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Carnival vs Royal Caribbean International.

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Carnival vs Royal Caribbean International.


My family and I (all adults) are planning to take a cruise to the Caribbean, but we can't find which would be better, the first one, the Carnival Freedom (8 days) visits Fort Lauderdale, Puerto Rico, St Thomas, Antigua, Tortola, Nassau, and the Serenade of the Seas (7 days) visits Puerto Rico, Bridgetown, Sta. Lucía/Castries, San John's/Antigua, Philipsburg, Saint Croix.

We're worried about the quality of both cruise lines, because we have never cruised with them. We have cruised on Norwegian Cruise Line and Costa Cruises, and both of them really liked us.

So in your oppinion which would be the best cruise for us? and how is quality in both cruise lines?

Thanks in advance for your advices.

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1. Re: Carnival vs Royal Caribbean International.

I just got back from a cruise with Carnival. Buyer beware!!! I booked the cruise through Expedia approximately 3 months in advance. Upon getting on the ship, it appeared that everyone I met paid less than me ($1,350 per person for a stateroom with a balcony). On top of this, the itinerary as displayed by Expedia showed a departure from Fort Lauderdale followed by a day at sea, then a stop in San Juan, followed by stops in St Thomas, Antigua, Tortola, and eventually Nassau. Being a military officer, I have friends from all over, including two who live in San Juan, Puerto Rico that I was looking forward to visiting. I learned after getting on the ship that the itinerary had changed and the stop in Puerto Rico had been deleted. Just like that, 20% of the stops on the cruise were gone. No notice, no discount, no partial refund, nothing.

But wait, there's more...

On my way home from Afghanistan in September 2010, I had purchased a large suitcase for $75 during a stop in Kuwait. Aside from the trip home from the desert, this bag was virtually new prior to the cruise. When I got off the plane in Fort Lauderdale, all was well. When I got off the shuttle bus to the port, it was still fine, though it was more than a little annoying that 10+ uniformed baggage porters stood shoulder to shoulder near the bus with their hands out, EACH saying "a little something for your porter sir?" before the bags were even off the bus. I thought "Really? Every single one of you is going to handle my one suitcase?" I mean think about it. Ten tips for one bag?? This after also having tipped the shuttle bus driver for pulling it 2 feet from the bus's storage bin to the curb. In the fifty meters to the ship, somehow my suitcase was virtually destroyed. When it got to my room, it looked like it had been thrown onto the freeway from a moving car.

The handle was broken OFF and the handle housing was ripped to shreds. Even the telescoping bars that the handle would normally be attached to were stuck inside their respective housing. I went to guest services where Olga - a well intentioned though not particularly helpful customer service rep - told me to buy a new bag and bring her the receipt. The first chance I had to buy a bag was in St Thomas, but a suitcase like mine cost $206 in the port there. Unsure if her intent was to reimburse me regardless of cost, I chose not to buy that one and approached her later for clarification. She told me they would only reimburse me up to the amount that I had told her I paid for it. I thought "great, how about a ride to Kuwait so I can buy it for that price?" What I paid for it and what it's worth are not necessarily the same thing and clearly prices at a bazaar in Kuwait MIGHT be lower than those in a port on a tropical island with a lot of tourist traffic. In the end, I bought some cheap, ghetto duffle bag from a sidewalk vendor in the Bahamas since that's all the $75 would get me and I refused to pay my own money for their negligence.

But wait, there's STILL more...

Olga stated that the $75 would be credited to my account (you swipe a credit card on day 1 and sign for all of your drinks and other purchases, the cumulative amount then being charged to your card at the end of the cruise). On the day the ship returned to Fort Lauderdale, we were each given a print-out of our charges and credits. Sure enough, there was no credit for $75. I went down and jumped her case about it and she made sure it was taken care of.

Carnival was a comedy of customer service errors from start to finish.

When I arrived at the port, I was second in line at security to get on the ship but had to evacuate the building because one of their mall cop security staff burned popcorn in the break room, setting off the fire alarm and requiring the everyone to get out and the local fire trucks to come. When they let everyone back in 30 minutes later, I was buried at the back of the line.

On night #3, after a long day in the sun in St Thomas and a hard workout in the fitness center after that, I told my cabin steward that I was going to bed early and wouldn't be requiring the turn-down service he normally provides. Forty-five minutes later as I'm sound asleep there's a knock at the door with the customary "housekeeping!" I stormed to the door and was shocked speechless when he said "hello sir, would you like the turn down service?"

So Carnival Cruiseline? Never again. Somewhere I'm sure there's a quality business school - Harvard perhaps - with a textbook on customer service; under "how not to treat a customer" it says to sail on the Carnival Freedom for an example.

Edited: 3:34 pm, May 31, 2011
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2. Re: Carnival vs Royal Caribbean International.

Hi Rocco.

In my opinion I consider Royal Caribbean far superior to Carnival. It comes down to personal choice. The RCI itinerary is a very nice one also.


Regards Bob.

Treasure Island...
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for Ronda
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3. Re: Carnival vs Royal Caribbean International.

We have cruised on both lines but do believe that R.C. is a step or two better than Carnival. 4 years ago we went on that same Carnival cruise that you are thinking of taking and loved it, and then have been on 2 R.C. cruises since the Carnival cruise. We believe for some reason the food was better on Carnival, good luck and have fun. Hubie

Satellite Beach...
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4. Re: Carnival vs Royal Caribbean International.

Go with RCI

Woodbridge, CT
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5. Re: Carnival vs Royal Caribbean International.

I agree that RCI is the better choice. You are in for a great time!

Colchester, United...
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6. Re: Carnival vs Royal Caribbean International.

Apparently RCI treat its staff not very good and pay and conditions are not the best. I heard about staff being put back of the house..does anyone know what this is?

Athens, Georgia
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7. Re: Carnival vs Royal Caribbean International.

I went on a cruise with Royal Caribbean this past winter and enjoyed it very much. I think there are always things to complain about, no matter how exclusive you go, but I just went into it hoping to have a good time and I did. If someone is rude or my suitcase is broken, that doesn't have to "ruin" my trip. And for every horror story that gets posted on a forum, there are hundreds of other good stories that don't get posted because no one feels obligated to "warn" anyone of the good things! I think you should try Royal Caribbean if you are going with all adults. My secondhand information is that Carnival is geared more toward young cruisers or those that like a Las Vegas sort of atmosphere.

8. Re: Carnival vs Royal Caribbean International.

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