CARNIVAL VS DCL: The comparison thread!!!

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Forum' started by mevelandry, Aug 31, 2016.

  1. mevelandry

    mevelandry DIS Veteran

    Aug 22, 2013
    Welcome to the comparison thread!

    Here is the story:

    When I decided to start this thread, DH and I had sailed on the Disney Dream twice. Our first cruise was a 3 nights Bahamas Cruise and the second cruise was a 4 nights Bahamas Cruise.

    In 2016, we picked a 4 nights Bahamian cruise (Freeport-Nassau-Sea Day) on the Carnival Victory. Embarkation date: October 9, 2016.

    It started with a cruise ship comparison... And it is now the "official" thread for comparisons between Carnival and Disney Cruise Line ships & experience.


    We created this thread because some of DCL past cruisers can't afford cruising with DCL anymore and wonder if they would enjoy a different cruise line after being so spoiled by DCL...

    We created this thread because some of DCL cruisers like to cruise but cannot afford to do two DCL cruises each year (or other year) and they don't want to wait months or years before going on their next cruise.


    -Mostly reviews from DCL cruisers who have tried both cruise lines. Most of those cruisers love(d) DCL.

    -A lot of information on the Carnival ships that we have sailed on with many pictures.

    -Discussions regarding our upcoming cruises and itineraries.


    -Yes, of course... As long as you have sailed on a Carnival ship (No, being docked next to a Carnival ship doesn't count! :rolleyes1). Details like: the name of the ship, the year of the sailing, the length of the cruise and the itinerary would be very much appreciated and would give us a better idea of your experience.


    Experiences may vary. While some cruisers may have experienced tipsy/drunk crowds during shorter cruises, a lot of us never encountered that type of behavior. The only drunk, rude and obnoxious people I have encountered, I have met on the Disney Dream & the Disney Wonder.

    It is common belief between Carnival cruisers that if you stick to longer itineraries and go to be before midnight, your chances of experiencing a "quiet" cruise are extremely high.


    There was a time where the topless deck was a thing but it's been eliminated in 2007 when Carnival decided to take a "family friendly" turn.


    While experiences may vary, DH and I have only encountered friendly and helpful staff on the Carnival Victory & Carnival Vista and most Carnival cruisers seem to have experienced the same thing.


    You might be interested in the brand new Carnival Horizon:

    The Carnival Vista, which was launched in May 2016 looks pretty good too... !

    You could also book a cruise on the Carnival Panorama, who will set sail for the first time in 2019!


    Yes, they do. Half Moon Cay is in the Bahamas. The island requires tendering. Half Moon Cay is not separated in different sections like Castaway Cay. There are many excursions available but there are also a lot of free activities that are listed in the Fun Times.

    They offer regular cabanas rental (good for 4 guests) starting at 279,99$.

    They also offer two-story beach villas (good for 8 guests, includes a hot tub) starting at 499.99$...

    Or a private oasis (a 1,620 square foot grand cabana , good for 12 guests, which also includes a hot tub, the package includes the services of a butler, personal chef, bartender, cabana Steward, and lifeguard, food and beverages!) starting at $1,495.99!

    **** COMING SOON: Pictures of Half Moon Cay will be available soon.****

    Take note that some of Carnival sailings also go to Princess Cays, also in the Bahamas which is mainly used by Princess (also part of Carnival Corp.) Princess Cays has an "adult only" section called "Adults Sanctuary".

    They have private cabanas available (good for 4 guests) starting at 199,99$ or 249.99$ in the Adults Sanctuary (also (good for 4 guests).


    Here are descriptions left on this thread by cruisers (some of them have cruised with DCL too, some did not):

    @hdrolfe : "I have not cruised on Disney so perhaps not a true comparison, however I have cruised on Carnival and their kids program is great. It starts at age 2 (I don't think most start until 3?). The program is quite well structured, they have the kids broken into age groups and they do activities at a certain time. My son loved it because he likes to know what exactly he'll be doing. They have a parade and story time which was a lot of fun, and also of course the Green Eggs and Ham breakfast ($5 per person). They also usually have a Build a Bear activity (for a fee) at least once. [...]"

    @trvlgirlmq : "I also can't provide a comparison because we have only cruised Carnival. My kids went on their first cruise at ages 14, 8 and 7. We primarily have cruised the Dream and Vista class. They love all of the outside activities like the Ropes course, mini golf and now the SkyRide. They participated in the clubs only on our first cruise. They are not interested in meeting new friends although they do talk to other kids at the pools, etc. They prefer to be active and out in the sunshine instead of indoors with movies and games. The larger Carnival ships are perfect if you like to be really active. The crew is always amazing with kids and we have had nothing but good experiences."

    we"reofftoneverland : "I definitely say Carnival is an excellent cruise line for kids. The entire vibe is fun and kid friendly. There are activities going on everywhere that kids enjoy. The food is kid friendly and delicious. One of our kids ate at Guy's burgers every day. Lol. Fresh pizza open all night. Family friendly movies at night on deck with free popcorn and lots of seating. The decor is bright and cheery, the kids club is the best we have experienced at sea. Yes, DCL's kids clubs have more bells and whistles, but our kids preferred CCL's. We liked Carnival, but we are interested in trying all lines--- not the kids. They are sold.

