! ha!
And I was looking forward to the best days of cruising with retirement hitting same as covid.  I think I'm ready to go again... take my chances... if I die, at least I will not have to hear another Covid/CDC/Politics debate!  🙂
I'm one of those that believes there is a better place than a cruise and one day I'll get there!
PS.... fortunate to be covid survivor... getting 2nd shot on Friday.  I do realize the seriousness of the disease.  But don't call it living when you are isolated in a bubble forever.  Sad time for our seniors.

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, pcur said:


I've avoided Carnival since 1973 when we first started cruising.

Carnival is no longer the party boat that you recall from the 70's and 80's when Kathy Lee was pitching for them.  The Panorama, which at this time is the newest in the fleet until the Mardi Gras comes out is currently based on the west coast.  The Havana area, which is the best concept that Carnival has come out with in years is currently available on the 3 Vista Class ships in the fleet, including the Panorama.  Here is a short video about it that should change your concept about Carnival.


The video describes one of the 4 suites available, but there are cheaper options, including aft view, side view (lanai) and inside.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well I have only been on 3 of the cruiselines you named.  I love Carnival - to me they have the best value, movies every night and food.  The negative is once you have seen the shows it doesn't usually change.  I love Royal- to me they have the best entertainment and a wide variety of things to do, I'm not to crazy about the food. For our Symphony cruise we have purchased the unlimited dining package maybe this will help.   I like NCL- when I want to chill and relax.  This is my opinion and it will vary from others.  

Link to post
Share on other sites
19 hours ago, John&LaLa said:


Royal has CATS, Aqua Theater, and Studio B



About half of their ships do not have studio b and only one has cats, some people think that’s a good thing. I love the ice shows in studio b.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Been on Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Princess and Carnival.  People have all different preferences so can't really say what you would like.


My preference in order from best to least is Royal Caribbean is my favorite, then Norwegian, then Carnival and then Princess.  Prince3ss was too quiet and boring at night time.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, George C said:

About half of their ships do not have studio b and only one has cats, some people think that’s a good thing. I love the ice shows in studio b.


Way more don't have an aqua theater 😉

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
  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Forum Assistance
      • SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Azamara - We are back with New Greece Voyages
      • SPECIAL EVENT: Q&A with Barbara Muckermann, CMO Silversea Cruises
      • ICYM Our Cruise Critic Live Special Event: Explore the Remote World with Hurtigruten!
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • Canadian Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
  • Create New...