Carnival vs. Norwegian: Smackdown!

norwegian vs carnival better cruise ship
Both lines have big ships with plenty to do, so what sets them apart? - Photo by Carnival Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line

These two cruise lines have a lot in common: huge ships that attract families with kids, as well as couples and singles. Their appeal boils down to plenty of choices and features like water slides, climbing walls, and ropes courses. On both fleets, the vibe is casual, and prices are lower than their competitors. Similarities aside, Carnival Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line have their differences too. Read on to vote for your favorite, and see our selections:

Highlights

Norwegian Cruise Highlights: Known for their lack of traditional scheduled dining times, Norwegian was the pioneer in coining the term “Freestyle” dining. The line has something for every cruiser, with a sophisticated atmosphere that doesn’t sacrifice family-friendly amenities. Solo passengers that are weary of single supplement fees will find a home in Norwegian’s studio cabins. Those with a taste for luxury will enjoy The Haven, an exclusive ‘ship within a ship’ space filled with roomy suites and its own pool, restaurant, and other amenities.

  • Norwegian is known for their high-quality entertainment, both in their resident Broadway-style shows as well as from guest entertainers who perform magic, comedy, acrobatics, and more.
  • To fully experience all of the cutting-edge amenities that are offered on a Norwegian ship, such as go-karting or the adults-only Vibe Beach Club sundeck, you’ll have to pay extra on top of your cruise fare. The vast majority of cruise lines are not all-inclusive, but vacationers may find that they have to swipe their cruise card even more while on a Norwegian sailing. 
  • A large variety of dining options are available on most of Norwegian’s ships, ranging from Brazilian and French, to Italian, Mexican, and more. Foodies that are willing to pay extra for a specialty dining experience will be especially satisfied with the selection. Tip: purchase a dining package to save some cash on these specialty dining experiences.

Carnival Cruise Highlights: Carnival's ships are known as the “Fun Ships” for a reason. The casual, affordable, family-friendly (and party-friendly) line is one of the best choices for first-time cruisers, families with young kids, teens and tweens, and young at heart folks on a budget.

  • Despite the low price point, service from staff and crew is often considered among the best in the business, and their solid lineup of included onboard dining features fan-favorites like Guy’s Burger Joint and Blue Iguana Cantina.
  • Cruises on Carnival are extremely laid-back and often have a backyard barbecue atmosphere (think of a neighborhood pool party with beer buckets and belly flops). These sailings aren’t for those that are looking for a quiet and elegant journey on the high seas.
  • Carnival’s partnership with Dr. Seuss, plus their activity-filled SportSquare and family-friendly games like Hasbro: The Game Show, make them the perfect line for families with kids that are cruising on a budget.

 

Prices

Norwegian Cruise Prices: Generally speaking, you’ll find that Norwegian’s older, smaller ships are cheaper than the same on Carnival, but their newer, larger ones are more expensive than Carnival’s similar offerings. As with most lines, pricing is also heavily determined by the popularity of the particular itinerary, especially whether it’s roundtrip or not.

  • Inside cabins on short sailings to the Bahamas are consistently available for less than $60 per night, per person.
  • If you want to try out a new ship or exotic itinerary without breaking the bank, look for a one-way or repositioning cruise, or a voyage at the beginning or end of a season for that region such as Alaska in May or September. The shoulder season sailings are less popular, and are priced at lower rates accordingly.

Carnival Cruise Prices: Carnival Cruise Line is one of the most affordable lines sailing in the Caribbean. It’s also common to find great pricing on select west coast cruises, depending on the time of year. 

  • Balcony cabins on many sailings can go for as low as $75/night, per person. (You’ll struggle to find balcony cabins for less than $100/night on most other lines.)
  • Interior cabins on short, 3-5 night cruises to the Bahamas and Caribbean are almost always available for less than $50/night, per person.

Photos by Carnival and Norwegian

Our Pick: Carnival — The lowest interior fare for Carnival and Norwegian is comparable on most similar itineraries, but you’ll find much better balcony deals on Carnival than you will on Norwegian. 

 

Itineraries

Norwegian Cruise Itineraries: Norwegian Cruise Line has a strong presence in the Bahamas and Caribbean, with the majority of voyages to that region starting in a port from Florida, especially Miami or Port Canaveral. The line also has a few ships sailing in Mexico, Hawaii, Canada, Australia, Asia, and the Middle East. After the Caribbean, the other place Norwegian really shines is in Europe. At any given time, there are 5 to 10 Norwegian ships sailing around both the Mediterranean and Northern Europe, making this line an excellent choice for those who want a familiar line in a faraway place. Norwegian also boasts a great variety of cruise lengths, with lots of weekend getaway voyages all the way up to an assortment of longer 9+ night journeys.

Carnival Cruise Itineraries: Carnival Cruise Line generally focuses their attention on sailing in the Caribbean, Bahamas, and Mexico. However, they do have some ships that sail in Europe, Alaska, and Hawaii. Major port cities for the line include Miami, Port Canaveral, Galveston, New York, and Los Angeles. While Carnival does have a decent variety of 9+ night cruises, they don’t have nearly as many to choose from as Norwegian does. The vast majority of Carnival sailings are 8 nights or less.