    The kids club on Carnival is structured but flexible. We find DCL's clubs generally unstructured. Our kids liked DCL clubs but sometimes got bored. Other kids in general were different on CCL than on DCL, more down to earth, less (hate to make this generalization, but) spoiled. Our kids fit in better and made more friends at the Carnival kids club than on any of our Disney cruises. The counselors on Carnival are much more attentive and caring. The DCL counselors are more remote. On a couple of DCL cruises, we have seen a couple of male counslers who were very engaged in the clubs, usually leading more physical activities, but in general we find DCL counselors a bit more jaded, very nice, but not really into it. This is our experience only and may be different for others.

    Obviously, CCL is superior for value. Just no contest. The food puts DCL to shame. The decor isn't as "cute" as Disney's but the kids don't seem to notice at all. Lol. The water park and pools are less crowded. The staff is on a par with DCL's. It is hard for us to consider DCL again. Over the next 2 years we have CCL, NCL, and RCL scheduled. We do WDW every year too, so we are huge Disney fans, but their cruise line needs to learn some from its competitors."

    *** More will be added soon ***


    They do! Each sailing has a Seuss-a-palooza parade and story time. For 5$/pp you can also participate to a very colorful Green Eggs and Ham breakfast where Cat-in-the-Hat, Sam-I-Am and Thing 1 and Thing 2 will stop by the tables to take pictures.

    There is Elephant Towel Animal and Mr & Mrs Potato Head.

    There are also scheduled photo sessions with those characters.


    Here is the list (to be updated) for all the Carnival Cruise ships that we have compared with DCL's ships:

    -Carnival Liberty (2018) by @tigerchic89:

    -Carnival Magic (2018) by @ToyStory3 :

    -Carnival Victory review (2018) by@mevelandry :

    -Carnival Victory VS Disney Dream (2016) by @mevelandry : From Post #1 to #44 (Pages 1 to 3) *Take note that the Carnival Victory went under major dry dock in January 2018 so the comparison of 2016 do not represent the Victory as it is right now. New review coming in April 2018.

    -Carnival Victory VS Disney Wonder (2017) by @mevelandry (page 40, comment #786):

    -Carnival Sunshine by @PrincessTrisha has made a review of the ship on this thread at page 27 (comment #538), pictures starting on page 28:

    -Carnival Vista VS Disney Dream (2017)... (P.46 to 49 of this thread) starts at post #917 here:

    Pictures of the Carnival Vista (2017) can be found here: Starting at page 47 (from page 47 to page 49).

    I would also invite you to take a look at the wonderful review that Club Disney Chandler has done in June 2016. The thread is now closed to comments but there are nice pictures and great informations about the ship:


    Now let's start with...

    THE CARNIVAL VICTORY (review by @mevelandry)


    Please take note that the ship had the cabins updated in 2016 and is scheduled for a dry dock in the beginning of January 2018!!!! During this dry dock, some additions were officially announced by John Heald:

    Guys Burger Joint - Included
    BlueIguana Cantina - Included
    Re-vamped Deli offer - Included
    Red Frog rum bar ($)
    BlueIguana Tequila Bar ($)
    Cherry on top (I guess it will be upgraded) ($)
    Bonsai Sushi ($ but very affordable)

    @mevelandry is going to sail on the Victory again in April 2018 and will come back to post a new review & many new pictures from the ship by the end of that month.


    I find the the Carnival website to be more user friendly than DCL's website.


    With DCL, I had to make a deposit of 250$ per cabin in order to book our cruise.

    With Carnival I had to make a deposit of about 50% the total of the cruise before taxes and other fees.

    For more info please see post #3 of this thread (by PrincessTrisha).

    THE BOARDING (embarkation)

    I thought the embarkation process with DCL was a bit crazy when we arrived early (too many people, not enough rooms nor seats), we much prefer to use the shuttles from the resorts to bring us to the port. Yes, we arrive a bit late, but there is usually no wait and we get on the ship right away.

    When we checked-in at the port, there was a lot of people but the terminal was very wide and there was very little wait even though the lines seemed to be long. Once we had to wait to embark (group 8), we sat in the waiting room for less than 5 minutes and there were a lot of seats available.


    Faster to the fun is an "upgrade" that you can buy (price per stateroom) that gives you:

    - Priority Security, Check-in and Boarding with a dedicated security and check-in lane. You will board right after VIFP Diamond, Platinum and guests traveling in deluxe suite accommodations;

    -Your stateroom will be ready when you board;

    -FTTF luggage receive priority delivery (which is also a benefit for VIFP Diamond and Platinum guests);

    -A dedicated phone extension and a dedicated line at Guest Services (which is also a benefit for VIFP Diamond and Platinum guests);

    -Regarding dining reservations, FTTF guests will be cleared after VIFP Platinum guests. This benefit does not include specific time reservations for 'Your Time Dining'.
    Note: VIFP Diamond guests and guests traveling in deluxe suite accommodations are guaranteed their dining in the Main Dining Room;

    -Tender priority when the ship uses tendering;

    -Disembarkation: you can pick early or late disembarkation time upon arrival to your homeport.

