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pindertulip

Choosing a cruise based on the ship, not the destination

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My mother-in-law has requested that all 3 of her kids and her 2 daughters-in-law all go on a cruise with her in 2022 to celebrate her 90th birthday (we're all first-time cruisers).  She has asked us to give her some ideas about where we might like to go, and then she will decide on which destination.  However, I think that the quality of the ship experience might be a more important factor than the destination.  I say this because my in-laws are quite fussy and picky about things that I would probably let slide or which would make me shrug and say "Oh well."  So, I want to make sure that: the rooms are clean and well cared for (if not "luxurious"); the food is excellently prepared (doesn't have to be "fancy"); the service is warm and accommodating; and the entertainment is of a good quality (jazz would be a bonus!).  I'm sure that we can all can find interesting things to see/do/buy in the ports, but the time spent on the ship must not be fraught with frustrations and disappointments for this group, or else no one will be happy. 

 

So I thought I would try to find the highest-rated ships, and THEN see where those ships travel to.  But I'm not seeing a tool on the site that lets me sort by ship rating specifically. 

 

Therefore, I invite your comments about best ships and worst ships, based on those parameters I mentioned (the rooms, the food, the service, the entertainment).  Thanks in advance.

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Perhaps the following Cruise Critic article will be helpful:

Compare: 8 Most Popular Cruise Ships

 

And for many more articles:

First Time Cruisers

 

I sincerely hope this will be helpful to a new member and glad to have you aboard Cruise Critic!  emo35.gif

 

Happy sails,

 

Host Kat emo32.gif

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Is your mother in law going to be paying, or are you expected to foot the bill? 

Everyone has their own opinion on which ship is best. What time of year are you looking to sail? Is there a spot your mother-in-law would prefer to go, or is she staying neutral? 

Personally, I'd pick an Alaska cruise. Or perhaps Europe.

 

I guess what I'm saying is pick a locale first, then see what your options are.

And if your mother in law is footing the bill, follow the golden rule: "S/he with the gold, makes the rules."

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19 hours ago, pindertulip said:

So, I want to make sure that: the rooms are clean and well cared for (if not "luxurious"); the food is excellently prepared (doesn't have to be "fancy"); the service is warm and accommodating; and the entertainment is of a good quality (jazz would be a bonus!).  I'm sure that we can all can find interesting things to see/do/buy in the ports, but the time spent on the ship must not be fraught with frustrations and disappointments for this group, or else no one will be happy. 

If you want to stick with nice mainstream (not luxury) line ships, I have never had a poor room or poor service on Holland America. Our one cruise on Royal Caribbean was also very nice. Our one cruise on Norwegian was not nice! Yet NCL has its fans the same as all lines. One thing all the HAL ships have is the front bar (now combined with the coffee bar), called the Crows Nest (now sometimes called the EXC or Exploration Cafe). 

 

Food is subjective, but HAL has not disappointed us (in the Main Dining Room). HAL is dropping or downscaling Production Shows in the main theatre, but does have a Blues/Jazz lounge and most days a performance of classical, as well as Dual (not Dueling) pianos.

 

You do not say what year/month/or sailing port! Or I would look and see what ships were scheduled there.

 

Oh, and -- Welcome to Cruise Critic!

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21 hours ago, pindertulip said:

My mother-in-law has requested that all 3 of her kids and her 2 daughters-in-law all go on a cruise with her in 2022 to celebrate her 90th birthday (we're all first-time cruisers).  She has asked us to give her some ideas about where we might like to go, and then she will decide on which destination.  However, I think that the quality of the ship experience might be a more important factor than the destination.  I say this because my in-laws are quite fussy and picky about things that I would probably let slide or which would make me shrug and say "Oh well."  So, I want to make sure that: the rooms are clean and well cared for (if not "luxurious"); the food is excellently prepared (doesn't have to be "fancy"); the service is warm and accommodating; and the entertainment is of a good quality (jazz would be a bonus!).  I'm sure that we can all can find interesting things to see/do/buy in the ports, but the time spent on the ship must not be fraught with frustrations and disappointments for this group, or else no one will be happy. 

 

So I thought I would try to find the highest-rated ships, and THEN see where those ships travel to.  But I'm not seeing a tool on the site that lets me sort by ship rating specifically. 

 

Therefore, I invite your comments about best ships and worst ships, based on those parameters I mentioned (the rooms, the food, the service, the entertainment).  Thanks in advance.

 

I would recommend looking at smaller ships (less than 2000 passengers) since there is generally a better crew:passenger ratio.  A premium or ultra-premium line should have more attention to detail/quality than a mainstream line, but will come with a higher price.  Princess, HAL, and Celebrity would all be the lower end of premium while Azamara, Oceana, and Viking tend to be grouped together in the ultra-premium.  There are also the true luxury lines, but I they might (or might not) be "fussier" than you are looking for (and also come with an even higher price).  River cruises are another option and a different type of cruise altogether.  You might sacrifice entertainment, but likely you will need to sacrifice something.

