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Which Cruise Line Is Better: Royal Caribbean Or Norwegian


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Darb Gann



Choosing a cruise line for your next vacation can be an exciting yet overwhelming decision. With so many options available, it’s important to do your research in order to find the best fit for your travel preferences. Two popular cruise lines that often come up in discussions are Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line.


Both Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line offer an array of itineraries, onboard activities, and amenities designed to cater to different types of travelers. From families looking for a fun-filled adventure to couples seeking a romantic getaway, these cruise lines have something for everyone.


In this article, we will compare Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line across various aspects to help you determine which cruise line is better suited to your needs. We’ll delve into itinerary options and destinations, onboard activities and entertainment, dining options, accommodations, service and staff, cruise prices, and customer reviews. By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of each cruise line, enabling you to make an informed decision.


So, let’s dive in and explore the exciting world of Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line to find out which one comes out on top!


Overview of Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean is considered one of the leading cruise lines in the industry, known for its innovative ships and vast array of onboard amenities. With a fleet of over 20 ships, they offer a wide selection of itineraries to destinations around the world.


One of the standout features of Royal Caribbean is their diverse range of onboard activities and entertainment. From adrenaline-pumping activities like rock climbing walls and surf simulators to Broadway-style shows and live performances, there is never a dull moment onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise.


When it comes to dining options, Royal Caribbean offers a variety of restaurants, from casual eateries to fine dining experiences. The main dining rooms serve up a range of delicious cuisine, while specialty restaurants offer unique dining experiences, such as sushi, steakhouses, and Italian trattorias. Royal Caribbean also caters to dietary needs, offering vegetarian, gluten-free, and other options.


Accommodations on Royal Caribbean cruises are designed with comfort and style in mind. From interior staterooms to luxurious suites with private balconies, there are options to suit every budget and preference. The cabins are well-appointed, with modern amenities and ample storage space.


Service is a priority for Royal Caribbean, and their staff is known for their professionalism and attentiveness. From the moment you step onboard, you’ll be greeted with warm hospitality and a desire to make your cruise experience memorable.


Pricing for Royal Caribbean cruises varies depending on the itinerary, ship, and cabin category. They offer a range of packages and promotions throughout the year, providing opportunities for savings and added value.


Overall, Royal Caribbean has garnered a loyal following due to their innovative ships, diverse itineraries, and exciting onboard activities. They have consistently received positive reviews from customers who enjoy the combination of thrilling adventures and stylish amenities that Royal Caribbean offers.


Overview of Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line, also known as NCL, is another major player in the cruise industry. With a fleet of more than 15 ships, Norwegian Cruise Line offers a wide range of itineraries to numerous destinations around the world.


Norwegian Cruise Line is well-known for their “Freestyle Cruising” concept, which gives passengers the freedom and flexibility to customize their cruise experience. This means there are no set dining times or formal dress codes, allowing travelers to dine where and when they choose, and dress comfortably throughout their cruise.


One of the main draws of Norwegian Cruise Line is their wide selection of onboard activities and entertainment options. Passengers can enjoy everything from waterslides and go-kart racing tracks to Broadway shows and live music. The cruise line also offers a variety of enrichment programs and activities, such as cooking classes, language lessons, and art workshops.


When it comes to dining, Norwegian Cruise Line boasts a vast array of options. In addition to the main dining rooms and buffet restaurants, they offer numerous specialty restaurants serving cuisines from around the world. From Japanese teppanyaki to French bistro fare, there is something to satisfy every palate.


Norwegian Cruise Line provides a range of accommodation choices to suit different budgets and preferences. From cozy inside cabins to lavish suites, their staterooms are comfortable and well-appointed. Many of their newer ships offer cutting-edge cabin designs, such as The Haven, a luxurious ship-within-a-ship concept featuring spacious suites and VIP amenities.


Service on Norwegian Cruise Line is generally praised, with friendly and attentive staff members dedicated to ensuring a pleasant experience for passengers. From the cabin stewards to the dining staff, Norwegian Cruise Line strives to provide excellent service throughout the journey.


Pricing for Norwegian Cruise Line varies depending on the ship, itinerary, and cabin category. They offer various promotions and packages throughout the year, including all-inclusive options, allowing travelers to enjoy added value and savings on their cruise.


In summary, Norwegian Cruise Line offers a distinctive experience with their “Freestyle Cruising” concept, providing passengers with flexibility and a wide range of activities and dining options. Their innovative ship designs and commitment to customer satisfaction have made them a popular choice among cruisers looking for a more relaxed and personalized vacation experience.


Itinerary Options and Destinations

Both Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line offer an impressive range of itinerary options, catering to diverse interests and preferences.


