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  #1  
Old July 13th, 2012, 12:40 AM
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Default Is Princess upscale compared to NCL, Disney? Advice please...

We are considering a Princess sail with two tween boys, have sailed Disney and recently NCL.
Looking for a bit more than the mass market, a little more upscale...specifically, the entertainment, pool space, food quality, kid programs for teens.
It looks like Princess offers a similar dining plan as NCL, a freestyle choice if you want it. But what does that actually mean?

Is princess similar to the current NCL "nickel and dime" you every which way you turn? Is that the norm now in cruising, or is more included?

I'd love to sail the premier lines, for the amenities...but we are very young 50's with two younger kids (12, 13) and my understanding is that the high end lines are mostly occupied by the older crowd without many kids around at all. We'll have to wait for that later on...and of course, then we'll be in the "older" crowd too, lol!!!!

THANKS for any advice.
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Old July 13th, 2012, 01:01 AM
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My kids have not been in Princess' teen program yet. But for younger kids, most time they are playing video games. There may be an ice cream party in Horizon court. From that, I do not see their teen program will be much greater.

Costa had the best kids program I've ever seen.
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  #3  
Old July 13th, 2012, 01:14 AM
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I've been on most of the major lines. If you've been on Disney, it's one of the better lines. You aren't going to find "upscale" in the general cruise line markets such as Princess, RCCL, NCL, Carnival, Celebrity, HAL. I've been on all of them and they all serve the basic product but to different markets. If you want "upscale" it would be more in the lines of Crystal.

Each person evaluates things differently. If comparing NCL to Princess, my opinion would be good versus very good. If comparing Disney to Princess, it would be Best versus Very Good.
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  #4  
Old July 13th, 2012, 01:59 AM
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I don't feel nickel and dimed on Princess and on my last cruise, a 16-day one, I couldn't spend all of my OBC and had some left over. On the other hand, I don't buy photos, play Bingo, get massages, etc.
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  #5  
Old July 13th, 2012, 02:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by purrfect007 View Post
We are considering a Princess sail with two tween boys, have sailed Disney and recently NCL.
Looking for a bit more than the mass market, a little more upscale...specifically, the entertainment, pool space, food quality, kid programs for teens.
It looks like Princess offers a similar dining plan as NCL, a freestyle choice if you want it. But what does that actually mean?

Is princess similar to the current NCL "nickel and dime" you every which way you turn? Is that the norm now in cruising, or is more included?

I'd love to sail the premier lines, for the amenities...but we are very young 50's with two younger kids (12, 13) and my understanding is that the high end lines are mostly occupied by the older crowd without many kids around at all. We'll have to wait for that later on...and of course, then we'll be in the "older" crowd too, lol!!!!

THANKS for any advice.
What do you mean by "nickel and dime"? If you don't want something that costs, don't buy it. I have never felt pressure to purchase anything.
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Old July 13th, 2012, 05:04 AM
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I have never sailed on Disney, but Princess is way upscale compared to NCL which is really a Mickey Mouse cruise line.

From what I can gather from friends who have had teenagers on Princess, they absolutely loved it and were rarely seen by their parents for the duration of the cruise.

Like Pam, I have never felt "nickled and dimed" on Princess. About the only thing your kids might want to buy on board is Soda (if they drink soda) but you can always bring a case on board if your would like. I, for instance, really like Perrier which they used to have on Princess, but do no longer. So, I buy several bottles at every port to get me through.
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  #7  
Old July 13th, 2012, 08:26 AM
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In my opinion Princess has better food than both. Disney caters to toddlers-6 yo. NCL cruise was "cheesy" and tacky. Princess ships more upscale but the kids will love it. Yummy burgers,fries, chicken tenders, pizza and other stuff at the pool. Quiet sanctuary area for adults. My husband and I sail with our 14 & 12 yo. They dont really participate in the kids program, however they always have something to do. Swim, shudffle board, golf, bingo. Definitely not "nickel and dimesd as much as RCL except in the spa. Enjoy!
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  #8  
Old July 13th, 2012, 08:52 AM
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I haven't been on Disney, but I felt Princess was significantly upscale from NCL
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  #9  
Old July 13th, 2012, 09:13 AM
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We're big-time Disney fans....DVC members...who spend an average of 6+ weeks a year at Walt Disney World.

We began cruising with DCL, but after a few cruises we decided to try another line: Princess. We have since cruised sixteen times with Princess and haven't looked back.

