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Steelers0854

A Princess becomes a Royal, a comparison of our first RCCL Cruise.

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DW and I are mostly Princess cruisers, in our 30’s. Since hitting Platinum we have tried to branch out and try different lines to see what else is out there. Recently, we have done DCL and Carnival and now we just got back from our first RCCL cruise on the Oasis. Here is a little breakdown as to some differences.

 

Here is the link to my live from where there are a bunch of photos and a breakdown of menus etc.

 

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2621446

 

TL;DR: It was a similar experience to what we have had on Princess but Princess wins out on some key areas for us. We will definite travel on RCCL again, but Princess is still our preferred line.

 

Pre Cruise

 

On the Oasis class ships you can plan quite a bit ahead of time, and in fact you need to to some extent. You can reserve specialty dining, make reservations for My Time Dining (Anytime dining) and make reservations for certain key shows (Ice skating show, aqua theater show, certain headliners and Cats). While I try not to plan my cruises in advance I am glad i did on RCCL otherwise its a mess trying to get into some of these shows without a reservation.

 

The Food

 

Food is very subjective, so these are our thoughts (mine and DW’s), YMMV. We had my time dining (with standing 5:30 reservations) and we purchased ahead of time a 3 night specialty dining package for about $80pp, which made the cost per night about $26pp. You could also purchase a 1 night dining package (only for the first night) or 5 night or full voyage packages.

 

MDR

 

We weren’t impressed with the quality of food in the MDR. The service was outstanding though. We were always at a table for 2 in the same section with the same waitstaff. The food mostly lacked flavor, and was just boring. I usually can find something each night to be excited to try and there was one night I found nothing on the menu that looked interesting, and I will literally eat just about anything. Princess creams RCCL on MDR food quality, menu diversity etc.

 

They did have lunch in the MDR, and on the first day it was great. They do their MDR lunch very differently, its a combination buffet and sit down menu. We really liked the setup actually.

 

Specialty Restaurants

 

Some of the best food we have had on any cruise period. There are I think 6 specialty restaurants on board (I may be missing 1). They range in price from $20-$45pp, most are around $35pp. Chops (think Crown Grill), Giovanni’s (think Sabatini’s), 150 CP -(Think Share), Sabor is a Mexican restaurant and Izumi (think Benihana’s). We ate at Chops ($45pp) 1 night and Giovanni’s ($35pp) 2 nights. The service was always excellent and the food exceeded my expectations each time. We have done Crown Grill before and in my opinion Chops beat them by a mile on quality and cooking of the steaks. We have never eaten at Sabatini’s but Giovanni’s had one of the best meals of my cruising life. Sabor ($20pp) had some fantastic menu items, great guacamole and was a wonderful lunch alternative. Overall RCCL beats Princess out of the gates on Specialty Dining.

 

Buffet

 

I think RCCL’s Oasis had the best buffet out there, with some caveats. I never had an issue with overcrowding, and we went at both peak and off peak times. The layout was great, the food was always hot and the food at breakfast and dinner was stellar. The food selection at lunch was not the best, but it grew on me as we progressed through the cruise. My biggest complaint is the operating hours. This is where Princess really excels. No matter what time of day it is, Princess always has one side of the buffet open. This makes it always easy to grab a quick snack at any time during the day. Plus their buffet stays open til 11pm. There were gaps in the day on RCCL, especially between lunch and dinner where it was closed altogether. Having the buffet close at 8:45pm seems unnecessarily early. I would love to see expanded hours with a limited selection on RCCL, that would make the buffet perfect. Princess still wins buffet wars IMO.

 

Other venues

 

Operating hours on RCCL seemed confusing. Every day places like the hot dog house, Wipeout cafe (think trident grill), etc had different operating times. I know while we are in port there isnt a demand but it would have been nice to have some consistency, and later hours. The hot dog house for example would close at 6, so if you wanted that for dinner you had to get there early. While we are on the subject of the hot dog house it was the best hot dog I have had in a long time, I am so glad this place replaced the donut shop onboard. Let’s talk the Wipeout Cafe. This was a poor replacement for the Trident grill, oh how i missed the trident grill. If you wanted a made to order hamburger you had to go pay $10 at Johnny rockets. All the burgers at Wipeout or the buffet were precooked laying on a platter for you to pickup. No chicken sandwiches etc.

 

The lack of food rotation on RCCL was also disappointing. From the MDR lunch to the food at Cafe Promenade (think International Cafe) it never changed, ever. It was always the same food each day. It would be nice if they mixed it up a bit with different offerings.

