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Travelcat2

Luxury vs. Premium Plus cruise lines

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Posted (edited)

While this could start some strong debates, perhaps it is time for those of us that regularly sail on luxury and/or premium/premium plus cruise lines to list what YOU think belongs in the “Luxury” or “Premium Plus” category.  The intent of this thread is to help people that may be considering one of these cruise lines.

 

You don’t have to prove that the category that you place a cruise line in is correct - only that you believe that it is.  It would be helpful if you posted why you feel the cruise line belongs in the category (think that we should not posted cruise lines that have not launched their ships yet such as Scenic Eclipse and  Ritz Carlton.  Obviously, I’ll start:

 

In alphabetical order:

 

Luxury

Crystal

Hapag Lloyd (German speaking)

Regent

Seadream Yacht Club

Seabourn

Silverea

 

Luxury/Premium Plus

Azamara

Oceania

Viking Ocean

 

 

Edited by Travelcat2

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11 hours ago, Travelcat2 said:

Hapag Lloyd (German speaking)

 

 

They have an international ship Europa 2 and are adding another one, an expedition ship with fascinating itineraries.

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4 hours ago, Floridiana said:

 

 

They have an international ship Europa 2 and are adding another one, an expedition ship with fascinating itineraries.

 

Yes - I am familiar with Europa 2 but have read that the number of passengers that speak English as their first language is small (under 30 per cruise is what I've read on threads).  Has your experience been otherwise?

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Where would Windstar fit? I'd also mention the Paul Gauguin, which I would classify as luxury, despite the ship being older.

 

My criteria for luxury:

- Open  seating dining

- All-inclusive for drinks 

- No charge specialty dining 

- Tips included

- High staff to passenger ratio 

- Good-sized standard cabins

 

Many other intangibles

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Travelcat2 said:

Yes - I am familiar with Europa 2 but have read that the number of passengers that speak English as their first language is small (under 30 per cruise is what I've read on threads).  Has your experience been otherwise?

 

 

The number of international passengers was small and included several different first languages. The ship had an interpreter just for us during German language programs. One daytime program (Australian aborigines) was in English. It certainly is not the line for everyone.

When you say 'familiar', you don't mean that you traveled on the Europa 2. 

Edited by Floridiana

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3 hours ago, Travelcat2 said:

 

Yes - I am familiar with Europa 2 but have read that the number of passengers that speak English as their first language is small (under 30 per cruise is what I've read on threads).  Has your experience been otherwise?

It has been stated on more than one occasion, that the Europa 2 is Hapag-Lloyd Cruises International Ship with the official on board languages being German and English.

 

There need only be one  English speaking passenger on board for the full array of facilities, including the Captain's announcements from the bridge, to be made available.

 

The 'international' Expedition Ship is the Hanseatic inspiration whose maiden cruise is due to depart on the 14 October this year.

 

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47 minutes ago, Floridiana said:

 

 

The number of international passengers was small and included several different first languages. The ship had an interpreter just for us during German language programs. One daytime program (Australian aborigines) was in English. It certainly is not the line for everyone.

When you say 'familiar', you don't mean that you traveled on the Europa 2. 

Travelcat2 has made it quite clear that she would not cruise on the Europa 2.

 

Is there still an International Hostess on board the Europa 2?

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5 hours ago, Floridiana said:

 

 

The number of international passengers was small and included several different first languages. The ship had an interpreter just for us during German language programs. One daytime program (Australian aborigines) was in English. It certainly is not the line for everyone.

When you say 'familiar', you don't mean that you traveled on the Europa 2. 

 

When I said "familiar", I meant that I have done research on Europa 2 and decided that it was not for us but have no doubt that it is a luxury cruise line.  And, I'm happy that there are cruise lines that cater to people that speak languages other than English.

 

As an aside, did you read about the horrible fights that broke out on a P&O ship?  I don't know much about them but assume that they are not a luxury cruise line.

 

We would have no problem going on an Australian cruise line (like Scenic Eclipse that is supposed to finally debut next month).  In fact, we would prefer an Australian cruise line to a British cruise line (I would not tell my British DH this but it is true).  Aussies tend to be more fun!

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55 minutes ago, Travelcat2 said:

When I said "familiar", I meant that I have done research on Europa 2 and decided that it was not for us but have no doubt that it is a luxury cruise line.  And, I'm happy that there are cruise lines that cater to people that speak languages other than English.