    Prices for FTTF starting from...

    Cruise Durations

    $39.95 USD - 3 day cruises on Carnival Inspiration

    $49.95 USD - 3 day cruises (excluding Carnival Liberty and Carnival Inspiration)

    $59.95 USD - 3 day cruises on Carnival Liberty

    $49.95 USD - 4 day cruises on Carnival Imagination, Carnival Inspiration and Carnival Sensation

    $59.95 USD - 4 day cruises on Carnival Elation, Carnival Fantasy and Carnival Victory

    $69.95 USD - 4 day cruises on Carnival Conquest, Carnival Ecstasy, Carnival Liberty, Carnival Paradise, Carnival Triumph, Carnival Valor and Carnival Vista

    $59.95 USD - 5 day cruises on Carnival Sensation

    $79.95 USD - 5 day cruises (excluding Carnival Sensation)

    $89.95 USD - 6 day and 7 day cruises

    $99.95 USD - 8 day and longer cruises (excluding Carnival Journeys departures)

    I have experienced FTTF for the first time during my April 2018 cruise and I think I will book it for all my future cruises. The perks are very useful and I truly enjoyed every single one of it (with the exception of tendering which did not happen during my cruise).


    With DCL (Dream) we booked a 5E cabin with a verandah (5E balcony are extended) on Deck 7 that cost us $1,658.06 (for 2). Since we were assigned an reassigned handicapped room on the Disney Dream, I wouldn’t compare square size with our cabin but according to cruisedeckplan, the square footage of a “Deluxe verandah Stateroom” is Cabin: 203 sqft (19 m2) including separate bathroomsand the Balcony: 43 sqft (4 m2) or more if you pick an extended balcony cabin. Some cabin have split bathrooms. They all have a mini-fridge and a safe.

    With Carnival we went for a 8D on Deck 8 (which is a regular verandah, they had no extended verandah available when we booked) that cost us 934.12$. According to cruisedeckplan, the square footage of “Balcony Stateroom” cabin is 185 sqft (17 m2) but with only one bathroom, and the balcony: 35 sqft (3 m2). You have a safe but there are NO mini-fridge on the Victory (you need to order ice buckets).

    Not a mathematician but according to my calculator, the Carnival cruise rate was 48% less expensive than the DCL cruise.

    We have found the room on the Victory to be very clean and practical. Everything worked perfectly. As of now, the Carnival Victory is not done with the renovations of the rooms so they look a bit "old looking" but our room showed very little wear and tear. Please take note that they refurbished all cabins not long after our cruise. They replaced carpets (going from red to blue), replaced old tv's with flat screens and remodeled the bathrooms (from old pink to white and blue) and they added a fridge in each cabin.

    One of the things I like in the Carnival cabins is that queen beds are actually made of two twin beds joint together (you have to ask for them to be joint and it is possible to change it to "Queen bed" directly on the website)... Therefore, you can have two separate beds, which makes it less of an issue when you sail with a friend. ;)

    Since we have to pick a winner DCL wins because they have a very small bath when the Victory only have showers. Also, we have found the DCL bed to be a bit more comfortable and the soundproofing to be a bit better.


    With DCL, we went to Nassau and Castaway Cay and finished with a sea day.

    With Carnival, because of hurricane Matthew and because Freeport and Nassau sustained a lot of damages, we did not go to Freeport and had an overnight in Nassau instead (on the first day, there was no excursions offered) and finished with a sea day.

    An alternative itinerary can bring you to Half Moon Cay (private Carnival island, à la Castaway Cay) instead of Freeport which would have been soooo much more interesting in my eyes... Unfortunately it did not fit our vacation dates. :(


    Both cruiselines were asking 36$/pp per ride.

    DCL usually has a nice driver and shows a video (with characters) on each way.

    Mears is doing the transportation, the driver was just as entertaining as the DCL one and the bus comfortable as well.

    DCL wins because of the videos who'll make the ride appear shorter but if I went with the service and comfort, it would be a tie.


    With DCL, you have to wait until a certain date you are assigned (depending on your Castaway Club status, from 90 days to 120 days in advance) in order to book excursions.

    With Carnival, all I know is that I paid in full the same day that I booked my cruise and I have been able to book excursions right away (6 months before the trip).

    Side note: I have a cruise booked more than a year in advance with RCCL and I can already book excursions.

    What I like about Carnival is that they sometimes offer deals when you book a "bundle". For example, at the moment of the booking, there was a 20% off deal if we booked one excursion for each port of call (However a few weeks later, we decided to cancel one of them to stay on the ship/in the cruiseport terminal in Freeport.)

    I don't remember that ever happening with Disney. I also found that Carnival had much more choices of excursions than Disney.

    For our October Carnival cruise, we decided to book Blue Lagoon (lunch included) for Nassau Day.

    The Blue Lagoon excursion with Carnival cost us 75$/pp.

    The Blue Lagoon excursion with DCL would cost us 72$/pp.

