Difference between Carnival and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines

Updated on July 25, 2018

Known for their high-end ships and non-stop entertainment, Carnival and Royal Caribbean cruise lines both offer an unforgettable traveling experience to passengers, making them two of the biggest players in the industry. However, there are major differences between the two, especially in terms of cost and overall experience.

Summary Table

CarnivalRoyal Caribbean
Average base fare is cheaper by around $200Average base fare is more expensive
Boasts a fun and laid-back atmosphereBoasts an elegant and luxurious atmosphere
Made up of festive and bold interiorsMade up of upscale interiors that combine wooden elements with subtle colors
Offers fun and traditional recreational activitiesOffers highly technological recreational activities
Dining options are mainly adult and kid-friendlyDining options include more specialty restaurants that focus on luxury
Specialty restaurants are not included in the cruise fareSome of the specialty restaurants are included in the cruise fare
Offers fewer cabin types across its fleetOffers more cabin types across its fleet

Descriptions

Carnival cruise ship
A Carnival cruise ship

The Carnival Cruise Line is a Miami-based cruise line founded in 1972. It is a sister line of Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, and Cunard Line, and it is one of the world’s most popular cruise lines.

Royal Caribbean cruise ship
A Royal Caribbean cruise ship

The Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, also popularly known as the Royal Caribbean International, is a Miami-based cruise line that was first founded in Norway in the year 1968. It is one of the leading cruise lines in the world.

Carnival vs Royal Caribbean

The huge difference between Carnival and Royal Caribbean does not just lie in the size of their fleet. On the contrary, they provide a completely different cruising experience for travel enthusiasts!

Pricing

Carnival and Royal Caribbean are premiere cruise lines that provide flexible packages to travelers. However, between the two, Carnival focuses more on cost-efficiency as it has cheaper cruises in its lineup. Based on a statistical study, Carnival’s average base fare is at around $458 – a figure that is approximately $200 lower than Royal Caribbean’s.

Decor and Ambiance

Carnival and Royal Caribbean are not the leading cruise lines in the world for nothing! They’ve got everything covered, especially when it comes to comfort and luxury. Their respective fleets are specifically tailored to meet their target market’s needs, which explains why the two are completely different in terms of aesthetics and overall ambiance. Carnival has a fun and laid-back atmosphere, which is heightened by its festive and bold decors. One step into the fleet and passengers can understand why Carnival calls its fleet “Fun Ships.”

Royal Caribbean, by contrast, boasts an elegant and luxurious atmosphere. Instead of using bright colors, the fleet takes advantage of wooden elements and subtle color combinations to achieve an understated yet elegant vibe. Its upscale interiors make it extra appealing to high-end passengers.

Entertainment

True to its name, Carnival’s “Fun Ships” provide endless recreational activities fit for diverse age groups. From amazing water parks to themed parties, Carnival keeps traditional games more fun and interactive. The ship also leaves ample space for comedy bars, sports bars, and game shows, making it a top-rated cruise line in terms of entertainment.

Royal Caribbean, on the other hand, offers more innovative and luxurious forms of entertainment. The fleet is a complete game changer as it makes a wide array of recreational activities available to every passenger. It is most known for its FlowRider surfing simulator, vertical tube skydiving, and other inventive technological features. It also provides huge rock-climbing walls, pools, sports courts, water-diving programs, and Broadways musicals for its travelers.

Dining

Since Carnival is a family-oriented cruise line, its dining options are made up of restaurants that are both adult and kid-friendly. Its casual, laid-back restaurants such as Bluelguana Cantina and Guy’s Burger Joint are included in the price of the cruise fare. It also has specialty restaurants that cost extra, including Bonsai Sushi, Ji Ji Asian Kitchen, Seafood Shack, and Cucina del Capitano.

Unlike Carnival, Royal Caribbean includes food from some of its specialty restaurants in the cruise fare. Aside from its wide array of luxurious restaurants, the fleet also has casual spots that are fitted to the needs of every traveler. Specialty restaurants on the fleet include Cafe Promenade and Sorrento’s Pizzeria.

Cabin Types

Between the two cruise lines, Carnival has a simpler stateroom structure. Its ships include Cloud 9 Spa rooms, which offer passengers free access to thalassotherapy pools, thermal suites, and fitness classes. However, it only has a limited number of family rooms designed with connecting doors. Of all the lines in the fleet, the Carnival Vista line has the widest cabin type selection.

Royal Caribbean, by comparison, offers more flexibility since it has more cabin type selections. Built for solo travelers and big families, the Royal Caribbean ships have sophisticated studio-type cabins and interconnected family cabins. It also houses two-level suites with big balconies, hot tubs on the balcony area, private wet bars, and spacious cabins with a virtual balcony.

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