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schlot

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Im not an experienced cruiser by any means. One HAL cruise and one on the Ruby. We are going on the CB in Jan. 2015 and are super excited. I found the Holland line to be a bit too formal and the average age was quite a bit older than us.

 

Carnival seems to be too rowdy for me in too young of a crowd for us to enjoy.I wanted to ask what other cruise lines will be would be similar to Princess for cruises to the Caribbean.

 

RCCL and Norwegian perhaps?

 

I know there are a lot of variables but service, food, itineraries and cabins would be my main concern.

 

Thanks.

Edited by schlot

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Every line has things they focus on and things they may not do as well in general. Many of these are subjective (food, entertainment, ship design).

 

I think Celebrity is probably closest to Princess in terms of atmosphere.

 

My advice is to try one cruise on each line over time and see what works for you, budget permitting. With that in mind, I always do itinerary first, line and ship second. Service and food can vary so much even within the same line that I don't factor that in at all other than the general theme/style of food on some lines is more to our taste, all else being equal.

 

 

Im not an experienced cruiser by any means. One HAL cruise and one on the Ruby. We are going on the CB in Jan. 2015 and are super excited. I found the Holland line to be a bit too formal and the average age was quite a bit older than us.

 

Carnival seems to be too rowdy for me in too young of a crowd for us to enjoy.I wanted to ask what other cruise lines will be would be similar to Princess for cruises to the Caribbean.

 

RCCL and Norwegian perhaps?

 

I know there are a lot of variables but service, food, itineraries and cabins would be my main concern.

 

Thanks.

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We are in agreement with Loonbeam, we alternate between Celebrity and Princess. We find their standards are very similar and have been pleased with both...

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It really depends on the lenght of your itinerary if you are stricktly looking into Carribean. Also, you are not mentioning your age group or preferred demographic so it is hard to comp. In any case, we have sailed all the lines you mentioned and my thoughts are below:

RCI - just not my cup of tea. Nothing really bad, but I found it always overpriced for the product offered. However, if you are a more adventurous type and might enjoy ice skating/surfboarding/bowling etc. at sea (all extra $) they are absolutely worth a try. I like to enjoy my book and dont be bothered much on vacation, so I sail Princess :)

Carnival - too young and "party" for me. It is a budget line in a lot of aspects, i.e. I enjoy my cold washcloth after day in hot sun, fruit basket in room and ice cream bar... Also fellow passangers on the cruises I have been on were not the most respectful bunch

Norwegian - budget extra $$$ for onboard spending and it is actually a nice line to try. Keep in mind that almost everything costs extra, BUT there are A LOT of choices. Also, very relaxed line - do what you want when you want. Last cruise we did was out of NYC and we enjoyed it, will definitely consider for future cruises. Their price point on Panama Canal is much better than Princess, so may be next year

HAL - too many rules and older crowd. At least on the cruise I have been on. Will not consider again, unless something extraordinary pops up.

Celebrity - havent done in long time. Was not impressed. To me it was similar to HAL.

Again, all above is IMHO. Background - late thirties (me), DH big 50, DS 5, normally sail with 85 yo GM

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Great info so far! Thanks.

 

Im 48 and my wife is 32 if that helps.

Edited by schlot

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We are in agreement with Loonbeam, we alternate between Celebrity and Princess. We find their standards are very similar and have been pleased with both...

 

Totally agree with those comments. To me, Celebrity has a slightly more "with it" and younger vibe and is definitely more techy than Princess. The cabins are much nicer (more space, sofa in balcony cabins, shower clamshell vs. clinging curtain, much better bathroom shelving, etc.) but I've found the cabin steward service and food service to be so much better on Princess, that it keeps me coming back to them.

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We have cruised on all the mass market lines except for Carnival. I would rate our favorites in this order:

RCL/Celebrity

HAL

Princess

Cunard (this low only because it is a bit too formal for us)

NCL

 

We are in our early 60's, been cruising for 12 years and we have never had a bad cruise. We just had more fun on some. As for ranking RCL #1, I do have to say we have not been on the BIG ships with all the bells and whistles. I'd rather leave those ships for multi-generational family cruises where there is something for everyone of all ages. We prefer the mid-size ships where you at least feel like you are on a cruise, not a floating resort.

