Jump to content

Does anyone else feel like RCL does ships way better than NCL?


Recommended Posts

I find the people flow on NCL really poor. Their flagship, the Breakaway class, has a pretty poor pool deck, and the atrium is super disappointing. It also feels way more crowded than say, RCL’s Oasis Class. I also feel RCL is more adventurous with their designs, and their designs are also very efficient and groundbreaking.

Link to post
Share on other sites

We had been on 7 NCL cruises on the Breakaway class when we found a great deal for the RCL Anthem of the Seas. We both loved RCL! The drink package was great with specialty coffees, fresh juice and bottled water. We loved the  Solarium for adults only. The ship never felt crowded and the choices of things to do made it so I know I need to go on the ship again so I can do the things I missed. Also there were two separate times that ship officers were walking around talking to passengers and we were able to talk to them about the differences between RCL and NCL. Both times we were thanked for our input. Never talked to a ship officer on any of our NCL cruises.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven’t been on NCL, but I have sailed on most major cruise lines including Royal. I do believe that Royal has always had some of the best ship designs, even going back to the Sovereign class days. They’ve always wowed me.

 

The Oasis class feeling less crowded is not by chance. A lot of thought went into designing these ships. I watched a documentary explaining how these ships were conceived from the ground up, and how they are designed to control the crowds, even before you set foot on the ship at the cruise terminal, and I was just mesmerized at all the details. They are true engineering marvels.

 

The only ship that has come anywhere near wowing me the way that the Oasis class did has been the MSC Meraviglia. We had a fantastic time on this cruise, and I found myself wowed more than once as we explored the ship. But even though I consider her second to the Oasis class in terms of wow factor, she’s a distant second.

 

I don’t know about the way that NCL conceives and designs their ships, but other cruise lines haven’t been as innovative or revolutionary as Royal for sure. They’ve taken a more conservative and probably less risky approach. For example, Carnival created the Destiny class back in the 90’s, which at the time was considered revolutionary breaking the 100,000 ton mark for the first time, but every ship class since then for the next 20+  years has just been an enlarged version of the first design. Destiny, Conquest, Dream, Vista, each one has followed the same general layout but adding more tonnage and stuffing more passengers without really addressing crowd control issues.  

 

We will be taking our first NCL cruise aboard the Encore and I’m truly looking forward to it. I’ll make an educated assessment then. 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, GemsJetsSilhouettes said:

I find the people flow on NCL really poor. Their flagship, the Breakaway class, has a pretty poor pool deck, and the atrium is super disappointing. It also feels way more crowded than say, RCL’s Oasis Class. I also feel RCL is more adventurous with their designs, and their designs are also very efficient and groundbreaking.

 

Yes!  The breakaway is PAINFUL in cold weather.  We did the TA last year in October.  I do not want to rehash all

my complaints on that ship but you can read about it on our blog.  We never go to the end of our live blog.  Just didn’t have time,  but we got almost to the end live blogging it.

 

Http://www.thesmallworldfamily.com

 

it is not monetized.  No ads.  No TA references.  Just a personal blog.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Am going to have to disagree with some people here.  We recently sailed on the Anthem and felt that the Promenade was always very crowded, never felt that way on the Breakaway.  I have claustrophobia and felt like it was closing in on us a few times.  We love the Waterfront, H20 at night for entertainment as well as all the windows in the Atrium on BA.  The Observation lounge on Anthem was a very far walk to see the water.  The Music Hall was extremely overwhelming if you are concerned with closed in spaces, thankfully we were upstairs near the rail and it wasn't so bad, which is why I enjoy all the entertainment as a lot of it is at H20 on the BA.  There were things we loved about Anthem but also things we missed from BA.  We will sail RCL again but do prefer the more open feeling of the Breakaway and Getaway.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Royal especially with the Oasis class does do a better job with ship design.  However, I like that  NCL has a set policy for its larger ships that you can make dining show reservations at 90 days out.  With RCL, its anyone's guess when they will open up reservations.  With NCL, you can make specialty dining reservations in advance when you have a dining package.  With Royal, you cannot make dining reservations in advance with a dining package.   I loved the spa on the Epic and I hear that the Bliss spa is even nicer.

