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xitappers2bx

I know I'm crazy... RCCL or NCL?

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Posted (edited)

This is a story all about how I turned my summer vacation upside down.  And then I wrote a book about it.  Feel free to scroll to the end.

 

So, let's start with, everyone on this part of CC has been beyond helpful, and ya'll have all given me a lot of great info to this point.  I did something I shouldn't have done, and now I need someone's help to make the "right" decision.  We are avid travelers but this will be the furthest we've gone, and it's a special trip so I want it to be perfect.  

 

Originally, when I got this cockamamie idea to surprise the kiddo with a trip to Japan for her sweet 16 I really wanted to book with either Princess or NCL.  I loved the itineraries, and thought they were more what we would want to see and do than RCCL.  Needless to say, I'm a single mom who works for government, and there was no way right now that I could swing Princess or NCL.  Then RCCL had a great "deal" (I feel like this is highly subjective for RCCL as everyday they have the same "deal") and I booked the 9 night RT Hong Kong (Hiroshima, Kobe, Kyoto, Kochi) and then a 5 night Vietnam (Chan May and Nha Trang).  I figured we'd fly out a week early and hang out in Tokyo for 5 days before jetting to Hong Kong for two nights.  This was 100% settling.  So yeah, the great fare has a catch (of course).  Non-refundable deposit.  I read the fine print, and thought that since there's no way I can drop 8-10k on a cruise that this was a great second best.  I'm also concerned by the lack of apparent shore excursions in Asia with RCCL.  Not that I am tied to the cruise line, but I do like having the option to book through them.

 

Turns out, the Voyager's reviews are pretty much terrible, and while I follow the cruise director on social media, it's not like she's telling me about the food and cabins.  I know that she's going into dry dock this fall.  But still.  The majority of the reviews are just terrible.  But, was totally accepting of them (and we're pretty laid back people).  Did I mention this is a total surprise for the kiddo?  (How laid back are we you ask?  At the end of our summer spend living in Paris, we took a Med cruise... and got off the ship exactly one time, to eat pizza in Naples and see Pompeii.  And it was the perfect vacation.).  

 

Well... to go on a brief but important tangent, my mom booked a transatlantic on NCL and mentioned that they're having a 20% off sale.  Then I totally forgot about it.

 

A friend is joining us, and bringing along one of her friends on this trip as well.  She shoots me a message about the NCL itinerary that I REALLLLLLY wanted to do and the price has dropped significantly; (Hakodate, Sapporo, Kanazawa, Busan SK, Sasebo, Beppu, Kochi, Kyoto--overnight, and Mount Fuji) and it's RT Tokyo... so we'd get out there still several days early, but we'd be able to spend two days at Tokyo Disneyland.  With all four perks added (it helps that the kid isn't 21, so I only get charged the gratuity for the soda package...) and a random $100 OBC that appeared after I put the kiddo's information into NCLs portal it works out to like, 650ish more dollars.  That's a lot.... except we love specialty dining, wifi is always necessary (I do freelance work to supplement my government salary so this is nonnegotiable, and it's pricey on RCCL), I don't drink a lot, but it does add up quickly, and while $50 credit for shore excursions isn't a lot, it's something.  So I feel like price wise it all evens out?  In the post I made earlier today, a big box TA told my friend that she's going to spend 2000 on excursions, I would never be able to spend that much, but those are also things that I book in advance so I don't have to worry about a huge bill at the end.  

 

The fine print.  Royal will take $100 pp of the deposit paid and keep it, and then give the rest in a future cruise credit (or whatever the RCCL equivalent is).  I don't typically cruise Royal so I don't even know if I'd use the future cruise credit.  

 

I obviously know what I want to do.  I just feel like i need someone who has done Japan to be like "Harmony, chill out, you know the better vacation is the one that actually circles Japan, and not the one that goes to a few southern ports." I hate losing the money, but I also know this is an adventure and I want it to be special for the kid.   I feel a ton of pressure to get it right, this kid of mine has been wanting to go to Japan since she was knee high, I've been telling her for years when she turns 16 I would take her, and then the Olympics and I told her I can't afford it, she was so sad, and she totally thinks we're going to on a cruise to the Baltics for her Sweet 16.  She also hasn't stopped talking about how it's exciting she's going to go to Japan for her 18th birthday.  I guess i should mention, the websites she's pinned of things to do in Japan... the NCL cruise goes to many of them or is close enough to them that it wouldn't be impossible to make all her actual dreams come true.

