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Norwegian vs. Carnival: Which Is Best?

Having trouble deciding which cruise line to take for your honeymoon or next vacation? Well, that really comes down to what kind of experience you’re hoping to have. In this article, we will compare Norwegian vs. Carnival cruise lines, two of the best cruise lines for adventure lovers looking for a fun-filled getaway, to help you plan your next unforgettable vacation.

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Norwegian Overview

Norwegian Cruise Lines is a wonderful choice for those looking for a laid-back vacation. With no strict dress codes or set dining times, Norwegian really gives you the freedom to enjoy your trip the way you want to.

Norwegian has a fleet size of only 19 ships, but they still offer itineraries with destinations all across the world. Itineraries range between 3 days and 21 days and include a mix of destinations across Africa, Europe, South America, and more. 

You’ll find a wide selection of onboard activities suitable for all ages, including a casino for adults, Wii games for kids, bowling, racing, and Broadway shows.

Norwegian is known for its “freestyle dining,” allowing passengers to choose from a selection of up to nine restaurants at any given time. With a range of cuisines plus the ability to have your meals whenever you want, Norwegian is a good cruise line for those who like more freedom and flexibility.

Although Norwegian is definitely family-friendly, it is also a great cruise line for honeymooners or younger adults looking for fun and adventure.

Carnival Overview

Carnival is another cruise line known for its fun vacations and onboard entertainment. They sail to similar destinations as Norwegian Cruise Lines and are another great choice for those traveling with kids.

Carnival prides itself on excellent customer service and a lively experience no matter which itinerary you select. Choose between cruises lasting from 2 days to 31 days, with a huge variety of excursions, trips, destinations, and activities.

Like onboard Norwegian, there are plenty of activities for adults to choose from, be it gambling in the casinos, a romantic dining experience, or a trip to the spa. They also have a wide selection of activities for kids, such as water slides, rope courses, and the Skyride.

When it comes to food, Carnival has a huge variety of dining options and a more traditional dining style. From fast food to fancy steakhouses, there’s something for everyone onboard a Carnival cruise ship.

Carnival, similar to Norwegian, is a great choice for both younger couples looking for an adventurous trip and families alike.

Norwegian vs. Carnival: Cost

As with any cruise line, the cost of both Norwegian and Carnival cruises varies depending on the length of the trip, destinations, time of year, and of course, what type of accommodation you select.

Prices onboard Norwegian vary between $300 and $5,550 per person, though you can find some great deals with them, especially for solo travel or last-minute reservations.

Carnival Cruises vary between $170 and $3,700 per person, and they also offer great deals for those looking for a last-minute getaway or traveling alone.

Be aware that while these prices might seem low in comparison with other cruise lines out there, this may not include taxes, gratuities, port fees, Wifi, or food and drink. Be sure to look carefully through each plan before committing to a booking to see what you get for the price.

Norwegian vs. Carnival: Food and Drink

Food and drink make up a huge part of any vacation, and a cruise is no different. There are slight differences in terms of food and drink when aboard a Norwegian or Carnival ship. 

Norwegian offers all-inclusive packages for a fee with unlimited alcohol, soft drinks, and meals. However, there can be added fees for specialty restaurants and drinks.

In comparison, Carnival doesn’t have an upgrade option for all-inclusive packages, just optional upgrades for unlimited soft drinks not served in the dining hall. There are main dining restaurants; some of the specialty dining options come at an extra charge.  Be sure to check which restaurants are included in the price before you depart.

Both cruise lines offer a great selection of food and drink. Carnival offers a variety of both fast food and fine dining options, and even a 24-hour pizza delivery service.

Norwegian is known for its “Freestyle Dining” experience. With a wide range of food options, guests are able to eat whenever and wherever they want. Passengers can choose to dine at grilles, buffets, cafes, and fine dining restaurants, all with no fixed dress code.

Norwegian Bliss Ship

Norwegian vs. Carnival: Itineraries

When it comes to itineraries, Norwegian and Carnival are pretty similar. They both sail to a variety of ports around the world and offer destinations including Alaska, Hawaii, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, the U.S., and many more. So no matter which cruise line you choose, you’ll be able to select from a wide range of destinations and itineraries.

Norwegian vs. Carnival: Activities

Both Norwegian and Carnival offer a huge variety of activities to choose from for adults, families, and children. No matter what type of vacation you’re looking for, you won’t be short of something to do while onboard either of these cruise lines.

Onboard activities include pools, waterslides, casinos, bars, and shops. Both Norwegian and Carnival also offer some amazing and unique features, from spas to rock climbing walls, from rope courses to waterparks, and from video games to bowling alleys. There’s a lot to choose from no matter which cruise line you’re on.

Norwegian vs. Carnival: For Kids

Norwegian and Carnival both offer great facilities for kids. Parents can bring their children, whether younger or older; there are plenty of things to keep them entertained.

From the variety of dining options offered onboard both ships to the abundance of child-friendly activities, bringing children on your cruise shouldn’t be a worry if you choose to travel with either Norwegian or Carnival. 

With a selection of sports, games, video games, waterparks, pools, and other fun-filled family-friendly activities, there’s something on board for every age.

There are also childcare options if you’re looking for a night away from the kids. You can rest easy on either cruise line, knowing your little ones are well taken care of while you head out for a romantic dinner for two.

Norwegian vs. Carnival: Entertainment

Both Norwegian and Carnival offer a variety of onboard entertainment, but it’s Norwegian that really takes the cake for this one with its world-class performances and award-winning Broadway shows.

But on both ships, whether it’s comedy, musical performances, or a live band you’re looking for, get ready to be entertained! Be sure to check what will be offered onboard your specific ship before you book if entertainment is important to you. Not all cruises offer the same things.

Norwegian vs. Carnival: Typical Passengers

Both Carnival and Norwegian are extremely family-friendly but also cater well to couples, group vacations, and solo travelers. Neither of them offers adult-only cruises, but both have several areas onboard their ships that are adult-only when you’re looking to escape from the little ones.

Norwegian vs. Carnival: Which Is Better?

It’s tough to say if Norwegian or Carnival is the better option; it’s a pretty close comparison! Both cruise lines have endless activities, entertainment, dining options, and so much more to offer. However, Norwegian is difficult to beat when it comes to entertainment.

You can find great deals on both cruise lines, and a huge range of itineraries. Which cruise line you choose will probably depend on when and where you want to go. 

Still struggling to choose? We have plenty of articles to help you out. Check out Carnival Cruise vs. Royal Caribbean, Royal Caribbean vs MSC Cruises, Norwegian vs Celebrity, or Norwegian vs Princess to help you decide. Or talk to a cruise travel agent for a more personalized approach. Bon voyage!