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How has cruising changed for you over the past 25 years?


LauraS
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So do you think cruising has changed for the better over the past 25 years?  Is there one (or two) things you'd like to see return from bygone days?  What would you like to see disappear!  How have these changes affected you? 

 

Be as specific as you'd like.....

 

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At first I thought I was too young to be able to answer this as I felt I haven't been cruising for 25 years, but if I count my very first cruise when I was 8 on RCC then I suppose I meet the requirements. I don't remember much about that trip, but I do remember eating meals at a large table with a bunch of strangers and I thought it was really weird. Fast forward >25 years, and I still think it's weird. 

 

To each their own, but personally I'm grateful that many cruise lines are steering away from the mandatory set dinner times and letting folks do their own thing and come and go as they please. The freedom and flexibility is something I would like to see continued on and extended to as many lines as possible so everyone gets to make their vacation something unique and fun for them. 

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We've gotten a lot smarter about it :-).  On our first cruise, we paid the opening brochure price, not knowing any better.  We also took ship's excursions (which we rarely now do), and got a few crappy massages before deciding they weren't worth it (Raquel was the exception!).  At first I thought sea days were going to be boring, now I love them.

 

The change that's bad is being nickel & dimed now, and the behavior of people on some lines seems to have become more rude.  Perhaps that is society at large.

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I started cruising in the 60's as a kid, with my parents.  Yes, it was quite different.  All meals were in the dining room, save for one or two poolside lunch buffets.  Dressing up for the evening, and it was INFORCED!  A lot of cruising was on ships of foreign lines that took thier ships out of transAtlantic service and used them for cruising.  If you went on an Italian line ship, all the officers, crew and staff were Italian, if you went on a French line ship, all of the officers, crew and staff were French.  And so on, with the Greek Line, Hapag/Lloyd, Swedish-America line, etc etc It was reflected in the overall ambiance (and food) of the country.  No casinos, no sur-charge restaurants, no art auctions.  You rented a deck chair, and that was your chair for the length of the cruise. Drink prices that were a fraction of those on land in the US.  An above post talked about "nickel and diming".  They have to.  I recently was going through some old cruise memorabilia and I found a ticket  from the 80's.  The price of that cruise was $30 different than one we took 3 years ago for basically the same itinerary, length and cabin category.  What else costs the same now as it did 35 years ago!?!?!?  They have to generate revenue from other sources than the basic ticket cost. Also, "once upon a time" the published brochure price was the price, no matter who you booked through.  Now, the "brochure price" is fiction and you can "shop" for the best deal.  Some things that haven't changed....sitting on a deck chair, looking out onto the horizon and listening to the hum of the ship as it glides through the water. The ocean is just as blue and the sun just as bright and watching a sunset or sunrise just as exhilarating. .

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Cruising is much more affordable today and there's a greater variety of cabin layouts to select. Of course all the food outlets aboard today's cruise ships are a vast leap forward from our family ocean crossings as children and the cruises we booked ourselves later as young adults.

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In comparison to our first cruise in 2001 I feel that there are so many surcharges in comparison to that time.  It is a constant sell, sell, sell now.  The quality of the food has diminished.  The super size ships are to big.  I do like the open time seating in the main dining room.  It seams to get a really good meal you have to pay for the specialty restaurants.  That did not use to be the case.  We have cruised Celebrity, Royal Caribbean and Oceana several times each.

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When we were a young couple, pre-kids and not very many vacation days, we took shorter cruises on Carnival and NCL. When the kids were small, we chose Disney. Now with the kids as teens we choose Royal Caribbean for a weeklong family vacation. I expect when we are empty nesters, we will go on to Celebrity. And we look forward to trying Virgin Voyages. I like that there is a cruise line for every stage of life and a ship size and itinerary for all preferences. I don't expect we will ever achieve the highest loyalty levels on any cruise line, because we prefer to choose the cruise line, ship, dates, and itinerary that is best for us in any given year.

 

I honestly don't mind the nickel and diming too much because we can pick and choose what we want to pay for and customize our cruise vacation. But I do think the on-ship selling/upselling has become more of a pushy hard-sell which I don't appreciate, rather than a pleasant soft-sell which I definitely prefer.

 

We very much like the advancements in technology and the reduction of paper over the years. Post COVID, I expect another technology leap forward by the cruise lines which will be exciting to experience.

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On 3/24/2021 at 11:50 AM, LauraS said:

So do you think cruising has changed for the better over the past 25 years?  Is there one (or two) things you'd like to see return from bygone days?  What would you like to see disappear!  How have these changes affected you? 

