Monday, April 17, 2023

Cruise Line Comparisons

This comes from a comment I made on someone asking to compare Carnival Cruise Lines (CCL) to Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL).

I'll let you know in 2025 after I cruise them all to see if I eat my words, but for the moment, these are my unfiltered impressions.

All of my cruises up til now have been on Carnival (I'm Gold level), but I am booked on Virgin, Royal Caribbean (RC), and NCL for my future cruises (plus another Carnival in there as well!).

From using their websites, participating in Facebook groups, and talking to people in general, here are some of my observations:

Carnival demographic is more mixed class-wise and diversity-wise. I think people who look down on Carnival as a hobby are more likely to be extremely (religiously and politically) conservative, also more likely to be racist.

I'm Canadian and there don't seem to be as many Canadians cruising Carnival.
But Canadians seem to LOVE RC, Disney, and NCL, from what I can tell.

Virgin is 18+ and attracts a wide range of people, but mostly 45+ age group, also lots of 2SLGBTQ+ folk. It's a party, but it's a very gay party. So good food, champagne, and dancing. Their customer service line answers the phone very quickly.

NCL itineraries are very port heavy and they put a lot of emphasis on excursions, which are really more guided tours. If you are at the point in your life that you don't want to walk everywhere and would rather have a bus take you around, this is the cruise for you!

If you look at NCL's extras you can order to your room, the demographic is definitely interesting because while like Carnival, you can order chocolate covered strawberries, on NCL you can also order a whole sheet cake for 40 people, a $1600 bottle of wine, and a platter of assorted "funeral" sandwiches. I'm really unsure what people will be getting up to in their cabins on NCL. Sounds like a bizarre church luncheon.

RC seems like a great family ship, but really overpriced for essentially the same stuff you would find on Carnival for free. But it's cheaper than a Disney cruise, so people like it. *shrug* 
It has stuff like a skating rink and a rock climbing wall, which I am going to do simply so I can say I ice skated on a cruise ship. But I didn't go looking for that.

I'm trying them all out because I don't like to compare. I feel like they all have something to offer and that's what makes it interesting. I don't think there's such thing as a perfect cruise line. 

I booked with Virgin because I wanted to try the 18+ atmosphere. 
I booked with RC because it fit perfectly as a B2B with my Virgin cruise. 
And I booked NCL because it has my bucket list destination (the Azores) that few other cruise lines offer.

I haven't had to call customer service yet for RC or NCL, but I've had to for Virgin, so that might say something. Out of all of them, Virgin's site is the hardest to navigate for the booking info page. It's not as intuitive as the others. 

So those are my impressions so far. We'll see how I feel afterwards. 

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