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
|Where does it sail to?||100+ destinations in these regions:||275+ destinations in these regions:||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||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?||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.
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.
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
|Free Sydney return flights with Carnival||
|Get a free return flight to Sydney from Brisbane or the Gold Coast on select Carnival cruises. T&C's apply.||
|5-night Bermuda cruises from US$404 + up to US$1,000 onboard credit||
|Valid on select dates with Royal Caribbean. Includes up to US$1,000 to spend onboard, 30% off all guests and 10% off shore excursions. T&C's apply.||
|Up to $800 off Carnival cruises + free upgrade||
|Valid for cruise on select dates. Destinations include South Pacific, New Zealand, Australia and more. T&C's apply.||
|Up to 45% off with Royal Caribbean||
|Valid for sailings on select dates. Destinations include Sydney, Perth, Hobart, Singapore, Venice, Tahiti and more. T&C's apply.||
|5-night Caribbean cruises 30% off all guests + up to US$500 onboard credit||
|Valid on select dates with Royal Caribbean. Includes up to US$500 to spend onboard, 10% off shore excursions and free balcony upgrade. T&C's apply.||
|Up to 45% off on all guests||
|Get up to 45% off on all guests with Royal Caribbean. Valid on select dates and sailings. T&C's apply.||
|Up to 45% off Royal Caribbean cruises||
|Valid for cruise on select dates from January - December 2018. Destinations include Melbourne, Noumea, Hobart, Tasmania, Sydney, New Zealand and more. T&C's apply.||