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Celebrity or Norwegian or Princess?


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Hi Everyone,

First time posting. I have a cruise coming up in  August 2021 to Alaska on Celebrity Cruises. It was rescheduled from 2020 due to Covid.  I've seen on other forums that the CruiseTour we're taking has us taking a rail trip from Anchorage to Denali for 3 nights and that then we'll be on a bus for 8 hours. I'm not sure that's what I wanted. I see that Princess Cruise line itinerary is similar but a lot more clear regarding modes of transportation used. I'm going with my 30 year old daughter, and I'll be 61 at the time of the cruise. Is Celebrity the best choice? 

My first cruise was my honeymoon 35+ years ago on Norwegian. Wasn't totally impressed, but having seen NCL lately, I'm not sure if Princess or NCL are more feasible transportation wise. Have cruised on Royal Caribbean twice. I'm looking for a smaller ship- 

I'm also in the culinary business, so food quality is very important. 

Anyone have any input as to pluses and minuses of the mentioned cruise lines that go to Alaska, I  would be very appreciative. 

I have my deposit only, and don't plan on paying the balance until early May, when the payment is due. 

This is a bucket list item for me, and I want to make sure I'm going on the right cruise line, since this is my first and probably only trip to Alaska.

Thank you for reading, and as with everyone else, I  can't wait to travel again!

Clare

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7 minutes ago, Clarebear333 said:

Hi Everyone,

First time posting. I have a cruise coming up in  August 2021 to Alaska on Celebrity Cruises. It was rescheduled from 2020 due to Covid.  I've seen on other forums that the CruiseTour we're taking has us taking a rail trip from Anchorage to Denali for 3 nights and that then we'll be on a bus for 8 hours. I'm not sure that's what I wanted. I see that Princess Cruise line itinerary is similar but a lot more clear regarding modes of transportation used. I'm going with my 30 year old daughter, and I'll be 61 at the time of the cruise. Is Celebrity the best choice? 

My first cruise was my honeymoon 35+ years ago on Norwegian. Wasn't totally impressed, but having seen NCL lately, I'm not sure if Princess or NCL are more feasible transportation wise. Have cruised on Royal Caribbean twice. I'm looking for a smaller ship- 

I'm also in the culinary business, so food quality is very important. 

Anyone have any input as to pluses and minuses of the mentioned cruise lines that go to Alaska, I  would be very appreciative. 

I have my deposit only, and don't plan on paying the balance until early May, when the payment is due. 

This is a bucket list item for me, and I want to make sure I'm going on the right cruise line, since this is my first and probably only trip to Alaska.

Thank you for reading, and as with everyone else, I  can't wait to travel again!

Clare

I cannot speak to the Alaska cruise, it is still in my bucket!  To me though, Celebrity is several notches above both NCL and Princess, though as a cruise in general terms both have a nice product but not the same as Celebrity, IMHO.  As you are in the culinary business, I truly think you will appreciate the food on-board, be it in a MDR or specialty restaurant.  Food is so good, and the service is top of the charts!!

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Welcome to Cruise Critic.

The main focus should be itinerary. That being said if cuisine and ambiance are important then Celebrity will be a better fit for you and your daughter.

As far as the land portion you will have long bus or train rides from Fairbanks to Denali to Anchorage no matter which cruise line. Please check out the Ports of Call/Destinations boards for all things Alaska. You can ask about the ground routes there.

If you can swing an Aqua class cabin or a suite then the cuisine will be more enjoyable. Both classes have dedicated dining rooms and for me, provides a better dining experience. I am an advanced amateur cook and have edited cookbooks so I have a basic understanding of food.

Don't for a minute think this will be your only cruise to Alaska. We booked our second Alaska cruise they day we returned from our first and have another Alaska cruise booked for next May. We also thought it would be a once in a lifetime trip. You never know.....

Enjoy!!!!

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Having sailed a few times on Princess, on NCL and Many times on Celebrity, I can honestly say that Celebrity is the best.  Found Princess very "plain Vanilla" and service fair- NCL unless the Haven a zoo.  Seemed much too crowded and the food fair.  The staterooms not comfortable.

