Royal Caribbean vs. Norwegian Cruise Lines

Looking to book your next cruise and trying to decide between Royal Caribbean vs. Norwegian? Choosing can be difficult, what with the huge variety of options. 

We’re here to help with this article comparing Royal Caribbean vs. Norwegian. It will tell you what each cruise line has to offer so you can decide which one suits you best.

Royal Caribbean vs. Norwegian Quick Take:

  • Royal Caribbean vs. Norwegian Dining: Royal Caribbean has dozens of different restaurants with different styles of cuisine. Norwegian, on the other hand, is more “freestyle dining” with no set dining times or dress codes.
  • Royal Caribbean vs. Norwegian Cabins: Both cruise lines offer cabins for minimalists and luxury seekers alike, but Norwegian might have a slight edge when it comes to luxury accommodations.
  • Royal Caribbean vs. Norwegian Passengers: Both Royal Caribbean and Norwegian cruises are good options for all types of people, but Norwegian might be a bit better for solo travelers.
  • Royal Caribbean vs. Norwegian Entertainment: Both Royal Caribbean and Norwegian cruise lines offer amazing entertainment, so you won’t ever be bored, but Royal Caribbean has unique amenities like bumper cars and surf and skydiving simulators.

Royal Caribbean vs. Norwegian: Overview

Royal Caribbean has a large fleet of more than 27 ships. Aimed at travelers of all ages, these ships feature plenty to keep everyone entertained including cool amenities like bumper cars, FlowRider surf simulators, skydiving simulators, ziplines, and ice skating rinks, in addition to the usual casinos, spas, shows, and rock climbing walls.

Itineraries range from short 2-night cruises to a world cruise lasting 275 nights. Royal Caribbean sails to a huge variety of destinations including the Caribbean, the South Pacific, Europe, Asia, Mexico, and Alaska.

Royal Caribbean cruises are not all-inclusive; you’ll have to pay for things like drink packages and some of the premium restaurants, which can add up quickly. While Norwegian does offer all-inclusive packages, some restaurants are extra on their ships as well.

Norwegian Cruise Lines is a wonderful choice for those looking for a laid-back vacation. With no strict dress codes or set dining times, Norwegian gives you the freedom to enjoy your trip the way you want to. 

Norwegian is known for its “freestyle dining,” allowing passengers to choose from a selection of up to nine restaurants at any given time. With a range of cuisines plus the ability to have your meals whenever you want, Norwegian is a good cruise line for those who like more flexibility.

You’ll also find a wide selection of onboard activities suitable for all ages, including a casino for adults, Wii games for kids, bowling, racing, and Broadway shows. Norwegian itineraries range between 3 days and 21 days and include a mix of destinations such as the Caribbean, Alaska, Hawaii, Africa, Europe, Asia, North America, South America, Australia and New Zealand, Antarctica, and more. They also offer transatlantic and Panama Canal cruises.

Royal Caribbean vs. Norwegian: Ships

As mentioned before, Royal Caribbean has 27 ships in its fleet. Each ship is large and offers all sorts of fantastic amenities (like bumper cars and surf simulators). Most of the Royal Caribbean ships hold more than double the number of passengers of other cruise lines. In fact, some accommodate more than 6,000 passengers.

Norwegian has a fleet size of only 19 ships, but they still offer itineraries with destinations all across the world. Norwegian ships also hold a lot of people, although not quite as many as Royal Caribbean. The Norwegian fleet can accommodate from 1,936 to 4,266 passengers.

Royal Caribbean vs. Norwegian: Dining

Royal Caribbean has casual dining, which includes a buffet-style restaurant and a main dining room as well as additional complimentary restaurants that are all included in your fare. There are also fine dining restaurants that are extra. Passengers can choose from dining packages such as the 3 Night Dining Package or Unlimited Dining Package.

Royal Caribbean also has four drinks packages: the water package, the classic soda package, the refreshment package, and the deluxe beverage package (which is the only one including alcoholic drinks). Additionally, gratuities are charged each day for every guest.

Dining on Norwegian cruises is “Freestyle Dining.” With a wide range of options, guests are able to eat whenever and wherever they want and can choose to dine at grilles, buffets, cafes, and fine dining restaurants, all with no fixed dress codes.

