Princess Cruises Vs Royal Caribbean: Which Is Best?



This post may contain affiliate links. If you click one, I may earn a commission at no cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean are two of the world’s leading cruise lines – both are very popular with families, and both have a modern fleet that sails all over the world.

A comparative visual featuring two cruise ships with the text 'VS' in between. On the left, a Princess Cruises ship at sunset with its distinctive logo on the hull, and on the right, Royal Caribbean's 'Icon of the Seas' in daylight docked at a port.

So, if you’re not already loyal to a cruise line, you might have some trouble deciding between them. This guide is designed to help – we’ll look at the cruise lines side-by-side so you can easily compare them, and decide which one sounds more suited to your style of cruising.

Are you interested in a slightly more sophisticated style of cruising, or do you want to sample the biggest, boldest cruise ships sailing the oceans? Let’s take a look.

Princess Cruises has a relatively large fleet of ships compared to many cruise lines, but it is dwarfed by that of Royal Caribbean.

There are 16 ships currently sailing for Princess with one more being built, while Royal Caribbean has almost double that – 27 currently sailing, with three under construction.

Princess Cruises Ships

The 'Sky Princess' cruise ship from Princess Cruises, sailing on blue waters, showcased in a profile view with its distinctive blue and white wave design on the hull against a clear sky background.
Sky Princess

There are four classes of ship in the Princess Cruises fleet:

  • Sphere Class – The newest ships, accommodating 4,300 guests
  • Royal Class – Six large ships accommodating 3,560 to 3,660 guests
  • Grand Class – Eight mid-sized ships accommodating 2,600 to 3,140 guests
  • Coral Class – The oldest two ships, each catering for 2,000 to 2,220 guests

The oldest of the fleet is Grand Princess, which was launched in 1998. The newest is Sun Princess, which started sailing in early 2024.

Read more: Princess Cruises Ships by Age

Royal Caribbean Ships

Aerial view of Royal Caribbean's 'Icon of the Seas' cruise ship, displaying its colorful deck attractions, including water slides and pools, as it navigates through the ocean with its name prominently displayed on the bow.
Icon of the Seas

Royal Caribbean has eight classes of ship:

  • Icon Classthe biggest cruise ships in the world accommodating up to 7,600 guests
  • Oasis Classsix mega ships that can accommodate around 6,800 guests
  • Quantum Ultra Class – two modern ships accommodating 5,500 guests
  • Quantum Classthree ships accommodating 4,900 guests
  • Freedom Class – three ships accommodating 4,400 to 4,900 guests
  • Radiance Class – four ships accommodating 2,500 guests
  • Voyager Class – five ships accommodating 4,000 guests
  • Vision Class – four ships accommodating 2,400 to 2,700 guests

The oldest Royal Caribbean ship in the fleet is Grandeur of the Seas, which was originally built in 1996. The newest ship is also the biggest in the world – Icon of the Seas, which launched in January 2024. 

Read more: Royal Caribbean Ships By Age

So the eldest ships are Grand and Grandeur – a nice little coincidence!

Which to Choose?

None of the ships sailing for Princess Cruises or Royal Caribbean are small, and both cruise lines have a range of ship sizes to choose from. If you want the biggest ships packed with the most features, then Royal Caribbean is the cruise line to choose, but Princess has some spacious, stylish ships, too.

I’ve been on board several ships across the fleets, including:

  • Royal Princess
  • Island Princess
  • Sky Princess
  • Enchanted Princess
  • Allure of the Seas
  • Mariner of the Seas
  • Anthem of the Seas

So I’ve seen the differences first-hand. I’ve loved my cruises on the action-packed Royal Caribbean ships, though I can certainly appreciate the style of the Princess ships, too. I’d be happy on either.

With both Royal Caribbean and Princess Cruises, you’re going to be able to take your pick from itineraries all over the world, including the popular cruise destinations of the Caribbean and Europe, and also some further-afield locations around Asia and Australia.

Here’s a look at the cruise itineraries offered in each destination. This is distinct itineraries rather than individual sailings – Royal Caribbean has literally hundreds of Caribbean dates you can book.

