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Celebrity vs Princess Review


Iamcruzin
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Celebrity vs. Princess

I just returned from an 8 day Caribbean cruise on the Celebrity Summit. We choose Celebrity based on the itinerary and time of sailing. It was a reposition cruise that started in San Juan and made calls to St Maarten, St Thomas, Tortola, over night at Bermuda and disembarked at Cape Liberty New Jersey. We have done two 7day reposition cruises on the Caribbean Princess with a similar itinerary so I think with the exception of the size of the ship this is a fair comparison.

The ship

The Summit was a beautiful ship in excellent condition inside and out and tastefully decorated which could be described as understated elegance. I was not able to find any stained carpets or chipped paint that was reported on the Celebrity board. Then again I can never find any stained carpets or chipped paint on the Caribbean Princess which has been reported on the Princess board. Maybe I’m just not looking hard enough.

We had an ocean view state room that was located midship forward on deck 3. I did prefer this room to all of my rooms on the Caribbean Princess which include a balcony, ocean view and an interior. At first I thought it was going to be a problem for storage as the Summit does not have a large dressing room like the CB. I was very surprised how much space there actually is in the closets and drawers. We packed extra clothing for this trip because we knew that Celebrity did not offer self serve laundry. We had plenty of room for all of our clothing and didn’t need to use the night stand drawers like we do on Princess. We stored three pieces of luggage under the bed and had room for one of our carry-on luggage in the closet. The room was nicely decorated and the sofa and coffee table made the room comfortable to relax in. We actually spent more time in our room on this sailing than any Princess sailings including the balcony room we had.

The bathroom was amazing for a standard ocean view room mostly because of the large shower. I couldn’t believe the size of the shower. There was enough room for 2 people and the curtain did not attack you when you turned the water on. There was also plenty of cabinet space for storage. My wife was impressed that in addition to shampoo, conditioner, and body lotion Celebrity also supplied Q-tips, cotton balls and a shower cap. They also provided an umbrella in the stateroom. Thankfully there was no reason to use it. My only complaint about the bathroom is that there was no outlet for my electric razor which meant that I had to shave at the vanity/desk. The lighting was not conducive to shaving and it was just awkward. This also prevented us from getting dressed at the same time. However, to end on a positive note there was a night light in the bathroom. I don’t understand why this can’t be a standard feature on all ships.

Although the Summit is a smaller ship than CB it never felt crowed. Now that I have experienced a different class ship I can understand the complaints I have read about the public areas on the CB being over crowed. I never saw it that way because I didn’t have anything to compare it to. This was never the case on the Summit at any point during the trip. As a matter of fact most of the venues seemed empty even when there was a performance going on.

The entertainment

If I had to pick who had the best entertainment it would be Celebrity. However since I have never seen much of the entertainment provided by Princess I really can’t make that statement. The reason I haven’t attended many of the shows on Princess is because the venues were so over packed that I could never get in. On occasion I have listened to the comic on the outside of the Explorers Lounge over the voices of passengers talking. I have never had the patients to go to any event 45 minutes before the performance just to get a seat. This was not the case on the Summit. Every night at 7:00 we enjoyed the show in the theater. We would arrive 10 minutes before show time and order a drink from the waiter who approached us as we sat down. On Princess the one time we attended a show I think it was the Piano Man the waiter took our order and never returned with the drink. Ironically we had the drink package on Celebrity which was very popular especially since many passengers received it free when they booked. Yet the service did not slip. We enjoyed all of the entertainers such as Buzz Sutherland the comedian and Jason Bishop the illusionist gave a top rated Las Vegas performance. Our favorite lounge performer was Guitarist and Vocalist Brandy Paige. Every day we would check Celebrity Today to see where and when she would be performing.

