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Luxury ship or a suite on a premium cruise line?


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We want to book a special honeymoon cruise next April 2014.... some of the cruise lines haven't released their Spring/Summer 2014 schedules as yet which is making my research harder! :rolleyes:

 

I have looked at Regent which I have been impressed with and then started looking at the other lux cruise lines and got myself all confused as to which one to go for!

 

To suit us as a couple, we would be looking at preferably an all inclusive option (or as much as possible) either a Med itinerary which needs to take in some Greek islands - Santorini is a must OR we would look at a Caribbean itinerary out of Miami. Something more informal in atmosphere but with great food and of course service!

 

Cost is an option and looking at some of the lux lines, they look a lot more expensive so then that brings me to ask whether I look at the premium ships such as Celebrity and just book a suite on them?

 

Help please! :)

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Something more informal in atmosphere but with great food and of course service!

 

Cost is an option and looking at some of the lux lines, they look a lot more expensive so then that brings me to ask whether I look at the premium ships such as Celebrity and just book a suite on them?

 

Help please! :)

 

In my opinion, you should think of it like buying real estate -- buy a home in the most expensive neighbourhood you can, and the best value is the smallest home in the richest neighbourhood. So, translated to cruise vacations, that would be a smaller cabin on a more luxurious ship, rather than a larger cabin on non-luxury ship. The reasons are the same......to take advantage of the food, service, and amenities of the luxury ship, but stay within your budget. From my own cruise research, the service and food quality on the luxury lines can't be matched, even though other lines may offer larger cabins/suites.

 

Well, that's my philosophy, and I'll be sticking to luxury or premium lines.

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now you have a LOT of research to do.First, chose itinerary because some ships don t do both(caribbean is cheaper).Then use CC guides to search, see front page for details.They will give you lots of options.Check each cruiseline and ship in DETAIL to see whats best for you.Make a sheet and put down all the costs,,,cruise,upgrades,drinks,shore excursions,tip,flights,etc.and see which one suits your needs.Sometimes the luxury ships are very close in price when ALL the costs are added.

When you get some idea,read the reviews here,get a brochure,find a travel agent and go for it.Everyone has different ideas of whats BEST for them.PS.that being said I LOVE Regent,,,and am taking a Oceania cruise in suite in Fall(due to dates and itinerary).So be flexible.Good luck and let us know.:)

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Thank you for ther answers so far and the congratulations!

 

Ooh I love all the research that's half the fun! :)

 

If we sail in the Caribbean I definitely want to visit St Maarten and St Thomas and they are often done in the same cruise so that's ok OR St Lucia and Antigua, again they are often visited on the same cruise.

 

If it's the Med... then Santorini is top of the list.... Adriatic ports are up there too along with Sicily and other Greek island ports so we kind of know what we want itinerary wise.

 

I get what you mean about the real estate approach, if we went on a lux line then it would be the cheaper end of the balcony staterooms unless there were any special offers.

 

I have ordered in some brochures and I am reading reviews on CC so I should get to a decision within a few weeks, well till after we get back from the Jade. :)

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We love expedition cruising so we always end up on a smaller ship. The difference between a much larger mainstream ship and a smaller, more personal ship is dramatic. A suite on a Holland America, for example, would not sway us.

 

If you want something somewhat larger than the ships of Silversea or Sea Dream, for instance, there are choices like Regent, Crystal, etc. that should provide a wonderful experience. We like Celebrity and Princess, but don't see ourselves on them again anytime soon because of our focus on expedition cruises.

 

Want something really special for your honeymoon? How about the Arctic, the Galapagos, or the Antarctic? If you love dramatic scenery, history, incredible wildlife, etc. - and want something completely out of the ordinary - take a look at an expedition cruise.

 

Congratulations and, no matter what cruise you choose, have a great trip!

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Also Med versus Caribbean depends in part on the weather. April is early season in the Med -- likely warm enough for sitting on the deck but could also still be on the cool side. If that does not matter my choice would be the Med. First of all it will be less crowded than the Caribbean. Secondly, since this is your honeymoon the Med is a bit more exotic and special IMHO. Arriving in the caldera by Santorini is a magical experience.The luxury line versus luxury suite may boil down to how much you want to interact with your fellow passengers and what level of service you desire. And my suggestion would be to start your research now but don't book yet. There are often specials within 6 months of departure as the cruise lines look at their load factor.I am biased by my love of Seabourn but I know there are good things to be said about the other luxury lines.

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In my opinion, you should think of it like buying real estate -- buy a home in the most expensive neighbourhood you can, and the best value is the smallest home in the richest neighbourhood. So, translated to cruise vacations, that would be a smaller cabin on a more luxurious ship, rather than a larger cabin on non-luxury ship. The reasons are the same......to take advantage of the food, service, and amenities of the luxury ship, but stay within your budget. From my own cruise research, the service and food quality on the luxury lines can't be matched, even though other lines may offer larger cabins/suites.

