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Norwegian Cruise Line Vs. Royal Caribbean: What's the Difference?

Learn about the unique features that set Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean apart. Make an informed decision for your next cruise vacation!

By Cruise Booking Team

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Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean are two well-known and grand cruising lines. Both cruise lines feature large ships in their fleets and focus on providing a magnificent experience to travelers onboard. Both cruise lines also have a long list of exotic itineraries that can easily provide many interesting options to choose from.

If you are looking to make your next cruising experience unforgettable and exciting, then these two cruise lines are the perfect choice. Both cruise lines have a lot to offer, which can make choosing between the two a tough matter. Fear not, for we can help you with the issue by providing you with all the basic information you may need about the two ships to make an informed decision for your next trip!

Norwegian Cruise Line takes a freestyle approach to the cruising experience, providing travelers with free reign over their choices in various factors, such as dining, activities, events, and more. The more laid-back theme is in line with the dress code, as there isn't one on board! The theme that you have to follow onboard is comfortability, so you can lie back and relax in the sub without having to worry about your wardrobe so much.

Royal Caribbean features larger-than-life ships in its fleet and prioritizes customer experience over all else. Royal is known to provide a grand cruising experience, filled to the brim with fun and exciting activities, fine dining options, and a lot more! Their ships are made to offer relaxation while also providing you with the option to have fun doing various activities around the ship. Known for its innovative design and need to add and provide only the latest technology onboard, Royal Caribbean is a force to be reckoned with.

Differences between Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean

Differences between Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean
Photo Courtesy: Norwegian Cruise Line / Royal Caribbean International

Both cruise lines are magnificent and, in certain areas, seem to be similar to one another. All this can make it confusing to understand what sets them apart, but you don’t need to worry about that because we have compiled together a list of certain factors that can be used to draw a difference. These things can be kept in mind whenever you plan to make your next vacation and have to choose between Norwegian or Royal Caribbean.

1. Ship and Fleet Size:

Both cruise lines have grand ships operating in their fleets, and both offer a significant amount of ships to choose from. This ensures that first, you won’t need to worry about running out of things to do on your cruise trip as the ship is large enough to have a horde of things for you to do, and second, the larger the fleet, the larger the itinerary list of the cruise line. In fleet size, Royal Caribbean has more options, offering up to 29 best cruise ships to choose from, while Norwegian offers 19 best cruise ships to choose from in its fleet.

As for ship size, Royal’s largest ship, Icon of the Seas, measures about 1,198 feet in length and 216 feet in width, with a gross tonnage of 2,50,800 tons. Norwegian’s largest ship, Norwegian Encore, measures 1,094 feet in length and 136 feet in width, with a gross tonnage of 1,69,145 tons.

2. Destinations:

The Norwegian cruise line offers 450+ destinations and itineraries to choose from when booking your next cruise vacation. At the same time, Royal Caribbean has 300+ destinations that you can visit on any of its ships. Of course, choosing from these depends entirely on where you wish to go on your next cruising trip and who is offering options more suitable to your taste.

3. Passenger Capacity:

Icon of the Seas, Royal Caribbean’s largest circulating ship, has a passenger capacity of more than 5,400 guests at a time at double occupancy. Norwegian, on the other hand, provides space for around 4,100 passengers at a time at double occupancy.

4. Dining Facilities:

Royal Caribbean’s star in dining facilities is its buffet system, the Windjammer Marketplace. This facility is added along with the base cruise fare and features a large variety of dishes. If you wish to experience something fancier, don't worry; they have many specialty restaurants available onboard. One such special mention is celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s ‘Jamie's Italian’ restaurant, which you can choose for an extra cost.

Norwegian offers a ‘freestyle dining’ facility, something that goes along with the overall theme and provides a major system where passengers have free choice over what they wish to eat and where they wish to eat it. NCL offers a large variety of offerings. Somewhere in the smaller dining rooms and buffets, you’ll find free yet equally good food options. If you’re willing to spend a little extra, though, then you’ll also find more exotic options at an extra rate.

5. Activities and Entertainment Corner:

Royal and Norwegian both have something for all age groups. For children, Royal features an Adventure Ocean program and many other children-centric events. With Norwegian, you’ll find that they have their Splash Academy program and other games and clubs for different ages.

For adults, Norwegian offers go-karting and virtual reality gaming. Royal features extensive onboard playgrounds with surf simulators, ziplines, and even water slides!

You can also find live theatre shows on both cruise line ships! While Royal features Broadway shows like Grease and Hairspray, you can also see other famous and well-known live musicals, such as Beetlejuice, Six, and even Summer: The Donna Summer Musical.

Related: What Is the Difference between MSC Vs. Royal Caribbean?


In conclusion, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean are both amazing cruise lines that offer an extensive array of options. Whether it be dining or itinerary, they have something for everyone. When choosing between the two, consider all factors and understand your needs. If you need any assistance, go to!

Tags: caribbean cruise cruise lines

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