Princess CruisesRoyal Caribbean
Alaska2396
Australia & New Zealand9629
Bermuda07
Canada & New England198
Caribbean & Bahamas5447
East Asia2036
Europe147107
Hawaii87
Mexico & Latin America78
Middle East & South Asia03
Pacific Northwest04
Panama Canal225
South America190
South Pacific3714
Transatlantic3722
Transpacific05
World460

Princess Cruises Destinations

The 'Sky Princess' cruise ship from Princess Cruises is seen in the distance, set against the backdrop of a coastal cityscape with colorful buildings and rolling hills, likely a port of call on one of its voyages.

Princess offers cruises from 30 ports of embarkation – as well as many sailings from Fort Lauderdale, there are also numerous dates you can book from Sydney, Yokohama (near Tokyo), and Southampton, which is great for cruises from the UK. There are several ships that sail from the UK, so British cruisers get lots of choice.

The cruise line offers some excellent cruises around South America and some longer world itineraries, whilst also specialising in Australia and New Zealand cruises – there are seven embarkation ports in this part of the world alone.

There are also Alaska cruisetours that can be booked, which include time at sea, a train journey and three or more nights in a Princess Wilderness Lodge – a really special vacation experience.

Some Princess cruises will visit Princess Cays, a private resort area on Eleuthera in the Bahamas.

Royal Caribbean Destinations

A vibrant aerial view of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, featuring an elaborate top deck with colorful water slides and leisure areas, approaching a tropical island with clear blue waters and sandy beaches, under a bright blue sky.

Royal Caribbean has even more embarkation ports to choose from – 35 in total worldwide – with the vast majority of those being in North America. Most Royal Caribbean cruises depart from one of the big 3 Florida ports (Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and Port Canaveral).

Cruises from Southampton are available for UK guests, but only ever during the summer and on one ship – Anthem of the Seas for 2024 and Independence of the Seas for 2025.

Many Royal Caribbean cruises around the Bahamas and Caribbean include visits to Royal’s private destinations, either Labadee or Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Which to Choose?

For cruises around the Caribbean or Europe, both cruise lines offer a wealth of choice, and your decision will likely come down to the ship you’re sailing on instead.

The only exception may be for Caribbean or Bahamas cruises that include a private island – Princess Cays is a relaxing location, whereas Perfect Day at CocoCay is much more action-packed, so you may choose your sailing based on your preference for port day.

Princess Cruises also has a wider variety of cruises in Australia and some fantastic South America and World itineraries that Royal Caribbean doesn’t offer, so choose Princess if you want to explore more unique destinations.

As with any cruise line, your choice of staterooms and suites is going to depend on not just the line but also the individual ship – very few cruise lines have uniform accommodation options across their entire fleet.

You’ll of course have the options of choosing inside, ocean view or balcony cabins, or opting for a suite if you want something a little more luxurious.

Neither cruise line particularly caters to solo travellers well. Royal Caribbean does have some newer ships with a selection of solo cabins, but not many. Princess Cruises only has solo cabins on Sun Princess, the newest ship in the fleet, and numbers are very limited.

Princess Cruises Staterooms and Suites

Here’s a look at some of the more unique accommodation options on a Princess cruise.

Sky Suites

Available on the newest Royal and Sphere-class ships, Sky Suites are exceptional. The rooms themselves are spacious and luxuriously furnished, but it’s all about the balcony – over 1,000 square feet of space on some ships, including an outdoor TV and various decking furniture. These are great for relaxing or for entertaining.

The luxurious Sky Suite balcony on a Princess cruise ship at dusk, featuring a cozy outdoor lounging area, elegant dining setup, and an inviting interior seen through glass doors, all basked in the warm glow of the setting sun.
Sky Suite

Reserve Collection

Debuting on the Sphere Class, the Reserve Collection includes Mini Suites and Cabana rooms in the best locations on the ship, giving you a fantastic place to unwind. You also get access to a private restaurant area, which normally would be something only offered to full suite guests on most cruise lines.

Interior view of a Cabana Mini-Suite on the Sun Princess cruise ship, showing a well-appointed room with a plush bed, sofa seating area, and a large screen displaying an image of the ship, leading to a private balcony with ocean views.
Cabana Mini-Suite

Signature Collection

The Signature Collection also debuts on the Sphere Class and includes the finest suites on the ship. As well as amazing accommodations, guests have access to a Signature Restaurant, a Signature Lounge and the Signature Sun Deck for relaxing – the perfect place to unwind in total tranquility.

