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We are RCCL Diamond cruise members and to be honest, absolutely love RCCL and the big ships.. But we have family on the Getaway on the 8th which trumps everything for me and looking forward to joining them out of New Orleans (also first time out of that port). So we are NCL virgins, bottom of the bottom I guess, on status et al. Curiously though, I have some questions so I'm "not surprised on the night" as they say!


So, what's your opinion on key differences in the cruise lines, ships, food, entertainment or anything else?

What's do I not get by having zero status on NCL?

Boarding process?


We have a mini-suite / Large balcony..

 

Thanks for your time.

 

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We are Platinum with NCL and love the freestyle where we eat when we want and not formal only if you’d want to be formal you can. Much more relaxed vibe and younger vibe which we love music and all. We have been on the Getaway twice love that ship!

 

Specialty restaurants much better on NCL. We just cruised AOS and years back ROTS ,our latest cruise with RCCL we were not impressed and we were looking forward to a change and went with a very open positive mindset only to be disappointed. Ship was boring no atrium with nothing in the evenings like NCL. Ship was dirty and our cabin was the dirtiest we have ever seen on a ship! I got very ill and so did a lot of others on this cruise. Food was good the first few days but declined as the cruise progressed it was very repetitive in the buffet. Specialty restaurants were okay. NCL has way more selection food wise with restaurant choices. Much more entertainment as well and great too. The staff on RCCL is not what we are used to, not very happy and engaging like NCL. NCL staff is very happy always aiming to please. The ships on NCL are extremely clean compared to other lines we have sailed.

 

We have decided we won’t be doing another RCCL again, we will stick with NCL and we have tried other lines as well but keep coming back to our favourite cruise line.

 

Good luck I’m sure you will love NCL if you like the freestyle and relax vibe.

Edited by dam64
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The Getaway is a nice ship.  Be sure to check out the Waterfront and Spice H20.  Our favorite parts of the ship.  Your balcony will be SMALL, but still a nice spot to enjoy a drink or coffee.  The casino is quite smoky, if you are sensitive to that.  Even drifts a bit to the surrounding areas.  Sugarcanes mojito bar is a not to miss, and Million Dollar Quartet is an outstanding show.

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Stay out of the “snarky” comments as both lines have loyal passengers.

 

You kind of hit the nail on the head, being a first time NCL cruiser, you’re not afforded much in the way of “perks”, as you get with Royal being Diamond.

 

Embarkation will be determined by how early you get to the pier.  If you want to get on early, get there early.  That said, regardless of how early you get to the pier, you’ll still board after the disabled, Haven, Platinum passengers.  My advice?  Don’t sweat it.  Get to the pier around 1-ish.  That way all the initial rush to board will be over and your wait (if any) will be minimized.

 

Your cabin is nice....mini-suite with large balcony.  I had one of those on both the GEM and the Escape.  Nice, big bathroom and big balcony.

 

I’ve sailed on the Allure, Harmony, Liberty and Anthem on Royal.  I’ve sailed SS Norway, Epic, Gem Getaway (2X), Breakaway (once but leaving next week for #2), and Escape.

 

So, more or less able to do a direct comparison.  Understand, there’s a reason I sail NCL more than Royal.  But, have spent a goodly amount of time sailing both lines.  

 

I give the entertainment on NCL the edge.  Not that RCCL’s entertainment is inferior.  I just like NCL’s more.

 

Royal uses the concept of having everyone spend time inward, where most of the activities happen.  NCL has what they call “The WaterFront”, which encircles the ship and has many al fresco dining options as well as many bars and seats/couches to just relax and watch the water go by.

 

You won’t find Merry-go-Rounds on NCL like you do on Royal.  But, NCL has Ocean 678, which are the decks 6, 7 and 8 where most of the entertainment and specialty restaurants are located.  You’ll find the casino there, too.

 

NCL’s Spice H20 is comparable to Royal’s Solarium.  Spice H20 is where the parties happen on NCL.  You’ll see the Glow Party and I believe the White party there. It’s on the back of the ship with a large screen, its own bar, and it’s actually adults only there during the day so you can get a lounger and read a book or watch a video on the big screen.  However, it does not have a roof like Royal’s Solarium does.  So, it’s a good weather hang out.

 

Food is generally subjective.  I think they both do a good job in the buffet.  I do like Royal’s Park Cafe for a quick bite.  But, NCL has O’Sheehans, which offers food 24 hours.  It’s pub food, but it’s good pub food.  

