Comparing the Carnival Mega-ships to the Royal Caribbean Voyager-class for teens
I'm going to compare Carnival's Conquest class ships to Royal Caribbean's Voyager class from the perspective of teen cruisers. Here are the basics:
In 1996, Carnival introduced its first 100,000-ton ship, the Carnival Destiny, followed by the Destiny-class Triumph in 2000, and Victory in 2001. The Conquest and Glory are both newer versions (Conquest class, 110,000 tons) of the Destiny, with some extras. Their deck plans are identical, but they are 59 feet longer and include a teen disco and an arcade.
RCI's Voyager class vessels are slightly larger (128,000-tons), with practically everything and more than you'd find on land! In 1999, Royal Caribbean introduced the first Voyager class ship, Voyager of the Seas, followed in 2000 by Explorer, in 2001 Adventure, in 2002 Navigator, and coming this fall (2003), Mariner of the Seas. The Voyager class ships are about 142,000 tons -- they tower over any other ship in port!
The Carnival Conquest and Glory were basically a variation of Destiny. These ships are 13 decks high and 952 feet long, with three pools, a 215-foot waterslide, a teens-only disco, lounge, and arcade. Both ships also have 20 bars and lounges, and an adult disco. Teens can use their disco at almost any hours of the night, instead of the 9:30 p.m.-11:15 p.m. limit on other Carnival ships. The extra 59 feet added to the Conquest and Glory were built to accommodate teens and the younger crowd. If disco isn't your thing, you can check out the huge waterslide, or hang out by the pools or seven hot tubs. The focal point of the ship is the famous Grand Lobby (Artists Lobby or Colors Lobby). This atrium includes glass elevators, a grand staircase, and connections to virtually every part of the ship. You will never be bored on the Carnival Conquest or Glory. Coming soon to the Conquest class in 2004 is Carnival Valor, and in 2005 Carnival Liberty.
Voyager of the Seas and the others in its class are the most amazing and innovative ships on the seas! They are 15 decks high and 1,020 feet long. Some of their main features are a full basketball court, rock-climbing wall, miniature golf course, three pools, inline skating and ice skating, and teen disco (on Navigator and Mariner of the Seas the teen disco is larger than on the other Voyager-class ships). Also exclusive to Voyager class ships is the Johnny Rockets restaurant, along with the popular Windjammer buffet. In the center of this mammoth ship is the Royal Promenade, a 500-foot, three-story mall that hosts shops, bars, and lounges. At the both ends glass domed atriums with glass elevators going to every deck, similar to the atriums on Conquest and Glory. The teen areas called Optix and Fuel are awesome; no teen will ever come off a Voyager ship and not meet a fellow teen! But on Navigator and Mariner, the teen areas are larger! Mariner's Fuel disco has its own lounge, dance floor, and teen tanning deck!
To help you understand all these ships have to offer, I asked some other teens their opinions.
In July 2003, Danielle from Auburndale, FL was on the first cruise of Carnival's new Glory. As I mentioned before, Conquest and Glory both have designated teen areas, so I asked Danielle what she thought about them. "Ultraviolets was where all of us teens hung out during the day," she said. "Then sometimes at night that's where everybody would be. I thought it was a great place to meet people…It was a really awesome place because the music was good, they had a drink bar, and a place to request songs. They also had a karaoke and movie night, but we wanted to dance instead."
Even if you don't want to go along with the Camp Carnival counselors (I agree it gets kind of corny), you can still use Ultraviolet (called Action Alley on Conquest). Danielle told me what Ultraviolet had to offer: "It was huge! It had a wall of TV screens, lots of places to sit with tables and couches, dance floor, lounge, arcade, bar and D.J. booth. It was really cool that you could go there anytime, and people would always be there!"
Carnival is mostly known for its party atmosphere, so I asked Danielle if the ship's layout reflected it. "The Kaleidoscope Promenade was a deck full of lights and people," she said. "The photographers were everywhere and it was a really busy place. The casino sounds and the shops were so bright and full of people that they added to the party atmosphere.
"Also, the furniture was bright and wild and that reflected through the whole attitude of the ship. There was lots of reggae and dance music outside, with deck parties and lots of food."
Danielle told me her family is already planning to go back on Glory this spring to the Eastern Caribbean. Currently, Glory sails to the Eastern and Western Caribbean weekly out of Port Canaveral, and Conquest does Western Caribbean cruises out of New Orleans.
For a Voyager perspective, I talked to Cynthia Markowitz, who is also from Florida. Cynthia has been on both Voyager and its more updated version, Navigator of the Seas. However, were all the rock climbing walls, mini-golf courses, basketball courts and other features really used by teens?
"I did go skating a lot, and I love the idea of having an ice skating rink on a ship," she said. "Some teens did use the rock wall and mini-golf. I would have to say the mini-golf more than the rock wall, but that seemed only when there was nothing to do."
She told me she liked Navigator more then Voyager? Why?
"The Navigator is a lot newer than the Explorer, so things were nicer. The teen areas on the Navigator are amazing, we had a dance club called Fuel, which was a lounge with chairs and games, and we also had a back deck for lying in the sun. The best of all about that is they kick out adults when they try to sit down! The staff on the Navigator was a lot better as well."
How were the teen clubs on Navigator and the Marnier different from other Voyager class ships?
"Fuel was a lot bigger. It had a big DJ booth, Internet for teens, a bar with juices and soda, a big couch along the wall, and a really big dance floor. Just a few steps outside was our own back deck...sorry, but I just can't get over that! Explorer was still cool, but the dance floor wasn't as big and there was not as much seating. They were really strict about people over the age of 17 and under the age of 14 going in, but if someone just turned 18 or is about to turn 15 I don't think they would make a big deal about it."
So both Carnival Glory and Voyager of the Seas have lots to offer, and both sport the largest teen facilities at sea. Even if you are booked on a ship without a designated teen-only area, don't worry; you will still meet lots of people! Some other lines with teen areas that weren't featured in this article are Princess, Norwegian and Celebrity.