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Caribbean Princess vs NCL Escape, which would you choose?

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Torn between which cruise to pick.  Both have similar price, somewhat similar itinerary, both would be in mini suite cabins.  Any thoughts or suggestions about which you would choose and why? Thanks in advance for your input. 

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If price and cabin categories are similar, how much of a difference is there in the 'somewhat similar itineraries?' 

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We cruised with both companies multiple times and many others. I also like large ships (for example large Royal Caribbean large ships) so my reasons won’t be size.

 

I don’t know your preferences, but when cruising with NCL we do it only on their smaller (90k tons) Dawn & Jewel classes because on their large ships pool areas and pools are designed horribly. Adult area doesn’t have pools. Pool that is supposed to be adult only features kids. Whole area is hugely overcrowded. 

Caribbean Princess offers nice 4 uncrowded pools two of which are adult. Princess experience is more refined so is pax. NCL entertainment will be more upbeat, although I like variety of music in various lounges on Princess. 
 

 Food on Princess is also more sophisticated, although steak isn’t offered in daily menu if this is important.

Edited by Tatka

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We have cruised on Princess over 30 times.  Wanted to try something different so we went on the Escape to Bermuda last summer and had a blast.  Totally different vibe: loud and fun.  The food was outstanding in all venues, the staff was phenomenal and the shows were great.  We even saw Choir of Men twice.    The meet and greet was great and had seven officers attend.  Would run into them all over the ship and they would remember us.

The downsides were the small room size and the pool area.  We had a mini suite and it was small but the bathroom was huge with a double sink.  We did not hang at the pool as it was like sardines.  We went to the adult area with the grotto.

 

Would we cruise again with NCL, you bet to Bermuda or the Caribbean!!
We will be on the Emerald to the Panama Canal next year.

 

 

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      My DH and I have had min-suites on both the Caribbean Princess and the Crown Princess as well as on the NCL  Breakaway. 

      We found the mini suites on Princess to be roomier, with larger balconies than those on the Breakaway. Mini suite balconies on the Caribe deck of the Caribbean Princess are exceptionally large and offer half sun,half coverage. We found the balconies on Breakaway to be  very small.

         As to cruise experience, we are not interested in the NCLproduct ,but continue to book with Princess 

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1 hour ago, cheeseclan said:

We have cruised on Princess over 30 times.  Wanted to try something different so we went on the Escape to Bermuda last summer and had a blast.  Totally different vibe: loud and fun.  The food was outstanding in all venues, the staff was phenomenal and the shows were great....

...Would we cruise again with NCL, you bet to Bermuda or the Caribbean!!
We will be on the Emerald to the Panama Canal next year.

 

 

The new NCL is NOT the same as what people remembered 10-15 years ago. The entertainment is indeed outstanding and the food is actually quite good. The key as you  pointed out is the vibe. Each cruiseline has their own personality.

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Totally agree cheezenip.  We were on a 4 day on NCL 22 years ago.  I was not impressed then but enjoyed it now!

 

 

BTW: love your name....

Edited by cheeseclan

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Caribbean Princess HANDS DOWN!!!!!!  The NCL Escape was one of the most claustrophobic, crowded vessels I have ever sailed.  Virtually impossible to find a calm area for good conversation.  All the bars and lounges are fairly small to make way for all the specialty dining, shopping and casinos.  Pool decks are very crowded and noisy as so much space is devoted to the ropes course and waterslides.  The Escape had a beautiful color palette and nice furnishings, but that didn't compensate for the crowds and noise .......  Caribbean Princess may not be as new or modern, and her standard balcony rooms may be a bit smaller, but her expansive decks and 5 pools, combined with a large variety of decently sized bars and lounges means you can always find an uncrowded spot if desired.

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2 hours ago, MJSailors said:

    Mini suite balconies on the Caribe deck of the Caribbean Princess are exceptionally large and offer half sun,half coverage. We found the balconies on Breakaway to be  very small.