 

I like NCL’s Atrium, especially overlooking it from above (while sitting in O’Sheehans having wings and a beer), as that’s where they daily happenings are taking place. Plus, it has a 2 story screen that they show movies on, which makes of a good time eating pub food and having a cocktail as you watch the movie.  Surrounding that area are adult bar games like a pool table, darts, etc.  It’s just a great place to hang out on sea days.

 

Specialty Restaurants are subjective, too.  But, I’d say each line’s specialty dining restaurants are comparable.  They all offer good food with exemplary service.  I would put NCL’s MDR a step above RCCL’s.  That’s mainly true because NCL has FreeStyle down pat.  Show up to one specialty restaurant and get seated in a few minutes, or if the wait is long, go to another and be seated.

 

MDR on NCL usually has seating immediately and the food there is quite good, too.

 

There are no “dress your best” nights on NCL as they do on Royal, per se.  They have a “dress up or not” night.  I know there’s been ongoing debate on the Royal forums regarding how to dress properly on “dress your best” nights. You won’t find those debates on the NCL threads.  NCL sort of takes the tactic of, if you want your picture taken wearing your Sunday best, go ahead and dress up.  But, if you don’t (and most do not), no one will judge you.

 

NCL is pretty liberal when giving out “perks”.  By far the most popular is the drinks package, where the drinks are free and you pay only the tips.  There are also other perks, like 250 internet minutes (depending on how close you are to a repeater, your WiFi will be quick, or dismal), Specialty Dining Package (usually 3 restaurants on a 7 day cruise), excursion credits, free/reduced airfare, etc.

 

Those are the big difference I can think of right off the top of my head.

 

Oh yeah, it was easier for me to get to Platinum on NCL that it is to get Diamond on Royal.  Platinum on NCL gives you 2 specialty dinners for free, free bag of laundry, priority embarkation/disembarkation, 30 free internet minutes, and some other stuff that I can’t quite remember off the top of my head.  They’re worthwhile perks, though.  And, while I can’t quantify this, it seems I get priority seating at the Specialty Restaurants being Latitudes Platinum.

 

Have fun.  I think you’ll enjoy your first NCL cruise.

Edited by graphicguy
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I've been on 2 NCL cruises, both on the Dawn and just booked the Getaway for May 2020.  I've only been on 1 , RCCL , the Jewel.  I thought Royal Caribbean was more formal then Norwegian, which we were ok with.  We actually like the formal nights.  We cruised in 2016 and at that time RCCL allowed only 1 person in cabin to purchase the beverage package.  Not so anymore. We found the service on both to be wonderful.  We thought the food in the main dining room better on RCCL and the specialty restaurants were amazing.  We have only gone to Moderno on NCL.  Had reservations at Cagney's, but somehow NCL "lost" our reservation and we wouldn't be seated until 9:15.  2 hours after our original reservation, despite the fact I had my reservation slip with original time. So we nixed it.  No real big deal, things happen.  Didn't ruin our cruise.

 

 We did comparison shopping for our upcoming cruise in May of 2020, and got the best bang for our buck with NCCL.   

 

Bottom line, in my opinion, is both cruise lines have pluses and minuses.  Go with the notion that you are going to have  a great time!

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1 minute ago, RedwingHockeyFan said:

I've sailed on NCL 4 times and RCCL twice, both times on the IOTS.  There isn't enough difference to justify how much more it costs my family to sail with RCCL so we have been sticking with NCL.  My favorite cruise all time was on the Epic in 2012.

Yeah....I’ve noticed that myself recently.  I can sail in the NCL Haven for what Royal has been charging for a mini-suite over the last couple of years.

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We are inside cabin people, but we have done balconies on RCCL quantum class ships because they are only a few dollars more than insides.  As platinum plus we enjoy the meals and other percs on NCL.  We find the food and entertainment to be very similar.  The big thing for us right now is what itineraries are available when at what price.  RCCL makes it much easier to plan 12 to 24 months out to get the best prices and cabins.  The best we have seen for NCL is the after final payment prices, but since our two homes are 11 time zones apart we need to plan at least 12 months ahead of time, lately leaving NCL too expensive for when we must book.  Next 4 cruises will be RCCL through April of 2021 with 3 of them being 23 to 27 day b2b.

 

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I have only sailed one time on Royal one time, so I am by no means an expert.  So you can take the following with a grain of salt.

