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What is different between NCL and more expensive cruise lines?


kessdarln
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I am genuinely curious, what is attractive to customers on the other, more expensive cruise lines? How is the experience different? What makes it worth paying the higher price on HAL, Princess, RCCL, Celebrity? (Not the super expensive lines). I buy based on cost so I'm interested about what is different.

 

Please DO NOT answer with comments about the recent policy changes. I am NOT asking for more complaints about the new policies.. that's being beaten to death in other posts.

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I cruise on three different lines. After trying a few lines, I pretty much stuck with Crystal for years and then added Celebrity into the mix so I could do more cruises and then added NCL into the mix so I could take even more cruises. It is funny, there are a few posters on the Celebrity site who have chastised me for also cruising on that highly budget cruise line, NCL, saying since I cruise with them, I don't know the finer things in life (I told them that is what the Crystal folks feel about the Celebrity folks). LOL.

 

I think Celebrity ships are a little more sophisticated than NCL ships (I'm talking about the ships, not the passengers, because I think the passengers are pretty much the same on both lines). The décor is more subdued. There is only one announcement during the day. Except for my last cruise (where the CD came from NCL), the CD's are more subdued (not a lot of yelling and screaming). I think the dining rooms are nicer and more conducive to having a fine meal. I like that they still have fixed dining times, as it is a great way to meet new friends. The food in the MDR on Celebrity is far superior, in my opinion. Folks dress up more for dinner and there are formal nights, so you have a chance to wear your finery. There are less children (except for holidays and even then not near the amount as on NCL). It is just a different feel, just as Crystal is a different feel than Celebrity. I've never had a bad cruise on any of the 3 lines.

 

I love having three favorite lines, because I have so many options when it comes to itineraries.

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We always sailed Princess until Carnival took them over. It went downhill after that. I'm not sure how they have been in recent years. It's been a good 7 years or so since our last cruise with them. Anyway, in the past, we always enjoyed Princess because it was more upscale - the people, the food, the ships. After that, we started sailing RCCL, and really enjoyed our trips on that line. Not sure what changed with Royal, but after a few trips that were less than stellar, we switched over the NCL. When we first started sailing NCL, we were impressed. The welcome glass of champagne, the nice fellow cruisers, the wonderful crew ... it all seemed rather nice for the price were paying. Let's face it, NCL is not an expensive line, and they certainly weren't back then either! We have take several vacations in all-inclusive resorts, and enjoy the upscale, personalized vacation / service they offer. I would love to find that on a cruise. I have wanted to sail Celebrity, but haven't yet simply because I have kids who definitely enjoy water slides, rock climbing walls, etc. We are now looking for a more upscale sailing experience, while still being able to entertain teenagers. We dress for dinner, so that's not an issue. Anyway, we are researching the YC on MSC, as well as Celebrity. Not sure yet which we will end up with - will probably give them both a try before settling on a new favorite.

Edited by SissasMomE
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Of the four other cruise lines the OP has mentioned, we have cruised on Celebrity, three times. I would say that the comment quoted below by NLH Arizona about Celebrity is pretty spot on, though I would add that we love Select Dining on Celebrity (eat when you want) and would not go likely go back to fixed seating. (I also can't compare the passengers on the two lines, as we've only done TAs on Celebrity, and that's a totally different demographic than, say, a one-week cruise out of NY to Florida and Bahamas, which we just did on NCL.)

 

I will also add that Celebrity's S-class ships are simply stunning. They have a "wow" factor that I haven't experienced on any other ship to date.

 

I think Celebrity ships are a little more sophisticated than NCL ships (I'm talking about the ships, not the passengers, because I think the passengers are pretty much the same on both lines). The décor is more subdued. There is only one announcement during the day. Except for my last cruise (where the CD came from NCL), the CD's are more subdued (not a lot of yelling and screaming). I think the dining rooms are nicer and more conducive to having a fine meal. I like that they still have fixed dining times, as it is a great way to meet new friends. The food in the MDR on Celebrity is far superior, in my opinion. Folks dress up more for dinner and there are formal nights, so you have a chance to wear your finery. There are less children (except for holidays and even then not near the amount as on NCL). It is just a different feel, just as Crystal is a different feel than Celebrity. I've never had a bad cruise on any of the 3 lines.

