Carnival vs. Royal Caribbean– Which Cruise Line Should You Sail?

One of the most common questions people tend to ask me related to cruises is “Which is better Carnival or Royal Caribbean?” This has always been a rather difficult question for me. Both cruise lines are awesome in their own unique ways. I have personally sailed more Carnival than Royal Caribbean, but that’s not necessarily because I prefer it over Royal Caribbean. I’m ready to get down to the nitty gritty and compare these two massive cruise lines. Carnival vs. Royal Caribbean—Let’s figure out what’s better for YOU!


This is often times the biggest factor in deciding. (At least it is usually for me.) Both Carnival and Royal Caribbean offer affordable all-inclusive vacations, however Carnival is the cheapest cruise line of the two. In fact, according to they analyzed about 2,500 sailings across both cruise lines, and found that Carnival was less money than Royal Caribbean for all cruise lengths. Check out this figure of data that compared the cost per day on the two cruise lines for different cruise lengths!

As you can see Carnival never even went over a hundred dollars a day, which is pretty impressive for all the fun things offered to you on your cruise vacation! (Keep in mind the cost of your trip will always be a bit more than it will originally show, because of taxes and port fees.)

Compare the prices for yourself!



Vacation Vibes

Many passengers find a difference in the overall “vibes” of the two. Carnival has been described as more of a laid-back and party atmosphere, and Royal Caribbean has more of a spectacular and elegant feel. Both ships have SO MANY fun options on board. You might hear more up-beat music on a Carnival ship than you would on a Royal Caribbean. However, Royal Caribbean often goes for grandeur. There is usually more activities offered on board a Royal Caribbean than there is on Carnival. Some of their newest ships offer everything from an ice-skating rink, the world’s tallest on board water slide, zip lining, bumper cars, rock walls, and a surfing simulator. Carnival still has plenty of fun, but it has more of the entertainment you would expect on a cruise. Pools, movies, shows, golf, etc.


Both Royal Caribbean and Carnival offer fleets of spectacular beauty and giant size! Here are the facts about the ships:


  • Carnival currently has 25 ships with Carnival Horizon being their newest, (Completed spring of this year 2018.) and Carnival Panorama coming in 2019!
  • Carnival Fantasy is their oldest ship, (built in 1990) but has since been updated multiple times (the last time was in 2016.)
  • 10 of their ships were built before 2000.
  • Their smallest ships are part of the Fantasy Class. These ships hold 2,052 passengers. (Carnival Fantasy, Carnival Ecstasy, Carnival Elation, Carnival Fascination, Carnival Imagination, Carnival Inspiration, Carnival Paradise, Carnival Sensation)
  • Their largest ships are the Carnival Vista and the Carnival Horizon holding 3,954 passengers.

Royal Caribbean

  • Royal Caribbean currently has 25 ships with five more in the works!
  • Royal Caribbean’s oldest ship is Empress of the Seas. It was built in 1990, and has had updates.
  • 9 of their ships were built before 2000.
  • Empress of the Seas is their smallest ship holding 1,602 passengers.
  • Harmony of the Seas is not only Royal Caribbean’s largest ship, but it’s the largest ship in the world. It can carry up to 5,488 passengers.

Drinks on Deck

Both cruise lines offer guests plenty of bars. However, when it comes to bringing drinks on board Carnival is more generous. Carnival allows one bottle of wine or champagne per person of legal age, as well as a 12 pack of non-alcoholic drinks like juice or soda. Royal Caribbean allows 2 bottles of wine or champagne per stateroom. (There are usually more than two adults in a stateroom.) They also don’t allow other non-alcoholic drinks on board. Both offer unlimited drink packages. Read more about the Carnival Cruise Alcohol Policy here.

What’s Best for YOU?

Royal Caribbean and Carnival are both fantastic all-inclusive vacations you just have to plan your trip based upon what’s best for you and your family. If you’re looking for spectacular entertainment and a royal atmosphere. Go with Royal Caribbean! If you’re trying to have fun for cheap, and enjoy a party environment, go with Carnival! There really is no wrong choice here. No matter what you choose you will have a ton of fun. You could always try out one cruise line first, and then try the other one later. I have enjoyed my experiences on both cruise lines immensely.

Do your own research while you are booking! Look up destinations and prices here, and then google the ship name yourself! Find out what’s offered on your ship! No matter the line you’ll have a good time! 🙂





10 Comments on Carnival vs. Royal Caribbean– Which Cruise Line Should You Sail?

  1. Good review, straight to the point. Very valuable information. I worked onboard cruise ships for many years and have seen a lot of reviews out there. The information you provide is high quality.

  2. Perfect timing for this article. My wife and I are retired and planning a cruise. The information you provided is very helpful. Do these two cruise lines go to the same destinations? It would have been cool to see some of that for comparison as well.

    • Thank you so much for commenting! For the most part these cruise lines go the same places, however Royal Caribbean has some ships that go to Europe! This is something Carnival does not offer, which is a very good point!

  3. Great summary of the two companies. Personally I’ve never been on either but would be very happy to go on either finances permitting. Clearly written with a good breakdown of each allowing the individual to make their own mind up, also some good advice at the end to help clarify that decision.

  4. I’ve always wanted to go for a cruise ship. My friend introduce me to the Royal Caribbean, she told me the same review as you wrote here. This make me sure that I will take this cruise to in my future holiday planning. Thanks for giving the review!

  5. Thanks for sharing your insight on Carnival vs Royal Caribbean, I’m currently running my own business and will be traveling here shortly and love reading articles like this gets me excited for when I’m traveling so many places I want to get and hate picking and choosing so I’m going to go on both cruises why limit my self to just one over the other I want to experience both and thanks to your article I have more insight on both of these cruises thank you !

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