Link to post
Share on other sites

 We have not sailed with  NCL but looking at ship tours on YouTube, their pool decks are simply abysmal. Not inviting at all.    Plus we have direct feedback from friends regarding the atrium smelling like smoke due to the proximity of the casinos on their newer ships.  No thanks.  Plus I love Royals promenade on many of their ships.  So much nice than atriums IMO

 

We had a cruise booked on NCL but decided to cancel it when something better came along on Royal Caribbean.  I was looking forward to the late night O’ Sheehans on NCL and some of the fun looking bars but there were too many negatives vs Royal.

 

Dan

Link to post
Share on other sites

Only one cruise on NCL.  Twenty years of cruises on Royal and X.

 

Breakaway 2018.  14 days to Caribbean from New York City Manhattan Cruise Terminal early frigid months of 2018.

Great Itinerary, clean neat Stateroom with oversized veranda,

Boarding process HORRIBLE .. More than 2 hours sitting in cold terminal while people jammed the gangways trying to get off the ship and locate their luggage then finally we were allowed to board in bumper to bumper traffic up the gangway.

We have no real problem with smoking however an hour or two in the casino could produce a pastrami.,

Everyone seemed to have the free drink package and the bars were very crowded. Getting a drink while at a show, by the pool or in the casino meant getting one yourself.

Specialty restaurants .. meh...The Churrascaria was good but aside from the meats and the roast pineapple was not great.

Returning to New York there was NO LIMIT on luggage tags of any color (time of debarkation),you just took whatever color you wanted.  I think the entire ship chose our color not only did this cause tremendous confusion as to where to wait, since half the ship had the same color but also created shoulder to shoulder, back to front traffic all the way from the ship to the terminal.

Luggage was separated by color as well. ONLY there were different and separate places for our color in the terminal and you had to look from one to the other until you found your bags. 

To use the elevator to the upper deck where your car is parked required you to drag your bags out of the terminal and then back into it at a different place...….

NEVER AGAIN

Last cruise out of Cape Liberty this year. 

Stopped our car so the porters could take our bags.

Drove into the covered parking building and parked.

Walked 5 minutes to the terminal.

Walked onto the Anthem within 10 minutes of entering the HEATED terminal.

Returning to Cape Liberty, Walked off at our designated time

Found our well segregated luggage

Had our faces scanned electronically and we walked to our car.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
23 minutes ago, The Fun Researcher said:

 We have not sailed with  NCL but looking at ship tours on YouTube, their pool decks are simply abysmal. Not inviting at all.    Plus we have direct feedback from friends regarding the atrium smelling like smoke due to the proximity of the casinos on their newer ships.  No thanks.  Plus I love Royals promenade on many of their ships.  So much nice than atriums IMO

 

We had a cruise booked on NCL but decided to cancel it when something better came along on Royal Caribbean.  I was looking forward to the late night O’ Sheehans on NCL and some of the fun looking bars but there were too many negatives vs Royal.

 

Dan

Three cruises on BA never smelled smoke in Atrium.  If you like feeling confined the Promenade is the place to be.  We loved the Waterfront and all the outdoor areas of BA.  Probably wouldn't cruise Anthem again but would cruise RC.  O'Sheehans was a lot of fun and nothing like it on Anthem.  We loved the Atrium being in the middle of the ship where you could watch entertainment from O'Sheehans or the Atrium with beautiful views of the water.  The Promenade was dark and dreary and reminded us of a shopping mall.

Link to post
Share on other sites
16 minutes ago, MightyMike said:

A while ago we almost booked the Norwegian Epic. This video changed our minds:

 

 

Jeez, that bathroom door doesn't leave much to the imagination does it! 

 

(crosses NCL Epic off the 'to do' list!)

Edited by ZiggaZagga17
Link to post
Share on other sites

Put me on any ship and I will find things I love and things not so much. That being said I will say that one of the highlights of my almost 50 cruises was being able to have nice dinners out on deck while watching the sunset. This was along the waterfront on the Escape. And not a burger, this was at the Brazilian restaurant and also the steakhouse. Great food, great service and a view that absolutely was second to none! Nothing like it and why I plan to cruise the Breakaway after the Allure. I personally enjoy mixing things up and always try to find the best, not the worst on any ship. After all, I'm on a cruise!!!!!

