Luxury Ship Within Ship Versus "True" Luxury Cruises!

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Luxury Cruising
Is it a state of mind?
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#1
Toronto
889 Posts
Joined Mar 2010
How do Luxury Ship within Ship upgrades on mainstream cruiselines stack up versus premium and luxury ships?

Specifically thinking about MSC Yacht Club and NCL Haven versus /Azamera in the Premium category and Regent/Crystal/Seabourne/etc in Luxury.
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#2
Toronto, Canada
3,994 Posts
Joined Mar 2012
I wasn't aware of those cruise lines' offerings until your post, though I was aware of the Grills on Cunard (looks like kind of the same concept). I guess if "exclusivity" is a part of what "luxury" means to you, it's perfect. I don't get off on the idea of exclusivity - I don't need to have something different than everyone else aboard to feel like I'm having a luxurious experience.

I don't have any experience with them and if the itinerary and price were right I would certainly try them, but I'd rather be on a luxurious ship than in a reserved luxurious area of a ship.
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#3
Toronto
889 Posts
Joined Mar 2010
Originally posted by calliopecruiser
I wasn't aware of those cruise lines' offerings until your post, though I was aware of the Grills on Cunard (looks like kind of the same concept). I guess if "exclusivity" is a part of what "luxury" means to you, it's perfect. I don't get off on the idea of exclusivity - I don't need to have something different than everyone else aboard to feel like I'm having a luxurious experience.

I don't have any experience with them and if the itinerary and price were right I would certainly try them, but I'd rather be on a luxurious ship than in a reserved luxurious area of a ship.
Some people say it gives you the best of both worlds .... Access to mainstream style shows/facilities (useful if you have kids for example or if you like mainstream evening entertainment) while still maintaining the service level and passenger/space ratio + passenger/crew level you are accustomed to getting on smaller luxury ships.

I haven't tried it yet and was curious if within these enclaves service and food is comparable to real luxury lines. Here is a link outlining MSCs Yacht Club: http://www.cruisesinturkey.com/msc-y...ub-katalog.pdf

And a video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1mKWDqHvWgc

And this is The Haven on NCL: http://thehaven.ncl.com/


Pricewise they are fairly comparable to luxury cruise lines in terms of cost ... maybe a thousand or so cheaper? I know that MSC includes alcohol in the Yacht Club, I don't think NCL does in The Haven.

It's sorta like Cunard, but slightly different in that The Haven and The Yacht Club sections are completely sealed off from the rest of the ship via private elevators/entrances and have their own facilities ... I think on Cunard the upgrades are only for dining room, concierge and room size?
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#4
florida
3,651 Posts
Joined Jun 2009
booked penthouse to give it a try on mass market line.For more reasons than I can type, NO comparison. Yes, room is big but still size of ship,long lines,poor service ,average food.,I could go on and on.Spent only 3 days and was READY TO GET OFF.Found its not for me.I prefer Regent,Seabourn,SeaDream,even Oceania to that experience.You re not nickel and dimed,tips inc.drinks inc.ROOM service for breakfast(hot choices,even),no long lines for lunch or dinner.BUt I learned a lesson.
#5
Toronto
889 Posts
Joined Mar 2010
Originally posted by alexandra cruiser
booked penthouse to give it a try on mass market line.For more reasons than I can type, NO comparison. Yes, room is big but still size of ship,long lines,poor service ,average food.,I could go on and on.Spent only 3 days and was READY TO GET OFF.Found its not for me.I prefer Regent,Seabourn,SeaDream,even Oceania to that experience.You re not nickel and dimed,tips inc.drinks inc.ROOM service for breakfast(hot choices,even),no long lines for lunch or dinner.BUt I learned a lesson.
Right, I totally get what you are saying ... but in this case these specific rooms I'm mentioning are part of a completely separate luxury enclave on the mainstream ships. They aren't room upgrades but service upgrades that one is paying for as well as exclusivity in terms of a luxury section that only those members can use.

There are suites on these two mainstream lines (even penthouse suites) that are NOT part of the MSC Yacht Club or The Haven on Norwegian. Likewise many other mainstream lines don't even have luxury enclaves at all (while they may still have penthouse suites).

