Norwegian Gem vs Carnival Elation

The Norwegian Gem was built in 2007. It was renovated in 2015. It's 9 years newer than the Elation, which was built in 1998 and renovated in 2020.

Ship Size

The Gem is considered a small size ship. Coming in at 965 feet long and 125 feet wide, it's roughly the length of 2.7 football fields, as wide as 2.4 tractor-trailers and the same height as a 11-story building. Compared to the Carnival Elation, the Gem is 33% larger in terms of overall tons.

Number of Passengers

Norwegian Gem holds 17% more passengers than the Elation based on double occupancy (two people per room). When you compare the total tonnage of the ship to the number of passengers, or what we call the "Space Ratio," the Gem has more space per person compared to the Elation. This means that you might have a bit more space to yourself on the ship, although there still could be some crowded areas like buffets, pools, etc.

Gross Tonnage93,53070,367
Passenger Decks1110
Passengers (double occupancy)2,3942,052
Passenger to Crew Ratio2.22.2
Space Ratio (tons of ship per passenger)3934

Food and Restaurants

Food is a big part of any cruise, and the ship you choose can make a huge difference in your food experience.

The Gem has 19 different dining options like Sushi Bar, La Cucina Italian, and O'Sheehan's Neighborhood Bar & Grill. Of those options, 11 are complementary, or included with your cruise fare. The other 8 options have an additional fee.

The Elation has 5 fewer dining venues. Some of its popular venues are Pizza Pirate, Carnival Deli, and Guy's Burger Joint. 11 of these restaurants are complementary and the other 3 have an additional fee.

If you like having a variety of places to eat, the Gem might be a better choice. It has 36% more dining options than the Elation.

If you're looking to avoid extra money while on board, the Elation might be a better choice then the Gem. More of the dining options are included in the base cruise fare, potentially saving you money.

Total Dining Options1914
Complimentary Dining Options:1111
Additional Fee Dining Options:83
% of Included Options58%79%
See the optionsSee the options

Bars and Drinks

Sugarcane Mojito Bar on the Gem
Sugarcane Mojito Bar on the Gem
Duke's Piano Bar on the Elation
Duke's Piano Bar on the Elation

The Norwegian Gem has 7 more bars than the Carnival Elation. The Gem has 16 bars like Shakers Martini & Cocktail Bar, Spinnaker Lounge and Topside Bar. On Gem, you can grab a drink at 9 different bars such as BlueIguana Tequila Bar, Java Blue Cafe and RedFrog Rum Bar.

•Atrium Bar
• Bali Hai Bar & Grill
• Bliss Ultra Lounge
• Casino Bar
• Corona Cigar Club
• Great Outdoors Cafe
• Magnum's Champagne & Wine Bar
• Maltings Beer & Whiskey Bar
• Moderno Bar
• O'Sheehan's Bar & Grill
• Sake Bar
• Shakers Martini & Cocktail Bar
• Spinnaker Lounge
• Starbucks
• Sugarcane Mojito Bar
• Topside Bar
•Alchemy Bar
• Atrium Bar
• BlueIguana Tequila Bar
• Casino Bar
• Duke's Piano Bar
• Java Blue Cafe
• Limelight Lounge
• RedFrog Rum Bar
• Romeo and Juliet Night Club

In terms of drinks and cocktails, you have a variety of choices. The Gem serves Coca Cola branded products. That includes drinks like Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite and Barqs Root Beer, although the selection can vary by ship. The Elation serves the Pepsi family of products. That means Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Starry, Mug Root Beer, and Mountain Dew.

You can check out recent the bar menus for the Gem and the Elation below.

Pools and Hot Tubs

The main pool on the Norwegian Gem
The main pool on the Norwegian Gem
Lido Pool on the Carnival Elation
Lido Pool on the Carnival Elation

Nothing beats relaxing by a pool with a nice drink in hand as you feel the fresh sea breeze pass by you. The problem is that with thousands of people on a ship, there's not always room. If you want to spend all day for 7 days in a pool, a cruise isn't for you. You would have a much better bet choosing a resort with a huge pool complex. That being said, a quick dip in the pool can be nice on a hot day.

The Norwegian Gem has a total of 3 pools and 5 hot tubs. Tired of loud kids and splashing? 1 of the pools are adults only. 1 of the pools and 1 of the hot tubs are exclusive access, which means there's either an extra charge to access them or you need to book a certain class of cabin to have access to them.

Carnival Elation has fewer pools than the Gem and fewer hot tubs. There are fewer exclusive pools and hot tubs on the Elation. If you like ships without extra charges or exclusive areas, this might be a better choice since everyone will have access to these areas.

Total Pools31
Pools - General Access11
Pools - Adults Only10
Pools - Exclusive10
Total Hot Tubs54
Hot Tubs - General Access42
Hot Tubs - Adults Only2
Hot Tubs - Exclusive10

Ship Features

Both ships have lots of activities to keep you busy throughout your cruise. Below you'll see a list of some of the major features on these ships. You might up paying more while on board the Gem. Only 64% of the activities below are included in your cruise fare. On the Elation, 70% of the activities are included at no additional cost.

Adult Only Relaxation Area
Cigar Bar
Climbing Wall
Comedy Club
Dr Seuss Breakfast
Fitness Center
Jogging Track
Mini golf
Shows - musical review
Splash park
Thermal Suites
Water slides
Learn moreLearn more

Cruise Costs

Norwegian and Carnival are both considered "Mainstream" cruise lines. Mainstream cruise lines cater to a variety of guests, hoping to provide something for everyone. These typically cost about $100 - $350 per person per day.

Cruise pricing is dynamic and varies for each specific sailing based on factors such as departure point, ports of call, and time of year. Typically newer ships cost more, so a cruise on Norwegian Gem will likely be more expensive than on Carnival Elation.

Onboard Costs

Another way to gauge the cost of a cruise is to consider how much you'll spend on board. Even though a lot is included in the base cruise fare, you may still spend money on things like spa treatments, specialty dining, drinks, and excursions. In addition, guests can also have to pay for things like gratuities and tips.

Typically guests can expect to spend about 25 - 40% of the cost of the cruise on onboard expenses. In other words, if the cruise fare is $1,000 per person, you might spend between $250 and $400 on extra expenses.

The table below will help you compare onboard prices to see if you might spend more on a specific ship.

Base Daily Gratuities*
(Per Person Per Day)
Tip added to drinks & services20% 18%
Soda Price$3.50$3.00
Domestic Beer Price$6.00
See drink menus
See drink menus
Drink Package Price$109
Learn more
$59.95 - $69.95
Learn more
Internet Plan$12.50 to $25 per device per day$12.75 to $18.70 per device per day
*Daily gratuities for a standard cabin. Suites or specialty rooms may have higher rates.

Norwegian Cruise Line offers a Free at Sea fare. Through this program, guests receive free open bar, a discount on excursions, some free internet, and some meals at their specialty restaurants. If you book using this promotion, you'll be responsible for the gratuities on the dining and drink package. If you won't be using these options, booking a "sail away" rate that doesn't include the Free at Sea benefits is considerably cheaper. Also, most of these benefits are the base packages; you can spend more to upgrade to better alcoholic drinks or faster/more wifi.