Celebrity vs. Royal Caribbean: Differences in Nightlife, Dining, and Onboard Vibes

Celebrity vs. Royal Caribbean: The sister cruise lines of the Royal Caribbean Group, Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean, are renowned for their vibrant nightlife and wide selection of restaurants. However, they cater to different kinds of cruise passengers and have distinct onboard vibes.

With over two dozen ships in its fleet, including some of the biggest at sea, Royal Caribbean offers cutting-edge technology and fun activities for all ages. Celebrity has 15 slightly smaller ships that are more sophisticated, adult-oriented, and design-focused.

Celebrity vs. Royal Caribbean: Differences

Royal Caribbean all inclusive, royal Caribbean package
(Credit: Tesmanian)

Ship Size

Both Royal Caribbean and Celebrity run a variety of ship classes, the majority of which are classified as large. Though they are not intimate by any means, the older ships in both fleets are smaller than the newest ones.

Royal Caribbean is at the forefront of the megaship trend, with its newest ship accommodating over 5,000 guests and its older ships accommodating 2,000 to 3,900 guests.

Five of the biggest ships in the world, including Wonder of the Seas, are part of its fleet. Together with its four siblings, the Oasis Class ship can accommodate up to 5,700 guests at double occupancy. To aid guests in navigating the ship, the ship is divided into themed neighborhoods.

The 4,180 guest capacity modern Quantum Class ships from Royal Caribbean are distinguished by their 300-foot-tall North Star observation capsules.

When Icon of the Seas makes her debut in early 2024, it will be the largest ship in Royal Caribbean’s brand-new class. Because the ship will have more cabins and suites that can accommodate four or more people than any other Royal Caribbean ship, it will only hold 5,600 passengers at double occupancy.

The three 3,260-guest Edge series ships from Celebrity Cruises—Celebrity Edge, Celebrity Apex, and Celebrity Beyond—are the company’s newest and biggest vessels. Celebrity Ascent will debut in December. About 2,800 passengers can be accommodated on each of its five Solstice Class ships and its four Millennium Class ships.

In the Galapagos Islands, Celebrity also provides expedition-style cruising on three ships that can accommodate 16 to 100 passengers.

Both cruise lines offer all the amenities of a floating resort at sea, including bars, spas, pools, and various dining options. Royal Caribbean’s action-packed Icon Class, Oasis Class, and Quantum Class ships are difficult to top in terms of sheer wow factor, especially for family cruises.

However, Celebrity’s ships are roomy and elegantly designed with cutting-edge furnishings and first-rate amenities.

As you’re planning trips, bear in mind that the newest, largest ships may not have the same atmosphere as the smallest, oldest ships.

Celebrity Cruises is an upscale and fashionable cruise line.

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Celebrity is a chic cruise line that places a strong focus on cutting-edge dining, entertainment, and spa offerings, as well as luxurious cabins and suites with a contemporary onboard atmosphere. Additionally, it’s getting more modern with every ship built.

High-tech, family-friendly Royal Caribbean International is a mainstream cruise line.
The two biggest cruise ships in the world, Icon of the Seas and Wonder of the Seas, are pictured side by side in

Family-friendly cruise line Royal Caribbean International emphasizes the “wow” factor with cutting-edge activities and entertainment as well as a wide range of complimentary and fee-based dining options. In addition to all of that, Royal’s fleet consists of the largest cruise ships ever built.

Obnboard demographic

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(Credit: Royal Caribbean cruise)

As a mainstream cruise line that appeals to a wide range of passengers, mostly Americans (at least on North American itineraries) and many of them families, a better question to ask about Royal Caribbean might be, “Who isn’t on board?”

It is also well-liked by couples of all ages looking for an inexpensive way to experience the vibrant shipboard atmosphere, as well as groups of friends celebrating birthdays or bachelor/bachelorette weekends. Nevertheless, travelers in the Royal Suite Class are undoubtedly wealthy, making them part of a more affluent and frequently multigenerational demographic.

Passengers also vary according to itinerary; families and groups of friends tend to book three-to five-night Bahamas and seven-night Caribbean sailings. The line’s eight- to twelve-night Mediterranean itineraries appeal primarily to retirees and couples, drawing fewer families and a higher proportion of Europeans. Alaskan sailings entice multigenerational families and elderly cruisers (about half of passengers on Royal Caribbean’s European itineraries are Europeans and visitors from outside the United States).