Internet and photos

I know that it is not customary to review the internet or photos but from what I have experienced something has to be said. We purchased the internet package which was $50 for 90 minutes. First of all the internet was horrendous. I know that it is slow and is more like dial up but it wouldn’t even connect. I have enough experience using the wifi on Princess to know what to expect. The problem on Celebrity is that it wouldn’t even connect when we were in port. However it would eat in to your minutes while trying to connect. When it did connect it wouldn’t down load our emails. We used the computers on the ship so it wasn’t even a matter of poor wifi in our stateroom. What I did learn on this trip is that there were plenty of free hotspots on the islands. We were able to access wifi at Margarita Phil’s on St John Island and in Bermuda where we docked for a day and a half there was an inexpensive pay for hotspot. The prices were $3 for an hour $10 for 24 hours and $29.99 for a month. We saw a few crew members using this service and you are able to Skype with the service. Had I known about this I wouldn’t have even purchased the internet package. On Princess we are Platinum so this wouldn’t have been an issue.

Photography isn’t something that is mentioned on these boards. It certainly doesn’t have a positive or negative impact on a cruise but having spent over $800 on pictures on Princess on one sailing I have to say that I was very surprised to see that the quality of photo’s on Celebrity were not up to par. I know my wife and I aren’t exactly the best subject matter for a photo. We look like the before shot of a weight loss or exercise program. However, you could have photo shopped your favorite Hollywood celebrity naked in the picture and it would still be a bad picture. On the second formal night we decided to have our picture taken against the Titanic grand staircase backdrop. Well it was a nice shot of the backdrop. The photographer chose a horizontal or landscape image as opposed to a vertical or portrait image. He pretty much amputated us at the torso. This was very unflattering and caused the backdrop to be the focus of the picture. The picture would have had to be cropped at the sides to make it balanced. I viewed other photos of passengers and they were just as bad. Some of the pictures were taken in front of the Grand Foyer staircase. I don’t know what the big attraction was to that but it just made for a bad picture because there were other passengers walking down the stairs in the background. In some shots you would see just legs walking down the stairs. They really should have roped off the top of the staircase so people wouldn’t walk down. Apparently common sense isn’t so common. Why someone would walk down the stairs when they see someone having a picture taken is beyond me. It is also my opinion that formal pictures or any picture you agree to pose for against a backdrop look better in a matte finish not a glossy finish. I realize that others may think differently. The somewhat candid shots in the MDR or lounges and the pictures they take while you are in port are fine on glossy paper.

Food and Beverages

I saved the food and beverage portion of the review for last because it was the most disappointing part of the trip. After reading rave reviews on the Celebrity board and speaking with friends and relatives who have sailed on Celebrity I was a bit confused what the big fuss was all about. We all know that food is subjective but I don’t know anyone who likes cold scrambled eggs and warm melted ice cream. My disappointment doesn’t come from the quality of the food buy more from how it was prepared. On embarkation night I ordered the prime rib. It was cooked to perfection and melted in my mouth. It was served with string beans that were fresh and crisp. They were terrific. Unfortunately that was the only meal the entire week that I truly enjoyed. On the first formal night my wife and I both ordered the Shrimp scampi. The shrimp seemed to be grilled and they were served over pasta with a cream sauce. It is my fault that I didn’t actually read the description. I just assumed garlic and oil. However the shrimp were dry and tough and the pasta was a sticky mess. Since it was the wild game menu that night I would have ordered the shrimp no matter how it was prepared. We also ordered an appetizer from the always available side of the menu because nothing on the evening side appealed to us. We ordered the crab stuffed mushrooms. I was expecting a mushroom stuffed with crab and maybe a bit of breadcrumbs. What we received was a soupy mess. Apparently Celebrity at one time served escargot every night. I guess with the price of snails so high they stopped and reinvented a way to use the escargot dishes. Basically what we were served was an escargot dish stuffed with a piece of mushroom and I didn’t even taste crab, topped with a yellow creamy sauce. It was like eating individual shots of cream of mushroom soup. I can’t believe they serve this every night. Three of the nights I ordered what the Chef recommended which was the veal chop, Chicken Saltimbocca, and Veal Cordon Bleu. These were good but nothing to rave about. The veal chop was dry and prepared like Shake n Bake. It couldn’t hold a candle to the veal chop that I ate in Sabatini’s. Another disappointment was the Rib eye I ordered on night. It was a very good cut of meat tender and not over cooked. However it was way over salted. Even my wife who practically eats with the salt shaker in her hand said it was even too salty for her. It’s a shame because I could have really enjoyed that meal. With all of this I can say I truly enjoyed all of the vegetable side dishes in both the MDR and the buffet. Maybe I just need to be vegetarian on Celebrity.