Hapag Lloyd has a few itineraries that I would like to explore but based on your comment I am led to believe the line only speaks German. Research says otherwise. Please clarify that Hapag Lloyd does indeed provide an English speaking interpreter. Thank you.

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My last cruise on MS Europa 2 was 19th June - 1st July 2019- going back 1st November.  There is still an international hostess on board and of course the guest relations is also fully bilingual.

There is no international hostess anymore on the ms Europa. 

You will see very few or even none  " non German speaking" pax on shorter cruises , example 3 or 4 days Hamburg Kiel cruises or similar.

Yes the ship is child friendly , but there are activities and supervison and special meals just for them. I find it worser to have some 5-6 children on a luxury line without activities  - like constantly "diving" in the pool when other pax are walking bypass ...However i think Hapag Lloyd did put a maximum on it - 50 children maximum I believe.

All menu's in all the restaurants are available in 2 languages. All the waiters - and waitresses - must be able to speak and understand English. For a lot of the stewardesses German is not a first language anymore , as it is extremely difficult to find studied people to do that particular job. Contrarely to the 80s of last century most people are going to school at least until the age of 17 or 18 - the minimum age to go and work full time went up from 14 to 16 as well.

I can understand the troubles on P&O  - I did once a cruise on that company  in 1987- never again -  I still remember the consumption of alcohol and especially beer was extremely  high in the bars , not so much wine in the restaurants. Nearly every evening rather drunk people were seen … from all ages : people in their 20s and 70 s

 

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Jackie!

 

This is always an interesting topic to debate. As you know, I’m more a fan of HA and Celebrity. I would add, though I’m sure you’ll disagree, that aqua class and above on Celebrity’s newest ship, The Edge, provides a more unique, fun and stimulating experience than some of your premium plus/luxury choices. The ship design itself is just so much more adventurous and vibrant, providing a fresher experience.

 

Yesterday, we boarded HA’s newest ship, the Nieuw Statendam, in Amsterdam for a 21 day cruise to Norway, Scotland, and Iceland. Before our sail away, our old friend, the Crystal Serenity, sailed into port. Though I know the ship has been beautifully redone, and am looking forward to hearing your upcoming experiences, what seemed so sleek and streamlined to us four years ago now looks a little generic and “blah,” and from a distance I wondered at first if the ship wasn’t from one of those mass market European lines you occasionally see in port but have never heard of, like Fred Olsen. The crew jacuzzi on the front bow in particular just seemed weird and a bit low end.

 

Of course the ship is no doubt luxurious, but aside from Regent’s Explorer and upcoming Splendour, and Seabourn’s new ship, and Viking Ocean’s ships, a majority of other vessels in your luxury and premium plus categories are, in maritime years, ancient. Aren’t the bulk of these ships almost 20 years old? Or more? And though the finishes and some cabin sizes have been altered, the lines can’t defy physics and add volume and roominess to every space onboard, where there wasn’t initially.

 

The fact is, most of these are old ships, and don’t their bones show it?  Though their amenities and service and included perks certainly compensate, ship design has become more compelling over the years, and by their very nature these ships don’t participate in that excitement. From this standpoint, do they really and truly deserve to be  labeled as luxury?

 

 

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10 hours ago, Travelcat2 said:

 And, I'm happy that there are cruise lines that cater to people that speak languages other than English.

Or for unlingual people who simply don't mind if they are surrounded by people speaking other languages.   I only speak English and I would happily do a Europa 2 cruise (if I could afford it).

 

What about Windstar and Ponant?

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53 minutes ago, calliopecruiser said:

Or for unlingual people who simply don't mind if they are surrounded by people speaking other languages.   I only speak English and I would happily do a Europa 2 cruise (if I could afford it).

 

What about Windstar and Ponant?

It amuses me that people who are prepared to independently tour a country whose inhabitants speak a language they don't understand refuse to contemplate being on a ship on which the majority of the passengers speak another language.

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4 minutes ago, English Voyager said:

It amuses me that people who are prepared to independently tour a country whose inhabitants speak a language they don't understand refuse to contemplate being on a ship on which the majority of the passengers speak another language.

Amen... My husband and I have been living in Germany for a total of seven years and neither of us is fluent in German.  But we would happily sail on a German ship.  I doubt language is a problem, given that so many Germans speak English-- especially the younger crowd.

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My very first cruise was on Fred Olsen  in 1983, the ship Black Prince was operating out of  the Netherlands in those days; the sister ship - the old not the actual Black Watch was for the Uk. In the early 90s Fred Olsen stopped the non Uk market.

