This trip was my sixth cruise, but my first on Royal Caribbean and there were quite a number of differences between my last cruise and this one. My last cruise was a 7 night Southern Caribbean trip on Carnival Cruise Lines, my usual choice. In this review, I will highlight a few points in which the two cruise lines differ, based on my personal experiences.
For some reason, a cruise on Carnival is always cheaper than a cruise on Royal Caribbean, regardless of the fact that they are both sailing the identical route for the same length of time. Carnival tends of promote many deals such as cash back and early booking savings, while the prices on Royal Caribbean only seem to drop when they need to fill rooms. I watched the Royal Caribbean website for weeks and weeks, and the price barely moved!
Both cruise lines offer online and telephone bookings. I usually research the cruise that I am interested in online, then book with an agent over the phone. This way, I can ask questions about the sailing and the ship, before I commit to anything. Carnival cruise line is actually much more efficient in this regard, as they assign you a Personal Vacation Planner (PVP) who is responsible for any issues concerning your cruise. With Royal Caribbean, when you call their hotline, you are at the mercy of the first agent who answers the phone, so one question may get you many different answers from several persons!
I found the Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas to be a fantastic ship. Unlike Carnival with their gaudy décor, the ships within the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line are tastefully designed, with softer tones which makes you feel at home, rather than living on a replica of Las Vegas at sea. Personally, I don't mind the loud furnishings of the Carnival ships, but that's because I'm in my twenties. Older couples may not be impressed. Both cruise lines had great entertainment features, such as the rock climbing wall on RCL and a waterslide on Carnival, as well as spas, pools, hot tubs and state of the art gyms.
I think both ships score even points in the dining category. With the Voyager of the Seas, the main strong point was the Windjammer Cafe, where lunch and informal dinners are served. I found the daily selections to be quite diverse during my sailing, and I enjoyed every meal I had there. On my Carnival sailings however, the dining room experience was the best. The portions were large, the food was divine and every night, the dining room staff would perform songs and dances for the passengers. Fun ships indeed!
Ports of Call
Apart from the Caribbean region in which both cruise lines have extensive itineraries, I found a number of differences within the two cruise lines. Carnival seems to cater for Caribbean seeking cruisers, so their other destinations such as Europe are usually only served by one ship. This creates a lack of choice concerning destinations. Royal Caribbean, on the other hand, usually has three to four ships in Europe, as well as other parts of the world, such as Alaska, Australia and they have several Transatlantic voyages. Royal Caribbean definitely has a larger choice of destinations around the world.
Both cruise lines offer great ships, which will provide a great vacation away from everyday life. If you are looking for a cheaper cruise which equals more young people and a hotter nightlife, then Carnival is the way to go. For a more laid back sailing to various parts of the world, choose Royal Caribbean.