 

Well, that's my philosophy, and I'll be sticking to luxury or premium lines.

 

After 59 cruises, I agree 100% with the advice from calliopecruiser.

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Look at the Wind Surf. We spent two very romantic weeks on her last summer, including a day in Santorini.

 

We booked the least expensive cabin and it was more than enough space. The itinerary was amazing, the price was reasonable, the food was terrific, the service was wonderful.

 

There is something to be said for cruising the Greek Islands under wind power with the sails unfurled.

 

No formal wear required (the dress code is smart casual every night), and it's a really laid back atmosphere on board to compliment the busy port days.

Edited by ducklite
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Look at the Wind Surf. We spent two very romantic weeks on her last summer, including a day in Santorini.

 

We booked the least expensive cabin and it was more than enough space. The itinerary was amazing, the price was reasonable, the food was terrific, the service was wonderful.

 

There is something to be said for cruising the Greek Islands under wind power with the sails unfurled.

 

No formal wear required (the dress code is smart casual every night), and it's a really laid back atmosphere on board to compliment the busy port days.

 

Good advice. We did a Windstar cruise in the Greek Islands a few years back and it was wonderful.

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First, I would not do the Med. in the summer months. It is HOT HOT HOT and there are wall to wall ships in Santorini (I know this from experience). The Captain on the last cruise we did to Santorini changed the itinerary as there were 8 or 9 cruise ships (large ones) due in port. He said that it would be impossible to get anywhere. The day he picked to go to Santorini had "only" 4 or 5 cruise ships (still thousands of people).

 

When you sail on a all-inclusive luxury line, almost everything is included (on Regent, they even include most excursions). So, if you take the price of a cruise on Celebrity (are they categorized as premium? -- if so -- very surprising)....... add in airfare, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks -- the fee to go to speciality restaurants and tips, the cost will not be as low as you think.

 

The only "luxury" cruise lines that I am aware of are Regent, Silversea, Seabourn, Crystal, Sea Dream Yacht Club and Paul Gauguin. There is a German luxury cruise line but the main language is German and I do not believe they are all-inclusive.

 

If we were going on a "premium" or "premium plus" cruise line, it would be Azamara or Oceania. If Celebrity is considered premium, they would be our third choice (or 9th choice overall).

 

It is up to you. Do you want to sign for every drink you have? If you don't drink alcohol, this is not an issue. Have you looked at airfares lately? Most (not all) luxury lines include airfare.

 

Another consideration is age. This will be your honeymoon. Most luxury cruise lines with itineraries over 7 nights seem to draw older adults. An exception to this is May/early June when European cruises tend to have more young adults and school is not quite out yet. Sea Dream Yacht Club and the Paul Gauguin tend to have a younger crowd but also have quite a few children during the summer.

 

A lot to think about.

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We were in Santorini last June with one other ship--total passenger load while we were there was under 600--total, between the two ships. So it is NOT always as packed as you make it out to be,

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We have done 3 Greek Island cruises, and we have been fortunate enough to visit Santorini on days when there were 3 cruise ships or less in port. However, two of those cruises were in the shoulder season -- June and September -- while the other was in August and we may have been lucky that day.

As for the best cruise lines, I would definitely add Windstar to the mix. Crystal, Regent, Seabourn, SeaDream and Silver Sea like to refer to themselves as "Ultra Luxury," while Windstar, Oceania and Azamara like to consider themselves "luxury." I consider Cunard and Celebrity to be in the premium class category.

While I prefer the luxury and ultra-luxury lines, we did our last Greek Island cruise on the Celebrity Solstice because we had our twenty-something children with us. We had a blast because it's a large enough ship to have lots of entertainment options. However, if you are not party people, go with one of the luxury or ultra-luxury ships.

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I think the most generally used classification for which lines are considered luxury lines are those so identified in the Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising edited by Douglas Ward: Cyrstal, Regent Seven Seas, SeaDream, Seabourn, and Silversea (and Hapag-Lloyd if you include non-English-language cruise lines; it is a German line that has the highest rated ship sailing according to Berlitz). The Grill-level of accommodations on Cunard is sometimes considered luxury but Cunard is generally not considered a luxury line. I think of Azamara, Oceania, and Windstar as premium-plus and Celebrity, Cunard, Holland America, and (maybe) Princess (and P&O?) as premium but I think there is less concensus on the premium/premium plus lines.

 

Regarding the OP's question--I have never sailed in a top level suite on a premium line but I have sailed on regular balcony cabins on cruise lines at all levels and would recommend trying a variety of cruise lines at all levels (paying for a suite on the lower-level lines if you can afford it). If you were only going to go on one cruise, I think I would recommend a regular cabin on a luxury cruise line because of the better service.