Photos by Carnival and Norwegian

Our Pick: Norwegian — If you’re looking to expand your horizons, Norwegian offers the greatest variety of sailings and diversity of destinations globally compared to Carnival.

 

Dining

Norwegian Cruise Dining: Norwegian Cruise Line pioneered the “freestyle dining” concept, which means that you won’t find a set time dinner seating anywhere on their ships. 

  • For those who don’t want to be constrained by a schedule each night, freestyle dining proves to be a great system. However, it does have its own set of cons. During the busiest dining time, you may have a wait before you will be seated (just like at a landside restaurant). Also, you’ll likely have a different team of servers each night, which means that they will never get to know you and your dietary needs and preferences.
  • If you like to have a dinner schedule without waiting, Norwegian does allow dinner reservations to be made in advance. You can also ask to be seated in a specific server’s section at the time you make the reservation, but that won’t be guaranteed. 
  • As far as other dining options, Norwegian impresses with variety across the fleet — even on smaller and older ships. The majority are specialty restaurants, though, meaning you’ll have to pay extra to enjoy them. Specialty venues include La Cucina with Italian fare, Moderno Churrascaria — the line’s take on a Brazilian steakhouse, hibachi-style dining at Teppanyaki, and Q Texas Smokehouse, a barbecue venue on newer vessels complete with live country music. On some ships, you’ll also find Mexican restaurant Los Lobos, as well as the line’s take on a classic diner called American Diner, complete with booths that look like vintage cars. 
  • Those looking for more complimentary dining options will enjoy the ship’s buffet, as well as O’Sheehan’s/The Local (similar venues; one or the other can be found on every ship except Pride of America), a casual sit-down restaurant that’s generally in the atrium and open 24/7. 
  • The sit-down restaurant dress code is smart casual, and Norwegian has their own take on optional formal nights, aptly called “Dress-Up or Not Night.”

Carnival Cruise Dining: While Carnival doesn’t quite boast the array of specialty restaurants that Norwegian has, the line’s selection of included dining options is very impressive considering their price point.

  • Fans of fast-casual cuisine will love that Guy’s Burger Joint (launched by Food Network star Guy Fieri) is included in the cruise fare. You can grab a Guy’s burger on 24 ships in the fleet, and his Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse is now on 7 different ships. Across from Guy’s burgers, BlueIguana Cantina serves excellent burritos on the lido deck — be sure to try the breakfast burrito! These two venues alone make Carnival a serious contender for the title of “Best Cruise Poolside Eateries.”
  • Two special restaurants on Carnival include JiJi Asian Kitchen serving up Chinese food and other Asian staples, as well as the Seafood Shack which offers a “catch of the day” and fan-favorite lobster rolls. These venues and more really demonstrate that Carnival is still committed to innovation — the line will also be debuting a complimentary chicken venue — called Big Chicken — with NBA star and Carnival CFO (Chief Fun Officer) Shaquille O’Neal on Carnival Radiance and Mardi Gras.
  • Carnival Vista became the first North American-based cruise ship to house its very own craft brewery, and Carnival Horizon and Panorama followed suit. Vista’s is in the RedFrog Pub & Brewery venue, and Horizon and Panorama’s is housed in their larger, sit-down restaurant version of Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que, called Guy’s Pig & Anchor Smokehouse | Brewhouse. Mardi Gras will also include a brewery in the popular barbecue venue.
  • Among the specialty options, the modern steakhouse Fahrenheit 555 tends to stand out with its elegant cuisine, ranging from escargot tucked into tiny rounds of puff pastry to vertical platings of steak topped with roasted garlic, to the chocolate tastings in elegant little glasses.
  • One thing to keep in mind is that Carnival has struggled with some food consistency issues, particularly in the buffet and the main dining room. Quality might be different from one ship to the next, so take this into consideration. 
  • There is generally one formal night per cruise (or two on long voyages) where passengers are asked to dress up for dinner. Those who don’t wish to participate are welcome to eat in the buffet or enjoy room service.
 

Fajitas from Carnival's Blue Iguana Cantina and Teppanyaki, a specialty restaurant on Norwegian.

Our Pick: Draw — Both lines are strong in the dining category for different reasons. Norwegian impresses with its food quality and variety of specialty restaurants, but Carnival shines when it comes to its vast range of included dining options.

 

Cabins

Norwegian Cruise Cabins: On Norwegian Cruise Line, passengers will find a typical cabin that they would expect on any mainstream line. Bathrooms are standard sized and laid out nicely. On newer vessels, the line has moved away from shower curtains in favor of curved glass doors, which makes taking a shower easier since you aren’t getting tangled in a shower curtain. 

  • A number of Norwegian ships include Spa Staterooms, which offer complimentary access to the spa’s thermal suite and zen-inspired decor exclusive to these cabins. 
  • Norwegian is known for their Studio Cabins, which allow solo travelers to have a room designed especially for them without paying a dreaded single supplement fee.
  • One exception to Norwegian’s typical cabin layout is on Norwegian Epic, which has a split-bathroom concept with the shower on one side, the toilet on the other, and the sink essentially in the cabin. This is something to take into consideration if you’re thinking about sailing on this ship. 

Something that really sets Norwegian apart is their ‘ship within a ship’ area called The Haven. 

