Each year for the past few years we have cruised on Carnival's newest ship. This included the Freedom and Splendor which we enjoyed, but the Dream is the best. Earlier this year we decided to try Royal Caribbean on the Navigator of the Seas which is a size comparable to the Carnival Dream. So, I will draw some comparisons in our experience of the RC and Carnival ships.
Embarkation and debarkation are very fast and easy, especially if you use the self-assist and carry your luggage aboard and off the ship. We arrived at the port at 10:45 am and were on the Dream by 11:15 am. They announce that cabins will not be available until 1:30 pm but the Lido Deck is open for lunch. So everyone is trying to get lunch at the same time while dragging luggage around the dining area. The congestion is unbelievable.
The cabin -- outside ocean view -- on Carnival was far superior to the same category cabin we had on RC Navigator. Also, Carnival provides nice bathrobes; RC provides none.
As for food, in the main dining room the food was excellent on both the Dream and RC Navigator. In the specialty steakhouse the food was ok on the RC Navigator but beyond excellent on the Dream. The buffet restaurant -- on the Dream's lido deck -- is far, far better with many more choices than that of RC Navigator where the food was awful every day.
As for entertainment, on the Carnival Dream it was lackluster. The cruise director reminded me of a televangelist trying to work up a crowd before taking the offering. With the exception of an excellent country/western group the rest was somewhere between pathetic and mediocre. It seemed to me that RC Navigator had more to offer. I loved their ice skating show.
One more thing; many earlier reviews talked about the offensive odor of sewage that they encountered on the Dream. I walked the full length of the ship many times on various decks and never experienced any such odors.
We will probably try RC and others again, but have always been more than satisfied with our experience on Carnival, which again was very good.