Royal Caribbean takes pride in their extensive list of destinations, including popular Caribbean hotspots, European capitals, Alaskan wilderness, and exotic locales in Asia and Australia. They have ships that sail year-round from various homeports, allowing passengers to choose itineraries that best suit their desired time of travel.


Norwegian Cruise Line also offers a wide selection of destinations, with a focus on popular Caribbean and European ports. They also visit Alaska, Hawaii, the Mediterranean, and other captivating regions. Norwegian Cruise Line is known for their longer cruise itineraries, giving passengers the opportunity to explore multiple destinations in one trip.


Both cruise lines offer shore excursions at each port of call, providing passengers with the chance to participate in guided tours, water sports, wildlife encounters, and cultural experiences. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or cultural immersion, there are options available to suit your interests.


It’s worth noting that Royal Caribbean has a reputation for their private island destinations, such as Perfect Day at CocoCay in the Bahamas. These exclusive retreats feature pristine beaches, thrilling water parks, and various dining and entertainment options.


Ultimately, the choice between Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line may depend on the specific destinations you wish to visit and the type of itinerary that appeals to you. It’s recommended to compare the itineraries offered by both cruise lines to determine which one aligns more closely with your desired travel experiences.


Onboard Activities and Entertainment

When it comes to onboard activities and entertainment, both Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line offer a wide array of options to keep passengers entertained throughout their cruise.


Royal Caribbean is renowned for their innovative and exhilarating onboard activities. They have pioneered the concept of onboard surfing with their FlowRider surf simulators, and offer high-energy experiences like rock climbing walls, zip lines, and skydiving simulators. For those seeking a thrilling adventure, Royal Caribbean delivers with their array of adrenaline-pumping activities.


Norwegian Cruise Line, on the other hand, focuses on offering a more varied and inclusive range of entertainment options. They feature impressive Broadway-style productions, such as “Jersey Boys” and “Kinky Boots”, along with live music performances, comedy shows, and magic acts. Norwegian Cruise Line also hosts engaging enrichment programs, including art auctions, wine tastings, and interactive workshops.


Both cruise lines offer outstanding swimming pool areas, fitness centers, and spas for guests to relax and rejuvenate. Norwegian Cruise Line is known for their Aqua Park, featuring thrilling water slides and splash zones, while Royal Caribbean boasts some of the most impressive pool deck areas in the industry.


Kids and families are well catered to onboard both cruise lines. Royal Caribbean offers the DreamWorks Experience, where characters from popular movies like Shrek and Kung Fu Panda delight children with meet-and-greets, parades, and shows. Norwegian Cruise Line provides complimentary youth programs, including Kids’ Clubs and Teen Clubs, offering age-appropriate activities and entertainment.


It’s important to note that the specific onboard activities and entertainment may vary depending on the ship and itinerary selected. Both Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line continuously update and enhance their offerings to provide guests with a memorable and enjoyable experience.


Ultimately, the choice between the cruise lines will depend on your personal preferences for onboard activities and entertainment. If you are seeking thrilling and adventurous experiences, Royal Caribbean may be the better fit. However, if you prefer a variety of entertainment options and Broadway-style shows, Norwegian Cruise Line may be more appealing.


Dining Options and Food Quality

When it comes to dining options and food quality, both Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line aim to please the taste buds of their passengers. Each cruise line offers a variety of culinary experiences to cater to different palates and dietary preferences.


Royal Caribbean boasts a wide range of dining options, from traditional main dining rooms serving a mix of international cuisine to specialty restaurants offering unique dining experiences. Their specialty restaurants include steakhouses, seafood restaurants, Italian trattorias, and Asian fusion venues, among others. The food quality is generally well-regarded, with a focus on fresh ingredients and flavorful dishes. Royal Caribbean also caters to specific dietary requirements, featuring vegetarian, gluten-free, and other special menu options.


Norwegian Cruise Line takes pride in their “Freestyle Dining” concept, allowing passengers to enjoy meals at various restaurants without set dining times. They have numerous dining venues to choose from, including main dining rooms, buffet restaurants, and specialty restaurants. Norwegian Cruise Line offers a diverse range of cuisines, ensuring there is something to satisfy every palate. The food quality is generally praised, with an emphasis on creative presentation and flavorful dishes. Norwegian Cruise Line also offers flexible dining options, allowing guests to dine at their own pace.


Both cruise lines provide 24-hour room service for those who prefer to dine in the comfort of their own cabin. Additionally, they offer casual dining options, such as cafes and snack bars, for those seeking a quick bite or a more relaxed dining experience.


It’s important to note that some specialty restaurants on both cruise lines may require an additional fee, while many options are included in the cruise fare. Reservations are often recommended for specialty dining venues to ensure availability.