 

The Caribe deck rooms are actually all standard Balcony rooms on the Grand Class vessels (of which Caribbean is a member).  They do indeed have extra deep balconies (I'd estimate close to 9' in depth) that are half covered by the Baja deck balcony rooms above, and the category BE rooms near the front and the BD rooms near the back are EXCELLENT value! 

 

The Minisuites on these vessels are primarily on Dolphin deck, and whilst quite deep have ZERO shade as the railing of the Caribe deck rooms above are even with the external wall of the Minisuites on Dolphin Deck.  The only minisuites with shade are on the Emerald deck far aft above Club Fusion, or the Vista Lounge depending on the ship.

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2 hours ago, cheeseclan said:

We have cruised on Princess over 30 times.  Wanted to try something different so we went on the Escape to Bermuda last summer and had a blast.  Totally different vibe: loud and fun.

 

The noise on my Escape sailing was oppressive and inescapable unless I was in my room.  Not a quiet spot to engage in good conversation anywhere on the ship.  It was shouting volume virtually everywhere and wall to wall bodies in most venues and the pool deck.  Not my idea of a good holiday, but to each their own :)

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Mini suites on the Escape are no different than a regular balcony, but the bathroom is larger. We've been on the Ruby, which is about the same as the Carib, and the Escape. for my money, I

d take the Escape, but stay with a regular balcony. We had a blast on the Escape, and is one of our favorite ships. That's after some 20 cruises on all the mainstream lines except HAL.

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10 hours ago, capriccio said:

If price and cabin categories are similar, how much of a difference is there in the 'somewhat similar itineraries?' 

Thank you for your reply. 

 

The Escape is going to Puerta Plata, Dominican, St Thomas, Tortola and Great Stirrup Cay.

 

The Caribbean is going to St Thomas, St Maarten and Princess Cays. 

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9 hours ago, Tatka said:

We cruised with both companies multiple times and many others. I also like large ships (for example large Royal Caribbean large ships) so my reasons won’t be size.

 

I don’t know your preferences, but when cruising with NCL we do it only on their smaller (90k tons) Dawn & Jewel classes because on their large ships pool areas and pools are designed horribly. Adult area doesn’t have pools. Pool that is supposed to be adult only features kids. Whole area is hugely overcrowded. 

Caribbean Princess offers nice 4 uncrowded pools two of which are adult. Princess experience is more refined so is pax. NCL entertainment will be more upbeat, although I like variety of music in various lounges on Princess. 
 

 Food on Princess is also more sophisticated, although steak isn’t offered in daily menu if this is important.

 

Thanks for your input.  This would be our first Mega ship, so we were excited but my in laws are coming now and I was a little concerned with the size of the Escape vs the Caribbean.  

 

Would definitely prefer less crowds, so we may lean to the Princess. 

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8 hours ago, cheeseclan said:

We have cruised on Princess over 30 times.  Wanted to try something different so we went on the Escape to Bermuda last summer and had a blast.  Totally different vibe: loud and fun.  The food was outstanding in all venues, the staff was phenomenal and the shows were great.  We even saw Choir of Men twice.    The meet and greet was great and had seven officers attend.  Would run into them all over the ship and they would remember us.

The downsides were the small room size and the pool area.  We had a mini suite and it was small but the bathroom was huge with a double sink.  We did not hang at the pool as it was like sardines.  We went to the adult area with the grotto.

 

Would we cruise again with NCL, you bet to Bermuda or the Caribbean!!
We will be on the Emerald to the Panama Canal next year.

 

 

 

Thanks for your reply.  Again, this is why I'm torn.  I was looking forward to the Escape, but the large amount of people concerns me especially with my in laws joining us. 

 

Can you tell me more about your thoughts about the food and room sizes on Princess ships, the Caribbean in particular if you have any experience?  Thanks again 

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It’s not a size. Royal Caribbean larger ships handle crowds almost perfectly. NCL added more passengers, but pool facilities don’t match this. I’m even reading this from die hard NCL cruises who exclusively cruise with NCL.