Elegant Signature Penthouse Suite on the Sun Princess, featuring a spacious room with a comfortable bed, a large sofa, modern decor, and floor-to-ceiling glass doors that open to a balcony with serene ocean views.
Signature Penthouse Suite

Royal Caribbean Staterooms and Suites

Royal Caribbean’s unique staterooms and suites are less about opulence and more about offering innovative experiences.

Virtual Balcony Staterooms

Virtual Balcony staterooms help to elevate the experience of anyone choosing an Inside stateroom. These rooms are available on many of the newer Royal Caribbean ships, and include a full digital screen on one wall, which acts as – you guessed it – a virtual balcony, with a live feed from the outside of the ship. While it’s no replacement for natural light, it is nice to enjoy a view (and know whether it’s daytime or still night!)

Interior of a Virtual Balcony room on Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas, equipped with a large bed, contemporary furnishings, a work desk, and a floor-to-ceiling high-definition screen simulating a real-time ocean view.
Virtual Balcony room

Interior Balcony Staterooms

The bigger Oasis-class and Icon-class ships offer interior balcony options, which are rooms with a balcony facing the inside of the ship, either overhanging the Central Park or Boardwalk areas.

These are good if you want your own outdoor space but want to pay less than an ocean-facing balcony, though you do have to bear in mind that you’re then facing another balcony directly opposite, so you do get less privacy.

The cozy Boardwalk View Stateroom with a Balcony onboard Harmony of the Seas, featuring a plush queen-sized bed with a teal runner, a sitting area, and a balcony overlooking the bustling boardwalk area of the ship.
Boardwalk View Stateroom

Ultimate Family Accommodations

The Ultimate Family Suites and Ultimate Family Townhouses on select Quantum-class, Oasis-class and Icon-class ships are truly incredible. These suites are designed with families in mind, including a host of features including karaoke machines, games tables, and even a slide from the upper floor to the living area.

The vibrant and playful Ultimate Family Townhouse on Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas, featuring a two-level suite with a slide, modern living area, colorful decorations, and large windows offering a panoramic ocean view.
Ultimate Family Townhouse

Which to Choose?

You have more varied options for your accommodation if you book with Royal Caribbean, but do you need those extra options? On a Princess cruise, you still have plenty of comfortable cabin options, and some of the suites offer a truly premium experience.

Choose Princess if you want the most spacious balcony suites, or choose Royal if you want unique family accommodations or something a little more innovative.

The food experience on both cruise lines shares similarities, though there are some differences. As a guide, Princess is a better choice if you prefer sophistication, while Royal Caribbean tends to offer more variety for casual meals.

Princess Cruises Food

A gourmet meal from the Main Dining Room Menu of a Princess Cruise ship, artfully plated with succulent seared scallops and shrimp atop creamy mashed potatoes, garnished with julienne vegetables, served on a stylish white plate with a patterned tablecloth setting.

A lot of the Princess Cruises food philosophy is about bringing authenticity to its menus, with restaurants that offer flavours and dishes inspired by the regions you’re sailing in.

The best dining options are in the Main Dining Room and the speciality restaurants, though don’t worry – you can still enjoy plenty of more casual venues if that’s more your thing, including the buffet and various snack stops.

Indeed, a lot of people believe that Princess offers the best pizza at sea from its casual pizzerias.

Royal Caribbean Food

A succulent braised short rib dish from Chops Grille on Anthem of the Seas, elegantly presented on a white plate with mashed potatoes, broccolini, and a glazed tomato, accompanied by a glass of red wine in the background.

Royal Caribbean is a better choice if you prefer variety – the sheer range of dining options on even the smallest ships is enough to cater to every palate, even the very fussiest of eaters.

That’s not to say you can’t enjoy a sophisticated meal, though. The speciality restaurants, such as Chops Grille and Izumi, are high-quality experiences. Wonderland, which offers unique and creative dishes to please all your senses, is also very exciting to try.

However, the focus is very much on bringing a wider range of options to you across casual and speciality venues, with candy stops, ice cream, burger joints, seafood and so many more.

Which to Choose?

