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Advice for those that have sailed those "fun" ships for the sake of the grandkids


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So we are looking to book a cruise with our kids and grandkids on either the Carnival Panorama or the RCCL Navigator (and I cringe) for a 7 day Mexico trip out of LA in 2023.  While I would much prefer to go on a Princess cruise, I think it is way too sedate for my young grandkids who will totally love all the activities on those other ships.  Quite honestly, so will my adult kids.  This is tough for me since I was not a lover of cruising because of RCCL and Princess is what made me love cruising.  I think it was the amount of people everywhere that I just felt like I could never get away from on RCCL.  I also do not want to be around a drunk party atmosphere.  I think I'm talking myself out of this.  Oh dear! lol

 

Anyway, I would like to know from those of you who have sailed these, which would you recommend for the quality of food, service, etc. when you are used to Princess?  I've been on RCCL, but never on Carnival and they both look fairly comparable.  Carnival Panorama is a much newer ship though.  Help!

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We have done all three lines and you're correct: RCI and Carnival are definitely more geared to the younger demographic and your kids (and grandkids) will find more activities to their liking than Princess. If you were looking at a newer RCI ship than Navigator (like a Freedom class or Oasis class) I would say go with RCI; otherwise, I think the Carnival Panorama would be my recommendation due to it's young age, size and the number of available activities. On a seven day cruise you're unlikely to have a drunk party atmosphere on Carnival (or RCI for that matter). We have found RCI and Carnival relatively equal in terms of service, food, entertainment and the like; some differences but nothing dramatic. 

FWIW, our last family cruise (children and grandchildren) was with Carnival and our next family cruise will be on RCI just for reasons you've mentioned above (i.e. more things to keep the younger crowd occupied and entertained). Good luck! 🙂

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I haven't sailed on the panorama (booked for January 2022) but I have sailed on carnival ships out of Galveston, New Orleans and Tampa.  Yes carnival is a more party atmosphere but we still had a good time.  I have only encountered an obnoxious drunk one time in the casino and the casino staff sent him packing pretty quick. The rest have been happy fun drunks. I always managed to find a quiet space to read a book or have a drink in. 

 

As for food I think carnival might have an edge over princess.  Especially the speciality restaurants. I don't care for Share, Salty Dog or Sabatinis on princess, the steakhouses are very similar. Guys Burger joint has the best burger I have ever had at sea. The italian restaurant on the Breeze was free for lunch just a charge for dinner.  I requested two a day service from our cabin steward  and I was very pleased with the service.  I tipped extra as appreciation for the job he did and the towel animals are always fun.

 

We usually take longer cruises on Princess 10 day or more and the passengers tend to be older than on carnival. I have found that sometimes on princess the passengers have a sense of entitlement and their treatment of the crew to be rude and offensive. Would I take a three or four day carnival cruise during spring break probably not. But we have a 5 day out of New Orleans in November (hope it sails) and we are looking forward to another fun, happy cruise. 

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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, Loritd said:

I haven't sailed on the panorama (booked for January 2022) but I have sailed on carnival ships out of Galveston, New Orleans and Tampa.  Yes carnival is a more party atmosphere but we still had a good time.  I have only encountered an obnoxious drunk one time in the casino and the casino staff sent him packing pretty quick. The rest have been happy fun drunks. I always managed to find a quiet space to read a book or have a drink in. 

 

As for food I think carnival might have an edge over princess.  Especially the speciality restaurants. I don't care for Share, Salty Dog or Sabatinis on princess, the steakhouses are very similar. Guys Burger joint has the best burger I have ever had at sea. The italian restaurant on the Breeze was free for lunch just a charge for dinner.  I requested two a day service from our cabin steward  and I was very pleased with the service.  I tipped extra as appreciation for the job he did and the towel animals are always fun.

 

We usually take longer cruises on Princess 10 day or more and the passengers tend to be older than on carnival. I have found that sometimes on princess the passengers have a sense of entitlement and their treatment of the crew to be rude and offensive. Would I take a three or four day carnival cruise during spring break probably not. But we have a 5 day out of New Orleans in November (hope it sails) and we are looking forward to another fun, happy cruise. 

Thank you for reminding me: I neglected to mention Guy's Burgers and the Blue Iguana cantina on Carnival. Both are very, very good: Guy's for juicy burgers and fries, Blue Iguana for burritos, tacos and salads. Yum! I also agree about the specialty restaurants - Carnival is definitely better than Princess or RCI.

Edited by joepeka
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how old are your grandkids?

 

 We took our son,dil, and two granddaughters ages 4 & 6 at the time.  We did the 7 night out of LA to mexico.

They had a great time.  They went to the kids area everyday and to the pool.  Son & DIL went to Cabo for the day and left the girls with us on board and they were easy to entertain.  They loved getting dressed up every night for dinner in the dining room and the waiters were wonderful and knew what they liked and took really good care of them.