 

We recently cruised on Crown Princess which is almost identical to Caribbean Princess on which we sailed 3 times in the past. We noticed some cons, but it was still much more comfortable cruise than on almost sister to Encore from NCL side (Breakaway).

 

Aside from absence of indoor pools Caribbean Princess has the best variety of pools and that’s what you need on Caribbeans.

 

Enjoy your cruise}

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8 hours ago, MJSailors said:

      My DH and I have had min-suites on both the Caribbean Princess and the Crown Princess as well as on the NCL  Breakaway. 

      We found the mini suites on Princess to be roomier, with larger balconies than those on the Breakaway. Mini suite balconies on the Caribe deck of the Caribbean Princess are exceptionally large and offer half sun,half coverage. We found the balconies on Breakaway to be  very small.

         As to cruise experience, we are not interested in the NCLproduct ,but continue to book with Princess 

 

Thank you for your description of the mini suites on both lines.  That is really helpful.  It's really pushing me towards Princess! I appreciate it!! 

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7 hours ago, cheezenip said:

The new NCL is NOT the same as what people remembered 10-15 years ago. The entertainment is indeed outstanding and the food is actually quite good. The key as you  pointed out is the vibe. Each cruiseline has their own personality.

 

You are exactly right.  That is my struggle as aspects of both cruise lines personality appeal to me in different ways.  I've never had such a hard time deciding on my next cruise.  LOL Thank you for your thoughts! 

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6 hours ago, AtlantaCruiser72 said:

Caribbean Princess HANDS DOWN!!!!!!  The NCL Escape was one of the most claustrophobic, crowded vessels I have ever sailed.  Virtually impossible to find a calm area for good conversation.  All the bars and lounges are fairly small to make way for all the specialty dining, shopping and casinos.  Pool decks are very crowded and noisy as so much space is devoted to the ropes course and waterslides.  The Escape had a beautiful color palette and nice furnishings, but that didn't compensate for the crowds and noise .......  Caribbean Princess may not be as new or modern, and her standard balcony rooms may be a bit smaller, but her expansive decks and 5 pools, combined with a large variety of decently sized bars and lounges means you can always find an uncrowded spot if desired.

 

I appreciate your thoughts. That is definitely a major concern. I don't want to feel overcrowded too much while I'm on vacation.  Makes it a little harder to relax.  I'm used to a lot of people on a cruise, but not 5000.  Thanks for your opinion  

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6 hours ago, AtlantaCruiser72 said:

 

The Caribe deck rooms are actually all standard Balcony rooms on the Grand Class vessels (of which Caribbean is a member).  They do indeed have extra deep balconies (I'd estimate close to 9' in depth) that are half covered by the Baja deck balcony rooms above, and the category BE rooms near the front and the BD rooms near the back are EXCELLENT value! 

 

The Minisuites on these vessels are primarily on Dolphin deck, and whilst quite deep have ZERO shade as the railing of the Caribe deck rooms above are even with the external wall of the Minisuites on Dolphin Deck.  The only minisuites with shade are on the Emerald deck far aft above Club Fusion, or the Vista Lounge depending on the ship.

 

Atlanta Cruiser, that if very helpful information.  My in laws would like a mini suite, but my husband and I do like a little shade on our balcony.  That might make me want to switch us to one of the balconies that are deeper and with some shade.  Thanks again!! 

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50 minutes ago, deliver42 said:

Mini suites on the Escape are no different than a regular balcony, but the bathroom is larger. We've been on the Ruby, which is about the same as the Carib, and the Escape. for my money, I

d take the Escape, but stay with a regular balcony. We had a blast on the Escape, and is one of our favorite ships. That's after some 20 cruises on all the mainstream lines except HAL.

 

Thank you for your thoughts.  We liked the idea of the larger bathrooms in the mini suites, but may reconsider a balcony. 