Poor food quality on DCL was one of the primary reasons we decided to try Princess. We found there to be no comparison...Princess menus, food quality, and dining room service is head and shoulders above DCL.

Anytime dining is a big plus! With traditional dining, we always found ourselves planning our day around our dinner seating time. With anytime dining you go to one of the two anytime dining rooms when you're ready. It's as simple as that!
Does dining room staff still beg for good reviews on the cruise survey at the end of the cruise? We found this very annoying and a big turn-off for us! Evening entertainment is superior and different from cruise-to-cruise on Princess. The same shows were presented on each DCL cruise we took. It became boring after awhile.
Cabin for cabin type, Princess is less expensive. This was not the deciding factor for us, but it's a fact. There are smaller balcony cabins on Princess ships with huge (9' x 9') balconies that are much less expensive and are perfect for two people. The mini-suites on Princess ships are comparable in size to regular cabins on DCL; however, mini-suites do have about a 9' x 5' balcony...larger than DCL.

Back when my grandson was about 5 he liked the kids' clubs on Princess better than DCL. The kids' clubs on DCL are in an enclosed area with no windows. Some of the personnel were really great, but some were obviously bored with their job and should not have been working with kids.

The kids' club on the Princess ships we have sailed are open and airy with plenty of windows. The staff are very personable and seem genuinely interested in working with kids. Our grandson couldn't wait to go to the club almost every day.

The DCL ships are spotless and so are Princess. You're going to have a wonderful time on either cruise line. Princess just seems to do it consistently better.

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  #10  
Old July 13th, 2012, 09:22 AM
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Princess for Kids
They do have a Kids program. Some of their ships have better and larger Kids/Teens facilities than others. Search the deck plans.
Food. ATD works on Princess. The ease of getting a table at the time you desire is dependent on the passengers on the ship and the itinerary. For example a Hawaii voyage tends to have older people that eat early. Caribbean tends to have younger passengers that eat later. They only food you pay for on Princess is Sabatini's (Italian Bistro) $20pp and the Crown Grill Steak & Seafood, $25pp. Almost all other food is included in the fare including The Horizon Ct. Buffet; Pizza; The Grill with burgers, chicken, dogs brats, fries; The International Cafe (on most ships), paninis, salads, soup, snacks, cookies, Soft Ice Cream by the pool. You can get coffee, Ice Tea, Lemonade, OJ at the Horizon Ct, but other drinks you have to pay for. Your kids can get a soda card where they can get unlimited fountain soda or the soda card plus (not the exact name) where they can get the soda plus mocktails, milkshakes, juice drinks etc. For yourself if you want brewed coffee & Latte type drinks you have to pay. You can pay by the drink or purchase a coffee card. The coffe served in the Horizon Ct. is good coffe, but it is made from concentrate, similar to Burger King. There is plenty of entertainment in the evening, including Movies Under the Stars which your kids would probably enjoy. Other entertainment is more adult oriented, singers, comics, production shows, magic, cruise staff activities, things like that.
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  #11  
Old July 13th, 2012, 09:46 AM
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Can't answer for the kids programs, but we like the food and customer service MUCH better on Princess (than on Disney)!
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  #12  
Old July 13th, 2012, 09:55 AM
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For Tweens - I would go with RCCL (Allure/Oasis ships) - can't beat the activities that they offer.
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Old July 13th, 2012, 09:56 AM
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I will add to the chorus. Disney has the best sized "regular" cabins and bathroom setups at sea. But you pay for them. And with that extra fare, you get some of the worst food at sea without the luxury of anytime dining. With "tweens", you might find anytime dining more to your liking. Also, Disney has a pretty good "specialty" restaurant, but it is for adults only. On Princess, you can take your children to any restaurant on the ship. Huge difference to me, as we have an "only" who is an aspiring foodie. Ditching her for "fine dining" is simply not an option.

As for kid's programs, sometimes I think that people fret too much about this. As I mentioned, we have an only, and I worried that she would get bored hanging with the parents on sea days. So we signed her up at the teen center on day one, and she went fairly often. But it wasn't the organized activities that kept her going back. It was simply the opportunity to meet new friends and "hang out", which is what 14 year olds seem to be best at. So while DCL may set the standard for organized activities, Princess will have enough of a critical mass of like-aged kids who will hang out, soak in the teen hot tub, play air hockey and X-Box , etc. I find that teens don't really need (and frankly, don't want) too much organized activities. The word "lame" gets thrown around a lot, even if it is undeserved. Oh. And one more thing. Not sure when you are sailing and what the ages of your kids will be then, but when it comes to the kids' programs (on both DCL and Princess), make sure to pay attention to the age cut-offs, which are strictly enforced, even for siblings. I am not certain, but it is possible that at 12 and 13, your kids could be separated into different groups, with the 12 year old being the oldest in one group and the 13 year old being the youngest in a different group. Not sure about this. But worth looking into if you think it matters.

