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taxmantoo

HAL vs PRINCESS - What would you do ?

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We recently completed two Caribbean cruises, one on HAL and one on Princess, both on their respective fleet’s newest ship.

HAL Nieuw Statendam – 14 days -  November 2019 – Vista Suite

Sky Princess – 14 days – February 2020 – Mini Suite

 

EMBARKATION :  Being 5-Star HAL Mariners, we usually get on board relatively fast when boarding a HAL ship.  This latest Princess cruise was our last as pretty lowly Ruby guests.  We arrived at the port at 11 am and were on board with access to our room at 11:30.  The Princess “Medallion” process where you register and scan your info and pictures before leaving home works beautifully regardless of your status.  ADVANTAGE PRINCESS.

 

STATEROOM :  We normally book a Vista Suite or Signature Suite (depending on the ship) on HAL and a Mini Suite on Princess. The Mini Suite offers lots of room and more storage space than either HAL rooms with a full tub/shower combination but a much smaller balcony than HAL.  THIS ONE IS A TIE.

 

DINING :  MDR dining on Princess was superior in both variety and quality to HAL’s MDR.  Crown Grill was superior to Pinnacle.  Sabatini’s was by far superior to Canelleto.  We did not try La Mer because of its location, open to the Piazza and its ambient noise.  It was never busy.  Alfredo’s Pizza is way better than New York Deli but Dive In wins hands down over The Salty Dog.  Princess did cater to my  wife’s request for a no salt/no fat diet with much nicer preparations than HAL.  Although Princess no longer has a wine package, their regular selection and prices are so much better than HAL’s.  ADVANTAGE PRINCESS..

 

SHORE EXCURSIONS :   We pre-booked three excursions with Princess.  One did not follow the advertised itinerary, one started late and the other one’s departure time was changed without us receiving a notice.  We did get refunded for that one.  ADVANTAGE HAL

 

ENTERTAINMENT :  This is truly a no contest.  Princess still has music where people can dance before or after dinner in at least 3 different locations with different performers alternating venues.  The music in the Piazza starts in the afternoon and ends around midnight every night.  The showroom performances are spectacular and on par with Las Vegas or London’s West End performances.  Why HAL spent mega dollars to build a state of the art facility on Koningsdam and Nieuw Amsterdam and then turned them into a venue showing nature and wildlife movies, holding port talk seminars, playing bingo and selling jewelry is still a mystery to me.  HUGE ADVANTAGE PRINCESS.

 

SERVICE :  While HAL is seen as having superior service because of its Filipino and East Indonesian crews, it seemed every staff member we dealt with on Princess was from the Philippines or Indonesia.  The service was excellent on both.  ANOTHER TIE.

 

We are really looking forward to our next cruise, a 24 day Mediterranean cruise in June.

 

BUT AFTER THAT???

 

We have a Trans-Atlantic booked for April 2021 on the Nieuw Statendam followed by a Norwegian Fjord cruise.  Princess is now offering a very similar itinerary on one of their newer ships.  We are very tempted to switch.  Based on this comparative review, what would you do ???

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Reading your comparison review (which was very interesting 🙂 ), it sounds like the advantage for YOU is Princess assuming you don’t mind the things they don’t do as well as HAL.

 

Go with the cruise that will make you happy.  Look at your advantages and the ones that are most important to you and choose based on that.  (It sounds like it is Princess).

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I don't think you can realistically compare a brand-new ship (Sky) to a relatively new ship ( NA approximately 2 years old).   For a new launch, not only do the cruise lines reassign the best crew from all its ships but there are more than necessary crew all over the ship for the first few months.  So besides the shiny and new ship factor, there are more crew that are seen and unseen, working hard to please the first cruisers.  So it was not as big a deal to ask for modifications to a dish in the MDR as it might be 2 years from now.

 

That being said, we choose our cruises based on itinerary and cost.  We have a HAL cruise coming up this summer to Norway, Iceland and Scotland on the Zuiderdam.  We are managing our expectations.  Hope to be so tired from exploring the ports during the day that we won't notice the lack of entertainment in the evening.  

 

I just don't think you should make  your choice for a Mediterranean cruise based on your Caribbean experience on a brand new ship.  Even on the same line, IMO, its a completely experience.

 

 

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I'd say Princess ticks more of the boxes that are important to you.  That's no surprise, really, from some of the comments you've made in the past about HAL.  Spend your money and your time on a product that you enjoy, not just one you tolerate. 🙂

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5 minutes ago, baggal said:

I don't think you can realistically compare a brand-new ship (Sky) to a relatively new ship ( NA approximately 2 years old).

 

You make good points but they were both new ships.  Nieuw Statendam; not Nieuw Amsterdam.

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3 minutes ago, *Miss G* said:

 

You make good points but they were both new ships.  Nieuw Statendam; not Nieuw Amsterdam.

