My perspective (mostly all mid-ship):
Sailed 10X Carnival Fantasy Class, inside & ocean view
Sailed 1X Carnival Spirit Class, 1st ever balcony
Sailed 1X Carnival Dream Class, Lido inside
Sailed 1X RCCL Freedom Class, Junior Suite, Hump
Easy going professional who trains others to manage people
If you get bored, scroll to the bottom for stills and videos.
First and foremost, 9334 spoiled me for all other cabin choices on all other lines, except maybe "up" on RCCL. It's the best cabin I've ever spent a week in. From what I've seen it pictures, Carnival's suites can't touch it. If I had to chose a line based soley on cabin choice, it would be Freedom class hump JS every time.
Since I don't always choose just based on the cabin, let's talk about ++ & --.
As far as the ship in general, my absolute favorite is the Dream Class, specifically the Breeze. It's open on almost every deck or at least has large windows that show me the ocean I'm sailing on. With the FOS, I felt like I was more in a floating mall, except on the few times I ventured up to the pool or (this was absolutely AWESOME) the times I spent lounging on our (did I say, "huge"?) balcony. A win for RCCL
Room stewards are difficult to compare because the service is so individual. I've only had one rude steward in my cruising career. So, let's say all I know of room stewards is that they know their job well and don't mind working hard to please their guests! Both win
Service. RCCL wins for all around service. I say this, not because Carnival guys don't "cut it" or are rude, or don't go above and beyond to serve. It's a difference that's hard to put my finger on. I finally decided it has to do with confidence. They have a high level of confidence on RCCL, which seems to make them reach out and engage the guest more genuinely and more often, as opposed to subserviently. It's this tiny line that gives the win to RCCL
Balance of cost of cabin versus location. Carnival wins on the Breeze. Many of RCCL ships don't have cabins on the pool deck; and the daytime dining area is on the total opposite side of the ship as the pool/pool deck cabins. I really enjoy being right there by the door of the LIDO deck, going out to get a plate of breakfast for my sleeping husband, and getting back to the room to find the omelet is still piping hot.
RCCL wins on shows. That Freedom on Ice show is the best show I think I've ever seen on a ship.
Breeze wins on location of pool deck and TV. Again, right out the door, smell the popcorn and grab a seat to watch movies under the stars.
RCCL wins on service before and after cruise. Name changes, corrections on birthdays, changing cabins, credits for errors on SeaPass card...smooth as ice. Again, Carnival is not edgy...just not quite as smooth.
RCCL wins on AM room service. Eggs on the menu, courtesy call as they're on their way, and prompt. Carnival is good...just not this good.
Carnival wins on dining room waiter entertainment. A few formal songs on RCCL v. singing and dancing...more high energy on Carnival
Carnival wins on MDR steak. RCCL cooks a steak to almost rare and it's still tough. You can cut even Carnival's FLAT IRON almost with a fork.
RCCL wins on Cruise director energy and engagement. You'll just have to see it to believe it. This guy acted like he was hosting his own family reunion!
RCCL MDR wins on SEAFOOD VARIETY. WOW! The different seafood tastes I enjoyed that week!
RCCL wins on engagement of head wait staff in MDR. Carnival Maitre d stands at the entry stand and makes a few words at the end of dinner sometimes, in my experience. Ours was interacting with the guests.
Overall, who wins? Both! It all depends on who you're going with and what you want at the time. For example, I immediately booked a JS just a few doors up from this one for myself, my parents, and my husband in a few months for only $300 more total than it was for 2. Right back to the same ship and cabin type...great itinerary and my dad, who never wanted to cruise again is going to love this. Yet, if it was just my husband and myself we'd be back on the inside LIDO of the BREEZE...my mom and I are part of a group going on the Carnival liberty and I literally split it down the middle and opted for a balcony right at the entry of the LIDO DECK...all of it just....WORKS great!
***Cabin videos and stills: