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Carnival Cruise vs Celebrity Cruise: Which is Best!

Carnival Sunshine while docked in St Thomas
Carnival Sunshine while docked in St Thomas

Choosing the perfect cruise vacation can feel like navigating a sea of options. With so many choices, it's essential to weigh all the factors to ensure you book the trip that best suits your needs and desires. Two of the most popular cruise lines are Carnival Cruise Line and Celebrity Cruise Line. But which one is right for you? Let's break it down.

When I look for cruises to take, I base it on a few things. Price, departure point, and Itinerary are the main things I look into. With 15 cruises under my belt, I have to cruise on a budget, so price is my most important factor. But I also enjoy visiting places I have never been to before, so differences in itineraries are important to me.

Many of you will feel the same way but want to factor in many more things when taking a cruise. Like activities, entertainment, size of ship, and food. These are all legitimate points to review when picking a cruise.

This blog will help you learn which cruise line is best for you. I will discuss the pros and cons of Carnival Cruise Line vs Celebrity Cruise Line, so you can make the most informed decision. That way you can set back and relax knowing you picked the right cruise for your personality. Anchors Away! 

Carnival vs Celebrity Cruises Pros and Cons.

Basic Info about Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Glory pulling into Montego Bay
Carnival Glory pulling into Montego Bay

Founded in 1972, Carnival Cruise Line is known for its fun and affordable cruises. With a fleet of over 27 ships, they offer itineraries to the Caribbean, Mexico, Alaska, and beyond. Their ships are packed with entertainment options, including water parks, casinos, and live shows, making them a favorite for families and groups looking for a lively vacation.

Best Things about Carnival Cruise Line

  • Affordability: Great value for money, especially for families.

  • Entertainment options abound, from water slides to comedy shows. 

  • Convenient Departure Ports across the U.S.

 Worst Things about Carnival Cruise Line

  • Crowded Ships during peak seasons. Summer and spring break are the worst times to cruise.

  • Less Luxurious compared to premium lines.

  • Average Dining experience for food connoisseurs. My rating is a 7 out of 10, although the specialty restaurants are much better.

Basic Info about Celebrity Cruise Line

Atrium area on the Celebrity Reflection
Atrium area on the Celebrity Reflection

Celebrity Cruises, founded in 1988, is known for its luxurious ships and exceptional service. With a fleet of 16 ships, they offer destinations worldwide, including Europe, Asia, and the Americas. Celebrity focuses on providing a sophisticated experience with gourmet dining, modern staterooms, and enriching activities. By being part of the Royal Caribbean Family, this cruise line benefits from their example 

Best Things about Celebrity Cruise Line

  • Luxurious Accommodations with stylish decor and comfortable amenities.

  • Gourmet Dining experiences crafted by renowned chefs. Even the main dining room and buffets were a 9 out of 10.

  • Enriching Activities that focus on culture and relaxation. Amazing spa services

  • Best App for cellphone, easy to use, and full of all the information you will need.

Worst Things about Celebrity Cruise Line

  • Higher Cost compared to other cruise lines, unless you find a deal.

  • Limited Departure Ports, sometimes requiring additional travel.

  • Less Family-Oriented, focusing more on adult travelers. Still things for kids to do, but not as young of a crowd

  • Confusion on Room Class, do I need concierge class or veranda class, or does it really matter? It may not, but you will need to be familiar with what the classes on the ship are to help choose the best for you.


Price is a huge factor that can be affected by many things. For example, if you book an interior room or balcony room. Or do you get the alcohol package or not. Prices will also be different if you are taking the cruise during peak season or hurricane season. Also, the newest ship like the Carnival Jubilee will be more expensive than older ships in the fleet. Something to think about if you don't need all the bells and whistles and want a cheaper cruise.

Did you know that the Carnival Corporation and Celebrity (Royal Caribbean) gives you onboard credit if you have 100 shares of carnival stock. It does not help the price of your room, but could help cover specialty dining, gratuities or shopping while on board.

Carnival Cruise

Carnival Cruise Line is renowned for its affordability, making it an attractive option for budget-conscious travelers. They offer various packages, often with lower starting prices, which can be a significant draw for family vacations and groups.