  • Suites in The Haven were designed from beginning to end with luxury in mind, and there are a variety of spacious sizes and layouts to choose from. The Haven’s largest offerings include three-bedroom villas with separate living and dining areas and massive outdoor balconies.
  • Bathrooms are especially unique, lacking a boxy ‘one-size-fits-all’ feeling that you’ll find in standard cabins. Marble surfaces, double vanities, and even separate bathtubs can be found in The Haven suite bathrooms. 

Carnival Cruise Cabins: For decades, Carnival Cruise Line has built roomier-than-average cabins, which makes relaxing during the day or moving around to get ready a more enjoyable experience. Staterooms are typical, with bedside reading lights, standard bathrooms, and a built-in desk/vanity. On newer vessels, the line has started offering a variety of unique cabins to choose from, such as Family Harbor staterooms and Havana cabins. 

  • Family Harbor staterooms come with exclusive access to the nearby Family Harbor Lounge, which features complimentary breakfast in the morning and snacks throughout the day, plus family-friendly activities like board games, movies, and more. Booking one of these staterooms allows children to eat for free in most specialty restaurants, and also comes with one free evening of the line’s group babysitting service, Night Owls.
  • Havana Harbor cabins are designed to feel like an exclusive island resort and come with exclusive access to the Havana Bar and Pool at the ship’s aft. As you might expect, the rooms have a delightfully Cuban aesthetic, and cruisers who upgrade to the Havana Cabana will have their own outdoor space with a hammock chair.
  • Cloud 9 Spa staterooms come with more elegant decor than a typical Carnival cabin, along with in-room amenities like Elemis toiletries and spa-branded bathrobes and slippers. Spa cabins also come with priority for spa reservations, fitness classes, and unlimited access to the spa’s thermal suite.
 

Balcony cabins on Carnival are a bit bigger than their Norwegian counterparts.

Our Pick: Carnival — While The Haven is far more luxurious than anything you’ll find on Carnival, the variety of unique staterooms introduced in recent years make Carnival a great option for lots of different types of travelers. Plus, the slightly larger staterooms (on average) give families more room without having to upgrade to higher categories.

 

Activities

Norwegian Cruise Activities: Norwegian Cruise Line has been stepping up their game as far as unique onboard activities go with the debut of a go-kart track on Norwegian Bliss, Joy, and Encore, as well as the permanent laser tag arenas on the same vessels. 

  • Many Norwegian ships offer the heart-pounding ‘walk-the-plank’ experience, which allows passengers to walk out onto a “plank” suspended over the side of the ship (while still safely attached, of course). Other fun amenities include ropes courses, mini golf, and rock walls, and ships built since 2013 (and some older refurbished ones) also include some form of a water park. 
  • Passengers not wanting to give up on their exercise routines will find a basketball court (which can be converted to play other sports) on most ships as well as an onboard gym with treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes, weight equipment, and more. Fitness classes are also offered. 
  • Travelers who want their time at sea to be slower paced are likely to be spotted at the casino, one of the numerous lounges and bars with live music and group activities, various hot tubs around the ship, or the spa — complete with treatments, massages, and the relaxing thermal suite. Depending on the ship, the thermal suite might even include a panoramic view of the ocean.

Carnival Cruise Activities: For years, Carnival relied on basic fun, with passengers happily swigging beer and cheering on shipmates in belly flop contests by the pool. Nowadays, we have to give the line props for rolling with the times by continuing to add a great variety of new activities. 

  • You can find a variety of water slides at the WaterWorks water park, and most ships have mini-golf courses. The SportSquare on 7 ships includes basketball courts, a ropes course, table tennis, and more.
  • Lido deck activities (usually hosted by the cruise director) have a casual feel, complete with contests for the hairiest chest, sexiest legs, and biggest belly flop splash.
  • For indoor fun, Carnival’s activity lineup includes cruise classics like trivia, bingo, and dance classes, along with ‘Hasbro, The Game Show,’ an interactive and family-friendly game where cruisers can play enormous versions of Hasbro games like Yahtzee, Connect Four, and Simon.
  • Adults can find much-needed solace at the Serenity Retreat (a kids-free area with a bar and plenty of lounge chairs) or the onboard spa with hot stone massages, full-body wraps, maini/pedis, and facials.

The SkyRide on Carnival and Speedway go-karting on Norwegian

Our Pick: Carnival — You’ll find a similar variety of activities on both lines, but typically Norwegian charges extra for more than Carnival does.     

 

Entertainment

Norwegian Cruise Entertainment: Norwegian Cruise Line is known for their high-quality entertainment offered in a variety of venues.  

  • Many ships feature Broadway shows, such as “After Midnight,” “Rock of Ages,” and “Burn the Floor.” Norwegian also boasts dinner productions such as “Cirque Dreams” and a special show that includes five different cocktails, called “Happy Hour Prohibition - The Musical.”
  • The line excels in their variety of guest performers that are only at sea for a short time, or travel around to different ships. This gives Norwegian cruises great variety on the entertainment front, as you never know who will be performing even if you’ve recently sailed the same ship. Acrobats, magicians, singers, comedians, contortionists, and more are some of the variety acts you’ll find on a Norwegian cruise.
  • If theater shows aren’t your thing — or you’re looking for other entertainment around the ship — you’ll find sing-alongs in the piano bar, bands and instrumentals in various lounges and bars throughout their ships, as well as high-energy music and dancing during parties on the lido deck or in the atrium. 