 

Typo.  Yes, the Nieuw Statendam is at least two years old compared to the brand new (less than 6 months) Sky.  

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@taxmantoo I got you confused with another poster.  So if my post is still in this thread (I have requested it be removed) please disregard it.

 

What I should have said was "I'd say Princess ticks more of the boxes that are important to you." 

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10 minutes ago, VennDiagram said:

@taxmantoo I got you confused with another poster.  So if my post is still in this thread (I have requested it be removed) please disregard it.

 

What I should have said was "I'd say Princess ticks more of the boxes that are important to you." 

No problem.  No offense was taken as I have in the past made some not nice statements about HAL but it was always with a view of improving the product we have liked so much in the past.  I do not always agree with the changes made by the current management team leader.

Edited by taxmantoo

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50 minutes ago, baggal said:

 

Typo.  Yes, the Nieuw Statendam is at least two years old compared to the brand new (less than 6 months) Sky.  

 

Wow.  Has it been two years already?  Time really does fly.

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Hi, 

 

The Nieuw Statendam entered service in December 2018. It is not two years old. 

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20 minutes ago, seacruise9 said:

Hi, 

 

The Nieuw Statendam entered service in December 2018. It is not two years old. 

I stand corrected but its not brand-new either.

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We usually select based upon how the ship meets our preferences.  We find the distinction between cruise lines is somewhat blurred.  Inconsistencies within each cruise line further clouds the decision making process.

Edited by iancal

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I’d be tempted to go with Princess mainly because of the entertainment.  Not sure how their reward system compares to HAL (we’ve only done one Princess cruise) but work your way up there too-I’ve heard their status has better perks but I could be wrong.

 

Just keep enjoying your cruising with whatever company you pick! 

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We gave up on Princess because last year they removed the only decent chair in the standard balcony cabins, fleet-wide. No place to sit comfortably. This was a non-starter for us. We only book balcony/verandah cabins.

If you book mini-suites and up on Princess, it shouldn't be an issue for you.

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@taxmantoo we agree with your analogy completely, although we find that for transoceanic cruises we get the best value for money and have the most fun when we book a Celebrity cruise in one of their sky suites. No need to worry about specialty restaurants when you get to eat your meals in their private Luminae restaurant. Also, when you book a sky suite, unless it's after the final payment date, you get free grats, free internet, free drinks and $300 OBC. And when it comes to entertainment, there is definitely plenty of options to choose from on sea days.

 

I'd also like to point out Princess usually has 4-6 assistant cruise directors and Celebrity has 3-4 whereas HAL usually has only 1. That plays a big roll when you're looking for a variety of things to do on sea days.

 

So my recommendation is to also check out Celebrity when comparing transatlantic cruises.

Edited by Ken the cruiser

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9 hours ago, baggal said:

I don't think you can realistically compare a brand-new ship (Sky) to a relatively new ship.   

 

 

I totally disagree.  They are the newest ships of each line, so I think the comparison is totally fair.  

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11 hours ago, taxmantoo said:

We have a Trans-Atlantic booked for April 2021 on the Nieuw Statendam followed by a Norwegian Fjord cruise.  Princess is now offering a very similar itinerary on one of their newer ships.  We are very tempted to switch.  Based on this comparative review, what would you do ???

 

 

What would I do?  I would book Nieuw Statendam.  I'm no fan of HAL's entertainment cutbacks, but I really dislike Princess' newer ships.  I don't like how the ships are totally inward facing and have no lounge, like the Crows Nest, with panoramic views.  

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Based on your comments we would select Princess.  Found your comments very balanced...especially the Service comments.  
 

We have found the service on HAl, Princess, and Celebrity to be very good and very similar in quality. We do not see much difference.

Edited by iancal

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I would pick based on itinerary.  HAL, Princess and Carnival are all essentially equals, each with their strong and weak points.  If you are going to Norway, be sure to go all the way to Tromso and the north cape.

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4 hours ago, ghstudio said:

I would pick based on itinerary.  HAL, Princess and Carnival are all essentially equals, each with their strong and weak points.  If you are going to Norway, be sure to go all the way to Tromso and the north cape.

Carnival equal to HAL and Princess??? Even the Carnival Corporate hierarchy will tell you that Carnival is the budget and party line. 

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On 2/18/2020 at 8:38 PM, Aquahound said:

 

 

What would I do?  I would book Nieuw Statendam.  I'm no fan of HAL's entertainment cutbacks, but I really dislike Princess' newer ships.  I don't like how the ships are totally inward facing and have no lounge, like the Crows Nest, with panoramic views.  

This would make the decision for me.  I like the lounges like the Crows Nest.

 

I missed the Sky Lounge on the Celebrity Edge.

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