Carnival or Royal Caribbean

Being from South Texas, I find the Port Galveston the most convenient to travel from.

Currently, only three lines depart from Galveston -- Disney, RCI and Carnival.

Disney is too expensive for me, and I am about 40 years too old to find the passenger base comforting. I have sailed on Carnival several times, and find it enjoyable, but a bit too "high energy" (late night loud partying, millennial attitude amongst many of the passengers, etc). That being said, I will still sail this line.

I have never been on RCI. I have read reviews of this line, and studied the "Smackdown" posted elsewhere on this site, but still do not know how RCI compares to Carnival.

How do the cabins (specifically the standard balconies) compare? How does the "nickel and diming" compare -- how much of the alternative eateries are premium (extra cost)? What is the passenger base like?

I am looking for something between super-high energy (Carnival) and a blissfully Zen (Princess) experience that doesn't have loads of extra costs.

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28 Answers

I don't have an answer for you but I completely agree with what you are asking.  I would like to know as well.  Especially about having to make reservations on line ahead of time for shows and dinner?  Thanks.

I hate the idea of making reservations -- when I'm on vacation, I like to have a definite void of a plan -- take each thing as it comes up rather than setting a schedule.

Certain scheduling, even on vacation, is inevitable. I would rather limit it to scheduling time to try the new cocktail during happy hour, or being at the store when they raffle of the gold chain set. Or most importantly, being on time for the couple massage at the spa....

John - I agree that some scheduling is inevitable, but having to schedule everything is going (sorry about this) overboard.

I do look through the newsletter and find certain activities that I may be interested in and make it a point to be at a certain place at a certain time. If my plans change, then nothing is lost if I do not show up or if I decide to show up at the last minute.

The necessity of making reservations for a show, in my opinion only, should be unnecessary on a vacation. If I decide at the last minute to go, I want to be able to go, not be told that I should have made reservations last month.

But this is only a small part of the main question -- Is RCI a better experience than CCL?

(Reservations, to me, is a minus, but definitely not a deal breaker)

LOL there is something to be said for Carnival and the High Energy, in that it makes for interesting stories to bring home.  My wife and I are not of that age group, but we enjoy Carnival as we are people watchers and it adds to the entertainment value.  Then there is always the sights of the morning after, which we have "Been there, done that" that is equally hilarious!  Such as this fellow below:

 

At least he isn't sunburned . . . YetSurprised

 

My parents have sailed both RCI and Carnival and prefer Carnival. They are both in their early 50s. I personally have not sailed RCI, but I would like to experience it at some point.

 

Right now, being in my mid-twenties with a 3-month old, Carnival gets my vote simply from a monetary standpoint. We have cruise #6 and #7 booked and we have enjoyed all of our Carnival cruises.

I have traveled on both of the lines.   They are pretty similar to a point.  When I first started cruising I was Loyal to Royal in my 30's.  Now I pick itinerary, sail date and ship size.  I have never done any of the new mega ships.   I like having assigned MDR seating time, staff and table mates (make new friends).  When on Vacation I do not like having to make pre reservations for dinner or shows like the mega ships require you to do.  

 

The cruise experience will depend on the size of the ship and length of the cruise.  The 3 night weekend cruises are party cruises on both lines.  I have been on some of the big ships like RCI Adventure of the Sea's and Celebrity Equinox and liked them.   They were standard MDR seating times, assigned tables and had a show in the show room each night. They also had bars and other things to do in the evenings. 

 

RCI gets a bit more mature crowd then Carnival (less of the 20's more of the 30's to 60's)  it is not as casual,  does not have the Comedy Club,  it is less party and more relax,  it is not as in your face as Carnival.   RCI does have more deck activities like the flow rider and rock climbing wall.

 

If I'm looking for a quick fun, loud, party cruise,  nothing beats Carnival,   I have enjoyed all of the Carnival cruises I have been on and I have a future cruise booed on the Vista for April.  I have enjoyed all of the RCI cruises I have taken from the old small ships up to the big Adventure of the Sea's.  If I was going on a 14 night cruise I would prefer RCI,   Not sure I'd want 2 weeks of Carnival now that I'm in my early 50's.

So i've done only RCI, my BF and I are in our mid 30's, his parents are 50's and have cruised together. It is a good balance of fun and serene. The nickel and diming I never pay attention to because that is the nature of the beast. Unselling during a spa visit, the specialty restaurants, etc etc. We have done balconies before and they were nice (and again, my standards are not super high). It has a bit of a cramped feeling, but lets face it, I come in, lay down, go outside and sit, and shower (and it is a typical cruise bathroom... small). 

I like RCI for the treatment and environment is up my ally. I'm no spring chicken anymore, and carnival is a curiosity point to try, but my BF who is more of an introvert is content with RCI

Thanks JusMe and Meg for your insights.

Since I am looking exclusively at the Galveston port, I don't have to worry about the megaship problems. Currently it is the Liberty of the Seas and Carnival Freedom that are docked there for the 7 day cruises.

If I am understanding it correctly, they are about equal (albeit different activities) but the RCI is a bit more relaxing? If so, then I guess there may be an RCI cruise in the future.

(I just wish Galveston offered something other than Western Caribbean).

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