 

Be as specific as you'd like.....

 

 

I think it's gotten less stodgy, which I like, and more foodie, which I really like! I'm still pretty young, though (my first cruise was literally right out of college, my work was just big enough that they could afford to send the whole company on a cruise that year, and that was the last year they did something like that, haha.) So I can only answer over the past last like 10 years (speaking as a Xennial). 

So, with that caveat, I agree with you about advancements in technology and definitely about reduction of paper waste! And hopefully also just waste in general! Not to mention, at the same time, for free, wasting less of our time, too! I can't wait for the end of the rigmarole of the first day mandatory safety drill, that's for one thing!

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Interesting query ... I stopped to realize it's been nearly 35 years since our first cruise. A large framed poster advertising our first cruise hangs nearby on the wall in our den... Premiere Cruise Lines, Big Red Boat. In our newbie eyes, it was a monster, complete with bulkhead step-overs.  We did 3 days at Disney World and 4 days on the BRB; Disney did not have their own cruise lines back in 1987. The ship was a Home Cruise Lines before Premiere. We had two young children and our eyes were filled with amazement! I recall there was a lip on the dining table to help prevent plates from falling off. entertainment was a troupe of 3 and the sea was so rough, they even cancelled the small stage show one evening. We opted for a "suite" which meant we had two bathrooms! and stationery twins on the floor, along with a pull out and a 14 inch black and white television. But it hooked us and we've been cruising ever since! We've taken nieces, and siblings, and dear friends... Our entire family of in laws, outlaws, spouses, and grandchildren journeyed to Alaska on RCCL two years ago. Sept-Oct 2019, we took three back2backs in Med., ending with a repositioning cruise, Spain to Miami ... what a fabulous experience! We returned just in time to fly up to NY for our niece's wedding the next day.  Last March, we cancelled a cruise out of Bayonne, the day before departure. The news was filled with virus and stranded ships. It's been a long dry year... we have four reservations on the books... the first is Nov 2021, but not too certain about it yet. For us, cruising has become more about the ship, then the destination... we like to "try" the new ships. And although we have achieved "status" on RCCL, Carnival, Holland, Princess, and Celebrity... we're really not brand loyal. Each cruise has offered us something special and unique. We do enjoy that the formality of cruising has softened over the years. Waiting to follow protocols in our future....

StarShip Oceanic  Built in 1965  38,772 GT / 39,241 GRT

Premier oceanic 1998.jpg

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Not quite 25 years as our first cruise was in 2002 for our 25th anniversary.

 

One thing that has changed is it is less formal. I can say that not only has this changed for the cruise lines, but also our attitude, or at least that of DW. For our first cruise, she bought material and patterns and made her formal dresses. Now we plan on going to only whichever formal (or whatever less formal term they use for it now) night has lobster.

 

One thing that luckily has not changed is that the passengers and crew are so friendly. (The one exception we found to this was in 2012 on the NCL Epic for our 30th anniversary. I think the ship was just too big!) I hope people do not become more standoffish when cruising returns post-Covid.

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Posted (edited)

My first cruise was on the 16,000 ton Cunard Princess in the 1980’s when I was a child. As much as I cherish the memories created on my first cruises, I personally prefer cruising today. It’s not because what’s offered today is better, but because we have so many choices and options. 
 

I’ve learned that cruising as I knew it when I first set foot on a cruise ship hasn’t disappeared. Its still alive and well, but its now offered in the small ship / luxury cruise lines market. Today, I can still experience sailing on a smaller ship, where I can truly get to know my fellow cruisers, where I can develop a rapport with officers, where they get to know me by name, where attention to detail is part of the experience, where I get to visit quaint ports too small for larger ships, and where impeccable service and fine cuisine are included in the price, not for an up charge.

 

But if I want to supersize the experience as offered by the mass market cruise lines these days, I’m glad to know that I have the option as well. Yes, it may seem like everything costs extra, but that’s part of having choices. And I need to remind myself that I am paying a considerably lower base cruise fare and then choosing to pay extra for what want, rather than being charged for what I don’t want or can’t afford. 
 

When I read posts from people who complain about the “nickel and diming” and the ever decreasing level of quality on today’s cruises, and who mourn the demise of the way cruising used to be,  I like to remind them that they are choosing to pay considerably less today for an experience to match. 
 