 

Basically, now that I've laid out all my cards, I need someone to just affirm that I am not a total idiot for essentially throwing $700 away.  

Edited by xitappers2bx
...

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Your post is so long I can’t comment on everything. Personally I would always prefer RCCL over NCL. 

 

Celebrity would be even better, but also in another price range. 

 

After falling in love with Japan on two previous trips we booked a cruise on Ovation of the Seas from Singapore to Tokyo - which is a good mix. The cruise has a bargain price compared to the ones we usually do. So maybe you want to take a closer look at that one.

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Posted (edited)

IMHO NCL & RCCL are comparable. We've moved on to Celebrity or on small ships. Take the ship with the best itinerary for you & don't give nonrefundable deposits (unless you buy trip insurance cancellable for any reason $$). While I don't like loosing money, I have forfeited some deposits when I found a better choice.

Edited by dabear

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17 minutes ago, dabear said:

We've moved on to Celebrity or on small ships.

 

We also prefer Celebrity. They are just that bit more relaxed and classy... however, the prices for some cruises (especially Asia) are unreasonable in comparison. We never looked for the lowest price and did all our Celebrity cruises (>10) in Aqua Class or even suites. After a great Japan cruise on Millennium in 2018 we did another cruise on HAL this year because of a better itinerary and much better price. And the Celebrity cruise we where looking at for 2021 comes with a price tag I am not willing to pay. Which is why I looked at the Royal Craibbean cruise. I could have booked the Grand Suite for the price of a regular veranda stateroom on Celebrity. Since we where never unhappy with Royal, we decided to booked that one and spend the difference for another cruise.

 

29 minutes ago, dabear said:

IMHO NCL & RCCL are comparable. 

 

Between the two we clearly prefer Royal due to the ship design. 
Royal´s ships IMHO feel less crowded. Not only but also because of the ship-within-ship concept with NCL´s Haven, where significant areas on already crowded ships are off-limits to "regular" passengers, That´s why I am not tempted to cruise with NCL (again).

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2 hours ago, dabear said:

IMHO NCL & RCCL are comparable. We've moved on to Celebrity or on small ships. Take the ship with the best itinerary for you & don't give nonrefundable deposits (unless you buy trip insurance cancellable for any reason $$). While I don't like loosing money, I have forfeited some deposits when I found a better choice.

 

Yeah, ultimately, that's the thorn in my side is this deposit, I hate to waste the dollars, but I didn't think NCL or Princess would drop enough to actually be doable. 

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1 hour ago, Miaminice said:

 

We also prefer Celebrity. Celebrity is a better brand I think in general... they and HAL do everything better.  They are just that bit more relaxed and classy... however, the prices for some cruises (especially Asia) are unreasonable in comparison. So pricey, we also only have three choices for July, RCCL, NCL, or Princess.  We never looked for the lowest price and did all our Celebrity cruises (>10) in Aqua Class or even suites.  This was my struggle too, I'm used to traveling in suites, but the cost of Japan was higher just for a balcony; I could have probably done the NCL or Princess in an inside, but I did that once, and will never do it again.  After a great Japan cruise on Millennium in 2018 we did another cruise on HAL this year because of a better itinerary and much better price. And the Celebrity cruise we where looking at for 2021 comes with a price tag I am not willing to pay. Which is why I looked at the Royal Craibbean cruise.  That's why I booked the RCCL one--and I was hoping the reviews of the ship would be better.  They are getting progressively worse.  Also, quite limited on ports, only 4, and then with 4 sea days.   I could have booked the Grand Suite for the price of a regular veranda stateroom on Celebrity. Since we where never unhappy with Royal, we decided to booked that one and spend the difference for another cruise.  My parents are hardcore loyal Royal (diamond or diamond plus) Loyalists and even my mom seemed a little taken aback by the poor quality of the reviews on the ship.  It sounds like they've done a good job in the past of taking care of their older ships, but they have really failed to care for the Voyager. 

 

 

Between the two we clearly prefer Royal due to the ship design. 
Royal´s ships IMHO feel less crowded. Not only but also because of the ship-within-ship concept with NCL´s Haven, where significant areas on already crowded ships are off-limits to "regular" passengers, That´s why I am not tempted to cruise with NCL (again).  This cruise would be on NCL's smallest ship, 2000-ish people slightly smaller than Grandeur (at least, that's what my mom said).  So it doesn't have the same pitfalls as the bigger NCL ships, and no Haven at all.