So the comparison is specifically not looking at the suites but looking at whether or not these "private luxury" sections of mainstream ships can compare service wise with what the luxury lines are offering. I can't speak for Norwegian but I've been hearing VERY good things about MSC's Yacht Club.

With that said I haven't sailed on a luxury line, nor have I tried these "luxury ship in ship" options. I'm curious if anyone here has and how it compares.
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#6
GTA, Ontario, Canada
33,294 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
I have not tried the ship with in a ship feature but do have a question
Do they have their own shows or do you still go to the ones for the rest of the passengers???

We prefer smaller ships so doubt the concept of having a separate area for luxury would work for us

..but I guess it must be working for others if they have the dedicated space
#7
CA, USA
13,618 Posts
Joined Apr 2004
IO know MSC offers this type of luxury ship within a ship. The problem is that most people who want a luxury experience will run like the devil from a large ship and avoid anyplace where so many passengers congregate. So why bother?
#8
Washington State
21,536 Posts
Joined Dec 2005
Instead of sailing on a ship that separates passengers by class, cruise a true luxury cruise line (Crystal, Regent, Seabourn and Silversea). You can be in the master suite or a suite in the lowest category and still be treated the same.

A main stream cruise line is a main stream line -- even if a portion of it is built to luxury standards. It would bother me to walk past a long line of people waiting to board the ship while I go to the special area where I am permitted to board immediately. We would not want to eat in a restaurant that only a certain class of passengers could use. I have heard of cases where friends and/or family members cannot dine in the same restaurant (unless it is a dining venue that lower category passengers can use).

If people are happy with cruise lines with special areas for special guests -- that is their choice (and it is nice to have choices). However, there is no comparison between that type of cruise line and a true luxury line.
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#9
Toronto
889 Posts
Joined Mar 2010
Originally posted by LHT28
I have not tried the ship with in a ship feature but do have a question
Do they have their own shows or do you still go to the ones for the rest of the passengers???
From what I understand your butler will take you to reserved seating in the theatre. It's the same shows but you have front row seats.
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#10
Toronto
889 Posts
Joined Mar 2010
Originally posted by wripro
IO know MSC offers this type of luxury ship within a ship. The problem is that most people who want a luxury experience will run like the devil from a large ship and avoid anyplace where so many passengers congregate. So why bother?
From the few reviews I've seen regarding MSC's Yacht Club, many of the passengers taking advantage of this type of luxury experience do so because they want/enjoy big ship amenities/casinos/shows, while also wanting certain aspects of a luxury cruise (a place to escape to from the crowds, as well as better food/more high end service). Also for well to do families with kids, the mainstream lines I believe offer more extensive children's programming.

I suspect you will see this type of concept continue to evolve with mainstream lines.

Originally posted by Travelcat2
A main stream cruise line is a main stream line -- even if a portion of it is built to luxury standards.
It's not just how a portion is built ... it's the service levels too. Everything I've read seems to indicate that these exclusive areas literally are up to luxury standards.
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#11
Toronto, Canada
3,994 Posts
Joined Mar 2012
Originally posted by Travelcat2
It would bother me to walk past a long line of people waiting to board the ship while I go to the special area where I am permitted to board immediately. We would not want to eat in a restaurant that only a certain class of passengers could use.
I agree; the only advantage I could see is that it opens up more itineraries/dates to choose from. I can't see any advantage to having the mainstream attractions or entertainment/show......some people might like such things, but they're not really for me.
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#12
Near Orlando but California Dreaming
14,159 Posts
Joined Sep 2002
Originally posted by bamelin
Right, I totally get what you are saying ... but in this case these specific rooms I'm mentioning are part of a completely separate luxury enclave on the mainstream ships. They aren't room upgrades but service upgrades that one is paying for as well as exclusivity in terms of a luxury section that only those members can use.

There are suites on these two mainstream lines (even penthouse suites) that are NOT part of the MSC Yacht Club or The Haven on Norwegian. Likewise many other mainstream lines don't even have luxury enclaves at all (while they may still have penthouse suites).

