Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Princess VS Carnival: Difference between Cruises from Los Angeles

All good things must come to an end. We just got back from a 7 day cruise with Princess Cruises(Crown Princess) and it's hard to get back to our normal routine. Imagine having a room steward clean your room 2-3 times a day; unlimited food choices to indulge in; the amazing view and breeze as you sit on the decks while watching the waves go by; and great ports to come down to for a little sightseeing. I wrote about the Top 20 Reasons Why We Love Cruising before, but I might have to update that and make it 30 reasons.

Cruise tips

But before I expound on all the details of our 7 day trip. I wish to share the difference between Princess Cruises and Carnival Cruise for those who wish to cruise with one of them in the near future.

We've been cruising with Carnival Cruise for some time now. And this year we decided to cruise with Princess Cruises. Both cruise lines are under the same umbrella but is different from each other.

Let's enumerate their differences, Princess VS Carnival:

Princess Cruises and Carnival Cruises both offers sit down breakfast, lunch and dinner for a fine dining experience. They both have buffets. Both have burger and hotdog grills at the pool area. There's also restaurants where you get more premium food for an additional fee. 

The difference: Both Princess Cruises & Carnival offers afternoon tea. But princess does it great. With white glove service. Sandwiches, scone, mini desserts served with to you from a big serving platter. Carnival serves it from a cart, where it took forever and they didn't have enough servers. The tea was better at Princess too, poured from a big pot but good. Carnival gave you tea bags to choose from. But just overall, Carnival VS Princess on afternoon tea, Princess wins.

READ: Princess Cruises Afternoon Tea Service - Mommy Daughter Bonding Time

Carnival's Pizzeria is 24 hours, Princess is not. There's made to order sandwiches/panini at Carnival, Princess has them ready made but is open 24 hours and they also serve cookies and milk to you if you're seating at the lounge in the afternoon.

READ: Our Yummy Sea Day Brunch Aboard Carnival Cruise

Tea party food

If you don't want dinner at the buffets, both cruise ships divides you into early sitting and late sitting for the fine dining dinner. But Princess Cruises offers anytime dining, unfortunately though, there's a waiting time when you get there coz' everyone seems to want to go for anytime dining.

READ: Carnival Cruise Dinner Menu - Is the food free on a cruise?

Cruise food

cruise food

We personally think Carnival cruise has better food and food options. But Princess has a better breakfast buffet and better tasting pizza..they were really good pizza.

READ: Princess Breakfast Buffet with a View

cruise breakfast food

cruise food

If you booked a balcony room with Princess, you can also dine on your balcony, for a fee. Both have room service but Princess doesn't serve room service on the morning of disembarkation day.


When you eat at the buffets at Princess Cruises, they serve the drinks to your table. Ice Tea, Lemonade, Milk and coffee is free. At Carnival Cruise, you can get your drinks at the dispensers. Ice Tea, Lemonade, Coffee, a really good fruity drink during breakfast, and hot chocolate. Carnival has a really good hot chocolate, Princess is so watered down.

For the alcoholic drinks, Carnival Cruise has better drinks and fun looking tumblers to go with it. But then the peeps at Princess are hardly drinking. Take note: Carnival has the drinking crowd. It's called the Fun Ship after all.


Princess Cruises has the older crowd. It's like 90% of the passengers are retired. Carnival Cruise on the other hand are families, friends cruising together, honeymooners and maybe 5% are retired who are cruising with their families.


The rooms at Princess Cruises are smaller yet cleaner and smells better. Maybe coz it's newer. The layout is not the same either. We preferred Princess Cruises in terms of the room. And believe me when I say we slept a lot. We literally ate then slept, then repeated that 5 times a day.

cruise cabin


Princess Cruises and Carnival cruise both has good nightly shows(singing, dancing). But there's not enough seats at Princess Cruises and the leg space is tight too and they only show the performance once a night, so once everyone is finish eating dinner(anytime dining), everyone is already trying to get seats to see the show. Some sat on the stairs.

Carnival Cruise show is shown twice a night. And with the set dinner time divided into two groups. It's more organized. Everyone gets a seat to the show after dinner. And leg space is huge. You get to enjoy your drinks too while watching the show.

things to do on a cruise


I found Carnival Cruise's service better. Their staff seemed to be more friendly and happier. The room steward service was more consistent too. With Princess Cruises, some nights we get chocolates, some none. Had a really bad experience during lunch time at the sit down restaurant at Princess also. The waiter was sick and still working and so he is not himself, I should have gone for buffet.


Both cruise liners have a lot of pools and jacuzzis including adults only pool. But Princess has a wave pool while Carnival has elaborate slides.

princess cruises


With Princess Cruises you can watch a movie on their pool deck. Get comfy on their loungers and they'll even provide blankets or you can watch it from the jacuzzi if you want. Plus the pizzeria and soft serve ice cream is just nearby. On daytime, they showed football.