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, sunkey1 said:

Put me on any ship and I will find things I love and things not so much. That being said I will say that one of the highlights of my almost 50 cruises was being able to have nice dinners out on deck while watching the sunset. This was along the waterfront on the Escape. And not a burger, this was at the Brazilian restaurant and also the steakhouse. Great food, great service and a view that absolutely was second to none! Nothing like it and why I plan to cruise the Breakaway after the Allure. I personally enjoy mixing things up and always try to find the best, not the worst on any ship. After all, I'm on a cruise!!!!!

Absolutely agree with this. Haven't had a bad cruise yet.

Link to post
Share on other sites

We likely would have enjoyed the breakaway much more if the weather was good,  but NCL sends this ship to the Baltic and Scandinavia Which makes no sense as it negates al this nice features like the waterfront. There is no indoor pool or hot tub except for the suites.

 

The ship was just not designed for cold weather. The interior capacity for people is so low, there are no eats available.  They opened up the MDRs during the day to help relieve the overcrowding.  That is direct acknowledgement of the total lack of interior space.  The lack of any large lounges just compounds the problems.

Edited by rimmit
Link to post
Share on other sites

I probably prefer RCL overall but we have been on a couple of NCL cruises and would not hesitate to book with NCL again if the itinerary was what we wanted. We were on NCL Bliss last year to Alaska  and had one of our best cruises ever.  It is an outstanding ship. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
59 minutes ago, thistimeplease said:

Three cruises on BA never smelled smoke in Atrium.  If you like feeling confined the Promenade is the place to be.  We loved the Waterfront and all the outdoor areas of BA.  Probably wouldn't cruise Anthem again but would cruise RC.  O'Sheehans was a lot of fun and nothing like it on Anthem.  We loved the Atrium being in the middle of the ship where you could watch entertainment from O'Sheehans or the Atrium with beautiful views of the water.  The Promenade was dark and dreary and reminded us of a shopping mall.

 

It was the Escape and another ship in the same class.  It's a fairly common complaint (smoke spilling from casino to Atrium).

 

What Royal Caribbean Promenade are you referring to? (Freedom,  Voyager or Oasis class?)    They are the largest interior open space of any ships at sea.  The exact opposite of confined.

 

Also the Freedom and Voyager classes (and maybe more) have a deck 4 that is also very quiet with open views of the sea.  No restaurant open to that area, but it's quiet and open and wraps around almost the entire ship, plus the helipad area that is completely open and accessible. 

 

Dan

Edited by The Fun Researcher
Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, The Fun Researcher said:

 

It was the Escape and another ship in the same class.  It's a fairly common complaint (smoke spilling from casino to Atrium).

 

What Royal Caribbean Promenade are you referring to? (Freedom,  Voyager or Oasis class?)    They are the largest interior open space of any ships at sea.  The exact opposite of confined.

 

Also the Freedom and Voyager classes (and maybe more) have a deck 4 that is also very quiet with open views of the sea.  No restaurant open to that area, but it's quiet and open and wraps around almost the entire ship, plus the helipad area that is completely open and accessible. 

 

Dan

It was the Anthem, not sure what class that is, but the Promenade was extremely claustrophobic .  Felt like a shopping mall to us. We loved getting pizza at Sorrentinos but I don't consider that the same as lobster rolls on the waterfront or snacks in O'Sheehans.  Haven't been on any other Royal ships but perhaps in the future.  To each their own and my opinion is that the BA is a much nicer setup than the Anthem.

Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, thistimeplease said:

It was the Anthem, not sure what class that is, but the Promenade was extremely claustrophobic .  Felt like a shopping mall to us. We loved getting pizza at Sorrentinos but I don't consider that the same as lobster rolls on the waterfront or snacks in O'Sheehans.  Haven't been on any other Royal ships but perhaps in the future.  To each their own and my opinion is that the BA is a much nicer setup than the Anthem.