The Buffet

I knew that the buffet was not going to be the same as on Princess, just based on the limited hours that Celebrity has set. I enjoy breakfast at the buffet on Princess more than in the MDR. On Celebrity it was the complete opposite. I didn’t like the different made to order stations. I just like to pick up my food eat it and get on with the day. Everything in the buffet seemed to be a chore. There was a chef making individual omelets and eggs to order. On a port day I don’t have time for that especially since they are being made one at a time. I would skip the made to order eggs and just get the under cooked runny cold scrambled eggs. The other issue is that they didn’t have all of the side dishes with the scrambled eggs. One station had Canadian bacon and hash browns while the other station had American bacon and home fries. If you wanted a combination of American bacon, hash browns and scrambled eggs you needed to go to two stations. The waffles, French toast, and pancakes were at another station at the back of the buffet. There was just a lot of walking back and forth the way it was set up. One night we decided to eat at the buffet for dinner. My wife got a baked potato and roast beef at the front of the Oceanview Café but she had to walk to the back to get sour cream. She asked why they didn’t have sour cream where the baked potatoes were being served and the answer was that they keep it at the back station. I truly missed the full salad bar, grilled chicken, and pizza that Princess serves. Even the soft serve ice cream at scoops was better than the melted homemade ice cream that I received in the buffet and the MDR on Celebrity. Celebrity ice cream is better served with a straw than a spoon. Given the amount of time it takes to get breakfast in the buffet (15-20 minutes for an omelet) it is my opinion that the MDR is a better place to eat. However on the day of disembarkation I ordered scrambled eggs in the MDR and they were cold and runny and the ice cream in the MDR is also melted. At least Celebrity is consistent.

On a positive note the coffee in the buffet is fresh ground coffee not the on tap swill that Princess serves.

We decided to order the classic alcohol beverage package because it wasn’t much more in price than what we have paid for drinks as we go on Princess. This turned out to be a good investment as I used the package in way that I didn’t expect to. One morning I couldn’t find half and half at the buffet. They had milk and the individual coffee cream that I need to use 8 of to make my coffee light enough. Then the light bulb went off. I had a drink package. The Sunset bar was just steps away. From that point on I had Baileys in my coffee every morning. Another night at around 11:00 pm I wanted a cup of coffee. I went up to the buffet that has coffee and tea 24 hours. The only station that was open was out of coffee. Yep, just my luck. Then I remembered that I had a drink package and Café Al Bacio was on deck 5. I wish I would have thought of it sooner since my room was on deck 3, and the buffet was on 10. My simple cup of coffee turned into a cocktail with Baileys. I ordered it to go and walked down 2 flights to my room. I never have a problem with drinking the ships water but on several occasions the water tasted like it came from the hot tub in the solarium. It was over chlorinated. We decided to order bottled water for the remainder of the trip. Something I never needed to do on Princess. Surprisingly the service at the bars and lounges was excellent considering that many passengers received the drink package free when they booked the cruise. The package worked out in our favor for this cruise but if I was sailing a more port intensive itinerary such as Europe I wouldn’t purchase it.

 

Conclusion

As far as service, overall ambiance and passenger demographic I think both lines are alike. While we prefer the stateroom on Celebrity the food on Princess can’t be beat. If given the same itinerary for the same price I would choose Princess over Celebrity, However Celebrity seems to be offering better Caribbean itineraries at this time so until Princess can meet my needs I will continue to monitor other lines.

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Thanks for the review! I too will be on the Summit next March for a 7 Day Southern Caribbean. I love Princess and we took the 7 day out of San Juan with Princess last year but they pulled out of there. So now I got stuck with Celebrity. But at least they are giving me free liquor:D and a nice OBC. lol

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:) Thanks for your review - very balanced.

 

Princess is our favorite ... but we also very much enjoy cruising on Celebrity from time to time.

 

As we all know, food is very subjective.

