Carnival VS Royal- Which is best?

You want to cruise but not sure which cruise line will fit your needs the best? I have compiled a comparison of two of the most popular cruise lines.



When cruising, this seems to be a deal breaker for some. When people ask about your cruise, it’s often followed with the question “How was the food?” There are very clear differences between these two cruise lines. When considering the dining rooms they have some similarities, but very different. Both lines have delicious meal options, varying every night. I do love the “Didja Ever” section on Carnival’s menu. I found myself trying this every night because, well I felt the menu was daring me to try it and I’m not one to pass on a dare. Royal’s menu options didn’t seem to have as much variety, but the food was reliably amazing every night. (Don’t pass on the french onion soup, it’s HEAVEN). I do think Carnival had more readily available options at all hours, more than Royal. Not only is the ice cream truly 24/7 on Carnival, (Royal’s soft serve was only open from 11am-5pm, IF the machine was working) they almost always had something else to choose no matter what time it was. And who doesn’t love hot fresh pizza at midnight?



Cozumel, Mexico

This can certainly be the deciding factor in your final decision. Carnival is often called the “Walmart” of cruising, while Royal holds their prices higher. In some ways, yes, you get what you pay for. However, a higher price tag does not mean a better vacation. My favorite vacation was a few years back with just my husband and I and it was the cheapest of all of our trips. Royal does seem to cater towards the “higher class” and it shows in many ways. Ted Arison, founder of CCL in 1972 had a vision of cruising being for all classes, not just those with disposable incomes as the majority of cruise lines were. The price for cruising will almost always be cheaper with CCL, and they offer a low price guarantee so you don’t even have to shop around for a cheaper trip, you won’t find it anywhere. For tips on how everyone can afford to cruise give this post a read.


The first time I ever cruised I was amazed at how clean everything really was. For this, they are tied. I will say, we witnessed more cleaning happening non stop on Carnival every where we went. There were employees washing down walls,railings, tables non stop across the entire ship. Royal does promote hand washing more than Carnival, this shows with the employees standing at the entrance of the buffet with their signature quote “washy washy” and herding everyone through the hand washing station. All in all, both lines clearly put in a lot of effort to keep their ships clean and their patrons healthy.


People save for months and years to go on a vacation. They want to be 100% sure they are getting their money’s worth out of it. I think that on Carnival there is less division of “classes”, and all guests are treated the same no matter how much they spent on their trip. Aside from the ones that spring for the spa suites, the only real indication is the color of their sign and sail card. On Royal, there is a segregation of categories and they also have more “for fee” activities and food options. Value, dollar for dollar, I think Carnival takes this one.



Anthem of the seas oceanview. Photo credit

I am slightly swayed towards Royal on this one. Carnival rooms are great, every one I have stayed in are set up similar, storage is lacking, bathroom is a bit tight, and the shower curtain often causes a flood every time the water is turned on. Royal had plenty storage, so much that my family of 4 were able to completely unpack in our oceanview room and hide our suitcases under the bed for the week. The bathroom is spacious and on the Anthem the shower was encased complete with a glass door. This was amazing. The beds were amazing no matter which line, and our stewards were always great and kept our rooms exactly how we liked them. Love those ninjas that sneak in, clean up, and leave us adorable little towel animals.


If you are looking for fancy over the top shows and entertainment, then Royal is your choice. Bigger does not always mean better. On the Anthem of the seas, you had to have reservations prior to even boarding the ship in order to get a reserved seat for any of the bigger shows. This to us was a HUGE downfall. In our cruising experience this is the only time this happened and we found we were shit out of luck for the first few nights. You do have the option to send someone up about 15-20 minutes prior to the show starting and standing in the “open line”. Often people reserve shows and don’t show up so they open the doors to those without tickets but the seats are not guaranteed and you might luck out with a chair or two. If your party is larger then this doesn’t always work out. The shows on Carnival were great, but we felt they were a bit redundant though, and a lot of the same style shows, just different music throughout the week. I do feel that Royal was missing out on the random daily activities that Carnival does. They had a belly flop competition that drew a huge crowd, but Carnival seems to have those type of events more often. If you are looking for daily pool side entertainment like drink mixing competitions, and ice carving, then Carnival wins. If you are looking for fancy lighting, and crazy acrobatic evening entertainment, then Royal wins.


This is a dead even tie. The service on both lines are top notch. Every single employee we came across whether it be during dining, customer service, bartenders, or sharing an elevator with someone on the way to/from their shift, they were nothing but courteous, respectful, and most often questioned how our vacation was going. I always try to go out of my way to chat with them. I ask about their home country, their families, how long they have been on contract or have left. They are all very open and whether they enjoy the conversation or not, they entertain me and act like they don’t mind the conversation.


Whether you are going for a “do nothing” vacation, where you sit poolside with your book for a week, or you want to do literally as much as possible, filling your days with events and activities, you can’t go wrong on a cruise. Both lines have many pros with very few cons, it’s just about deciding which option is best for you! If you have any questions about any of this, or want some help deciding which line is right for you, contact me here and I will do the best I can to help you plan your cruise!


Catching some waves

Happy Cruising!

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