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pugmadkate

How would you compare HAL vs Royal Caribbean?

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Just returned from our very first cruise and we are hooked! We took the Eurodam to Alaska and absolutely loved it.

 

Of course, we’d like to cruise HAL again and we will in the future. However, we can easily drive to Galveston and HAL does not sail from there. So we are considering a Royal Caribbean cruise over Thanksgiving 2018.

 

How do they compare to HAL? What is the same? What is different? Things we enjoyed about HAL included the excellent crew, the overall quiet nature of the ship and the delicious food in the MDR.

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If you enjoyed the overall quiet nature of the ship, then I would stick with HAL.

 

I'm sure there are other, more experienced members who will be along shortly to offer their advice, but for what it's worth, given a choice between the two, I would opt for HAL every time. Our two Royal Caribbean cruises were disappointing, not so much for the quality of the food or the entertainment, but because both ships seemed to focus inward, with very few connections to the sea -- which is our primary reason for cruising.

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Thank you for sharing that, daisy-Mae.

 

The main reason we are considering Royal Caribbean is that we live in South Texas, so would have to add plane tickets onto any HAL cruise. But we sure did love HAL!

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I choose HAL over RCCL without a doubt, and I'm a diamond with RCCL. I like HAL's food, staff and ships much better than RCCL, ie: on HAL, the buffet is plated for you (much more hygienic); absolutely love HAL's pre-made sandwiches; the servers are just better; HAL ships actually have a promenade deck that you can walk around; and it's quieter, so you can enjoy the sea; and last, but not least, HAL has much more varied sailing itineraries, whereas RCCL does pretty much the same thing over and over and over! Just my 2 cents worth....

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Thank you for sharing that, daisy-Mae.

 

The main reason we are considering Royal Caribbean is that we live in South Texas, so would have to add plane tickets onto any HAL cruise. But we sure did love HAL!

One thing to remember. You will only have one choice of a RCCI ship sailing from South Texas. You should compare that ship with HAL ships sailing from other locations. IOW, the ship may have more impact than the line.

 

Nor, would I let the price of an airplane ticket or two be the deciding factor. What, maybe $550 for two? Now compare that to the total cost of a cruise. Also, if you're sailing out of Houston, you only have the choice of the Western Caribbean or the Western Caribbean.

 

That said, we prefer HAL.

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Since you're looking at Galveston, I assume you're thinking about Liberty of the Seas. I've cruised that ship several times. HAL and Liberty are 2 totally different experiences. You'll see a lot more families on RCI, especially over Thanksgiving. Even without the holiday, RCI tends to be a much younger and more active crowd than HAL.

 

First is entertainment. Not even close. Worlds apart. HAL is one of the worst cruise lines for entertainment and RCI is one of the best.....and in their own ranks, Liberty is one of their best entertainers. They put on a 90 minute full production of Saturday Night Fever using real off-Broadway entertainers. The show is one of the best I've seen at sea. Liberty also has an ice rink and the ice show is amazing. It's a venue and show unique to RCI. Liberty also has live entertainment in the piano bar, Latin bar, other lounges, near the main pools, and Royal Promenade. They also do a 70s night party, numerous game shows, karaoke, night pool deck parties, trivia, behind the scenes tours, etc.

 

Another plus is the interactive televisions in the staterooms. You can view your on-board spending account and order room service from them.

 

I'd rate food quality exactly the same.

 

I might give the slight edge to HAL for service but only by a hair. I've been on dozens of RCI cruises and always had excellent service.

 

I know I mentioned a lot going on for entertainment, but there still are plenty of quiet areas around the ship. The Viking Crown Lounge is RCI's version of the Crows Nest. The views during the day...and even at night...are excellent. There might be a band playing 1 or 2 nights up there during the cruise.

 

Like HAL, Liberty also has a full-wrap outdoor promenade deck with seating around. Difference is, on Liberty, you can go out to the bow helipad. This is another feature unique to RCI.

