In October, I sailed to Bermuda on Norwegian Cruise Line. It was a very last minute trip, and to be honest, I didn’t even consider which cruise line–or ship–I was on. I got a great deal and was able to visit a beautiful island. It was a fantastic trip.
This month, I experienced my first Caribbean cruise, this time on the aptly-named Royal Caribbean. When booking this trip, I had a choice of two sailings–one on Royal Caribbean and one on Norwegian. The Norwegian had a more exotic itinerary, but it was significantly more expensive. Because Royal Caribbean is supposed to be a more luxurious line–and mainly because I’d already done Norwegian, and I hate to repeat things–I booked the Royal Caribbean cruise.
I also planned to write about the difference between the two lines. After all, what is the point of traveling if not to write about it?
And so, I bring to you my personal opinion on the difference between the two lines. Which will I sail on again? You be the judge.
I had an inside cabin on both the Norwegian Gem (NCL Gem) and Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas (Voyager). However, on the VoS, my inside cabin was really a ‘promenade stateroom’, meaning that it had a window looking out over the royal promenade, the center entertainment area on the ship. While the window did make the room feel less claustrophobic, it also created a bit of a noise issue later in the evenings. While all of the royal promenade activities ended by 11 p.m., there were times where I would have liked to be sleeping by, say, 9:30.
Far and away, the Voyager’s room was much larger. There was a whole little sitting area, where my inside cabin on the Gem had only a stool and a corner table. It was almost hotel-room-like in its size (ok, well a New York City hotel room). The stateroom on the Gem was definitely a cabin. I could not picture having more than one person in it at a time. I’d even kill my husband if I had to spend time with him in that small of a space.
However, the NCL Gem had two things going for it that VoS did not. Number one, the shower was far superior on the Gem. It was a full sized shower, and not once during the entire cruise did I feel like I was showering on a ship. I could even shave my legs. I cannot say the same thing for VoS. That was like showering in a phone booth. Strike that–a leaky phone booth. And number two, my stateroom on the Gem was absolutely silent. Imagine my surprise when, on the fourth day of the cruise, I saw someone walk out of the stateroom next to mine. I had been imagining that they were empty, that’s how quiet it was. In my room on Voyager, I could hear every single thing going on around me. I don’t typically need absolute silence to fall asleep, but let me tell you–this was loud.
I’m not going to beat around the bush with this one–the Gem wins this category, hands down. On the Gem, you feel like you are on a ship. There are windows everywhere, a forward facing lounge that’s actually forward facing (not facing the pool deck, as on Voyager), a giant wall of windows in the main dining room, and an outdoor seating area on the aft portion of the buffet area. All of the beauty of this ship lives on the outside–which, thankfully, you can actually see thanks to the copious amounts of windows.