Carnival Cruise Entertainment: From the start, Carnival’s forte has been its ability to throw a really great party night after night, with passengers dancing the hours away in cavernous discos and popular piano bars. Their stage productions play second fiddle to the music and parties, but you’ll still find some unique and awe-inspiring shows across the fleet.

  • Carnival’s Playlist Productions features LED screens and special effects for a number of different stage shows including "America Rocks," "Flick," "Amor Cubano," "Heart and Soul" and "Epic Rock." The use of technology mixed with talent is something that’s becoming more common across the cruise industry, and we’re happy to see Carnival implementing it. 
  • The Punchliner Comedy Club has both R-rated and family-friendly shows from talented and high-profile comedians. Just be sure to get there early, as these shows are very popular and fill up quickly!
  • Other group entertainment offerings from Carnival include ‘Clue: The Murder Mystery’ which involves audience participation around the ship, Carnival’s very own version of Lip Sync Battle, and the ever-popular Love & Marriage Show that never fails to have the audience rolling on the floor with laughter.
 

"Burn the Floor" on Norwegian and LeAnn Rimes performs for Carnival Live

Our Pick: Norwegian — The variety of entertainment offered for all age groups on Norwegian is quite impressive, and the overall quality far outweighs that of Carnival’s.

 

Kids and Families

Kids and Family Amenities on Norwegian: Like other mainstream cruise lines, Norwegian has a kid’s program across the fleet called Splash Academy. 

  • Kids ages 3-12 are divided up into three different clubs based on their age, and enjoy activities such as arts and crafts, treasure hunts, circus school, sports, team-building challenges, video games, and theme nights. 
  • Kids also have the opportunity to participate in activities with their parents and other members of the family during special family events like game shows, sports challenges, pizza-making, and more. 
  • Teens have their own space onboard, called Entourage. It’s a hangout for teens to kick back, play video games, attend themed parties, try their hand at crafts, and participate in other organized activities. There are also activities hosted by teen counselors around other parts of the ship including circus school, improv classes, and sports tournaments.
  • Babies ages 6 months to 3 years are referred to as ‘Guppies,’ and have their own space which consists of a quiet room for sleeping and a playspace that they can enjoy with their parents. 
  • Norwegian offers Late Night Fun Zone hours for parents who want to spend a night out aboard the ship. Starting at 10:30 p.m., kids can be dropped off at Splash Academy for a small fee to be supervised with games and activities throughout the late hours of the night. Reservations should be made in advance, but aren’t always required. 

Kids and Family Amenities on Carnival: Carnival’s decks are filled with family-friendly activities, including the fan-favorite Twister Water Slide at the WaterWorks aqua park. There’s even a “splash zone” mini water park for the littlest cruisers. Carnival also scores points among kids and teens for Hasbro: The Game Show, Build-a-Bear Workshop at Sea, and their 24-hour pizza counter. 

  • The outdoor play areas feature mini-basketball hoops and jungle gyms, and indoor game rooms offer the latest video and arcade games.
  • At Camp Ocean, kids are divided into three groups: ages 2 to 5, 6 to 8, and 9 to 11. They do activities such as dancing, crafts, playing games, and having sing-alongs. Kids ages 12 to 14 can head to Circle C, which features a dance floor, plasma screens displaying movies and videos, a jukebox, gaming pods, and more.
  • For a small fee, kids ages 11 and under can participate in Night Owls, a supervised babysitting service so that parents can have a night to themselves on the ship. They will enjoy music, play games, and do other fun activities until as late as 1 a.m. 
  • Pint-sized cruisers might enjoy taking part in a Zumbini class, a group session developed by Zumba and BabyFirst. On every sailing, kids 2 to 5 years old can enjoy a free 30-minute Zumbini class featuring Zumba songs, special instruments, and more. On cruises 6+ days, a family Zumbini class is offered.
  • Carnival’s partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, called ‘Dr. Seuss at Sea,’ has only expanded over the years. On various ships across the fleet, you’ll find Dr. Seuss parades, themed activities, the Dr. Seuss Bookville kids’ library, storytimes, and even a special Green Eggs & Ham breakfast. 
  • Expanded kids’ menus in the dining room include a daily special, and older kids can grab dinner poolside at the 24-hour pizzeria or the grill and — of course — pick up soft-serve ice cream anytime. If you purchase the Bottomless Bubbles Soda Card, kids will have access to unlimited sodas and juices in various venues across the ship.
 

Dr. Seuss Bookville on Carnival and a waterpark on Norwegian

Our PickCarnival — The offerings for kids are pretty similar on both lines, but Carnival’s partnership with Dr. Seuss gives them the edge.

 

Overall

Both lines provide affordable Vegas-meets-Orlando vacations — a marriage of flashy decor and theme park-style amenities.

 

Our Pick: It’s a tough call, but Carnival edges out Norwegian ever so slightly. These two lines are very comparable in most categories, but Carnival nudges Norwegian out in more of them. Norwegian excels when it comes to itineraries, entertainment, and dining quality, but Carnival’s variety of unique cabins, included onboard activities, and complimentary restaurants make them the perfect option for families who value variety and are looking for more included amenities in their cruise fare.