A more exclusive and affluent group of people, primarily middle-aged baby boomers and Gen Xers in their 40s and 50s, along with a small number of childless millennials, are drawn to celebrity cruise ships.

There will be children on board, but not as many as Royal Caribbean brings in. Celebrity is a premium cruise line, so its rates are usually higher, particularly on its Edge-series ships, but sailings are still less costly than on luxury cruise lines.

Suites and Cabins

Junior Suites, what is a Junior Suites, Junior Suites in royal Caribbean
(Credit: Royal Caribbean blog)

Particularly on its newest and biggest ships, Royal Caribbean provides an astounding variety of cabin and suite choices. Celebrity offers non-suite accommodations with additional benefits, but has fewer overall cabin categories.

A range of cabin styles and price points are available from both cruise lines. Inside cabins without windows, rooms with a view of the ocean and picture windows or portholes, accommodations with private balconies, and a variety of suites are all available. Families and groups can also book connecting rooms, and passengers using wheelchairs or other assistive technology can book accessible cabins.

It should come as no surprise that Royal Caribbean’s big Icon Class, Oasis Class, and Quantum Class ships have the greatest variety of cabin and suite categories in the fleet, with up to thirty different options catering to a wide range of budgets for families and couples.

More reasonably priced inside cabins have a “virtual balcony,” which is a screen that mimics a window and shows live footage of the exterior. Along with Wonder of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas, and Voyager of the Seas, these are accessible on all five Quantum Class ships.

Additionally, Oasis Class ships have inside and balcony cabins with views of Central Park, the Boardwalk, and the Promenade.

(Credit: Royal Caribbean Blog)

There are only a few studio cabins available for lone passengers on six ships: Brilliance of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, and Spectrum of the Seas.

The best accommodations on the cruise line are suites, some of which have loft arrangements and come in different sizes. The two-story Ultimate Family Suites on Wonder, Symphony, and Spectrum of the Seas, as well as the three-story Ultimate Family Townhouse on Icon of the Seas, are its most opulent accommodations. They have kid-friendly features like a slide, an air hockey table, and other games, and can accommodate up to eight people for sleeping.

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Every suite has special amenities. But the biggest, priciest suites at Royal Caribbean offer special benefits like complimentary specialty dining and beverage packages and Royal Genie butler service.

Royal Caribbean vs. Celebrity: Itineraries and Homeports

Nassau Port, should you visit Nassau Port, Nassau Port through cruise
(Credit: Orlando sentinel)

Celebrity Cruises offers a range of regular and seasonal sailings, soft adventure cruises, and convenient homeports throughout the United States.

  • Sails frequently to the Caribbean, Bahamas, Bermuda, and Mediterranean; homeports in the United States are easily accessible
  • Seasonally provides itineraries to Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico, the Panama Canal, Canada, and New England.
  • Cruises to far-off places visit South America, the South Pacific, Asia, Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.
  • Travel to the Galapagos Islands on three yacht-sized, expedition-style ships with gentle adventure cruises.

Royal Caribbean offers regular, seasonal, and far-off sailings in addition to Ultimate World Cruises.
navigates the Caribbean, Bahamas, and Bermuda on a regular basis; conveniently located U.S. homeports

Seasonally provides itineraries to Alaska, Europe, Mexico, the Panama Canal, Canada, and New England.

Cruises to far-off places visit South America, the South Pacific, the Arabian Gulf, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.

Even now, Royal Caribbean provides the ultimate option for a world cruise.

Royal Caribbean vs. Celebrity: Onboard Dining Options

Carnival Cruise's Captain's Dinner

Celebrity Cruises: Celebrity has been associated with upscale dining at sea since the Chandris family founded the line in 1988. With the line’s most recent collaboration with celebrity chef Daniel Boulud and an abundance of other delicious options, that reputation has stayed steady.