My parents still keep a photo album of that first cruise we took in 1981. Among the photos, they also kept the original cruise tickets. 41 years ago, they paid $900 per person for a 7 night Caribbean cruise. And that was for a small cabin with bunks and a picture window (something that was considered a luxury then). Adjusted for inflation, that amount would be around $3,000 today, which is in line with what lines like Windstar, Seabourn and Oceania are charging for a similar itinerary in 2021.

Edited by Tapi
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Our first cruise was an overnight from Portland Maine to Nova Scotia with our car. I didn't get much sleep in our overnight cabin and could not eat breakfast even though it was a buffet because it was how I realized what seasickness was.  Our second cruise was a high-school graduation present for our son so we booked two cabins on the old Carnaval Festival and yes I got sick again plus when we got up in the morning a lot of people hadn't even gone to bed. I didn't like cruising. Then we decided to try RCCL with our daughter and loved it. They gave me a pill for seasickness. We sailed on the Song of America, once for 7 days and then 10 days, Song of Norway twice,Nordic Prince also. Then the original LOVE BOAT which was Princess out of Los Angeles. Then came many Holland America cruises which was a step above RCCL back then and better food. We also tried two Regent Seas. We loved the all-inclusive sailing ship and the Navagator in a huge storm they even had to close the glass elevators. Our suite was on the 8th floor and when I opened the balcony slider to see the salt build up on the railing I got soaking wet and yes seasick. Now Regent has the best of everything from food to drinks if it is in your budget. Then we tried Celebrity and stuck with them because of great food and service but now they have gone to all-inclusive and we are going back on RCCL which now has improved the food and service, great shows also one of the best at sea. With so many ships sailing everyone should pick the best for themselves,food, service, entertainment or partying. 

 

 

 

 

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On 3/25/2021 at 5:33 PM, Sailing12Away said:

At first I thought I was too young to be able to answer this as I felt I haven't been cruising for 25 years, but if I count my very first cruise when I was 8 on RCC then I suppose I meet the requirements. I don't remember much about that trip, but I do remember eating meals at a large table with a bunch of strangers and I thought it was really weird. Fast forward >25 years, and I still think it's weird. 

 

To each their own, but personally I'm grateful that many cruise lines are steering away from the mandatory set dinner times and letting folks do their own thing and come and go as they please. The freedom and flexibility is something I would like to see continued on and extended to as many lines as possible so everyone gets to make their vacation something unique and fun for them. 

I enjoy set dining times and sitting with people new and getting to know them. Anytime is not for us. Would not cruise on a ship not offering fixed dining. 

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Posted (edited)

We took our first cruise, with P & O, in 1988 and over the following year did two more. We became disenchanted with the formality - the set dining times but, more so, the dresscodes requiring the wearing of suits and dinner jackets. So we stopped cruising for a while. Then we did a very casual cruise with the now defunct Island Escape (?). That was simply too casual - the quality of a mid range Spanish tourist hotel without any of the ability to go out to a nice restaurant in the resort. So, we stopped cruising altogether.

 

It is only in recent years that we've rediscovered it as a holiday. We took a short cruise as part of a longer holiday to Florida. This was with Norwegian which we enjoyed. It made us realise that you could do quite stylish, with decent food, without any need for archaic dress codes. I could go to dinner in a collared shirt and trousers - just what I would wear to a high end restaurant at home. Then we discovered Oceania - great food, no stuffiness with dress codes, no  sharing of tables unless you choose to (we don't) etc. We've only done one cruise with them so far but there will be more - we plan one for next year, to celebrate  our 50th anniversary.

 

 

Edited by Harters
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My first cruise was in 1985 (Carnival Holiday) booked through a now-defunct company "Single World".  Went with 3 GFs (4 to a cabin). Single World provided a host, a get together first night to hear about our excursions or future plans for the week. You could do things as a group and not have to go it alone. It was fantastic!   Anyway, what has changed?  Forward to 2019...Carnival Magic.  Continuous "screaming" announcements by CD (I guess it is supposed to convey excitement?}  Annoying announcement for SALES, ART, JEWELRY, BINGO!! We have the daily FUN TIMES with all that info...why are you screaming it at us also?  You used to go to the talks in the theatre to hear about these things.  Announcements used to be from the Captain, telling you important information - weather, sailing, next Port, etc.  If you want to relax on the deck, you cannot with all the interruptions.  It is exhausting, lol   The music on deck is blared instead of "fun". You can't talk to each other.  We move away from Lido until we hear the music just right and relax with it as background music.