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First a note regarding Nattie's comment earlier that all of the various amenities on Royal Caribbean are "extra $$$"...They are NOT...Ice skating, surfing, zip lining, etc--all included...

 

That said, here's my thoughts:

First off, I've been on seven different cruise lines--most multiple times...

 

My last three cruises have been on Celebrity (June 2013), Princess (November 2013) and Royal Caribbean (January 2014)...My next two are on Princess (November 2014) and Celebrity (July 2015)...though I'm thinking of booking one for Christmas on either Princess or Royal Caribbean...

 

I've been on four Carnival cruises for one reason or another and one NCL--but don't much care for either...And I've done three with Oceania--who I really like...

 

Everyone has different criteria, different standards, different expectations...What is important in a cruise for some of us is completely irrelevant for others...

 

Every cruise line does a lot of the same things...but has some, sometimes subtle, differences by which they distinguish themselves...

 

That said, here are my thoughts...in my personal order of preference...

 

1) Celebrity: To me, one of the most important factors in any cruise is the spaciousness and comfort. Some cruise lines just jam far too many people on a ship for its size. The thing to look at is NOT the total number of passengers but the "space-per-passenger" ratios. Take the number of gross tons and divide it by the total number of passengers. Celebrity has some of the best ratios in the business. Also, their dining rooms, lounges and showrooms are amply sized for the number of passengers--so waits or lines are virtually nonexistent. It also impacts the service (look also at crew-per-passenger ratios)--which, on Celebrity, is outstanding...The ships are beautiful and elegant. The demographics span all age groups. Ships are not chaotic (as some cruise lines tend to be) but also have plenty to do at all hours...

 

2) Oceania: This one is a little pricier than most, but sometimes bargains are to be found. The other issue is that the crowds tend to be a bit older as they have no kids programs and cruises tend to be longer and higher priced--resulting in an older demographic with more spendable cash. But the food is simply outstanding, service excellent...and the ships also have outstanding space-per-passenger ratios. And great itineraries...But, you may want to hold off on them to you match their age demographic...

 

3) Royal Caribbean: This is my wife's favorite. Yes, there are those incredible amenities--unmatched anywhere in the industry. But, also, the entertainment is unsurpassed. We've twice cruised the Allure now and that ship is simply unreal. For entertainment they have a full Broadway production of "Chicago", a Cirque de Soleil style water acrobatics show, a world class figure skating show, a dedicated small venue comedy club and much more...The ships sopund to some like "a lot of people"...but they are so big that the space-per-passenger ratios actually beat most smaller ships. It is an especially great line to cruise if you are traveling with kids. So much for them to do...and for you too...

 

4) Princess: Hate to say it here, but Princess only comes in at #4 on my list...I still like them, and I think they have an overall good product, but they do fall a little short of the three above in a number of areas--the Showroom is undersized for ships their size, the dining room/anytime system is mismanaged...and the cabins, until you get to the minisuites, don't have sitting room areas (it's not a square footage thing--it's layout and desgn...Celebrity and Royal Caribbean standard cabins have sitting areas with sofas and coffee tables. They can do it as they don't configure the space with unnecessary hallway areas.). Once you do get seated in the dining room, the food and service are good. The cruise has some charm and elegance. The entertainment, though short of Royal Caribbean, is quite good.

 

5) Disney: Okay, I haven't really cruised the "new" Disney...I was on the forerunner--the old Premier--because that was when my kids were really small. But the concept is great. They really wow the little ones--who are so hooked into all things Disney anyway. And they do a very good job in lots of ways...But we have not gone back...because, without 2-6 year olds, what's the point?

 

6) NCL: "Freestyle Cruising", as a concept, sounds great to a lot of folks who haven't really cruised. But it also masks a lot of mediocre standards. And they do cut a few corners to hit a price point.

 

7...and a distant 7) Carnival: Where do I start? Far too many passengers for the space. Cut far too many corners. Advertise "Fun", but their definition of "fun" is a lot of meaningless noise and activity while they constantly bombard you with sales pitches. Just a complete mess in my book...I could go on, but I won't...

