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How does Princess compare to HAL?


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Having been faithful to Princess for a while, we have decided to check out HAL since we saw something that caught our eye and also that they have some offerings Princess doesn't.  For instance, they offer free or reduce fares for kids on some sailings (great for taking grandkids), and their staterooms all have a sitting area.  On Princess ships you have to get a deluxe balcony to get any type of sofa to sit on in you room.  Not saying they are better, haven't sailed with them.  Just noticed a couple of differences so far and wondered for those of you who have sailed both Princess and HAL, what you have noticed, both pros and cons.  Thanks!

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We have sailed with Princess 9 times.

In 2019 we decided to give HAL a try. We were on the Nieuw Statendam for what it's 5th sailing. Besides the new ship smell, and the great musicians on board, not much else impressed us.

Here's the review I posted back then.

https://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=647024

 

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23 minutes ago, Coffeeluvr05 said:

Having been faithful to Princess for a while, we have decided to check out HAL since we saw something that caught our eye and also that they have some offerings Princess doesn't.  For instance, they offer free or reduce fares for kids on some sailings (great for taking grandkids), and their staterooms all have a sitting area.  On Princess ships you have to get a deluxe balcony to get any type of sofa to sit on in you room.  Not saying they are better, haven't sailed with them.  Just noticed a couple of differences so far and wondered for those of you who have sailed both Princess and HAL, what you have noticed, both pros and cons.  Thanks!

Done 4 HAL cruises and 5 Princess.

 

Generally, the decor onboard HAL is darker, more sedate.  Food, pretty much the same.  Shows - hard to say as HAL had been gutting their entertainment offerings just before COVID shut everything down, but the big shows were pretty much similar between the two.

 

We've found the itineraries have more variety on HAL.  

 

The pool areas on Princess seem to be a lot noisier than on HAL.

 

 

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I’ve sailed both. Last fall with HAL was impressed with HAL dining room breakfast & some other food choices. Sofa was nice to have. I’d say try it, atleast once. 

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1 hour ago, Coffeeluvr05 said:

Having been faithful to Princess for a while, we have decided to check out HAL since we saw something that caught our eye and also that they have some offerings Princess doesn't.  For instance, they offer free or reduce fares for kids on some sailings (great for taking grandkids), and their staterooms all have a sitting area.  On Princess ships you have to get a deluxe balcony to get any type of sofa to sit on in you room.  Not saying they are better, haven't sailed with them.  Just noticed a couple of differences so far and wondered for those of you who have sailed both Princess and HAL, what you have noticed, both pros and cons.  Thanks!

 

13 minutes ago, dog said:

I’ve sailed both. Last fall with HAL was impressed with HAL dining room breakfast & some other food choices. Sofa was nice to have. I’d say try it, atleast once. 

This is the best advice ever!  We all have different likes and dislikes. (and different moods affecting our impressions)  You have some pretty good reasons to try Holland America, I'd say go for it.  Even if afterwards you find that you prefer Princess, it can't be that much of a loss.

That being said, I have sailed Holland America once, and Princess a lot, I prefer Princess myself. But don't listen to me. 😁

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We are Elite on Princess and have cruised over 60 times on different lines.  We decided to try HAL a couple of years ago.  We've cruised HAL twice.    

 

We found HAL to be a bit more sedate but not terminally so.  We thought the food was much better than our last few Princess cruises and appreciated that buffet food was served rather that watch untrained passengers handle food, serving utensils and occasionally licking their fingers.  I suspect this is the future of cruising.  We thoroughly enjoyed the BB King and Lincoln Center musicians and some of the nighttime entertainment.  Our balcony cabins had a sitting area with small sofa.  That we were able to cruise out of San Diego was a big plus for us as we are very nearby.

 

We certainly hope to cruise again and would not hesitate to take either line.

 

Cheers

 

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We are Elite on PCL, and have at least 1/2 dozen HAL cruises. HAL is definitely more sedate, which I like, and probably the highest average age in cruising. The ships are mostly smaller than PCL, and can go into ports [and do] that PCL does not. They have the best classical music I know. 

 

All that said, I usually prefer Princess. But I would never discount a HAL cruise to places I want to see. 

 

 

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For the two ships we sailed on, Noordam and Maasdam (small ship no longer in the fleet) our impression was deader all around. Only a few in the cruise director staff to run day and evening activities. Shows not as good. Not as many live bands with different music styles. They did have a classical concert in the evening. Drink prices were a little higher. DR food around the same. Lido deck pool side food options limited. Buffet was slightly better. No International Cafe. 

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I prefer Princess, but enjoyed both my HAL cruises.  The buffet set up is really nice on HAL.  Not the most exciting at night, but I found ways to entertain myself.  I'd book again for the right itinerary.  I agree with others that its it's great to compare.  