CABIN TVs are nothing but one big advertisement now.  You can't get world news. Do they still have those newsletters in all languages?  I haven't been able to locate any recently.   .   

FOOD - used to be better.  Crab legs, lobster nights in MDRs. Now you have to pay extra.

TABLECLOTHS - nothing says "fancy" like a white tablecloth. You feel pampered   Now it's like eating at a BBQ joint in the USA.  Guess that why it is called American Dining?  Hate it. I can get that home. 

SERVICE - the staff are overworked - not enough staff (cutbacks) so service is often times very lax.  It a crap shoot if you get a good server. We change tables until we find one.  That can take half of the week!

CASINO - I LOVE Casinos.  I am allergic to cigarette smoke (triggers migraines).  I have to get in there early to try to enjoy myself. Not always the best time for slots.  The air handlers just do not work and the non-smoking section is so small and doesn't have any good machines.  Bummer.  I which they would go the route of no smoking in Casinos.  We can still drink! I know they think smokers gamble more; but how do they really know, if they are chasing away us non smokers?  :)

The following only happened on Princess...there were staff who pretended they couldn't understand English so they didn't have to figure out how to help you, lol.  That was amusing to observe.  Needless to say, my husband now hates cruising.  I go with GFs; but, it's just no fun anymore.  Maybe it's a case of "been there, done that".  Or the fact we moved to FL and I don't want to vacation in the heat anymore, lol.  

All of the above combined, caused us to shell out more money for all-inclusive cruises.  What a difference!  Service, food, excursions all included. Example of "service":  During a galley tour, I asked which day duck would served. We were told not on menu that week. Then the Chef asked how many of us wanted duck. Quite a few people raised their hands.  Next Port, he went out and bought duck to make for us.  What a surprise that was. 

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On 3/24/2021 at 2:50 PM, LauraS said:

So do you think cruising has changed for the better over the past 25 years?  Is there one (or two) things you'd like to see return from bygone days?  What would you like to see disappear!  How have these changes affected you? 

 

Be as specific as you'd like.....

 

Yes, i believe cruising has changed  for the better. I like the recent changes: no casino, no art actions, more county intensive and interesting excursions.

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Posted (edited)

My introduction to cruising was in 1969 on the TS Hamburg's Transatlantic sailing from New York and was was the beginning of my love affair with ships. Back then passengers crowded the main deck outside for sail away armed with colorful streamers which unraveled as they tossed them down over the sides of the ship. Friends and well-wishers on the dock below cheered us as the ship set sail. The ship was brand new and deemed “the Spaceship” in advertising due to her “revolutionary” design which gave passengers “added space for comfort”. Compared to the scene from “A night at the Opera” movie by the Marx Brothers, our cabin accommodations were pretty luxurious including windows instead of portholes. Dining was at assigned tables and the waiters all wore white gloves to serve. There was daily formal afternoon Tea service too. Unfortunately I don’t recall any evening entertainment probably because I was babysitting my siblings. A nice souvenir back then, every cabin received a booklet containing the names of all the passengers on board.

 

Over the years since that first cruise, I've sailed NCL, Holland America and Renaissance in addition to Celebrity. The cruise industry has definitely changed over the years, especially with regards to the cruise ships' sizes. But this has been a benefit, in my opinion, providing added space for a wide variety of new activities and more choices for new dining experiences. And the casual, country club atmosphere is much preferred to the more formal one of years past. Today it's nice to have so many ships to choose from that offer something for everyone's taste/budget. 
 

The Summit was the first X ship for my DH and I in 2003 and we enjoyed everything. She was beautiful, the cabin was comfortable, the food was delicious, the crew and their service was wonderful, and the entertainment was amazing. Since then we've sailed on all but one ship in X's fleet, and though some things have changed over the years, the overall experience is still excellent in our opinion.

Edited by C-Dragons
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What we changed -

.smaller ships

.less or no used and abused ports on itinerary, or don't go ashore anymore

.take advantage of loyalty status benefits

.we know the 'games' of marketing and how to avoid them

.ALWAYS use a travel agent. We used to book ourselves, but our most recent struggle with Crystal not paying back our deposit proved that travel agents are indispensable. Without her, we would have not been able to recover our money. She also gets us incredible deals, and knows most companies' executives.

.except for X and RCI, NEVER use the cruise line's air booking where you cannot chose your own itinerary. Viking especially was disastrous.