Both DCL and Princess have corkage policies, and we were able to drink our own wine on both lines without any issues. Princess will allow you to bring on drinks and snacks for the kids. Not sure about DCL. That alone cuts down on nickel and diming. And the Ultimate Soda card is not a bad deal, and works for more than just soda. Smoothies, alcohol-free cocktails and the like are included. My kid is not a soda drinker, but I think she came close to breaking even with the card. It was close. But I still prefer paying once up front to having 27 line items on my statement at the end of the cruise.

Notice that I have said nothing about NCL. It isn't even in the same ballpark as DCL or Princess. Honetsly, you can't go wrong with either line. But for me, each time I price out similar itineraries, the extra cost of DCL keeps me coming back to Princess, as does the better food and dining options. Honestly, I detested (and I'm not sure that that is even a strong enough word) the rotational dining and food on the Disney Magic.
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Old July 13th, 2012, 10:46 AM
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I don't know about Disney but I would NEVER take another NCL cruise. Constant announcements selling shopping, bingo etc. The pool had loud horrible music blasting so you couldn't even hear the person next to you. The food is the worst unless you pay for one of the specialty restaurants. We were in a suite and that is the only thing that saved us, we pretty much stayed on our balcony.
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Old July 13th, 2012, 11:26 AM
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It's more than just a line by line comparison, its also ship by ship.

Comparing a smaller ship like the Coral to the Disney Fantasy, for example, I'd have to go with Disney as there is just so much more to do. But compare something like the Sapphire to the Disney Magic and its a lot closer.

Princess has generally better food based on reviews. Their kids programs seem to be OK but they don't have some of the venues other lines do (rock climbing walls, splash zones, etc).

In my role of advise giver I have been recommending RCCL to families with young teens to some decent success, especially the larger ships. They seem to have the best overall mix of options.

With that in mind, a lot will depend on your kids. For example, we're taking my 15 year old nephew on a 2 day Disney run and he has the same plans I do, sit on a chair and catch up on reading all day...

ETA: I should also point out itinerary matters a lot. For something like Alaska, with effectively 1 sea day, its not as big a deal, as something like a 10 day canal run with 4 sea days which they need to be occupied for.
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Old July 13th, 2012, 11:39 AM
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As someone who has taken 2 Princess cruises and 2 NCL cruises within the past year, I'll give you my perspective:

- First of all, Princess people really hate NCL. I don't understand why, but be prepared for more "I will never cruise with NCL!" responses...
- I feel the pools are better on Princess, mainly because they have twice as many as any NCL ship. With 4 pools on most Princess ships and 2 for adults-only, they are much better than NCL in that respect. I also think chair-hogging is less on Princess, perhaps due to having more chairs available overall.
- We don't partake in the cruise show entertainment, so I can't comment on that. From what I understand, they're probably similar.
- I think NCL wins for buffet quality/variety (at least on Gem/Epic) compared to Princess, but Princess has much nicer food in the dining rooms. For example, you can get shrimp cocktail any night on Princess at dinner, but NCL rarely has shrimp in their dinner entrees. The quality in the dining room was higher on Princess AND they offer afternoon tea, which was delicious with finger sandwiches, pastries/cakes, and scones. I also love the International Cafe on Princess, where they have sandwiches, salads, pastries, and desserts available 24 hours a day - you just choose what you want from the case and you get it. On NCL, the 24 hour venue is always a sit-down place where you have to order and all that. In summary, NCL wins on the buffet, but Princess wins on everything else food-related, IMO.
- Which NCL ships have you sailed? I feel like Epic is a completely different experience from their other ships and probably the most entertaining for young kids. I can't comment on the Princess kids programs, but Princess overall likes to emphasize how you WON'T be riding water slides or rock-climbing on their cruises - it's about relaxation instead.
- For the Anytime Dining on Princess, I'd say it can vary widely, but it's not as well-organized as NCL's Freestyle dining. Depending on your itinerary/time of year, you can expect longer waits with Princess. On the Crown Princess in Feb, we waited over 45 minutes for a table for 2 several times at dinner, which would be unheard of on an NCL ship. However, we never waited more than 5 minutes on Ruby Princess in June, so it's hard to predict how well Anytime Dining will work for you...
- To the "nickel-and-diming" remark, I have to give you a giant because I think it's just silly. Cruise lines exist to make money and do their best to sell you services/products during your cruise. No one is forcing you to buy them and if you didn't spend an extra dime while on your cruise, you can still have a great experience. Princess only has 2 specialty restaurants, but will charge you extra (like NCL) for: wine/liquor/beer, soft drinks, special coffee drinks, BINGO, spa services, etc. If you don't want to spend money on those things, don't! No one is nickel-and-diming you. Such a pet peeve of mine!
- You might look into Celebrity as well. My parents love it and rave about the food quality and entertainment and I understand they have kids programs as well. It's usually more expensive than Princess, but my parents think it's definitely a step-up from Princess.
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Old July 13th, 2012, 11:46 AM
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RCL Independence of the Seas has great kids facilities. Most upscale lines don't want kids.
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Old July 13th, 2012, 11:47 AM
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I have sailed twice on princess with a tween/teenage daughter and she had a great time! Princess is more upscale than NCL.
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Old July 13th, 2012, 12:40 PM
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I'm not picking on you Attila, your answer was so good, yet so different from my own experiences, I'm going to use it as a template for my response.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AttilaTheFun View Post
- First of all, Princess people really hate NCL. I don't understand why, but be prepared for more "I will never cruise with NCL!" responses...

