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Norwegian vs. Carnival: How do they compare?

by Fran Golden | August 31, 2016

The Verdict

Both lines serve their passengers well, particularly on their newer ships, but with slightly different strengths and weaknesses.

More than 10 years ago, Norwegian originated the idea of "Freestyle Cruising," which did away with some of the more dated traditions associated with cruising (assigned dinner tables at set times with set companions, and fixed dress codes with strict formal nights). As a result, the line essentially made cruising more casual and modern. Today, the rest of the industry has largely caught up, but this innovation continues to define the line, which has some of the best quality stage shows, coolest bar concepts, and hottest specialty restaurants at sea on the newest of the 14 ships.

Carnival, on the other hand, may not have the same caliber of stage shows or specialty restaurants on their 25 ships, but their complimentary restaurants are significantly better, with those great poolside burger and Mexican options. Passengers on these ships can also choose traditional or flexible dining schedules and the food quality has skyrocketed in recent years. They also cultivate more of a party atmosphere poolside, where the bright, well-designed sun decks feel like open-air pool parties in sunny destinations. If it has been a while since you’ve been on a Carnival ship, you may want to give them a second chance. Not only has the food improved, but the ships have gotten both bigger and more tastefully designed of late, without losing their beach resort-style playfulness. 

Fran Golden

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

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