Princess and Celebrity are the only two cruise lines we've sailed where we are happy enough with the food in the MDR to NOT need to have dinner in a $pecialty restaurant almost every night. :D

 

LuLu

~~~~

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Thank you so much for the comparison! Princess is my favorite and also the only line I've ever cruised on. I have wondered how the Celebrity cruises have compared and I have started to look at other cruiselines to get a different Caribbean itinerary than the ones I've traveled on with Princess. But judging by your review...I think I will stick with what I like - Princess! :)

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Interesting post contrasting Celebrity and Princess. We have sailed many times with Princess, but tried Celebrity in March. I have to say that the meals on Celebrity are not very good--over cooked, little seasoning or flavor, one night the meat was so tough that the sharp knife could not cut it and that was true of other diners that evening. Very disappointing. Celebrity's décor was lovely, entertainment ok, but the food in main dining room and at the stations in the buffet was not as good as Princess, in our opinion.

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Never tried Celebrity, but love Princess and enjoy Royal Caribbean on itineraries/time of year that Princess isn't an option. Thanks for your review!

 

Ps...you guys look from your avatar like you are good subjects for the photographer!!:)

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Thanks for the great review. Our son and his wife were on this cruise with you and it was their first time on Celebrity after only sailing with RCCL. They thoroughly enjoyed themselves. It was a very interesting comparison.

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Thank you for your review.... our favourite line is Princess too. However, we did a Celebrity cruise a couple of years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. There are differences on each line but we found the Buffet better on Celebrity and the MDR better on Princess. Celebrity dining room was very ordinary but the buffet was wonderful (except for the coffee.... couldn't get a hot one in the buffet the whole 15 days, so gave up and drank tea or hot chocolate (which was free on Celebrity))

 

We are booked on Celebrity Solstice in January so we will see if things have changed over the past few years. :D

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Thanks for your review. We are elite on Princess and elite on Celebrity, cruise HAL and Cunard, just finished a NCL - Jade cruise.

 

Agree with your comments and comparisons.

 

We don't think the food on Celebrity is better. Service is not better either. On Princess we can generally order off the menu in advance, Celebrity is a lot less flexible and accomodating.

 

Each line has its pluses and minues. They are all very similar.

 

We are booked in the future with Princess, HAL and Celebrity... so we are not really loyal to any line.

 

Our experience on the Jade in the Mediterranean in April of this year was actually very similar to our cruise on the Celebrity Equinox in 2009 in the Mediterranean. The cost was the only difference NCL was a lot cheaper.

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Have just read your review and would like to say that I was impressed, we have been on two Celebrity cruises and found them to be very good indeed, we also thought that they had used the escargot dishes for the mushrooms, we are going on our first Princess cruise in July and are really looking forward to it so will have to see how it compares, with what you have said I think we will be well pleased, thanks again for the info.

 

Cheers

 

J

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Thanks for the well thought out review! As a Celebrity and Princess crusier, we were glad to see you had similar thoughts as we do! We do favor Princess slightly, but would sail Celebrity anytime as well. Until Princess opens up some new itineraries we always have Celebrity and maybe others on stand-by!

Cheers!

Ken

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We've sailed mostly on Princess but recently tried Celebrity Eclipse to the Caribbean. The ship was beautiful. We were surprised to find the balcony staterooms and bathrooms noticeably larger than on Princess. The food was excellent in the MDR, however the buffet layout was terrible. Food there was just ok. We prefer the buffet food and layout on Princess. Entertainment and staff are pretty comparable. I really missed the self serve laundry on our 14 day sailing and will consider Princess first with cruises of 10 days or longer just for that benefit. As we generally choose itinerary first and cruise line second, all things being equal, we'll probably go with Princess.

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Thanks for the review. We've never been on Celebrity but I hear how similar it is to Princess. Maybe one day. The food concerns me though. We like to eat.:)

The food on Celebrity was exceptional last month on the Equinox;)

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While I appreciate your review, I have found that the Celebrity Summit and Princess couldn't be more different. We chose the Summit last summer to see Bermuda and had higher expectations. Princess was MUCH better in all areas, however I give the edge to Celebrity in entertainment. I found the Summit seriously lacking in decor, class, food, cleanliness, and staff service/skill. To date, for us after 24 cruises, the Summit was the worst cruise ship we have ever been on. Perhaps, the newer ships are a lot better.