    Our second favorite alternative was a Beach Day at Atlantis at 99$/pp with Carnival. The same Beach Day at Atlantis excursion with DCL would cost us 105$/pp. (Side note: We might try Atlantis during our next Family Cruise in April 2017).

    With Carnival, you have to prepay the excursions right away. With DCL, you only pay at the end of the cruise.

    I have to admit that I prefer the pre-pay option because I am not a fan of huge credit card bills after a vacation.

    RESTAURANT RESERVATIONS (for Specialty Dining)

    With DCL: After your Check-in date, you can book specialty (18+) restaurants like Palo (30$/pp) & Remy (95$/pp). We enjoyed both of them but Remy is outstanding. We have tried Palo for brunch (great!) and dinner (loved it!). We have not tried Remy brunch yet but we dined there twice and it was the best meals of my life!

    With Carnival: Unlike many other Carnival cruiseships (those updated with Fun 2.0 for which I hear amazing reviews), the Carnival Victory doesn't have any specialty restaurants. Instead, they offer a special steakhouse menu (for an extra fee) that you can order in the Dining Rooms.

    They also have The Chef's table (for 75$/pp), which is pretty much an like excursion. They select a group of 14 only. They start with appetizers and cocktails, you visit the galley and finish with a signature dinner.

    While DH and I are huge fans of Palo & Remy, we decided to forego The Chef's Table with Carnival. (We have booked it for a cruise next year though. I might edit this part when I try it).

    There is also a special breakfast Dr. Seuss theme called, Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast with special decorations, special menu and characters. (Just 5$/pp)

    A small booth with a reduced menu from Bonsai Sushi has be added during the dry dock of 2018, while it is "walk-in" and doesn't require reservations, there is a fee for all dishes but it is very affordable.


    All DCL cruiseships have three dining rooms and you are subjected to a rotation. They have two options: Main seating (between 5:45 PM to 6:15) or Second seating (between 8:00 PM and 8:30 PM).

    On the Disney Dream, we really enjoyed the Royal Palace (good food for dinner but also for lunch), it is beautiful in there and the dining room has a few portholes which bring a bit of light in the dining room.

    While we could appreciate the ambiance of the Animator's Palate, we did not like our food at all, on our first cruise. On our second cruise, we decided to skip this MDR and we booked Palo & Remy instead.

    At Enchanted Garden, while the restaurant is cute, we found it to be a bit boring (I wish it had port holes, otherwise, you feel like you are dining in a basement). The food was okay. We've had breakfast once at Enchanted Garden, it was a buffet. It was just as good as Cabanas although the choices were limited. That being said, it's a great option if you want to avoid the crowd from Cabanas.

    On the Carnival Victory, they have two very similar dining rooms (Atlantic and Pacific dining rooms) and three seating options: Early Dining (6:00 PM), Late Dining (8:15 PM) and Your Time (anytime you want between 5:45 and 9:30). Only one of the two dining rooms is used for those who picked Your Time: the Atlantic dining room. Both dining rooms have windows.

    Overall, my husband and I found the food in the Carnival dining rooms to be of much better quality and better tasting than the food in the DCL dining room.

    While DH liked the decor of Atlantic/pacific room with Carnival better, I still prefer the look of Royal Palace.


    On DCL, complimentary room service is available 24 hours a day, until 1:30 AM on the final day of your cruise.

    On Carnival (as of 2018) room service is complimentary from 6:00 AM to 10:00 P.M. (There are many items that are "included" but an expanded offering of fee-based food items, with a range from $2 to $6.

    Room service between 10:00 PM and 6:00 AM have a fee.

    No room service on debarkation morning but guest have the option of enjoying breakfast at the Lido deck restaurant, at Ocean Plaza (on those ships that have one) and in the dining room.


    Is good service exclusive to Disney Cruise Line?

    My answer is... A BIG FAT NO.

    As a matter of fact, we have found the staff on the Victory to be much more helpful and nicer than most of the cast members we have encountered on the Disney Dream (with the exception of our host Bart, and our waitress Kristy (Palo) and waiters Fabien and Thomas (Remy) who were fabulous!).

    We have experienced a small problem with the walls of our balcony, during our first night on the Victory. The next morning, we went to the Guest Services and it was solved within 30 minutes.


    On the Disney Dream, you will find a buffet named Cabanas. We loved the food they serve over there. There is a lot of choices. There are also different food counters, like Tow Mater's Grill who will serve pizza, burgers and fries (not that good) and Flo's Café who will serve sandwiches (you have to try the Tomato, Brie and Bacon one, it's amazing!), salads and fruits. Both are near the main pool and there is a self-serve ice cream station just passed the pool.

    On the Carnival Victory, the buffet is called Lido. Around the Lido you will find many counters like Pizza Pirate (pizza 24/7), Chopsticks (Chinese Food), Carnival Deli (sandwiches), Comfort Kitchen (hot dogs, mac'n'cheese, meatloaf, apple pie...) and Swirls (self-serve ice AND frozen yogourt).

