Caribbean Tips

Cruising: Princess vs. Carnival vs. Royal Caribbean

Dec 29

caribbeaneditWith the abundance of choices these days, choosing the perfect cruise can be a daunting task. I’ve been on quite a few Caribbean cruises and, although there are many similarities between the well-known cruise lines, there are also subtle differences- which can have a big impact on your trip.

I’ve listed some of the best qualities of Princess, Carnival and Royal Caribbean Cruises to help make your decision-making process a bit easier.


IMG_1008The Best Ships:

I think most people would agree that Royal Caribbean is definitely notorious for their innovative ships. Where else can you rock climb, surf, or ice skate at sea?

I cruised on the Liberty of the Seas and was overwhelmed with the sheer amount of activities offered onboard.

The ship itself is massive and extremely impressive. The Royal Promenade is unique to Royal Caribbean ships, and is a  spacious walkway with boutiques, restaurants, bakeries and specialty shops. You also have the option of having a stateroom which overlooks the Royal Promenade, which is an awesome feature.

The ships are tastefully decorated, and there are many beautiful spaces including, the dining room, grand theatre and lounges. There is also ample nightlife at the lounges, piano bars, and nightclub.

IMG_1180 IMG_1110 IMG_1184Best value for money:

It is very rare to find a cheaper rate than on a Carnival cruise, so I chose them as the best line for overall value. Even though you are paying less than a Royal Caribbean or Princess Cruise, the amenities and quality of Carnival Cruises are still comparable to its main competitors.

Carnival has the most laid-back and fun attitude onboard- and the best deck parties. They definitely live up to their self-proclaimed “Fun Ships” tagline.

Carnival isn’t just for kids, though. I found this cruise line to have a diverse mix of passengers, ranging from families with young children, to middle aged couples to young adults.

cruise IMG_1186 cruise5Best food:

Unfortunately, I cannot choose a clear winner for this extremely important category. All three cruise lines have various strengths and weaknesses when it comes to meal offerings onboard, so I will just try to point out the bests and worsts.


The Good:
-The best pizza at sea
-Some inconsistency with the fine dining meals, but overall a good fine dining experience
-Best breakfast buffet options

The Bad:
-Repetitive lunch options

Royal Caribbean

The Good:
-The best late night snack offerings
-Good fine dining experience overall
-Great variety of lunch-time buffet options

The Bad:
-Very crowded buffet areas and limited seating at times


The Good:
-Excellent alternative lunch options (especially the create-your-own stir-fry area and the burrito bar)
-Delicious dessert buffet

The Bad:
-Limited opening hours of most of the snack options
-It can be difficult to eat if you want to have a light snack before a late dinner seating

curacaocruise7cruise10curacaoBest overall experience:

Princess is my choice for the best overall cruising experience. From the friendly and fun staff, to the entertainment, to the food and activities- Princess is the clear winner.

My first ever cruise was with Princess and I was (un)lucky enough to catch the dreaded norovirus. For those of you unfamiliar with the norovirus, it’s a nasty little gastrointestinal bug with flu-like symptoms that is easily spread in confined areas. So, I actually spent half the cruise quarantined in my room eating boiled potatoes and watching the same few movies repeatedly- which was not quite the vacation I was expecting.

Even though the norovirus is not exclusive to Princess- or cruises in general- I was terrified to vacation with them again. However, my second Princess cruise fully exceeded my expectations, and definitely made up for that first terrible cruise experience. The food was great, the itinerary was excellent, and the entertainment and activities were some of the best I’ve experienced at sea.

Happy Cruising!


  • Reply Kelly Parham May 13 at 9:57 pm

    Hi! I know I’m quite late to this post as I found it through Pinterest, but I was surprised to hear your pick was Princess overall! We’re looking at booking our first cruise and it looks like there is so much more to do on a Royal Caribbean than Princess. It seemed like Princess was overall nicer, but not much to do on board unless you love Broadway or like watching movies all day. Thoughts? Thank you!

    • Reply ashleywanders Jun 06 at 8:19 pm

      Hey Kelly, sorry for the late reply! I would agree there’s more to do onboard Royal Caribbean, I’ve just had really fantastic experiences with Princess overall which is why I chose them. But, I also generally travel with large groups on cruises, and I haven’t been on a cruise for quite a few years now, so I’m not as up-to-date with this latest Royal Caribbean/Princess ships! I hope you have a great cruise!

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