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Carnival vs Royal Caribbean

Which top cruise line is worth cruising with, Carnival or Royal Caribbean?

It’s no secret that both Carnival and Royal Caribbean are two of the best and most popular cruise lines in the industry, but which cruise line is better for you?

We compared everything from price, to destinations, Wi-Fi services and onboard entertainment to see which cruise line delivered the best.

Carnival vs Royal Caribbean

FeaturesCarnivalRoyal CaribbeanVerdict
Where does it sail to?100+ destinations in these regions:

  • Asia and the Pacific
  • The Americas
  • Europe
275+ destinations in these regions:

  • Asia and the Pacific
  • The Americas
  • Europe
  • Middle East
Royal Caribbean offers more cruise destinations.
Does it have Wi-Fi?Yes. For a fee.Yes, for a fee.Both offer Wi-Fi.
Does it provide towels?Yes. They can be taken ashore.Yes.Both cruise lines have towels included in the price onboard.
Contact options
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Phone
  • Email
Both have the same contact options.
Is it all-inclusive?No.No.Neither cruise line is all-inclusive.
How much is the deposit?Deposits range from $150-400 depending on the destination and length of the cruise.Deposits range from $100-400 depending on the destination and length of the cruise.Royal Caribbean offers lower deposits for 1-14 night cruises.
Does it have a gym?Yes.Yes.Both have gyms onboard.
Does it have hairdryers, laundry and irons?Yes, full laundry service, self-service laundry and irons are available on all ships. Hair dryers are available on most ships.Yes, full laundry service is available and hair dryers are available. Irons are not available to guests.Carnival provides more laundry services and irons to guests.
Does it include food?Yes, but speciality restaurants are an additional cost.Yes. Speciality restaurants are not included.Both cruise lines include complimentary food options.
Does it have casinos?Yes.Yes.Both have casinos on board.
Does it have an ATM?Yes.Yes.Both are equipped with ATMs.
Does it have formal nights?Yes. 1-day cruises have no formal nights, 2-5 day cruises have one and 6-day or longer cruises have two.Yes. 3-5 night cruises have one formal night, 6-11 night cruises have two formal nights and 12+ night cruises have three formal nights.Both cruise lines have formal nights.
How much are drinks?Unlimited soft drinks and juices are available for $7.25 per day ($5.50 for kids). No alcoholic packages are available but individual drinks can bought on board.Drinks packages range from USD$8.50-52.Royal Caribbean offers alcoholic drink and coffee/tea packages, but Carnival offers cheaper soft drink packages.
Is it good for families?Yes, onboard activities for kids and teens are available.Yes. Activities are available on board for all ages.Both cruise lines offer activities for families.
Does it have child care?Yes. Children must be registered for the onboard programs a minimum of 24 hours before departure.Yes. Youth programs and sitters are available at sea.Royal Caribbean offers babysitting services, Carnival does not.
Does it have virtual balconies?No.Yes.Only Royal Caribbean offers virtual balconies.
Does it have a waterslide?Yes.Yes, on select ships.Carnival has waterslides on all ships.
Does it have a promenade?Yes.Yes.Both cruise lines have promenades.
Does it have free room service?No.No.Neither cruise line offers free room service.
What are my payment options?
  • Visa
  • Mastercard
  • American Express
  • Diner’s Club
  • Debit
  • Direct payment
  • Visa
  • Mastercard
  • American Express
  • Diner’s Club
  • Discover
  • Optima
Carnival offers more payment options.
Can I price match?Yes. If a lower price is found within 2 days of booking Carnival will refund 110% of the price difference in the form of onboard credit.Yes. Royal Caribbean will honour a cheaper price if found within 48 hours of booking. 110% of the price difference will be refunded in the form of onboard credit.Both cruise lines offer the same price matching restrictions.
Does it allow for cancellations/changes?Yes, however fees may apply.Yes. Depending on how far in advance changes or cancellations are made you may receive 100% of your deposit back.Changes or cancellations can be made to bookings on both cruise lines.
How much are airport transfers to the departure port?$20 each way.Prices vary. Contact the liner direct.Both offer airport to departure terminal transfers.
How much are gratuities?Tips are accepted but not required.Automatic gratuity is USD$13.50 (USD$16.50 for suite guests) and is applied daily for guests of all ages to the SeaPass account.Carnival does not have automatic gratuities.
Has a ship ever sunk?No.No.Neither cruise line has had a ship sink.

Who offers the best price?

We found similar cruises leaving from Sydney and exploring New Zealand for 10 nights in March to compare prices from both Carnival and Royal Caribbean.

Carnival:


c-vs-c-1

Royal Caribbean:


c-vs-c-2

The verdict? When it comes to price there is no comparison. Carnival offers the same length of cruise for over $700 cheaper.

Is this cruise line good?

We took a look at what awards each cruise line received and what guests had to say to determine which cruise line has better customer feedback on Cruise Critic.

Carnival was awarded best service and best value for money in 2017 while Royal Caribbean was awarded best cabins, best entertainment and best for families in 2017. When it comes to reviews both cruise lines have the same ratings for excellent, good, average, poor and terrible but Royal Caribbean has more reviews overall.

What are the deals like?

We compared some of each cruise lines top deals to find out which one has better sales.

The verdict?

We found that Carnival has better deals for shorter cruises such as 3-day samplers that start from $359 whereas Royal Caribbean starts at $599. But for longer cruises that are 7-nights or longer Royal Caribbean starts with prices as low as $699 and Carnival starts at $949 for cruises to New Caledonia.

Top Carnival and Royal Caribbean deals

Up to 60% off second passenger with Royal Caribbean

Deal expires

Valid for cruise on select sailings to the South Pacific (Vanuatu and New Caledonia) and New Zealand.

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Up to 60% off 2nd guest + $100 onboard credit with Royal Caribbean

Deal expires

Valid for travel on select sailing with Royal Caribbean. Enjoy 60% off on 2nd guest plus 3rd and 4th guests also receive up to 30% off. Onboard credit amount varies based on length of cruise and cabin type booked. T&Cs apply.

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Up to $500 off + $99 deposits on Carnival Cruises

Deal expires

Valid for cruise on select 2018 departures. Port of departure is Sydney, destinations include Noumea, Isle of Pines and more. T&Cs apply.

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Worldwide singles cruises from $2,075

Deal expires

Valid on select sailings in Alaska, New Zealand, the South Pacific, Asia and Europe. Cruise lines include Royal Caribbean, Holland America, Celebrity, Princess, and Avalon Waterways. Sample price is an Alaska cruise.

Last verified

Up to 33% off Royal Caribbean cruises

Deal expires

Valid on select dates until 18 April 2019. Sample itineraries include trans-Pacific to Honolulu, Tasmania, and Singapore-to-Sydney along Australia's southern coast.

Last verified


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Stephanie Yip

Stephanie is the travel editor at finder.com.au. On top of being an avid traveller, she's an all-round bargain hunter. If there's a deal on hotels or a sale on flights, she'll know about it. And she'll let you know about it, too. Though probably not before she buys her own ticket.

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