We have been on one of each-Carnival Paradise and Royal Caribbean Rhapsody of the Seas. Both ships are approximately the same size.
We enjoyed the Carnival ship so much more for the following reasons:
1)The ages of the passengers. We are in our early 40's. On Paradise, we did not feel old or out of place. On Rhapsody, the average age must have been 60.
2)Nighttime entertainment. Paradise had things going on all night long. We found this lovely piano bar with a singer who took requests. There were lyric books everywhere. We stayed until 2 or 3 am every day. On Rhapsody, the "sidewalks" rolled up at 9:30. We went to every bar only to find NO ONE there but the bartenders reading or cleaning and the DJ's hanging around. Very boring.
3)Activity announcements. We liked hearing which activites were taking place when. It was so on Paradise. On Rhapsody, we had to rely on activity schedules and clocks. Who wants to look at clocks on vacation???
4)Cabins. The cabin on Paradise was so much bigger than the one on Rhapsody.
5)Towels. We recived a nasty-gram on Rhapsody about why didn't we re-use our towels every day. Never heard anything about that on Paradise.
6)Food. Comparable on both ships.
Carnival's slogan is "The Fun Ships" and that's what we found. We are in the process of planning a cruise on Carnival Victory in Feb. 2004 with our two teenage sons, 15 and 13, and 3 other couples with kids, and we can't wait!
For the most part I've heard from friends and family that Cranival seems to be aimed at a younger crowd-all about fun! And RC seems to aim more at relaxation and getting away. Thats what I've heard. Evryone seems to have different experiences though.
I just returned from a 4 day Carnival cruise and I had an absolutely wonderful experience. We are already planning our next Carnival cruise. We had fun, we relaxed, we did everything we intended to do on our cruise. What we did not do was sit around bored, go to bed at 8:00 pm or ever go hungry. The food was wonderful. The staff was friendly and so were the other passengers. Carnival lived up to its fun ship promise. If you are looking for a quiet, refined cruise this is not your line. If you are looking to have a fun time...give them a try. I'm very glad we did. I cannot say enough positive things about our experience.
If you are a fun-loving person, don't want to spend a lot of money for overpriced services, don't feel comfortable around snobby people, and you choose one of Carnival's larger ships, then go with Carnival. RCL is similar with it's large ships but costs a little more. I would choose from those two based on ports of call and nothing else assuming both are with their larger ships.
I have been to many 5-Star resorts where I have been pampered beyond belief because I won the trip for sales production. I would compare the service, food, and overall experience I had on Carnival (Conquest 110,000 tons) to those resorts.
But, if you hate kids, 20-somethings, noise in general, moderate to heavy drinking, and social people, don't choose Carnival.
I've been on several cruises. The best cruise ever was on Carnival (Legend). The worst cruise ever was on Carnival (Destiny). I think it's a crapshoot. If you happen to get poor waiters or cabin stewards, have a bad experience or two with room service etc, you'll probably consider it a bad cruise. It's the little things that make the difference between a great time and "oh brother, what am I doing here".
On both of these cruises we had balcony rooms. It's definitely the way to go if at all possible.
I have seen this same quetion over and over and over. The 2 lines are similiar. RCCL does seem to attract more familes-Carnival more singles but you will see people of all ages on both lines. You will see badly behaved people on both lines.You will see nice decent people on both lines.
If you are comparing Sovereign of the Seas to Carnival Legend-ofcourse Legend is better. If you are comparing Voyager of the Seas to Fascination ofcourse Voyager is better.
On BOTH lines if you pick an older ship you get a better deal though there are exceptions. I found better deals on Carnival Legend Dec. 15 and Princess Grand Dec.14-both newer ships $700 balconys. Carnival Inspiration Dec. 14 even though it is an older ship not as good a deal because it only has balconies in the mini-suites so they are much more expensive.
Do your homework-read cruise reviews of the ships you are considering then make your decision on which cruise you want to take.
Carnival Paradise is alot different from the other Carnival ships-it's no smokong policy attracts more settled people so it does not have the "party image" of other Carnival ships. For those with young families that prefer RCCL for this reason will be happy with this ship where as they may hate other Carnival ships.
One thing I thought of too about comparing Carnival to RCCL is that Carnival has a huge line of ships about double the amount RCCL has. They do this to reach a larger group of people with different needs. The older ships which aren't as nice are much more affordable then the newer ships. If you look at the prices of Carnival Legend, Glory and the new Miracle the prices compare more to Voyager in price. Then like Inspiration, Sensation are more affordable as those ships have a little age on them.
Anyway this is also true of RCCL-Sovereign is much more affordable the Voyager.
So anyway the point I was making is Carnival is not really any cheaper the RCCL. They have ships just as expensive-they just have a larger fleet and many of the ships are older and more affordable. Carnival still has plenty of ships that do the 7 days cruises that are less expensive. RCCL does not have that many ships and their older ships usually just do the mini cruises less then 7 day.
well, the two ships we have narrowed it down to are: the Mariner of the Seas and the Carnival Glory. We are not going until next Sept/Oct. But, we want to get it booked. THey both look good. I like the three days out to sea.