 

Join the discussion

Which line do you prefer?

33 Comments

Posted by glomarrone

I think that a good question would have been "Which cruise line has the best prices?" For families, this is an important consideration. For me the answer is Carnival.

Posted by Hknee

Norwegian is the cleanest and best cruiseline around.....no one gets sick on it.....Very clean......and lots of fun and destinations, too!!!

Posted by Den1212

After spend 10 years working as a manager on Carnival in Food and Beverage department,i will never go with Carnival even for free.Do you want know more?

Posted by sweetliberty13

My personal preference is Norwegian. However, I am out-voted in my own household. My daughter and son-in-law prefer Carnival (taking their 4th Carnival cruise - so it is Reward point related, even though the rewards are a very small carrot to hunt for). My son prefers the food selections on Carnival. My wife has no preference.

Posted by Flea

You gave the edge to NCL for kids in part due to the Nickelodeon partnership, but now that NCL's annouced the partnership is being phased out starting in the fall (completely gone in January), does that impact your rating in this area? I know the article was written well before that was announced, but figured I'd ask. FD: The kids club on the Jewel in '06 was one of the only redeeming factors of our single NCL experience to date (going on the Escape in mid-Nov, sans kid)

Posted by bobbychad

Been on 9 cruises all with NCL and Carnival except for 1...we decided to try Royal Ceribbean on the Indy of the seas...the ship was awesome, but the cruise was mediocre at best. Royal is the nickel and dime line. They upcharge for everything. As far as NCL and Carnival they are almost equal in my book. I think NCL also has a sleight edge...most the carnival ships are the same..same layout same everything. If you go on the valor, you have then sailed on the Liberty, Victory and most other ships as far as something new. We sailed on the dream in 2010, and then the breeze this last february. I felt like i was on the Dream again. NCL their ships have something new on most ships. they are not laid out exactly the same....But i am a ship guy..which ship i sail on has a big part in what cruise i am going to take. I dont like to sail on the same ship twice. Up next for me ..NCL Getaway!!!!

Posted by FamilyCrusing1

I think it depends on the ship in the cruise line. I've been on the NCL Getaway and WOW what a beautiful, fun ship!! There are four sit down restaurants with great food! And the buffet was also great! There is another free restaurant that is an outdoor Cuban dining venue. We didn't eat there, so I can't vouch for the food. We are going on this ship again and plan to put this restaurant on our list of things to do. The other restaurants, steakhouse, Italian, Japanese, French and Ocean Blue do cost extra, but you can easily enjoy the free restaurants and not feel like you're missing out. The things that really stand out on the Getaway are the customer service and the activities/entertainment. I had a question for our room steward one day and I called him. As we were talking on the phone, within 1 minute he was knocking at the door. The bartenders were exceptional and we never had to wait more than a few minutes for a drink. They would make drinks that weren't even on the menu. Pools could get crowded especially on sea days, but what ship's pool don't get crowded. I would take in the cooking demonstrations, origami, Bingo, and trivia contests on sea days. We would get off the ship early on port days, take in the culture and then hit the pool on the ship by early afternoon. We later cruised on the Carnival Liberty. While we had a good time, we just kept thinking, "This isn't the Getaway." We were never greeted by anyone by name or told "Hello" by anyone on the ship unless you spoke to them first. I was amazed at how many of the crew on the Getaway knew my husband and I both by name and everyone, and I mean everyone on the Getaway gave you a smile and a "hello." One thing that I did like better about the Liberty was the room service. If the order was spontaneous, they were always there within 15 minutes. If it was a breakfast order put in the night before, they were right on time. The Liberty also had larger portions and more variety on the room service menu. Hand sanitizers were everywhere on the Getaway! Including crew at the entrance to the ship to spray everyone boarding the ship. There were some hand sanitizers on the Liberty, but most of the time they were empty. Our son enjoyed the kids camp on the Liberty, but didn't spend a lot of time there...maybe an hour or two a day. I also saw one time when I went to pick him up there were three kids and no camp counselor in sight. He wasn't with us for the Getaway cruise, but he is looking forward to the activities on the Getaway. The kids camp on the Liberty wasn't open at night. The Getaway is free until 10. They do close down for two hours at lunch time and again at dinner time, but I would want my son to be with us for meals anyway. If you check prices often, you can sometimes find that prices have gone down for your cruise (Ours has gone down once and they also added a deal where the 3rd person is half price). The cruise we booked on NCL for next Thanksgiving week is currently $3175 for the three of us. This includes the beverage package (For the next day or two, your cruise includes one of the following: Ultimate Beverage Package, Dining Package, $100 on board credit (for up to 3 people per cabin), or free gratuities package.) There is also the "book a future cruise {four years to book} with a $250 deposit and get $100 on board credit for the cruise you are on now. We are locked in at $2400 and this includes insurance:) (We always book insurance. This means you can cancel your cruise up to the day before for a full refund, it gives you some $$ towards airfare if you miss the cruise, it covers $$ for lost luggage, covers medical services on the ship {your health insurance doesn't cover expenses on the ship), and it covers some of the $$ if you need to be medivaced back to the states. It's $89 and in my opinion, it is well worth the price. I looked up the price on the Carnival Breeze for a cruise for the same week and it was $2500. The cruise is for an 8 day Southern Caribbean, but the oceanview room is on level 1. I'm not sure if I want to be that far down in the ship? It also doesn't include the beverage package or insurance. I've heard some not so good reviews of the NCL Sun. I really think you'll hear good and bad reviews about ships in any cruise line. I think some ships are old and just need to retire or be perked up a bit. I think it pays to research and if you are a smart shopper you can find a great cruise for a good value on either. But bottom line...NCL Getaway gets my vote HANDS DOWN!!