 

I have to give the win to Princess on the overall food, with that one exception of Specialty dining.

 

Entertainment

 

RCCL has the best entertainment at sea, with the slight exception of DCL. And its really really close to be completely honest. The quality of the acts and the performers were unmatched. I am always used to the cruise ship style performer, just an ok singer or just an ok actor, these guys gave their counterparts on land a run for their money. From the ice skating show to the aqua theater it was some of the best entertainment we had seen in a long time. Cats needs to go away. Sorry, but its time to move on with so many wonderful broadway shows out there, put Cats out of its misery and move forward. We love broadway shows, and regularly go to them at home. The performers, costumes, and sets were all wonderful in Cats, the story, not so much. But Princess has better entertainment in the smaller venues, like in the Piazza or Crooners, Explorers Lounge etc. But overall RCCL wins on entertainment.

 

Service

 

From soup to nuts the service onboard was excellent, and everything we would expect while cruising. We never had an issue, the staff all over the ship went above and beyond to meet and exceed our expectations. Our cabin Steward, Christian, was one of the best we have had.

 

Cabin

 

Our balcony stateroom on RCCL was more like a minisuite on Princess, and thus I think had better value for the money. We had a very nice couch, and while the closet wasnt as great the layout of the room was excellent. DW loved the fact she didnt have to fight off the evil shower curtain because they had a door, they also had a handy foot rail in the shower for her to use which she loved. Also there was a nice soft night light that lit up the whole bathroom at night. The beds were comfortable and the balcony was about 3 times the size of those on Royal Class ships. RCCL wins the cabin category.

 

Ship

 

We didnt do the zip line, flowrider or rock climbing, but we enjoyed the ship as a whole. The concepts for different neighborhoods was a nice touch. The Promenade was a wonderful place to walk around. Central Park was a relaxing space to enjoy every day, and the boardwalk held a fun atmosphere. Where RCCL failed us personally is a lack of places to sit and enjoy people watching. You have the promenade but most places are seating for food venues and there is no comfortable seating like what you will find in the Piazza. Also, the lounges were very closed off and segregated from the rest of the ship. No sitting in Crooners and being able to watch whats going on around you or the Explorers lounge area. Most of them were more like Club 6 on the Royal Class ships.

 

Overall

 

We had a great time. We only sail Carnival when we go with family as thats all they sail because they look for literally the cheapest option out there and nothing else. Disney was wonderful but insanely expensive. NCL was good but nothing great. I think we found our second favorite line. While it didnt unseat our favorite, Princess, it was damn close. I am not sure that Oasis Class is the best fit for us. I think when we book our next RCCL cruise it will be on a smaller (not small but closer to the size we are used to 2-3k passengers) ship. I never once felt like the ship was crowded, and that in and of itself was impressive. We wouldn’t hesitate to book another cruise on RCCL at any point and I would encourage anyone else who hasnt tried it to give it a whirl, you’ll constantly be surprised with new experiences. I would say at the end of the day there are more similarities than differences other than demographic. I think the average person sailing RCCL is a family with 2 kids in their teens. Certainly found a good amount of older folks on board but not many youngsters (early 20’s) partying it up like on Carnival..

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Very nice review.....thanks!

 

I've mostly sailed on mid-large size ships, but recently tried a very small ship and enjoyed the differences it offers. But I'd also like to try a huge ship (Oasis class) to see what it's like too. Your comparisons have given me some things to think about. Since the huge ships can't go to many off-beat ports, though, I think the actual ship would be much of the destination.

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Thanks for posting your comparisons. My brother and his wife like Royal Caribbean cruises for the entertainment and facilities for dancing. We haven't sailed on a Royal Caribbean ship in so long that our comparisons would be out-dated.

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Excellent comparison! We have been looking for another line other than Princess, just to mix it up some.

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Posted (edited)

Good comparison. We would like to try the Oasis class ships. We've done 1 cruise on RCCL on Serenade of the Seas, and it was our least favorite cruise that we have done. We found the same food issues as you, but there were MANY less options than on Oasis (no pizza, no pool grill). They only had the Windjammer, Park Cafe (which is in the Adult area with limited hours), and a couple of specialty restaurants. We felt food was very limited..

 

On the flip side, we went into our Carnival Sunshine cruise with zero expectations and had a great time. We thought that Carnival excelled in what I call "comfort food". If we don't cruise DCL, we prefer Princess, but Carnival would be our next choice...

Edited by bmc alabama

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Nice review so thanks for posting. I don't think I would ever go on the gargantuan of the seas as it is way too large. We have been on some of their smaller ships and I saw some similarities to what you posted.