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Thank you so much for the comparison! Princess is my favorite and also the only line I've ever cruised on. I have wondered how the Celebrity cruises have compared and I have started to look at other cruiselines to get a different Caribbean itinerary than the ones I've traveled on with Princess. But judging by your review...I think I will stick with what I like - Princess! :)

 

Went on my first Princess cruise on the Crown in Feb. 2013. Am Elite on Celebrity. The lines are more similar than they are different. Would agree that meats in MDR are superior on Princess; but appetizers, salads, soups, and desserts are better on Celebrity. Thought buffet is generally better on Celebrity, but that varies from ship to ship. However, Celebrity does not have International Cafe which my group fell in love with. The Solstice class ships also differ from the older M class ships. Bottom line is that , although I slightly prefer Celebrity, would happily cruise either depending in price and itinerary. I plan on booking a Princess New England cruise because Celebrity does not offer a shorter itinerary. As noted on these boards, opinions are subjective and you should give Celebrity a try.

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while I've done numerous Princess cruises I did try Celebrity recently..the Equinox to be exact. I had mixed feelings about it. I did think that the cabins were superior to those of Princess though I prefer the Princess storage space - can't beat that closet area but then we have the size of the bathrooms that give the definite edge to Celebrity. I also found the entertainment on Celebrity far superior to that of Princess but that's about it. In terms of food Celebrity failed miserably (only in my view of course). It's not only the preparation of the food that I was disappointed in - though that was an issue - it was the lack of creativity in what they served from day to day. The buffet quickly became a bore because..aside from one central area and the salad bar - the corner areas where they offered Mexican, Chinese, Indian and Italian cuisines failed miserably because the dishes were exactly the same every single day..same offerings for lunch..same offerings for dinner too. I love going to the Princess buffets because the selection changes daily and in fact changes from lunchtime to dinner time too..something that sadly doesn't happen on Celebrity.

 

The nice thing about trying something else is that you appreciate even more what you have in the first place..not saying that I wouldn't try Celebrity again..not saying that I didn't like some things on Celebrity...but all things equal my first choice would always be Princess.

 

Camelia

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In 2011 we did a Med cruise on Celebrity Equinox (our 1st Celebrity cruise) and a month later we were on a Ruby Princess Caribbean cruise. I agree with some of your comparisons - especially regarding the theater seating. I also like the Celebrity cabins much better, especially the bathroom and shower, and think the bedding is a lot more comfy too. The public spaces on the Celebrity Equinox throughout the ship are all beautifully and artfully designed, even the pool area. I also thought that in general the MDR food was somewhat better overall on Princess, but not to such a great extent. The Celebrity MDR food just seemed a bit bland to us on that cruise. Where I disagree is in the buffet area. I liked the layout and food MUCH better on the Celebrity ship. The food was very good for a buffet and with the spread out island layout I never felt crowded like I do in the Princess buffet. Also overall, because of the space to passenger ratio, in general the Celebrity ship felt a lot less crowded overall. If price and itinerary were identical, I'd probably lean toward Celebrity, but for our last 2 Caribbean cruises we chose Princess because of more interesting itineraries to us and good price deals.

Edited by austinlw
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Where I disagree is in the buffet area. I liked the layout and food MUCH better on the Celebrity ship. The food was very good for a buffet and with the spread out island layout I never felt crowded like I do in the Princess buffet. Also overall, because of the space to passenger ratio, in general the Celebrity ship felt a lot less crowded overall. If price and itinerary were identical, I'd probably lean toward Celebrity, but for our last 2 Caribbean cruises we chose Princess because of more interesting itineraries to us and good price deals.

 

The OP was on the Summit, which has a completely different buffet layout compared to the Equinox. The buffet on the Summit is a terrible layout - there are no islands. Instead it's like a cafeteria where people line up only both sides of the buffet serve different things, and many of the stations are separated by either a wall or just an empty serving station. As a result, you're forced to walk around the entire thing to see what is being offered. The sandwich and pizza stations are way in the back and you have to walk past a wall and the entrance the serving staff use to get to it. It would be very easy for someone to spend a week on that ship and never realize they're there due to the awkward layout. I only found them as I walked passed them to get to the oceanview bar which is behind the buffet area on the AFT of the ship.

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