 

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I cruise on three different lines. After trying a few lines, I pretty much stuck with Crystal for years and then added Celebrity into the mix so I could do more cruises and then added NCL into the mix so I could take even more cruises. It is funny, there are a few posters on the Celebrity site who have chastised me for also cruising on that highly budget cruise line, NCL, saying since I cruise with them, I don't know the finer things in life (I told them that is what the Crystal folks feel about the Celebrity folks). LOL.

 

 

 

I think Celebrity ships are a little more sophisticated than NCL ships (I'm talking about the ships, not the passengers, because I think the passengers are pretty much the same on both lines). The décor is more subdued. There is only one announcement during the day. Except for my last cruise (where the CD came from NCL), the CD's are more subdued (not a lot of yelling and screaming). I think the dining rooms are nicer and more conducive to having a fine meal. I like that they still have fixed dining times, as it is a great way to meet new friends. The food in the MDR on Celebrity is far superior, in my opinion. Folks dress up more for dinner and there are formal nights, so you have a chance to wear your finery. There are less children (except for holidays and even then not near the amount as on NCL). It is just a different feel, just as Crystal is a different feel than Celebrity. I've never had a bad cruise on any of the 3 lines.

 

 

 

I love having three favorite lines, because I have so many options when it comes to itineraries.

 

 

The best meal at sea I have ever experienced was in Normandie on Celebrity

Summit. (Not counting Chef's Tables.)

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Love the suites on HAL...the balconies are huge! The free laundry for suite pax is a big plus also. The suites have more than ample closet space and large bathrooms. There certainly is a different vibe on the two Dam ships we sailed on (Zuiderdam and Westerdam) and if they would provide dedicated butler service to the suites we would cruise more often because their itineraries are interesting and go to places we want to visit.

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The Summit is my favorite Celebrity ship, I cruised her in January and have already booked another on her.

 

 

Only once for me to Alaska. Would like to again, for a change in itinerary.

 

I loved that cruise. It is a great memory. Di not know why I have not gone back to X. Hmmm.

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OP --- The difference in the cruise lines is SALESMANSHIP !

 

If they can convince people their product is better quality, they can charge more for it.

 

Some companies call that --Selling the "perception" of quality. You don't necessarily have to provide a better quality product, you just have to sell it as better.

 

Example -- Give me a good meal, but if you wear white gloves to serve it, is it better ????

Edited by swedish weave
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One day I'll splurge and do a suite... sounds fabulous. What is on your bucket list for cruising in 2016?

 

Love the suites on HAL...the balconies are huge! The free laundry for suite pax is a big plus also. The suites have more than ample closet space and large bathrooms. There certainly is a different vibe on the two Dam ships we sailed on (Zuiderdam and Westerdam) and if they would provide dedicated butler service to the suites we would cruise more often because their itineraries are interesting and go to places we want to visit.

 

Getting ready for some bucket list cruising in 2016!

 

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LOL that's a good question! :D I do think a good long leisurely meal is part of the experience when travelling - a must for me and I especially love trying regional dishes.

 

Example -- Give me a good meal, but if you wear white gloves to serve it, is it better ????

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Disagree that the difference is salesmanship. As you go from mainstream cruising to premium and premium plus, there are generally fewer people -- more crew per passengers -- larger cabins -- less nickel and diming -- less children........ The list goes on and on.

 

IMO, mainstream cruising is ideal for young families. There are tons of things to do - lots of activities for children and the prices are low (unless you splurge on the items that cost $$$). When you get to upper premium, like Oceania, the ships are too small to offer "great" shows, there are few activities for children (and not that many for adults) and many young people find it pretty boring.

 

In general, in the "premium" category, Celebrity seems to be rated the highest (over Princess and HAL). I find it interesting that Celebrity (owned by RCCL), tend to be looked at as separate cruise lines. However, Princess and HAL (even their luxury cruise line Seabourn) are frequently mentioned in the same sentence as Carnival.

 

So, IMO, NCL needs to be where it is -- in the main stream category. However, it needs to be #1 in that space.