I have taken many Carnival cruises on many carnival ships, from 4 days to 9 days, and each cost under $800 per person or less. In fact, I purchased a 4-day cruise for around $400 after taxes and fees a couple years back.  In my opinion the smaller ships are more affordable, and obviously less crowded. Larger ships are typically newer, more crowded and more expensive.

Chocolate covered strawberries
Chocolate covered strawberries

Celebrity Cruise

Celebrity Cruise Line, on the other hand, positions itself as a more premium cruise line option. While the initial cost may be higher, the line often includes more in the base fare, such as gratuities and dining options, potentially balancing the overall expense.

As for the price of the cruise, I just traveled on the Celebrity Reflection for a 4-day cruise. Balcony room in concierge class (an upgrade) costing $610 per person after taxes and port fees. This was a very good deal for Celebrity Cruise ships. The upgrades included a special delivery every day to our room of a cute little snack, from chocolate covered strawberries to a cheese tray on another day, every day we received a special gift. On embarkation day we had a special lunch in the dining room, where everyone else was sent to buffet after they checked in, to board the ship. Plus, the Concierge Class Balcony is large.


Food is a major factor when traveling. And all cruise lines have some restaurants included in the cruise like the main dining room and buffets, but some even have a few more that are included in your cruise. They also have specialty dining restaurants that are an extra cost. If you like specialty restaurants that will affect the price of the cruise, but you can get discounts if you buy the specialty dining package offered by the cruise line, before you board the ship. Sometimes these packages are included in your cruise due to the promotion the cruise line has at the moment. I will say that Specialty restaurants are wonderful basically on any cruise line. Some stand out more than others throughout the cruise industry. 

Both cruise lines have a dress code for specialty restaurants, but I feel that Celebrity was fancier. But you will see people dressed up on carnival for their formal nights and heading to the main dining rooms or specialty restaurants. For the most part, do not wear swimwear to any restaurant on either cruise line except the lido deck buffet or outdoor dining areas.

Most cruise ships have other food options that might not be covered, for example a coffee bar or special pastry place that will charge extra. Typically, an older ship for either cruise line will have less room onboard for a larger variety of restaurants.

Carnival Cruise

Blue Velvet Cake from Java Blue Cafe
Blue Velvet Cake from Java Blue Cafe

Carnival Cruise ships pride themselves on offering diverse dining options, from casual buffets to specialty restaurants. The cuisine is designed to cater to a wide range of tastes and is generally considered good value for money. 

Along with the basics of the main dining room and buffet, depending on which ship you are on you can visit Guy’s Burger Joint, Blue Iguana Cantina, Swirls, Mongolian Wok, Bug Chicken and a few others that are included in the price of the cruise, depend on which ship you are on.

Java Blue Cafe and the Coffee bar are not included in the carnival cruise. One of the good things to purchase is the cakes, they have great slices of cake at the Java Blue Cafe. Along with specialty dining options like the steakhouse, sushi, and a great option of the Japanese restaurant, there are plenty more on the cruise ships. Each ship is different with the types of specialty restaurants available. The specialty restaurants are considered fine dining. Room service is free for the first half of the day, but the last half of the day there is a small charge for room service.

Celebrity Cruise

Salmon lunch at the Opus on the Celebrity Reflection
Salmon lunch at the Opus on the Celebrity Reflection

Celebrity Cruise is known for its upscale dining experience. With menus crafted by Michelin-starred chefs and a focus on gourmet cuisine, foodies will delight in the diverse and high-quality culinary offerings. Being associated with Royal Caribbean, means great food quality. The Royal Caribbean cruise line has set the standard for great food, and other cruise lines are just trying to catch up. This places Celebrity in a great position being affiliated with them, they have great food.

Some examples of the specialty dining on Celebrity ships are Murano, Tuscan Grill, Blu and a couple more. These are great options, but for a unique experience try Le Petit Chef, it is like you are dining in an art installation. Some ships also have less expensive options for dining, but they are not included in the price of your cruise. For example, the Lawn Club Grill, these are great options for a dinner or lunch and not as fancy as specialty restaurants. Room service can be placed 24 hours a day, but there will be a 9.95 surcharge for your meal plus gratuity.

