Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
Jammu2

Hal vs Celebrity for the value cruiser

Recommended Posts

A few months back I posted my comparison of HAL with Royal. You can read that [here]. I noted that we would be sailing with Celebrity in October. And so we did. I have a review of the cruise pending (I will update this post when it publishes) but I wanted to get my thoughts down on the differences while my memories of the cruise are still fresh.

 

This was only our second Celebrity cruise. Our first, on Century, was pretty dreary. She was sold within a year of our cruise so that might have had something to do with it. This time we got a good deal through my spouse's connection with MLife, and his parents have status with Royal so Celebrity was a good compromise for a family cruise.

 

The Ship

 

Celebrity Eclipse is a beautiful ship in great shape. At 2852 passengers, she is larger than any HAL ship. She will be “Edgified” next year and more suites and cabins will be added. I hate it when they do this.

 

We found the ship to be a bit more crowded at peak times than Vista or Signature Class ships of the HAL line. Yet there were plenty of places to go to have a quieter experience. We almost always found a table to play cards when we wanted to. There were open chairs on the decks. No squabbling over deck chairs like you read all the time on the Celebrity forums.. 

 

The ship was very quiet early in the morning. We like to get up early and get coffee, head to the gym, then have breakfast. We had the ship almost to ourselves from, say, 5 am to 7 am. I don’t typically swim in a cruise ship pool, but the adults only Solarium pool at 7 am was usually empty, and I think if we go again I will try it.

 

The gym was great. Lots of room. We had a small group of regulars early in the morning and save for one day there were plenty of machines for everyone. I enjoyed the daily stretch classes (which were free) and they had a variety of classes for a $18 fee. It seems like the classes were pretty well attended. Sometimes the HAL classes only have one or two people in them. Very comparable.

 

The Food

 

I would say the HAL Lido Market Buffet is definitely better than the buffet on the Eclipse, both in terms of variety and quality. There were “daily specials” on both lines but the Celebrity specials, well, weren’t very special. 

 

We were always able to find a table for 4 in the Oceans Buffet, whereas we did have some waiting at times on Oosterdam. 

 

If the Buffet is better on HAL, I think the Main Dining Room experience is pretty much even. Some hits, some misses. The Celebrity Chic Night menu was good, and the Beef Wellington was tasty. One of our party had the lobster and it was “okay.” 

 

Service

 

Both lines have good service. I have an impression that the ships owned by RCI have more service issues but that was not apparent on the Eclipse. We had perhaps the best main dining room service we’ve ever had on any cruise line. That is high praise.

 

Service at the Cafe al Bacio was excellent. As were the drinks and pastries. I'd say coffee drinks similar to Explorers Cafe, but treats much more diverse at Bacio.

 

The room attendant was very efficient. We follow a pretty set schedule and he worked with it almost exactly and we never came back to an unmade bed.

 

Officers were very visible throughout the ship. Captain Leo is a real professional. Very engaging. He was on the gangway at departure saying goodbye to the passengers.

 

Persian Garden vs Thalassotherapy

 

I bought the PG pass ($149 for 10 days the day of sailing) partly because we had onboard credit to spend. There is no pool. The steam and dry aromatherapy rooms were much larger than on HAL ships, and both worked! (My last two cruises on HAL one or the other was out of order for the duration). The heated loungers were nearly identical. Where HAL gets the nod is the therapy pool. There is no equivalent on Eclipse. In my opinion, if you like the water, the HAL spa pass is a much better deal.

 

Also note, steam and dry sauna are available for adults in the spa changing rooms on Eclipse. You don’t need a special pass to use them. So unless you like the heated loungers, you really don't need to buy a PG pass.

 

Perks

 

I don’t really care about perks, but my inlaws do. They have status on Royal which is reciprocated (minus one level) on Celebrity. They get free drinks at “happy hour” and some other perks that they enjoy and that is what keeps them loyal to Royal. They keep telling us the HAL perks are pretty skimpy and their Carnival status doesn’t get reciprocated. This matters to some people and probably should be looked at.

 

Passengers

 

Celebrity passengers are a pretty diverse cross section of people. We heard multiple languages being spoken. All ages. There were kids, but not many of them. The passengers seem to stay up later and get up later. They seem to drink more alcohol and the bars are pretty busy. There were tons of activities on the sea days. They had a passenger choir! Lots to do. Much more than HAL. So something to consider if you like to be entertained. It did seem as though the Eclipse passengers were, overall, somewhat younger than on the typical 10 day plus HAL sailing. Perhaps a bit pushier than your typical HAL passengers.