So the comparison is specifically not looking at the suites but looking at whether or not these "private luxury" sections of mainstream ships can compare service wise with what the luxury lines are offering. I can't speak for Norwegian but I've been hearing VERY good things about MSC's Yacht Club.

With that said I haven't sailed on a luxury line, nor have I tried these "luxury ship in ship" options. I'm curious if anyone here has and how it compares.
You still enter the herd for meals, shows, shore excursions, etc. Mooooo.......
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#13
GTA, Ontario, Canada
33,294 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
Originally posted by bamelin
From what I understand your butler will take you to reserved seating in the theatre. It's the same shows but you have front row seats.
Thanks for the info
As I said it must work for some or it would not be offered
Not for everyone (me)

Enjoy
#14
Toronto
889 Posts
Joined Mar 2010
Originally posted by ducklite
You still enter the herd for meals, shows, shore excursions, etc. Mooooo.......
I believe yacht club members on MSC eat in a special reserved area (still in main MDR though) ... Alternatively food is also served in the Yacht Club area but I think it would be considered a "light" lunch or dinner comiared to MDT dining.

Shore excursions I read that Yacht Club members are escorted off the ship by their butlers to the shuttle before the rest of the passengers.
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#15
Hanalei, HI
312 Posts
Joined Jan 2012
Aloha All,

This idea of a segregated luxury section on a large mainstream cruise ship seems to me to be something akin to flying first class on a long-haul flight.

Flying First Class allows one to avoid some of the many unpleasantries of commercial long haul flights: use of airline lounges to avoid some of the very crowded conditions at the airports, priority boarding, much better seats, better service, and better food; however, I would argue that these amenities do not make flying "enjoyable," they simply make it quite a bit more tolerable. One still has to deal with checking luggage, claiming it and transiting through very crowded airports, airport security, etc.

For me, these luxury sections would be similar to flying first class in that I believe that they would make sailing with 2-5,000 other people tolerable and allow one to avoid some of the unpleasantries of the massive crowds on very large ships, but I do not think that they would significantly alter the experience to replicate what one finds on a luxury ship of 250-750 passengers. Just like with First Class on the airlines, while the amenities make the situation better, they do not remove the fact that one still must deal with the hassles of post 9-11 air travel.

A realtor on Oahu once told me (and I've heard it repeated many times since) "It is always better to buy the cheapest home in a very nice area than the most expensive home in an area that is not as nice." If the real price difference between one of the luxury lines and this ship within a ship concept is only 1,000, as someone suggested above, I think that unless one has very specific reasons for wanting to be on the mainstream line, there really is no choice to make here.

Aloha from Hanalei,

Mark
#16
Near Orlando but California Dreaming
14,159 Posts
Joined Sep 2002
Originally posted by HanaleiSailor
Aloha All,

This idea of a segregated luxury section on a large mainstream cruise ship seems to me to be something akin to flying first class on a long-haul flight.

Flying First Class allows one to avoid some of the many unpleasantries of commercial long haul flights: use of airline lounges to avoid some of the very crowded conditions at the airports, priority boarding, much better seats, better service, and better food; however, I would argue that these amenities do not make flying "enjoyable," they simply make it quite a bit more tolerable. One still has to deal with checking luggage, claiming it and transiting through very crowded airports, airport security, etc.

For me, these luxury sections would be similar to flying first class in that I believe that they would make sailing with 2-5,000 other people tolerable and allow one to avoid some of the unpleasantries of the massive crowds on very large ships, but I do not think that they would significantly alter the experience to replicate what one finds on a luxury ship of 250-750 passengers. Just like with First Class on the airlines, while the amenities make the situation better, they do not remove the fact that one still must deal with the hassles of post 9-11 air travel.

A realtor on Oahu once told me (and I've heard it repeated many times since) "It is always better to buy the cheapest home in a very nice area than the most expensive home in an area that is not as nice." If the real price difference between one of the luxury lines and this ship within a ship concept is only 1,000, as someone suggested above, I think that unless one has very specific reasons for wanting to be on the mainstream line, there really is no choice to make here.