Things Royal does better:

Beverage package was reasonably priced and included bottled water and they let us take a Coke back to our room in a can.   But most of the time they make you sign a slip even though the drink is free, and that is a bit annoying.  

Royal has T-shirts that refer to both ship and itinerary that are affordable.  NCL has over priced ship shirts but nothing for the destination.

Disembarkation:  I don’t know what NCL does wrong, but so many times, disembarkation is a long long line snaking through a ship.  RCL we just walked off.

Rewarding Status:  we couldn’t take advantage of it, but the daily happy hours and designated lounge for loyal cruisers was better than the one cocktail party,  bottle of water and bag of laundry on NCL.

Things Norwegian does better:

24 – hour sit down dining with a menu:  on Royal, off hours was limited to self-serve Pizza.  I like to be able to get fries and a drink at 2:00am or a late breakfast when I slept in.  And I like that my waiter can bring me a drink to go with my meal any time of day.   Just sayin’

Staff:  (this may be sailing specific, but I’ll tell you what I observed) I have sailed on kind-of-big and very big NCL ships and on one very small Royal ship, but I think the staff on NCL does a better job of recognizing me and remembering me.   Bartenders remember my drink and call out to me as I walk by, stewards (not just mine by ones in the hall) remember me and my family and ask where my mom or my son is if I am walking without them.  Senior staff roam the dining rooms and bars and introduce themselves to you and leave you their cards.  On Royal we had one waiter (bar waiter) that was outstanding and remembered us and we sought him out, but to the rest of the staff we were just passenger x.

Anytime dining:  One think I love about NCL is making my mind up when and where I want to eat.   Some days, we come back on board after a long day ashore and the last thing we want to do is get dressed up to dine at N:NN o’clock.   But if we don’t dine at our assigned time, we are pretty much restricted to the buffet.   I love multiple main dining rooms that will seat me when I am ready to eat.   Some people on NCL say make reservations or you will never get a seat:  we have never had a problem getting a seat:  worse case they gave us a pager and we went and had a drink while we waited.

Welcome back on board:  NCL does a better job of welcoming you back on board.  Hot day in line waiting for a tender?  Staff hands out popsicles, water and cool clothes.  They set up tents and seating so you can wait in the shade for your party.  And on some ships, Senior officers come out and greet you as you get back on board.

 

But all in all…these are very minor things.   To me the lines were much more similar than they were different.   The entertainment, both in large venues and small, the food quality, etc. was pretty much equal between the two.   What they do and don’t charge in addition to your cruise fare was almost exactly the same.  So if someone says one line nickles and dimes, the other line must, too.  I hope you enjoy your first NCL cruise. 

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I've been on both and it's pretty much cost (and itinerary) that makes my decisions for me. As a solo that's almost always NCL, especially since I prefer to have a drink package. (Though I missed a couple great solo deals on an Oasis class since I already had one booked for the fall/winter on NCL that I'm kinda bummed about.)

 

I pretty much agree with everything graphicguy and fitchburg mentioned. About the only thing NCL does that I'm like man I wish Royal did is getting back on ship - love the cold towels/drinks/popsicle in the Caribbean and Alaska had hot chocolate/coffee. I wish on their newer ships that NCL didn't have the pay things - so I do like how so far Royal has kept all their fun activities up on deck free. 

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7 hours ago, dam64 said:

We are Platinum with NCL and love the freestyle where we eat when we want and not formal only if you’d want to be formal you can. Much more relaxed vibe and younger vibe which we love music and all. We have been on the Getaway twice love that ship!

 

Specialty restaurants much better on NCL. We just cruised AOS and years back ROTS ,our latest cruise with RCCL we were not impressed and we were looking forward to a change and went with a very open positive mindset only to be disappointed. Ship was boring no atrium with nothing in the evenings like NCL. Ship was dirty and our cabin was the dirtiest we have ever seen on a ship! I got very ill and so did a lot of others on this cruise. Food was good the first few days but declined as the cruise progressed it was very repetitive in the buffet. Specialty restaurants were okay. NCL has way more selection food wise with restaurant choices. Much more entertainment as well and great too. The staff on RCCL is not what we are used to, not very happy and engaging like NCL. NCL staff is very happy always aiming to please. The ships on NCL are extremely clean compared to other lines we have sailed.

 

We have decided we won’t be doing another RCCL again, we will stick with NCL and we have tried other lines as well but keep coming back to our favourite cruise line.