 

Entertainment

 

Well, what can I say? Of course entertainment on Eclipse was much more a focus than on any HAL ship I’ve been on. It really is no contest. The live music nightly in the Atrium is also a nice plus. It was somewhat uneven quality wise, but it was nice to have that going on. It brought life to the center of the ship.

 

Summary

 

I would sail Celebrity again. Their boards are full of people bemoaning the cutbacks, complaining about Edgification, cutting up the ships into classes, etc. But from my perspective, the Eclipse offered a nice cruise.

 

I still look at itinerary first. HAL continues to have better itineraries. For example, January 2021 we are considering Antarctica. I would not sail Eclipse to Antarctica. For one, the bow is only open to Suite passengers. But besides that, the HAL Santiago to BA itinerary is just better.

 

Value. HAL provides some great value for the money. We got a good deal on our Celebrity Hawaii cruise. But if we allow our MLife status to lapse by not going to Las Vegas this year, that value will be gone. Overall, prices are higher on Celebrity.

 

Our next cruise will be Westerdam Japan Transpacific 2020. We will probably look for a Celebrity cruise to appease the inlaws. Maybe New England in the fall.

Edited by Jammu2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the comparison.  Having sailed Celebrity three times, I agree with you on most points; however, we still prefer HAL because we prefer the more traditional cruising experience that they offer.  At my age, I'm also looking at itineraries, and yes, HAL wins that point hands down IMO.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They are both good cruise lines.

 

Why on earth does it have to be one at the exclusion of the other?  Why not select the ship and the itinerary that that meets your personal preferences.  Really...must it always be the same cruise line?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Jammu2 said:

 Overall, prices are higher on Celebrity.

 

 

 

Noted.

 

Thanks for the comparison. Very useful.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Concur with all your comments. While we have enjoyed our last two cruises on HAL (K-dam 7 NS), we look forward to returning to Celebrity (Millennium) for our next cruise.  Sea days on HAL are quite devoid of activities. As others have said, both lines provide an excellent cruise. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've cruised twice on both lines in the last 18 months. I agree with most points. We enjoyed the X lunch buffet a little more than HAL, the HAL dining room a little more than X. Service was great on both.

 

On entertainment, the X shows and "special activities" are better than HAL, but we love live music and really enjoyed the BB Kings Blues lounge on all occassions. Slight edge to X for us.

 

We are deal hunters and have found better deals on HAL which is what drew us there to start with. We're cruising HAL this December with the best deal we have ever gotten on a cruise.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

O.P.:

I apologize if I missed it in your (insightful and well-written) comparison, but what was the itinerary of your Celebrity cruise?

Jim

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, jimdee3636 said:

O.P.:

I apologize if I missed it in your (insightful and well-written) comparison, but what was the itinerary of your Celebrity cruise?

Jim

 

It was Hawaii - 10 nt Hono to Vancouver. So, Lahaina, Kona, Hilo, Hilo. Not the best Hawaiian itinerary out there but it came back to Vancouver and we could just drive home.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Enjoyed your comparison. We sail both lines about equally but I prefer HAL overall, as a better value. Always enjoy the full promenades, and I find the ships to deliver a lot of class and comfort vs X’s trendiness.

 

That said, I think the X repeater benefits and suite amenities are superior.

 

Regarding the therapy pool, have you sailed any of the Millenium class X ships with the Thalassotherapy pool? It’s the solarium, adults only pool, not located in the spa. I loved it on Constellation,

 

Regarding the entertainment, I really enjoyed the Music Walk on Nieuw Statendam this year - lots more variety in several venues, making for an evening’s worth of good performances worth staying up for, vs what we’ve seen on past HAL cruises.

Edited by Caribbean Chris

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/16/2019 at 4:44 PM, Jammu2 said:

 

Service at the Cafe al Bacio was excellent. As were the drinks and pastries. I'd say coffee drinks similar to Explorers Cafe, but treats much more diverse at Bacio.

 

 

I agree with almost all of your post. Thank you for your opinion on the 2 lines.  I just want to comment on this one piece.  

 

I'm not sure if you've cruised HAL recently on one of the ships where they combined the cafe in the Crows Nest with the bar, but the treats are pretty much gone now.  All they had on Eurodam were small biscotti.  Now, there is absolutely no comparison between Cafe al Bacio and Explorations Cafe.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We've cruised 4 times on Celebrity in the past few years on the S-class ships to the Caribbean, the longest 14 days which they stopped doing for whatever reason except people spend more on shorter cruises. We always book inside cabins well because that's what we can afford and they're nice and we know where to book on the ships.

