I would look at the 'cruisecritic' website where you can glean a wealth of information about the two companies and get a feel for the type of cruiser. I have been with RCCL a few times and I am going again this year. No smoking is allowed in any of the RCCL cabins - a bonus, and they have strict policies about bringing any alcohol aboard although obviously you can buy it on board! I get the impression - and it is only an impression that Carnival has more of a 'party' atmoshpere! Like the others have said I would choose Royal Caribbean.
Try Royal Caribbean - great activities for the children, and good ships for the younger energetic - make sure you go for Freedom or Voyager class with iceskating rink.
Hello Vision of the Seas is an older ship and a smaller ship but still has loads of activities and competitive games on the decks. The activity staff are great and will encourage you all the way but Pride and the Carnival activities are even more active, if that's not tautology, and the Carnival organisation is perhaps more hyper than RCI. It is more difficult for most of us as we are, in the main, Brits to assess which of the two you, I am assuming, are Americans. You may get a different response from the boards on cruise critic where responses are mainly from the US. I'm sure you'll enjoy whichever one you choose and good luck....Heathe.
Royal Caribbean EVERY TIME!!! Whatever ages you are bound to have fun... go on the newer bigger ships ..
Explorer, Navigator, Freedom etc.. DO NOT BE PUT OFF BY THE SIZE!! You would never know you were on such a big ship except when you realise how amazing it is .. there really are NO drawbacks!
Most definately Carnival, we went with our then 16 year old and he had the time of his life. Likewise we did also. We too are non gamblers & non smokers but enjoy a good time. We couldn't fault Carnival and speaking to others we think the younger folk find Carnival much more to their liking.
I dont know either of the ships but have cruised with both, found RCI to have larger ship with lots going on all the time , particularly liked the ship layout with the promenade of shops and bars and the ice rink. the food and shows were definately better on the carnival cruise but the pool area we found was not too great compared to RCI. Carnival can get a bit ott with its activities and i would agree with what Bonnette has said. Anyway we have booked our next cruise with carnival because the food quality in both the main and casual dining suits us best.
My husband & I are late 20s & have been on 2 RCI cruises. For ALL age ranges we think they look brilliant, everyone looks like they are thouroughly enjoying themselves and RCI have activities / options for everyone. The teen club looked great and there is a huge section of the boat dedicated to children. We're planning on taking our new baby on cruise next summer and only want to go on RCI. have seen carnival in ports alongside RCI and it does look to be more of a 'party' ship. Enjoy whichever you choose.