 

Good luck I’m sure you will love NCL if you like the freestyle and relax vibe.

Boy what a different cruise you had then we did.  We just got off the Anthem in August, this was our first cruise with RCL.  We were very hesitant as we love NCL.  What a great surprise the Anthem was.  We felt the MDR dinners were much better on Anthem.  The service onboard blew NCL away, we never waited for a drink and loved the bar service around the pool.  The staff on Anthem was the best we've had.  We love NCL entertainment but again, other than Howl at the Moon, we felt it was much better on RCL.  The ship was beautiful but we did miss the Waterfront as well as the parties in H20.  I will agree that O'Sheehans and the Atrium are our favorite places and we didn't care for the Promenade as much.  We will definitely be sailing RCL again but we love our NCL.  I truly believe they are very similar with certain things we liked better on the other.  You will love NCL probably as much as you love RCL. 

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1 hour ago, FitchburgWIFamily said:

Disembarkation:  I don’t know what NCL does wrong, but so many times, disembarkation is a long long line snaking through a ship.  RCL we just walked off.

They too often don't enforce the times assigned to people. People just show up early, snarl the lines, and slow everything down.  

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I think you can see from the answers and if you were to ask the same question on RCCL it would match as well. There is no huge difference even though each line has its own personality. As you can see by the comments we all think a bit differently. The posting number 12 is a perfect example. Poster talks about service and how great is was on RCCI, we have had the exact opposite. One of the things we have always loved about NCL is the wonderful crew and service. Yes, sometimes the dining room service is a bit slow, but we have had that on all lines from time to time. 

People always talk about which line has the most nickel and diming. Our grand daughter splits their family cruises between NCL and RCCI> They like both lines but feel RCCI has more nickel and diming. I think you will find the lines more alike than different if you go with an open mind. Enjoy your cruise. 

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Just off our first NCL cruise (Escape NYC-BERMUDA 9/1)  .. 8 or 9 RC cruises before this and I have to say we were blown away by NCL.

 

Differences I noticed:  MDR  food.   NCL wins by a mile.   The MDR (free restaurants)  food on NCL was amazing.   Our expectations were not high, but we were very impressed by the food AND the service.  RC always seems understaffed in the MDR and the server teams are always harried and in a near panic.  You can see it on t heir faces.   And that hard sell by the RC staff to always give them highest scores .. that gets REAL tiring after a while .. its obnoxious.   There was none of that on NCL at all .. anywhere.

 

The buffet was a higher quality on NCL than the Windjammers on RCL.   Better selection, much easier to find seating as well, even on the sea days.   Amazing quality for a buffet.  (Hint: Margaritaville is awesome for breakfast .. free!   .. and very quiet .. made to order eggs and omelets there too .. loved it).

 

Bars:  There are bars all over this ship  .. never waited once .. bar staff were all fast and friendly.  RC is hit or miss in this area.

 

Staff in general on NCL just seemed more friendly and happier to be there than I've encountered on RC.   Just a more positive vibe on this ship.

 

RC is better with the self-disembarkation.   NCL could have handled this a little better re: being clear about the color coding .. and then enforcing it .. it was a free-for-all .. but we were still off the ship relatively fast.

 

My only NCL complaint:   they serve Pepsi products .. and not Coke.  Gross!   Lol

 

 

 

 

Edited by F27TW
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I agree with most everyone here.

The 2 lines are very similar with each having their own personalities.

After many rccl cruises, I sailed the Escape last year for my first ncl cruise in years.

It was a great deal, was sailing out of NYC and was going to Bermuda, which has my favorite beach.

I purposely paid a little more attention to the differences between the 2 lines as my previous cruise had been on Anthem, which I like a lot too.

I thought the food was very similar, but really enjoyed the freestyle setup on ncl.

Entertainment: I thought shows in the main theater were better on rccl. Actually, I thought they were much better on rccl.

With that said, I pretty much liked all the other entertainment in the smaller venues better and found it to be more lively on the Escape.

Howl at the Moon, Choir of Man (in the supper club then), live music in the District Brew House, activities at Spice. All outstanding fun!

The games and everything else in the atrium on the Escape was also more fun than rccl but, and it's a big but, it was just too crowded sometimes in the atrium and some of the stuff probably should have been in the theater.

I loved the waterfront on the Escape and look forward to the Observation lounge on Encore in January.

