Royal Caribbean vs. Norwegian Cruise Line: Which is Better?

Breaking down the pros and cons (from my own experience) of these two major cruise lines.

Nicole Kenney


Photo by Josiah Weiss on Unsplash

Cruises are notorious for being a great vacation for families and older couples alike, along with everyone in between. I mean, come on, it’s a floating resort that takes you to some of the most incredible destinations in the world. But picking a cruise line and what ship to sail on can be overwhelming for newbies.

After all, is what’s on the ship or off the ship a priority? Which has the better deals? What packages are the greater bang for your buck?

Over the last year, I went on two cruises with two of the biggest cruise lines in the industry: Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line. Now, I’ll be breaking down the good, the bad, and the ugly between my two experiences.

The Logistics

For context, I will be breaking down each of the ships I sailed on each cruise line. On Royal Caribbean, I sailed for nine days on Mariner of the Seas. As for NCL, I sailed for eight days on the Norwegian Epic.

Both ships hold roughly 4,200 passengers and are about the same size. Norwegian Epic was built in 2010 (but later refurbished in 2015) while Mariner of the Seas set sail initially in 2003 (but was last refurbished in 2018).

On the Norwegian Epic, I sailed around the Mediterranean Sea and made stops in:

  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Palma, Spain
  • Ajaccio, France
  • Cannes, France
  • Rome, Italy
  • Naples, Italy
  • Port Livorno, Italy (where we stopped to travel to Pisa and Montecarlo)

On Mariner of the Seas, the stops were along the Caribbean:

  • Willemstad, Curacao
  • Oranjestad, Aruba
  • CocoCay (Royal Caribbean’s Private Island in the Bahamas)

Now, it is worth noting that for both cruises I sailed to completely different destinations. This not only affected our travel time but also what was primarily planned on the trip such as excursions and activities.



Nicole Kenney

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