With so many cruise operators and cruise ships, it can be difficult for passengers to narrow down their choices. Two operators, Carnival and Princess, have many differences that should be taken into consideration when planning your next holiday. Here we’ll compare the cruise vacations you would experience on each operator and compare everything from drink packages to itineraries to waterslides. So if it’s your first cruise experience or first experience in the cruise industry, here’s what you should know about Carnival Cruise Ships vs. Princess Cruise Ships.

Atmosphere & Demographics

Princess Cruise Lines passengers tend to fall between the ages of 35 to 65 and sometimes older. Princess passengers have usually sailed multiple times, so it has a more elegant and upscale feeling to the ship, which is reflected in a more adult-oriented atmosphere. However, families should feel welcome here as well. There are generally a few adults-only areas on these cruises.

Carnival Cruise Lines calls itself "The Fun Ship," as it caters to the first-time sailors, the budget-conscious and a younger crowd, with the average age being from babies to 45. Carnival ships are most suited toward families, young couples and singles, and are the best cruises for children. They have pool decks with more water slides and fun activities for younger people.


Princess Cruises sail all over the world and dock at every continent except Antarctica. Port of calls include Alaska, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, Canada, the Caribbean, Israel, Greece, Russia, Norway, the British Isles, Hawaii, Tahiti, the South Pacific, Mexican Riviera, Panama and South America.

Carnival offers destinations in Alaska, Caribbean, Italy, Greece, Spain, Croatia, Hawaii, Mexico, Bahamas, Bermuda and Canada, and its "Cruise to Nowhere," a weekend getaway that departs from New York or Virginia and spends one full day at sea.


Princess offers activities from paddle tennis to painting lessons. It has live music and entertainment, many bars with tastings, swimming, dancing, films, a spa and offshore excursions. A full casino offers table games, slot and video poker machines as well as jackpot bingo with tournaments. Guests must be 21 to gamble or be inside the casino. Internet access and wifi is available for a fee or free with membership benefits.

Carnival offers lounges for relaxing, a spa, shopping, an art gallery, library, excursions and a 24-hour casino for those 21 and older. Water attractions include pools, slides and an aqua park. Golfers have access to a nine-hole golf course and mini-golf. Entertainment includes a large LED poolside screen to watch movies, sports, concerts or special programming, while others may enjoy karaoke or the piano bar. Bars, clubs, music acts and comedians are also numerous. Internet access is available for a fee.

Children and Teenagers

Princess welcomes children and teens on board with an array of activities, and on certain ships, their own hot tub and deck area. For toddlers, play areas and a special outdoor deck are dedicated just for them. All youth and teen centers are fully supervised at all times. Special TV programming is available with kid-friendly ratings/cartoons.

Carnival has special programming for children. Camp Carnival has supervised activities for kids 2 to 11; the Circle C club for 12-to-14-year-olds with video games, talent shows, water parks excursions, parties and outdoor movies; and C02, which is for 15-to-17-year-olds with off-boat excursions, themed parties, sports and dance parties.


Princess offers interior rooms with no windows to partial views--called “oceanview obstructed”--to full balcony rooms and family suites that sleep up to eight people.

Carnival offers a choice of five rooms–interiors are budget-friendly but have no windows, while oceanview rooms have windows but no balconies. Upper-class staterooms range from balcony suites with eating and sitting areas to penthouse suites that feature balconies, sitting areas, walk-in closets and whirlpool baths.

Dining Experience

Princess passengers can expect 24-hour dining at buffets and cafes as well as room service. Those who attend the seated dinners and lunches are pre-assigned to the same waiter and table mates for the duration of the trip at the specialty restaurants.

Carnival also offers much of the same type of dining options, with the exception of sushi bars and New York-style delis. Steakhouses are also available on certain ships, and dietary specific-meal options are offered.

Cruise Ships

Princess Cruise Ships include:

  • The newest ship: Discovery Princess
  • Enchanted Princess
  • Grand Princess
  • Majestic Princess
  • Sky Princess

Carnival Cruise Ships include:

  • Carnival Luminosa
  • Carnival Celebration
  • Mardi Gras
  • Carnival Liberty
  • Carnival Valor