 

"Highest rated" to me would be difficult to define.  For some the highest rated would be the newest Royal Caribbean ship, but they also come with a lot of young families and large crowds.  Others would rate expedition ships or luxury, but those may or may not be what you are looking for.

 

I would do as your MIL requested and give her locations, since likely multiple lines will sail there.  

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Holland America could be an option, but also Viking ocean or river depending on budget. 

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I would also suggest you have her read about cruising so issues like the size of cabin and en-suite bathroom do not come as a surprise to her.  We make sure to book when there are likely to be the fewest children on board as we enjoy the peace of the ocean.  The best shows we have seen are in the Royal Caribbean Oasis class ships but those shows may not appeal to you.  I would first select the date range and destination, then review the ships that fit your needs.  When with our kids we enjoy RCCL but on our own prefer Celebrity.  Loved our Viking River Cruise but the entertainment is not a top priority (we loved ours but it is low key) but the physical demands of the tours may not be right for your Mom.

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I think you should consider the top premium lines; Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Holland America Line and Princess. 

 

Celebrity Edge and Apex are the latest and greatest from Celebrity cruises. Edge is a marvel of ship, very modern, luxurious, with a wonderful outdoor restaurant - the Magic Carpet - where you can book dinner or enjoy breakfast too. Terrific selection of on board specialty restaurants, brand new ship in 2019. 

 

The newer Princess ships Royal, Regal and Majestic are very beautiful with great service, delicious food. The cabins are a bit on the smaller side. 

 

Holland America Line has very luxurious ships, they have always skewed to an older clientele despite their current aim to attract a younger crowd. Look at their most recent ships like Nieuw Statendam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Koningsdam

 

Royal Caribbean is a terrific cruise line that caters to families. Their ships include dozens of on-board attractions to keep the whole family happy from bumper cars to simulated sky-diving, rock-climbing walls to surf rider machines. Great restaurants, lots of activities beautiful ships. Oasis Class are the largest ships in the world. You've probably seen them on commercials, the ones with the giant hollowed out open area in the middle of the ship. Oasis, Allure, Symphony,  are the super-duper ones. Slightly smaller is Quantum Class like Anthem, Spectrum, Quantum and Ovation which does Alaska. 

 

Royal Caribbean is an enormous cruise line with many different classes of ships, Freedom Class, Voyager class. Different sizes for different folks, some with more bells and whistles than others. 

 

I would start with these cruise lines. Find a reputable local travel agent that specializes in cruise travel and book a 7-day cruise somewhere. Seven days is perfect for a first-timer. You will likely be hooked as soon as you stroll up the gangway to board the ship. 4 or 5 day cruises are over to fast, savor it a bit more and go for a full week. 

 

Happy cruise planning. 

 

Jonathan

Edited by cruiserking

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On 1/16/2020 at 8:39 PM, pindertulip said:

My mother-in-law has requested that all 3 of her kids and her 2 daughters-in-law all go on a cruise with her in 2022 to celebrate her 90th birthday (we're all first-time cruisers).  She has asked us to give her some ideas about where we might like to go, and then she will decide on which destination.  However, I think that the quality of the ship experience might be a more important factor than the destination.  I say this because my in-laws are quite fussy and picky about things that I would probably let slide or which would make me shrug and say "Oh well."  So, I want to make sure that: the rooms are clean and well cared for (if not "luxurious"); the food is excellently prepared (doesn't have to be "fancy"); the service is warm and accommodating; and the entertainment is of a good quality (jazz would be a bonus!).  I'm sure that we can all can find interesting things to see/do/buy in the ports, but the time spent on the ship must not be fraught with frustrations and disappointments for this group, or else no one will be happy. 

 

So I thought I would try to find the highest-rated ships, and THEN see where those ships travel to.  But I'm not seeing a tool on the site that lets me sort by ship rating specifically. 

 

Therefore, I invite your comments about best ships and worst ships, based on those parameters I mentioned (the rooms, the food, the service, the entertainment).  Thanks in advance.

 

Hi Pindertulip

This lengthy video is a detailed tutorial on what a perfect cruise ship should have to offer. 

Please remember that there are three major mistakes that new cruisers often make:

1. Choosing a cruise by cruise lines. Rational: All cruise lines have "good" and "bad" ships.

2. Thinking that the newer ships are better. Rational: the newer ships are likely to have less space per passenger, more nickel and diming, overall lower quality, more aggressive & misleading ads. The best ships (the majority of them) were built between 2010-2014.

3. Thinking that a "luxury" ship is "better" than "premium" ships, etc. Rational: "Premium", "Luxury", "Mainstream" are general words that make no sense until we look at a particular ship. A "mass market" ship may provide overall better cruising experience that an "luxury" ship, and cost you less.

 

In order to give the best possible advice, it's critically important to know the budget limit for your group. The budget is a significant (in some cases defining) factor.

