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People enjoying delicious food at a table close-up
People enjoying delicious food at a table close-up

Does Carnival or Royal Caribbean Have Better Food?

Carnival Cruise Line takes foodies on a delightful journey with a range of delectable choices, ensuring a tasty and satisfying culinary adventure at every meal.

By Cruise Booking Team

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Cruising is one of today's most popular vacation choices for people looking for a beautiful combination of relaxing, amusement, and fine dining. Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Line compete for millions of passengers' attention annually. Even though both promote family-friendly cruising and provide a range of itineraries, the race for dominance comes down to just one key feature – the food. We look closer at the eating experiences on board Carnival and Royal Caribbean to see which of the two cruise lines stands head and shoulders above the rest regarding culinary.

Food Fight at Sea: Royal Caribbean vs. Carnival - Who Rules the Waves of Flavor?

Ship Design and Innovation

2021 marked a paradigm shift for Carnival Cruise Line when it launched the Excel-class ships headed by the innovative Carnival Mardi Gras. These ships were a break from the conventional ship design of Carnival towards a more modern, high-tech, and modern-era design. However, Royal Caribbean has always been a trailblazer in ship development, with giant vessels such as Oasis Class and the soon-to-be-launched Icon of the Seas. While recent ships by Carnival present a laudable jump forward, Royal Caribbean's dedication to establishing industry benchmarks is unprecedented.

Carnival's Approach to Casual Dining

Carnival Cruise Line offers an assortment of casual eateries, bringing out the best in cruisers' experience on board almost any ship. In collaboration with the Food Network star chef Guy Fieri, popular venues such as Guy's Burger Joint and Pig & Anchor Smokehouse have been born. Another remarkable feather to Carnival's cap is the addition of Shaq's Big Chicken. The cruise line offers complimentary dining, including a pizza shop, a panini grill, and the BlueIguana Cantina, which provides authentic tacos. Standout experiences include SeaDay Brunch, which features signature dishes such as 12-hour French toast and skillet pancakes. Carnival is committed to diversity in dining and offers complimentary specialty-style restaurants on the Excel-class ships – ChiBang and Cucina del Capitano.

Royal Caribbean's Culinary Elegance

As Carnival holds its concerns about casualness in dining, Royal Caribbean surpasses the sophistication of food. Modest specialty dining options such as Chop's Grille Steakhouse, Izumi Sushi and Teppanyaki, and Jamie's Italian make dining entirely different. The main dining room on Royal Caribbean ships provides a more formal environment, concentrating on a wide range of good-quality food. Unlike Carnival's busy dining room with shows every night, Royal Caribbean focuses on multiple menu offerings and prompt service. Though not a focus, the Buffet is on par with a good hotel's dining and provides satisfactory tables for cruisers.

Dessert Delights: Carnival's Chocolate Melting Cake vs. Royal Caribbean's Culinary Expertise

Carnival's Sweet Triumph

The Chocolate Melting Cake of Carnival has become a legend in the cruise dessert field. It is a molten, warm decadence that has become such a menu staple as to satisfy just chocolate lovers. Dessert items offered by Carnival, especially this decadent dish, reveal the cruise line's dedication to the sweet-toothed passengers.

Royal Caribbean's Culinary Delights

Royal Caribbean hits back at the sweet world, emphasizing the gastronomic experience. Royal Caribbean lacks a signature dessert like Carnival's Chocolate Melting Cake, but the specialty offerings provide a more comprehensive and gourmet selection. Quality is also stressed in the restaurant's significant dining room, where the desserts are integral to an artfully prepared menu.

Related: Which are the Best Cruise Lines for Foodies?


The struggle to win the best cruise line for the food between Carnival and Royal Caribbean is a subjective trip that depends on individual tastes, food standards, and overall spending time on a cruise. Royal Caribbean shines with culinary elegance, exemplary service, and the commitment to pushing boundaries against innovation, while Carnival shines with its casual, diverse, and complimentary dining options. Ultimately, it is easy to answer whether the charm of Carnival's "fun ships" or the culinary sophistication of Royal Caribbean's innovative fleet is more enjoyable." The answer depends on a person's taste buds and a desired cruise experience.

Tags: cruise lines

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