Service and all that kind of stuff, very similar too.

Overall, I have fun on each and every cruise I sail and at the end of 7 days on the Escape, I decided to not be loyal to any one line as they were very close in quality.

I chose Encore for my next cruise because it's brand new and the deal I found couldn't be passed up.

And even though I'm none to pleased with some of the design up on deck, I'm excited and know it will be great!

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Everyone has there own thing that they like.. there own preferences, I have sailed on both RCCL and NCL.. and both have their ups and downs.. When we sailed on NCL we felt like we were the youngest on the ship (40's) and they catered to an older crowd.. no biggy.. we had fun.. I tend to like RCCL a little more.. there drinks are better in my opinion.. and the food seemed the same on both lines.  I love cruising .. and wherever the deal is I go..lol  Enjoy your cruise.. 

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The facts that everyone posted earlier are true, so I will just give my opinions.  Note that we are early sixties and do flexible dining on Royal.

 

1.  You will have a good time on either line.

2.  Make sure that you are comparing similar ships.  That said, I prefer RCI ships, except for the daily sales in the stores that constantly block passage through the promenades

3.  NCL has a more relaxed, less stuffy, onboard atmosphere.

4.  Entertainment on both lines is well done and comes down to personal taste.  

5.  Included dining is better on NCL in both quality and options.  IMO, Royal MDR food has declined in recent years.  Specialty restaurants are about the same on both.  Some are worth it, some are not.

6.  NCL seems to have more upcharges.

7.  Embark/debark varies by sailing.  I have had very good and very bad on both lines.  Debark can often come down to customs.

8.  That said, I will go back to item 1.  I sail both and you will have a good time on either one.

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NCL can't compete with the Royal Oasis-class.  Compared to the smaller Royal ships, it's more up in the air.  The NCL ships are not very open, very small hallways and public spaces make it feel enclosed.  The pool areas are the worst designed at sea and just a crowded mess.  And drink package doesn't include bottled water, either.  But you can get free self-serve water at any bar anyways.

 

The entertainment quality on NCL is lightyears behind Royals Oasis-class, but not far off from the smaller ships, if not pretty much comparable.

 

The Waterfront is a killer feature on Getaway, and if that's your kind of thing, you'll love it.

 

The food is subjective, and I found it similar, at best.  NCL's food was definitely not "better" or "way better" in any way.  The freestyle dining is like MTD but much smoother/faster and well run.  So that's a plus.  We enjoyed the freestyle aspect quite a bit on NCL and they do it well.

 

Overall, I find it unlikely you'll be swayed to stick with NCL, but you may enjoy it enough where price/itinerary mean more than ship.  As you probably hear all the time, mass market cruises are generally more similar than different 🙂

 

When pricing is similar, we definitely prefer Royal.  But if the price is right, NCL is still a nice option.  I just really don't like how claustrophobic their big ships are.

Edited by BNBR
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On 9/19/2019 at 8:35 AM, DUBIDUB2 said:

We are RCCL Diamond cruise members and to be honest, absolutely love RCCL and the big ships.. But we have family on the Getaway on the 8th which trumps everything for me and looking forward to joining them out of New Orleans (also first time out of that port). So we are NCL virgins, bottom of the bottom I guess, on status et al. Curiously though, I have some questions so I'm "not surprised on the night" as they say!


So, what's your opinion on key differences in the cruise lines, ships, food, entertainment or anything else?

What's do I not get by having zero status on NCL?

Boarding process?


We have a mini-suite / Large balcony..

 

Thanks for your time.

 

We have done 7 NCL cruises and 2 on RCCL (also 11 on Celebrity).

We are Platinum on NCL and Diamond on RCCL.  The Diamond benefits are significantly better than the Platinum.  

We don't care for the NCL beverage packages, since the wines offered are not what we like.  Also, we don't care for the exaggerated value placed on the bev package ($99 per day) and the resulting 20% gratuity.

 

On NCL, we bring on our own wine (decline the beverage packages), pay the corkage and spend less on wine than if we had the bev package and paid the 20% gratuity.  

Further, on RCCL the diamond happy hour runs from 5pm-8:30 and you can order in the MDR.  On both our RCCL cruises we never had to pay for alcohol.

 

Entertainment is great on both lines.   RCCL even had great ice shows on some of its ships.  Still, I would rate both lines about the same.