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Remember that on Regent, even the lowest priced cabin is 300 sq feet. We have been in the Med. 4 times during the summer, as I was once a teacher. It was not unbearably hot. Of course, you could be there during a heatwave. That would not deter me. This is your honeymoon---get a regular cabin on Regent and go to Santorini. We were there this past Sept. where the only other ship in port was Seabourn. There was a 45 min wait to get on the funicular, but I was able to shop while DH waited in line. If you sail Regent, you will be on an included excursion most likely, where you will bypass the line. I highly recommend going to Oia---the city with the white washed buildings and magnificent view!

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Remember that on Regent, even the lowest priced cabin is 300 sq feet. We have been in the Med. 4 times during the summer, as I was once a teacher. It was not unbearably hot. Of course, you could be there during a heatwave. That would not deter me. This is your honeymoon---get a regular cabin on Regent and go to Santorini. We were there this past Sept. where the only other ship in port was Seabourn. There was a 45 min wait to get on the funicular, but I was able to shop while DH waited in line. If you sail Regent, you will be on an included excursion most likely, where you will bypass the line. I highly recommend going to Oia---the city with the white washed buildings and magnificent view!

 

I agree with visiting Oia.

However, after 10 cruises with Regent, I can say from experience that their "free" land excursions (which you pay for in your cruise fare), are not worth the cost. Forget Regent and try one of the other luxury lines.

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You don't have to wait for the funicular -- we just walk up the path to Thira -- mind you do have to watch put for the donkeys coming down the path at a good clip -- they get fed at the bottom!

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Keep in mind that a smaller ship luxury line, such as Regent, is going to give you a different Caribbean experience. For instance, our cruise took us to St. Barts which does not take the larger ships. It's not as touristy as some of the other places, but you get to wander the island that caters to the millionaires and billionaires. Even in a major port such as St. Thomas, we docked on another part of the island so as not to share the docks with thousands of people pouring off the mega ships in port (they provide free shuttles into town). You will find an older, very sophisticated, group of passengers that time of year, but that might be preferable to families with kids running around, though, even in the summer, Regent doesn't attract families as do the "fun ships". The question is, do you want to spend your honymoon being waited on hand and foot or having to hand over your room key every time you want a soda, beer or fancy coffee? Also, Regent has super room service (for honeymooners who never want to leave the room):D

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I have only sailed on Crystal and I find their service to be amongst the best in the world, land or sea. Being in the hospitality industry, I wish I could send my staff members on on of their ships so they can see what classic service is like. Also, Crystal will not nickel and dime you, and there is only one announcement, at 9 AM every morning.

 

There is a saying in real estate, better the lowest price house in a very affluent area than the most expensive house in a cheaper area. I feel the same about cruise ships.

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Agree with an earlier post that some of Regent's excursions are very crowded and not much luxury....... but you are not paying $500/couple for the excursion (none of us know how much of Regent's fare is for excursions). My vote is still for Paul Gauguin cruises, Regent, Silversea or Oceania (although it is not luxury -- the two new ships are as luxurious as any luxury ship that has been built to date).

 

martinsfo: With all due respect (really), how can you compare Crystal with any other luxury line if you have only been on Crystal? IMO, there is no comparison between a cruise experience and a land experience.

 

Although I have not sailed on Crystal or Seabourn, they are not on our "to do" list because of their smoking policy. We prefer cruise lines where there is no smoking in any suites or balconies. Seabourn permits smoking in both and I believe Crystal still allows smoking in suites.

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If you really are set on Santorini in April 2014 you can chose between Silver Wind 4/14 Monte Carlo to Istanbul @ $4350 for 11 nights($5450 balcony) or Oceania Riviera 4/21 Barcelona to Athens @$2849 for 10 nights ($4049 balcony). If it were my vacation I would postpone it until 5/7 and take Crystal Istanbul to Venice for $3568 for 11 nights ($4806 balcony) I have never traveled Silver Seas so cannot comment but am due to leave on Oceania in 5 weeks and find them to be nickel and diming me to death by comparison to Crystal. Drinks are extra ($55/day/person) laundry is charged for, if you go a day early they charge air deviation, extra for transfers EVEN WITH THEIR AIR. Can let you know in June if they are up to Crystal in other regards.

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Premium cruise lines do seem to nickel and dime you. This is not true of the luxury lines. I still am strongly in favor of avoiding summer months (June/July/August). The Med. was quite warm in early May, 2012. While nobody is able to predict the weather lately, I would not risk sailing in later than May.

 

While I have been a bit negative about Regent excursions, it should be said that they are a whole lot better than paying $100-300/person for ship tours on other lines. Some of us use the Regent tour for transportation to a particular location -- tell the tour guide that we are going out on our own and pay for the return bus/taxi fare.

 

Since the Silver Wind sails in April, that would be my personal choice.

Edited by Travelcat2
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Travelcat, my comparison was about service, and service is service. Whether it is on land or sea. Having been trained in that discipline, I believe that I have the expertise to comment on that. True, I have not been on the other luxury lines, but I plan to correct that in the future. And from what I've heard, they all do service very well.

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