Lots of movies to see at Princess Cruises. We really enjoyed this part as we were mostly in the room(after eating of course), just before a nap. They showed Maleficent, Monsters University, there was football, etc. Carnival has no shows, it's mostly ads about the ship.

READ: 10 Reasons to Cruise with the Kids on your next Family Vacation


Carnival Cruise has towels shaped into animals in your room every night. Really cute especially if you have kids. One of the Carnival Cruise we went to even had animal towel class.
Princess Cruises has napkin folding class on the other hand.


Every night, you get the next day's itinerary and there just seems to be more activities lined up at Carnival. They have games, etc.

things to do on a cruise


You can borrow books and play board games on board inside their library. But Princess Cruises has a really tiny library.


Since more families go for Carnival Cruise. It's more crowded. Princess cruise has hardly any kids in their daycares. Plus the room is bigger too, there seems to be more stuff you can do. Both offer after 10PM babysitting for additional fee.

READ: How the Princess Cruise Day Care looks like? See the pictures in our post.

cruise with kids


Princess Cruises has a better looking interior but I'm assuming that's coz it's a newer ship. I found the layout more confusing though. We had a hard time finding public restrooms and elevator. Maybe we're so used to the layout of Carnival. We might need to go on a few more times.

princess cruises pictures


Both cruise ships have a really nice looking gym and spa. But just a tad bit better at Princess, there's even a huge pool at the spa area. And the gym has 180 degrees view so you can enjoy the ocean while you're on the treadmill. Massage service was equally good.

things to do on a cruise


Embarkation was a breeze for both Carnival & Princess. There would be a wait though if you need the elevator, as there's only one. And since there's more peeps who needed wheelchair assistance with Princess, expect to wait. We have a double stroller, so we had to wait too. The rest just goes up the escalator.

Disembarkation was better at Princess. They give you a set time to disembark the ship the night before. You stay at the lounge you were assigned too in the morning. Carnival, very disorganized. Over the years it's getting better, but still not as good as Princess. We needed to attend the Camp Spooky event at Knott's berry Farm the morning we were gonna disembark and Princess made it smooth for us so we don't miss on the event.

cruise pictures


Carnival is known as the Fun Ship while Princess' tagline is Escape Completely. And it's exactly that. If you want to party and enjoy some fun looking drinks, ride with Carnival Cruise. If you want to relax, book a balcony room with Princess Cruises, less party people heading back to their rooms making a noise will for sure keep you in lalaland.

READ: Group Cruise Tips - Our Family Reunion Cruise

If you guys have more questions about cruising, leave a comment. I'd be happy to answer any cruise questions you have. I'll also share more details of our 7 days cruise in the days to come. 

Note: we rode on Crown Princess, versus Carnival Imagination and 5 more other Carnival ships that departs from Los Angeles and San Diego. They always change the ship. But this write up is based on those trips. All pictures are from our trip with Princess.


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  1. This is soo perfect! I've wondered about the differences between these two - but I still like them both, but now I have a better idea which one is better for a certain experience!

  2. Thank you for sharing this information as it is very helpful. I want to go on a cruise next year and will come back to your post to review before making a decision on a cruise line.

  3. I read your comparison the Morning we left for our first Princess Cruise. We've been on several Carnival cruises and always had a great time We got back today, and throughout our cruise I kept thinking of your article and agreed with everything you said! We enjoyed Princess but think we like Carnival better! So far, Royal Carribean is my favorite. But, we've had more fun on Carnival!

    1. Haha. Funny that you thought of my post. We'll try Royal Carribean next year then. Why is it your favorite, so I have an idea what to expect. Thanks

  4. On the princess cruise ship, is lobster part of all you can eat free? How many pools on Princess? Are the spas, massages free, or do you have to pay extra?

    1. Hi Maria, The lobster is only on one night. It's a formal night. It's not technically an all you can eat, as it is formal sit down dinner, but yes, you can order as much lobster as you want, if that makes sense, or like order a steak and a lobster. There are two pools on Princess, I don't remember if it's heated but no one is in there during December as it is pretty cold. Spas and massages are NOT free. But the gym is. Let me know if you still have more questions. Enjoy! The afternoon tea is fun.

  5. Is the lobster all you can eat on the princess free? How many pools? And are they heated? I plan to travel in December? Is the spa/massages free?

  6. Question about Formal Nights on Princess. Do the men need to wear a jacket? We've only been on Carnival before and I know some men did and some just wore dress shirts.

    1. Hubby only brought a dress shirt and it was fine! Enjoy your cruise and their yummy lobster.

  7. Great article! Love the section about the food. We are big foodies so this was great. Thanks!

  8. Love this post for the comparison between the cruise lines. It will help us to plan our first cruise trip for next year.


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