After going on a Carnival Cruise earlier this year I created a similar post detailing everything we did and my overall feelings on Carnival Cruise Lines. For this trip I’m not going to go as in-depth about our itinerary because I already created some posts that highlighted specific days. However, I did want to do a Royal Caribbean review that highlighted the similarities and differences between the two companies.
For starters, something really cool about this trip was that we started the cruise in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This allowed us to go to five islands, with only one day where we where we were solely sailing. As you may have guessed just by that statement this cruise was about 3x as expensive as out last trip in which we only visited 2 islands and left out of Miami.
Day 1: We landed first at St. Maarten, on this island we purchased an excursion that took us to Maho Beach. This beach is special because a airport lading strip sits right across the street, so planes fly in 100ft over your head while you’re sun bathing. It’s quite a sight to see. You can read more about my day at Maho Beach here.
Day 2: Basseterre, St. Kitts. We approached day 2 without a plan. Some of the guys had gone golfing so the rest of us set off in search of a beach. After having some taxis drivers almost start a fight over us we ended up in this awesome safari bus. He gave a sightseeing tour as we traveled across the island and stopped at the top of a mountain so we could play with monkeys and take in the stunning views. When we got to the beach we hung out at the restaurant/ bar table that were literally on the sand and enjoyed island life.
Day 3: St. John’s, Antigua. Zip lining day!! Minus Gram and Gramp the entire family went on a zip lining excursion, 17 of us total. We must’ve gone on a total of 20 zippiness through the tree tops, as well as, crossed some (rather scary) suspension bridges! The whole excursion was so much fun, so well organized and overall a great time. When we had gone zip lining in Jamaica (on our last cruise), it was fun but we were haggled the entire time. I don’t think that has anything to do with the cruise line but just something to make note of.
Day 4: Fort De France, Martinique. Today we were supposed to be in St. Lucia but, due to some construction at the port Royal Caribbean had to change our itinerary. This ended up being a blessing in disguise. I was so excited to do a mud bath excursion we had signed up for in St. Lucia, when I had heard it was canceled I was really disappointed, however, we ended up hearing through the grapevine that it was a horrible excursion. We decided to replace our St. Lucia excursion with a Barbados excursion, which ended up being my favorite thing we did.
Anyway, back to Martinique, it rained. But, it wasn’t all bad. My fitness junkie uncle had us all out on an adventure, we played on this weird jungle gym, and climbed in the old stone fort. It was a beautiful island and my first time in France, we may have only lasted a couple hours in the rain but at least I can check this off my bucket list!
Day 5: Bridgetown, Barbados. As I mentioned above we headed out on another excursions today. This time it was just myself, my Mom and Garrett. I loved being with my whole family but it was nice to have a day apart to get some quality Mom time. Barbados has to be the most beautiful island. I can’t wait to go back. Our guided were awesome and took us out snorkeling to swim with sea turtles and explore shipwrecks. After snorkeling we pulled up to what felt like our own private beach, no one was there! It was amazing! You can read more about our day in Barbados here.
The Ship: We went on the Adventure of the Seas, the ship was newly remolded. The ship was gorgeous, it was much more up-to-date with many more amenities than our Carnival ship. The ship had features such as, mini golf, ice skating rink, basketball court, nightclub and tons of pools. The ship we had gone on with Carnival was very old and dated, most likely part of the reason why our Carnival trip was much less expensive.
The wifi worked much better on the Adventure of the Seas, which was a bug plus for me. Although, it did still struggle with uploading and Snapchat.
I can’t even compare the rooms, on our Carnival trip we stuffed 4 adults into an ocean view room, where as, on Royal Caribbean Garrett and I had a balcony room to ourself. My advice, pay the extra money for the balcony, you will not regret it. It was so nice being able to step outside morning or night to relax and enjoy the ocean view. With both cruise lines the rooms and ship were kept immaculately clean, I think they remade our beds 3 times a day.
The shows on both ships were amazing. On the Royal ship I felt that the hows came off more professional, as if i was actually watching them in Vegas or New York City. But overall, I felt that Carnival had more things to do and were more about the fun.
Something I noticed is that Carnival lives up to their slogan: “the fun ships”. Royal Caribbean was a little stuffier, more serious, even the other guests were rude. A lot of the staff didn’t seem like they were enjoying themselves at all. Whereas on Carnival we joked with the staff, they were extremely friendly and, we became friends with the cruise director. There was always something to do and it was a very laid back environment.
The Food: The buffet food on Royal Caribbean was better than Carnival but, not by that much. They also had other included restaurants that had great food although we didn’t have the chance to explore them all. The food during the dining service in the evening was amazing. Again, I would say slightly better than Carnival. However, it did take a ling time to get drinks if you ordered anything that wasn’t included, like alcohol.
So if I went on another cruise…. Garrett and I both agreed that it’s not the company that makes the difference, it’s the ship. If I booked again I would probably go on a newer Carnival ship. The things that stood out on our Royal Caribbean trip were the itinerary and the amenities on the ship. Essentially, if we went on a newer Carnival ship with an amazing itinerary, I imagine Carnival would be better than Royal Caribbean. Plus, Carnival would most likely offer all that at a lower rate. Maybe we just got lucky with the staff on our first trip but, as someone who is also in the field, customer service and employee satisfaction is really important to me. Based on my experience, Carnival wins here both on and off the ship. My mom, who helped book our family trip, often cited issues with Royal Caribbean’s customer care even before we embarked.
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