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I've not done much research on any cruise lines outside of NCL. I have looked at Disney - which I think is considered more upscale. Back to perception of quality - I'd really like to know what you get. DCL is about 2x the cost over NCL for my current booking. (5 in a balcony suite.) Knowing I could go to the GV suite for the same cost as a balcony on Disney keeps NCL safe for now, even with the Royal Cluster F... :mad:that Del Rio is causing to go on right now.

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Kessdarln, we are doing Alaska and Panama Canal next year both on the Pearl and both 10 days. We are looking at Paul Gauguin for Tahiti and DH will be going to Ireland with our son. We enjoy the NCL product but are certainly open to other lines.

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Disagree that the difference is salesmanship. As you go from mainstream cruising to premium and premium plus, there are generally fewer people -- more crew per passengers -- larger cabins -- less nickel and diming -- less children........ The list goes on and on.

 

IMO, mainstream cruising is ideal for young families. There are tons of things to do - lots of activities for children and the prices are low (unless you splurge on the items that cost $$$). When you get to upper premium, like Oceania, the ships are too small to offer "great" shows, there are few activities for children (and not that many for adults) and many young people find it pretty boring.

 

In general, in the "premium" category, Celebrity seems to be rated the highest (over Princess and HAL). I find it interesting that Celebrity (owned by RCCL), tend to be looked at as separate cruise lines. However, Princess and HAL (even their luxury cruise line Seabourn) are frequently mentioned in the same sentence as Carnival.

 

So, IMO, NCL needs to be where it is -- in the main stream category. However, it needs to be #1 in that space.

Have to agree. If a cruise line depended on salesmanship and didn't offer a better product, they wouldn't be around long. Good salesmanship can sell you a silk purse, but when you get it and find out it's a pig's ear, usually one would not be that happy and would never go back to that salesperson. Also, in addition to the larger cabins, fewer passengers and more crew member, the food is much, much better. Edited by NLH Arizona
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Ohh, Paul Gauguin - jealous! I would love to taken one of his Adriatic to Rome trips or French Riviera to Barcelona trips.. way out of my budget. I love the Pearl. I took her to Alaska out of Seattle a few years ago. You'll have a great time!

 

Kessdarln, we are doing Alaska and Panama Canal next year both on the Pearl and both 10 days. We are looking at Paul Gauguin for Tahiti and DH will be going to Ireland with our son. We enjoy the NCL product but are certainly open to other lines.
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Thanks for the kind thoughts! We have sailed on the Pearl several times and she is probably our favorite NCL ship (other than the Norway). We have sailed with NCL since the early 90's with some HAL and RCCL thrown into the mix.

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I really like Princess over Carnival and NCL. More Classy for lack of a better word. The ship was really nice and well kept up.

I disagree with it is just salesmanship.

However I think Carnival and NCL are perfectly good lines and would sale on them any time. I do like NCL the least though.

Edited by sprint180
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This is an interesting post, consider me subscribed. We would definitely entertain a step up, like Celebrity (if it is a step upwards). Our fear is that we may be bored or that it won't have the right amenities to keep the kids entertained. I'll check back in here later, hopefully there will be even more thoughtful posts.

 

Oh, the funny thing about having a meal served from a white glove......if you think back to your college days, now zoom in on psych class and 'what is reality?'...a person's reality is whatever they perceive it to be. So, even given the same food, if the glove successfully gives them the perception of a finer experience, then they will walk away having enjoyed a finer experience. 3 people in the same situation could all have very different feelings about it, it comes down to how they interpret the event. Perception is reality. Brains are strange things. :D

Edited by Kingofwylietx
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We are booked on NCL Jade for a trans-atlantic in late October because it fit our schedule and the price is very good. We cruised NCL in 2005 and found it to be so-so, a lot of annoying sales pressure especially pushing drinks every minute if you were reading in a lounge or outside by the pool.... but here we are, booked again and unsure about our choice but I guess we'll manage. We're not big room service folks but occasional, and sometimes we like to bring a snack to the room but if wind up paying an additional $50 at least we began with a very good price. We usually book an inside or OV room but have taken a balcony on Jade... the rooms on NCL are Spartan and I recall the beds were awful... I'm hoping they have improved.