    ***Take note Guy's Burger and Blue Iguana Cantina have been added during the January 2018 dry dock. Two amazing included dining options. Love them! ***

    Overall, while my husband and I consider that it is a tie between the Lido and Cabanas, but we have found the food in the counters (chinese food and pizza) on the Carnival Victory to be absolutely outstanding!

    So when it comes to included food, Carnival Victory wins.


    On the Disney Dream, there is the Quiet Cove Cafe, for adults only, who serves gourmet coffee, a nice selection of tea and some small desserts. With the exception of desserts, there is a fee for the gourmet coffee and tea. At the Vista Cafe, the kids are allowed. While there is a fee for coffee and tea, the pastries are included.

    On the Carnival Victory, there is the Coral Sea Cafe where you can find gourmet coffee and tea and different desserts, snacks, ice cream and gelatos. There is a fee for all those products but it's less expensive than what you'd pay on land. I'm told that coffee goes from $1.95 to $5.95 and desserts goes from 1.25$ to 3.95$

    Between DCL and The Carnival Victory, it's a tie.


    Disney Dream has Vaneloppe's Sweets and Treats.

    Carnival Victory has Cherry on Top if you enjoy candy.

    Regarding the Victory, DCL wins just because they also offer desserts. :P However, the Carnival Vista has a bigger version of Cherry on Top, with exterior seats!!! IMO, out of the two, Cherry on Top with exterior seating wins.


    I could not give much informations about shops because I am not a shopper... But we have found the souvenirs to be much more affordable on Carnival, because you don't have the mouse on it. ;) Also, there is a huge sale at the end of the cruise where everything is even more affordable.

    Also, Carnival sells Tortuga Rum Cakes while in the Bahamas. DCL doesn't. ;)


    Disney Dream has 8 bars: Skyline (beautiful), Evolution (dance club), 687 (nice pub with a gigantic screen), Pink (champagne bar), Meridian (great view, near Palo & Remy), Bon Voyage (near the lobby) Currents & Waves (outdoor bars in the Quiet Cove section).

    Carnival Victory has at least 11 bars: Seventh Sea Bar, Ionian Room, Skybox Sports Bar, Trident Bar (Casino Bar), Club Arctic, Alchemy Bar, Irish Sea Bar, Black & Red Seas Bar, Adriatic Lounge (which is also the Punchliner Comedy Club) and there is also two pool bars: Triton's Pool Bar, and Sirens' Pool Bar.

    I am not a big fan of bars but for the use I made of each, it's a tie.


    On the Disney Dream, there are two pools on the Main Deck: The Mickey pool and The Donald Pool. There is also two small jacuzzis. Those pools and jacuzzis tend to be overcrowded at all times. There is one small slide for the children and The Aquaduck, which is a huge waterslide. There is another pool in the adult section but I will talk about it in the Adult Only Section.

    Near the two main pools, there is a splash zone called Nemo's Reef, for toddlers. It's really cute.

    On the Carnival Victory, you will find two pools. The main pool is called Triton's pool (with a huge water slide). There is a quiet pool (aft) called The Sirens Pool (it is adults only). They look really old and the hot tubs are luke warm.

    Take note that as of now, The Sirens Pool (aft) that used to be adult only is now kid-friendly on certain sailings. Carnival announced that they eliminated Adult only pools on seven of these ships:
    • Carnival Conquest
    • Carnival Glory
    • Carnival Valor
    • Carnival Liberty
    • Carnival Freedom
    • Carnival Splendor
    • Carnival Victory
    UPDATE: When I sailed the Victory in April 2018, the Aft Pool was Adult Only during my sailing.

    DCL's pools are in a much better shape and their design is more interesting... But they are also always filled up with people.

    EDIT: The Victory pools were renovated during the January 2018 dry dock and looked great. They were empty most of the time. I believe that it is because adults have more sources of entertainment with Carnival.

    DCL still wins for the pools... but not by much.


    On the Disney Dream, there is a great adult section called the Quiet Cove with a small pool, two small jacuzzis, two bars (one of them is actually part of the pool, the other one is on a higher deck) and one cafe (Quiet Cove Cafe). The space itself is great, filled with lounging chairs and sofas. There is a lot of shade over there. There are huge windows (going from the floor to the ceiling) who will provide you the best views on both side of the cruiseship. The only cons of the adult section is that it is splitted in two parts. One part being on one deck and the other one on a higher deck, with another deck in between where you can find a kiddie pool, therefore, kids have to walk by the adult section in order to take the stairs to get to that pool. Between our first cruise and our second cruise, they added Satellite Falls on the higher deck, which can be a nice place to refresh as well (Although it was closed 100% of the time we were there during our second cruise.)

    On the Carnival Victory, the adult section is called Serenity Deck. No pool on that deck but two medium jacuzzis. From what I understand, while there is a lot of seats and loungers, most of them are under the sun. On the Victory, the Serenity Deck is also on two decks (12 and 14). The fact that the entrance for the waterslide being on the 14 deck, kids might have to walk into the adult section in order to get to the water slide. They can also enter the section to go to the pizza booth.

    There is a pool at the opposite side from the Serenity Deck called "The Sirens Pool" that is 18+ or 16+ ... It is very quiet and has more shade + a self-serve ice cream section and a Pour your own beer Red Frog booth. It was also right in front of the Pizza booth. DH and I spent most of our time there.

