Things I liked better about Royal Caribbean cruises than Carnival

Hello fellow cruise enthusiasts! This is Elizabeth from Cruise Finder, and today I am excited to share with you some reasons why I enjoy cruising with Royal Caribbean more than Carnival. Having been a devoted Royal Caribbean fan for most of my cruising years, I decided to give Carnival a chance recently. While I discovered some enjoyable experiences aboard Carnival Celebration and Carnival Vista, certain aspects of the cruising experience stand out more with Royal Caribbean. Let’s dive right in!

1. Boarding Process:

While both Royal Caribbean and Carnival have similar embarkation processes, I found slight differences that make Royal Caribbean more convenient. Both lines provide personalized cruise cards (Crown & Anchor loyalty card for Royal Caribbean and Sail & Sign card for Carnival) outside state rooms instead of during physical check-in. However, Royal Caribbean offers the option to save a copy of your boarding pass on your mobile device, whereas Carnival requires you to print it ahead of time. Although this may seem minor, I appreciate the ease of access provided by Royal Caribbean. During my boarding experiences for both Carnival Celebration in Miami and Carnival Vista in Port Canaveral, including security checks and K-9 narcotics bag inspections, I still managed to be on the ship within 20 minutes of arriving at the terminal.

Tie: E-Muster Drill

Royal Caribbean takes the lead with its e-muser drill, allowing guests to complete the majority of the safety drill before boarding the ship. Typically, I watch the required videos at home or during breakfast en route to the terminal. Once on board, I simply need to visit the physical muster station. In contrast, Carnival does not allow completing any part of the safety drill ahead of time. Guests must attend a brief presentation about using lifejackets after hearing the emergency signal and then listen to additional safety information via the PA system. Though seemingly minor, incorporating technology to streamline the muster drill could improve Carnival’s process.

Advantage: Royal Caribbean

Their mobile app, accessible days and months before the actual cruise, provides valuable insights regarding dining options, onboard activities, and deck plans. For instance, my upcoming Royal Caribbean cruise isn’t until May 2024, yet I can already explore various options through the app. Conversely, Carnival’s HUB app proves less helpful without connecting to the ship’s Wi-Fi, merely displaying a countdown to the sail date. Links to packages or excursions redirect users to external websites, making advance planning cumbersome.

2. Staterooms:

When comparing staterooms, I believe Royal Caribbean designs spaces more effectively. My 158 sq ft interior room on Carnival Celebration featured bright blue accents and lightwood, providing a clean, modern appearance. Still, it failed to match the layout efficiency found in my interior room on Symphony of the Seas. With a larger sofa and dedicated seating area, two closets, and a compact dresser, the symmetry and organization surpassed Carnival’s design. Similarly, my Junior Suite on Carnival Vista seemed poorly placed near a public observation deck and the bridge, compromising privacy and views. At $1,800 per person, the limited perks – such as complimentary bottled water, priority embarkation, and enhanced bathroom amenities – fell short of expectations. Despite not staying in a Royal Caribbean Suite, I understand they offer a more extensive suite program, especially on Oasis, Quantum, and Icon Class ships.

Advantage: Royal Caribbean

1. Dining Experiences:

Windjammer Marketplace significantly exceeds Carnival’s buffet offerings. When my cousin and I visited the Leo Marketplace for a quick breakfast before departing for an excursion in Amber Cove, we encountered unexpectedly long lines. Although waiting is inherent in cruises, I missed the variety and swiftness of Royal Caribbean’s Windjammer Marketplace. Main dining room service on Royal Caribbean tends to be faster and more efficient, with meals lasting approximately 60-90 minutes. Following the implementation of updated menus almost a year ago, dinner services became quicker and more appealing. Unfortunately, slower meal times on Carnival Celebration and Carnival Vista resulted in extended periods spent waiting for our entrees.

2. Entertainment:

As a lifelong lover of Broadway shows, I have consistently appreciated Royal Caribbean’s high-quality productions. Their commitment to delivering top-notch performances sets them apart from competitors. Don’t get me wrong – Carnival’s entertainment isn’t poor; however, Royal Caribbean’s stage presentations remain unparalleled. Shows on older ships like Navigator of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas maintain higher production values than those on Carnival Vista. Ice skating and aquatic displays exclusive to Royal Caribbean’s latest ships leave a lasting impression. That said, Carnival shines in its comedy acts, presenting multiple performers catering to diverse audiences throughout each cruise.

Final Verdict:

After considering these factors, I continue to prefer cruising with Royal Caribbean over Carnival. Nevertheless, individual preferences might differ based on unique tastes and priorities. We hope you enjoyed learning about my perspective on the two major players in the industry. As always, thank you for joining me on this journey, and stay tuned for further updates on exciting adventures at sea! Happy cruising!

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