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Enjoyed your review. I sailed the Oasis two weeks once, two weeks after getting off the Regal. Glad we tried it but I’m probably one and done unless family chooses it. While we loved the entertainment and the many pools and adult Solarium, I didn’t think the food in the main dining room, the buffet and the other complimentary venues was as good as the Regal. We were very disappointed in the buffet, the selection, the lack of any service, the cleanliness of the tables and facility, and the hours of service. And the Promenade cafe is no where near the quality of the international cafe.

 

But so glad we tried it!

 

 

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Thanks for this great review. I love your comparison between the lines and ships. We took our first Princess cruise last July and loved it. Have been on the mega Royal Caribbean ships and also their smaller ships. Have Sailed NCL Jade too and it was nice. I agree with you that RCI has some of the best entertainment at sea. Thanks again

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Thank you for the detailed comparison. I considered RC for a fall cruise, but wasn't sure. I would feel more comfortable doing so now.

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Great comparison. I feel the same way. Just off the Royal Princess last week and the food was just better, and tastier than Royal C. or Celebrity in the MDR and Buffet. Chops Grill better than Crown Grill, absolutely. My wife and I have not cruised on Princess for a few years and were pleasantly surprised by the food.

 

While I have no complaints for service on RCCL or Celebrity, Princess's beats them hands down in the buffet. You sit and within a minute or less every-time they are there to take your drink order even if just water. Not a huge deal but when you have a plate of food and utensils already in your hands hunting for a table around all those starving passengers, not having to get a drink is a big plus. Oh and Princess the utensils are already on the table with a spoon.

 

I love all three for different reasons but right now Princess is winning with the food, IMHO.

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Steelers0854:

Thanks for your review....

we are also long time Princess cruisers but will be taking our 2'nd RCI cruise in a few weeks.

You mentioned "We have never eaten at Sabatini’s but Giovanni’s had one of the best meals of my cruising life." Do you remember what you had?.... We will most likely be going to one or 2 specialty restaurants on our cruise. We have always enjoyed Crown and Sabatini's and look forward to Chops and Giovanni's.

Thanks

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Steelers0854:

 

 

 

Thanks for your review....

 

we are also long time Princess cruisers but will be taking our 2'nd RCI cruise in a few weeks.

 

 

 

You mentioned "We have never eaten at Sabatini’s but Giovanni’s had one of the best meals of my cruising life." Do you remember what you had?.... We will most likely be going to one or 2 specialty restaurants on our cruise. We have always enjoyed Crown and Sabatini's and look forward to Chops and Giovanni's.

 

 

 

Thanks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In my first post is a link to my review. The second meal at Giovanni’s was the best I had, I break down our order and include photos. Tuna Crudo, Gnocchi, Ossobuco, were all amazing. Avoid the tiramisu like the plague.

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Great comparison. I feel the same way. Just off the Royal Princess last week and the food was just better, and tastier than Royal C. or Celebrity in the MDR and Buffet. Chops Grill better than Crown Grill, absolutely. My wife and I have not cruised on Princess for a few years and were pleasantly surprised by the food.

 

While I have no complaints for service on RCCL or Celebrity, Princess's beats them hands down in the buffet. You sit and within a minute or less every-time they are there to take your drink order even if just water. Not a huge deal but when you have a plate of food and utensils already in your hands hunting for a table around all those starving passengers, not having to get a drink is a big plus. Oh and Princess the utensils are already on the table with a spoon.

 

I love all three for different reasons but right now Princess is winning with the food, IMHO.

 

Interesting to read that Princess beats X on food. We are looking forward to trying some of Princess’s offerings in a few months time.

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In my first post is a link to my review.

 

Now I know I read that you posted a review but in a true senior moment I forgot. Your meal looks awesome... We will definitely be hitting up Giovanni's .. DW loves mussels so i know what she will be getting.... :)

Thanks

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Now I know I read that you posted a review but in a true senior moment I forgot. Your meal looks awesome... We will definitely be hitting up Giovanni's .. DW loves mussels so i know what she will be getting.... :)

 

Thanks

 

 

 

I still dream about that broth with those mussels, lol you won’t be disappointed. Also they bring out fresh, warm ciabatta bread and oil and vinegar to start. We probably ate 3 loafs haha!

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We've mostly been on RCCL and did our first cruise on Regal in January. Your comparison between the two basically mirrored our thoughts on the two lines. Princess won the point for food; service was great on both. MDR food on RCCL is dull. On our last cruise, I ended up grabbing a burger from Windjammer because there was nothing I liked on the menu or what I had wasn't good. I know food is subjective but I'm not that picky. MDR food on Regal was great. We had planned to try out a specialty dining option but were happy with the MDR menu and didn't bother. Chops on Royal was great.