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We have done only one HAL cruise but liked it. The food was good and the cabin comfortable. The ship was a bit more sedate than PCL but we will try it again. We had another one booked for this February (Singapore to Australia then on to cross the Pacific to eventually arrive in San Diego) but then the pandemic happened....

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I’m elite on Princess. This time last year I was on a HAL ship, the Zuiderdam, for a one-week cruise in the Caribbean. It was my first HAL cruise since the early 2000s. I thought the food was much better than on Princess. I usually get inside cabins and on HAL I was upgraded to an obstructed view cabin which included a sofa. I never get upgraded on Princess.  I was very impressed with the HAL passenger services people. American Airlines lost my luggage and I was without it for the entire week. The people on HAL did everything they could to help track down my luggage and they were the ones who were able to track it to a hotel where American had left it and it was waiting for me in the HAL terminal at the end of the cruise. The only drawback I saw on the HAL cruise with a lack of entertainment. I was disappointed in that.

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I’m elite on Princess and have had about a half dozen HAL cruises. Princess is still my favorite. In the past few years I have mostly cruised on the bigger new ships on Princess and the smaller older ships on HAL. That probably affects my opinions. I like smaller ships and their itineraries, but the amenities are limited. I’m not that interested in activities and entertainment. That said, Princess ships are livelier. HAL ships are sedate. I think food is similar in dining rooms. I personally like self service buffets and I don’t care for being served on HAL, but it appears it’s the future of all cruise ships. HAL’s on deck burgers, Dive In, is better than Princess. Princess pizza options are better. HAL closes their buffet at certain hours during the day. Princess has buffet options all day. HAL has much better ice cream choices in the buffet. Princess has soft serve ice cream on deck. Princess has Movies Under The Stars and HAL doesn’t have on deck movies (on the ships I’ve been on). I think Princess entertainment is better. Staff and customer service on both have been similar for me. I do like having sitting areas in my cabin and I like that HAL has a couch in all cabin levels. I have begun to really like the expanded TV choices and WiFi on some of the Princess ships and I miss it on HAL.  Newer HAL ships may have something similar, but I haven’t experienced it. Princess has better on board shopping. As others have said, you should probably try it. 

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We were on two HAL cruises in 2019 and enjoyed them both. One was on their smallest and oldest ship (the now sold Maasdam) and the second was on their newest ship at the time (NieuwStatendam). First was a trip from San Francisco to Tokyo via Victoria, Seattle, 5 Alaska ports, Petropavlovsk (Russia), and Kushiro (Japan). Second was a typical Caribbean cruise.

 

Food: Dining room quality and buffet about the same on Princess and HAL. Main dining room on HAL is one multistory room vs. Princess' multiple main dining rooms.

 

Entertainment: HALs production shows are not in any way comparable anymore to what Princess does. HAL now has a dance troupe that dances to pre-recorded music, no singing. HAL's newest ships really emphasize live music in the evenings with multiple venues doing different genres of music.

 

Staff: Both Princess and HAL have great staff on board.

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11 hours ago, skynight said:

For the two ships we sailed on, Noordam and Maasdam (small ship no longer in the fleet) our impression was deader all around. Only a few in the cruise director staff to run day and evening activities. Shows not as good. Not as many live bands with different music styles. They did have a classical concert in the evening. Drink prices were a little higher. DR food around the same. Lido deck pool side food options limited. Buffet was slightly better. No International Cafe. 

We sailed on the same 2 HAL ships, the Noordam for an Eastern Mediterranean cruise, and the Maasdam from Boston to Montreal.

 

We found the cruise on the Maasdam to have much less to do. Part of it was that it was smaller (which I usually like). We were told by HAL both at the front desk and later by e-mail after our response to their post cruise survey that if we had been on a larger HAL ship there would have been more dancing and dance lessons (that DW particularly missed). I think part of it was also that the Maasdam cruise was years later and HAL has pretty much done away with the cruise director staff.

 

We did not find the Noordam cruise old and stuffy as HAL is sometimes characterized. Part may have been the itinerary and part may have been we had a large and active roll call which provided others we could interact with.

 

One comparison I could make is though both have very attentive staffs, the HAL staff really were superb, especially on the Noordam. 

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We have two cruises booked for 2021 and 2022.  First one is HAL’s newest ship Rotterdam VII and second is Princess’s newest ship Enchanted  Princess.  We love both lines and switch between them and an occasional Celebrity.  HALs staterooms are better in that you get a sofa and coffee table in all cabin categories.  Food and service are pretty much equal, leaning to HAL.  Princess has better entertainment and HAL has a better selection of itineraries.  Love the self serve laundry rooms on Princess...none on HAL.

