I won't disagree with Jim C. Like he, Carnival was my first cruise, and I thought the food was great. My next cruise was with NCL, which I enjoyed also. My third cruise was on a RCCL ship, so were the next 40. The reason I don't sail on any other cruise line is because of the perks I get from Royal Caribbean. Food quality differs from ship to ship; the same would apply to any cruise line. Jim has been on both ships in question, I've only been on the Mariner, which I think is a great ship. The food on the Mariner is good, but not the best. Of coarse an 8 year old wouldn't be too concerned about that. Jim mentioned the ice skating rink. This would be a big plus because besides a great ice show, you both will be able to ice skate. There's also a mini golf coarse, and a great chidrens program. Which ever ship you decide to sail on you're going to have a great vacation. You can't go wrong!