 

Also, I haven't yet been on HAL or Costa...and likely won't. My sister and brother-in-law have been on both. They were completely unimpressed with Costa--subpar food, terrible entertainment...and that was all before the latest round of crazy captains and siking ships...

 

HAL she liked initially, but, after her second HAL cruise, decided it wasn't for her...Crowd is decidely older...though space ratios are excellent and food/service very good...She just found the cruises dull...So, we're not ready to go on them all that soon...Maybe when we reach our 70s or 80s!

 

Hope this helps...

 

Good luck...

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Celebrity and Princess are our top favorites. HAL was fine, as was NCL, however just not a great fit for us. We are going on RCI Allure next October to Europe, our first RCI cruise. We do transfer our Celebrity Elite status over to RCI as Diamond, so that was a bonus for us. We'll be on the Royal Princess in 4 weeks for 10 days and we know it will be fabulous, as always!

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We're early fifties, young at heart, and have sailed most of the major lines over the last 10 years (except Carnival/Disney). They're all a little different. This is what we think:

RCI - lots of things to do, big shiny ships, a lot of fun, great service. Perfect for families or couples. Entertainment/food - really good. Definitely will sail again sometime. Really like RCI

Princess - New to princess, but we found them so professional. Gave us a safe feeling that if anything goes wrong they will sort it straight away. We find Princess very relaxing, great deals, and we loved the food. We could be hooked. Sailing again next week :p

Celebrity - Relaxing, made to feel special, our fave line (next to Princess) for a romantic break but they tend to be expensive.

HAL is a little staid, and a bit dull regards activities. The ships are older, creakier - but for the right itinerary, I would go again. The service was great, the food fabulous. We liked HAL

NCl - Ugh. Last two cruises (this year) were terrible. Poor service, poor staff attitude, frequent mistakes, sworn off them forever. Never had a bad cruise till NCL, then two in a row :eek:

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I've found the passengers on my Princess and HAL cruises more alike than different. That fits in with what a poster who has worked in the cruise industry for decades has said.

 

For the past 8 consecutive years the average passenger on the Princess Fleet, worldwide, year round, is 58 years old.

 

For the past 7 consecutive years the average passenger on the Holland America Fleet, worldwide, year round, is 57 years old.

 

However, I've found that the itinerary, embarkation port, and time of year can greatly change the passenger ages. I've been cruising since my mid 20s, a 4-star on HAL and the only time on a HAL cruise where I felt the passengers were OLD was in early December to the Caribbean. If that had been my only experience with HAL, I'd be agreeing with some of the others here. Fortunately the Caribbean is our least desirable area to cruise so we've never again encountered passengers who appeared to be on vacations from an assisted living facility again.

 

That said -

 

The average passenger age on any cruise ship varies dramatically from week to week and month to month.

And although we use historical data to try to predict future cruise info based on past cruises, the trends in recent years have been all over the map.

 

I am on a mid-sized mass market ship this year. The average age on my ship has fluctuated from 53 to 82 over the past 6 months.

These numbers rarely even came close to matching the numbers on the same itineraries at the same times last year.

 

You never know...

 

We'll happily sail on Disney (longer cruises only), Princess or HAL. The only cruise line we don't expect to ever sail on again is Oceania. All of their MANY brochures now go straight into the recycling bin.

Edited by Mary Ellen

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Great info so far! Thanks.

 

I'm 48 and my wife is 32 if that helps.

 

I resisted the entire idea of cruising for years. Finally gave it the big, "Yes, Dear" and went to Alaska on Sea Princess. Fell in love. I "may" cruise another line someday but I don't really see why I would. For us, Princess seems to be "home".

 

Since we have limited cruising dollars we will stick with what we already know we like. You may well be in a better spot financially and therefore able to be more "adventurous" with your cruising selections and be able to sample here and there before deciding if any one line suits you better than another.

 

We are older than you and your wife (we were 58 and 59 on our first cruise in 2011) so that may have colored our view of Princess. I sincerely hope you find a line that works for you as well as Princess has worked for us.

Edited by Thrak

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Schlot,

 

We did an NCL cruise in Nov of 2011. We found the Star to be very similar to Ruby Princess.