My experience with the buffet on the Celebrity Reflection was amazing. Out of 15 cruises, Celebrity buffet had the best food, plus the largest variety I have ever seen. Plus, I enjoyed the layout, several different buffet stations spread out, so you were on in 1 long continuous line.


Celebrity Reflection, back of ship
Celebrity Reflection, back of ship

From studios to suites, cruise lines have every option you will need. If you are a solo cruiser and don't need a lot of space or you are a family of 5, there are options on all cruise lines, including Carnival and Celebrity. The price changes on rooms due to size/style, cruise season, and by how many people it needs to hold. For example, balcony rooms tend to cost more than interior rooms, unless you get a deal where a cruise is not selling as they would like, and they reduce the price of rooms.

I have spent many cruises in an interior room, and do not mind it at all. Honestly, I get the best sleep in an interior room because there is no light coming in from a window or balcony. I always suggest looking at the website to make sure you get the room you want. Also, you can find videos of your specific room on YouTube. This can help you determine if the room is good for you.

If you pick the “sail away” package, the cruise line picks the room for you. This happens on both the cruise lines in this blog, but Celebrity call is it the "Guaranteed Stateroom". You can save some money this way, but you could end up in an area of the ship you do not like. For example, it is best to stay midship if you worry about sea sickness. If you let them pick the room you might be near the front or aft, and you can feel the ship move more there.

Carnival Cruise

Carnival's cabins are comfortable and functional, with various classes to suit different budgets. However, they are generally more straightforward and less luxurious compared to those found on Celebrity Cruise.

There are suites, balconies, ocean view, and interior cabins on a carnival cruise ship. So there are plenty of styles to choose from. Even the set ups in the room with the beds are different, so always double check how the room looks. Some interior rooms may have 1 pull down bed and some will have 2. 

The carnival interior and balcony rooms are what I have taken in the past, and both were great options. Although 3 people in an interior room is a little crowded and one person will have to sleep on an upper-level bunk. 

Celebrity Cruise

Cabins on Celebrity Cruises are often more spacious and luxurious. With modern amenities, stylish decor, and superior comfort, your stateroom experience is elevated to a new level of relaxation and sophistication.

Celebrity offers different levels for their rooms. For example, the concierge class on a balcony cabin will give you more room than a Veranda Class Cabin, plus you will get more perks onboard. Veranda Class has some cabins with portholes, but then there is an Oceanview room too that is one step below that. Aquaclass is more of a wellness class for the ship with a balcony and other perks for those seeking spa services and more. There are also interior rooms, studios for those solo cruisers and then suites are the perfect place for the larger families.

Itinerary and Activities

View art
View art on both Carnival or Celebrity cruises, but this picture is from Celebrity

Each cruise line has different itineraries, with stops at certain places that the other ship will not stop at. For example, both cruise lines have private islands in the Bahamas. Carnival is Half Moon Cay, and Celebrity is CocoCay. So, if you have your heart set on one or the other, you need to pick the right cruise line. You will notice differences like this for all cruise lines and certain ports some cruise ships do not dock at. CocoCay is by far the best cruise port private island of any cruise ship island out there.

As for onboard activities, most cruise lines have similar things to do. From Bingo, mini golf, to broadway music, to deck parties with live music and more. All cruise lines seem to have a library for those who would like to get a book to read or some quiet time, and they all have many bars and lounges to drink or dance the night away if you like. The difference may be the people you find on the ship. Musical performances in the theater or by the piano bar are great on both cruise lines. The pool deck on both Carnival and Celebrity are usually extremely busy in the Caribbean or in peak summer season, with music, DJ’s and of course alcoholic drinks.

Both cruise ships have high speed connectivity, and an internet cafe onboard, but with the updates over the past couple years, both do well to offer internet services to everyone on board for a fee. They both have spas, fitness centers, shore excursion desks, and photo pick up area.

Both cruise lines offer shore excursions purchased through the cruise line. There is a better way to get excursions more budget friendly, and that is with a a 3rd party vendor like Viator to take tours and excursions in the cruise port. Just make sure you are back on the ship in time, as a cruise ship will not wait on you if you did not purchase the excursion through them.