Nevertheless, we priced a cruise to the Caribbean for 11 or 12 days and the price for Celebrity was $450-500 p\p HIGHER on Celebrity than it was for 11 days on the Koningsdam. For that much we are almost paying for 1 person for the entire cruise on HAL. I think Celebrity is starting to price themselves out of the traditional cruiser value market. The S-class are very nice ships and they have nice features but Koningsdam is a very new ship and is going to some very nice ports. We were on HAL before (Veendam NY Bermuda) and the food was very good and the service and crew excellent. We've read good things about the Koningsdam. So we are back to HAL.

We are a young at heart couple in our early 60's. We'll let you know how it goes.

Enjoy your cruising days.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jammu's very well-presented comparison matches my 2-cruise experience with Celebrity as well. I would like to add that HAL's "pool casual" food like burgers and pizza is superior to those served in Celebrity. I managed to find good deals for Celebrity (outside or balcony for about $100/day incldg taxes) in 2018, but haven't seen such bargain values so far this year. You can't really go wrong either way, but I would look to HAL first for port-heavy itineraries and X for cruises with a significant percentage of days at sea.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, vicd1969 said:

Jammu's very well-presented comparison matches my 2-cruise experience with Celebrity as well. I would like to add that HAL's "pool casual" food like burgers and pizza is superior to those served in Celebrity. I managed to find good deals for Celebrity (outside or balcony for about $100/day incldg taxes) in 2018, but haven't seen such bargain values so far this year. You can't really go wrong either way, but I would look to HAL first for port-heavy itineraries and X for cruises with a significant percentage of days at sea.

 

Very good points, thank you. My spouse is the burger connoisseur and he says the HAL Dive In is far superior to Celebrity's burgers.

 

 

 

Edited by Jammu2
Words...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Agree with the entertainment comparison that has Celebrity clearly in front and also with the buffet being better on HAL and dining room food  food similar (although the DW has HAL clearly in front on the latter). The HAL burgers are way in front while Celebrity hot dogs are better. Pizza quality variies significantly on HAL with the New York pizza clearly out pointing Celebrity Solstice pizza on our onlt Celebrity cruise this month.

 

What did surprise me was the lack of service regarding keeping tables clean and tidy at the outside bars on Celebrity. On HAL staff have an almost manic clean up attitude to ensuring tables are clear and clean whilst on the Solstice it seemed they hardly ever did it - ashtrays full, table tops dirty and empty cans/bottles/glasses seemed to be the norm. One afternoon on the Solstice I had 5 beers and all the bottles remained on the table until after I left - this would never have happened on HAL in my experience.

 

I would gladly sail Celebrity again but we will look to HAL in the first instance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello all!

We are four star on HAL (and prefer HAL, all else being equal) but are also "Elite" on Celebrity.  Celebrity pricing has gone up a lot in the last several years, so now we watch for a deal, always after final payment date.  Sailed on Equinox for July 4 this year and got a deal on "Aqua class" which was surely a step above the norm.  At about $150/pp/day that is still more than we typically spend on HAL but the small dining room "BLU" was a very nice upgrade.

Just want to say that the Lido buffet on Equinox "Blew us away."  They had fresh fish on ice multiple times for lunch, with the chefs filleting the fish in front of you and cooking it however you wanted it.  Maybe that is unusual but we had the best seafood ever on any cruise on the Equinox.  Calimari was available every day, and as my wife can't eat breaded items (Gluten-free) they offered to saute' special for her.

So far as the frequent guest programs, we love the 'free laundry' on HAL, but also like the 'free happy hour' on Celebrity.  We are not big drinkers so the chance for a few in the evening before dinner negates any need for a beverage package.  HAL drinks are cost-effective, especially during their version of happy hour, and the 4-star wine package discount is greatly appreciated (nothing like that on Celebrity).

Keep on cruising!

Edited by StartrainDD
spelling fix

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Comparisons between the lines can be useful; but only to a certain point and probably only if one is properly comparing the physically comparable ships for their differences in prices and cruise amenities. We have extensively sailed on Celebrity, covering every class ship in their fleet going back to their original Constellation class (e.g. Century), M Class (e.g. Millenium) and S class (e.g. Solstice), more frequently on the S class.  Most recently we have sailed on the new Konigsdam (Pinnacle Class) and the recently refurbed Westerdam (Signature class).  Here are some thoughts based on our experiences.