This was on the Royal Princess - no rock climbing, no slides, no major top deck kids area, but the kids had fun.  We are looking forward to doing it again

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Posted (edited)

We have sailed all three lines; we have taken grandkids on Carnival and Princess.  

 

Despite 21 Carnival cruises, I've managed to avoid the drunken party atmosphere.  We stopped sailing Carnival when they abandoned full production shows.  But since Princess is cutting back on entertainment, too, I wouldn't hesitate to choose Carnival again depending on all other factors.  
 

I'd simply like to reassure the OP that Carnival is a viable option to be considered and also, have taken grands on Princess and they LOVE it.  There are fewer kids and we find that a huge advantage.  

Edited by GottaLuvCruising
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I haven't sailed RCI or Carnival, but have done a LOT of consideration of itineraries other than Princess.

From that, my pick would be the newer Carnival ship.  Their new ships do seem very nice!

 

While I would probably agree that the alternative food offerings on Carnival are great, I notice on videos of Carnival ships that visit Princess Cay, that the food buffet does not look good compared to when we've been there on Princess.  So, not sure the main Buffet would compare the the Buffets on Princess Royal class newer ships.

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Carnival has been our go to with our kids and are looking forward to taking our Grandkids. We cruised NCL once, and never again. Only "drunk" scene we've seen on Carnival has been on the 4 day booze cruise. Well behaved college aged kids way to hung over after leaving Ensenada to cause much trouble.😀

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Thanks for the great thread. We are taking our grandkids on their first cruise in February (along with their parents). We are doing the Caribbean Princess as they are 2 and 5 and just being on the ship will be exciting at that age. DD and her husband have cruised on most of the lines, but not Princess so they wanted to try it. As the little ones get older, they will likely want more of the slides and things, so I think Carnival might be in my future too! So I am taking notes. 😁

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We did a family cruise over Christmas on Royal Princess one year - 18 of us!  All the young kids had an absolute blast.  I was so impressed with the kid's programming.  Tons of arts and crafts, kitchen activities, and they put on a full holiday concert in the Piazza on Christmas Eve.  If you love Princess best, I'd try that first.  

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Posted (edited)

our first cruise with our kid was on RCI when he was 3. We had a blast, just like we'd had a blast on our previous 3 cruises with RCI. Loved them all. We don't drink, and we've never encountered drunk atmosphere on RCI ships. We loved activities and entertainment, but we did get a bit bored with MDR and buffet food on RCI, so we tried Regal Princess and then Caribbean Princess. We were blown away by the Regal Princess' MDR and buffet food in comparison to RCI. Caribbean Princess's MDR food was fine as well, but the buffet was nowhere near Regal's. However, there is nothing to do on Princess with the kids in terms of activities (aside from the kid's club), and the entertainment is definitely geared towards those older than 25-30. Our kid doesn't do kid's club, so he's with us 100% of the cruise time.

 

So, when he turned 8, we went back to RCI - and once again, we had a blast in terms of activities and entertainment (Allure). The MDR and buffet food was good, but not memorable or outstanding - we don't do specialty dining. We are going to be on Harmony of the Seas next because of all the bells and whistles, and next year - on Enchanted Princess because of a rare but great combination of food, itinerary, price and new entertainment options.

Edited by Itchy&Scratchy
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We were in the same situation a couple of years ago. We chose Carnival during Thanksgiving week to Western Mediterranean and don't regret doing so. Not a party atmosphere but lots of kids on board. Lots for our then 8 and 10 year old granddaughter and grandson.

 

We've never sailed with RCCL so can't do a comparison.

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We have been cruising since our kids were 7 and 8 (they are now 23 and 21) and all but one of our cruises have been on Princess with one being on Carnival. The cruise that my kids liked the least was on Carnival, so don't discount a Princess cruise with your grandkids.

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For a well-rounded cruise with your family, take them on Navigator of the Seas.  Lots to do both in adventure club and the water park.  Plus, you have the Promenade for the parades.  Princess is my new go to ship because I have done the theme park cruises on Royal and NCL; now I like relaxed with just my wife

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Thanks to everyone for all your input!  We are probably going to choose the Carnival ship due to the age of the ship, options, etc. and I think it fits everyone's needs best.  I would LOVE to just do a Princess cruise, but no matter how I work it, we are saving about $2k doing a Carnival cruise.  That's significant.  I also like the room options for families on the Panorama. 

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On 6/9/2021 at 11:04 AM, Coffeeluvr05 said:

So we are looking to book a cruise with our kids and grandkids on either the Carnival Panorama or the RCCL Navigator (and I cringe) for a 7 day Mexico trip out of LA in 2023.  While I would much prefer to go on a Princess cruise, I think it is way too sedate for my young grandkids who will totally love all the activities on those other ships.  Quite honestly, so will my adult kids.  This is tough for me since I was not a lover of cruising because of RCCL and Princess is what made me love cruising.  I think it was the amount of people everywhere that I just felt like I could never get away from on RCCL.  I also do not want to be around a drunk party atmosphere.  I think I'm talking myself out of this.  Oh dear! lol

 

Anyway, I would like to know from those of you who have sailed these, which would you recommend for the quality of food, service, etc. when you are used to Princess?  I've been on RCCL, but never on Carnival and they both look fairly comparable.  Carnival Panorama is a much newer ship though.  Help!