Carnival Cruise

Carnival's itineraries are designed for fun and adventure. They offer a wide range of activities, including waterslides, game shows, and themed parties, making them a hit with families and younger crowds. Making this a better on-board experience all around.

This may be shocking to you but the average age on a carnival cruise ship is 45. People tend to think that the ship is just for young people who party all night, but that is not always the case. If you cruise the Caribbean you do tend to find a younger crowd, whereas if you are taking an Alaskan cruise, it will be more laidback. Still there will be plenty of people on the dance floor in a lounge for you in Alaska.

Adult only Solarium on the Celebrity Reflection
Adult only Solarium on the Celebrity Reflection

Celebrity Cruise

Celebrity Cruises tend to offer more refined and culturally enriching itineraries. Think wine tastings, cooking classes, and art exhibitions. The atmosphere is generally more relaxed, appealing to adult travelers seeking a more sophisticated experience.

It is true from my experience that celebrity cruise lines are more sophisticated, but the average age is 50. So younger people do tend to cruise on other cruise lines. I still saw plenty of cruisers under that age, in fact I'm not 50 yet, and 2 people I am traveling with are not 50 either. You will still have a great time in the lounges young or old on a Celebrity cruise. Plus, the Adults only Solarium is amazing.

Speaking of Solarium, they do have family time from 5 to 7PM. And 16 and up is consider adult enough to be in the pool at all times of the day. Bit it is so much more relaxing than the outside pool area.

Check out the video of Solarium.

Departure Port

Fort Lauderdale from the ship
Fort Lauderdale from the ship

Carnival Cruise

Carnival operates out of numerous ports across the U.S., providing easy access for most American travelers. This makes it convenient for those who prefer not to fly or travel far to begin their cruise.

Carnival has more cruise ships with more departure points all around the world. Although most are in the United States. With a 27-ship fleet, including a brand-new cruise ship released recently, no wonder you are the leader in departure points around the world. 

Celebrity Cruise

Celebrity also offers a variety of departure ports but tends to focus on fewer, more strategically chosen locations. While this might mean a bit more travel to the port, the destinations and itineraries often make it worthwhile.

Celebrity only has 16 ships, not near as many as Carnival. So, there are many port cities in the United State that don't have access to the Celebrity cruise line as Carnival. Baltimore, Jacksonville, Galveston and a few more come to mind that Celebrity does not use as a departure port.


Both Carnival and Celebrity Cruises offer unique travel experiences tailored to different types of travelers. If you are a first-time cruiser or experienced, research has to be done. If you're looking for a budget-friendly, fun-filled vacation with plenty of activities, Carnival Cruise Line is a fantastic choice. On the other hand, if you prefer a more luxurious, gourmet, and culturally enriching experience, Celebrity Cruise Line may be the better option.

Ultimately, the best cruise line for you will depend on your personal preferences, budget, and what you value most in a vacation. Ready to set sail? [Learn more] and start planning your dream cruise today!

Additional Tips for Choosing the Perfect Cruise

  • Research Destinations to find the best fit for your interests and preferred activities.

  • Consider Travel Time and Budget when choosing between a short or long cruise.

  • Read Reviews from previous travelers to get an idea of what to expect.

  • Find Deals and Discounts by booking in advance or with a travel agent.

This blog contains affiliate links. If you click on them and make a purchase, I might receive a commission at no extra cost to you.


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Jun 23
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

I love that you went into the details of the ship and not just the age range. We went on a celebrity and were not their target population and had a fantastic time! There's so much more to consider and you went through it all!

Replying to

Thanks for the comment. Those comments people say that Celebrity is only an old person ship, need to change their minds. I was highly impressed. Thanks for the comment, I am not sure why my reply to you says I am a guest, since its my website and blog. Thanks again for reaching out.


Jun 22

What a thorough post! Both Celebrity and Carnival are cruise lines that depart from the city where I live so it is helpful to know how to compare the different lines. You really shared a lot of details to help make a very informed decision.

Replying to

Thanks I am glad you liked it.

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