We stayed in the cheapest rooms on Carnival's mainstream and luxury cruises, and the latter was worth the extra $20 a night

Mikhaila smiles in her stateroom aboard Cunard's Queen Elizabeth. Monica takes a photo in her Carnival Vista bedroom. Mikhaila Friel/Insider/Monica Humphries/Insider
Carnival Cruises and Cunard are owned by Carnival Corporation, the main and luxury lines of its Carnival Cruises.

The interior staterooms were the cheapest and most comfortable rooms on each ship.

Cunard's standard rooms offered more amenities than Carnival's for $20 per night and we felt it was well worth it.

Our reporters discovered that both Cunard UK and Carnival Cruise Lines USA are owned by Carnival Corporation.

Images side-by-side of Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth cruise ship, and Carnival Vista cruise boat. James D. Morgan/Getty Images/RHONA WISE/AFP/Getty Images

According to Cruise Critic, Ted Arison was the founder of Carnival Cruise Lines in 1972. According to the website, Carnival Cruise Lines is well-known for its "fun boats", which offer budget-friendly cruises that include entertainment.

Cunard was established in 1840, and it was acquired by Carnival Corporation in 1998. Cunard, one of Britain's most luxurious and formal cruise lines, was awarded the Best Luxury Cruise Line Award by the British Travel Awards 2019.

Insider's Monica Humphries took a Carnival cruise this year and Mikhaila Friel took a Cunard cruise. Both stayed in standard staterooms and compared how they compared.

Mikhaila Friel standing in front of Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth ship. Monica Humphries at the Carnival Vista. Mikhaila Friel/Insider/Monica Humphries/Insider

Monica Humphries, Insider's US-based lifestyle reporter embarked on a seven night cruise on Carnival Vista in July. The ship made stops in Mahogany Bay (Honduras), Belize, and Cozumel (Mexico).

It was the first time a cruise line had left the US since the pandemic.

In October, Insider's UK-based senior Lifestyle reporter Mikhaila Friel set sail on Cunard’s five-night Western Europe cruise on Queen Elizabeth. Cunard's international sailing return was marked by the two-night stop in Amsterdam.

Our reporters first noticed a difference in booking rooms. Cunard's Queen Elizabeth interior stateroom cost $20 more per night than Carnival Vista's stateroom, and was 33x33 feet smaller.

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Mikhaila's cabin on Cunard Queen Elizabeth was smaller than Monica’s Carnival Vista interior room. Mikhaila Friel/Insider/Monica Humphries/Insider

Each room has a queen-size bed, a bathroom, and a closet.

Cunard's Queen Elizabeth interior stateroom, which was slightly larger, was advertised online at 152 square feet. Carnival Vista's room was slightly larger at 185 sq. feet.

The Queen Elizabeth's Stateroom cost 628, including gratuities, for five nights. That works out to about $174 per night or 125 per night.

Carnival Vista's stateroom cost $1,081 for seven nights without gratuities, approximately $154 per night or around 111 per day.

(According to our reporting standards, Insider paid for both the cruise accommodations and meals.

They were struck by the difference in decor. Mikhaila's bedroom had art on the walls, Monica's only had the basics.

Arrows indicate the Carnival Vista and Queen Elizabeth ships' decor. Mikhaila Friel/Insider/Monica Humphries/Insider

Mikhaila's Queen Elizabeth room was decorated with throw pillows and art.

Mikhaila's stateroom was graced with a blue blanket and two matching pillows, both featuring Cunard logos. Mikhaila's steward took them off the bed each evening and replaced them in morning.

Monica's bedroom had less decoration. Monica was able to unpack her suitcase from Housekeeping's mat on her bed the first day. Monica also thought that the beds and walls looked unadorned.

The most important difference was in the amenities. Mikhaila's Queen Elizabeth room was only a few steps from where you could get coffee. Monica needed to either leave her room or call room services in order to get coffee at Carnival Vista.

Mikhaila's stateroom aboard Cunard Queen Elizabeth featured a coffee station. Monica's Carnival Vista stateroom didn't. Mikhaila Friel/Insider/Monica Humphries/Insider

Mikhaila found a coffee station in her stateroom that included coffee, tea and sugar.

Monica's room did not have a coffee maker, but she could order breakfast through room service or walk to the nearest restaurant.

Both Monica and Mikhaila had robes in their rooms. Mikhaila had slippers.

Cunard's Queen Elizabeth waited for Mikhaila with slippers and robes, while Carnival Vista had robes inside Monica's room. Mikhaila Friel/Insider/Monica Humphries/Insider

Mikhaila discovered a robe on the bathroom hook, and slippers in the closet when they arrived.

Monica discovered a robe, but no slippers, in her bedroom.