Kids and Princess are not a great mix. Carnival is and probably less expensive. My grandson has a blast on Carnival

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9 minutes ago, ALWAYS CRUZIN said:

Kids and Princess are not a great mix. Carnival is and probably less expensive. My grandson has a blast on Carnival

Depends on the kid — some prefer a more sophisticated experience than Carnival.

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1 hour ago, xDisconnections said:

Depends on the kid — some prefer a more sophisticated experience than Carnival.

How old are you talking? I am sure there are young children that love chess and read books a lot. But most want to just have fun.

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1 hour ago, xDisconnections said:

Depends on the kid — some prefer a more sophisticated experience than Carnival.

 

Well, I've never met a kid looking for a sophisticated experience.  Every kid I've ever met would take a water slide over whatever as "sophisticated" child's experience is supposed to be....    🙄

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I don't think you will go wrong with either one you choose for a kids first cruise.  I will tell you that the first cruise that we took our grandson on was the Caribbean Princess when it was very new and he was 9 years old.  He loved everything about it except for the kids club.  Hated it, spent very little time there.  Only wanted to go when they were doing a special activity like making/coloring their own shirts.  He much preferred spending time at the pool and met lots of kids there.  Of course, I was right there on the side watching him which was fine with him.  He loved going to shows with us and loved doing traditional dining and being catered to by the dining room staff.  The summer after that, he wanted to go on another cruise and said "Nana I would like to experience a different cruise line"!  So we went on another Caribbean Cruise on the Carnival Miracle and I figured he would love the water slide.  The water slide only lasted one day then the newness wore off.  The pools onboard were smaller than Princess pools and they were salt water rather than the fresh on the Caribbean Princess.  They were very over crowded.  He hated it other than the fantastic dining room wait staff that we had.  3 days into the 7 day cruise, he said that if and when we cruised again, he wanted to go back to Princess.  So it depends on the individual child's likes and dislikes.  I liked the regular balcony cabin on Carnival Miracle much better than the mini suite on Princess for the 3 of us.  First of all, it was less expensive, the bathroom was bigger, it had the single sofa bed.

 

The next cruise we took him on was not until he was 18 and it was for his high school graduation.  I picked the Oasis of the Seas as both he and I wanted to try one of RCI's mega ships.  We had a wonderful time.  My husband was using a cane for getting around and a wheelchair for long distances and the only negative was that the ship was so big, that it was a little difficult for him.  Only other negatives were that none of us liked the buffet food and I did not like that there was no self serve laundry.  Entertainment best ever, dining room staff and food on par with both Princess and Carnival.  Service and all crew fantastic.

 

If I could put together my most ideal cruise line, it would be Princess pools (on the older ships) and atmosphere, with Carnival cabins and RCI' entertainment.  Just my opinion. But again, I don't think you can go wrong with any cruise.  We have loved all of ours even though we prefer Princess.

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On 6/14/2021 at 10:07 AM, Coffeeluvr05 said:

Thanks to everyone for all your input!  We are probably going to choose the Carnival ship due to the age of the ship, options, etc. and I think it fits everyone's needs best.  I would LOVE to just do a Princess cruise, but no matter how I work it, we are saving about $2k doing a Carnival cruise.  That's significant.  I also like the room options for families on the Panorama. 

I think you made a great choice.  To be totally honest - the included food options are much better on Carnival. So are the extra fee restaurants, but I think the MDR is better on Princess.  The balcony cabins are better than Princess on almost all of the Carnival Ships. That's why we get mini-suites on Princess. 

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We took our DGD and her parents on a RCCL ship when she was 4.  She loved the youth program and several times wanted to go to "school" which she called the program.  Since it was early December before the holidays, there were not a lot of kids aboard.  When she was 6 we took her and her parents on the Royal Princess in February and she did not like it as well.  Most times she refused to go to the youth program and mostly stayed with us.  We have cruised on all three cruise lines and are planning to take her with us next year most likely on the Carnival Vista to see how she likes it.  A lot more things for her to do.  I imagine however that she would like the Liberty OTS with the many activities available. 

 

We always have gone on 7 day cruises on the two cruise lines and have not seen any big parties or drunken behavior.  The only thing we have seen is the teenagers traveling in groups of 6 or so and being up well past midnight as well as playing on the stairs and elevators.  The times we have encountered them they always have been courteous and let us pass so we don't have any issues with them.   Helps though to remember we were young at one time (decades ago!) and sometimes get a good laugh at their antics. 

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Done Freedom, Adventure and Oasis with  RCCL, great for children of any age and plenty of areas where you can get away from the crowds and enjoy some peace and quiet (particularly Oasis Class ships). 

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