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Pros and Cons for Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruises

Posted by San Luis Obispo Mom on Sunday, August 6, 2023 Under: Cruise Review
Comparison Between Royal Caribbean and Carnival CruisesCarnival Cruise is Sometimes Better than Royal Caribbean

I've been on 5 different cruises on 5 different cruise ships so far. Three of them were on Royal Caribbean Cruises, 1 was a Disney Cruise and 1 was a Carnival Cruise. Two of the more popular ones to the general public are Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruises. Now that I've been on both of them, I can do a comparison between the two of them. There are definitely notable differences between the two and some similarities as well! I've created two Pro and Cons tables that mentions the positives and the negatives for each. Scroll down to see them.

Pros and Cons for Royal Caribbean Cruises

Royal Caribbean Pros
  • Royal Caribbean's Dinner Service in the the main dining room follows a more traditional placement for utensils so you'll find like 3 different spoons and 3 different forks upon seating.
  • Royal Caribbean's full service at the dining room has always been personable and super classy.
  • The variety of complimentary meat and seafood selection on their buffet and main fine dining room's daily menu is impressive. I know everything can't be complimentary so the higher quality meats and more expensive options are understandably, an extra charge.
  • The clubs and bars are so much nicer at Royal Caribbean than Carnival Cruises from my experiences. Some of their areas are more secluded and quieter, depending on what time of day so it's nice to have a place to getaway and have a drink in peace.
  • They place a fun towel art in your room after they've cleaned it. Both Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruises do this well.
  • If you dine at their main dining room, you can tell your server that you're celebrating a birthday, and they'll have a team sing to your birthday person around dessert time. Carnival Cruises does this as well. 
  • You can play mini-golf or as East Coasters would call "putt-putt" on Royal Caribbean. You can usually easily find this on the ship.
  • They have a captain's night where you dress up and have your pictures taken by their photographers around the ship. Just like the Carnival Cruises, you only pay if you want to buy their prints or digital copies after viewing them.
Royal Caribbean Cons
  • Royal Caribbean's Customer Service on the phone before arrival can be difficult to reach. We always had to be put on long holds.
  • One time I heard a couple asked a server a question at the buffet when our ship has just docked at a port and I thought the server's answer was really rude. The couple saw another ship docked nearby our ship and asked the server what the name of that ship was. Instead of just disclosing the answer promptly, he said, "That cruise ship is not for you. It's for younger people". I was appalled. I'm sure it was a one off thing but that was pretty terrible.
  • They have a free kid's club on the ship, just like Carnival Cruises does but I find that my kids don't like it as much as they do at Carnival Cruises. Age may have played a factor but I find the facility more cold and less fun for my kids. For all of the cruises, we've taken our kids with us. You can scroll down to the Pros and Cons table for Carnival Cruises to read more and/or see the kids' club pictures that I took.
  • We had a big issue when the stateroom that we booked for was not what we got when we boarded. Not only did my family not get the room we asked for, they split us into two smaller staterooms! It was not better to have 2 smaller rooms versus one room that can fit all of us, because they weren't even connecting rooms and my kids are still little kids who need both their mommy and daddy! You can read more about this mishap/experience in my full Royal Caribbean Cruise review blog entry.

Some pictures from our Royal Caribbean Cruises (keep scrolling down to see my pros and cons table for the Carnival Cruise):

Pros and Cons for Carnival Cruises

Carnival Cruise Pros
  • Carnival's Dinner Service in the the main dining room follows a more modern placement for utensils so you'll find just a set of 1 fork and 1 knife and nothing crazy like 3 different spoons and 3 different forks that Royal Caribbean Cruises does. It depends on your taste for class or modern but sometimes, I don't feel like the extra utensils are necessary, especially if I'm skipping dessert.
  • Carnival Cruises' service at the dining room has always been personable, just like the Royal Caribbean Cruises.
  • Our experience with Carnival Cruises Customer Service Phone Line before we went on the cruise has been much better than Royal Caribbean's. The hold times are less and they are proactive about trying to resolve our issues.
  • They place a fun towel art in our room every time they've cleaned our room.
  • My kids had a lot of fun at the kids clubs at Carnival Cruise, even more fun than the Royal Caribbean's kids club. Age may play a factor into it but I feel that the youth professionals at the Carnival Cruise's kids camp called Camp Ocean were so lively and warm in their approach!
  • Like the kids, even the adult entertainment were so warm and fun! We went to an 80s party while the kids were at the kid's club and had a wonderful memory from it. See pictures below from my Carnival Cruise.
  • Even though Royal Caribbean has a lot of complimentary seafood dishes on their dining room menu for dinner, I find that the Carnival desserts tasted much better. Something about their execution and the quality of the ingredients that just create a better and happier harmony in my mouth. I loved their creme brûlée.
  • As mentioned above in the Pros and Cons table for Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruises can also sing to your birthday person at the main dining room if you tell them that you're celebrating a birthday. I feel that Carnival Cruises sings with more heart and I felt it. See my birthday dessert that they presented to me after their team sung 'happy birthday' to me below. 
  • You can play mini-golf (also known as "putt putt" to East Coasters) on Carnival Cruises as well. On the ship that I was on, it was on the top level so it's a bit harder to find but you could check out an amazing top view of the ocean!
  • They have a cruise formal on at least one night of your cruise ship (more if it's a longer trip) on the Carnival. You can dress up and have your pictures taken by photographers around the ship. It's always free to have the pictures taken by the photographers. You only pay if you want to buy digital copies or prints.
Carnival Cruise Cons
  • The water slides that I've experienced on the Carnival are simpler than Royal Caribbean's. This makes it less scary so it's not fun for thrill seekers. However, they are more appropriate for kids who are trying water slides for the first time. 
  • Some of the employees on the Carnival Cruise don't greet you as you walk by. At Royal Caribbean, the employees do this a lot better at any time of the day.
  • There's not as many seafood items on their complimentary buffet and dining room menu list on the Carnival Cruise that I went to, compared to Royal Caribbean's cruise ships. If you're a big seafood fan, this may be something you want to consider. However, they have seafood and sushi areas that you can pay extra for! We tried their sushi on the last night of our Carnival Cruise and I enjoyed it. It was very good and reasonably priced! You can read more about my wonderful sushi dining experience on the Carnival Cruise in my full review of my 3 Day Baja California Cruise on Carnival Radiance.

Some pictures from my Carnival Cruise Vacation on Cardinal Radiance Cruise Ship:

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Traveling is so fun and create such wonderful memories but it comes with a risk. Even if the sun seems mild, it's good to have sunscreen, a pair of sunglasses and a sun hat to protect your skin. Being outdoors is always one great idea to improve your mood and get a bit of exercise if you feel bummed out for any reason.

In : Cruise Review 

Tags: comparison royal caribbean and carnival  which cruise line is better  royal carribbean cruise line carnival cruise line  is carnival better  is royal caribbean cruises better 

About Me

San Luis Obispo Mom Originally from San Diego, California, I'm a San Diego State University alumna, veteran's wife and mom of two kids who were born two years apart. After living on the East Coast for 6 years, we now reside in San Luis Obispo County and here, the exploration continues.
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