    It's a tie!


    On the Disney Dream, there is the Buena Vista Theater where you can watch movies (some of them 3D). There is pop corn and drinks available right outside the theater for a fee but the price is nowhere near the prices you'd pay for snacks and drink on land. I think we paid 5$ for a bucket of pop corn and 1 big soda.

    The Walt Disney Theater is where you'll find shows. When we were there we have seen The Golden Mickeys (Love it!) and Believe (We did not like this one as much as the GM). Those are family friendly.

    On the Carnival Victory, the Carribean Main Lounge is where you can see the shows. We have only saw one show (Vrooom) and were impressed by the performance of the singers and the budget of the show. We had a really good time.

    Also, the Adriatic Lounge (a bar) is used to present comedy shows. We loved it and attended those shows every night.

    While the type of shows are really different, my husband prefered the rock'n'roll review over the Disney shows. I have a soft spot for Disney so I loved the DCL shows but I had such a good time at Vrooom that I don't want to say that it is not as good as DCL.


    The movie theater on the Disney Dream reminds me of good comfortable movie theaters we find at home. Just like them, you'll have to pay for your pop corn and pop. The prices are a bit more affordable (5$ for a regular pop corn and a soda).

    There is no movie theater on the Carnival Victory: they use the big screen near the main pool to present what they call "Dive-In Movies" so you can watch movies in the pool or comfortably installed on one of the lounging chairs. The pop corn is FREE.

    The two experiences are too different, I can't pick a winner. It's a tie.


    There is a small mini-golf (9 holes) on the Disney Dream. You can pretty much play the way you want. It is included, you don't need to subscribe or anything, you pick up your golf club and your ball and you play. It is fun but it can be a bit windy up there.

    On the Victory, there is a mini-golf as well.

    Pretty similar. It's a tie.


    You can add on board credit online with Carnival. You buy it as "Cruise Cash" or "Cruise Cash Bar" (for drinks you'll buy at a bar) or "Cruise Cash Photo" (that you can use to buy pictures taken aboard) and you receive a confirmation by e-mail right away. You have to use it all because there are no refunds officially no refund. HOWEVER, many guest use a loophole, they put it all on the card to play slot machines in the casino and then cash it out.

    With DCL, you have to call or fax them... And you cannot confirm that the credit has been applied unless you call them or receive your coupon in the room on embarkation day.

    Carnival wins this one!


    With DCL, you have to order my phone or by fax. I’ve never received any receipts from them, the only way I could make sure the payment was passed was by looking at my credit card statement or call them.

    With Carnival, you can order your gifts online. You receive a confirmation number by e-mail for your purchase.

    Carnival in-room decorations packages are a little more affordable than DCL’s. There are various options with Carnival. EDIT: Carnival upgraded their decoration packages. They are now starting at 40$ but they added decorative towels to most packages that you can bring home. The DCL decorative packages start at 45$.

    Also, there are so much more choices of gifts and with the exception of flowers (which have very similar prices) there is a lot of affordable choices.


    With DCL, for 152$ before taxes, I had a 8 inches cake –which looked cute but tasted pretty bad, by the way–, 2 bottles of cheap wine (no glasses) and a small floral arrangement.

    With Carnival, for 117$ before taxes, I managed to order a bag of games (toys, books and a game), a bag for the beach (filled with toys for the beach and 1 towel), a Cat-in-the-hat towel, a package of decorations for the room, a big box of candy, a 6 inches cake & a package containing a bottle of cheap wine with 2 glasses and a box of chocolates.

    We liked our Carnival cake more than our DCL cake. And the decorations were cute.

    Carnival wins this one.


    While you can complete your early check-in on DCL’s website 90 to 120 days in advance with DCL, I remember being able to do my early check-in right away (six months in advance) with Carnival.

    With DCL, you will receive a (super cute!) booklet with all the details from your trip with luggage tags prior to the cruise. A few days before the cruise, you will receive a health survey that you have to fill up before you check-in.

    With Carnival, you print all your documents. Those documents contain the health survey and the luggage tags (You print them too!).

    I'll give this one to DCL because I find it more "official" and cuter!


    I have to admit that I prefer DCL's fire drill because it was happening inside (although Dug720 is telling me that it depends on the station you are part of, some of them could be outside).

    Carnival was doing theirs outside.

    But a fire drill is a fire drill (aka boring).


    DCL sends you a bill on the last night of the cruise.

    Carnival send you a bill on the last night the cruise but they also have automated machines where you can review and print your account anytime you want and you can consult your account on your tv in your cabin as well.

    Carnival wins for this one.


    Unlike DCL who gives you 50 MB for free and there are packages you can buy... Which always left me disappointed.

    Carnival offers you different packages including a very affordable (5$/day) Social Media plan on which you can get your messages and post on different social medias like FB, instagram, etc. They also have a few computer you can use. We have found the wifi a bit spotty but the computers were working well.


    With DCL, you will be assigned to a restaurant in the morning. If you usually have Early Seating, your breakfast will be served first, and then you'll be invited to disembark. You will receive a luggage tag that will indicate in which section to pick-up your luggage the next day. They are named after characters and colors.

