Carnival vs Norwegian

Discover how Carnival and Norwegian cruise lines compare with each other.

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Don’t leave your choice of cruise line down to eeny-meeny-miney-mo.

The below guide highlights all the differences and similarities between Norwegian Cruise Line and Carnival, so you can decide which line is best for you.

Carnival vs Norwegian

FeatureCarnival AustraliaNCLVerdict
Where does it sail to?
  • Asia
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Pacific Islands
  • Honolulu
  • Asia
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Caribbean
  • Europe
  • New Zealand
  • South America
  • USA
NCL sails to more destinations.
Does it have Wi-Fi?Yes, for a fee.Yes, for a fee.Both offer Wi-Fi at a cost.
Does it provide towels?Yes.Yes.Both lines provide towels.
Contact options
  • Email
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Phone
Contact options are the same.
Is it all-inclusive?No.No, but you can upgrade to an AI package.Neither line is all-inclusive as standard.
How much is the deposit?Deposits vary but generally the following applies:
  • $150: 1-6 day cruises
  • $250: 7-16 day cruises
  • $400: 17+ day cruises
US$150: 1-6 night cruises

US$300: 7-14 nights cruises

US$450: 15+ night cruises

Carnival’s deposits are cheaper.
Does it have a gym?Yes.Yes.Both offer gyms.
Does it have hairdryers, laundry and irons?Yes. Laundry and irons for a fee.Hairdryers, yes. Irons and laundry available for a fee.Laundry incurs a fee on both lines.
Does it include food?Yes.Yes.Both lines include food.
Does it have casinos?Yes.Yes.Both have casinos.
Does it have an ATM?Yes.Yes.Both offer ATMs.
Does it have formal nights?Yes.“Dress up or not” nights.NCL’s formal nights are more flexible.
How much are drinks?$5 to $8 for beer and $6 to $12 for wine.Prices onboard are in US dollars. $6 to $7 for beer, $9 to $14 for wine.Drinks prices are similar.
Is it good for families?Yes.Yes. Kids’ clubs, family rooms, family dining.Both lines are family-friendly.
Does it have child care?Carnival’s kids’ clubs are not classed as day care. It does offer evening babysitting for children aged 6 months to 11 years.Yes, paid for.NCL offers more child care options.
Does it have virtual balconies?No.No.Neither have virtual balconies.
Does it have a waterslide?Yes.Yes.Both have waterslides.
Does it have a promenade?Yes.Yes.Both have promenades.
Does it have free room service?24-hour room service is an added cost.Complimentary menu choices come attached with a $7.95 convenience charge.Both have charges attached.
What are my payment options?
  • American Express
  • Carnival EasyPay
  • Carnival Gift Card
  • Cashier’s Cheque
  • Discover Card
  • Diner’s club
  • Mastercard
  • PayPal
  • Visa
  • Visa Debit
  • Western Union Quick Collect
  • American Express
  • Diners Club
  • Discover.
  • Mastercard
  • Visa
Carnival offers more payment options.
Can I price match?No.No.Neither price match.
Does it allow for cancellations/changes?Some fares come with cancellation penalties.Cancellation charges apply 60 days before the booking date.Both lines have some cancellation policies.
How much are airport transfers to the departure port?Prices vary. But a 20-mile journey costs around $40AUD.Fly cruise packages include transfers.

Other transfer costs differ. New York LaGuardia to Manhattan Cruise Terminal (ten miles) costs $40.

NCL’s non included transfers can be more expensive.
How much are gratuities?Tipping is not required.Daily gratuity charges are automatically added to onboard bills. Rates start at $13.95 per person per day.NCL’s gratuities are more.
Has a ship ever sunk?No.No.No ship has ever sunk with either line.

Who offers the best price?

Prices for a ten-night round-trip cruise from Sydney around New Zealand, stopping at four ports of call start at $1,499 with Carnival Australia.

Prices for a 12-day roundtrip cruise from Sydney around New Zealand, stopping at six ports of call start at $1,591 with Norwegian Cruise Line.

The verdict?

Technically, Norwegian Cruise Lines comes out more expensive in this rate comparison, but its itinerary features an extra night and two extra ports of call, so overall prices are fairly comparable.

Is this cruise line good?

Carnival Spirit and Carnival Legend both operate from Australia and they are both rated as 4.5 and 4/5 respectively on the cruise review website Cruise Critic. Reviews frequently praise the staff friendliness.Norwegian Jewel is rated as 4/5, on Cruise Critic, too. Reviewers rave about the quality of the food.

Any other differences worth noting?

Norwegian offers flexible dining, which means there are no set dining times or reserved tables, so you can sit down to dinner whenever and wherever you want.

Carnival Australia does offer flexible dining but that’s in addition to its early and late set-dining options.

What are the deals like?

Carnival Australia’s website features deals on last-minute cruises. For example, a three-night weekend sampler cruise can cost as little as $319 if you book it with just a few weeks to go. Normal prices for these itineraries start at about $499. Carnival also offers deals on specific sailings that change every week.

NCL runs regularly-changing limited-time offers such as $500 onboard credit on certain sailings, as well as price cuts on last-minute sailings.

The verdict?

While both cruise lines offer frequent deals, Carnival leans more toward price cuts on last-minute sailings whereas Norwegian offers a variety of on-board credits and discounts.

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