It was not bad at all, for the amount I paid  - wine list was very basic.

EV, even with nearly 5 languages it is sometimes difficult , i do not speak Spanish at all and away from the tourist cities not everybody does speak English . I once had extremely complicated difficulties at a farmacy in Spain ….was helped by another customer.

 

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1 hour ago, calliopecruiser said:

Or for unlingual people who simply don't mind if they are surrounded by people speaking other languages.   I only speak English and I would happily do a Europa 2 cruise (if I could afford it).

 

What about Windstar and Ponant?

I did visit several times  a shop of Ponant in Belgium. I heard a lot of French and also English .

As a single i find it simply too expensive  - said all in but if eventually you want some better brands of gin wodka whisky the prices are of a higher level as on Hapag lloyd.  ( and i do not mention the upper premiums )

The company owning Ponant is also owning the famous Chateau Latour first growth ; on one ship there were 10 vintages on display  - i think the cheapest was 500 €

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Just now, vistaman said:

I did visit several times  a shop of Ponant in Belgium. I heard a lot of French and also English .

As a single i find it simply too expensive  - said all in but if eventually you want some better brands of gin wodka whisky the prices are of a higher level as on Hapag lloyd.  ( and i do not mention the upper premiums )

The company owning Ponant is also owning the famous Chateau Latour first growth ; on one ship there were 10 vintages on display  - i think the cheapest was 500 €

 

a SHIP of course - sorry

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20 minutes ago, vistaman said:

EV, even with nearly 5 languages it is sometimes difficult , i do not speak Spanish at all and away from the tourist cities not everybody does speak English . I once had extremely complicated difficulties at a farmacy in Spain ….was helped by another customer.

 

You were lucky.

 

I had no one to help me in a pharmacy in Romania, but a combination of hand gestures, and sign language produced a successful outcome.

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55 minutes ago, knotheadusc said:

Amen... My husband and I have been living in Germany for a total of seven years and neither of us is fluent in German.  But we would happily sail on a German ship.  I doubt language is a problem, given that so many Germans speak English-- especially the younger crowd.

In the late 1960s I was working in Zurich, and one day I mentioned to a colleague how difficult it was to interact with the locals.

He said that one should regard them as having a house with a front garden.

They would invite one into the garden but not the house.

 

Having said that, on my Europa 2 cruises I have found Swiss passengers to be more gregarious than the German ones.

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41 minutes ago, English Voyager said:

In the late 1960s I was working in Zurich, and one day I mentioned to a colleague how difficult it was to interact with the locals.

He said that one should regard them as having a house with a front garden.

They would invite one into the garden but not the house.

 

Having said that, on my Europa 2 cruises I have found Swiss passengers to be more gregarious than the German ones.

 

We spent about six years total living near Stuttgart-- from 2007-09 and from 2014-18.

 

Now we live in Wiesbaden, having moved here at the end of November 2018.  

 

It's been interesting to note the differences between the two areas.  Wiesbaden is close to Frankfurt and kind of metropolitan and urban.  Stuttgart is in Swabia, near France and Switzerland.  Although I eventually got used to the Swabian way of life, I think the Frankfurters are friendlier.  Our little town has a wine stand every other Friday and the people have been a lot more interested in interacting.  Our first stint near Stuttgart, it took almost a year before anyone in our neighborhood would speak to us.  During the second stint, we were in a friendlier neighborhood. It was maybe a fifteen or twenty minute drive from where we lived the first time.  Still, it was about three years before we did anything communal with our neighbors.  Here in Wiesbaden, they have events all the time.

 

I do miss how pretty Baden-Wuertemberg is.  I don't miss the horrible traffic!

 

I'm curious about Europa and Europa 2.  Maybe we'll have a chance to try them before we move again.

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Some might be interested to know that Captain Dag Dvergastein, late of Radisson/Regent,  Seabourn and HAL has recently been appointed as a Captain of Europa.

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4 hours ago, calliopecruiser said:

Or for unlingual people who simply don't mind if they are surrounded by people speaking other languages.   I only speak English and I would happily do a Europa 2 cruise (if I could afford it).

 

What about Windstar and Ponant?

 

We went to a French resort for years and were surrounded with people speaking different languages.  It was fun then but now, although we love mingling with the locals in any country that we visit (vs. taking excursions), at the end of the day, we want our luxurious suite, bed, butler and great food (no children).  And, part of our aging process has been that we now prefer being around English speaking passengers and crew and not having announcements repeated more than once in different languages.