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29 minutes ago, Tatka said:

It’s not a size. Royal Caribbean larger ships handle crowds almost perfectly. NCL added more passengers, but pool facilities don’t match this. I’m even reading this from die hard NCL cruises who exclusively cruise with NCL.

 

We recently cruised on Crown Princess which is almost identical to Caribbean Princess on which we sailed 3 times in the past. We noticed some cons, but it was still much more comfortable cruise than on almost sister to Encore from NCL side (Breakaway).

 

Aside from absence of indoor pools Caribbean Princess has the best variety of pools and that’s what you need on Caribbeans.

 

Enjoy your cruise}

 

Thank you for your input.  I appreciate it.  It is making my decision much harder. LOL. But might be leaning toward the Caribbean! 

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Just a little more visibility 

 

Encore pools - what you see is what you get unless you are in Haven - super suites area

 

 

B2733131-600F-4D43-B649-41F501CE29B7.jpeg

Edited by Tatka

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Pools on Princess. First and last are adult only.

 

Encore has race tracks (Not free)  which Princess doesn’t have. NCL new ships have many interesting points for kids, it’s more family line, but they screwed up with pool areas so badly, people are actually telling me - you aren’t supposed to cruise for pools 🙂 

 

I get it, I don’t even spend much time near the pools, but I believe there should be some comfortable space there in case I want too. 
 

I love some thrills, but for that I go on large RCI ships where they are free and pool areas are planned for every age category if they choose. 
 

 If you are choosing between Princess and NCL because you have kids or/and teens I’d look at them too. Happy medium, and aside from race trucks they have more interesting innovations... including ice rinks with shows, ziplines, skydiving, flowriders etc..l but still amazing number and quality of pools.

 

 

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D99C6C5F-BB43-44ED-ABD4-927556E4B720.png

Edited by Tatka

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4 hours ago, NJCruiser23 said:

 

Thanks for your reply.  Again, this is why I'm torn.  I was looking forward to the Escape, but the large amount of people concerns me especially with my in laws joining us. 

 

Can you tell me more about your thoughts about the food and room sizes on Princess ships, the Caribbean in particular if you have any experience?  Thanks again 

I think the rooms on Princess are bigger but the bathroom was bigger on NCL.  
 

As far as the food we thought the food on the entire NCL Escape was much better.  The MDRs, buffet and specialty restaurants were far superior to Princess.  Our last 2 sailings, Crown and Caribbean, the food in the MDR and buffet was blah..  the specialty dining was average.  In our opinion the food is not what it used to be.

 
The other big thing for us was the staff on NCL:  they were the friendliest people we have met in a long time.  No stressed out staff in the MDR like on Princess ships. Enjoyed that.

 

The pool area is not great on NCL, so we hung out in the adults area with the grotto instead.  If you are going to hang at the pool all day at sea then Princess is what you want.
 

We saw lots of multi generational families on board and they all looked like they were having a good time.  You have to decide what your in laws would like and what you need from a ship.

 

The other big difference with NCL is you book your big show times and specialty dinners prior to getting on the ship.  This was an interesting experience for sure.  I waited too late to get everything I wanted but was able to fix it on the ship.  The big thing is you were guaranteed a seat at the big shows so no need to be there 30 minutes prior to get a seat.  Doing everything in advance has its pros and cons but for our Bermuda itinerary it worked.
 

As I said before to each their own.  We are getting ready to do our 43 cruise on our 6th different line.  Want to branch out a bit and we are having fun doing it.  We are sailing on the Emerald next year but want something different now and then.

 

 

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We loved the NCL Escape (trip report with many photos and food reviews in my sig, if interested). It has a different vibe than Princess (though we have only sailed the Regal Princess for comparison). NCL Pros: great specialty restaurants, outdoor dining options for many restaurants is amazing, the District Brewhouse, the layout/design is more intuitive (to us), and we LOVED the outdoor promenade deck space. NCL Cons: upper decks are very limited in space due to the Suite section/pool and the many slides/etc., main dining room food not as good as Princess, live music not as available or varied.

Edited by MaryBethV

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