Aloha from Hanalei,

Mark
Very well stated. We would rather have the cheapest window cabin on a luxury line than the largest suite in a mass market line. We've done it both ways, so truly can make that statement. In fact we'd stay home before cruising mass market again.
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Past Cruises...
April 2014--Paul Gauguin to French Polynesia
June 2012--Windstar Wind Surf Back-To-Back, Rome to Venice to Athens
October 2011--Disney Dream Bahamas
October 2005--RCCL Mariner Western Caribbean
August 2002--Disney Magic Eastern Caribbean

Three weeks in Europe (two on a ship) with a 20" roll aboard and a tote bag--packing list here.
My all in a 20" wheeled bag for a warm weather cruise packing list here
20" rolling bag packing list for two weeks in a cool/cold climate here.
#17
Toronto, Canada
3,994 Posts
Joined Mar 2012
Originally posted by HanaleiSailor
This idea of a segregated luxury section on a large mainstream cruise ship seems to me to be something akin to flying first class on a long-haul flight.
Yes, flying first class is not as nice as having a private, chartered plane. If the costs were close, I'd choose a private chartered jet every time.
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#18
Toronto
889 Posts
Joined Mar 2010
I haven't done either type of cruise (the "first class" experience offered by Mainstream lines OR a true Luxury cruise) so I'm not in a position to comment ... I was hoping somebody would see this thread who has done both.

Speaking for myself the big issue is that my wife and I love balcony cabins ... to the point that we won't cruise on mainstream lines without it.

IF we were to ever stretch for a luxury cruise the most we would be able to afford would be the lowest category cabin (an inside or oceanview cabin). We aren't sure if the added benefits of being on a luxury ship would make up for not having a balcony.

For reference on mainstream cruises we spend inordinate amounts of time on our balcony, even eating our MDR meals on our balcony, drinking the personal bottles of wine we bought in port, skipping shows to sit out on the balcony, etc .... to be fair a part of the reason for this behaviour is because it's so crowded on mainstream lines that we don't want to leave our room!! We also really enjoy the feeling of the ocean air, sitting outside in the heat is such a treat when you come from the icy North.

We were looking at an option like The Yacht Club on MSC mainly because we would get a balcony cabin for about the same price as an inside/oceanview on a luxury line.

So I guess that leads to my next question. Without having really experienced it myself it's hard to envision the differences one would experience on a Luxury line compared to mainstream and if those differences would make up for losing having a balcony cabin.
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#19
BC, Canada
752 Posts
Joined May 2011
Originally posted by bamelin
I haven't done either type of cruise (the "first class" experience offered by Mainstream lines OR a true Luxury cruise) so I'm not in a position to comment ... I was hoping somebody would see this thread who has done both.

Speaking for myself the big issue is that my wife and I love balcony cabins ... to the point that we won't cruise on mainstream lines without it.

IF we were to ever stretch for a luxury cruise the most we would be able to afford would be the lowest category cabin (an inside or oceanview cabin). We aren't sure if the added benefits of being on a luxury ship would make up for not having a balcony.

For reference on mainstream cruises we spend inordinate amounts of time on our balcony, even eating our MDR meals on our balcony, drinking the personal bottles of wine we bought in port, skipping shows to sit out on the balcony, etc .... to be fair a part of the reason for this behaviour is because it's so crowded on mainstream lines that we don't want to leave our room!! We also really enjoy the feeling of the ocean air, sitting outside in the heat is such a treat when you come from the icy North.

We were looking at an option like The Yacht Club on MSC mainly because we would get a balcony cabin for about the same price as an inside/oceanview on a luxury line.

So I guess that leads to my next question. Without having really experienced it myself it's hard to envision the differences one would experience on a Luxury line compared to mainstream and if those differences would make up for losing having a balcony cabin.
We also won't sail in anything but a balcony. If you were to sail on Regent's Voyager all the cabins are balcony and so if you could stretch the budget for the cruise on her you would have a balcony even at the cheapest level. Wonderful cabins.

I have over 100 days on HAL but we tried a couple of cruises on Voyager and absolutely loved the luxury experience. On the cruises we took I did the math and Regent was no more expensive than other options for us.
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#20
Near Orlando but California Dreaming
14,159 Posts
Joined Sep 2002
Originally posted by bamelin
I haven't done either type of cruise (the "first class" experience offered by Mainstream lines OR a true Luxury cruise) so I'm not in a position to comment ... I was hoping somebody would see this thread who has done both.