Norwegian offers all-inclusive packages with unlimited alcohol, soft drinks, and meals. However, there can be added fees for specialty restaurants and drinks.

Royal Caribbean vs. Norwegian: Cabins

Both Royal Caribbean and Norwegian cruise ships are comparable in the quality and type of cabins available. They offer a range of cabin sizes, from basic inside cabins to luxurious suites with balconies.

Royal Caribbean tends to have more amenities in their staterooms, such as virtual balconies, while Norwegian has more suite options with better views. (Virtual balconies are high-definition screens inside interior staterooms that show exterior views in real-time.) Royal Caribbean also has fun and colorful family rooms that come stocked with games and neat features like Lego walls and in-room slides.

Norwegian offers accommodations for solo travelers, couples, and families. For honeymooners, Norwegian’s luxury The Haven suites are perfect for a romantic getaway. These exclusive suites are spacious and offer large balconies; some even have separate living areas and spa-like bathrooms with separate tubs. They also include access to a private pool, restaurant, lounge, and 24-hour butler service.

Both cruise lines offer cabins for minimalists and luxury seekers alike. But if you are looking for a room that will put the cherry on top of your vacation, The Haven by Norwegian is far and away the most luxurious option.

Seaplex – Deck 15 Aft Center Spectrum of the Seas – Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean vs. Norwegian: Entertainment and Activities

Royal Caribbean cruises keep everyone entertained. In addition to pools and whirlpools, there are tons of activities and entertainment options for adults, teens, and kids on each ship such as surf simulators, waterparks, rock climbing walls, live shows, bumper cars, casinos, and escape rooms. There are also dedicated kids’ club areas as well as adult-only lounges and nightclubs.

Royal Caribbean also offers award-winning Broadway shows such as Grease, Cats, and Hairspray in addition to comedy shows, game shows, and other live performances.

Norwegian isn’t far behind though. Onboard activities include pools, waterslides, casinos, bars, and shops as well as fun amenities like rock climbing walls, rope courses, waterparks, video games, and bowling alleys. Of course, you’ll also find pools, hot tubs, and spas.

You won’t be lacking any entertainment options either. Norwegian cruises offer all types of shows including Broadway hits, comedy, and dance. You can also find live music in a variety of venues. 

Regardless of which cruise line you  choose, be sure to check what will be offered onboard your specific ship before you book if entertainment and amenities are important to you. Not all cruises have the same things.

Royal Caribbean vs. Norwegian: Cost 

As with any cruise line, the cost of both Norwegian and Royal Caribbean cruises varies depending on the length of the trip, destinations, time of year, and of course, what type of accommodation you select.

Royal Caribbean cruises average around $150 – $250 per person per night. Although Royal Caribbean cruises aren’t all-inclusive, you can purchase add-ons like drink packages ahead of time so it’s easier to budget and you don’t need to worry about surprise expenses. 

Norwegian has all-inclusive packages, but some specialty restaurants and drinks can cost extra. Prices for Norwegian cruises vary between $300 and $5,550 per person, though you can find some great deals with them, especially for solo travel or last-minute reservations.

Royal Caribbean vs. Norwegian: Passengers

Royal Caribbean cruises offer plenty for couples, singles, solo travelers, retirees, and families with kids of all ages. There truly is something for everyone and you’re bound to see passengers from every demographic on a Royal Caribbean cruise. 

Both Royal Caribbean and Norwegian are extremely family-friendly but also cater well to couples, group vacations, and solo travelers. Neither of them offers adult-only cruises, but both have several areas onboard their ships that are adult-only when you’re looking to escape from the little ones.

Norwegian may appeal more to solo travelers who want to be on their own schedule. In addition, the freestyle dining experience may make it easier for solo travelers to dine without feeling awkward. 

Royal Caribbean vs. Norwegian: Conclusion

Royal Caribbean and Norwegian cruise lines are pretty comparable, all things considered. Both have great amenities, cabins, and plenty of entertainment options for everyone. You won’t regret choosing either one as your next cruise line. If you’re still unsure, you might want to read Princess vs. Royal Caribbean Cruises and Is a Royal Caribbean Cruise Worth It?

If you’d like more help deciding, or booking your cruise, reach out to one of our expert travel advisors.

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