You aren’t going to be disappointed with either cruise line when it comes to dining. If you think you’ll spend more time enjoying formal dining then Princess Cruises has the slight edge, while Royal is slightly better for its wider range of casual venues.

Both Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean have ships that are great fun during the day, though Royal Caribbean takes things to a whole other level.

Princess Cruises Activities

Guests enjoying the Park19 Sea Breeze area on Sun Princess with its jogging track and The Net adventure course. The scene is vibrant with people walking, jogging, and navigating the colorful ropes course, all under a clear blue sky.
Park19 Sea Breeze area on Sun Princess

There’s a wide range of traditional cruise activities you can enjoy on a Princess cruise, such as dancing lessons, art auctions, and of course gambling in the casino.

The more modern ships are adding new unique features too, such as the Sea Breeze Rollglider on Sun Princess, taking you on an exciting trip around the top deck.

Also, this isn’t a fun activity but it is a facility worth pointing out – Princess ships have self-service laundry facilities, which you won’t find on Royal Caribbean. This can be a lot cheaper than using the other laundry services onboard.

Royal Caribbean Activities

Aerial view of Thrill Island on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, bustling with excitement and featuring a colorful array of water slides, including The Blaster aqua coaster, a wave pool, and a sports court against the backdrop of the open sea.
Thrill Island on Icon of the Seas

Royal Caribbean ships are almost unrivalled for the range of activities you can enjoy onboard. As well as the dance lessons, casino gambling, art auctions and more, you can also (depending on your ship), look forward to:

  • Ice skating
  • Escape rooms
  • FlowRider surfing simulators
  • Skydiving simulators
  • Rock climbing walls
  • Epic dry slides across multiple decks
  • Dodgems at sea
  • Thrill-seeking water slides
  • Zip lines
  • Bungee trampolines

Which to Choose?

There’s a clear winner here if you’re looking for ships packed with activities. Royal Caribbean has some outstanding modern ships with loads to see and do – it’s impossible to try everything on a single cruise.

However, many people would prefer the more relaxing nature of a Princess cruise, with more space to unwind and soak up the sun by the pool.

Evening entertainment is similar in style between Royal Caribbean and Princess Cruises, though it depends on whether you prefer to see new things or experience classic favourites.

Princess Cruises Entertainment

A scene from the 'Magic To Do' Production Show titled 'Prestidigitation' on a Princess Cruise ship, featuring performers in vibrant costumes on stage with dramatic lighting and a backdrop of a starry night sky and crescent moon.

On a Princess cruise, you’ll enjoy Broadway-quality shows, including original musicals from the composer of epics such as Wicked. There’s plenty of variety in the theatre performances, while you can also enjoy live music, magic and comedy around the ship.

Royal Caribbean Entertainment

A vibrant and whimsical stage performance of 'The Wizard of Oz' on Icon of the Seas, featuring a lively cast in colorful costumes with a creatively painted backdrop depicting the whimsical city of Oz.

The entertainment on Royal Caribbean ships isn’t just Broadway-level, it includes actual Broadway shows. If you love famous musicals, you can catch shows like Cats, Grease, Hairspray and more on a Royal Caribbean ship.

Which to Choose?

You’ll be wowed by the entertainment on both Royal Caribbean and Princess Cruises, so it really comes down to whether you are excited to see shows you already know and love, or if you’re happy to experience original shows from Princess that are just as thrilling.

Families are very welcome on both cruise lines, with excellent kids’ clubs to keep younger guests entertained.

Princess Cruises Kids’ Facilities

Camp Discovery children's play area on a Princess Cruise ship, showcasing a colorful, nature-themed indoor playground with a large tree structure, playful furniture, and a video screen for entertainment.

The Princess Cruises kids’ clubs, named Camp Discovery, have an educational angle to them. They still always prioritise fun, but thanks to partnerships with Discovery and Animal Planet, kids will find each day to be engaging and packed with exciting themed activities.

Princess also hosts exclusive dining events for children, including pizza and ice cream parties, so your kids will no doubt have a great time.

Royal Caribbean Kids’ Facilities

The colorful and inviting Adventure Ocean kids' area on Icon of the Seas, designed with boat-shaped bookshelves, bright geometric shapes, and playful seating on a wavy blue carpet, creating a fun learning and play environment for children.

