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A Comparison Question. Carnival vs Norwegian, which & why?
I cruised 1 time on Norwegian. It was a very good deal, 3 day out of Miami on the Sky. I have cruised on Carnival 3 times. The reason I have gone back to Carnival is their staff is so kind & attentive, but it is possible, since I was on Norwegian's oldest ship, maybe the staff wasn't their top notch crew?? We had a grumpy dinner crew. We still had a wonderful time!! For me, I LOVE that Norwegian separated the adult parties from the family parties/events. I thought that was so considerate! For Carnival, their staff is over & above polite & they do extra stuff for their return guests (event with free drinks/food ).
Have any of you cruised both enough times to tell me if there are any huge differences? Why do you prefer Norwegian over Carnival??
Thanks much! My family loves to cruise, but we are still new & want to make good decisions & sometimes Norwegian has amazing deals!
Since you are asking this on a NCL board, you will prob. get more people answering with a preference towards NCL. I, however, would have to say I prefer Carnival. I have approx. 17 cruises with them and only 1 NCL under my belt, though I am booked on the Epic and cannot wait! It does make for an unfair comparison on my part and I realize that.
I found the staff more friendly on Carnival, the cabins larger, and my biggest issue was the food. I found the NCL portions were very small at dinner & the selection just ok. I usually travel with my family & friends and prefer having the same dining room staff at a set dining time - though Carnival also has a My Time Dining Prog. or something along that line, I haven't used it. On the NCL cruise I was only with my friend so the Freestyle worked out fine, but my NCL dining experience was more like going to a somewhat inattentive restaurant where staff took your order, placed it down & you never saw them until you finished. One night I waited for a 1/2 hr. to get a cup of tea and dessert. On Carnival, with having the same wait staff each night for dinner, they seemed more anxious to making your experience really nice & were more attentive.
On NCL I found the majority of people really didn't dress up on their "Dress Up or Not Nights" & more people did so on Carnival. It did make it a bit laid back, which was nice since I was only with a friend, & packing was easier but with family & friends I like looking nice as a group, we do family pics,etc. I did not like that NCL did not have a beverage station out by the pool - just this big insultated sports type cooler with water. On Carnival I can get an iced tea, lemonade, coffee when eating in the central outdoor area. NCL I had to keep going back inside. Carnival I receive the Platinum perks so getting priority boarding & priority tenders at islands and the laundry service is a plus for me.
On the plus side for NCL, I loved their entertainment & felt there were more options than Carnival. I like NCL's Cagney's and felt it wasn't a stuffy as Carnival's steakhouse. Both had delicious food. I liked the Blue Lagoon on NCL where you could order food at all hours, as opposed to the 24 hr. pizza, which I almost never eat, on Carnival. Again, wasn't knocked over by the food, disappointed with the raved about chicken wings (bit bland even when ordered hot) but it was nice to just sit with coffee & dessert there if we had to get to a show & skipped dessert at dinner. I'm sort of laughing to myself at how much emphasis I put on food...sounds like I must be this big woman who is always eating, which is not even close, but I do enjoy a nice meal.
I thought NCL's private island didn't compare with the Half Moon Caye stop on Carnival.
All in all...still had a nice time on NCL and as said, will sail again because I am anxious to experience the Epic & do enjoy just trying a different line here & there to keep things fresh.
They are so similar, I would go with whichever one had the itinerary you like at the best price. We just got off the Star and had a great time. It was our first time on NCL, having done 5 on Carnival. I thought the food was comparable, but like the above poster, I do prefer set dining time with the same waiter. I think they are more attentive. I thought the entertainment was a notch or two higher on NCL, but I could be biased since this was our first cruise without our young kids, so we were actually able to go to a lot more shows. Overall we were very impressed w/ NCL.
Two biggest points which tip me in favor of norwegian are the more restricted indoor smoking rules on norwegian, and with carnival's early saver program, which I HATE, norwegian now comes out cheaper on the early planning I do.
That said, the two lines are not hugely different.
Food is better on carnival, as is the service in the dining room.
Anytime is nice on norwegian, a more laid back feeling all the way around.
Cabins are much better on carnival.
Both lines appear to have cut back on military discounts that used to abound.
Blue Lagoon is a plus towards Norwegian.
All the added space taken from public use for the added fee restaurants is not a plus in my book.
I would sail either, based on intinerary and price, but currently prefer Norwegian for the reduced smoking issues and lower prices. I will add though, it would serve Norwegian well to take notice of the MANY complaints of slow and inattentive service in their dining rooms.
Norwegian Escape Winter 2015 / Bahamas
Norwegian Sun Winter 2015 / W Carribean
Sailed Norwegian Dawn 10/3/2014 / Canada
Sailed Norwegian Epic 12/7/13/ Bahamas
Sailed Norwegian Sun to Alaska 6/3/13
Sailed Norwegian Dawn 11/25/2012 / Western Carribean
Sailed Norwegian Star 11/27/2011 / Western Carribean
Sailed Norwegian Jade 10/31/2010 / Western Mediterranean
Sailed Carnival Pride 5/3/09 / Bahamas
Sailed Carnival Legend 12/07/08 / Western Carribean
Last edited by omc329; May 24th, 2011 at 08:34 AM.
I like to switch between the lines, both have good and not so good points. We are suite pax and the suite life on NCL can't be beat, but it's also more expensive which means fewer cruises. We've found excellent and poor service on both lines, it's the individual person not the line that makes that happen. We found the main dining better on Carnival, the buffet better on NCL, entertainment varied on both...a bit better main shows on NCL but better "other" venus on Carnival. If you are a smoker, you'll like carnival a bit better, less restrictive....if you like dining choices...NCL is great. I'd go for the itenarary and price that suites you.
To tell you the truth, I do not prefer NCL over CCL across the board. It comes down to the specific ships for me. Speaking of the 3 nighters, I found the service and ambiance of the Sky to be much better than the Imagination. However, I would cruise on CCL's Spirit Class any day over most NCL ships.
I'd never cruised Carnival until about a year ago. I'd been a fairly loyal NCL customer for the last twenty some years. Now we've done two Carnival cruises. The first was okay. Nothing fantastic but it compared well with NCL. So we did another, and that one turned out to be one of the most enjoyable cruises we've taken in a long time.
Bottom line though is the lines are very similar, and it really depends a lot on the specific ship you're on. Ships and crews can be very different even within a specific line.
As far as who does what best, we feel CCL wins on MDR food and cabin size, while NCL has better bathrooms and slightly better entertainment. The rest is pretty much a push. CCL offers anytime dining now, and I didn't see any difference in the level of dress for formal night, which can be a biggie for some.
Our next cruise will be on NCL again, so we'll see how we think NCL compares, after doing two consecutive CCL cruises.
@6 of us -
We have never been on Carnival. We enjoy the total freedom that NCL's Free-Style Dining offers. Flexible times, choice of venue, and eating by ourselves. That alone trumps any advantage Carnival or anybody else may have in the cabin size or food quality. Did I make myself clear? NCL all the way.