 

Here are some of the things I have enjoyed about different lines we've been on. You can see in my signature block what our cruise history is:

 

HAL - smaller ships have better space-to-passenger ratios, larger rooms, couches in insides (all rooms on the older ships, some rooms on the new ships) and OV rooms, bathtubs in OV, guest speakers series on longer than 7night cruises, free computer classes with a lot on photography, great libraries with comfy chairs sofas and recliners, big views and a librarian to help you, free ipods with tours of the ship's artwork, free DVD selections for your DVD player in all rooms, padded teak deck chairs and the very walkable full "circle" promenade deck, high quality foods, liberal hours of hand-dipped ice cream, pizza, taco bar, grill, excellent room service including full breakfasts even on disembarkation day and live classical music, plus self-service laundries on the older ships.

 

Princess: Fresh water pools, very good entertainment and guest speakers, excellent buffet lay-outs and very liberal buffet hours, comfortable atriums with entertainment .... but smaller rooms, no couches until you get to suites, not even with balconies.... although generous sized balconies. Nice perks like free internet for medium-level loyalty tiers.

 

Celebrity: They have open dining down to a science, excellent entertainment, also have couches in inside and OV and balcony rooms, excellent entertainment, really great pizza, very elegant ships and wonderfully comfortable beds.

 

Carnival: Large rooms, good prices, water slides and if you can find a unique long itinerary (like we did going from LA to NY around Cape Horn) you get a clientele that isn't college age.

 

Overall, my motto is that "It's hard to have a bad day on cruise ship." Every line has pros and cons and usually go for schedule/itinerary and price. And we've always had good service on every cruise, every line.. maybe not always perfect but always good.

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I have wanted to sail Celebrity, but haven't yet simply because I have kids who definitely enjoy water slides, rock climbing walls, etc. We are now looking for a more upscale sailing experience, while still being able to entertain teenagers.

 

One feature I recently noticed for teens on Celebrity that just sounded like a lot of fun is that they give them GoPros. Including while on shore, on excursions, etc. And then on the last sea day they help them edit their footage.

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We are booked on NCL Jade for a trans-atlantic in late October because it fit our schedule and the price is very good. We cruised NCL in 2005 and found it to be so-so, a lot of annoying sales pressure especially pushing drinks every minute if you were reading in a lounge or outside by the pool.... but here we are, booked again and unsure about our choice but I guess we'll manage. We're not big room service folks but occasional, and sometimes we like to bring a snack to the room but if wind up paying an additional $50 at least we began with a very good price. We usually book an inside or OV room but have taken a balcony on Jade... the rooms on NCL are Spartan and I recall the beds were awful... I'm hoping they have improved.

 

Here are some of the things I have enjoyed about different lines we've been on. You can see in my signature block what our cruise history is:

 

HAL - smaller ships have better space-to-passenger ratios, larger rooms, couches in insides (all rooms on the older ships, some rooms on the new ships) and OV rooms, bathtubs in OV, guest speakers series on longer than 7night cruises, free computer classes with a lot on photography, great libraries with comfy chairs sofas and recliners, big views and a librarian to help you, free ipods with tours of the ship's artwork, free DVD selections for your DVD player in all rooms, padded teak deck chairs and the very walkable full "circle" promenade deck, high quality foods, liberal hours of hand-dipped ice cream, pizza, taco bar, grill, excellent room service including full breakfasts even on disembarkation day and live classical music, plus self-service laundries on the older ships.

 

Princess: Fresh water pools, very good entertainment and guest speakers, excellent buffet lay-outs and very liberal buffet hours, comfortable atriums with entertainment .... but smaller rooms, no couches until you get to suites, not even with balconies.... although generous sized balconies. Nice perks like free internet for medium-level loyalty tiers.

 

Celebrity: They have open dining down to a science, excellent entertainment, also have couches in inside and OV and balcony rooms, excellent entertainment, really great pizza, very elegant ships and wonderfully comfortable beds.

 

Carnival: Large rooms, good prices, water slides and if you can find a unique long itinerary (like we did going from LA to NY around Cape Horn) you get a clientele that isn't college age.

 

Overall, my motto is that "It's hard to have a bad day on cruise ship." Every line has pros and cons and usually go for schedule/itinerary and price. And we've always had good service on every cruise, every line.. maybe not always perfect but always good.

 

I love your breakdown of the cabins per cruise line.

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