Royal Caribbean’s Adventure Ocean clubs are similar in style to Princess Cruises, although there are no big educational partnerships involved. Activities vary and still encourage discovery alongside fun, including an Adventure Science Lab and an Imagination Studio.

Kids even get their own Adventure Theater on some ships, showing age-appropriate movies.

Which to Choose?

There’s not a lot to choose between the kids’ facilities on Royal Caribbean and Princess, at least when comparing the actual kids’ clubs. Royal Caribbean arguably has ships that are more tailored to families, with its unique accommodations and various activities, but both are popular family cruise lines.

There’s a lot of crossover between the people who enjoy Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean:

Princess Cruises Demographics

Typically, the Princess Cruise demographic is quite broad. While you will find some younger families on the ships, the average age is a little higher than on Royal Caribbean, with a lot of guests in their 50s, 60s and 70s enjoying the slightly more sophisticated feel of the ships.

A serene image of a mature couple embracing on the deck of a Princess cruise ship, with the vast ocean stretching into the horizon behind them, capturing a moment of tranquility and togetherness at sea.

Because the Princess ships have good family facilities, they’re a popular choice for multigenerational cruisers, with lots of fun-loving grandparents taking their families on a relaxing getaway.

Royal Caribbean Demographics

The typical Royal Caribbean cruise passenger is younger than on Princess Cruises, with most guests being between their 30s and 50s. There are some younger families too, though Royal Caribbean’s cruises aren’t cheap, often ruling out the average parent in their 20s.

A family selfie with two adults and two children smiling in the foreground, with a Royal Caribbean cruise ship moored in the background at a scenic port surrounded by lush greenery and mountains.

You’ll find a range of families and couples on a Royal Caribbean cruise, as well as some solo travellers, but it’s definitely more of a family-oriented cruise line.

Neither Royal Caribbean nor Princess Cruises offer the most expensive sailings at sea, but they aren’t cheap options either. You can get good value with both, but as a guide, the newer the ship you book, the more you’ll pay.

Princess Cruises Prices

The basic cruise fare for a trip with Princess Cruises tends to be either similar to Royal Caribbean, or a little lower. You can get a 7-night cruise in the Caribbean on Sky Princess – one of the newer ships in the fleet – for as little as £70/$90 per person, per night.

However, that’s not the end of the story with Princess – fares get a little more complicated as you start looking at Plus and Premier cruise fares. These have more inclusions, but can almost double your cruise fare. You need to decide how many of the included benefits you would use before deciding whether it’s good value to pay for a Plus or Premier fare, or just book a basic cruise-only fare and then pay for extras individually.

NEW DEALS JUST RELEASED!

See the latest Princess Cruises offers…

Royal Caribbean Prices

The price of Royal Caribbean’s cruises vary greatly depending on which ship you choose – the newer Icon-class and Quantum-class ships are a lot more expensive than the older, smaller ships.

Wonder of the Seas – one of the newest ships in the fleet – offers 7-night Caribbean cruises from between £100/$130 and £130/$165 per person, per night for an Inside Stateroom. That’s a little more expensive than with Princess Cruises, but the ships are very different in scale, even if they both launched within a relatively similar time.

NEW DEALS JUST RELEASED!

Don’t miss the latest Royal Caribbean offers…

The Verdict

Whether Princess Cruises or Royal Caribbean is the cruise line for you depends on a number of factors.

If you want your cruise to be a contemporary upgrade on classical, sophisticated vacations then I’d recommend Princess – the ships are beautifully appointed, and the dining is very high quality.

Whereas, if you like to be constantly busy, enjoying a cruise where fun is more of the focus on bold, colourful ships then I’d be looking at Royal Caribbean, especially if travelling with very active kids.

Destination will play a part too, as will price, and I honestly think most people would love either cruise line – but consider the differences I’ve explained and you might find yourself leaning towards one over the other.

Related Posts:

If you found this interesting, please share!

Cruise Mummy

Jenni Fielding is the founder of Cruise Mummy. She has worked in the cruise industry since 2015 and has taken over 30 cruises. Now, she helps over 1 million people per month to plan their perfect cruise holidays.

Read more about me



Leave a comment