Posted by Arch0

Cruise Like A Norwegian all the way! I have four booked at the moment and I plan on booking many more.

Posted by MarcusII

I wouldn't go on another Norwegian Cruise at gunpoint. If you take the cheapest dining the food is not quite up to low life diner standards. They charge just as much for as any other cruise line and then you have to waste time trying to get a reservation at a decent restaurant and pay on top of that. The desert buffets that are spectacular on similarly priced cruises are just tiny scoops of ice cream (one to a person) on Norwegian. "Freestyle cruising is aimed at people who don't know how to tie a tie or prefer to slop cheap food all over themselves rather than enjoy a fine meal. There is nothing to recommend on these cruises and you can get much more for the same money anywhere.

Posted by Vickilu2

Carnival is by far the better of the two lines. Food, entertainment, casinos and staff. I love the anytime dining on Carnival and I hate standing in line for 45 minutes to be seated in the dining room on NCL. I will NEVER cruise on NCL again. I cruised NCL 5 times and Carnival 31 times. I am now cruising some with Celebrity as I get older and love the quiet and not so rowdy with lot's of kids. But, by far carnival still has the best food in the dining room and the Specialty Restaurants.

Posted by Gampy70

My wife and I have cruised more than 30 times. I dislike Royal Carribean for poor customer service and intrusive security staff. NCL is better although now that we've sailed Cunard (QM2) and HAL we know what elegant cruising is like. Princess is nice but not that nice. Which brings us to Carnival. This line is dedicated to getting you on board and then selling you all kinds of stuff. Their marketers studied cruiser behavior and realize the casino (smoking allowed), the shops and photos are money makers. You can't get around a Carnival ship without passing by the casino and lots of phogtographers ready to take a portrait. But we like Carnival because it allows people access to cruising they might otherwise not afford. The line is not pretentious in any way. It's the low price brand and proud of it. They really do try to make cruising fun. Judging from their clientele of young families they are hitting their goal. But here's to the Norway, the Regal Empress, the Pacific Princess, the Sun Viking and all the other retired vessels that we enjoyed over 28 years of sailing. And may all of you have calm seas and following winds.

Posted by DarrenSisco

I've been on one cruise and it was with Carnival on the Sensation. They treated me and my family with the upmost respect and care. I was treated like a high class passenger for 5 days, literally VIP treatment. Our Steward knew each of my family members name immediately and remembered it throughout the journey. I was embarassed because I didn't even know his. The Matre'ds played with my children and gave them whatever they desired plus they had the Camp Carnival for me to drop them off at during the day so Mom and Dad can have fun. I would pick the kids up late into the evening and they didn't want to leave! We loved it so much we are going again, booked a cruise in August with them on the Elation.

Posted by McRat

We (family of four) had a couple of really bad experiences with Carnival which pretty much crossed them off our list for good after perhaps 6-7 cruises with them. Notably, something went wrong with engineering, and the hot water shut off for more than a day. To "reward" the passengers, they had Free Drinks for 1 Hour. It was a mess. Dumb thing to do. It was like a scene from Animal House. People were hassling our kids, stumbling on the stairs, spilling drinks everywhere. We had to spend the night in the suite. There were many other blunders, but that was the most memorable. Poorly managed was the issue with all our problems. The crew was friendly, good activities, good food, but nobody in charge seemed to have a clue what to do when something goes wrong. We just completed our first cruise on NCL to Alaska. The Haven concept is really smart. You can go in your robe, sit down and get served breakfast. It is a "restricted" floor level that is quiet, uncrowded, and relaxing in all weather conditions due to it's atrium area. But if you REALLY want a good time, it has to be a Royal Caribbean Oasis Class ship. The upscale suites are VERY luxurious and spacious. While it is a really large ship, it seldom feels crowded. 3 cruises so far on the two flagships, and the WORST one whipped the BEST experience on any other ship. Money well spent.

Posted by brooks86

I have never been on Nowegian, only Carnival and Royal Carribean. I prefer Royal Carribean but Carnival is nice too.

Posted by Julie1953

My favorite is NCL all the way the staff is happy to work on there ships I've had the opportunity to talk to some of the staff and that's what they told me. I've been on several cruises with them. Carnival every time I went it went wrong. Royal Caribbean is too much money and the last time the service and food sucked. And Celebrity I had one good one and one not so much. I actually have 3 bookended on NCL. I will have the experience on trying MSC Divina in 2 months.

Posted by popweazl

went on a carnival. spoiled me in a bad way. will never go on another, they couldn't pay me enough to step onto one of those hellholes.