To begin, Celebrity’s newish  (they are 10 years old now) S class ships most closely compare to HAL’s Pinnacle class (only 3 years old). Celebrity S class ships are larger than HAL Pinnacle class ships physically (tonnage) and in passenger capacity. Celebrity’s older M class (approaching 20 years old) compares closest to HAL’s Signature Class ( 10years+ old) or older Vista class ships (also nearing  20 years); although again Celebrity ships are still larger both physically and in capacity. Holland’s fleet is quite a bit larger than Celebrity’s which allows them to offer a much wider choice of itineraries and schedules. We sail primarily the Caribbean and have found that in recent years Celebrity itineraries have become a bit stale and that they have significantly raised their prices. HAL pricing still represents good value and they offer many more options for extended cruising, i.e.  longer than 10 or 11 day, which we prefer.

 

In comparing Celebrity to HAL we give the Pinnacle class ships advantage for varied entertainment offerings; e.g. World Stage, Lincoln Center, Rolling Stone and B.B. Kings. The BBC film with live music accompaniment in the main showroom on the HAL Pinnacle ships is unique. The circular 280 degree wrap around World Stage on HAL is unique and allows things to be done that a normal stage doesn’t accommodate. But HALS’s Pinnacle class ship showroms seat far less than any Celebrity showroom and sometimes it can be a challenge to get a seat unless one arrives pretty early.  Celebrity seems to offer more themed shows using on board dancers than HAL. My wife misses the shows on Celebrity, I don’t. HAL Pinnacle class ships have free movies under the stars (retractable roof) if you like that. Celebrity S class ships have an extra charge Taste of Film outdoors; not really directly comparable to HAL’s on deck movies. If you are into onboard shopping (get your gold chain and rope by the foot LOL) then go Celebrity; much better shopping options.  HAL wins for their cruise line sponsored off boat experience Half Moon Cay. Celebrity doesn’t have a private island.

 

Dining is very subjective. So, take this for what it’s worth. We have always found the dining on both Celebrity and HAL to be excellent, or a t least live up to our expectations based on what we paid for the cruises. We think Celebrity S class Ocean View buffet layout which uses distinct serving islands vs the more traditional linear food line layout of HAL ships Lido is superior.  We also think the buffet selections on Celebrity are more extensive than on HAL; otherwise both comparable in quality.  Casual free and extra cost reserved dining on each line is similar; although we would take the Tuscan Grill on Celebrity over HAL’s Canaletto any day. Tamarind on HAL is exceptional for the price; we thought it was the best extra charge restaurant they offer. Poolside food options on HAL Pinnacle class include the excellent New York Deli and Pizza; nothing quite like it on Celebrity. Dive-In (hamburgers and hot dogs) on Hal compares to Mast Grill on Celebrity but we liked Dive-In better. Celebrity has Café al Bacio coffee bars; HAL Pinnacle shops have both Explorers Café and Grand Dutch Café. Café al Bacio is better than Explorers for diversity of bites and has much better service. Explorers on HAL seems to be regularly understaffed. Throw the Grand Dutch Café with their free Dutch themed food items (not just bites) into the equation and then HAL looks to be equal or slightly better. Our last year’s cruise on Konigsdam they had a Mexican Taco buffet/food bar poolside for lunch; nothing like that on Celebrity.

 

Bar Crawl? Celebrity in our opinion wins this easily just on the basis of their well-known ice-topped Martini bars which remain quite lively and vibrant well into the late night; nothing like on HAL.  Celebrity S class ships have World Class Bar which is themed on the concept of mixology; nothing similar on HAL. In general, disregarding dink packages, drink prices seem cheaper than on Celebrity.

 

Depending on specific HAL ship there may be smoking allowed in the casino, Celebrity has eliminated interior smoking fleetwide several years ago. Winner, Celebrity.

 

All in all at the right price and depending on the itinerary and sailing length we would have no issues travelling on either line. We like them both. Right now we are searching for an extended length cruise this winter but I think my own observations have me convinced to concentrate searching for a Holland cruise.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for chiming in. I was trying to interest family members in doing an Alaska cruise on Koningsdam, to try the larger, newer HAL ship. I hope we can.

 

Also, I did not address smoking. I totally agree that smoke-free inside is preferred. I was, frankly, surprised to see people smoking in Oosterdams casino in 2019.

Edited by Jammu2
Add

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Don’t confuse shopping for value with shopping for price.  Many people view these two as very different.  We certainly do.

Share this post


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
      • Q&A: Cruise Insurance with Steve Dasseos of TripInsuranceStore.com
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...