 

Liberty has an adults only pool in the Solarium. There is no band in there, so it can be quiet, but depends on the other cruisers. If you're up for a challenge, the Flowrider is a lot of fun.

 

I happily cruise a lot of lines including HAL and RCI. I enjoy both, but for 2 totally different reasons.

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You will NOT find the "overall quiet nature" of the ship on RCCL.

Best for you to stick with HAL! ;)

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The main reason we are considering Royal Caribbean is that we live in South Texas, so would have to add plane tickets onto any HAL cruise. But we sure did love HAL!

 

I'm afraid that I can't relate, as every cruise we have taken (except for our most recent) has involved purchasing airfare as well as at least one night's pre-cruise accommodation (just to be on the safe side in case of weather delays in winter).

 

Last week's cruise on the Maasdam was the most cost-effective, as we were able to take a two hour train ride to the port -- but still had to pay for return airfare from Boston. So all things being equal in terms of access, we would still prefer HAL over RCI, with a nod to Celebrity as well.

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We sailed the Liberty on a New England fall cruise and have sailed lots of HAL ships. We had a balcony on Liberty and the balcony divider banged when we were underway even at night. I tried to push a chair against it to hold it steady. The shower was a very small enclosure. Other than that the stateroom was very nice. My feeling was Liberty was plasticky opposed to the sturdy feel of a HAL ship.

 

Service in the stateroom was ok but they constantly have service carts with towels, etc in the hall. I asked for lotion and as I understand it our higher level veranda room did not qualify for lotion but the female stateroom attendant got me some. I really missed the professionalism of our HAL stateroom attendants and the uncluttered hallways.

 

The dining room food was excellent on Liberty. The Lido was overwhelming with people serving themselves from the buffet.

 

The shows on Liberty were excellent. The center of the ship which I called “main street” was fun with nice shops and can get very crowded. There was even a parade.

 

Customs on the ship took forever trying to follow a never ending line to find the customs official. Too many people. I can imagine tendering must be as frustrating.

 

If I could sail on the Liberty without flying to the destination I would definitely go for it. You will have a fun cruise and some new experiences.

Edited by oaktreerb

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pugmadkate, since you'll be saving all that airfare, just jump in and try the RCI cruise out of Galveston. It's the only way YOU will really know whether an RCI cruise is for you.

 

We did two short RCI cruises out of LA and liked them enough to book a Pacific Coastal cruise and then an Alaska cruise, which ranks up there with our all-time favorites.

 

We've done enough cruises to know that HAL is the best cruise line for us. We choose cruises by itinerary, and HAL certainly has some goodies.

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I am 4-star on HAL and almost Diamond Plus on Royal. I've sailed their smaller ships and their biggest (Allure and Quantum) but not those in the middle like the Liberty.

 

 

My experience with Royal has been the bigger the ship the less connection there is to the Ocean. I think all cruise lines strive for excellent service so you should not be unhappy there. My impression is that unless you were unhappy with the entertainment on HAL you are a better fit for HAL than for Royal. A few of the differences:

 

 

More announcements and canned music on Royal. There will likely not be many places where you wont't have a speaker blaring at you.

Different activities like Bellyflop Contests and Hairy chest competions and more risque games at night.

 

 

More of a difference in the experience between suites and regular cabins and more differences in the experience of higher levels in the loyalty program.

 

 

Not sure where the Liberty fits on the cal but on the biggest ships you need reservations for shows.

 

 

There is something nice about cruising close to home and that's the thing I love most about Royal for me (from Baltimore) so you'll need to decide how much difference that makes for you.

 

 

Roy

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I'm afraid that I can't relate, as every cruise we have taken (except for our most recent) has involved purchasing airfare as well as at least one night's pre-cruise accommodation (just to be on the safe side in case of weather delays in winter).

 

Last week's cruise on the Maasdam was the most cost-effective, as we were able to take a two hour train ride to the port -- but still had to pay for return airfare from Boston. So all things being equal in terms of access, we would still prefer HAL over RCI, with a nod to Celebrity as well.