Posted by Vactionqueen

I read the post about an NCL cruise that was cancelled at the last minute and all the headaches they went through. My advice to anyone on any line, ALWAYS BUY THE INSURANCE. It will be the best 79.00 investment you ever make. No matter what happens, you will be covered. Just make sure you add your airfare on to the insurance also. All cruise lines have issues from time to time. Carnival has more publicized than most so one event with NCL should not discourage a second chance. I suggest that couple try Royal because they will then realize how bottom of the barrel Carnival really is. Royal treats you like royalty compared to Carnival. I have been on plenty of Carnival cruises and each time I tell myself it will get better. It doesn't. NCL & Royal both have entertainment that is for real. Carnival is designed for people that care very little about the shows and more about the bars. It all boils down to personal taste. If you enjoy being drunk and having kids run wild on a ship, try Carnival. If you want a great vacation with respectable entertainment and food, go Royal or NCL or Princess.

Posted by skippers44

I have cruised on Carnival and NCL. I prefer Carnival for cabin size , entertainment and food. Also, Carnival is an American owned business and NCL is owned by Orient which is Chinese.

Posted by Grandmarolls

We have sailed MANY times on NCL. We have also sailed on Carnival and on Princess. I deal with accessibility issues, which NCL is much better at. The entertainment is better on NCL (I mean REALLY Carnival? Bean bag toss as the evening's entertainment in the three deck high theater? or line dancing? I don't think so. Or Princess putting the wheelchair section BEHIND the projection equipment so all we can see is the bottom quarter of the screen?). Excursion prices are better, food is better. We've given the other cruise lines a fair chance. We're NCL all the way!

Posted by ksimpso3

I have been on 2 Carnival cruises and will be leaving on my 7th Norwegian cruise 2 weeks from today. Hands-down winner of 2 for me is NCL. I find Carnival very gaudy and hate their dining situation. I also thought the entertainment was far superior on NCL. I won't say I will never cruise Carnival again but it certainly won't be my first choice. I love everything about NCL from crew to dining to entertainment.

Posted by taragp

My husband planned our first cruise for our 10th wedding anniversary. We arranged babysitting for our four children and were taking a much deserved vacation that also happened to be a New Years Eve cruise. We were very excited and bags were packed and kids were dropped off with grandma when we received the phone call at 10pm the night before our cruise was supposed to depart. The cruise was CANCELLED! We planned this vacation for the two of us for almost a year and we were devastated. I thought it was a sick joke until I called NORWEGIAN and found out the boat had broken down and we would not be sailing. NORWEGIAN was absolutely no help at all, I asked to be put on another ship and they couldnt' accomodate. My husband and I had not gone on a vacation alone in 10 years and this was supposed to be special. At the last minute I had to scramble and find and pay for somewhere else to go. It took Norwegian over 2 months to reimburse us for a cruise they cancelled. After speaking with a travel agent she said she was surprised that ship was still in service as it was broken down more than it sailed. I apparently did not do my homework and will NEVER sail NORWEGIAN again. Since that disasterous non cruise we have been on 10 Carnival cruises and have never had a problem. I would never even consider looking at a Norwegian cruise. Carnival is much better and makes sure you get where you need to go or you are compensated. I didn't even get back the entire price of the cruise they considered the deposit non-refundable and said we needed to book another Norwegian cruise to keep it. Screw Norwegian. Carnival is the BEST!

Posted by slotaddict

Norwegian hands down...I sail both lines...I prefer Norwegian....food is better...better entertainment..booked for next January...first time in Haven...yay me....

Posted by OZZIE

I THINK PAM97217 GOT ON THE WRONG CRUISE SHIP, NORWEGIAN IS THE BEST, ARE YOU SURE YOU ARE NOT TALKING ABOU CELEBRITY

Posted by Pam97217

No more Norwegian !!! Went on two Norwegian cruises in the past six months. The food is the worst n lacks variety. The entertainment is almost non-existent. Price for a balcony cabin is not cheap!!! Crew do not seem happy...rarely smile n have no time to visit. I am partial to Holland America n that is where I will go for the next cruise!!!

Posted by SuzieQT

I really enjoy Carnival cruises, but wish there weren't so many kids on board. It's not that I dislike children, it's just that the parents let them run wild on the ship and don't teach them any manners at all! How hard is it to say excuse me? I think the food on Carnival is very good, and the service is awesome. I have tried other cruise lines and they were all very good, but Carnival has the best prices, and leaves from my home state of Texas, making it affordable and convenient.

Posted by NCLcruiser0502

I have been on both cruise lines and I honestly do not think I'll ever go on Carnival again. The entertainment was nothing compared to NCL and the food variety was awful. Yes, the taco stand was cool, but they fail to mention it is open for two hours a day. If you are one to go to a late show and may want to grab a bite to eat after, good luck. There is nothing to eat after like 10 on Carnival, except for some random leftovers. I was not impressed with the parties they had. I did love the piano bar. Overall, NCL has my vote and I don't want to even try another cruise line.

