I'm a two time past guest with Carnival and I am now considering NCL Pearl, 9 day so carib, Mar 2007. I'm wondering if anyone can help me understand the differences I may see with NCL compared to Carnival?
Almost all the cruise lines make a profit the same way, so in that respect there's little differences.
The differences you'll see with NCL vs Carnival are:
NCL newer ships will have many more restaurants to choose from, both free and surcharge.
Carnival ships will have a larger buffet/cafeteria, 'cause that's where all their alternative dinning options except the one surcharge restaurant is located.
Carnival ships will have a covered pool aft for swimming on cool and windy days.
Carnival ships will have slightly larger cabins, with smaller bathrooms. Likewise, newer NCL ships will have larger bathrooms in slightly smaller cabins.
The major differences, NCL has open seating for dinner with their Freestyle Cruising concept while Carnival has two closed seatings with their traditional dinning. As desert is being served, Carnival waiters will attempt to entertain you with foolish antics that NCL waiters will never do.
Have a great cruise with either cruise line, I always do.
I imagine the options for dining then to be better on NCL, I recall our last Carnival cruise we ate at the buffet far more often than the Dining room, toward the end of the 7 days it started to get a bit boring.
Any ideas on entertainment on deck with NCL? Specifically, do they have bands playing poolside, like Lido deck during the day? We really enjoyed that with Carnival, the sun was hot, the music was good, and the drinks were cool and tasty!
From our brief (3-day) experience on NCL recently, I can say that the alternate restaurants are fabulous, and worth the extra cover charges! There are also some alternate restaurants that don't have a cover charge, and provide good casual food - a great alternative to the buffet for lunch or a light dinner! Entertainment gets the edge on NCL for me too - the Jean Ann Ryan singer/dancer troupe are among the highest quality at sea, IMO, and their individual entertainers are usually quite good, with lots of variation. Formal night is optional; those who want to dress up can, and those who don't won't be made to feel like second-class citizens.