 

I would really recommend Celebrity- I am not a fan of AQ and would tell you to either book a sky suite if you can, or stick to a well located balcony cabin.  Mid ship with cabins above and below.

 

Enjoy your cruise

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9 hours ago, Clarebear333 said:

Hi Everyone,

First time posting. I have a cruise coming up in  August 2021 to Alaska on Celebrity Cruises. It was rescheduled from 2020 due to Covid.  I've seen on other forums that the CruiseTour we're taking has us taking a rail trip from Anchorage to Denali for 3 nights and that then we'll be on a bus for 8 hours. I'm not sure that's what I wanted. I see that Princess Cruise line itinerary is similar but a lot more clear regarding modes of transportation used. I'm going with my 30 year old daughter, and I'll be 61 at the time of the cruise. Is Celebrity the best choice? 

My first cruise was my honeymoon 35+ years ago on Norwegian. Wasn't totally impressed, but having seen NCL lately, I'm not sure if Princess or NCL are more feasible transportation wise. Have cruised on Royal Caribbean twice. I'm looking for a smaller ship- 

I'm also in the culinary business, so food quality is very important. 

Anyone have any input as to pluses and minuses of the mentioned cruise lines that go to Alaska, I  would be very appreciative. 

I have my deposit only, and don't plan on paying the balance until early May, when the payment is due. 

This is a bucket list item for me, and I want to make sure I'm going on the right cruise line, since this is my first and probably only trip to Alaska.

Thank you for reading, and as with everyone else, I  can't wait to travel again!

Clare

 

Different cruise lines have different strengths.  The Alaskan cruises and cruise tours are one of the strengths for Princess.  In Alaska, Princess is clearly the better choice.

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9 hours ago, Clarebear333 said:

Hi Everyone,

First time posting. I have a cruise coming up in  August 2021 to Alaska on Celebrity Cruises. It was rescheduled from 2020 due to Covid.  I've seen on other forums that the CruiseTour we're taking has us taking a rail trip from Anchorage to Denali for 3 nights and that then we'll be on a bus for 8 hours. I'm not sure that's what I wanted. I see that Princess Cruise line itinerary is similar but a lot more clear regarding modes of transportation used. I'm going with my 30 year old daughter, and I'll be 61 at the time of the cruise. Is Celebrity the best choice? 

My first cruise was my honeymoon 35+ years ago on Norwegian. Wasn't totally impressed, but having seen NCL lately, I'm not sure if Princess or NCL are more feasible transportation wise. Have cruised on Royal Caribbean twice. I'm looking for a smaller ship- 

I'm also in the culinary business, so food quality is very important. 

Anyone have any input as to pluses and minuses of the mentioned cruise lines that go to Alaska, I  would be very appreciative. 

I have my deposit only, and don't plan on paying the balance until early May, when the payment is due. 

This is a bucket list item for me, and I want to make sure I'm going on the right cruise line, since this is my first and probably only trip to Alaska.

Thank you for reading, and as with everyone else, I  can't wait to travel again!

Clare

 

Alaska is a great cruise

in 2010 we did it w Regent and included the 3 days in Denali

It was a rail trip to Denali...and there was a bus ride--which included a stop at an iditorod training camp. 

Also a day in the park is a van (bus) that held like 20.

To see the wildlife -that's the only way to do it

There was a bus back to a resort and a night there before we boarded.

I'd do it all again. Was fantastic.

If you have time- take a private small plane up to see the glacier and Denali (peak). 

It is expensive- yet a once in a lifetime splurge-- really great

 

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Celebrity, in my opinion, is so much better than Princess in many ways. BUT Princess is one of the few cruise lines that has restricted slots from the Park Service to enter Glacier Bay. IMHO Glacier Bay is a must see. Alaska, therefore, is probably the only cruise itinerary where I would Princess over  Celebrity. You did not list it as one of your options, but note that Holland America also has Glacier Bay itineraries.

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5 hours ago, dani negreanu said:

 

Not just you....😁

I did until I took my first cruise on Celebrity, the difference to us was night and day, NOT saying NCL is horrible, they are definitely not, but just that there was such a noticeable difference between the two.  