Posted by BonVoyageTravel

I have been on several cruises/different ships with NCL and consistently found the food and entertainment consistently excellent and getting even better! I've been on 2 Royal Caribbean cruises and they were okay but food and atmosphere was boring/just okay. If I could do the Wave surfing thing, I might feel differently, but I think RCCL's offerings are not as varied as NCL. But this is supposed to be about NCL & Carnival. With regard to comments above: Neither should be compared to Holland America which is a premium line. Carnival originated as an American company but has since become merged with P&O, a British company. It is publicly traded on the stock exchange, as is NCL. NCL's majority stockholder (only 28%) is a Malaysian company, but it is run as an American company out of Miami, mainly by Americans. I am a travel professional with ten years experience. I admit I have not sailed on Carnival, but nor do I want to, after extensive research. I do not sell Carnival as I don't have confidence in the product. The only thing they have over NCL is more varied itineraries in the Caribbean. I only put clients on Carnival if they insist and I can't find a comparable itinerary on another cruise line. That has only happened twice in ten years. NCL is only slightly more in price BUT you get more quality for your money, therefore NCL is a better VALUE. I give my clients VALUE; not always the cheapest price. You get what you pay for. Also of mention, the management at NCL is EXCELLENT and the corporate culture is one of excellence and great service. That means a lot to me.

Posted by BonVoyageTravel

I have been on several cruises/different ships with NCL and consistently found the food and entertainment consistently excellent and getting even better! I've been on 2 Royal Caribbean cruises and they were okay but food and atmosphere was boring/just okay. If I could do the Wave surfing thing, I might feel differently, but I think RCCL's offerings are not as varied as NCL. But this is supposed to be about NCL & Carnival. With regard to comments above: Neither should be compared to Holland America which is a premium line. Carnival originated as an American company but has since become merged with P&O, a British company. It is publicly traded on the stock exchange, as is NCL. NCL's majority stockholder (only 28%) is a Malaysian company, but it is run as an American company out of Miami, mainly by Americans. I am a travel professional with ten years experience. I admit I have not sailed on Carnival, but nor do I want to, after extensive research. I do not sell Carnival as I don't have confidence in the product. The only thing they have over NCL is more varied itineraries in the Caribbean. I only put clients on Carnival if they insist and I can't find a comparable itinerary on another cruise line. That has only happened twice in ten years. NCL is only slightly more in price BUT you get more quality for your money, therefore NCL is a better VALUE. I give my clients VALUE; not always the cheapest price. You get what you pay for. Also of mention, the management at NCL is EXCELLENT and the corporate culture is one of excellence and great service. That means a lot to me.

Posted by CruiserAZ

I prefer NCL over Carnival. I think the food overall is better on NCL, the entertainment and shows are far better on NCL. The entertainments shows on Carnival are eh...ok. The beds are much better on NCL. Carnival's beds are hard as a rock and my back always starts hurting after the first night. They need to stop putting rock beds and skimpy skinny pillows in their rooms.

Posted by flexibleFreddy

I think the NCL website is easier to navigate.

Posted by PapaMamaDuck

All I care about is great steaks and not breaking the bank. As long as the buffets have steak, I think I'll survive.

Posted by rileyswa

We love them both. Of course, right now, after 3 cruises cancelled that we booked and paid for in 2020, I'll pick whichever one of them (a) gives us the refund we are due and (b) stays afloat and out of bankruptcy so we can sail again. It is just tragic what this virus is doing to the travel industry. The domino effect of the potential of cruiselines failing, is mindboggling. We can't afford to let cruiselines fail.

Posted by Newbie4Life

My wife and her best friend are long time cruisers who have sailed together at least once a year. Before we got married, my now spouse tried to convince me to join them on several occasions, and I begged off for all the reasons people who have never cruised give (I'll get bored, norovirus, cabins too small, too many people, bad food, etc.) I finally acquiesced five years ago and agreed to go on a cruise out of MIA to Key West/Havana/Cozumel on Norwegian which we booked several months in advance. That cruise never happened due to Trump changing the relaxed travel policies to Cuba. Norwegian sent us a letter postmarked and dated Feb 27th which informed us we had until Feb 15th to respond to either accept a revised booking date or receive a full credit to be applied toward a future cruise. Mind you, this was my first cruise... nothing like a company telling you 2 weeks after the fact of a deadline to make a choice. Needless to say, we were credited in full, which took about 30 days, and didn't get to make the bucket list trip to Havana. After that initial experience and later learning about Norwegian's infamous "poop cruise," amongst other negative customer feedback, they have demonstrated that they truly do not care about their customers and operate their business loosy-goosey. I went on a Carnival cruise that fall and had the time of my life. Couldn't believe something I was so certain I would detest won me over so completely... being completely away from email, phone calls, and texts messages (there's a reason NOT to get the WiFi package) forced me into 100% vacation mode. Carnival does it right and they gained a customer for life. 8-day cruises# 7 and #8 are slated to happen this fall and next year (fingers crossed for 2020 sailing restrictions being lifted) and I'm planning on buying Carnival stock while it is devalued. I would like to try Royal Caribbean, Disney, or MSC at some point to establish a point of comparison, but I will NEVER sail on a Norwegian vessel due to their actions. I know that Carnival is often derided as the 'budget' brand fleet, but you carve out your own experiences and we have never felt less than appreciated or valued as returning customers. Norwegian's lack of attentiveness, poor communication, and general screw you attitude was a complete turn off.

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