 

The anthems promenade is not called a promenade.  It’s the “esplanade”.  The difference being the promenade runs the width of the ship for the full length.  The esplanade only runs about halfway down and the michael’s or whatever the pub name is is plopped in the middle and above it is schooner bar taking away that super wide open space.  The “esplanade” is more confined than the “promenade” on the freedom, voyager and Oasis class ships. Plus you have the bionic bar and other venues eating into the space above as well which further decreases the openness of it.

Link to post
Share on other sites
56 minutes ago, thistimeplease said:

It was the Anthem, not sure what class that is, but the Promenade was extremely claustrophobic .  Felt like a shopping mall to us. We loved getting pizza at Sorrentinos but I don't consider that the same as lobster rolls on the waterfront or snacks in O'Sheehans.  Haven't been on any other Royal ships but perhaps in the future.  To each their own and my opinion is that the BA is a much nicer setup than the Anthem.

 

Can't argue with you.  I've never been on the Anthem, and one of my concerns was just what you describe about the Esplanade.  O'Sheehans is a real plus for NCL in my books.


Dan

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, rimmit said:

 

The anthems promenade is not called a promenade.  It’s the “esplanade”.  The difference being the promenade runs the width of the ship for the full length.  The esplanade only runs about halfway down and the michael’s or whatever the pub name is is plopped in the middle and above it is schooner bar taking away that super wide open space.  The “esplanade” is more confined than the “promenade” on the freedom, voyager and Oasis class ships. Plus you have the bionic bar and other venues eating into the space above as well which further decreases the openness of it.

Didn't know that but explains a lot.  We are currently looking into a cruise on the Freedom of the Seas for next year so this info is good to know.  We generally book by price and itinerary and the Freedom is offering what we are looking for.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have sailed both lines, but haven't done RCI for some years. I have a cruise out of Tampa on Rhapsody in February.

Have done Mariner & Adventure and a much smaller ship out of San Juan (name escapes me). It was a 10 night repo to Norfolk.

Have done Escape & Epic big ships and Dawn, Pearl and Star (smaller). I like the smaller ships, but I think they will go away at some point due to economy of scale.

I guess you could call me and NCL loyalist, but the price of the next one was too good to pass up.

The bathroom thing on Epic didn't really bother us. After 50 years of marriage, there aren't too many secrets. I didn't care for the  ship layout. It was several days before we discovered the outside (limited) promenade.

So what are the plusses for NCL? Refundable deposits($50 vs. $500).  Booking dining in advance. More specialty restaurants to choose from. The included 3-night dining and drink package. Yes you pay gratuities, but it's still reasonable. The thermal spas. And finally, freestyle dining. Not snobbish, but don't like being locked into a set dining time with someone talking about their recent surgery or last divorce.

We are doing Anytime in Feb. Will report how that goes.

Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, The Fun Researcher said:

Plus we have direct feedback from friends regarding the atrium smelling like smoke due to the proximity of the casinos on their newer ships.

 

This was fixed, starting with the Bliss.  The Bliss, Joy and upcoming Encore (Breakaway+ class, their ACTUAL newer ships as they're the 3 most recently built ships) all have walled-off smoking areas in the casino.  Not sure about the Encore but on Bliss and Joy there are only 3 places you can smoke - starboard side of Spice H2o (adults only outdoor deck at the aft of the ship, think Solarium), as a player in the smoking section of the casino, as a cigar smoker in the Humidor cigar lounge.  Encore seems to be omitting Spice so that smoking area may move to the Waterfront from what I've read.

 

@MightyMike the Epic was an epic fail with regards to the bathrooms in the cabins.  That ship was a one-off, with most cabins on subsequent ships going back to a traditional layout.  I say "most cabins" because the studio cabins have the split bathroom layout but in those it doesn't much matter.

 

One thing I didn't miss on the Bliss compared to Anthem - the always-crowded sales down the promenade, making the area overcrowded.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, hallux said:

 

This was fixed, starting with the Bliss.  The Bliss, Joy and upcoming Encore (Breakaway+ class, their ACTUAL newer ships as they're the 3 most recently built ships) all have walled-off smoking areas in the casino.  Not sure about the Encore but on Bliss and Joy there are only 3 places you can smoke - starboard side of Spice H2o (adults only outdoor deck at the aft of the ship, think Solarium), as a player in the smoking section of the casino, as a cigar smoker in the Humidor cigar lounge.  Encore seems to be omitting Spice so that smoking area may move to the Waterfront from what I've read.