Cunard offered soaps and shampoos that were royally approved, while Carnival's toiletries weren't.

Cunard's Queen Elizabeth was equipped with brand-name toiletries. Carnival Vista's had unnamed toiletries. Mikhaila Friel/Insider/Monica Humphries/Insider

Mikhaila's bathroom contained many references to royalty, even in the shower. Penhaligon was the royal-warrant holder for Mikhaila's shampoo, body soap and hand soap.

According to the official Royal Warrant website, a royal warrant is a distinction that companies can use to offer goods or services to Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles or the Duke of Edinburgh.

Carnival didn't prominently identify the brand of products Monica used in her bathroom.

Every guest on Cunard's ship received one bottle of wine. Monica's minifridge on Carnival Vista was empty.

Mikhaila was welcomed with champagne from her minifridge upon her arrival at Cunard's Queen Elizabeth. Monica's Carnival Vista fridge was empty. Mikhaila Friel/Insider/Monica Humphries/Insider

Mikhaila was delighted to discover a bottle wine in her minifridge. This gift was a free gift for all guests on the voyage. The captain also included a welcome note to all guests aboard.

Each night, her steward left a piece of chocolate on her pillow.

Monica did not receive wine or chocolate gifts during her stay.

Other differences included the ordering of room service. The Queen Elizabeth allowed room service orders to be placed via the ship's telephone. You ordered on the Carnival Vista by using a QR code from your personal phone.

Cunard passengers were able to order room service via their room phones, while Carnival Cruise Line passengers could place orders through a QR code on their phones. Mikhaila Friel/Insider/Monica Humphries/Insider

Insider reported that one of the most important changes to Carnival Vista's ship since the outbreak of the pandemic was the widespread use of QR codes.

Monica can access a digital menu on her phone to order room service and place orders.

Mikhaila, Queen Elizabeth's maid, had to order room service via the room's telephone.

Monica was able to find very few examples of Carnival's logos in Mikhaila’s room, whereas Mikhaila had her room decorated in Cunard's logo.

Cunard's logo was on the pillows of Queen Elizabeth, but Carnival Vista's pillows were plain. Mikhaila Friel/Insider/Monica Humphries/Insider

In Mikhaila’s stateroom, the Cunard logo was prominent. It features a cunard logo with a lion rampant and a crown along with laurel leaves. It was found on the blanket, throw pillows, and complimentary slippers and robe. It was a constant reminder to Mikhaila that she was on a luxury cruise with royalty.

Monica noticed that the Carnival logo was not as prominent in her room.

Although there were many differences between the rooms, our reporters noticed some commonalities.

Mikhaila smiles in her stateroom aboard Cunard's Queen Elizabeth. Monica takes a photo in her Carnival Vista bedroom. Mikhaila Friel/Insider/Monica Humphries/Insider

Two single mattresses were pushed together in each room to make a king-size bed. There were also two lamps and a bathroom with a tub.

Monica and Mikhaila had their keys outside their stateroom doors.

An arrow points towards a nook in which Monica waited for a key outside her Carnival Vista room. Monica Humphries/Insider

When they set off on their respective journeys, both reporters had to search for their staterooms themselves. The keys to their rooms were found outside their stateroom doors.

Monica and Mikhaila could use their room keys to buy items onboard their ships as credit cards.

Our reporters entered their rooms to find that the TVs were playing safety videos.

When Monica and Mikhaila entered their rooms, safety videos were played on Monica's TVs. Mikhaila Friel/Insider/Monica Humphries/Insider

Shaquille O’Neal, a former NBA star, led the safety video in Monica’s room. She showed Monica where her life jacket (the closet), and where she should go if there was an emergency.

Although the video in Mikhaila’s room had similar safety information, it did not seem to have celebrity talent.

Both Monica and Mikhaila were happy with the storage options available in their rooms.

Although nightstands were identical in size, Mikhaila had drawers. Mikhaila Friel/Insider/Monica Humphries/Insider

Mikhaila's bedroom had a closet that contained hangers and two chests with drawers on either side of her bed. A safe was also available for personal items storage, which was useful during port days.

Monica's bedroom also featured a closet with hangers, and a safe. Her bedroom had one dresser in her closet, and two nightstands similar in size to Mikhaila’s, but they did not have drawers.

Although the rooms were similar in size and layout, Mikhaila's was larger. However, the luxury Mikhaila had exuded made it worth the extra expense.

Mikhaila Friel standing in front of Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth ship. Monica Humphries at the Carnival Vista. Mikhaila Friel/Insider/Monica Humphries/Insider

Monica and Mikhaila agreed that the wine, decor and in-room coffee stations created a luxurious atmosphere and were worth the $20 extra each night.

Insider has the original article.