In terms of food quality, it can vary slightly from ship to ship within each cruise line. Factors such as the ship’s size, age, and region of operation can influence the availability and selection of ingredients. However, both Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line strive to maintain consistent food quality across their fleet.


Ultimately, the dining options and food quality offered by both cruise lines receive positive reviews overall. Your personal preference for dining style, variety of cuisine, and flexibility may play a role in determining which cruise line is the better choice for you.


Accommodations and Cabin Options

When it comes to accommodations and cabin options, both Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line offer a variety of choices to suit different budgets and preferences.


Royal Caribbean provides a range of cabin categories, from interior staterooms to luxurious suites. Their interior staterooms are a comfortable and more budget-friendly option, offering a cozy space without windows. Oceanview cabins provide a window or porthole, allowing natural light to enter the room. Balcony cabins offer a private outdoor space where passengers can relax and enjoy the sea breeze. For those seeking a more luxurious experience, Royal Caribbean offers a selection of suite accommodations with spacious living areas, multiple rooms, and exclusive amenities.


Norwegian Cruise Line also offers a variety of cabin options to suit different needs. Their interior cabins provide a comfortable and cost-effective choice for those on a budget. Oceanview cabins offer a window or porthole, providing a glimpse of the magnificent ocean views. Balcony cabins afford guests a private outdoor space to enjoy the sea air and scenery. Norwegian Cruise Line features The Haven, a ship-within-a-ship concept, offering luxurious suites with exclusive access to private dining venues, lounges, pools, and a dedicated concierge.


Both cruise lines prioritize comfort and convenience in their cabin designs. The cabins are well-appointed, featuring modern amenities such as flat-screen TVs, mini-fridges, and spacious storage areas. The bedding and furnishings are comfortable and designed to maximize space.


It’s worth noting that cabin sizes and layouts can vary among the ships within each cruise line’s fleet. Newer ships tend to feature more innovative designs and larger cabins, while older ships may have smaller, more traditional accommodations. It’s recommended to research specific ship and cabin options when making a booking to ensure it meets your personal preferences.


In terms of cabin service, both Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line have attentive and professional staff members who strive to provide excellent service. Cabin stewards are dedicated to maintaining cleanliness and ensuring guests have a comfortable stay.


Ultimately, the choice between Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line in terms of accommodations and cabin options depends on your budget, desired level of comfort, and preference for additional luxury amenities.


Service and Staff

Service is a crucial aspect of any cruise experience, and both Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line endeavor to provide exceptional service to their passengers.


Royal Caribbean is known for its friendly and attentive staff members. From the moment guests step onboard, they are greeted with warm hospitality and a willingness to assist. The crew members are trained professionals who strive to create a welcoming and enjoyable environment for passengers throughout their cruise. Whether it’s the waitstaff in the dining venues, the cabin stewards ensuring cleanliness and comfort, or the activities crew organizing events, the service on Royal Caribbean is typically praised by guests.


Norwegian Cruise Line, too, places an emphasis on delivering excellent service. The staff members are known for their friendliness, professionalism, and willingness to go the extra mile to ensure guest satisfaction. From the dining room servers to the guest services desk, Norwegian Cruise Line staff members are trained to handle guests’ needs and provide assistance whenever required.


In terms of language proficiency, both cruise lines have staff members who are multilingual and can communicate with guests in various languages. This helps to cater to a diverse range of passengers and ensures effective communication throughout the cruise.


Cruise line staff undergo rigorous training programs to ensure that they are well-prepared to deliver optimal service. It is not uncommon for crew members to engage in ongoing training to enhance their skills and provide an exceptional guest experience.


It is worth noting that the level of service can occasionally vary depending on the specific ship and itinerary. Factors such as ship size, passenger capacity, and regional cultural differences may impact the overall service experience. However, both Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line strive to maintain consistent service standards fleet-wide.


Ultimately, the service and staff on both cruise lines are generally praised, with dedicated crew members who aim to create a memorable and enjoyable cruise experience for passengers.


Cruise Prices and Value for Money

When it comes to cruise prices and value for money, both Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line offer competitive pricing and strive to deliver a rewarding and enjoyable experience for passengers.


The cost of a cruise can vary significantly depending on factors such as the ship, itinerary, cabin category, and time of year. Both cruise lines offer a range of price points to accommodate different budgets. Royal Caribbean tends to cater to a slightly higher price range, offering a mix of value-priced cruises as well as more premium options, especially on their newer ships. Norwegian Cruise Line offers a range of pricing options and often runs promotions and special offers, allowing passengers to find good value for their money.


In terms of value for money, both cruise lines provide a variety of inclusions in their cruise fares. These typically include accommodation, meals in the main dining venues and buffet restaurants, onboard entertainment, access to pools and fitness centers, and youth programs for families. Additional costs may be incurred for specialty dining, alcoholic beverages, gratuities, and certain onboard activities.