I, for one, will not ever sail NCL again. We used to be NCL faithfuls--mostly becaus ethe price waslower and we could enjoy more cruises for the $$$. Once we tried Princess, we have only sailed Princess, and realize that we now enjoy more cruises for the $$$. On Princess, I feel more like a guest than a "mark" to be soaked for more money.

- I feel the pools are better on Princess, mainly because they have twice as many as any NCL ship. With 4 pools on most Princess ships and 2 for adults-only, they are much better than NCL in that respect.

Let's not forget that Princess pools are fresh water, as opposed to NCL salt water.

- We don't partake in the cruise show entertainment, so I can't comment on that. From what I understand, they're probably similar.

Entertainment is actually one of the things I think NCL does well. Princess...not so much.

- I think NCL wins for buffet quality/variety <snip> The quality in the dining room was higher on Princess AND they offer afternoon tea, which was delicious with finger sandwiches, pastries/cakes, and scones. I also love the International Cafe on Princess, where they have sandwiches, salads, pastries, and desserts available 24 hours a day <snip> NCL wins on the buffet, but Princess wins on everything else food-related, IMO.

I agree completely with this. :-)

- For the Anytime Dining on Princess, I'd say it can vary widely, but it's not as well-organized as NCL's Freestyle dining. Depending on your itinerary/time of year, you can expect longer waits with Princess.

I had far, far longer waits every night on the NCL Pearl than I've ever had on a Princess ship. So, YMMV.

- To the "nickel-and-diming" remark, I have to give you a giant because I think it's just silly.

It's not silly to me. Once I say "no" to a drink offer, I expect that decision to be honored...not have every other waiter come by and ask again, two or three times. I don't want to be interrupted in conversation to be sold something I didn't ask for. I do not want to sit through a heavy push to buy pull tab games before entertainment shows. Princess understands this, and NCL doesn't. <shrug>

Another thing I like about Princess, is that they treat me like an adult when it comes to bringing wine onboard. NCL xrays luggage to find "contraband" wine. Princess official policy allows passengers to bring it onboard. Having, or not having, a glass of wine in my cabin before dinner does not influence my spending elsewhere on the ship. Apparently, NCL passengers are different in that regard. They must love that "Naughty Room" shaming exercise.

Last edited by OldSeaDog; July 13th, 2012 at 12:42 PM.
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Old July 13th, 2012, 01:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OldSeaDog View Post
I'm not picking on you Attila, your answer was so good, yet so different from my own experiences, I'm going to use it as a template for my response.
No offense taken - you put value on different things and everyone will have a different experience with the cruise line. Heck, you even agreed with me on certain points

I've only been on 2 NCL cruises, but have never been bothered by waiters for drinks orders - in fact I don't think one has ever approached me! We also attended a few shows on the Gem and only before one of them did they push the pull-tab things, which I admit are a bit dumb. However, if that's the worst nickel-and-diming situation, I'll take it!

I'm not a big wine-drinker, but can definitely appreciate Princess allowing passengers to carry wine onboard. It's very rare for a cruise line to allow this, so I don't think NCL's policy is terribly different from most other cruise lines out there.
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