  • Provides both set dining options (same time, same table mates) and flexible ones.
  • Offers, depending on the ship, three to eight specialty restaurants; only a small number are included in the cruise fare (think Blu for spa guests and Luminae for suite passengers).
  • Edge-class ships provide four main dining restaurants through which you can cycle to try a variety of ambiances (many inspired by Celebrity’s culinary heritage) and cuisines for no additional charge, in addition to complimentary buffet and pool grill fare

Cruisers may be required to wear formal attire on up to two formal nights per sailing. Alternatively, they may choose to eat at casual restaurants such as the buffet or other options.

Royal Caribbean: Numerous restaurant locations and both fixed and flexible dining options

River Cruise Dinner, River Cruise, River Cruise food
(Credit: The Travels of Mrs B)

Onboard Royal Caribbean, reservations for speciality dining as well as traditional fixed seating times and flexible dining options are available for the main dining rooms. The number of restaurants and total dining options available to you will increase with the size of the ship.

  • Huge selection of speciality restaurants, only a few of which are included in the cruise fare. These include Cafe Promenade, Sorrento’s pizzeria, and El Loco Fresh, in addition to the standard free buffet and main dining room options.
  • While Jamie Oliver created Jamie’s Italian, a dining establishment on some Quantum-class, Oasis-class, and other refurbished ships, and Michael Swartz helped create the menu for 150 Central Park (only on Oasis-class ships), Royal Caribbean is highlighting celebrity chef partnerships less frequently these days.
  • From Wonderland’s avant-garde cuisine to The Mason Jar’s traditional comfort food, and even to a virtual depiction of train travel while dining via Royal Railway Utopia Station, newer ships have further expanded the boundaries of dining.

At least one formal night per cruise is recommended, during which passengers should dress more formally for dinner (or dine at the buffet, where casual wear is always permitted).

Pool Deck Fun: Celebrity vs. Royal Caribbean

Havana Pool - Carnival Cruise Line

Celebrity pool decks have always been modern environments, but it wasn’t until the Edge class that they fully realized how stylish they could be, with enormous main pools and champagne glass-shaped whirlpools that matched—and sometimes even exceeded—a contemporary Las Vegas resort. Onboard the line’s ships, guests can now anticipate the feature below.

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Except for the Galapagos-based ships, all ships have two or three pools. There are usually two pools on the main pool deck and one in the adults-only Solarium. Additionally, all ships have multiple whirlpools, some of which are located in the Solarium.

A Wet Zone vertical fountain splash area for children (or children at heart) is available on certain Solstice-class ships.

Poolside fun is secondary to lounging on the pool deck.

Royal Caribbean: Water slides, FlowRider surf simulators, at least two pools, and fun by the pool
Every ship has two or more pools, and some have three or more.

The infinity pool on Sun Princess

The majority of the fleet has FlowRider surf simulators, and nearly all of the ships have Splashaway Bay or H2O Zone for kids on deck.

Water slides and parks will be installed on multiple Royal Caribbean ships, including The Perfect Storm series and Icon of the Seas, which will have the largest water park ever with its expansive Category 6 aqua park.

Pool volleyball, sexiest man, and belly flop contests are a few examples of poolside entertainment.

A more sedate option to the sun deck, the adults-only Solarium frequently provides more shade.

Royal Caribbean vs. Celebrity: Sports Deck Fun

Golf on cruise ship
(Credit: Cruise118)

Celebrity’s sports decks are typically extensions of their lounge-oriented pool decks, promoting outdoor activities and leisure. However, the Edge class went above and beyond with an amazing jogging track that resembles a Möbius loop and winds through various decks and slopes, including the following:

  • A half-ship jogging track and basketball courts are common on most ships.
  • The Lawn Club, a sizable real grass area with lawn bowling and bocce ball, is available on all Solstice-class ships. It is modeled after Central Park.
  • In a covered section of The Lawn Club, hot glass classes and demonstrations are held on three Solstice-class ships.
  • The Rooftop Garden on Edge-class ships features live music every evening.
  • Basketball courts, mini-golf, rock climbing walls, iFLY RipCord, and more fun awaits you at Royal Caribbean.
    Although it is best known for its FlowRider surf simulators, Royal Caribbean has expanded its array of offerings to include North Star crane pods and RipCord by iFLY skydiving simulators, many of which are complimentary to experience.
  • The fleet’s ships are equipped with mini-golf courses, rock-climbing walls, and basketball courts.
  • Indoor skydiving is available on Quantum-class ships, zip lines are available on Oasis-class ships, and the Ultimate Abyss is a pair of 10-deck dry slides that are present on most Oasis-class ships.
  • Additionally, the al fresco courtyards of the Oasis and Icon class ships feature fully functional Central Parks with live plants lining them.