 

 

We are also from Ottawa and can relate to paying airfare. We are booked on HAL's Maasdam July 21-August 4 and will enjoy the short ride to the port. HAL is nice and quiet and offer some great itineraries.

 

We have sailed on HAL twice in the past and on the Liberty as well. We are also booked on the Freedom of the Seas which is the sister ship to the Liberty. If traveling with kids, I would choose RCI. Our kids did go on HAL but they were a bit bored. They were never bored on RCI ships. On the Freedom we will have 8 adults and 8 kids (aged 15-20). They love all the onboard activities.

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We have cruised out of Galveston on both RCL and Princess & I say try it. As so many say, you can do as much or as little that you want. That said Holland is our preferred line. HAL's crew & itineraries & quiet nature make it #1. We have a b2b2b starting with a transatlantic leaving from Galveston & then cruising the Mediterranean Spring 2019 on the Vision of Seas. HAL didn't work for where we wanted to go but we're very happy to be cruising the Vision of the Seas again. She was our first TA.

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Thank you all very much! Lots to think about.

 

You might also think about driving to New Orleans, which would bring Carnival, NCL, and Crystal into the discussion.

 

I envy people who are within driving distance of a cruise port.

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Just returned from our very first cruise and we are hooked! We took the Eurodam to Alaska and absolutely loved it.

 

Of course, we’d like to cruise HAL again and we will in the future. However, we can easily drive to Galveston and HAL does not sail from there. So we are considering a Royal Caribbean cruise over Thanksgiving 2018.

 

How do they compare to HAL? What is the same? What is different? Things we enjoyed about HAL included the excellent crew, the overall quiet nature of the ship and the delicious food in the MDR.

 

We did 4 HAL cruises and 7 RCI .Our preference is RCI even though we loved cruising on HAL .

The food is better especially the pizza .The crews are wonderful.

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I seem too be the odd person out over the food on RCI. I was on Liberty (to NE/Canada) in 2015. The first few nights were ok but after that the food started to become repetitive although they did have fantastic rolls with pumpkin seeds on them.

 

I like to sit in a quiet place and watch the sea and read. The library on Liberty is in an interior space so although it was quiet there was no view. I never did find a place I really liked (too chilly to sit outside in October).

 

There were two things I really loved about Liberty. First was the ice skating show - it was amazing. We did not have to get tickets but they did specify which cabins could come during certain shows. The second thing was my cabin steward. He was from Jamaica and very personable.

 

The oceanview cabins were smaller on RCI than on HAL but there was a fantastic desk with lots of storage space. There were a number of dead ends in corridors so you had to go up/down/around. The worst thing was the elevator situation. There were 14 elevators for 3500 people (most HAL ships have 12 for far less people). I often had to wait for two or three cars to go by before there was one I could get on.

 

The Royal Promenade (the center mall area) was loud and crowded almost all of the time.

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Just returned from our very first cruise and we are hooked! We took the Eurodam to Alaska and absolutely loved it.

 

Of course, we’d like to cruise HAL again and we will in the future. However, we can easily drive to Galveston and HAL does not sail from there. So we are considering a Royal Caribbean cruise over Thanksgiving 2018.

 

How do they compare to HAL? What is the same? What is different? Things we enjoyed about HAL included the excellent crew, the overall quiet nature of the ship and the delicious food in the MDR.

 

Aquahound has provided a good base for comparison assuming you are looking at the Liberty of the seas.

The most important thing to know about "comparison" questions: we cannot compare cruise lines. Never say "cruise line", say what ship.:)

I can only add that the food quality is of course much better on the Eurodam (MDR, buffet and specialty restaurants).

A sad note, as a part of the new cruise line "marketing strategy", most quiet and comfortable places on the largest RCI ships are to be thorougly eliminated and replaced with additional cabins. Thanks god, the iconic observation lounge on the Liberty (midship) has survived the "improvements".

Formerly outstanding 4.5* ships, the Freedom-class (Liberty of the Seas included) is now below the original mark. Unfortunately.