Speaking for myself the big issue is that my wife and I love balcony cabins ... to the point that we won't cruise on mainstream lines without it.

IF we were to ever stretch for a luxury cruise the most we would be able to afford would be the lowest category cabin (an inside or oceanview cabin). We aren't sure if the added benefits of being on a luxury ship would make up for not having a balcony.

For reference on mainstream cruises we spend inordinate amounts of time on our balcony, even eating our MDR meals on our balcony, drinking the personal bottles of wine we bought in port, skipping shows to sit out on the balcony, etc .... to be fair a part of the reason for this behaviour is because it's so crowded on mainstream lines that we don't want to leave our room!! We also really enjoy the feeling of the ocean air, sitting outside in the heat is such a treat when you come from the icy North.

We were looking at an option like The Yacht Club on MSC mainly because we would get a balcony cabin for about the same price as an inside/oceanview on a luxury line.

So I guess that leads to my next question. Without having really experienced it myself it's hard to envision the differences one would experience on a Luxury line compared to mainstream and if those differences would make up for losing having a balcony cabin.
Yes! The luxury ships have much smaller passenger loads and much higher per passenger space ratios. (Very few have inside cabins, most have at least portholes/windows.). We had similar misgivings when we booked Wndstar for two weeks, sailing in a 180 s/f cabin when the smallest cabin we had ever been in before was about 600 s/f on the Dianey Dream, which offers a ship within a ship experience for suites.

By the end of the second day we were over the fears. The cabin was spacious enough for what we used it for--sleeping and showering. We found that there was more space in nooks and crannies in the public areas than you could imagine. We never saw chair hogging. Even on sea days we were always able to find chairs by the pool. We also found that we had much in common with our fellow passengers, and wanted to spend time with them. The intimate environment made it easy to make friends, and one has become a close friend who I speak to almost every week. On the mass market lines, like you we wanted to stay away from the masses. We never met anyone.

You don't have to hide, because you can get a table for two at your meals--or share if you prefer. There are no disturbances like conga lines and hairy chest games while you are trying to relax. The environment is intellectually stimulating yet serene at the same time.

If you don't want to sit by the pool, you'll find any number of other places to sit and enjoy each others company with no one else around. It's actually quite amazing.

Speaking for Wndstar, they include all non-alcoholic beverages including specialty coffees, sodas, bottled water, etc. and your room fridge will be kept stocked. Ours had a bunch of stuff we don't drink, and I asked for just ginger ale and a couple of bottles of water, and they gladly replaced it. I never drank the ginger ale as we had smooth sailing.

They also don't push shore excursions, and will gladly give you info and brochures on your ports so you can DIY. They have bikes you can borrow, might be a nominal fee, we would go that route if we went back to a couple of the ports we visited in Croatia.

The entire experience is so different. So relaxing, never a line for anything, and they think of things you wouldn't even consider. The entire two weeks there was one time that I missed not having a balcony, and it was one morning where I wish I could have stuck my head out to see the temperature. Seriously. One time, for one minute.

They allow you to bring your wine on, if you drink it in the dining room there will be a corkage fee, but it's rather reasonable. Any bartender is happy to hand you as much stemware as you need for your cabin, or the Steward will supply it for you.

The experience is night and day, and we again booked the smallest room for our PG cruise next year, because a small room on a luxury ship is better than the royal suite on a mass market. Having done both, I can state this without hesitation.
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Past Cruises...
April 2014--Paul Gauguin to French Polynesia
June 2012--Windstar Wind Surf Back-To-Back, Rome to Venice to Athens
October 2011--Disney Dream Bahamas
October 2005--RCCL Mariner Western Caribbean
August 2002--Disney Magic Eastern Caribbean

Three weeks in Europe (two on a ship) with a 20" roll aboard and a tote bag--packing list here.
My all in a 20" wheeled bag for a warm weather cruise packing list here
20" rolling bag packing list for two weeks in a cool/cold climate here.