The other option would be to move to Quantum or Spectrum, but they offer even fewer port options if I don't want to stay on the same ship for a full month. 

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10 hours ago, Miaminice said:

Your post is so long I can’t comment on everything. Personally I would always prefer RCCL over NCL.

But do you prefer Voyager of the Seas over NCL Spirit... because Voyager is getting terrible reviews consistently and it seems like the common statement for Spirit is, "the rooms are super outdated but the ship is fantastic" (VOS is going in for their royal amped thing this fall and Spirit is getting refitted this winter).  

 

Celebrity would be even better, but also in another price range.  X isn't in Japan when we would be there.  My kiddo's 16th is July 5th.  So either will be on board that day, or leaving within a few days of that.  Everyone I know that has done Celebrity would pick Celebrity.  I really wish I could too.

 

After falling in love with Japan on two previous trips we booked a cruise on Ovation of the Seas from Singapore to Tokyo - which is a good mix. The cruise has a bargain price compared to the ones we usually do. So maybe you want to take a closer look at that one.  Ovation deploys to Asia in April 2021... they have Spectrum and Quantum there now; mostly doing 4 and 5 nights with limited ports, which is a bummer.  It seems like those cruises are more like long weekend sojourns for the Asian market. Which I think is totally awesome, I just don't think it works for what I am really wanting to do--get my kid to see as much of Japan as possible).  SOS and QOS were my first choice, but it seemed silly to do a b2b2b2b(and maybe 2b).

 

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Posted (edited)

Truth to be told I don’t care much for most reviews... complaining and moaning has become very popular. I get the feeling some people just want to show „they are used to better“... not my style.

 

I have been on cruises where some people wouldn’t stop complaining about things I couldn’t care less about while I simply enjoyed my cruise. 

 

Just talking about the ship I would still prefer Voyager. I just don’t care for the older and smaller NCL ships. The design is just not for me.

 

BTW: you can read about our different Japan cruises here:

Celebrity Millennium

https://www.travelandcruise.net/travellove_en/Our-Trips/Celebrity-Millennium-Japan/celebrity-millennium-japan.html

 

HAL Westerdam

 

 

Edited by Miaminice

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From the sound of it, you already know what you want to do.  Yes, you're going to lose some money by making the switch, but I think you'll get at least that much in additional enjoyment with new itinerary on NCL.  Although Celebrity is my preferred line, I do like RCCL as well and although you don't think you'll use the future cruise credit on Royal, I bet you do eventually.  Like most people I don't like to lose money, but in this situation with how much you're already spending, what's a few hundred dollars to get what you really want?

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1 hour ago, ShawninFL said:

From the sound of it, you already know what you want to do.  Yes, you're going to lose some money by making the switch, but I think you'll get at least that much in additional enjoyment with new itinerary on NCL.  Although Celebrity is my preferred line, I do like RCCL as well and although you don't think you'll use the future cruise credit on Royal, I bet you do eventually.  Like most people I don't like to lose money, but in this situation with how much you're already spending, what's a few hundred dollars to get what you really want?

 

I agree with Shawn - Ideally you can use the cruise credit for a short getaway - so you are not throwing away $700, but spending $200 for a lesson learned and now you have a forced savings account vacation with the other $500. My preference or "our" preference doesn't matter except to tell you our experiences. In this case, you've answered the question - NCL is preferred because of the great price drop, perks, and most importantly the destinations are what your daughter wants. Book it before the cabin or deal is gone and move on. 🙂 Happy travels!

 

Hans

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We are getting ready to head to Japan for a cruise for our 2nd time but with Princess but with that being said it sounds like you really want the NCL and truthfully I cannot blame you I would too.  I have three favorite cruise lines that pretty much tie well actually NCL is really number one for us but HAL and Princess are tied for 2nd lol. I have cruised RCL 3 times and the third time I stated never again.. I know everyone has their favorite cruise lines. And actually shame on me for dissing Royal Caribbean since it has been many years since I have sailed on them but the same goes to those that diss NCL they probably have not sailed NCL recently or probably not at all. I agree that the itinerary you listed for NCL is a very good one. I wanted to take NCL but the time we needed to go did not work with dates I could take off or we would have booked NCL for our 2nd cruise to Japan. Although we did truly enjoy our first cruise on the Diamond Princess and felt that Princess does an excellent job with Japan. I would say that it will probably be worth losing the deposit to get the cruise you really wanted. 

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