 

Main Dining was better on Princess. Buffets were equal. Specialty Steakhouse was better on NCL.(I still dream of the Truffle oiled French fries.)

 

Entertainment was MUCH better oh NCL Star.

 

As you can see in my signature Princess is our favorite, But we would sail NCL again anytime.

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I just got off the CB after a 7 day family vacation. Our last cruise was Celebrity in March of 2013. I mention this as information only - just my opinion - no flames please. There was more noticeable smoking and smoking areas on Princess compared to Celebrity. On the CB, we found we often had to walk through the casino to get to the piazza. The air handling in the casino was sub standard and it smelled of smoke in there continuously, worse during the busy hours. There is also a smoking area right outside the Café Caribe. Every time the doors would open, smoke would blow in. It did not ruin my cruise, but was a noticeable difference between these 2 lines. If you are significantly bothered by smoke, it is something to keep in mind.

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We've only been on Carnival and Princess. Carnival was all right but I'm not into the pool games as they are on Carnival -- the hairy whatever, the stuff the bathing suit with ping pong balls, the lip sync with a banana representing the microphone (really?:rolleyes:) and always to the same song, "Dude Looks Like a Lady." I'm not a complete stick in the mud (at least I hope not), but these are not fun activities to me.

 

When we tried our first Princess cruise, we realized this line was a nice fit for us. And since we're planning to stick with longer (for us two weeks) cruises, it makes sense for us. The cabin fridge. The self-service laundries (besides one of us having an allergy to regular detergent, I also prefer air drying or low heat drying which isn't an option with the ship's laundry service). So some lines like Royal and Celebrity would be out for that reason. Traditional dining (we had anytime a couple of years ago and disliked it immensely...which means NCL is off our list for that and other reasons). It would be nice to have the option to be able to walk around on a formal dining night, even if we decide not to get formally dressed (which means we'll eat elsewhere on the ship and skip the MDR), so Cunard would be out.

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On the CB, we found we often had to walk through the casino to get to the piazza. The air handling in the casino was sub standard and it smelled of smoke in there continuously, worse during the busy hours.

 

It's possible to get to both ends of the ship and still avoid the casino. Use a different deck. Another thing (I have been known to do) is take a deep breath and then walk through quickly. :) That said, Princess has the least amount of smoke compared to Carnival, so those of us on the west coast can choose between the two sailing out of Los Angeles and environs. Princess also has a better casino, generally, which goes smoke-free on formal night.

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Princess is our favorite, followed by Holland America and then Celebrity. I like that HAL is part of Carnival Corp., so I get my shareholder credit. The cruises we've taken on HAL have tended to be in the Caribbean during school breaks (since DH teaches at a community college)--two at Christmas, one during spring break, and one during his end of spring semester break. I like some of the guest entertainers on HAL. They offer a better variety than Princess does. But HAL's production shows have not been great, even compared to the shortened Princess ones. The food is about the same. Some dishes are better than others. Service has generally been good on both, although we had our worst cabin steward ever on a HAL cruise and one of the best ones on our most recent Princess cruise.

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We (I am in my mid 40's and my wife is in her 30's) have mostly sailed Carnival mainly due to them offering cruises out of the nearby port of Galveston and somewhat their price point. However we are not party people and there is a certain party atmosphere encouraged aboard carnival, and a lot of maximizing economy like painted on deck planks. I think the excess drinking and party atmosphere does tend to lead towards a more rowdy crowd, more than once I have been worried a fist fight might break out in line at the MDR on carnival cruises. A couple of years ago after being hooked back in with low price deals on Carnival one too many times my wife and I decided to switch, and I don't think we will be going back. Since then we have sailed Princess once, HAL once, and have another Princess cruise scheduled for November out of the port of Houston. Out of our limited experience with Princess and HAL, I found HAL one notch nicer all the way around, but this may have just been ship to ship variation (food was better, crew interaction was better / more friendly, overall customer relation and communication was better, etc.) I should note the HAL ship was about 2/3 the size of the princess ship. Having said that I am looking forward to our next Princess cruise, but do hope it is better than our last one.