 

That's great to hear.  Thank you for the update.

 

Dan

Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, rimmit said:

Yes!  The breakaway is PAINFUL in cold weather.

 

I like having pool/hot tub access, so I probably would not consider a Breakaway/BA+ class ship in cold weather unless getting a Spa Pass or Haven Suite.  For people that are less concerned with pool access, this may be a non issue.  The newest ships of the class have large observation lounges that look great for cold weather cruising.

 

13 hours ago, Tapi said:

I don’t know about the way that NCL conceives and designs their ships, but other cruise lines haven’t been as innovative or revolutionary as Royal for sure.

 

I think NCL is closer to Royal in terms of innovation, than, say, Carnival.  The big NCL ships don't have quite all of the same bells and whistles, but they offer a lot.  In terms of amenities, it really comes down to what the individual cruiser prefers.  If you prefer go karts to ice rinks, etc...  I do think that NCL's layout doesn't deal with crowds quite as well, but a number of small tweaks on the BA+ ships seem to help somewhat.  

 

8 hours ago, The Fun Researcher said:

It was the Escape and another ship in the same class.  It's a fairly common complaint (smoke spilling from casino to Atrium).

 

The confusion might be that BA/BA+ ships really have two atriums.  The forward one is two decks and called the atrium.  It is used for certain events and is adjacent to O'Sheehan's and guest services.  The aft one is a three deck atrium that is not referred to as an atrium by NCL.  It is an open area connecting three levels of bars, entertainment venues, and the casino.  Smoke from the casino wafts up and down the open area and can impact any of the venues that are open to this area.  So there can be smoke issues in "an" atrium, but generally not in "the" atrium.  

 

As @hallux noted, improvements are being made on the newest ships.

 

17 hours ago, GemsJetsSilhouettes said:

I find the people flow on NCL really poor. Their flagship, the Breakaway class, has a pretty poor pool deck, and the atrium is super disappointing.

 

I can't really argue with any of those points, though it varies by ship and there are options (spa passes, vibe), that can improve things.  Still, with the Haven up front and numerous venues (ropes courses, laser tag, go karts, etc. depending on ship) further aft, the "traditional" area of the pool deck is pretty tight.  Newer ships devote even more space to the Haven and Vibe, further reducing available space if you don't have access to those areas. 

 

I think the waterfront is a wonderful area and makes up for this to some extent by providing comfortable, quiet outdoor space.  If you want to read by the water, it is great, but if you want a sunny spot next to the band stand it won't really help!

 

I do feel the Atrium is not well suited to the events they have in there.  Not enough seating for popular shows, and the crowds of people watching block a major thoroughfare on the ship.  I wish they moved the most popular events to the theater or another large venue.

 

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, AL3XCruise said:

I do feel the Atrium is not well suited to the events they have in there.  Not enough seating for popular shows, and the crowds of people watching block a major thoroughfare on the ship.  I wish they moved the most popular events to the theater or another large venue.

 

You make a pretty accurate assessment of what we encountered.  In a cold weather cruise the atrium chairs were like pool chairs. People would put canes, books, kindles to reserve the seats and by 8am they were all gone. And people would camp them out for pretty much the whole day.   So if you only wanted to do one of the activities, there was no way you were getting a seat.  After two Days on our Cruise they removed all the coffee tables and replaced them with sears but that only added a small amount of seating.  Not enough for all the people who wanted to do trivia.

 

Trivia eventually was moved around from the dining rooms, the Spiegel tent, and the theater based on availability as the atrium after one day proved to be woefully inadequate.  You really had to pay attention as you never knew where trivia would end up.

Edited by rimmit
Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Forum Assistance
      • Q&A with Chris Prelog, President of Windstar Cruises!
      • Register Now for Cruise Critic Live Special Event: Royal Caribbean
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...