August 13th is the day I step back on Oasis of the Seas for the 2nd time, the last time, and the first time I had been on a Royal Caribbean ship was last year. I have to say it was like visiting Disney World, there is so much to do on the ship that you can't fit it all in in just one 7 day cruise. This time I will be returning, knowing the layout and style of the ship's operations.
Now, I know a lot of cruisers are going to ask me so I will get it out here right now "What is the difference between a Royal Caribbean cruise and a Carnival cruise".
So here are the main differences, and I will say one isn't better than the other, they are different and depending on what you like to do on a vacation, one will be more suited to your style of vacationing than another.
1: Value for money. BOTH lines offer exceptional value for money, I haven't been on a cruise yet that I have thought I didn't get my money's worth. However, if you are a BIG spender and money is NO object, the suites on the Oasis class ship go up to extravagant sizes and amenities with price tags to $20,000 or more.
2: Party style. If you like to get involved a lot, dance, boogie drink and party like your back in college, then Carnival is the line for you, they have plenty of entertainment and drag you into the party and fun. Royal offers a lot but you won't find a giant conga line or the CD up on the pool deck getting everyone up to dance, Royal is more about relaxing and pampering, with shows and watching the fun.
3: Drinks. Both cruise lines make a good percentage of their income from drinks so you know there is no shortage on either line. Here are the main differences. Royal offers a wider selection of all you can drink packages, so if you just like beer and wine there is a package like that, or the one I am getting, the all non-alcoholic one that offers soda, coffees, frozen drinks, and juices. Pretty much everything but alcohol. BOTH lines have an all you can drink option for everything but Carnival has a hard cap of 15 drinks a day where Royal will cut you off only when you're too drunk. If you think 15 drinks in one day isn't enough just try it, Ask Matt by 15 you're pretty much wasted.
One other BIG plus to Royal in this dept is that you don't ALL have to buy the drink package in your cabin, which you DO with carnival if the members of the cabin are 21 or older. I like this because I don't really drink alcohol so buying an alcoholic package would be a waste for me but often I would be traveling with someone who does like to drink and then on Carnival we have to make a choice, do we BOTH buy it or none of us buy it. One thing i do like abut the soda drinks on Royal is they have soda machines though the ship. this allows you to grab a soda without waiting for a busy bartender AND it means the people waiting at the bars are usually ordering alcoholic drinks so they don't have to wait for people just wanting a soda. Although you can get a soda from the bartender if you like.
4: Photos. After being on Carnival ships where the photographers are busy taking your pictures all over the ship, I was surprised on Royal how few places they try to take your photo. In fact, you have to hunt down a photographer in several areas where as carnival the photos are trying to get you to take a photo. Both lines take great photos and offer a way to browse and choose to buy any you want.
5: Pool Parties. This is hands down to Carnival, if you like involved dancing and games around the pool Carnival gets you into it, for Royal the pool is for relaxing and wallowing, there are activities but they take place in dedicated areas of the ship.
6: Food. I think both excel in both the quality of food in the buffet, the main dining room and the specialty restaurants. The bigger the ship the more specialty restaurants there are. Both have 24-hour pizza and deli and room service. You can never go hungry on any cruise ship.
7: Shows. Again, I think there are good shows on both lines, On the bigger Royal ships, they have adapted some Broadway shows like Cats, etc. so if you like those then step onto a big Oasis class royal ship, however, the Carnival's in-house productions are pretty great in themselves. One thing I do like about the Royal way of seating is that you can pre-book a seat in advance, Carnival is 1st come 1st seated which means you better get there early for the popular shows to get a good seat.
8: Tendering vs docking. With Royal, at least on the Oasis class of ships they ALWAYS dock and don't goto tender ports. this being 2 reasons, 1: with the ship being so big it would need to anchor miles away making the tender ride very long and 2: with so many people trying to get off the ship (Oasis of the Seas holds over 6,000 passengers) it would take way too long to get that many people off the ship.
9: The Internet. Royal boasts the fastest Internet at Sea and I would go further to say in some cases it's faster than some internet on land. Carnivals Internet is ok for a bit of email and maybe at times posting pictures to Facebook and occasionally some streaming, depending on how close to land you are, Carnival uses land based towers. Royal has plenty of bandwidth to watch Netflix, Skype, text, etc, we use it with no problems to get our live streams out to you all. You may ask if you're on vacation why do you need to worry, well if you're on vacation but run a business or even have an online business where you still need to work it becomes something to consider. Royal wins in this dept.
10: Cost. Carnival wins on lowest prices here, they make it up in things like alcohol sales etc but if you are on a tight budget the cabins are often cheaper on Carnival. and of course, most lines visit the same ports
11: water parks. Carnival has gone all out to attract the kids with their water parks and slides, Royal, while it may have a kids "splash: area don't be looking for any water parks on their ships. Both lines have excellent kid's clubs to take care of the young ones while you go and do adult things. Carnival wins on the waterpark
12: Cruise Directors. They are the "Face of the ship" according to Carnival and on a Carnival cruise, they are definitely front and center of many of the activities and also the many many announcements through the ship. Royal also has cruise directors and although they host some shows and can be seen around the ship they are nowhere near as prominent as a cruise director on Carnival.
13: Cabins. For me, they seem about the same, although on the Royal Oasis class they have up to some very large and expensive ones.On both lines, they have a range from smaller interior cabins to luxury ones. I have stayed in a junior suit my last time on Oasis and the closet space was bigger than my closet it home and had tons of space, on Carnival I have only stayed in interior cabins but have visited most types. I personally don't spend much time in the cabin as there is so much to explore on the ship but I have never been disappointed in any I have stayed in, the beds have always been comfy and nice and quiet.
In summing up of you like the party type cruises where you end up making loads of friends and partying till the wee hours, then look at Carnival. If you are wanting to more relax and a tranquil area, go to some more shows and get pampered, look at Royal
Like I said there isn't one that's "Better" than