It’s important to consider the overall experience and inclusions when evaluating the value for money. Both Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line offer a diverse range of activities and entertainment options, ensuring that passengers have a wide array of choices throughout their cruise. From thrilling onboard activities to Broadway-style shows, there are numerous experiences to enjoy without incurring additional costs.


Additionally, both cruise lines invest in their ships to provide updated amenities and innovative features. Royal Caribbean, in particular, is known for its groundbreaking ship designs and attractions like the FlowRider surf simulators and robotic bartenders. Norwegian Cruise Line focuses on providing a more relaxed and casual atmosphere with a variety of dining choices. These onboard enhancements contribute to the overall value provided in the cruise experience.


Passengers also have the opportunity to enhance their cruise experience by investing in optional add-ons and experiences offered by both Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line. These may include specialty dining packages, beverage packages, spa treatments, shore excursions, and other upgrades. Deciding whether these additional costs are worth the value is a personal decision.


Ultimately, the value for money on both cruise lines will depend on individual preferences, budget constraints, and the desired level of amenities and experiences. It is recommended to carefully consider the inclusions, onboard offerings, and any promotions or discounts available to make an informed decision about which cruise line offers the best value for your specific needs.


Overall Customer Reviews and Satisfaction

Customer reviews and satisfaction play a crucial role in assessing the quality of a cruise line’s offerings and services. Both Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line have generally positive feedback from passengers, reflecting a high level of customer satisfaction.


Royal Caribbean has built a strong reputation for providing memorable and enjoyable cruise experiences. Passengers often praise their innovative ships, exciting onboard activities, and quality entertainment options. The friendly and attentive staff members receive positive reviews for their professionalism and dedication to customer service. Guests appreciate the range of dining options offered by Royal Caribbean, mentioning the quality and variety of cuisine available. The cruise line’s commitment to maintaining high standards across their fleet contributes to positive customer reviews and repeat business.


Norwegian Cruise Line also receives favorable reviews from passengers who enjoy their easygoing and inclusive cruise experience. The “Freestyle Cruising” concept, allowing for flexible dining and a relaxed dress code, is often admired by guests. The variety of onboard entertainment, including Broadway-style shows and diverse activities, receives positive feedback. Norwegian Cruise Line also provides excellent customer service, and their staff members are praised for their friendliness and attentiveness. Passengers appreciate the value for money provided by the cruise line, noting the overall positive experience and value received.


It’s important to note that as with any large-scale operation, there can be occasional negative reviews or complaints. These may stem from unforeseen circumstances, individual experiences, or personal preferences. However, in general, both cruise lines have a high level of customer satisfaction and positive overall reviews.


Customer reviews and satisfaction can vary depending on factors such as the specific ship, itinerary, and expectations of individual passengers. It’s always advisable to read a variety of reviews and consider the overall trends rather than focusing on isolated incidents.


In summary, both Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line have a strong track record of meeting or exceeding customer expectations. Their commitment to providing memorable experiences, a wide range of amenities, and attentive service has resulted in positive feedback from passengers.



Both Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line offer exceptional cruise experiences, each with its own unique features and strengths. As you consider which cruise line is better suited to your preferences, it’s important to weigh the various aspects we’ve discussed throughout this article.


Royal Caribbean stands out for its innovative ships, thrilling onboard activities, and diverse itineraries. The cruise line appeals to adventure-seekers and those who value a wide range of entertainment options. With a reputation for excellent service and a focus on quality dining experiences, Royal Caribbean consistently delivers a memorable vacation for its passengers.


Norwegian Cruise Line, on the other hand, excels in offering a relaxed and flexible cruise experience. The “Freestyle Cruising” concept provides guests with more options and freedom when it comes to dining, dress code, and activities. The cruise line offers a variety of entertainment options, including Broadway-style shows, and has a reputation for excellent customer service.


Ultimately, the choice between Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line will depend on your personal preferences, budget, destination choices, and the kind of cruise experience you are seeking. Consider factors such as the range of onboard activities and entertainment, dining options, accommodations, service quality, and value for money.


It’s also beneficial to read customer reviews and seek recommendations from others who have sailed with both cruise lines. Their firsthand experiences can provide valuable insights into the strengths and weaknesses of each company.


Regardless of your choice, both Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line are well-established cruise lines that have garnered a loyal following and consistently deliver enjoyable vacations for their passengers. The key is to align your preferences with the offerings and experiences of each cruise line.


So, whether you opt for the thrilling adventures and innovative amenities of Royal Caribbean or the relaxed atmosphere and flexibility of Norwegian Cruise Line, you can look forward to embarking on a memorable journey at sea.