    With Carnival, the disembarkation time will depend on the deck you are staying at. You will receive a notice on the last night inviting you to disembark at a certain time. Your number will be called. There are designed areas where you can wait.


    :jumping1::beach: ROLL CALL pirate::jumping1:

    June 2, 2018 @trvlgirlmq - 8 nights Southern Caribbean - Vista
    June 30, 2018 @disneyfan551- 7 nights Western Caribbean - Magic
    September 29, 2018 @belle032 - 8 nights Eastern Caribbean - Conquest
    October 6, 2018 @lovin'fl - 8 nights Eastern Caribbean - Horizon
    October 11, 2018 @Monykalyn - 4 nights Western Caribbean - Valor
    October 13, 2018 @mevelandry - 5 nights Eastern Caribbean - Sensation
    October 22, 2018 @diseverestfan - Elation

    January 12, 2019 @PrincessTrisha - 13 nights Carribean - Sunshine
    March 9, 2019 @we"reofftoneverland - 7 nights Eastern Caribbean - Breeze
    April 14, 2019 @mevelandry - WDW & 5 nights Eastern Caribbean - Sunshine


    May 30, 2020 @trvlgirlmq - 7 nights Mexican Riviera - Panorama

    June 6, 2020 @clubdisneychandler - 7 nights Mexican Riviera - Panorama
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2018 at 7:36 PM
    accio, starrzone, Pinkk and 8 others like this.
  2. houseofduck

    houseofduck DIS Veteran

    Feb 16, 2013
    It's interesting that you say that the Carnival website is friendlier. My reaction to it was the opposite. I didn't think it would be possible to find a site worse than Disney's, but I had a difficult time navigating Carnival's.

    Maybe, it was because I was looking for something specific or because it was my first time on the Carnival site. I have a relative getting married in Cozumel in the Spring. We have a large family and I am entertaining the idea of taking a cruise instead of flying everyone there, getting accommodations, ... Carnival has a few ships in port that day, so, I was looking for a specific cruise. I knew the ships and the date they would be in Cozumel, but I didn't know the start dates for the cruise, origination port, length of cruise, or cruise type (Caribbean, Mexican...). I did find the cruises eventually, but I found the interface a little cumbersome.

    Looking forward to reading about your experiences in October!
    mevelandry likes this.
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  4. PrincessTrisha

    PrincessTrisha DIS Veteran

    Dec 10, 2004
    Just to clarify - Carnival cruise deposits are based on the number of cruise days.

    2 days - deposit is $100 USD per person
    3 days - deposit is $100 USD per person
    4 days - deposit is $150 USD per person
    5 days - deposit is $150 USD per person
    6 days - deposit is $250 USD per person
    7 days - deposit is $250 USD per person
    8 days - deposit is $250 USD per person
    9 days - deposit is $250 USD per person
    10 days and longer - deposit is $400 USD per person

    Alaska - deposit is $400 USD per person
    Europe - deposit is $400 USD per person
    Transatlantic - deposit is $400 USD per person
    Panama Canal - deposit is $400 USD per person
  5. mevelandry

    mevelandry DIS Veteran

    Aug 22, 2013
    I agree with you for the cruise search part.

    ... but when it comes to adding or changing stuff to an existing reservation, I like the way they did it.
  6. Ofinn

    Ofinn DCL Platinum

    Feb 18, 2013
    I love the Carnival Website. NCL is ok. DCL and RCCL are horrible. The old DCL website was ok this new one is just awful. I like that you can cancel a cruise online on Carnival. Money is back in the account in 2 days or less.
    mevelandry likes this.
  7. Club Disney Chandler

    Club Disney Chandler DIS Veteran

    Jun 18, 2013
    I would have to rank websites, best to worst:

    RCCL - their has to be one of the worst ever! Their old one was so much better.

    I look forward to reading more of this.
    mevelandry likes this.
  8. mevelandry

    mevelandry DIS Veteran

    Aug 22, 2013
    Breaking News: Sounds like we are boarding late due to staterooms refurbishment. I have seen the difference between the old cabins and the new ones. The refurbished cabins look very good (they are changing the red carpet for a blue one and the bathroom is completely refurbished).

    I think ours is not refurbished yet... But knowing they will work for at least four weeks before our cruise... Who knows... we might get lucky. *Fingers crossed*

    Club Disney Chandler likes this.
  9. Love2Cruz

    Love2Cruz DIS Veteran

    Sep 13, 2014
    I loved the Victory, it has an "under the sea" theme and she has a beautiful emerald green ceiling in the lobby. The cafe is nice too with a nautical theme on the tables. They have abstract "under the sea" art on the 5th deck near the casino (The Promenade) that is made with glass mosaic pieces. It's a beautiful ship,, will be even nicer after the refurb....too bad they're not adding all the 2.0 features.
  10. mevelandry

    mevelandry DIS Veteran

    Aug 22, 2013
    Yes, not gonna lie to you I would have loved that. Especially since we (originally) were supposed to sail the Sunshine to the Bermuda and had to change plans. I was absolutely sold on the Fun 2.0...