By original design this is a classic cruise ship (that makes it so close to the Eurodam) with added entertainment options.

The spa on the Eurodam is top class. Nothing is close on any RCI ships.

Despite the added "improvements" and more cabins, the ship is still an excellent option for a Caribbean cruise (especially for families with teens) if the itinerary is right.

Another thing to mention, RCI itineraries are probably the worst in the Caribbean (my opinion).

The ones from Galvestone are just awful.

Try the Nieuw Amsterdam - a rare chance to do the best 7-day itinerary on the best cruise ship in the Caribbean:

Holland America Line • ms Nieuw Amsterdam

Fort Lauderdale, Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Thomas/Charlotte Amalie, Half Moon Cay, Fort Lauderdale

1 departure date: Nov 25 2018

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ronbe65

Unfortunately, we are only able to cruise the week of November 19 as I am a teacher and that is my Thanksgiving break.

 

Again, thank you all!

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Other than better entertainment on Royal Caribbean, I would say that every other element of Holland America is better. The ships are less crowded, the service is better, the food is lot better, and general feel of the cruise experience is much better.

Royal Caribbean can be very crowded, especially at shows and around the pool. And speaking of pools, they don't have the aft pools like HAL ships. Royal Caribbean's pool areas are not open to the sea views, and feel enclosed, and did I say VERY crowded? There are often disputes over deck chairs, and that's a drama I don't care to have going on during my vacation. On Holland America, we never have trouble finding open deck chairs even at noon on sunny sea days.

On all our cruises on Royal Caribbean, we've seen so much more heavy drinking and smoking, and for us it really negatively impacts our cruise enjoyment. My husband doesn't want me to book any more Royal Caribbean cruises, as a result.

In my opinion, Holland America is worth the expense & inconvenience of the flying to get to the ship.

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I know this is the HAL board so a line like RCI isn’t too popular with this crowd but as a person who does not believe in brand loyalty, I think RCI is an excellent line. As stated, the entertainment is excellent. RCI ships are made to wow people.

 

I say go for it. You might really like it.

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What the heck, give it a try. We have sailed HAL, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean and enjoyed all of them. They are all different, but we have had fun on each. We live near St. Louis, so we have to fly every time. If we had a port near us, we would definitely look at whatever cruise line sailed from there. Who knows, until you try and then decide for yourself which line suits you best. Hi for it.

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I love rccl , as everyone says if you want a nice quite cruise Hal is perfect, if you want lots of entertainment , broadway show and a fantastic ice show take liberty, I got tired off no entertainment after 1130 on Hal.

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Just returned from our very first cruise and we are hooked! We took the Eurodam to Alaska and absolutely loved it.

 

Of course, we’d like to cruise HAL again and we will in the future. However, we can easily drive to Galveston and HAL does not sail from there. So we are considering a Royal Caribbean cruise over Thanksgiving 2018.

 

How do they compare to HAL? What is the same? What is different? Things we enjoyed about HAL included the excellent crew, the overall quiet nature of the ship and the delicious food in the MDR.

 

Don't do it!

 

RCCL has excellent crew and service, nice staterooms and slick looking ships (as well as entertainment). The food is repetitive and uninspired, worse than Carnival Cruise Line. It is not quiet natured, and will be a madhouse over Thanksgiving with children. You're better off in Sept/Oct if you can had the time off.

Edited by Stateroom_Sailor

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It is not quiet natured, and will be a madhouse over Thanksgiving with children. You're better off in Sept/Oct if you can had the time off.

 

I don't think this can be over stated. RCI out of Texas over Thanksgiving break is certain to be full of families with kids.

 

The most important thing to know about "comparison" questions: we cannot compare cruise lines. Never say "cruise line", say what ship.:)

 

Another very true statement. RCI is almost 2 cruise lines in 1. This discussion would be very different if we were talking about Sovereign, Empress, Vision or Radiance Class ships. Starting with Voyager Class, RCI became a different cruise line.

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