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As for ncl if you were not impressed 35 years ago you will be even more unimpressed today, I liked ncl in 80’s but would not cruise them again. If celebrity suite is in your budget that would be my first choice, celebrity suite dinning room is fantastic for both food and service, also great suite lounge with great service and free drinks all day. I would give Princess the edge for entertainment. 

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2 minutes ago, George C said:

As for ncl if you were not impressed 35 years ago you will be even more unimpressed today, I liked ncl in 80’s but would not cruise them again. If celebrity suite is in your budget that would be my first choice, celebrity suite dinning room is fantastic for both food and service, also great suite lounge with great service and free drinks all day. I would give Princess the edge for entertainment. 

My first cruise on NCL was 12 day Mexican Riviera, out of San Diego on the Sun.  The itinerary was awesome, 2 consecutive days at sea from departing and 1 full sea day on return.  We met so many awesome people and truly had a great time.  Was not able to stop at 2 of the ports because of safety issues but that gave us an extra day in Cabo and PV, which we loved!  The ship itself though was in desperate need of a facelift, I mean it was in serious need and we were in a suite.  The dining options were just not good.  The staff in the rooms were wonderful, not so much in other areas of the ship, restaurants and most bars were disappointing.  I will say though, the bartenders on the pool deck were awesome.  Even now, if/when I look at NCL just for an idea of pricing, the ships do not impress me.  The Haven IMO cannot compare to the Retreat.

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I think we are going all around the horn here.

This is about cruising to Alaska.  There is no comparison, if that itinerary is your focus.  Princess is by far the better choice.  They are better integrated there, their transportation better, their lodges designed for cruise pax.

The OP mentioned nothing about sailing in a suite (and unless is willing to pay 2-3x the tariff for a balcony, inconsequential).  Yes, the quality of the food might be a bit better on =X= than Princess, but I sure wouldn't let that determine my final choice for a "one-time" trip to Alaska.  

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I have done two Alaska cruises with Celebrity and found both to be excellent.

For our first cruise we booked a post cruise 7 day tour Anchorage to Fairbanks with a 3 night Denali.

The tour was, initially, by coach to Talkeetna. From there it was by train to Denali and on to Fairbanks. The train was IIRC combined with a Princess tour, kinda tacked on behind their cars. The cars were Rocky Mountaineer type. We travelled in the train during the day while the coach took our luggage ahead to our overnight stops. The rail cars had scenic viewing up top and restaurant cars below where we had lunch. We thoroughly enjoyed it. We got to see Mt Denali on a clear day from the train and again the next day on the Tundra tour (in converted school buses). Brilliant!

Celebrity is my favourite cruise line (very) closely followed by HAL. I would suggest you also have a look at HAL itineraries. 

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55 minutes ago, lyndarra said:

I have done two Alaska cruises with Celebrity and found both to be excellent.

For our first cruise we booked a post cruise 7 day tour Anchorage to Fairbanks with a 3 night Denali.

The tour was, initially, by coach to Talkeetna. From there it was by train to Denali and on to Fairbanks. The train was IIRC combined with a Princess tour, kinda tacked on behind their cars. The cars were Rocky Mountaineer type. We travelled in the train during the day while the coach took our luggage ahead to our overnight stops. The rail cars had scenic viewing up top and restaurant cars below where we had lunch. We thoroughly enjoyed it. We got to see Mt Denali on a clear day from the train and again the next day on the Tundra tour (in converted school buses). Brilliant!

Celebrity is my favourite cruise line (very) closely followed by HAL. I would suggest you also have a look at HAL itineraries. 

I'm with you, have not done Alaska yet, but when I do it will def be on Celebrity.  Will probably combine that with a land tour either prior to or after.  

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1 minute ago, LGW59 said:

I'm with you, have not done Alaska yet, but when I do it will def be on Celebrity.  Will probably combine that with a land tour either prior to or after.  

For the same cruise I also did a pre- cruise 7 day Canada tour Calgary/Vancouver. Three weeks all up.

My second Celebrity Alaska cruise was the following year with a 10 day pre cruise US National Parks tour Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Monument Valley etc.

I had a third Alaska cruise booked with HAL for last June and we all know what happened to that.

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We've been on all 3 lines & imho, Celebrity has better food & service. We did Celebrity in Alaska & enjoyed it, but cannot compare it to Princess that goes into Glacier Bay. We also rented a car & drove to Denali for a few days before the cruise & took the park tours. it was an easy ride & quite enjoyable. I believe only park buses (not private ones) are permitted in the park. 

