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Carnival vs. Royal Caribbean: How do they compare?

by Fran Golden | September 16, 2016

The Verdict

Carnival focuses on American-style fun, with an emphasis on the casual and the unpretentious. The crowd includes budget-conscious Americans in a wide range of age groups, from the young to the young at heart. The stage shows, for example, aren't full productions of Broadway musicals — that’s just one example of how Carnival doesn't try to be fancy.

Ships range in size from those that carry fewer than 3,000 passengers to newer ships that cater to more than 4,000. While the intimate size of the smaller ships is nice, if you're not going with one of the newer ships, you may want to make sure the one you're choosing has been updated with the latest features. That said, on the older ships you get a lot for your vacation buck.

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Royal Caribbean goes after active, mainstream cruisers of all ages interested in (and willing to pay a premium for) big ships that deliver a memorable experience — including cruises on the three largest ships in the world. The line's older ships don't have all the marquee attractions but they do have lower fares. And while the food may not be all that, there are plenty of brag-worthy moments, and whether you’re trying skydiving or surfing simulators or partying at the DJ-fueled roller skating party, you can post proof on Instagram using the fastest internet at sea.

Fran Golden

Fran Golden is a Cleveland-based contributor to ShermansCruise who also writes for USA Today.

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