 

What we miss -

.uncrowded, un-americanized ports

.uncrowded ship atmosphere (hence we go on small ships now)

.good food that's included

.very limited marketing

."ocean liner" atmosphere

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We are traditional cruisers. We like things done as they were for years. We love having a set table, a set waiter and assistant waiter, a set wine steward, that we get to know over the trip. We also love the specialty restaurants, though not the upcharge. Our favorite line - HAL - allows us to have that.

 

We love a promenade deck that is level, goes all around the entire ship, for long relaxing walks. We used to love the shows; not so much any more. They are fewer, not extravaganzas or broadway shows, and usually only one or two on a cruise. We used to use the spa for treatments, but they have become too expensive for our budget and taste. 

 

We LOVE formal night (we live in Florida where 'dressy' means a shirt with a collar and long pants for men; a sundress for women).  We enjoy getting dressed to the nines and having a night out that is formal. We don't care if others dress or not; their choice. We laugh at the comments, "It costs so much to bring a suitcase for formal wear." The cruise costs thousands of dollars and a $30 fee stops you from dressing up? Really? REALLY? ;-)

 

We enjoyed visiting places in the past, but more and more they are, (1) been there, or (2) all alike, so we often pass and enjoy things on the ship. We LOVE days at sea; could happily take a cruise that never stopped anywhere, except HAL's Half Moon Cay (HMC). There is simply nothing like sitting on your veranda having breakfast while the sea slips by. We love days at HMC; it is a bit of perfect for us. 

 

We enjoy the fact that on almost every cruise on HAL we KNOW some of the crew. We've even been lucky enough to have the same cabin steward twice. Catch up on his family and he already KNEW our preferences (Yes, I do tip them beyond the required fee) as he recalled us. We've also had the same bartender on three cruises; same thing - he KNEW what we wanted when we sat down.

 

We are not fans of bigger and bigger ships. 2,400 to 2,600 is right at the edge of too big. Too many people on board don't improve the experience for us. Takes longer to embark, disembark at stops, or disembark at the end of the cruise. We enjoyed and will miss the smaller ships with 1,250 passengers.

 

We've tried other cruise lines (MSC, Disney) and it was 'interesting. We enjoyed Disney; MSC not so much as they didn't seem to understand "Gluten Free" and we got sick. Disney had it down, but they are really expensive. But if the granddaughter wants to go...we will! 

 

We tried RCCL, Norwegian, Celebrity, and Princess and all of them have too big of ships for us. Plus, their food has slipped in our opinion. 

 

 

  

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Some things have changed for the better on cruise ships and most of it is in the area of technology, engineering, ship interior design, plumbing systems etc. on the newer ships.   However, most ships are now too large and most of them have lost the look of a ship and instead look like large ugly boxes with too many decks.  Preferred the ships that ranged in size which accommodated 700 to 1500 passengers.  Do not like the extraneous amusement park aspect of the larger ships or the feeling of being in a herd.

We've sailed on many lines over the years of taking 45 plus cruises but found ourselves going back to HAL repeatedly and felt that their only competition at one point in time was Royal Viking Line.  We enjoyed having a set dinner time, table, waiter and asst. waiter in the dining room.  We always got a table for two as we both had careers in which we interacted with many people each day so the last thing we wanted on vacation was interacting with strangers at dinner.   We think the quality of the food across all lines was better in the past, we do not like the extra charge dining that is now common on all ships including HAL ships.  We don't care for the nickel and diming that is prevalent.  We did enjoy formal nights on the ships when everyone was expected to dress for the evening.   On the HAL ships we always enjoyed the promenade deck that encircled the ship as we like walking and looking at the sky and the sea.   Plus we love sea days and just enjoy being on the ocean either sitting on deck or on our balcony. 

Finally we enjoyed meeting people from other countries during some of the cocktail parties or other get togethers and enjoy quiet activities like games focused on travel destinations etc. conducted by the cruise director who was usually an older person who'd actually traveled everywhere in his career and could offer some  helpful information about current ports or ports to consider for a next cruise.

The last cruise we went on was an NCL trip and we vowed, never again - people with no manners or consideration for other passengers, mundane food in the venues, people who appeared to want to be on a camping trip based on the clothing they wore but who instead were on a cruise and inflicting their lack of knowing how to dress on the rest of us plus far too many kids in strollers and kids in general.  

I'm not certain we'll go back to cruising at this point especially with the kind of restrictions and rules that will be a necessity when we finally begin to get into a new normal after this pandemic.   We both believe we cruised during the best time to be a cruiser and could enjoy the ships before they'd become oversized and had lost so much of what being a ship should entail. 