 

Out mini on Regal was maybe a little larger than a balcony on the RCI ships, but not by much. Better closet.

 

Entertainment we thought was okay on Regal. We've seen so many of the shows on RCI ships more than once and are just bored with them. We haven't been on a mega ship yet, primarily because we sail for the destinations, not the ship, so we may be missing something (and even though we haven't seen Cats onboard, both of us would be in total agreement that it is time for it to go.) But, Royal, at least on the smaller ships, can accommodate most everyone who wants to see a show without having to arrive 45 minutes prior to the start (maybe everyone else has already seen them, too?)

 

We enjoyed the speakers\guest lecturers on Regal, which is something I've never seen on RCI. Did NOT miss the belly flop competition or sexiest man competition from Royal-Princess gets a point for NOT having those. Regal did lose half a point for overuse of the Love Boat horn (that seems to go on forever....)

 

Overall, we gave Princess the win and are sailing with our adult kids and my MIL this July on the Caribbean. We're also trying Uncruise in Alaska in a month, so venturing out to other brands. We'll probably do RCI again but it's nice to see what else is out there.

 

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Another big thanks for the review - I've been thinking about RC, but always hesitated just because it seemed like a kid-heavy line and we're looking for more of an adult vibe. But the entertainment sounds nice. We've done 1 princess and 4 celebrity cruises and love celebrity. Liked Princess very much, but just a tiny bit less than X. But Celebrity's weakness is definitely entertainment....like their guest entertainers. Hate their in-house production shows - but it's all so subjective, right?

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We had a great time. We only sail Carnival when we go with family as thats all they sail because they look for literally the cheapest option out there and nothing else. Disney was wonderful but insanely expensive. NCL was good but nothing great. I think we found our second favorite line. While it didnt unseat our favorite, Princess, it was damn close. I am not sure that Oasis Class is the best fit for us. I think when we book our next RCCL cruise it will be on a smaller (not small but closer to the size we are used to 2-3k passengers) ship. I never once felt like the ship was crowded, and that in and of itself was impressive. We wouldn’t hesitate to book another cruise on RCCL at any point and I would encourage anyone else who hasnt tried it to give it a whirl, you’ll constantly be surprised with new experiences. I would say at the end of the day there are more similarities than differences other than demographic. I think the average person sailing RCCL is a family with 2 kids in their teens. Certainly found a good amount of older folks on board but not many youngsters (early 20’s) partying it up like on Carnival..

 

Thanks for the review. We're long term RCI cruisers who are converted now to Princess and our thoughts on the food in the MDR is one reason why we felt that Princess is ahead of RCI by a notch or two. Since the Oasis was your first RCI ship, if you're ever going to try another RCI ship, I'd suggest go for the Freedom Class ships. They are wonderful ships. They are my favourite class of ship especially with a Promenade room.

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Another big thanks for the review - I've been thinking about RC, but always hesitated just because it seemed like a kid-heavy line and we're looking for more of an adult vibe. But the entertainment sounds nice. We've done 1 princess and 4 celebrity cruises and love celebrity. Liked Princess very much, but just a tiny bit less than X. But Celebrity's weakness is definitely entertainment....like their guest entertainers. Hate their in-house production shows - but it's all so subjective, right?

 

 

 

This trip was during spring break season, while I don’t think it was a major spring break week, we saw very few kids with the exception of the Wipe Out Cafe area but that’s because it’s right next to the kids club.

 

I wouldn’t hesitate to go on RCCL. We got a very adult vibe across the ship.

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Another big thanks for the review - I've been thinking about RC, but always hesitated just because it seemed like a kid-heavy line and we're looking for more of an adult vibe. But the entertainment sounds nice. We've done 1 princess and 4 celebrity cruises and love celebrity. Liked Princess very much, but just a tiny bit less than X. But Celebrity's weakness is definitely entertainment....like their guest entertainers. Hate their in-house production shows - but it's all so subjective, right?

 

We’ve completed 14 on Royal, 10 on X and currently 1 on Princess (soon to be 2 with this year’s sailing) and I have to agree regarding the X in-house productions - I have no idea what any of them are about :D.

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Didn't the RCL ship have a brasserie set up in the MDR for lunches when the MDR was open? That's my favorite part of lunch on RCL although I've never sailed on their mega sized ships. As a D+ I do enjoy the extra perks RCL gives whereas Princess is behind in that category.

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