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Norwegian Cruise Line vs. Royal Caribbean: A Traveler's Guide to Choosing

If you're considering a cruise and considering Royal Caribbean or Norwegian Cruise Line, you're in for an exciting experience on some of the biggest ships. These cruise lines are great for everyone, with many fun activities and attractions, especially for trips to the Caribbeans. Let's look at what's similar and different between Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean to help you pick the best cruise.

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By Eglė

Published: Dec 15, 2023 min read

Norwegian Cruise Line vs. Royal Caribbean: A Traveler's Guide to Choosing

Difference in Ships

Both Norwegian and Royal Caribbean operate large megaships. Features of these ships include onboard casinos, pools, live entertainment, spas, dance clubs, and bars. Nevertheless, we can highlight some differences.

Norwegian Cruise Line:

  • Norwegian Cruise Line offers voyages to over 450 stunning destinations worldwide, including the Caribbean, Bermuda, Alaska, Hawaii, and Europe.
  • Ship sizes range from 1,900 to over 4,100 passengers.
  • Focuses on onboard excitement rather than size.
  • Latest ships feature multi-level go-kart racetracks.
  • Features unique attractions like the Waterfront, a seafront promenade, and the Haven, an exclusive area with luxury suites and a private pool.

Royal Caribbean:

  • Offers cruises to over 270 destinations in 60+ countries across six continents, including Alaska, Australia & New Zealand, Bahamas, Bermuda, the Caribbean, the Panama Canal, the U.S. Eastern Seaboard, Hawaii, the Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean, Mexico, the Middle East, the Orient, and the U.S. West Coast.
  • Some ships have capacities under 2,250 passengers.
  • Majority of ships accommodate 3,000 to 4,000 passengers.
  • Five largest ships, including Wonder of the Seas and Icon of the Seas, are among the world's largest, carrying over 5,400 guests.
  • Ships with unique neighborhood layouts, such as the Boardwalk (similar to Coney Island) and Central Park with live plants.
  • Known for having some of the most innovative ships at sea, including features like robot bartenders, ice-skating rinks, and surf simulators.
  • Focuses on large ships that offer a bustling, city-like atmosphere with plenty of options for entertainment and dining.

These points highlight the unique aspects of each cruise line, providing travelers with a basis for choosing the one that best suits their preferences. Keep in mind that specific offerings can vary between ships within each cruise line.

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Inside Cabins & Suites

Norwegian Cruise Line

  • Known for creativity and innovation in accommodations.
  • Features The Haven on top of the newest ships, a suite complex with a private restaurant, sundeck, pool, and lounge, resembling a boutique hotel.
  • Gives special attention to solo travelers with the Studios, uniquely designed single cabins with access to a shared lounge.
  • Strategically places family cabins near children's facilities and spa cabins near the spa.

Royal Caribbean

  • Offers the largest selection of cabin types among cruise lines.
  • Cabin range includes inexpensive inside cabins with virtual balconies, solo staterooms, and luxurious two-story loft suites.
  • Some suites feature views of the high-diving show; standard cabins may overlook the Royal Promenade, Boardwalk, or Central Park.
  • Provides suite guests with access to a private lounge, restaurant, and sun deck on newer ships.
Norwegian Cruise Line vs. Royal Caribbean: A Traveler's Guide to Choosing

Onboard Activities & Entertainment

Norwegian Cruise

  • Boasts multi-story go-kart race tracks on latest ships.
  • Excels in virtual reality gaming, with Galaxy Pavilion featuring various challenges.
  • Offers Aqua Parks, basketball courts, escape rooms, laser tag, minigolf, darts, bowling, and ropes courses.
  • Prima Class ships feature 10-story freefall thrill slides.
  • Broadway productions include "Beetlejuice," "Six," and "Summer: The Donna Summer Musical," plus "The Choir of Man."
  • Features extra-fee, adults-only shows with themes like wine or prohibition cocktails.
  • Comedy and improv clubs, themed parties, Skyy Ice Bar, and Cavern Club with Beatles cover band.

Royal Caribbean

  • Recognized for pushing the envelope in onboard activities.
  • Features rock-climbing walls, FlowRider surf simulators, ice skating rinks, carousels, zip lines, minigolf, laser tag, escape rooms, waterslides, simulated sky diving, Ultimate Abyss slide, and a high-view pod.
  • Larger ships have more activity options.
  • Broadway show roster includes "Grease," "Hairspray," and "CATS."
  • Unique performance spaces like AquaTheaters for acrobatic shows and Studio B ice-skating rinks.
  • Offers high-tech shows, live music, and dancing.

Both cruise lines are excellent options for first-time cruisers. Choose Royal Caribbean for a more upscale and traditional cruise experience, or opt for Norwegian if you prefer a modern, casual approach to cruising. If I were you, I would pay attention to activities I wish to do and what's more interesting to me. That's why the dining option comparison wasn't mentioned there- comfort and entertainment are the key features that lead to a beautiful holiday. 

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