 

You can’t go wrong with either one, so do your research and choose whichever sailing appeals to you the most.  Price can also be a factor, as Princess will usually run a bit higher than HAL.  I will say that we only sail now on HAL Pinnacle class ships and Princess Royal class.  We prefer newer and more modern ships,  but that’s a personal choice and many folks would disagree.

 

Hope that you have a wonderful cruise, regardless of which ship you choose!

 

 

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We love both HAL and Princess and cruise either based on itinerary and price. There are many more similarities than differences. I do like that on HAL I can book a veranda and get a larger room with a love seat and a full size bath and shower. We find ourselves booking minis on Princess because the regular balcony cabins are smaller than we like and have place to sit!

 

Enjoy your cruise!

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We're Elite on Princess but would sail HAL more often if they left from LA. Room service breakfast was the best ever- omelette so hot it burned my mouth! Also much better at anytime dining - never had to wait & servers got my DH heavy cream for his coffee & me berries for breakfast - neither have ever been available on Princess. We have sailed Oceania & thought HAL was closer to them than to Princess. The extra sitting area is a huge plus also - don't have to eat room service on the bed, a loveseat & table big enough for two of you to sit.

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If what caught your eye was free or reduce fares for kids, you should reveal if you travel usually as a family.  Average age for a Holland American passenger is higher than Princess, much more sedate.  It is a good cruise line if it fits you.  Now, if you are thinking of traveling in Alaska, that's an area where there are more families sailing no matter what cruise line, even ones that have no children programs such as Oceania.  If you are sailing as a couple, the difference is not that great.  If you are sailing as a family, you may be better off on Princess unless you are sailing Alaska.  

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We are both Elite on Princess and 4 star Mariners on HAL, so have travelled extensively on both.

We tend to choose cruises for their itineraries, not the cruise line, it just happens that HAL and Princess usually fits that bill. HAL is a more "sedate" line and often we feel that we are the youngest on the ship, whereas Princess seems "livelier" to us, which is very appealing to us

We prefer mid size ships and the HAL longer itineraries, for example Voyage of the Vikings (38days),Tales of the South Pacific (42days) Amazon and RIO for Carnivale (50days), Circumnavigation of Australia (32days) have been amazing cruises for us. The cabins on HAL seem larger and the sofa in each cabin is a bonus.Entertainment on HAL is now very disappointing and the poor Cruise Director is usually run of their feet. One of the most annoying things for us is the Dinner buffet on HAL. Not everyone wants to eat in the MDR every night and we certainly don't want to eat at 5pm when the food appears to be cooked (and often just sits there for hours). At 5 pm they open up both side of the Buffet, but by 7pm one side is closed down and by 7:30pm they are packing everything away. We have even resorted to ordering a Pizza and adding a side salad if we wander up there at 7:30pm.  The buffet seating area is deserted by 8pm, except for the dire hard card players and the crew who are wanting to clean up and reset the tables for the next morning. Princess on the other hand have their buffet open until at least 9:30, which is great for us and it seems more sociable as people tend to sit and chat. We enjoy the Cruise Entertainment crew on Princess and there is always something going on somewhere on the ship. We wish that Princess would bring back the wine packages as we find buying by the bottle is expensive. Being 4 star Mariners we get a 50% discount on all the wine packages and 50% off speciality dining. But on Princess we get the minibar setup and 100 minutes of free Internet, so they are both pretty good perks for travelling many nights on both lines.

Actually,  we enjoy both Princess and HAL for different reasons- so give it a go and see how you feel.

To us, ANY cruise is a GREAT cruise.

Jenny

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"Princess on the other hand have their buffet open until at least 9:30, which is great for us and it seems more sociable as people tend to sit and chat"

Pre shutdown. Princess' buffet dinner selections were available until 11pm. The grill and slice pizza by the pool closed down around 9pm or maybe 10pm. On ships with Alfredo's this closed around 10pm. Princess' buffet opened at 5am with some continental selections. Breakfast selections began at 6am. Sections of the buffet remained open all day and evening, never closing, changing selections throughout the day and evening.

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As we got older (now in our late 50's) we "graduated" from mainly RCI to Princess. We found Princess suited our desires for a quieter cruise. We dont need screaming kids, water slides and so on - although I have to admit I do like the wave runner 🙂 . Anyway, we did a HAL cruise a few years ago. The food was exceptional, the service excellent but the cruise consisted mainly of older people (70's and later for the most part) and the ship rolled up the streets in the evenings as many of the elderly crowd disappeared into their rooms. I would go on another HAL cruise, my wife probably wouldn't. If you are planning on bringing kids, they're likely going to be bored silly and depending on your age, unless the cruise is a heavy port intensive one, you likely will as well. Princess, in my mind, would be better suited to kids/grandkids.

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