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First cruise: 1996, Sun Princess, 2010 passengers, 7 day Western Caribbean.  Loved it, and have been on 31 cruises, total. We are mostly brand loyal because we like the service, prices, and perks from Princess Cruises.  Back then a 7-day cruise had 2 formal nights, 2 semi formal nights, and 3 casual nights, and the dress code was expected and enforced.  We initially started cruising to escape the high stress pager/phone requirements of our jobs, and it was great – no one could interrupt our vacation (which had happened on land trips).

Changes happen, some good, some not so good.  Formal nights have devolved into semi-formal, with many not following that theme.  Freedom from electronic leashes has changed to needing to carry a smart phone for the new Medallion system.

But we have found Princess Cruises to offer a quality product that continues to meet most of our expectations.  We have found the food to be really nice, and we are pleased with the addition of quality no-cost venues, like Alfredo’s Pizza, and an upgrade of buffet food to include selections from the main dining room menus as well as international themed dinners.  The main dining room meals have changed from 6-7 course meals to your choice of 3-4 courses.  The only drawback is that the number of courses and time required to eat is often tied to the appetite of the person who orders the most, both for politeness and because wait staffing has been reduced, with less individual customization possible.

The all-night buffet of 1996, useful after a late night of shows, dancing, etc. is gone.

We have found the entertainment to be consistently excellent, and we enjoy having both shows and live music, even though there are now fewer bands onboard.  Being ballroom dancers the loss of a good dance floor on the more recent build ships (Royal Class) was a disappointment.   Electronic entertainment (TV, movies) has become much better with the advent of Movies Under the Stars, and the no charge on-demand movies in the staterooms which include recent releases (another line we tried charged $12 for each movie) beats trying to watch scheduled TV shows or movies.

We enjoyed playing ping-pong and miniature golf, although those are not always convenient nor available.

Most of all the crew has been consistently excellent in our experience.  The stateroom stewards are attentive and thorough, and we enjoy the moments when we hear about their lives and home culture. They are almost always deserving of an extra gratuity.

My one big gripe is the transition of normal bedding with sheets and blankets to beds having a duvet, which for me is either too hot (on) or too cold (off).   This is a designer change that does not work for all.

Bottom line, the cost of cruising is good, better than most land vacations, the ports visited have good variety and excursion options.

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Posted (edited)

So I know that this is kind of wasteful, but I'd love to see the Midnight Buffet or at least the Grand Buffet make a comeback.  It was nice to be able to get a little something to eat after the show (if we liked the show the first time, we'll go a second time!)  and we even saw some of the acts and got to meet them.  

 

I miss all the excitement of the Grand Buffet as well.  Just looking at all the artistry that must have gone into those carvings was INCREDIBLE!

 

We also miss walking the promenade!

 

Some aspects have changed for the better.  Technology on ships, for example, is amazing!  The ability to offer a wide variety of activities on the larger ships are also a plus.  I get to do things now on cruise ships that not many people can say that they've done.  I can truthfully say I've been on waterslides in the middle of the ocean!   

Edited by broadwaybaby123
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On 3/24/2021 at 11:50 AM, LauraS said:

So do you think cruising has changed for the better over the past 25 years?  Is there one (or two) things you'd like to see return from bygone days?  What would you like to see disappear!  How have these changes affected you? 

 

Be as specific as you'd like.....

 

I like the bigger ships with more to do on them, but the huge ones are a little overcrowded.  I wish we got more for our loyalty points instead of less as time goes by. I love the grotto area on the ships with the heated loungers.  I like being able to get pre-paid gratuities as a promotion.  I really like self-serve ice cream.  I like the gym opening at 6 AM, but that has been hit and miss on some of our cruises. I would love to see the Serenity area disappear and the walking track go back on the top deck.  I would like to see the massages disappear.  I don't like how they try and up sell you while you are trying to relax. 

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I have become more selective for the following reasons:

1. I have visited many places via cruises and land tours.

2. My travel style and preference have evolved through age, experience,  accumulated wealth, and much reduced responsibility.

3. I am not getting any younger, and my quality life will be getting more restricted with time.

Itinerary, cruise line/travel company, and available time slot trump price and everything else.

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I miss the midnight buffets and some of the ships like the Sovereign, our first cruise in 1988. Makes me sad that she's at the scrap yards. After all the original Queen Mary is a floating hotel in Long Beach. To bad they couldn't do the same for the Sovereign and others..

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