 

I know nothing whatsoever about Ponant and Windstar seems to have old Seabourn ships (in addition to their old ships) and is more of a yacht experience than a cruise ship experience.  While I do not know the classification of Windstar, from what I hear, it is not luxury.

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5 hours ago, BarbarianPaul said:

Jackie!

 

This is always an interesting topic to debate. As you know, I’m more a fan of HA and Celebrity. I would add, though I’m sure you’ll disagree, that aqua class and above on Celebrity’s newest ship, The Edge, provides a more unique, fun and stimulating experience than some of your premium plus/luxury choices. The ship design itself is just so much more adventurous and vibrant, providing a fresher experience.

 

Yesterday, we boarded HA’s newest ship, the Nieuw Statendam, in Amsterdam for a 21 day cruise to Norway, Scotland, and Iceland. Before our sail away, our old friend, the Crystal Serenity, sailed into port. Though I know the ship has been beautifully redone, and am looking forward to hearing your upcoming experiences, what seemed so sleek and streamlined to us four years ago now looks a little generic and “blah,” and from a distance I wondered at first if the ship wasn’t from one of those mass market European lines you occasionally see in port but have never heard of, like Fred Olsen. The crew jacuzzi on the front bow in particular just seemed weird and a bit low end.

 

Of course the ship is no doubt luxurious, but aside from Regent’s Explorer and upcoming Splendour, and Seabourn’s new ship, and Viking Ocean’s ships, a majority of other vessels in your luxury and premium plus categories are, in maritime years, ancient. Aren’t the bulk of these ships almost 20 years old? Or more? And though the finishes and some cabin sizes have been altered, the lines can’t defy physics and add volume and roominess to every space onboard, where there wasn’t initially.

 

The fact is, most of these are old ships, and don’t their bones show it?  Though their amenities and service and included perks certainly compensate, ship design has become more compelling over the years, and by their very nature these ships don’t participate in that excitement. From this standpoint, do they really and truly deserve to be  labeled as luxury?

 

 

 

Hi Paul,

 

Always enjoy your posts.  I would like to address the age of the luxury ships.  Viking Ocean ships are all under 5 years of age (approximately - give or take a year).  Seabourn ships are also on the newer side (newer than three of Regent's ships).  Regent's Navigator is really older - her hull is older than the rest of the ship.  I believe she launched in 1998 while the Mariner was 2002 and the Voyager was 2004.  Are these now considered old?? I guess that I must be ancient!

 

My first instinct is to say that these ships are still luxury.  Regent has not changed the size of their suites - they were always on the larger size.  Service, food and amenities are the same as their newer ships.  The one area that I can see the age of the ships is in the bathroom.    It seems that everything was updated except the ugly granite by the sink.  I believe that the upper category suites do have new marble but not the lower category suites.

 

I have no doubt that Celebrity's Edge is more fun than luxury cruise lines (even the older ship that we were on was fun).  If we wanted to do another "fun" cruise, we would select Celebrity over HAL or Princess.  In fact, we are looking at west coast itineraries for September 2020 and May do Celebrity.  However, as you know, I do not consider the suites with their great amenities* to be a luxury cruise ship experience since most of the ship is not as good as Luminae, Michael's Club, etc.

 

Anyway, I will be posting on the Regent board live from the Crystal Symphony beginning September 3rd (may start a bit early with pre-cruise details).  I do not plan on comparing everything from day 1 as we want to experience Crystal without comparing every single thing to Regent.  At the end, I'll do a comparison

 

Jackie 

 

P.S.  IOO (in our opinion) Celebrity has the best pre-cruise experience that we have seen on any ship.  While it may only be for "suite" passengers (not sure), they assign you a representative that you can call to get answers to the many questions that newbies have.  They even forwarded a photo of the area we should look for in the cruise terminal when we checked in.  We will be new to Crystal and are clueless as to what is going on. Lots of research to do in the next month -- no comparison to Celebrity!

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Travelcat : I look forward to read your comments . I originally was booked on that cruise on the Symphony . I did change the cruise for the Med on Serenity.

 I was looking forward to Alaska but not to the flights - with rather long lay overs in Munich and Frankfurt.  And such a long flight for 7 days was too much   as I had quite a serious jetlag after my flight back from Miami. ( also long lay over in Munich both ways )

 

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