Royal Caribbean was first introduced to its Crown’s Edge ropes course, which cantilevered over the side of the ship, by the Icon-class.

Children’s Activities

Activities for the Kids Club

Families are welcome at both Royal Caribbean and Celebrity, and both offer free kids clubs; however, only Royal Caribbean offers the onboard excitement and attractions that young children and teenagers find engaging.

For children ages 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12, Royal Caribbean’s Adventure Ocean youth program offers areas and activities (science and art projects, games, and parties). During the day and early evening, the program is free; after 10 p.m., there is an hourly fee.

Children between the ages of six and thirty-six months can be dropped off at the Royal Babies & Tots nursery (for an hourly fee). Teens can try to earn a high score at the arcade, dance or hang out with new friends at Fuel teen club, or just hang out in The Living Room.

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Children in three age groups are also served by Celebrity’s Camp at Sea Kids program (3-5, 6-9 and 10-12). The programming is centered on leisure, interests, and science and art-based learning activities. Its Teen Club hosts video game parties, silent discos, and sporting events to keep teenagers aged 13 to 17 occupied.

The clear winner in this competition is Royal Caribbean, a cruise line created with family enjoyment in mind. A change from Royal Caribbean to Celebrity might be enjoyable for some older teenagers. Royal Caribbean is a better option for families with younger children and tweens who are looking for exciting onboard activities.


Choose one of Royal Caribbean’s newer, larger ships if you’re looking for an exciting, vibrant nightlife that will make your vacation truly enjoyable. The company’s entertainment offerings are top-notch.

Celebrity’s entertainment lineup offers more conventional entertainment on its Solstice Class and Millennium Class ships, but it pushes boundaries in more unexpected ways on its newer Edge Class ships.

There are pleasant bars and lounges on both cruise lines. Royal Caribbean’s nightlife is livelier and more laid back, but Celebrity’s is unquestionably more elegant and sophisticated.

Admire a Broadway production? On certain ships, Royal Caribbean presents original productions in addition to award-winning musicals like “Grease,” “Cats,” “Hairspray,” and “Mamma Mia!” The largest and most recent ships in the line also feature amazing high-tech multimedia dance shows, daring high-dive AquaTheater performances, and stunning ice skating shows.

Carnival Cruise Line's Nightclubs

Royal Caribbean offers two dozen bars and lounges on their ships, ranging from the gimmicky Bionic Bar with robot bartenders to the panoramic Viking Crown Lounge. Other well-liked choices include a sports bar (Playmakers Bar & Arcade), a piano bar (Schooner Bar), and a Latin-inspired lounge (Boleros).

In addition, passengers can watch a movie by the poolside under the stars, sing along to karaoke, and dance to the music of a live band or DJ. There are more entertainment options on a larger ship.

Overall, celebrity entertainment is more conventional, with the focus of the nightlife being on drinking, lounging in lounges, and taking in original productions in the ship’s theater. Live music is also available in bars and lounges, and each cruise includes at least one silent disco party.

The Edge-series ships provide imaginative and engaging performances in Eden and The Club, a multipurpose area with DJs and themed late-night events, if you’re searching for something a little different.

Famous landmarks on all Celebrity ships are the Sunset Bar, which is situated aft and provides fantastic views of the sailaway, and the Martini Bar, where colorful cocktail towers and shaker tosses are used by flamboyant bartenders to create a spectacle. Designer Nate Berkus has created a sophisticated, two-story Sunset Bar that is exclusive to Celebrity Beyond and Ascent. World Class Bar is the place to go for expertly mixed cocktails, while Craft Social is the place to get craft beer and bar bites.

Large casinos and interactive game shows (called “Love & Marriage” and “Battle of the Sexes” on Royal Caribbean and “Deal or No Deal” on Celebrity) are features of both cruise lines’ ships.

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