    But the truth is I won't know what I am missing. I hear mixed reviews about the ship (some say it's in good shape, others said it should be dry docked) I'm really anxious to see for myself.
  11. Frozen2014

    Frozen2014 DIS Veteran

    Jan 12, 2014
    Great comparison so far....and good to see how they compare.

    Btw...we did a Blue Lagoon excursion with our Royal cruise (beach day with lunch). Lovely place. Really peaceful waters, you get use of the standard beach floats...and you can rent other stuff plus the Aqua park. It was also nice to walk over and see the Dolphins (we didn't participate but could watch another group). The ferry ride over is nice too.

    I've never been on Carnival but have been on Disney and Royal ships. Carnival sounds similar to Royal wrt dining times/my time vs traditional, excursion booking, etc

    Enjoy your upcoming cruise.
    mevelandry likes this.
  12. mevelandry

    mevelandry DIS Veteran

    Aug 22, 2013
    Thank you. I can't wait to be able to give you more info (the real feel of it) and show pictures.

    I plan on showing a realistic point of view. With Disney, at least on the Disney Dream, I have been used to a «looking brand new» cruiseship. From what I understand, I can't expect that from the Victory who is apparently showing her age from «a little» to «a lot» depending on the reviews.
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2016
  13. mevelandry

    mevelandry DIS Veteran

    Aug 22, 2013
    I updated a few sections: Restaurants, Dining Rooms, Cafes... And started working on the Bar section too (not completed) and also added "Shops", "Candy Shops" and "Theater" and "Pools" sections (not completed).

    Please let me know if there is another section you'd like. (Take note that since DH and I have no kids, we won't be able to review nursery, kids club and kids sections.)
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2016
  14. mevelandry

    mevelandry DIS Veteran

    Aug 22, 2013
    Just updated the "Early Check-In" section as I just printed my documentation and luggage tags for our Carnival cruise.
  15. mevelandry

    mevelandry DIS Veteran

    Aug 22, 2013
    Just added more info about the pools, the adult only sections, the mini-golf and cabins.
  16. tinkerone

    tinkerone DIS Veteran

    Jun 3, 2007
    Following. This thread is very interesting, thanks for doing it.
    mevelandry likes this.
  17. Krissynae

    Krissynae Florida Frequent Flyer

    Dec 24, 2005
    /We just cruised on the Victory 8/21/16-8/25/16 the same cruise it sounds like you are going on. The adult area is very nice. I was traveling with a toddler and my mother who is older. So was not able to escape to it very often. Made it there the night we left Nassau after the Latin party. The kids pool is nice but we never saw it filled. I am not sure why. My little guy like the play place but the last night was not into it. I think he was done with the hold cruise thing. it got to be too much for him. We were room 8361 and it is a little tight.. The ship is older and is in need of an update. But truthfully you are not in there enough to car. We did dinner at the Atlantic dinning room. The night we made it there the food was AMAZING. I had a grilled chicken on Alfredo and it was so delish.. My mother had steak and it was PERFECT. The day at sea we did the Dr. Suess Breakfast and it was a blast.. My grumpy child only lasted a few minutes after we entered the room.
    here are the pictures it is the second album..

    On carnival gratuity is taken ahead of time while DCL they give you envelopes at the end.
    linetbo likes this.
  18. mevelandry

    mevelandry DIS Veteran

    Aug 22, 2013
    Thanks for the review and pictures! :) We will be on the samed deck.

    You can prepay DCL's gratuity in advance as well. We did it both times.
  19. tlprice

    tlprice Mouseketeer

    Oct 5, 2014
    I find it interesting that you said the excursions are less money on Carnival. I looked up all 3 excursions I have booked for my upcoming DCL cruise on the Carnival site and they were all either more money or basically the same price. On Carnival my daughter wouldn't be able to go on the Tranopy Adventure in Jamaica because theirs is only 12 and up. I also looked at their (Carnival's) room decorations and see why they are cheaper. They LOOK cheap. Mostly streamers and cardboard cut-outs.
  20. mevelandry

    mevelandry DIS Veteran

    Aug 22, 2013

    About the excursions, not saying all of them are less expensive but those we were interested in, prices were similar but Carnival were few dollars less to begin with...

    BUT, if you read the entire section, I mention that Carnival also offers deals on them. When I originally booked (although we changed plans afterwards), I saved 20% on my excursions (60$ less!)

    As for the DCL vs Carnival decorations... I've seen pictures from both on google and although they are super cute, the DCL do seem to be made from cheap cardboard & cheap materials as well.

    image.jpeg image.jpeg

    If you wanna pay 69$ for cardboard decorations, go for it. I know I won't (even with a remotely better quality cardboard.) To each their own.

    UPDATE: Look for post #41 for pictures of the decorations. They did a good job.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Oct 25, 2017
  21. tinkerone

    tinkerone DIS Veteran

    Jun 3, 2007
    Our RCCL cruise for November is offering 20% of excursions this weekend. That really helps especially with a larger family. I have never seen DCL offer that.
    bbkangs and mevelandry like this.

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