Edited by PenguinLife

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I haven't sailed on any lines except Princess, but based on what I've seen if I wasn't sailing on Princess I think the most likely thing to appeal to me on another line one of the RCCL Oasis or Quantum class ships (I think it would be interesting to try one of the bells-and-whistles ships out.) I'm pretty sure I'm on the younger side of the cruising demographic (mid-to-late Thirties) but Carnival just doesn't appeal to me. I actually think I might like to do HAL once to at least try them out (possibly on something like a west coast repo or Alaska cruise) but given the fact that my usual traveling companions seem to think that Princess is full of old people, I can't imagine what they'd do on a HAL cruise. As a frequent Disneyland visitor (I have had an Annual Pass for a couple of years) I think Disney would be fun to try out too, but given the fact that an inside on Disney for a 7-day Caribbean cruise generally costs as much as a balcony on a 10-day Princess cruise I don't see that happening anytime soon. Not sure what to think on NCL though. We actually had them booked for our Mediterranean trip next year before we switched to Princess, but it sounds like you have to spend a lot of extra money on dining and things like that.

 

I also have some relatives that just did a Caribbean cruise on the MSC Divinia, and they really seemed to like that. You don't hear much about MSC though.

Edited by Vexorg

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Pretty much agree with the general consensus you're reading here.

 

We found NCL fun, but there was definitely more of an emphasis on selling things (sit down in the theatre and multiple servers will stop by and ask if you want a drink). Also, there seemed to be a lot more announcements on NCL (bingo and other for-cost activities).

 

Princess seemed to be a step up from NCL with less garish decorations in the lounges, etc.

 

My one experience on Carnival was not good, but it was a short cruise (party boat) out of Los Angeles. However the pictures of the ships lounges, etc. don't really make me want to go back to them and the YouTube videos of fights on board make me think this is not what I want on my vacation.

 

Although it was many years ago, my cruise on HAL's Rotterdam V in Alaska was wonderful, but there was a group of younger people on board and we all got on really well. I do remember that most of the other passengers seemed to be a bit elderly.

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We've sailed most of the mass market lines and this is our list best to worth. been cruising since 1988, DW and I are 59.

Celebrity

Royal Caribbean

Carnival

Princess (been over 8 years since our last going again this Jan)

HAL

Costa

 

Having said that taking price into consideration, this is how we look at cruising

Have sailed with Carnival the most and will continue unless pricing differences on other lines are under these Guidelines

Carnival best bang for the buck and best steakhouse at sea.

RCCL if less than $200pp more for 7days

Celebrity if less than $300pp more for 7 days

Princess if less than $150pp more for 7 days

HAL not for another 10 years

Costa NEVER AGAIN

Edited by swscruiser
making infomation clearer

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We find Princess and Celebrity to be most alike. Both have a similar passenger base and provide a very good Cruise experience. Even so, Princess is the best All Around Fit for us. :)

HAL is good for port intensive cruises when we actually want to return to an extremely quiet ship and get to bed early. ;)

RCCL is OK ... but not a favorite. They do have very good specialty restaurants.

NCL is OK if in a suite and have dinner in a specialty restaurant every night.

Carnival is a horrible fit for us.

It's been too long since we've cruised on Costa to comment.

LuLu

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It's possible to get to both ends of the ship and still avoid the casino. Use a different deck. Another thing (I have been known to do) is take a deep breath and then walk through quickly. :) That said, Princess has the least amount of smoke compared to Carnival, so those of us on the west coast can choose between the two sailing out of Los Angeles and environs. Princess also has a better casino, generally, which goes smoke-free on formal night.

 

 

I also hate the smell of cigarette smoke in the casino. My DW and I sailed on the CB twice this summer and we would just walk out onto the promenade to avoid the casino. No smell and much better view. To be honest I prefer the layout of the Crown Princess. Essentially , you don't have to go anywhere near the casino if you don't want to.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Cruise Critic Forums mobile app

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It isn't just the Line it is also the ship. No way to really know what will fit you unless you try it on. We like certain ships on most lines. NO BEST!

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We tend to go with Princess or Celebrity depending on the itinerary. Our last two Celebrity Cruises have been so international that announcements were in multiple languages. Makes Muster take a long time.

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