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I've gone on 3 alaskan cruises. One on Celebrity, one princess and one HAL. We did not do the land portion on any of them so can't talk to that. Two were north or south routes, the HAL was a round trip Seattle. We enjoyed all three for different reasons, but that was our first celebrity cruise and it is still at the top of our list of favorite cruise lines - followed closely by HAL and princess which I would consider tied. I bunch NCL, royal, and the rest of them together below these three. All have things I like and don't like, and there is no such thing as a bad cruise.

 

It seems like all of them visited different glacier areas and some different ports. We have enjoyed them all. Difficult to comment on food since it's been awhile and that can change. I remember princess having unlimited cocktail shrimp while we sat out on the deck behind the buffet and the ship rotated in the glaciers while I got sunburned. Just a fabulous memory. You can't go wrong with whatever you choose.

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Interesting responses. I have had far better experiences on Princess than Celebrity, but that’s the beauty of having a variety of cruise lines from which to choose. 
 

I live in Alaska and have taken many Alaska cruises over the years. Here’s the info I have about the difference in operations here....Princess owns its own lodges in AK and has its own AK Tours division, so when you’re greeted at the airport, it’s by a Princess rep. When you stay at the lodge, it’s Princess owned and is reflected all the way down to the logo cocktail napkins. It’s a consistent Princess experience the whole time. Also, Princess will get you into Glacier Bay, while Celebrity does not have access. Celebrity, on the other hand, contracts out their AK tours to a local Anchorage tour company called Alaska Premier Tours; they switch out their signs at the airport as they greet pax from Celebrity, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, all of the luxury lines, etc. In other words, the employees do their job, but they have no passion for a specific cruise line as they represent so many of them. The lodges are independent Alaska lodges; some are nice, and others are a bit lacking. All that said, no matter which cruise line you go on, you’ll have a dedicated rail car for that cruise line if you opt for a rail tour, which I’d highly recommend for its comfort and scenic viewing. You’ll get to see the same beautiful Alaska sights. 
 

Hope that info helps! 

 

 

 

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On 12/1/2020 at 4:58 PM, lyndarra said:

I have done two Alaska cruises with Celebrity and found both to be excellent.

For our first cruise we booked a post cruise 7 day tour Anchorage to Fairbanks with a 3 night Denali.

The tour was, initially, by coach to Talkeetna. From there it was by train to Denali and on to Fairbanks. The train was IIRC combined with a Princess tour, kinda tacked on behind their cars. The cars were Rocky Mountaineer type. We travelled in the train during the day while the coach took our luggage ahead to our overnight stops. The rail cars had scenic viewing up top and restaurant cars below where we had lunch. We thoroughly enjoyed it. We got to see Mt Denali on a clear day from the train and again the next day on the Tundra tour (in converted school buses). Brilliant!

Celebrity is my favourite cruise line (very) closely followed by HAL. I would suggest you also have a look at HAL itineraries. 

I agree with checking out HAL. The itineraries and food are good. The fact that they can keep the pools open due to their sliding dome covers is a real plus. They have a long history of cruising to Alaska. While in Glacier Bay National Park they take on a National Park Ranger to lecture on deck, answer questions, and point out sites of interest. Transfers are easy, as the line owns and operates its own hotel, rail cars and buses.

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29 minutes ago, larry_s_taco said:

I agree with checking out HAL. The itineraries and food are good. The fact that they can keep the pools open due to their sliding dome covers is a real plus. They have a long history of cruising to Alaska. While in Glacier Bay National Park they take on a National Park Ranger to lecture on deck, answer questions, and point out sites of interest. Transfers are easy, as the line owns and operates its own hotel, rail cars and buses.

In Alaska it is only partly about which cruise line you prefer..more about the itinerary. Glacier Bay is a must see and among mainstream cruise lines only Princess and HAL go to the trouble of obtaining permission to visit the wondrous Glacier Bay. Celebrity may be a fine choice for a second or third Alaska cruise, but for a first time AK cruiser, Glacier Bay is a once in a lifetime not to miss experience.

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