How many cabins will you need? I assume it will be 3 cabins (two persons per cabin). Is it correct?

Alaska is a popular destination for retirement cruising, but the selection of cruise ships is limited (vs the Caribbean and the Mediterranean).

Another limitation: how many days on a cruise? it's much better to start from a 12 -days cruise rather than from a short 7 days cruise. However.... some best products are not available for longer than 7 days...

 

Having more details, I can give you a few options including ships, itineraries, dates, cabin numbers, etc....

The first option that comes to mind is a Mediterranean cruise...

But please take the time to watch the video. 

Happy cruising!

 

 

Edited by ronbe65

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My recommendation would be a Dream Class: Carnival Dream, Disney Dream, Carnival Magic, Carnival Breeze. They're large enough to have diverse offerings to make everyone happy.

 

That having been said the cruising experience is pretty consistent from ship to ship within a cruise line.

 

My personal favorite is the Carnival Breeze. Here's why and why it's not important...

 

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I recommend Celebrity Edge. I just cruised her for the second time and it was excellent. It checked all the boxes you mentioned. The ship is stunning. Celebrity tends to score high in all “best of” polls. All the Celebrity Solstice Class ships are also excellent. 
 

Despite the previous post, I strongly recommended against Carnival. Those would fit into the category of worst ships, in my opinion. 

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Club Class Mini-Suites (which would provide Club Class Dining) on a Princess ship is certainly something to consider.  

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I would also add to discuss options with a travel agent who specializes - or at a minimum has a lot of experience with - in cruises (and not specific to one line).

 

While I enjoy the product Carnival offers, I suspect it would not be ideal for the OP.  Without more information about what they do and don't like, it is hard to tell if Princess, HAL, and Celebrity are premium enough (I don't count Royal Caribbean as premium - they are in the same category as Carnival and Norwegian) or if they would be better served by ultra premium or luxury.  Budget and desired destination obviously are a factor too.  

 

 

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17 hours ago, pacruise804 said:

I would also add to discuss options with a travel agent who specializes - or at a minimum has a lot of experience with - in cruises (and not specific to one line).

 

This is good advise.......

 

the two things in picking your first cruise..... ( which for us was helped by our TA )

 

was firstly your expectations.... ( this is a biggie ) 

if you have high expectations are they are not met you will not enjoy your cruise....

motto   go with the flow... but enjoy yourself.

 

secondly .... the cost.....

you must feel comfortable with the amount of money you are happy to spend....

and if needed , change your expectations....  to suit...

 

I wish you all the best in your cruise......

 

our first was 13 nights and we were not sure about it..... but took the plunge...

 

the bad news was we were hooked by the end on the second day....

 

Enjoy and Cheers Don  

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if MIL is about 90, does that make her children around 60-70? are there any people in your party younger than 40? any actual kids?

 

if everyone is over 50, I would recommend Celebrity, Princess (Regal and newer) or HAL.

The best entertainment for us personally has been on NCL (the food was bad) and RCI (the food was good).

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Hi, and welcome, and sounds like this could be a wonderful experience, especially if the family is close-knit!

I am not an experienced cruiser, but I cruised Alaska in 2009 on Norwegian Pearl in an ocean view stateroom. I have asthma and fun allergies, and notice dust. Well-- there was dust. Egregious dust on all the dark table/cabinet flat surfaces. If dust is a deal-breaker for MIL, that was my experience 11 years ago.

My "area of expertise" lies, as I imagine it also does for many on these boards, in 90-yr-olds. My view for myself and the elders in my family would be that unless I had God's Own Guarantee that everyone's health would remain peak for the entire trip, I would stay very very near the US of A. Alaska in the summer, US/Canada leaf-peeping in the fall kind of thing.

When my long-widowed mom (not well-traveled at all but very highly educated) was 89, she took a notion to see Greece. I started researching cruises, strollers that would be good on rough terrain, excursions organized for such..... and then..... she sat out in the sun too long one day. The "8 weeks from aitch ee double hockey sticks" followed. I imagined having had to do all the chaos that ensued, not in English medicalese, but in Greek, and was not amused.

Again, perhaps your in-laws are hale and hearty as 30-somethings and this is a total non-issue.

Happy sailing! I know you'll find just the right thing.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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pindertulip...Welcome to Cruise Critic.

If you are from Seattle, the most logical cruise for your family would be an Alaska cruise...no flying needed if most of the family are from Seattle.  If this is the case, then we recommend the Ovation of the Seas. A beautiful ship with so much to do.

 

If you are willing to fly, then we recommend any of the Oasis class ships....Oasis, Allure, Harmony, and Symphony of the Seas.  The ship in itself becomes the destination...the itinerary will become secondary.

 

Happy Sailing!

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Destinations would be on my priority list, then I would check the cruise line. If both are OK then we have a green light. :)

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For me, it's destinations first, ship quality second.  Let her pick the destination, and then see what ships are sailing out of there and decide from that point.

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