 

Service is slightly better on RCCL and the MDR food is a little better than on NCL.  Of Course, we find Celebrity to have the best food and service.

 

One of NCL's strengths used to be its low cost specialty restaurants (also many to choose from).  Unfortunately, NCL recently raised its prices and that strength is no more.  RCCL's specialty restaurants are cheaper and just as good as NCL's.

 

Still, we compare prices and weigh each cruise, preferring Celebrity first, then RCCL then NCL.  Unfortunately, Celebrity's prices have really gone up, so we are trending to RCCL.

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We are Diamond Plus on RCCL (27 cruises) and Platinum Plus on NCL (21 cruises) and right now I have 6 cruises booked 5 on NCL and 1 on RCCL. Like them both but right now we stick pretty much to NCL. Did the Getaway this summer for a Baltic cruise and have done the Getaway about 3 or 4 times before that. Obviously I like the Getaway and I really enjoy the entertainment especially the Million Dollar Quartet but also Howl at the Moon. Food is not overly important to me but lately on our 7 night NCL cruises we eat in a specialty restaurant 5 nights but never have to pay for it because of the Platinum Plus perks and the dining perk we get for free except for gratuities. Also our Platinum Plus perks in my opinion are much better than the Diamond Plus perks on RCCL. Just my opinion but don't think you can go wrong with either. 

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On 9/19/2019 at 5:35 AM, DUBIDUB2 said:

We are RCCL Diamond cruise members and to be honest, absolutely love RCCL and the big ships.. But we have family on the Getaway on the 8th which trumps everything for me and looking forward to joining them out of New Orleans (also first time out of that port). So we are NCL virgins, bottom of the bottom I guess, on status et al. Curiously though, I have some questions so I'm "not surprised on the night" as they say!


So, what's your opinion on key differences in the cruise lines, ships, food, entertainment or anything else?

What's do I not get by having zero status on NCL?

Boarding process?


We have a mini-suite / Large balcony..

 

Thanks for your time.

 

I'm "in the same boat" as you. Diamond on Royal and sailing on Nov 8th on the Getaway. Anxious to see all of the comments.

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It really is one of those you won't know until you get there. 

 

Case in point - I don't find NCL's Away class claustrophobic inside as I like that so many of their bars/venues are more open than over on Royal most were enclosed. I frequently make a pass on 8 and can quickly see the atmosphere of each bar where with Royal I'd have to duck into most venues to see if I liked the current atmosphere or knew anyone there. 

 

I agree on the pools though - I was in the pools much more on Oasis than the Away ships. Though part of that is they don't have any pools in Spice which is where I spend most of my daylight hours - I spend hours in the water features though. Whereas Oasis has an adults-only pool that's more removed from where the kids are. 

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I too am Diamond on RCL and similar on Celebrity.

I did my first cruise on NCL in June on the Breakaway as it was the only sailing I could do with dates and land itinerary.

I was pleasantly surprised with the product. Food was excellent, bar staff terrific, embarkation really easy.

Disembarkation was total chaos, pool area is ridiculously small.

I found staff  on both cruiselines were mainly fabulous and have always been greeted with a smile and many remembered my name which I always find amazing.

Wouldn’t hesitate to sail NCL again (in fact I am on the Getaway in December, poker cruise).

I am sure you will have a great time (though I did miss the diamond lounge although I had the drinks package on NCL 😂 

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21 hours ago, FitchburgWIFamily said:

Staff:  (this may be sailing specific, but I’ll tell you what I observed) I have sailed on kind-of-big and very big NCL ships and on one very small Royal ship, but I think the staff on NCL does a better job of recognizing me and remembering me.   Bartenders remember my drink and call out to me as I walk by, stewards (not just mine by ones in the hall) remember me and my family and ask where my mom or my son is if I am walking without them.  Senior staff roam the dining rooms and bars and introduce themselves to you and leave you their cards.  On Royal we had one waiter (bar waiter) that was outstanding and remembered us and we sought him out, but to the rest of the staff we were just passenger x.

I have to second this.  I mostly cruise NCL, but I do at least one Anthem cruise a year since I get offers from Royal's casino.  I have yet to have anyone on the Anthem recognize me on repeat visits - but I have cruised 6 different NCL ships and EVERY time I cruise there are crew members that remember me  (and they are not faking it - they can actually recall details about my previous cruises that even I have forgotten!)  It feels like "family" when I step back onto an NCL ship.  I don't know how they do that, but they do it very well!

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